What is the fantasy “Standard” for role playing games today?


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Like many of the older players here, when I started the Standard by which our attempts to recreate fantasy adventures in our games was derived from books everyone was familiar with (among our group that is). So for us, Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Sword of Shannara, and the Elric Sagas were the idealizations we crafted our play style around.

But, it seems today that the Standard for many role playing adventure gamers is not based in the novel as much as it is the computer game and animated series (which themselves have Standards derived from sources such as novels and other role playing games). As I am an older guy, who did not get into computer games all that much, and as I have a limited exposure to the gamut of animated adventure stories, I wonder, if you younger players could help me out with a list of what the Standards of fantasy role playing games are for you.

What are the Thematic and Genre staples that constitute the Standard from where your games are derived?


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For the modern generation, I'd say World of Warcraft.


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Ooh good question.

I'm 31, grew up in the 90s, and started playing d&d some time in the mid 90s when I was 10-12. I didn't really start coming up with good character concepts until later though.

For me, the Nintendo and Super Nintendo JRPGs (Japanese style RPGS), like Final Fantasy (I started with 4, and absolutely loved 6), Dragon Warrior (particularly 4), and Chrono Trigger are the most memorable and probably the most influencial. To this day if you give me a character based off of Locke, Cyan, or Frog I will love it.

I read the Hobbit in elementary school. I enjoyed it, but can't really say I remember it. The Chronicles of Narnia were much more defining for me, and I absolutely love them. I was also facinated in elementary school by Greek myths, but never actually got into actual books of them, just children's summaries.
At some point in middle school I tried to read LotR. I got through the first 2 books, but just could never finish it, and have never bothered to try to read them again. I remember reading a few other things in high school, particularly The Waterborn and The Blackgod by Gregory Keyes, and Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, the later mostly because my brother read it and ran a campaign in Ancient Greece. I never really read for fun until I got into college.

In high school, I got into anime. Rurouni Kenshin in particular influenced me a lot. I had some terrible rips of Flame of Recca that I loved, though I probably wouldn't recommend the series now, especially with how disappointed I was that the show ends abruptly mid plot arc.

As for movies, Princess Bride, Labyrinth, Dragonheart, and especially Willow. Hercules and Xena were on TV, and I wouldn't miss them.

After I got into college in the early 2000's, things got a lot more complicated.


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This is your reminder that the kids who played The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion as their first "rpg" when they were 10 have now all graduated high school.


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We're old school like you but I don't know if there is modal fantasy gaming anymore.


This is a reminder, that my first home computer was a Cromemco C-10SP


Actually there is a lot of good modern fantasy literature out there. If I had to, I'd somewhat base my campaigns on Brandon Sanderson's, R. A. Salvatore's and Richard Schwartz's stories. Luckily I don't have to go through building my own campaign as a new GM, Paizo's APs are a good base. When I add something to the published campaign, I try to use the same style. I am at the beginning of my 30s, guess this counts as still 'young' from the perspective of an ADnD veteran.

My players (end of their 20s) usually don't read these books. They come from games like Baldur's Gate II, Planescape Torment, Neverwinter Nights and Dragon Age. They had to adept somewhat, since in the campaign they face more varied encounters, less opportunity to shop / craft etc. - and (most importantly) they have to deal with the rest of the group. But they are usually openminded and it runs well.

As a gamer, everyone is used to be the one and only hero, so I give everybody a chance to shine. Additionally, they are used to be able to never really die and (nearly) always be able to act - hence I am very reluctant to kill someone or paralyze / stun / dominate etc.. They don't see themselves as equals to the monsters, they see themselves as the heroes who are destined to triumph. That's ok with me. They will have to sweat and bleed for it, though...


You know the whole shopping thing is a topic unto itself. I don't remember anyone going "shopping" in the Hobbit, or in The Sword of Shanarra (two books I read when I was young) and in my first campaign, shopping was a very small part of the game, and no magic shopping of any kind was ever available.

I imagine that games like DragonQuest, DragonWarrior, and Final Fantasy (though I am sure they were not the first) were big parts of introducing the necessity of going shopping to constantly upgrade equipment (as an aside, my first campaign, my sister played a Cleric and he wore the same armor from level 1 through level 5, when he finally broke down and bought better armor, and it was non magical, and he wore that until he retired at level 11).

I wonder if there is a researched examination on the introduction of "shopping" in Video Games.


