Inspired by my article about the connection between Food and Culture, I am bringing you the second installment of Cultured Creatives. The focus of this series is to demonstrate to TTRPG world creators what will bring life to their worlds through culture. Through these elements, I would love to see more diverse and expressionist cultures brought to our games, writing and music. Depending on the game, it can be fine to operate with just the fundamentals, but for many of us, it is the oft overlooked details that bring a world to life.
I spent much of my youth dancing. Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Breakdance, if it was offered as a class near me, I likely took it. My first ballet instructor was a wonderful woman from Russia with a clear passion for the art form who wanted to impart her love of ballet onto each of her students. She brought music to life through movement! Though I was young when I started with her, I vividly remember performing the Fire Bird as a small child. I admired the older ballerinas, who glided against the rules of gravity, as I waved my feathers and moved to the music. To this day, it is one of my favorite ballets.
Perhaps you don’t have similar dancing memories that I do, and that’s okay! Think of a concept you’ve experienced through fictional worlds. What is it about this creation that drew you in? For example, the now iconic Cantina scene in Star Wars likely wasn’t intended to spawn so many interpretations, but for many of us when we hear the familiar music, we are teleported beside Han Solo (and he shoots first). I like to watch the Cloud Dance Off scene in the Final Fantasy 7 remake because it is just so wonderfully over the top! Other examples that come to mind for me are The Dancing Dragon moves from Avatar the Last Airbender, and Esmeralda’s dancing in Disney’s the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
In the not too distant past, during a session of our long running Dungeons and Dragons Campaign (run by Kait), we held a parade for one of the fallen gods. Complete with a unicorn, alicorn, gryphon and several holy emblems, we took to the streets and marched to the centrally located temple of a major city. Our paladin was front and center of the procession as the bard played songs of the heavens for all to hear! This brought to mind the many parades and festivals I attended as a child (although I don’t remember ever seeing a unicorn). Earlier this year, with J running the game, Rory brought our band of misfits into a Battle of the Bards. As we drummed on shields, shook druid crafted maracas and played a kalimba, the bard (Rory) led us on the lute, against a well known bard troupe in the city.
Does your tavern have an open mic night? Are troubadours in the streets? What about slam poetry, demonstrations of the martial arts, dance competitions, or other performances that break up the crowds and breathe life into your marketplace? What do your townspeople do to express their creative sides and share their culture with each other? Let us know in the comments below!
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