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How much fantasy is too much fantasy?

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Tavernking, Apr 18, 2019.

?

Select your desired amount of fantasy in medieval RPGs.

  1. No fantasy

    12 vote(s)
    11.1%
  2. Low fantasy

    33 vote(s)
    30.6%
  3. Tolkien fantasy

    28 vote(s)
    25.9%
  4. High fantasy

    35 vote(s)
    32.4%
  1. Mystic_Quest Learned

    Mystic_Quest
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    Yes, none likes doing repetitive things in general, but I think that a video game that completely avoids anything repetitive would be either very short or very expensive to create. Also in order for these encounters not to feel mundane, they should be rather rare with the rest of the content being mundane in comparison. And if the rest of the content had to be mundane in comparison to these special encounters, wouldn't it be worse if it felt mundane compared to the real world as well?

    Maybe what you have in mind is a Shadow of the Colossus-style game with more lengthy memorable encounters and fewer fetch quests (to which I'd agree).
     
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  2. Kit Walker Totally Not Captain Shrek

    Kit Walker
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    Okay, maybe my earlier point was unclear.

    High fantasy when the themes in the *storytelling* and *not* the world itself are grandiose. Great evil, end of the world, noble heroes, great sacrifice etc.

    As opposed that the motives of characters in low fantasy are more mundane and territorial.
     
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  3. Mr. Magniloquent Savant

    Mr. Magniloquent
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    Coherent ones that abide by a rational framework. High-Fantasy preferred, though it's the easiest to do poorly. Settings usually excel better when they are some form of advanced technological SciFi rather than magical setting, as creators more readily make their worlds consistent and believable through a technological lens.
     
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  4. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    ghostdog
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  5. Crispy Who's really in charge here? Undisputed Queen of Faggotry

    Crispy
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    I don't like the definition of "high fantasy" that op gives. Let's go through his citations step-by-step.

    While I will agree that that is precisely what appears to be going on in Skyrim (due to the game's nature), only the unimaginative and dense buffoon actually believes that's the case with "99% of medeival RPGs" (whatever that means). You're being willfully ignorant, or perhaps not so willfully, if you think that all the magical events and items you see in the game's world exist or are occurring simultaneously everywhere else in that world.

    While Baldur's Gate might also be a bad example of that to point to, due to Forgotten Realms' own Candy Land of magic reputation, it still shouldn't apply due simply to the fact that there are still plenty of normal villagers, plenty of normal buildings, plenty of normal animals and plants and everyday happenings -- plus countless more that are not being explicitly modeled in the game.

    This obviously brings up the old subject of content vs. empty space, which I won't get into here, other than to state that, in this specific example (Baldur's Gate the RPG), having too much of the latter would have defined that game as being something other than what it is, and probably to its detriment despite my stance on this subject.

    This is a more reasonable evaluation, but, unfortunately, it directly contradicts your first one which you attempted to dilute by stating the second. You don't appear to be convinced by your own notion of the 'significant portion of the population', so I dismiss both sentiments, at least coming from you.

    This really is just silly hyperbole but it's worth addressing nonetheless. Certainly due to Gamebryo's design, and probably through partial intention, a game like Skyrim can have monsters piling up right outside the city's gates. That's unfortunate, but I doubt 100% intended. However, and to borrow your own terminology, it's not true with 99% of "medieval RPGs". Random encounters have been a thing, always, and a necessary one IMO, but if you're confusing the need to artificially shorten the distances between towns, dungeons and other points of interest, along with the density of the population of monsters and other encounters with how these worlds would be represented instead in print, or even in a world where all PCs were powerful enough to handle rendering a much larger (and thus less "dense" world), then you're again being purposefully obtuse.

    Please do not confuse your own preference of the size of the game world and its monster population density with the way that these 99% of medieval RPGs that op is referring to would actually be if their designers were going for more "realism". As has already been pondered earlier ITT, not all fantasy works have monsters at every step. I'd say, in print, none do. But with RPGs in particular, unfortunately, there are far too many technical limitations and typically far too small of budgets to allow otherwise.

