Tag Archives: vampires

Q&A: Multiple Monsters

Trying to plot out a fight scene. My character’s fighting vampires and has to keep three of her friends safe. I’m planning to have her putting up a decent fight, but ultimately losing when another person arrives to help and together they manage to fight the vampires off. How many people do you think would be a realistic number of vampires to confront her at first?

One might be too many. So, a few problems your character needs to solve. First, you’re not dealing with other humans, they’re facing supernatural monsters. Second, they outnumber her. Third, she’s not their target.

The vampire problem is going to depend on your setting, and possibly the specific variety of vampires from your setting that your characters are facing. If these are mindless blood fiends that will scamper after any warm, moving body, your character could probably protect her friends by drawing them off.

However, if your vampires are fast, intelligent, supernatural predators with centuries of experience backing up their hunting, she might be completely screwed. One could be far more than she can handle, and more could easily be a death sentence for them all. Or undeath sentence, depending on their goals.

Depending on what she’s facing weapons may be able to even the playing field, (just remember, your vampires might be packing).  The more experienced and powerful your vampires are, the less likely weapons will be enough. On-her-feet creativity may be help, but, again, it depends on what the vampires have seen and experienced.

Dealing with multiple human opponents is always a serious risk. Even for a practiced martial artist, getting into a fight with two or more foes is not a good idea. While your focus is on one foe, it’s easy for another foe to flank and shank you. This is considerably more difficult when you’re facing things that aren’t human.

Usually, weapons are one of the ways you can seriously skew the balance for situations like this. Multiple unarmed attackers aren’t going to have a good time going after someone with a handgun and CQC training.

One of the easiest methods for dealing  with multiple attackers is to control your environment so they can’t come at you simultaneously. If you’re facing ten foes in a tight corridor where they can only come at you single file, the ones behind them are, basically, irrelevant. In an emergency, densely packed crowds can serve a similar function, if you keep moving, and can track the attackers.

This is, also a function of classic infantry combat. The total volume of forces you bring to bear is less important than the number you can actually get into contact with an enemy.

When you’re alone, controlling the environment and, “juggling,” your foes by controlling who has the opportunity to attack is the only safe way to handle multiple foes.

I should probably put, “safe,” in scare quotes, because this is still quite dangerous, with very little margin for error.

If you actually pay attention, you’ll frequently see this at work in a lot of martial arts films. Jackie Chan will maneuver one foe into another, use a door to block an attack, or bounce over a car to restrict the potential vectors for attack. It looks good on film, but isn’t that far removed from how you can actually employ these tactics. Positioning so that enemies will get in each other’s way is a basic element of threat management.

Now, here’s where things get really difficult. Your character isn’t the target. She’s trying to protect her friends. This means a lot of conventional juggling tactics won’t work, because one or, maybe, two enemies will break off and engage her, while the rest will keep going. Obviously, if you’re positioned in tight quarters where they can’t push past, that’s less of an issue. Still doesn’t deal with the vampire problem, where they could just shove her out of their way, but still.

Again, weapons are a way to make this more viable. Your vampires are less likely to try to shove their way past an improvised flamethrower, or shotgun loaded with flare shells. Though, it’s worth remembering your character doesn’t share their immunity to bullets and they may be carrying guns.

Regardless, your character probably can’t juggle foes the way she would if she was their target; meaning she needs a different plan.

With your scenario, advanced planning, and controlling the environment is far more important. If you know you’re going to be attacked by multiple opponents, you need to pick places where you can control the avenues of attack, limit access, have options to fall back, and ultimately a goal which will put you in a safe environment or a defensive position that you can hold until help arrives (or until daybreak).

If your characters are being pursued, that’s not going to be easy, but, it should give you some ideas to work for.

At this point, the only resource your character starts with are her friends. So, plan accordingly.

-Starke

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Okay so I’m trying to figure out a way to keep vampires from feeding on a character without actually having that character die. Destroying Angel (the mushroom) is enough to make the vampires sick, but that’s all I’ve got so far. Any ideas? A list of antidotes? Books that cover this stuff?

The short answer is, you can’t really have vampires that kill
every time they feed. I’ll go into the details in a minute, but the solution is as simple as the problem, don’t.

