Prescribed Sources

Prescribed Sources

The following list is a list of good sources which are highly likely to be accepted by the GM for Major Personas. They are divided by continent and then by culture. Each work has a name, a few of the characters, and a brief overview of the themes. Within a culture, works are listed earliest-to-latest, top to bottom.

African Literature

Akan-Ashanti

  • Anansi Tales. Traditional folklore figure: he can take the form of a spider, and often plays tricks on others. He repeatedly overcomes, humiliates and defeats those stronger than him through trickery and guile. Characters: Anansi. Themes: Intellect over brute force, resistance to tyranny, cleverness, guile and quick thinking winning the day.

Ethiopian

  • Kebra Nagast. 14th century composition of tales from the 4th and earlier. Queen Makeda of Ethiopia meets with King Solomon, seeking wisdom, and converts to Judaism; she is seduced by Solomon; she is given a ring for her son, so Solomon may know who he is. The son, Menelik, goes to Israel and is encouraged to become King of Israel, but wishes only to return to his mother. On the way home he learns that some of Solomon's knights travelling with him have stolen the Ark of the Covenant, which takes him back to Ethiopia before Solomon can catch him. Characters: Menelik, Queen Makeda. Themes: Loyalty to family, the right of authority and how it is gained, faith.

Kenyan

  • The Black Hermit. Play, 1962. Young Remi is the first of his tribe to attend university, but is torn between loyalty to tribe, loyalty to nation, and loyalty to his family and friends. He hides in the city, away from his conflictions, but is forced to return home to confront the woes of his family and his childhood love. Characters: Remi. Themes: Indecision, tribalism, nationalism, the impact of colonialism, hiding from the world's problems despite being able to affect them.

Liberian

  • Guanya Pau. 1891. Guanya Pau is a princess of the Vai, who at the death of her father at the age of 4, is betrothed to a man she despises. She grows up independent and strong-willed, and refuses to be married to him. She escapes, intervening in other examples of women being abused and forced into marriages, before finally being caught; she commits suicide rather than be wedded to the man she hates.Characters: Guanya Pau. Themes: Feminine power, misogynst oppression, love vs societal obligation, oppression.

Malagasy

  • Ibonia. Traditional folklore. An epic poem regarding Iboniamasiboniamanoro, who demands to be betrothed to the Joy-Giving Girl before he is even born. When she is taken, Ibonia embarks on an odyssey of quests and trials, including ones of physical might, persuasion and trickery, before he can win her back. Characters: Ibonia. Themes: The various ways one might overcome a challenge, embodying one's natural talents

Malinese

  • Sundiata Keita. 14th century. King Konake is told to marry an ugly, hunchbacked woman named Sogolon, whose son will be a great hero; the result is Sundiata Keita, a young prince who is born unable to walk or lift himself. After being driven out by rivals to the throne, he, through support from his mother and driven by anger, becomes very strong and ultimately retakes his land and founds the Mali Empire. He is likely a historical figure. Characters: Sundiata Keita, Sogolon. Themes: Destiny, rebellion, disability, overcoming an inherent adversity, proving oneself, the power of a mother.

Moroccan

  • The Sand Child. 1985. Mohammed Ahmed is the eighth daughter of a father who has yet to produce a son. She is raised as a boy, gaining the rights of privileges of such but also having to live a life of deceit. The story is narrated via a supposed journal about Ahmed, who writes about their challenges regarding their gender identity and with society. The back half of the journal is lost, swept up in the chaos of modernisation, but the audience who heard the tale each finishes the story in their own way, giving Ahmed (or Zahra, after a transition back to female) a happy ending, a tragic one and other outcomes. Characters: Mohammed Ahmed/Lalla Zahra. Themes: Deceit, mystery, gender ambiguity, concealment of identity, harm, critique of society.

Nigerian

  • Things Fall Apart. 1958. Okonkwo is a strong and powerful wrestler of the Igbo village of Umuofia. After he takes responsibility for the divinely ordained murder of his own guardian child, he goes into exile, and returns when he learns that Europeans are taking over his home. He fights, but realises his village will not fight, and commits suicide before the whites can arrest him. Characters: Okonkwo. Themes: Colonialism, reversing the paradigm of 'civilised' Europe vs 'savage' Africans, masculine expectations, resistance and violence vs non-violence.
  • The Forest of a Thousand Daemons. 1938. A picaresque novel in which a brave hunter named Akara-ogun adventures through the Forest, slaying monsters, committing deeds both good and evil, and overcoming hardships. The book weaves together both Christian and Yoruba elements- Akara-ogun confronts fallen angels as well as Yoruba spirits. Characters: Akara-ogun. Themes: Recklessness, cruelty, creating one's own problems, overcoming challenges and exploring the unknown.
  • Lance Spearman. Comic book, 1968. Lance Spearman is a sophisticated super-spy, superhero and detective. He loves his luxuries, drinking, eating and spending freely, but he is also an excellent fighter and marksman who fights evil geniuses, aristocrats and thieves. Characters: Lance Spearman. Themes: Enjoying pleasures, being an unstoppable wrecking machine, superheroes vs. supervillainy.

Swahili

  • Utendi wa Tambuka. 11th century. A Swahili retelling of the Arab-Byzantine Wars in which Ali the Lion, with courage, valour and unstoppable will, defeats Emperor Heraclius after he refuses to accept Islam. Characters: Ali ibn Ali Talib 'The Lion'. Themes: Faith, courage, accepting a challenge and dethroning the old.

