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The Phantom Legend

Put simply, legend has it that Phantom can never die. This has been achieved through 21 generations of the same family swearing the oath, donning the costume, the Skull Ring and the Good Mark, and secretly continuing a dynasty of warriors for justice. Ordinary people believe him to be the same man, with grandparents telling their grandchildren about seeing the Phantom "when I was your age...".

The Phantom is an ordinary person capable of accomplishing extraordinary things. Typically, it is the eldest son of each Phantom who has taken the oath and assumed the mantle on his father’s passing. The unchanging costume, family resemblance, jungle cunning, and intensive strength and conditioning training enable him to appear to the same person for four centuries, The Man Who Cannot Die.

But the jungle, the seas and the wider world are vast and The Phantom cannot be everywhere at once. He needs to be able to project his presence and his impact far and wide. He regularly confronts groups of evildoers where the odds are stacked in their favour. They may outnumber him, have more resources, be stronger, faster, more ruthless. But as every public figure understands – reputation is everything. Uncertainty and insecurity are at the heart of all fear and anxiety. If an antagonist (and their support) are intimidated by The Legend (i.e. they are facing an unstoppable force), this is a force multiplier for the Phantom and presents an advantage.

Early Phantoms quickly saw the value in fostering the hyperbole of storytelling, whether it be tales told around camp fires, or at sea by sailors and pirates, the hushed warnings among the criminal underworld, or the tales of the oral historians of indigenous cultures. Stories of his feats, most based on actual events, some grown purely from fear or wonder, grew the legend of The Phantom, the Ghost Who Walks, the Man Who Cannot Die.

Outdated reference: very early Falk stories referenced the Phantom using simple conjuring tricks and theatrics to enhance the legend of his immortality among native Bangallans. While these can still be considered in modern tales, previous reliance on the ignorance of the audience and the ethical and cultural impact of The Phantom employing these methods should be considered by creators and balanced appropriately.

While Old Jungle Sayings are covered elsewhere on this site, key elements which feed into the Phantom Legend are:

  • The lineage of The Phantom is closely held secret. The public (especially any antagonist) should believe that there is only one Phantom, and that he is immortal and so far, over 400 years old.

  • He is the Man Who Cannot Die – He either fakes his death, cheats death, or is replaced by his son.

  • He is the Ghost Who Walks – He can’t be killed. He can, but stories should reinforce this legend, as it instils fear and doubt into any potential enemy.

  • The Deep Woods are under the Phantom’s protection and guarded by the Bandar Tribe. The Deep Woods houses the legendary Skull Cave and its location, together with the boundless treasures it contains, is a closely held secret.

  • Any antagonist who sees the Phantom’s eyes dies a horrible death. Close allies can see them by exception. The reader / audience should never see his eyes.

  • To unmask the Phantom would allow someone to identify that he is not the same person between successive generations (with his hair and face covered, it reinforces the immortality legend). The white mask covering the eyes was also borne from Falk’s inspirations for the character coming from Greek Mythology. Statues of that period have no pupils. Practically, it allows for a more intimidating combatant – if an opponent can’t see his eyes, they are less likely to be able to read his reactions or intentions. This adds to the intimidation of an opponent, fosters uncertainty and prevents them detecting a planned move, punch or gunshot.

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