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Terquem wrote:

You know the whole shopping thing is a topic unto itself. I don't remember anyone going "shopping" in the Hobbit, or in The Sword of Shanarra (two books I read when I was young) and in my first campaign, shopping was a very small part of the game, and no magic shopping of any kind was ever available.

I imagine that games like DragonQuest, DragonWarrior, and Final Fantasy (though I am sure they were not the first) were big parts of introducing the necessity of going shopping to constantly upgrade equipment (as an aside, my first campaign, my sister played a Cleric and he wore the same armor from level 1 through level 5, when he finally broke down and bought better armor, and it was non magical, and he wore that until he retired at level 11).

I wonder if there is a researched examination on the introduction of "shopping" in Video Games.

Not really. Shopping became a thing with the conversion from 2E to 3E. Instead of randomly priced, eccentric magic items mostly detailed in non-mainline sources (look at the Magic Item Encyclopedia), they introduced standardized rules and prices for magic items, combined with rules for player crafting, in the core rules. The introduction of the CR system and wealth by level also partially codified expected gear players were assumed to have by certain levels. I think most of this came from wanting to empower GMs with more knowledge of how to do good encounter and campaign design, but it ended up with some strong drawbacks.


Yes, but don't you thing those changes were made because of the "zeny" store (I think it was called) in Legend of Zelda and other such video games.

I really think the idea of creating a need to keep buying new gear came into the rpg (table top) hobby from outside developments

Liberty's Edge

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Can Final Fantasy IX be the standard to which we all aspire to have our fantasy roleplaying meet? Because I f!!+ing love Final Fantasy IX.

Shadow Lodge

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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Terquem wrote:

Yes, but don't you thing those changes were made because of the "zeny" store (I think it was called) in Legend of Zelda and other such video games.

I really think the idea of creating a need to keep buying new gear came into the rpg (table top) hobby from outside developments

I blame Diablo. :)

Also, as an older gamer I find it interesting that the literary touchstones for my gaming peers were things you didn't mention: Thieves World, Brust's Dragaera, and Glen Cook's Black Company series.

I expect the party to be underpowered and underequipped at every turn, against enemies that don't fight fair. Playing 3E/PF has been...strange.


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Fantasy literature has largely changed in style over the years as well.

Authors like Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, and Brent Weeks are the norm now, and Rule of Cool takes a bit more of a center stage than some of the more grounded series of the past.

It's kind of interesting conceptually. Currently the norm for fantasy is closer to where ancient legends were thousands of years ago. Gilgamesh and Hercules could feel right at home on the pages of some of Sanderson's works, with the deeds they perform.

Right now a lot of focus seems to be on more legendary figures as far as deeds, though generally with more character development than the ancient myths.

Likewise, many anime, cartoons, and video games have followed this style as well, though longer since in some cases (and especially in the case of comic books and manga).


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Rynjin wrote:

Fantasy literature has largely changed in style over the years as well.

Authors like Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, and Brent Weeks are the norm now, and Rule of Cool takes a bit more of a center stage than some of the more grounded series of the past.

It's kind of interesting conceptually. Currently the norm for fantasy is closer to where ancient legends were thousands of years ago. Gilgamesh and Hercules could feel right at home on the pages of some of Sanderson's works, with the deeds they perform.

Right now a lot of focus seems to be on more legendary figures as far as deeds, though generally with more character development than the ancient myths.

Likewise, many anime, cartoons, and video games have followed this style as well, though longer since in some cases (and especially in the case of comic books and manga).

You can really see this with The Name of the Wind. I try to tell people that Kvothe isn't supposed to seem balanced. For his world, he is a living Gilgamesh. He is literally a figure myths are made of. Its how they introduce him. Why are people surprised when he is good at everything?


Terquem wrote:

Yes, but don't you thing those changes were made because of the "zeny" store (I think it was called) in Legend of Zelda and other such video games.

I really think the idea of creating a need to keep buying new gear came into the rpg (table top) hobby from outside developments

As a player who grew up on the games you're referring to and played through the transition, I don't agree that it came from them. At the very least, it wasn't my expectation in 2E that I could ever buy anything beyond minor potions and scrolls, and then they were prohibitively expensive. Switching to 3E was an unwelcome shock in that regard.

