The 1994 RuneQuest-Con Compendium contains a long transcript of a panel that Greg Stafford presented about heroquesting. For those who do not know Glorantha, Greg Stafford's fantasy world, heroquesting is the ability for a character to interact with his culture's myths in order to gain powers. At a certain time in the seminar, an audience member says the following:
My problem with the mythical heroquest is that very few involve gangs of heroes doing something, except the Argonauts. Heroquests are almost always one guy in a spotlight, and the other people are usually made to follow orders. It's very rare that our 3 or 4 player characters all go off and decide they want to do this one thing.
To which Greg Stafford answers:
The problem that you state that, of almost all these transformative myths and stories are about individuals... It's very rare, you know, to find a whole group of people doing this thing together.
Well, I guess that's it. I don't want to write anything too clichéd, but I reckon the big difference is, the West emphasises the individual whereas the East emphasises the group. As a result, Western myths and literature feature individual heroes (sometimes with a sidekick) whereas Oriental myths and literature feature groups. In the Journey to the West, you have a group. In the Investiture of the Gods you have several groups. In the Water Margin you have 108 named heroes. In the Romance of the Three Kingdoms you have three sworn brothers. Even in the Dream of the Red Chamber there are almost forty major characters. And I believe this translates well into role-playing: having a party of 4 or 5 characters comes quite naturally about when you are intent on re-enacting the kind of adventures described in Chinese fiction. On the contrary, the kind of parties one sees in 'Western' role-playing games feel quite artificial, unless you're playing the Fellowship of the Ring for the umpteenth time.