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8BitNinja
2017-09-23, 08:21 PM
I like the fantasy genre, but there are some things that annoy me. You probably do to.

Here are some things I don't like

Fantasy Blasphemy: You know when in fantasy they want to use God's name as an expletive, but they worship a fictional pantheon instead? This is it. A good example is that in The Elder Scrolls people say "By the Nine" or "By Azura" all the time. It might just be that it just sounds off to me due to living in a world where people don't worship those gods.

Everyone talking about magic: If magic is a mysterious and unknown force, then why is anyone talking about it? If wizards are so well known, why are they not everywhere?

Sexy Vampires: Vampires are corpses. They have been dead and are dead. So then why are vampires, especially female ones supposed to be attractive? This is partially not a rhetorical question, if anyone has the answer to where this started I want to know.

Drakevarg
2017-09-23, 08:29 PM
Sexy Vampires: Vampires are corpses. They have been dead and are dead. So then why are vampires, especially female ones supposed to be attractive? This is partially not a rhetorical question, if anyone has the answer to where this started I want to know.

Dracula. It started with Dracula. I don't think anyone would argue that Varney the Vampyre was eye candy. That said, I'm pretty sure in Dracula's case it was a glamer, as his specific goal was seduction. When he was kicking around in his own castle he looked considerably more decrepit.

kivzirrum
2017-09-23, 08:53 PM
Dracula. It started with Dracula. I don't think anyone would argue that Varney the Vampyre was eye candy. That said, I'm pretty sure in Dracula's case it was a glamer, as his specific goal was seduction. When he was kicking around in his own castle he looked considerably more decrepit.

Actually, I think Carmilla would probably qualify as well. The descriptions of Dracula himself don't make him sound particularly hot (even though there's an undeniable erotic element there, as a billion people have noted since the book's release), but it's there too in Carmilla which came out more than twenty years earlier. And as I recall, I think Carmilla herself is said to be beautiful, unlike the Count.

Lord Raziere
2017-09-23, 09:22 PM
On the Sexy Vampires thing:
Probably because as with many fantasy cliches, we can blame it on the victorians. It isn't called The Romantic Era for nothing. through nowadays, we can blame it on Anne Rice, Vampires being used as a metaphor for STD's, and people just having weird tastes. that and since Vampire is an rpg people play, obviously people are going to choose Toreador eventually.

Mine I'll just throw out:

Always evil races:
Don't like that. Yes I know all the reasons why its there. I don't agree with those reasons and prefer my own methods for making enemies I don't feel guilt for killing, I don't need different appearances for that.

Chosen Ones:
If your protagonist is yet another person who has been chosen by the gods or destiny and everyone loves them, I will sigh and lament to myself. A hero does not need the backing of some great destiny to be awesome and save the day. They can be, y'know, just a good person who works hard to defeat all the evil they can and defy any doom coming their way. A hero who defies destiny is much better in my opinion. Chosen Ones are just fate-based mary sues really.

Dark = Evil:
I don't like this cliche either, despite its symbolic associations. I mean its just a color? Why does everybody have to assign a moral value to it? It makes no sense. Why can't dark just be another element for once? Why does aesthetics have to be so tied to moral value, ugh.

Prophecies In General:
They never lead to anything good. Ever.

Mindless ASOIAF Copying
You've probably seen more grittier low magic worlds after ASOIAF and Game of Thrones came around. Not all of them are good, and I prefer higher-powered fantasies that are more open to possibilities and whatnot.

Drakevarg
2017-09-23, 09:43 PM
Mindless ASOIAF Copying
You've probably seen more grittier low magic worlds after ASOIAF and Game of Thrones came around. Not all of them are good, and I prefer higher-powered fantasies that are more open to possibilities and whatnot.

I do think the qualifier is important here. I've been a fan of low-fantasy before I even heard GoT was a thing, but unfortunately the usual trend has just been to treat this
https://i.pinimg.com/236x/e9/3e/95/e93e954df007492f812382abcc528725--monty-python.jpg
as the basis for their aesthetic, minus the sense of humor. "Low-fantasy" doesn't mean "a cynic's interpretation on Medieval Europe, and also dragons are there," it can simply mean a fantasy setting where the toils of the common man get more focus than world-changing epic events.

That said, I definitely agree that mindless ASOIAF aping has become an unpleasant epidemic lately. To given an example sharp in my mind as I'm currently doing a playthrough, it's an absolute slog to get through the first half of the Witcher 3, because the land of Velen (and by extention Novigrad) is a very GoT-y cesspool of misery and cynicism where everyone you meet is ignorant, cruel, ungrateful, distrustful, disloyal, or any combination of miserable traits and it makes it hard to care about putting in the effort to make things better. By comparison, when you get to Skellige and later Toussaint you finally get introduced to lands with color and locals with some actual values and motives beyond cynical self-service. Things remain dark and violent, but it's a hell of a lot easier to care when you feel like someone might actually crack a smile upon hearing the thing murdering all their loved ones has been dealt with.