Not to mention in those games all the good gear came from item chests anyway. You had to hunt for any shops that actually sold gear that was worth a damn at a price that made it worth not just going into the next dungeon to find it.


haha, I remember watching my son play DragonWarrior, spend all his money on a sword, and then the very next chest he opened, had a better one.


Terquem wrote:
haha, I remember watching my son play DragonWarrior, spend all his money on a sword, and then the very next chest he opened, had a better one.

Yeah. I learned from that and never upgraded gear unless it was pretty far behind :)

Shadow Lodge

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pH unbalanced wrote:
Terquem wrote:

Yes, but don't you thing those changes were made because of the "zeny" store (I think it was called) in Legend of Zelda and other such video games.

I really think the idea of creating a need to keep buying new gear came into the rpg (table top) hobby from outside developments

I blame Diablo. :)

Also, as an older gamer I find it interesting that the literary touchstones for my gaming peers were things you didn't mention: Thieves World, Brust's Dragaera, and Glen Cook's Black Company series.

I expect the party to be underpowered and underequipped at every turn, against enemies that don't fight fair. Playing 3E/PF has been...strange.

"3.x/PF is easy mode." I've seen this posted before and agree somewhat.


I'd say I'm on track with the OP. LotR, Moorcock, not so much Shannara.

Add in some Conan, mostly from the comics. John Carter. Zelazny, mostly Amber. Maybe a little Fafhred. Thomas Covenant, though I don't think I drew much from that. Lots of other one off books I barely remember. And of course older stuff like versions of King Arthur and Robin Hood. Greek and Norse Myths.

I found Thieves World and Dragaera later on, after my gaming habits were formed.

Also, the early modules I picked up had a lot to do with shaping how I thought the game should be run.

As for shopping, though that's a topic of its own, I do think it came in from CRPGS. The game developers couldn't predict what different players would want and place it like a live GM could, so they had to offer choices. I didn't really play console games, but weren't there shops in early PC games like Ultima & Bard's Tale? Maybe even Wizardry?


My overall setting and gameplay descriptions borrow heavily from R.A. Salvatore.

Plots vary depending on what I'm running; Ed Greenwood was a major inspiration for a lot of my undead themed campaigns. The two together form the basis for a lot of any magical disasters I throw in.

The internet fleshes out any steampunk settings; a lot of good comics out there.

I run politics and intrigues based on political theories, usually garnered from school - occasionally from other sources. Those then develop lives of their own.

For specific things I borrow a bit from Hollywood for torture and prison scenes. From people I knew in highschool and college for NPCs.

I borrow drama from overheard discussions on civil rights.

I've been meaning to write a magic system based on Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy but haven't gotten around to it. It has inspired me to put a more active effort into flavoring out spell components and alchemical items however.

For dragons I just think "If I had literally all the time in the world since the creation of the universe to develop my omnipotence; what would I be like?" Which is probably bad because now anyone who brings up the idea of sacking a dragon's dungeon gets smacked in the head by the other players.


I played D&D in High School in the mid 80's. I remember playing games like
Might and Magic series
Ultima series
Wizardry Series
I remember a character that I named "Iff of the Unpronounceable Name" I know I pulled it from a book I read, because I read a LOT of fantasy and science fiction books in school and I had quite a collection up until recently. If the name above doesn't sound familiar, it is from Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master trilogy. (had to look it up)

I have pulled character ideas from books, comics and even comic strips.
There was one comic strip where this bull was in the ring and the other bulls were yelling "The CAPE, Larry! Go for the cape!" Thus I named a Minotaur character Larry. :D

As I have gotten older though, I haven't pulled my ideas from the books...it appears I may be creative.

Sovereign Court

Terquem wrote:


What are the Thematic and Genre staples that constitute the Standard from where your games are derived?

For me authors, P.K. Dick, John Le Carre, Howard, lovecraft, and George R.R. Martin.

Television inspirations, GoT, B5, DS9, Showtime's Borgias, Penny Dreadful, Black Sails, True Detective anything pulpy and thematic from premium networks.

I really enjoy mystery and especially political intrigue. More urban games than dungeon crawls. Traveller for sci-fi, PF for fantasy, Call of Cthulhu for horror/suspense, Fiasco for contemporary noir.

Liberty's Edge

Trekkie90909 wrote:

I've been meaning to write a magic system based on Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy but haven't gotten around to it. It has inspired me to put a more active effort into flavoring out spell components and alchemical items however.