    This seems the fairest assessment of them all, but only on its surface. Again, I would argue, that if the typical RPG that you're attempting to categorize here were converted into a fantasy novel, there would be far less of this kind of interaction had the reader the ability to step back and observe what's going on all over the "land", right then and there. Clearly, these things such as fantasy race demographics are up to the creator, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to ask the typical Codexer whether or not elves and dwarves, universally, are represented as minorities, and have them agree that they are, unless in very specific circumstances.

    High fantasy does not refer to density of magic. It refers to the extent to which that magic can reach. It refers to its subtlety, or, more specifically, to its lack thereof.
     
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  6. bylam Funcom Developer

    bylam
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    It's fucking expensive though - take it from the poor bastard trying to make a game with Conan as the main character.
     
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  7. lukaszek the determinator

    lukaszek
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    if you want dice rolls in your rpgs then its only fitting that you chose high fantasy setting. With each roll something magical happens
     
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  8. Sacred82 Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    Sacred82
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    more of a question of design.

    You have e.g. Ultima's approach where monsters are largely confined to a few huge dungeons.
     
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  9. Life of the Party Arcane

    Life of the Party
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    Show Spoiler

     
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  10. Stormcrowfleet Cipher

    Stormcrowfleet
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    I like Tolkien level. And for me Conan and such is the same level.

    That being said, I disagree that GoT is "low fantasy". You have spirits, resurrections, shapeshifter, magical sword, dragons, undead, etc. what more do you want ? It's literally more "fantasy" than Tolkien IMO.
     
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  11. Crispy Who's really in charge here? Undisputed Queen of Faggotry

    Crispy
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    Even Hyborea is much more high fantasy than Middle-Earth is. Conan's faced plenty of sorcerers whose spells manifest in ways Tolkein would never dream of depicting.

    Heh, dePICTing. No pun intended.
     
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  12. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    Just because the heroes I mentioned were always epic level doesn't mean your RPG character has to be. Don't take it so literally.

    Even Conan and Red Sonja had to train to become who they are in the stories and comics. How does a sword and sorcery setting with unique and rare monster encounters and rare but powerful magic automatically preclude character development?

    You can be one of a dozen wizards in the area the game is set in. That would make you special, yes, but not "The One". And you can still encounter magical creatures, one of the other wizards who might be hostile towards you, people using artifacts that have magic properties, etc. Were Conan and Red Sonja only fighting mundane enemies in their stories? No, they weren't.

    Low fantasy just means magic is something special, not something you find at every street corner. That can make it more exciting.

    Somehow people here think that in low fantasy, magic is so rare it's barely found at all. But there is plenty of magical stuff even in low fantasy. It's just not as ubiquitous.
     
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  13. Beastro Arcane

    Beastro
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    That's the sad thing about Tolkien. Of all the things other creators took from his work, most ignored his creation of internal consistency and sticking to it except where things were left more open.

    In both cases he worked with what he'd set up before even when he didn't have to. One can see that with his "one elf, one name" rule, which when he realized he'd violated it giving it to two individuals, he didn't simply arbitrarily change ones name, but allowed it as a chance to explore something he hadn't considered of reincarnation being in his world, and so went with that, but making it effectively the only moment of it happening. so it remained rare.

    Of course that always leaves room for successors to fuck with things, and they will, which is what we've seen of that rule in Shadow of Mordor.

    "But, but, but it's dirtier and people are nastier and its more cynical and nihilistic, therefore it's more realistic!"

    The only thing grounded about it is the bits of history that follow something of a subdued, historical course, but most of that is backstory.

    That's the nature of gameplay butting heads with the nature of story telling.

    Play is a form of work (If you doubt that look at baby animals play. You'll clearly see in what they do that they're training for what they will need to rely on to survive as adults), gameplay needs an element of labour in it and enough to give the rest body.