We’ve said this before, but there are
no such thing as vampires. I don’t mean this in the, “well, they’re mythical creatures, so they’re not real,” sense. I’m talking about how there isn’t a single, universal, vampire myth.
Vampires are a persistent fear lingering in the back of the human
subconscious. Originally just a fear of the dead, and what might happen if funerary rights weren’t properly observed, and later as an expression of of Victorian hangups over sex, and xenophobia. As a result, there is no, true vampire myth; they are as varied
as human cultures that created them. There is no unified set of rules for how vampire behave, what they can do, or what can kill them. You set the rules, and need to tailor those to fit your story.

This includes things like their powers and weaknesses. If you want vampires that walk in the sun, you’re not “ripping off” Twilight. Sunlight vulnerability is a possible weakness, but it’s hardly universal. The same is true with immortality. Some vampires in myth have a very limited shelf-life, and then die… again. Even the need to feed on blood isn’t universal. I doubt anyone’s clamoring to write about vampires that literally survive on human fecal matter for 40 days before dying, but the myths are out there.

Your vampires? Your rules. You don’t need someone else telling you what they can or can’t do, because there is no universal kind of vampire.

That said, running with the idea that vampires kill every time they feed, or turn everyone they feed on, will run into serious logistical problems, quickly. Even if you want to run with this, it’s worth thinking about, because it will push your story in very specific ways.

For killing, the issue is dead bodies. Last Year, NYC reported around 350 homicides, total. The highest annual Homicide rate for the city was around 2,250 in 1990. If you have a vampire that needs to kill every night, would, on their own, double the modern the figures. Even in the 90s, you couldn’t slap another 365 homicides on the pile without raising a few eyebrows. Even if you scale it back to once a week, an extra fifty two bodies a year on the pile will, still turn heads.

And that’s for one vampire. If you intend to have a community, then all of them need to eat, and the numbers above multiply. Maybe if they share their meals, that’s more viable, but it’s still a lot of bodies. Where you have a lot of bodies, you’ll have a lot of pissed off relatives, and, inevitably, vampire hunters.

Vampires that turn everyone they feed on run into similar problems, except there problem is geometric. If you have vampires who turn everyone they feed on, and need to feed once a week. Starting on January first with a single vampire, by the first week of February, you’ll have 32 mouths to feed, and by mid August of the same year you would have, by necessity, converted every single human on the planet. (Specifically around 8.6 billion by the 34th week.)

So, the simple answer is to look at vampires as parasites. Sure, they may think of themselves as apex predators, but at the end of the day, they’re still ambulatory leeches. Wandering the night, and chewing on unsuspecting coeds. In most settings the best way to approach that is to make themselves as undetectable as possible. No dead bodies, no hoards of the undead wandering around, just parasites, with delusions of grandeur, picking at the human population.

If vampires killing or turning their victims are the exception, rather than the rule, it changes the dynamics, and the entire thing becomes a lot more functional. If you have a vampire who does kill his prey, it gives the other vampires in his city, a very specific motive to hunt him down as fast as possible, before he draws unwanted attention, and puts them all in danger.

Even if you’re running a setting where the vampires are out in the open, and in control of everything, a rogue vampire killing their meals is still a threat to the food supply.

A rogue vampire constantly turning others is an immediate threat to the other vampires. If he’s raising an army, then what does he need it for? And who is he going to use it against? Short answer? If you’re not his friend, it might just be you.

Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar with them, the two things you should take a look at are Ultraviolet and Vampire: The Masquerade. There’s also Daybreakers, which might give you some ideas for vampires who are operating openly and in control of the world.

Ultraviolet was a British TV miniseries with Idris Elba and Jack Davenport that has no relation to the the American film. Ultraviolet focused on a group of paramilitary vampire hunters sanctioned by the British government. Wtihout going into too much detail, it does a fantastic job of examining vampires dealing with the threat of a man-made apocalypse, and planing accordingly.

Vampire: The Masquerade was an Urban Fantasy RPG focusing on Vampires. It’s part of the larger World of Darkness setting. It owes a lot to Anne Rice’s novels, but the resulting setting spends as much time explaining why things work the way they do, as simply saying “these are the rules.” It also has some vastly different takes of vampires, ranging from aristocratic puppeteers to sewer dwelling monstrosities preying on street people.