Why shoehorn allomancy, hemalurgy, and feruchemy into Pathfinder when there's already an excellent game for that?

Scarab Sages

Fantasy influences, you say (not including what I'd consider definite science-fiction like Douglas Adams, Star Trek, and Anne McAffrey)?

World mythology (a lot of people will claim there shouldn't be "entry criteria" for RPGs, but we'd all be better off if everyone had a passable grasp of mythology). Terry Pratchett. C. S. Lewis (I read all the Chronicles of Narnia, but I can't say the same of Tolkien's works). Lewis Carroll. H. P. Lovecraft. The Legend of Kyrandia. Warcraft (back when it was respectable). Loom. Tim Burton (Who says the undead are Evil?). Myst. The Twilight Zone ("modern" fantasy, I know). The Far Side (What, why are you looking me like that?). The Mind's Eye. Might & Magic (my "RPG of origin").


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I started playing in the early '80s. It was pretty clear that D&D was more-or-less playing in JRR Tolkien's playground. The other fantasy literature I tended to read overlapped strongly with Appendix N from the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide (1979). I still think much of that literature is foundational. But as society has moved forward in the past few decades, so has fantasy literature.

I'll be honest in saying that I don't read much fantasy literature any more, so I'm not really up to speed on the works of contemporary authors since the early aughts. But I applaud the diversity of voices that I see today. Authors that aren't white men bring a needed complexity and a different nuance to the genre.

I'm not a video gamer, but its also clear that video games have influenced tabletop games in many ways.

You can't discount the influence of film and television on the game, either. Any time you call a game situation "cinematic" means you're taking a cue from a film source. Pacing, plotting, and action scenes in TTRPGs take a huge influence from film.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Really, my fantasy standard was Redwall. A Salamandastron hare was a serious scrapper, and a badger lord was a force of nature. They could be killed, but it took someone equally badass or a lot of mooks.


I find it hard to get into fantasy writing ... at least by other authors. It's just not dark enough for my liking. It's too heroic and too ... erk, I don't know. It just doesn't work for me. G.R.R. Martin is okay. He kills enough characters for it to be alright, and I like his linguistic style ... except when he starts describing big meals ...

But I do think it's true that today, Computer Games are taking over an increasing part of the definition of fantasy. World of Warcraft is part of it but by no means the only part. Dragon Age also influenced the debate. Final Fantasy as well, at least to some extent although one could argue that FF is Sci-Fi as well on some levels. Science Fantasy, maybe?

There are a number of computer games and movies that fill up part of the niche that books had a monopoly on earlier, but personally I think that's a good thing. Diversification is definitely only going to make the realm of fantasy bigger.


Too heroic?

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
The Alkenstarian wrote:
I find it hard to get into fantasy writing ... at least by other authors. It's just not dark enough for my liking. It's too heroic and too ... erk, I don't know. It just doesn't work for me. G.R.R. Martin is okay. He kills enough characters for it to be alright, and I like his linguistic style ... except when he starts describing big meals ..

I *highly* recommend Glen Cook's Black Company books. It's the story of a mercenary company...who is not particularly picky about who they work for.


I'm 35. I cut my teeth on Tolkien and Lewis (the Narnia books were my gateway to fantasy). From there in high school I moved onto fairly derivative stuff, much of it I don't think I would enjoy today (the various Forgotten Realms/Dragonlance tie in novels, Eddings, etc.

As my tastes evolved in college, I would say my current defaults for fantasy are probably best represented by authors like Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, China Mieville, Tad Williams, Scott Lynch, and Jim Butcher. Stuff that is generally grittier, often weirder, and attempts to avert the standard tropes fantasy followed after Tolkien (albeit by creating a bunch of new tropes everyone follows :/ )

I might be kind of weird in that I am just old enough where computers were sort of rare for a lot of my childhood. Also my parents were poor, so typically I only ever got game systems a year before the next version came out, or games long after everyone else got bored with them. Because of that I never really got into online games the way people perhaps only slightly younger than me did.


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I didn't read the Hobbit or the LotR until after I began gaming, but I read the Elric Saga and Shannara, as well as Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs so those were what came to mind as I was first getting into the game back in 1985.


Rynjin wrote:


It's kind of interesting conceptually. Currently the norm for fantasy is closer to where ancient legends were thousands of years ago. Gilgamesh and Hercules could feel right at home on the pages of some of Sanderson's works, with the deeds they perform.