Lord Raziere
2017-09-23, 09:59 PM
That said, I definitely agree that mindless ASOIAF aping has become an unpleasant epidemic lately. To given an example sharp in my mind as I'm currently doing a playthrough, it's an absolute slog to get through the first half of the Witcher 3, because the land of Velen (and by extention Novigrad) is a very GoT-y cesspool of misery and cynicism where everyone you meet is ignorant, cruel, ungrateful, distrustful, disloyal, or any combination of miserable traits and it makes it hard to care about putting in the effort to make things better. By comparison, when you get to Skellige and later Toussaint you finally get introduced to lands with color and locals with some actual values and motives beyond cynical self-service. Things remain dark and violent, but it's a hell of a lot easier to care when you feel like someone might actually crack a smile upon hearing the thing murdering all their loved ones has been dealt with.

Oh good a reason to actually slog through Witcher 3, I got through like what the first quest to kill a hippogriff and find some sorceress girlfriend not caring about anybody and therefore not caring about any of my actions. Guess I'll be a jerk to everyone else until I get to the good parts.

rs2excelsior
2017-09-23, 10:08 PM
Fantasy Blasphemy: You know when in fantasy they want to use God's name as an expletive, but they worship a fictional pantheon instead? This is it. A good example is that in The Elder Scrolls people say "By the Nine" or "By Azura" all the time. It might just be that it just sounds off to me due to living in a world where people don't worship those gods.

This one doesn't bother me, and actually I think it's kind of nice for immersion. It wouldn't make much sense for someone to say "by God" in a world with multiple deities. And there is some precedent in historic polytheistic religions of invoking deities for various reasons. So to me it makes it seem more like a being that people worship and believe in, rather than a name the author made up.


Sexy Vampires: Vampires are corpses. They have been dead and are dead. So then why are vampires, especially female ones supposed to be attractive? This is partially not a rhetorical question, if anyone has the answer to where this started I want to know.


Dracula. It started with Dracula. I don't think anyone would argue that Varney the Vampyre was eye candy. That said, I'm pretty sure in Dracula's case it was a glamer, as his specific goal was seduction. When he was kicking around in his own castle he looked considerably more decrepit.

Also they implied (maybe outright stated? I can't remember for sure, it's been a few years since I read the book) that Dracula looked much younger and more alive after he had fed. He was old and frazzled looking in the castle, but when Jonathan saw him in London after he'd been drinking Lucy's blood he appeared younger and more put together.


One of my own:

Wizards that do everything. When things become a one-up competition between magic wielders, while everyone else looks on in wonder and amazement, completely unable to influence anything. Armies, castles, wealth, and the like? No match for a bored wizard with the willingness to put in the barest amount of effort. Even worse when the implications of such a world are not fully carried through, and it maintains a verneer of a historically-based setting, even though magic makes most of what everyone else does obsolete. I prefer magic more along the lines of Lord of the Rings--present but rare, potentially powerful yet understated.

Drakevarg
2017-09-23, 10:32 PM
Oh good a reason to actually slog through Witcher 3, I got through like what the first quest to kill a hippogriff and find some sorceress girlfriend not caring about anybody and therefore not caring about any of my actions. Guess I'll be a jerk to everyone else until I get to the good parts.

Yeah, Yennefer (your sorceress girlfriend) does unfortunately feature heavily in the Skellige questline and it's where I really learned to despise her, but that might actually be in part because her selfish agenda was being inflicted on actual decent human beings instead of a bunch of bitter swamp-dwelling morons.

ngilop
2017-09-23, 10:41 PM
.

Dark = Evil:
I don't like this cliche either, despite its symbolic associations. I mean its just a color? Why does everybody have to assign a moral value to it? It makes no sense. Why can't dark just be another element for once? Why does aesthetics have to be so tied to moral value, ugh.

Mindless ASOIAF Copying
You've probably seen more grittier low magic worlds after ASOIAF and Game of Thrones came around. Not all of them are good, and I prefer higher-powered fantasies that are more open to possibilities and whatnot.

I think you would find dark=evil as a lesser thing in eastern cultures where black (since you refer to it as a color I am just assuming you mean black) does not have the same stigma/conotation it does in western culture.


as for the the copying, gritty low magic game settings have alwasy been pretty prevalnt in fantasy RPGs. I think its just noticeable more now since GRR MARTIN managed to get his crap on a TV show.



as for me
what annoys me is the extent at which people make the whole ' my elves/dwarves/orcs/what-not are different.
for me most of the time it just seems more of a blatant 'herp da derp GOT YA' than any real actual reason to have techno-elves or what have you. I just have an aversion to people who need to be different 'just because'

JBPuffin
2017-09-23, 10:49 PM
Dark = Evil:
I don't like this cliche either, despite its symbolic associations. I mean its just a color? Why does everybody have to assign a moral value to it? It makes no sense. Why can't dark just be another element for once? Why does aesthetics have to be so tied to moral value, ugh.