Daybreakers is a very good look at specifically violating some of the rules I listed above. It’s vampires are highly contagious, and as a result the vast majority of the population. As a whole, the film is an allegory for oil consumption, but it’s worth looking at if you’re wanting a post apocalyptic setting where vampires have decimated to the human population to near extinction.

-Starke

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Q&A: Vampire Feeding Symptoms

If a vampire drains a victim completely of blood, would they show any bruises? If not, what other trauma would they show?

Given that a bruise is, literally, a sub-dermal hemorrhage… I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say, probably not. Actually, if you want something sufficiently messed up; a vampire that preferentially goes after bruises is a possibility.

That said, corpses don’t generally bruise. So, if they were killed, then exsanguinated, there wouldn’t be any bruising. Depending on how fast the vampire was draining them, I’m not even sure if bruises would form.

Now, what would happen if you hooked a vacuum cleaner up to someone’s vascular system? Yeah, I don’t know, and I really don’t want to research that. (Mostly, because I know it’s been done, and will return valid information.) But, depending on the specifics of how vampires work in your setting, they could actually rip apart the victim’s circulatory system, resulting in massive hemorrhaging, or collapsed veins and arteries.

Of course, if your vampires are messy eaters, and literally rip their victims apart… you’d see that on the victim.

This kind of illustrates the problem with vampire questions in general. There isn’t much consistency. Either in fiction or folklore. Most societies have some kind of vampire myth. It builds out of cultural anxieties, usually in reference to death and handling the dead. Though, it’s probably worth pointing out that Dracula, and the modern vampire mythos spawned from him has a lot more to do with sex, sexuality, and xenophobia, than anything to do with funerary rituals being botched.

The result is that vampires are as varied as the human cultures that created them. So, asking, “how would they work?” Is going to result in a fair bit of guess work. The other side of this is, in using them, you have a lot of freedom to decide how the rules work for your vampires.

In the past I’ve identified Ravenous (1999) as a pretty fantastic vampire movie. I stand by that. But, there aren’t any vampires in it. Not explicitly, anyway. It’s about cannibals who are empowered by feeding on human flesh, rejuvenating them and granting superpowers. The movie calls them Wendigo, but, they’re vampires.

For modern settings, I strongly recommend the parasitic variety. In the modern world, dead bodies drained of blood turning up is a clear sign that something has gone horribly wrong, and in a setting where vampires exist, you’re going to have people who hunt them. Meaning an exsanguinated victim is just one undead fashion reject signing themselves up for a world of hurt.

Although it’s a pain to find, I do still strongly recommend the British Ultraviolet TV series. It was a smart look at vampires hiding in the modern world. It’s also a very intelligent, and rational, handling of the pre-millenial anxieties of the late 90s.

White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade is somewhat similar to Ultraviolet. They’re both working towards building vampires that could exist in the modern day. Though, V:TM is a lot less shy about insinuating vampires into social systems like the Police and government, while Ultraviolet is more interested in the vampire hunters. I did a full article on White Wolf’s World of Darkness setting last year. So, that might be worth skimming before jumping after them. But, for writing horror, it is a very good reference to look at and think about.

-Starke

So, my character goes to fight another character that she is a bit stronger than. He’s a guy, but they’re vamps and she drinks more blood. If they were to get in a fight starting at the center of a room that’s about 15 ft across both ways, how long should it take her to get him pinned to a wall?

But, the real question is, how many dots does she have in Celerity?

The problem with a question like this is, whether you mean to or not, you’re basically asking me, “which of my character’s superpowers are better?”

Vampires are rapidly becoming the urban fantasy counterpart to elves. Which is to say, when you use the term, there’s a vague understanding of what you’re talking about, but no uniform, concrete rules.

Hell, when it comes to a vampire’s power scaling with when they’ve fed last, my first thought is actually The Elder Scrolls setting, where feeding weakens them, but makes them harder to detect. While starvation makes them stronger and more feral. But, that one scales over time, not how much the eat.

When it comes to overall power, I tend to lean towards World of Darkness’ generational system, or the idea that they just get more powerful over time, so it’s an age issue, not a feeding issue.

This is all dancing around the point that I don’t know how strong your vampires are. Yes, yours. Unless you’re writing fan fiction, or RPing in an established setting, those are your characters with superpowers you’re defining.