I'll definitely agree here. At 24, I might be one of the youngest guys in this thread, but my standard is definitely closer to Mythic Hero than Farmboy Everyman. As far as I'm concerned, letting go of the "Zero to Hero" plot template is what's finally letting fantasy literature escape from Tolkien's shadow.

My standard of fantasy hero left the farm behind a while ago. If you can't at least keep up with a Siegfried, a (young) Cu Chulainn or (to use a more modern example) a Swallow Kretzvalley or a Basara Toujou, you'd best hang up your sword and pack it it, because you won't cut it. Maybe if it's a lower-powered setting, a Beowulf or a Guts or a Mugen could make it, but that's somewhere near a minimum.


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Neurophage wrote:
Rynjin wrote:


It's kind of interesting conceptually. Currently the norm for fantasy is closer to where ancient legends were thousands of years ago. Gilgamesh and Hercules could feel right at home on the pages of some of Sanderson's works, with the deeds they perform.

I'll definitely agree here. At 24, I might be one of the youngest guys in this thread, but my standard is definitely closer to Mythic Hero than Farmboy Everyman. As far as I'm concerned, letting go of the "Zero to Hero" plot template is what's finally letting fantasy literature escape from Tolkien's shadow.

My standard of fantasy hero left the farm behind a while ago. If you can't at least keep up with a Siegfried, a (young) Cu Chulainn or (to use a more modern example) a Swallow Kretzvalley or a Basara Toujou, you'd best hang up your sword and pack it it, because you won't cut it. Maybe if it's a lower-powered setting, a Beowulf or a Guts or a Mugen could make it, but that's somewhere near a minimum.

The number of times fantasy has escaped from Tolkien's shadow is amazing. Last time I looked it was Game of Throne's grimdark style that was going to save fantasy from Tolkien. Now it's uber-powered mythic anime?

There's been high powered fantasy for longer than I've been reading it. There's been grimdark fantasy for longer than I've been reading it. And noblebright and low powered and everywhere in between.
The farm boy becomes a hero has been a common trope, in both low powered and over the top settings. So has the noble knight or king, again in both settings.

And you know what, if they're well written, with interesting characters and plots, I can enjoy them all. But no new style is going to make people forget Tolkien. Or Conan. Or any of the other roots of the genre. They'll get rediscovered again.


thejeff wrote:
Neurophage wrote:
Rynjin wrote:


It's kind of interesting conceptually. Currently the norm for fantasy is closer to where ancient legends were thousands of years ago. Gilgamesh and Hercules could feel right at home on the pages of some of Sanderson's works, with the deeds they perform.

I'll definitely agree here. At 24, I might be one of the youngest guys in this thread, but my standard is definitely closer to Mythic Hero than Farmboy Everyman. As far as I'm concerned, letting go of the "Zero to Hero" plot template is what's finally letting fantasy literature escape from Tolkien's shadow.

My standard of fantasy hero left the farm behind a while ago. If you can't at least keep up with a Siegfried, a (young) Cu Chulainn or (to use a more modern example) a Swallow Kretzvalley or a Basara Toujou, you'd best hang up your sword and pack it it, because you won't cut it. Maybe if it's a lower-powered setting, a Beowulf or a Guts or a Mugen could make it, but that's somewhere near a minimum.

The number of times fantasy has escaped from Tolkien's shadow is amazing. Last time I looked it was Game of Throne's grimdark style that was going to save fantasy from Tolkien. Now it's uber-powered mythic anime?

There's been high powered fantasy for longer than I've been reading it. There's been grimdark fantasy for longer than I've been reading it. And noblebright and low powered and everywhere in between.
The farm boy becomes a hero has been a common trope, in both low powered and over the top settings. So has the noble knight or king, again in both settings.

And you know what, if they're well written, with interesting characters and plots, I can enjoy them all. But no new style is going to make people forget Tolkien. Or Conan. Or any of the other roots of the genre. They'll get rediscovered again.

A Song of Ice and Fire lost any credentials as being genuinely grimdark when the worst character with the most enviable powerbase survived making stupid decisions for which characters with less plot armor had already died.

