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Basic Information

Mentors are characters whose role in the story is to impart their knowledge, wisdom, and/or ultimate fighting moves to their students. Typically the mentor guides the development of the protagonist and/or advises them to the completion of a quest, but on occasion the mentor may be the protagonist - often in the form of a Culture Hero bringing new law or learning to a society or some other role helping a community to overcome its own challenges1. Mythopoetically, the "third faces" of man and woman are both mentor archetypes - although the crone is far more fixed in this aspect.

There is also the small matter of the servant-mentor … essentially a "thinking brain dog" to their master (although the depth of the role may vary), a role played by viziers, spymasters and cunning valets alike.

Depending on your setting, a mentor need not necessarily be human - Chiron the centaur is a classical example, whilst more modern myths include Herne the hunter as a mentor to Robin Hood (other incarnations of The Green Man such as Leshies have also been known to serve in similar roles), the mysterious Iron John (from the eponymous novel) and similar things. An obvious fantasy mentor, albeit one not well explored, might be a dragon - as explored in the entry for Puff the Magic Dragon.

List of Mentor Archetypes


Game and Story Use

  • In many game systems, the PCs cannot simply improve and/or learn new skills on their own, but need to seek out a mentor to teach them. Finding the right mentor can be a quest on its own.
  • Mentors don't have to be limited to specific skills and game mechanics, either. A mentor may be very necessary as an introduction to an unfamiliar culture or social class.
  • Mentors also will tend to feature in backstory and can provide useful questgivers, patrons and similar things.
  • In some situations, the PCs themselves might end up as mentors.
    • The stereotypical case is when a group of veteran adventurers tries to teach a village how to defend itself from bandits.
    • Where such things are relevant, an experienced PC may well find themselves entrusted with an apprentice of some kind that they are obliged to develop.
  • Inexperienced players could be assigned an NPC mentor - whether a cunning valet or a grizzled veteran - to protect them from the costs of their own naivety.
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