For that, you probably need some kind of system to operationalize your vampires. Your options are to either cook up a system for yourself, or borrow one.

If it’s the latter, then World of Darkness isn’t a bad system to pull from. Basic character generation is really fast, and the system is good for getting a quick feel on what a character’s strengths and weaknesses are. It doesn’t hurt that one of the main games in the series is focused on vampires, so you might end up with some ideas to flavor your setting with along the way.

Vampire: The Masquerade provides the tools for a huge range of different styles of vampires in the core book alone. They’re all, more or less, inside the European immortal blood drinker genre, but it’s still fairly diverse group. And looking at the disciplines (specialized powers characters pick from) should give you some ideas about just how powerful you want your characters to be.

There’s also Werewolves, Mages, Hunters, and Demons. Given the series started in the early 90s, it’s a surprisingly comprehensive look at the common Urban Fantasy lineup. Though Demon: The Fallen was a smaller run, so that one will set you back a bit, if you end up wanting it.

I actually did an article on the setting awhile back, but, right now the main takeaway is looking for a rule system to say, “my character is this strong, and is this good at fighting.”

If you’re familiar with D&D, or GURPS, or really any RPG, and know what their numbers actually mean, then that will probably work just as well for you.

I’m not a fan of recommending D&D for stuff like this because character creation is a fairly involved process. Just crunching the numbers can take awhile. But if that’s the system you know, it’ll still do what you need.

I’m also more of a fan of recommending GURPS for the contents of its source books, over the actual game system. Speaking of, if you want a good quick primer on actual vampire folklore, GURPS: Blood Types spends the first 30 pages on the subject, before going into game systems. There’s also a chunk further in the book focusing on a lot of more obscure varieties of the myth. The discussion on how to make vampires is a little rule heavy, but still worth taking a look at.

-Starke

I’m writing a story in which a vampire and a human create a deal where the vampire can suck the humans blood in return for money. The only issue is, I’m not sure how they’d safely go about it without A. Killing the Human or B. Turning the Human into a Vampire. I’m also not sure how often that exchange could happen, when taking the harm done to the human into concern and letting them heal up. Do you have any ideas? :0

This is all excellent and I’m just throwing out some other ideas for consideration. Here’s a quote from the fantastic British series Ultraviolet on this problem of vampires and feeding. It’s an amazing show and it has some pretty neat insights into vampires that are worth lifting. It also has Idris Elba as a vampire hunter.

clevergirlhelps:

  1. The FAQ here says it takes about a month to replenish the pint of blood that normal donations ask for. You should probably go by that law or maybe cut it a little closer – say, every twenty days – to avoid killing the human or giving them severe anemia. You should probably bring more people into the blood fold so the vampire can feed more often.
  2. Your vampire could suck the blood out through an IV, straw, or any other device that keeps the vampire mouth away from human skin. Or the human could give the pint of blood and the vamp could suck it out of the donation bag. Alternately, you could come up with a different method of spreading vampirism, like a spell or being touched with a talisman or dying in a certain way.

Just a note: blood isn’t a very good nutrient. The vampire bat drinks about half its weight in blood at every meal to get the nutrients it needs. To compare, an 80 kg vampire would need to drink 40 L of blood (84.5 pints) almost daily if they had the same blood-evolved digestive system as the vampire bat. Also, at the end of feeding, the vampire bat is too heavy to fly, so it urinates most of the liquid in the blood it has drunk. Most vampire books don’t address this – and I’m not saying you should either – but it’s something to think about.

Mike: How is all this kept quiet? I mean, a body turns up drained-
Doctor Angie Marsh: Doesn’t happen. Successful parasites don’t kill their host. They don’t drain their prey unless they want to recruit, and they’re very careful about who they recruit. Like we are

You get into trouble if you think about vampires as predators, but instead as parasites. A vampire doesn’t have to kill, in fact, it’s better for them in the long run if they don’t because they can keep themselves fed on a safe, steady supply of blood without having to worry about the mess that comes with having to constantly dispose of the bodies.