I didn't say that dark fantasy and noblebright fantasy across the whole of the power scale hadn't existed before Tolkien, but LotR has practically defined the cultural zeitgeist of non-urban fantasy for the last few decades (at least, within the most populous circles). It's only within the last couple years that that's finally starting a change again and it's been a long time coming.


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Neurophage wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Neurophage wrote:
Rynjin wrote:


It's kind of interesting conceptually. Currently the norm for fantasy is closer to where ancient legends were thousands of years ago. Gilgamesh and Hercules could feel right at home on the pages of some of Sanderson's works, with the deeds they perform.

I'll definitely agree here. At 24, I might be one of the youngest guys in this thread, but my standard is definitely closer to Mythic Hero than Farmboy Everyman. As far as I'm concerned, letting go of the "Zero to Hero" plot template is what's finally letting fantasy literature escape from Tolkien's shadow.

My standard of fantasy hero left the farm behind a while ago. If you can't at least keep up with a Siegfried, a (young) Cu Chulainn or (to use a more modern example) a Swallow Kretzvalley or a Basara Toujou, you'd best hang up your sword and pack it it, because you won't cut it. Maybe if it's a lower-powered setting, a Beowulf or a Guts or a Mugen could make it, but that's somewhere near a minimum.

The number of times fantasy has escaped from Tolkien's shadow is amazing. Last time I looked it was Game of Throne's grimdark style that was going to save fantasy from Tolkien. Now it's uber-powered mythic anime?

There's been high powered fantasy for longer than I've been reading it. There's been grimdark fantasy for longer than I've been reading it. And noblebright and low powered and everywhere in between.
The farm boy becomes a hero has been a common trope, in both low powered and over the top settings. So has the noble knight or king, again in both settings.

And you know what, if they're well written, with interesting characters and plots, I can enjoy them all. But no new style is going to make people forget Tolkien. Or Conan. Or any of the other roots of the genre. They'll get rediscovered again.

A Song of Ice and Fire lost any credentials as being genuinely grimdark when the worst character with the most enviable powerbase survived making stupid decisions for which characters with less plot armor had already died.

I didn't say that dark fantasy and noblebright fantasy across the whole of the power scale hadn't existed before Tolkien, but LotR has practically defined the cultural zeitgeist of non-urban fantasy for the last few decades (at least, within the most populous circles). It's only within the last couple years that that's finally starting a change again and it's been a long time coming.

I haven't paid enough attention. I still think Game of Thrones has been the only game-changer in mainstream fantasy. (Or Harry Potter, but in a different way.) Among more serious fans, there's always been plenty of different stuff out there of varying degrees of popularity. And anime's been very popular in a different, but overlapping subgroup for a long time and I still don't see it breaking through to change the genre.

Shadow Lodge

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DungeonmasterCal wrote:
I didn't read the Hobbit or the LotR until after I began gaming, but I read the Elric Saga and Shannara, as well as Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs so those were what came to mind as I was first getting into the game back in 1985.

The first author I read when I was in my early teens was Edgar Rice Burroughs' series such as the 'Warlord of Mars' books, the 'At the Earth Core' books, etc. So I'm hopelessly Hero bound in my rpg games and you know what? I'm fine with that.


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I think this is a very interesting thread as it gets to people's expectations of their characters and other characters in a campaign. Some people expect to play super heroes, perhaps even from level one, while other people are expecting to toil through the low levels as nobodies and eventually claim their destiny.

If nothing else, it is very helpful for identifying those individuals who you might have a successful campaign with.


When I was yong, around 10 years old, my Sunday afternoon was filled with TV channels showing classic fantasy films of the 50s and 60s, "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "The Land that Time Forgot," and all the Sinbad films, and these movies influenced my games as much as the books I read.

I always wanted to have a party with a grizzled veteran, a bookish intellectual, a rash young hero, a resourceful young woman, and a treacherous weasel, and of curse an exotic princess

My villains were powerful sorcerers or mysterious witches

Shadow Lodge

These are some of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books I've read...

Series
Barsoom 11 books
Tarzan 24 books
Pellucidar 7 books
Venus 5 books
Caspak 3 books
Moon 3 books
Mucker 3books

Stand Lone Novels
Beyond the Farthest Star
The Lost Continent
The Monster Men
The Cave Girl
The Eternal Lovers
The Lad and the Lion
The Deputy Sheriff of Comanche County
I am a Barbarian
The Outlaw of Torn
The Mad King
Pirate Blood

That was just in the late 70's to early 80's

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There isn't a pure fantasy standard anymore. Hasn't been for a long time. What you have now are multi-genre creations like Golarion, Rifts, Shadowrun.

