"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. "
—"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962)
Legends typically grow up around historical and quasi-historical figures over time, such as Robin Hood, King Arthur, MacBeth, Billy The Kid, Pancho Villa, etc. Sometimes they can develop around a place, such as Area 51 or the Georgia Guidestones.
A legend may grow with the telling, but it's crucial that some element of verisimilitude be retained, or else the story becomes a fairytale or fable. The question with a Legend isn't really whether or not to believe, the question is how much to believe.
A good example would be tales concerning George Washington. He really was a Revolutionary War General, the first US President, and a Freemason. Stories about his experiences with cherry trees, or his throwing silver dollars across the Potomac River are legendary.
List of Legends
Game and Story Use
- In settings with Sympathetic Magic, having your legend spread may be empowering. Being a glory-seeker might have benefits beyond simple notoriety or reputation.
- Or debilitating side effects, if an unpleasant legend about you catches on and is spread far and wide. "He was a man of legendary cowardice…"
- Legends might also give birth to a mythago.