    Usually that's combat and filling it with entertaining mechanics, which is why combat is so predominant in games. Without combat you have to add something else in even if it's filler dialogue.

    It's why in the Conan example you mention from the first film you only see enough of the break in to get enough of a feel of it rather than seeing the entire thing and all the mundane, silent parts of it. Imagine now trying to translate that part of the film into the level of a game and how you'd have to add filler so there'd be something for Conan and Co. to do to prevent it from being a simple interactive story with light combat elements.

    That's why story will always be in conflict with gameplay in games. Too much of one is just a poor mans movie while too much of the other is just mindless busywork even if it's enjoyable busywork.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
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  14. Serus Arcane

    Serus
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    I like Darklands setting. Which would be low fantasy but in historical setting of year 1400.
    I also liked the idea behind Vogel's Nethergate. More fantasy but still some historical base.
     
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  15. what am i doing Learned

    what am i doing
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    Honestly I can and do enjoy the whole spectrum of options you've laid out there. I can't really pick any of them as best or worst. However, I can say that I prefer as few fantasy races as possible. Their presence can be ok when there's one or two, or if they exist on the fringes of the setting, or if they are savage races that take the role of things like pygmies and Australian aborigines in real life.

    What I don't like is having a ton of assorted fantasy races all living together in one setting. I find it tends to be poorly implemented and unbelievable, and leads to an absence of realistic cultural gradience, and the setting ends up feeling flat - at least in that area.

    That's not to indicate a preference for low fantasy - high fantasy is great, I just prefer the sapient races to be largely humans-only.
     
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  16. V_K Arcane

    V_K
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    There's also the option of low fantasy where magic is relatively common but relatively weak - basically, glorified psionics. IIRC, Witch World was something like this (plus interdimensional travel). That's both give the PC the ability to play a mage, and make it easier for the setting to maintain logical consistency.
    As far as non-humans go, I'd prefer to keep the monsters intact (maybe give them more of a horror vibe), but to limit the playable/sentient races to various species of human.
    But then again, anything goes as long as the dungeon design is good - and if it's not, no amount of story and setting would rectify it.
     
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  17. Sabotin Educated

    Sabotin
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    I'm never bothered by magic "ammount" itself, each setting can be good or bad. For high fantasy I'm more concerned abut the rules and consistency of magic. It really sucks when you get questions about logic popping in your head while playing and it's even worse when writers are aware and try to patch the holes as they go along, with convoluted ass-pulls or just more nonsense.
     
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  18. btbgfel Scholar

    btbgfel
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    Depends

    For gameplay, "low" fantasy trends to suit action games better, severance, die by the sword etc. and "high" fantasy suits strategy games better, master of magic, heroes of mm etc.
    The default d&d settings(FR/Greyhawk) fantasy works well enough for party-based rpgs happened in them.

    For storytelling, story in low fantasy setting might easier to tell, then again, I'm not a writer.

    Personally, bloodborne hits jackpot for me.
     
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  19. Wilian Arcane Patron

    Wilian
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    Divinity: Original Sin
    It always amuses me that people treat Tolkien's world as somehow low magic/low tier magic while magic and magical artifacts are abdunant
     
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  20. Wilian Arcane Patron

    Wilian
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    People here seem to be very confused regarding magic in Tolkien's setting. Sure it's not the highest of fantasies where magic is pervasive thru' lives of common people but it is in active use thorough the narrative by many of the characters and often.

    Gandalf does magic all the time, some flashy, some less so. Reason why no one doubted the Ring first is because when elves were making them they made shit-ton of minor rings as training and with the casuality Gandalf treated the matter it's obvious they can be found here and there so it wasn't a matter of concern. We see elves being magical creatures of two realms, the spirit and the physical from getgo, we see them do magics on multiple occassion, Aragorn has some magical properties in him that helps him combat the fel magics of the Nazgul, Nazgul themselves are very magical with their leader more or less capable of rising any dead spirits up, speaking of which we meet them from getgo. There's sentient trees capable of magic (Old Willow) and magic is just something that you keep stumbling on. We know there are magic words and incantations that about anyone can learn. Items, objects doors and gates are infused with magics.