Eberron draws heavily from 30's style 'Noir and various flavors of pulp fiction. Golarion draws on practically everything from Lovecraft, Burroughs, Geiger, and a hell of a lot in between.

Similarly many novels incorporate modern tropes in their fantasy, giving them only different dressing.


Jacob Saltband wrote:

These are some of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books I've read...

Series
Barsoom 11 books
Tarzan 24 books
Pellucidar 7 books
Venus 5 books
Caspak 3 books
Moon 3 books
Mucker 3books

Stand Lone Novels
Beyond the Farthest Star
The Lost Continent
The Monster Men
The Cave Girl
The Eternal Lovers
The Lad and the Lion
The Deputy Sheriff of Comanche County
I am a Barbarian
The Outlaw of Torn
The Mad King
Pirate Blood

That was just in the late 70's to early 80's

So many of those I've not read. My little small town library growing up had all the Pellucidar books, most of the Tarzan, and a scattering of the others. I just recently purchased the Pellucidar and Tarzan collections for my Kindle and will soon revisit the Center of the Earth.

Shadow Lodge

DungeonmasterCal wrote:
Jacob Saltband wrote:

These are some of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books I've read...

Series
Barsoom 11 books
Tarzan 24 books
Pellucidar 7 books
Venus 5 books
Caspak 3 books
Moon 3 books
Mucker 3books

Stand Lone Novels
Beyond the Farthest Star
The Lost Continent
The Monster Men
The Cave Girl
The Eternal Lovers
The Lad and the Lion
The Deputy Sheriff of Comanche County
I am a Barbarian
The Outlaw of Torn
The Mad King
Pirate Blood

That was just in the late 70's to early 80's

So many of those I've not read. My little small town library growing up had all the Pellucidar books, most of the Tarzan, and a scattering of the others. I just recently purchased the Pellucidar and Tarzan collections for my Kindle and will soon revisit the Center of the Earth.

Have you checked out Kendle Unlimited? There are some good older books available sometimes.


LazarX wrote:

There isn't a pure fantasy standard anymore. Hasn't been for a long time. What you have now are multi-genre creations like Golarion, Rifts, Shadowrun.

Eberron draws heavily from 30's style 'Noir and various flavors of pulp fiction. Golarion draws on practically everything from Lovecraft, Burroughs, Geiger, and a hell of a lot in between.

Similarly many novels incorporate modern tropes in their fantasy, giving them only different dressing.

That's true, but there's still plenty of straight fantasy around and plenty of people who like a more traditional take.

Multi-genre stuff exists too, but it's in addition, not instead of.

Even Golarion acknowledges that. That's why it's structured the way it is, with the various influences fairly isolated and why they keep doing tradition straight fantasy APs in addition to the more experimental ones.


I probably started... nine-ish years ago? Ten, maybe? I wasn't into junior high, that's all I remember. For me, a lot of the things in my campaigns are still based on things like Lord of the Rings and other older fantasy, although certainly a lot of newer things inspire me as well.

The older Final Fantasy games are certainly a reference for me, as is the Fire Emblem series of video games. I'm not sure that most of Game of Thrones really... counts as modern? But I use some of that as well. I imagine Harry Potter has an influence, although not much on me. Neil Gaiman is an excellent "modern" fantasy author, and I use a lot of his material adjusted for the time period. Lovecraft certainly isn't modern, but I'm a big fan of horror, so he shows up too.

Brent Weeks is a lesser-known author who I use a lot, and Mark Lawrence; his books have a very Iron Gods feel to them.


Neurophage wrote:
Rynjin wrote:


It's kind of interesting conceptually. Currently the norm for fantasy is closer to where ancient legends were thousands of years ago. Gilgamesh and Hercules could feel right at home on the pages of some of Sanderson's works, with the deeds they perform.

I'll definitely agree here. At 24, I might be one of the youngest guys in this thread, but my standard is definitely closer to Mythic Hero than Farmboy Everyman. As far as I'm concerned, letting go of the "Zero to Hero" plot template is what's finally letting fantasy literature escape from Tolkien's shadow.