If you’re dealing with a variant of vampire that has to completely drain the host to ensure their own survival then this won’t apply, but if a vampire can leave the person their feeding on alive then they should because that person is a replenishing supply of blood. Now, your vampire is going to have to have developed some measure of self-control to be able to do this and depending on the kind of person the vampire is that may be difficult. It’s also going to depend on how often the vampire practices feeding. A vampire who feeds on human beings constantly is going to be better at controlling themselves than a vampire who does not do so regularly or one that usually completely abstains, such as Stefan Salvatore of Nicholas Knight. A vampire who turns up their nose at being a vampire isn’t going to be a very good at actually being vampire when it counts.

You’re going also going to have to ask yourself a few questions:

1) How much blood does the vampire need to drink to survive?

A vampire who needs to devour the whole amount of blood in the human system to replenish the blood they lose daily may actually choose to feed from multiple different people everyday instead of just one. If they only need a little blood, they may just use a single individual.

2) How often does the vampire need to feed?

If your vampire needs to feed every day, then feeding from the same person could be a problem. If the vampire only really needs to eat every few days or only needs fresh blood every few days while alternately subsisting on blood bags or animal blood, then they’ll probably give the human the time they need to recover before they feed again. Will they be living with the human or will it be a standard drop by situation?

3) How do people become vampires in your setting?

Sometimes, the process can be complicated. Sometimes, depending on the vampire society, it can be highly and carefully regulated. How people become vampires is going to depend on how many people know that vampires exist or if the existence of vampires is common knowledge. If turning someone into a vampire without the express permission of the local vampire government is illegal, then it’s likely that your vampire is going to be very careful when he or she feeds.

4) Why isn’t the vampire just taking the blood?

Vampires don’t generally pay for blood, so this is something that you’re going to have to cover in your story if you haven’t already. It can be moral reasons or the vampires not possessing powers of mind control, but the reason should be fairly upfront to avoid confusion.

Recommended Reading/Viewing:

Ultraviolet (1998): This fantastic British serial from the late nineties starred Jack Davenport, Idris Elba, Suzannah Harker, and Philip Quast. It may be a little hard to find, but you should look at it.

Forever Knight (1989-1996): This campy show starred Geraint Wyn Davies as the 800 year old vampire Nicholas Knight, who was looking for redemption and worked as a cop in Toronto. It’s ridiculously campy, but the vampires are done very well and might provide you with some ideas for getting out of the Anne Rice box. (If nothing else, Nigel Bennet as Nick’s sire, Lacroix is memorable.)

Vampire: the Masquerade: I usually throw this one out there, but it’s a great toolbox for how vampires might live in the modern world and what sort of societies, rules, and laws they might generate. Specifically, the source book Ghouls may be helpful to you for generating ideas on how other vampires might view your vampire’s arrangement with your human and how other relationships between vampires and humans evolve. If you want the experience of being a vampire or existing in the Masquerade world, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is a great video game RPG to get you thinking like a vampire (just don’t play the Malkavians first).

-Michi

do you have any tips on playing a vampire?

thetrolliestcritic:

If you’re in a group, they should have guidelines to playing their vampire species that discuss strengths & weaknesses, abilities, etc. I’d stick to that. But if not, here’s my two cents on playing/creating a Vampire, as a person with intimate and extensive history with this species.

PICK YOUR VAMPIRE TYPE

There are different types of Vampires out there, and even more that you could add on to or change somehow to reinvent them. There are sparkly Vampires, Buffy The Vampire Slayer I-have-a-very-strange-angry-face-effect-when-I-turn-on-my-Vampyric-powers Vampires, categories of Vampires, IRL Vampires, more stuff on IRL Vampires, ‘The Four Types of Vampires’ Vampires, ‘Vampire The Masquerade’ Vampires — literally shit tons of different ones out there to choose from or take inspiration from. 

Dive in and explore your options to figure out what kind of Vampire you want to use or base your Vampire off of. Typing in ‘types of vampires’ into Google is a+ helpful. 

CREATE THE MYTHOLOGY

I do not exactly recommend using outdated, overused, old ideas from other mythology to base your Vampires off of. Instead, I’d suggest you invent them all your own using what you know of Vampires already and building off of that.