South African

  • A Wreath for Udomo. 1956. London-educated Michael Udomo returns to Africa to become a revolutionary leader intending to overthrow a white colonialist government. He explores the politics of revolution and the communities needed to resist colonialism, and is eventually martyred. Characters: Michael Udomo. Themes: The politics of revolution, rebellion, colonialism, oppression, martyrdom, freedom.

Sudanese

  • The Wedding of Zein. 1962. Zein is the village fool who few take seriously: he has a tremendous appetite, long arms and body, and only two teeth. He often falls in love with girls and sings their praises, which constantly lead to those girls being noticed by others, leading to good marriages for them- so many families hope Zein falls in love with their daughters so they'll be married. Despite the disrespect, Zein possesses immense physical strength and many of the characteristics, unnoticed by others, of a Sufi saint. He is friend to many of the outcasts and the shunned, including the holy hermit Haneen, who reforms a criminal with a touch. At the end of the story, the village is blessed by many miracles thanks to Haneen's blessing- and finally Zein's love is reciprocated by Ni'ma, a studious girl who demands the right to choose her own marriage. Characters: Zein. Themes: The tension between popular religion and the orthodoxy, seeking peace and stability, the hope for female liberation, the appreciation of the true beneath the false veneer.

East Asian Literature

Chinese

  • The Judge Bao Cases. 13th to 19th centuries. Judge Bao Zheng (a historical figure) is a magistrate who investigates crimes and, on finding the culprits, passes judgment. He is upright, incorruptible, and fair to the weak and oppressed. Characters: Judge Bao. Themes: Justice, virtue, correct judgment, solving mysteries, protecting the weak.
  • Water Margin. 13th-14th centuries. It is based on the historical exploits of the outlaw Song Jiang and his 36 companions; over time, the tales are elaborated and expanded. The novel itself is concerned with '108 Stars of Destiny': spirits who did wicked things in the past, but have repented, are accidentally set free of imprisonment, and reincarnate as heroes. Song Jiang, the Hero of Justice, assembles his army of outlaws at Liangshang Marsh, where they resist the Song Empire and strike back at corrupt and abusive individuals. Apart from Song Jiang are notables such as the brash but immensely strong Lu Zhishen, the clever Zhu Wu, the expert tattooed warrior Shi Jin, and the brilliant strategist Wu Yong. Eventually they receive an amnesty and are turned into a proper army, where they fight against foreign invaders, but many of them die in battle and Song Jiang is poisoned to death by corrupt ministers. Characters: Song Jiang, Lu Zhishen, Zhu Wu, Shi Jin, Wu Yong (to name a few). Themes: Rebellion, youthful energy, good over law, treachery, cameraderie in the face of adversity, redemption.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms. 14th century. A retelling of the historical Three Kingdoms period of China through legends, folklore and opera. The corrupt Han Dynasty collapses and regional warlords divide the land between them, the most notable of whom are Cao Cao, a brilliant, ambitious, ruthless man who nonetheless believes firmly in upholding the law; Liu Bei, a virtuous scion of the Han who seeks to re-establish the Han Empire; and Sun Quan, whose family has carved out their own domain in the rural southlands of China. The story covers the end of the Han, the establishment of the three kingdoms and the successors of each man, such as Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei's genius advisor who seeks to conquer Cao Cao's heirs. Characters: Cao Cao, Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu (to name a few). Themes: Loyalty, ambition, intrigue, treachery, justice and the devastation of war- and its healing.
  • Journey to the West. 16th Century. Buddhist monk Xuanzang (a historical figure) travels to the 'west' (India and Central Asia) to retrieve sacred sutras. On the way, the bodhisattva Guanyin grants him three protectors. These are the Monkey King Sun Wukong, a violent, arrogant yet intelligent man who was so mighty that he led a rebellion against heaven, only to be tricked and sealed for 500 years by the Buddha; Zhu Baije, a commander of heaven who drunkenly hit on the moon goddess and was exiled to earth, where due to a celestial bureaucratic misfile he was born inside a pig, and thus is half-pig; and Sha Wujing, a great general exiled from heaven for accidentally knocking over a vase. Throughout their pilgrimage they face many challenges and dangers, many of which are tests by Buddha, but come through every time. Characters: Xuanzang, Sun Wukong, Zhu Baije, Sha Wujing. Themes: Pilgrimage, faith, being tested, worthiness, redemption.
  • Dream of the Red Chamber. 19th Century. Jia Baoyu is a youth born of a family in decline; he is the main character, compassionate and playful, but much of the focus is on his relationship with the twelve important women in his life, most notably Lin Daiyu, a beautiful, melancholy, emotional, sensitive, tragic and sickly young woman whom he loves, but dies early; and Xue Baochai, who is sensible, intelligent, extremely knowledgeable, tactful and unadorned, who is destined to be Baoyu's wife even though he does not love her. The book is heavy on symbolism, especially that of dream, fantasy and allegory. Characters: Jia Baoyu, Lin Daiyu, Xue Baochai. Themes: Illusion, fantasy, reality, and the impossibility to determine between them; love, choice, declining fortunes, inescapable destiny.
  • The Family. 1931. Young Gao Juehui is a rebellious and intellectual young man, the youngest of three brothers. He struggles constantly with the immense pressure placed on him from his family, who try to dominate his life; they have already forced his passive elder brother into a marriage he hates and a life he resents. Juehui is enamoured with the nationalist movement that demands a stronger China to resist foreign oppression, but is so caught up in his studies that he fails to help the woman he loves, who commits suicide. Filled with regret and angered at the stifling family, he leaves for the other side of the country. Characters: Gao Juehui. Themes: Indecision, unwanted obligation, rebellion, oppression, pride, unrequited love.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License