My standard of fantasy hero left the farm behind a while ago. If you can't at least keep up with a Siegfried, a (young) Cu Chulainn or (to use a more modern example) a Swallow Kretzvalley or a Basara Toujou, you'd best hang up your sword and pack it it, because you won't cut it. Maybe if it's a lower-powered setting, a Beowulf or a Guts or a Mugen could make it, but that's somewhere near a minimum.

At 26, I feel young enough to refute your points to some extent.

First, it's kind of funny that you call Tolkien 'Zero to Hero' when the actual Heroes in Tolkien were heroes from the start and grow very little throughout their respective stories. No, I do not classify the thief or the ring bearer and his manservant as heroes. They do heroic things but are everymen.

I actually find it rather refreshing when a hero has 'balanced' power within his setting, where he's about as strong as a combatant of his experience level should be and he triumphs through tactics or allies [and by allies I mean people of similar strength who fight alongside him, not NAKAMA POWER and also not Deus Ex Machina rescues.]

I'd also like to ask if you really recognize how powerful Toujou Basara IS when you say he's a representative of requisite power. Are you referring to the power level he displays in the show itself? Because his powers are ridiculous, he's a limited-scope reality-warper.

Lastly I'd like to say that Zero to Hero isn't completely dead to my generation. I know I for a fact have no problem with stories where a character first becomes a hero [competent but not truly powerful] gradually grows into his potential.

My problem arises when Pathfinder and its same-generation-predacessors fail to properly represent the capabilities of martial characters. By the time a martial hits level 6 or so, he should be capable of anything Guts did in the original Anime or the OVA trilogy. They should be beasts of martial prowess flying across battlefields of level 1-3 soldiers leaving puddles of blood and gore in his wake. Instead we have martials who stand still to trade blows or move no more than 80 feet [if a Barbarian or under the effects of Longstrider] and attack one opponent.

I also have a problem with full casters leveling into God while martials level into... Arragon [who himself shouldn't be over level 4-6ish]


Jacob Saltband wrote:


Have you checked out Kendle Unlimited? There are some good older books available sometimes.

Some good newer ones too. Just got finished reading books 1 and 2 of "Four Winds-One Storm".

Has a very D&D-ish feel, in a good way. I recommend them (Individual titles are "The Bone Brick City" and "The Geohex of Wraith County" by Aaron Hollingsworth).


kyrt-ryder wrote:


I'd also like to ask if you really recognize how powerful Toujou Basara IS when you say he's a representative of requisite power. Are you referring to the power level he displays in the show itself? Because his powers are ridiculous, he's a limited-scope reality-warper.

Right. I was unclear about that. I mean what he can reliably do most of the time. Banishing Shift is unreliable enough that it functions more as a plot device than a power.


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Terquem wrote:
This is a reminder, that my first home computer was a Cromemco C-10SP

Mine had colored beads, red for one, blues for tens, etc..... ;-)


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Terquem wrote:

You know the whole shopping thing is a topic unto itself. I don't remember anyone going "shopping" in the Hobbit, or in The Sword of Shanarra (two books I read when I was young) and in my first campaign, shopping was a very small part of the game, and no magic shopping of any kind was ever available.

Well, in the Hobbit they ran into a nice cache with two or three relic swords, then looted Smaugs hordes for more good stuff.

In LotR, they were given gifts and boons.

And, in OD&D and AD&D "Ye Olde Magik Shoppe" was hard to find and had limited selection. Sure, you might start with cheap armor and upgrade into really good NM armor- which is fairly realistic (if we can use that term) but the idea of building a PC around getting certainly magic items at certain points would be laughable. I mean sure, the bog standard +1 stuff would be found, or even bought. But assuming you'd have a +4 stat item for your "Prime Requisite" was hubris.

I think that was a mistake that 3.0 made and PF hasnt bothered to undo it. And it may not be undoable. I

try to just have really cool, semi-personalized loot drops, but when AP's assume you'll have the "Christmas tree" by such and such a level, it gets hard.

Shadow Lodge

Rynjin wrote:
Jacob Saltband wrote:


Have you checked out Kendle Unlimited? There are some good older books available sometimes.

Some good newer ones too. Just got finished reading books 1 and 2 of "Four Winds-One Storm".

Has a very D&D-ish feel, in a good way. I recommend them (Individual titles are "The Bone Brick City" and "The Geohex of Wraith County" by Aaron Hollingsworth).

Thanks I'll check them out.

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