Things to consider when creating Vampire mythology

  • Do they use clans? If so, how do clans function? How to Vampires outside of clans work? Are Vampires capable of being happy or fulfilled outside of these clans? Are clans a traditional thing that’s outdated in your society, or are they still present? How do other Vampires join these clans, if they can at all? 
  • Is there more than one kind of Vampire? Is there a hierarchy among different types of Vampires, such as ‘this one is deemed lesser than the others’? If so, what is this hierarchy based off of?
  • What do they eat? Human blood only, or animal blood too? How does blood effect Vampires in general, and how could different bloods effect them individually? Can they drink and eat human food, or will it makes them fall ill? Can they eat other supernatural creatures?
  • Do your Vampires follow any kind of religious views that are strictly of the Vampyric realm itself, or are they allowed to believe whatever? Do they believe in anything at all? Are their beliefs dependent on what clan they belong to?
  • How does turning work? How long does it take? Can Vampires turn humans and other species all they want? Are their progeny(s) seen as sacred children of theirs or just another Vampire? 
  • Can they mate to produce more children? Will their children be Vampires too? What about hybrids?
  • Do they hide from the world, or are out in plain sight? Or, do they reign over a selected piece of land?
  • Are people afraid of them? Are they part of the society’s folk lore?
  • How do they act? Does being a Vampire effect their personality? Does being in a clan effect their personality? Is there anything considered ‘bad Vampire behavior’?
  • What is their history throughout the centuries? Where did they come from / begin? How did they migrate? Do they shape-shift at all?
  • What are their fangs like? Rounded? Straight? Do they extend? Where are they located? 

PICK YOUR VAMPIRE ABILITIES, & MORE

Some Vampires smell as well as dogs, or hear as well as bats. Some Vampires are capable of sensing emotions that help them realize what a person is feeling even if they try to lie about it. Others can see visions while they sleep. Again, I don’t recommend using the same old boring folklore throughout history to rip your Vampires’ abilities off of. Get creative. 

I do, however, suggest you keep the whole ‘can’t be in the sun’ thing, since that’s a distinguishing Vampire-mainly type weakness. Their strengths and weaknesses are ultimately yours to play with, so have a bit of fun and think outside the box. 

Things to consider

  • Does Vampyric age effect how strong or weak a Vampire’s abilities are? 
  • What is your Vampire’s individual abilities? Meaning, out of all their abilities, what is their most honed or least good with?
  • How do Vampires die? 

I normally just play/create my Vampires based off everything above or take these things into consideration when developing my Vampires, and they seem to spring to life rather well. Hope this helps you out a bit, anon!

This is really great. I’d also add, don’t forget about vampire variations beyond the Western. These myths are world wide and you can take a lot of inspiration from the different varieties. Africa and Asia both have very interesting myths dealing with these undead.

Wikipedia: Vampire Folklore by Region is a good jumping off point to see the wide variation (and how old) vampire folklore really is and how far back beyond Dracula it goes. Vampires have been an important part of cultural myths all over the world and there are a bevy of interesting stories to draw inspiration from.

Jiangshi: The Jiangshi are a variant of vampire that feeds directly on a person’s energy or life force.

Kindred of the East was White Wolf’s foray into Asian vampire counterparts that that they called the Queijin (specifically Chinese and Japanese, and more specifically “chi eaters”). It’s a wothwhile starting point for research, but take it with copious amounts of salt. White Wolf can be spotty when dealing with other cultures, though their research is usually good. Either way, it’s a nice starting point and may give a few ideas especially if you’re looking to go in a different direction. The powerlist and descriptions in the sourcebook is very helpful.

Wikipedia: Asanbosam from West Africa.

Wikipedia: The Adze

The Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom: this was a secondary sourcebook dealing with the “Laibon” which were the vampire bloodlines out of Africa and based in the continent’s myriad of mythological traditions in the White Wolf’s World of Darkness setting. Again, some interesting stuff that already gears itself towards character building, storytelling, and society crafting.

White Wolf ran historical versions of Vampire in Vampire: The Dark Ages and Victorian Vampire.

The GURPS Vampire Companion, Blood Types, Creatures of the Night, and Undead are excellent investments for the collection of research material that is easy to flip through and are all a treasure trove of ideas. They’re also pretty cheap to order used from Amazon.

However, always be aware of the perils of Exotification and Orientalism in  the works listed, in any you uncover, and in your own work. Always do research on the societies the myths are based in so you can grasp some of the themes these societies valued and feared.

-Michi