    To equate Tolkien's setting with a low magic one is just absurd. It's a ""standard"" fare fantasy.
     
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  21. nikolokolus Arcane

    nikolokolus
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    I dont have any real preference for low magic or high magic in the fantasy fiction I've read, but what I dont like is magic the way it's usually portrayed in tabletop or computer RPGs: heavily systematized, predictable, effects that feel more like quasi-medieval heavy artillery than anything I'd consider "magic."

    If there was some way to make magic more trial-and-error, less predictable, or more ritualistic ("eye of newt, wing of bat," etc.) and a helluva lot more subtle, I'd play something like that.

    The only thing that springs to mind that comes close, are Arkane's magic system in Arx Fatalis, or Ultima Underworld. Each were kind of satisfying for not just being "push button."
     
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  22. RatTower Arcane Developer

    RatTower
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    I'd want more fairy tale-like fantasy, so I'd probably go with Tolkien.
    I mean it doesn't have to be King's Quest but something in that direction.

    Gimme some knights, witches and unicorns and all that corny shit. Everything is always so down (i should probably watch my mouth in that regard as well).
    Use them sparingly and you can even make talking animals work. And then you get that nice moment of wonder and surprise that fantasy is about.
    Fantasy and especially fairy tales exploit the contrast with the regular world to draw you in. Magic is a part of it, but it's gotta be something like a punchline. Bit of a reward. You can't give everybody magic.
    If lots of people know magic, nobody knows anything magical. Cause then it's just another thing some guys can do, and others maybe can't. But you got that in the real world already. There ain't nothing special about that.
    For example, you might look at a guy that can bench press 200 pounds and while that may be impressive - and you are probably not able to do that - it doesn't invoke the same sense of wonder, like something that seems as if it shouldn't exist.
    Maybe a way to put it: Magic needs to be miraculous to be magical.
    Otherwise it's just another tool.

    Which can be fine I guess. After all RPGs are supposed to be fun. And magic as a tool is fun.
    So in games you'll almost always end up with "High Fantasy". It just adds a lot gameplay-wise.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
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  23. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    There is no such thing as too much fantasy. There is such thing as too little consistency (usually accompanied by disappointingly too little actual fantasy).

    Consistency is hard and, granted, keeping fantasy low helps in reusing RL as crutch (and you can still do many interesting things with that). OTOH we've already had history once, and most fantasy gleefully discards actual consistency while slavishly sticking to faux medieval trappings, same fantasy races and tropes regurgitated over and over, only succeeding at banishing any notion of originality.

    Fuck those losers.
     
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  24. BING XI LAO Magister

    BING XI LAO
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    My preference is for super mega ultra high fantasy where the main limit on spellcasting is that it explodes unpredictably or causes the mage to be attacked by magic-eating horrors, and where most sentient races are magically altered and monstruous, and humans are a relatively unimportant group, mostly noteworthy as slave labour performing tasks that require moderate intelligence, such as maintaining vast arcane machines beyond their understanding
     
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  25. Darkzone Arcane

    Darkzone
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    Elves are overused and carry implicate things like requirement for high fantasy and magic. A man with a sword facing a one strong monster is enough to make it an adventure.

    You are putting it very well. If there is no threat that goes into the personal level, then there is no adventure and no heroes journey.

    Some of my most favorite films are due to their handling of magic or the unknown: Clash of the Titans (1981) and Excalibur (1981). Magic is there something special and atmospheric and not something mundane common. Sadly this has been lost for all times, because the modern audience is spoiled with special effects and requires for their satisfaction superheroes in universal threats, instead of a true man with the will of iron overcoming the odds.

    Btw. You three. I will show you something, that a friend is making in 2 months or so.
     
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