Come up with some good metaphors that make darkness sound positive. If you can come up with more than five, maybe you've got something. Light/dark just have strong metaphorical PR and, really, always have. Comes with being a diurnal species, maybe?

Honestly, i can't think of a cliche i well and truly dislike. Poorly done attempts at subversion are just as bad as anything else, even if they mean well, and cliches are around because they're efficient communicators/baselines. Also, easier to perfect than a subversion.

2D8HP
2017-09-23, 11:37 PM
Special Snowflake Chosen One's

Aragorn, Harry Potter and the Skywalker clan take a leap!

What do I want instead?

Samwise Gamgee.


Humble yeomen, franklins, knaves, villein, costermonger, and cottar heroes. Not lords and supermen.

And no reveals that their secretly descended from royalty, or have magic powers!

A recent trilogy I read started good, it had a magic-using adopted by royalty character, but it also had an urchin who lived by her wits and her daring, and was a great character, but then in the second book hidden magical powers are revealed which diminishes the character for me.

Yes I like "Ged" from Earthsea, but I want a story of a normal human, who is preferably not "red-haired and silver eyed" in a fantastic world.

Edit:
I can't tell if it was sloppy reading, or Ninjutsu, that made me miss this, but I see another has made the same plea before me:

Chosen Ones:
If your protagonist is yet another person who has been chosen by the gods or destiny....

JAL_1138
2017-09-24, 12:10 AM
Chosen by the gods (or whatever) can be done well, it's just that it so rarely is, and it was practically an epidemic in fantasy works for a while. I don't dislike it in and of itself, just when it's done badly.

Really I could say the same about a heck of a lot of fantasy tropes/clichés. Done right they're fine, they're just not done right—or at the very least even half-decently—very often. Sturgeon's Law and whatnot.

Mogoblin
2017-09-24, 12:18 AM
I really hate it when settings just go through the standard fantasy race checklist of Dwarf, Human, Elf, and then pick and choose from a few other standard races like orcs and gnomes. It's mostly because I don't like races that don't go farther visually than "Humans but with a few weird features," but there's also a few cases where you can really feel how they tried to work them into a setting that just doesn't fit them as much as it would a race created specifically for that setting.

Scripten
2017-09-24, 12:38 AM
Chosen by the gods (or whatever) can be done well, it's just that it so rarely is, and it was practically an epidemic in fantasy works for a while. I don't dislike it in and of itself, just when it's done badly.

Really I could say the same about a heck of a lot of fantasy tropes/clichés. Done right they're fine, they're just not done right—or at the very least even half-decently—very often. Sturgeon's Law and whatnot.

This. Depending on my mood, a classic chosen one story is just fine by me. If you want to read a great deconstruction of the trope, check out The Swordbearer. Not Glen Cook's best work, but it's still good. Basically goes, "What if the story of the chosen one was handled realistically?" A bit grimdark but that's Cook for you.

As for me, I have a couple of pet peeves specific to literature and sometimes also to TTRPGs.

1) Unrealistic Language: A little overspecific, but geez is it prevalent. I don't expect writers to come up with new languages like Tolkien or anything, but it's not hard to tell when a writer is just picking random sounds and punctuation and smushing it together to make names. Most real places are named things like "River Town" or taken from an older name that is familiar to the person doing the naming. Watch as I create amazing new names with my patented "slamming my hands on the keyboard method": Dasmi'da, Fnac, Nofwe, Nac-lik, Powcker :smallamused:

2) Obsession over Appearance: My rule of thumb is that if you need to take an entire paragraph to get all of the relevant information about your character's appearance across, then you are way too invested and need to back away. Not many readers are going to remember that he has bushy eyebrows, a hooked nose, eyes of silver-blue, medium-length black hair, big hands, two scars on his right cheek, a very distinct gruff voice, etc. two pages later. (Please extend the description by any reasonable exponent, as I can't overwrite like some authors even when I try.) What I tend to notice is that the there is an inverse relationship between the number of physical features described and the amount of characterization they actually get, especially when we're talking female characters in fantasy, for some reason.

Mastikator
2017-09-24, 02:26 AM
Magitech, especially when it's replacing some piece of technology that already exists in reality and is easier/cheaper to do without magic.

Humanoid aliens, just no. Just have humans if you want humans. Aliens should be alien, communicating with them should be a challenge (and worth it).

Always evil mortal races, Not just annoying but one that I find slightly dangerous, the idea that a whole people can be so evil in general that you can kill a member of it without remorse. Do I even need to go on?

Knaight
2017-09-24, 03:10 AM
Any of the tropes that suggest that the author thought that nobles were legitimately just better fit here. There's the humble commoner who rises based on being instinctively heroic and then turns out to be a lost king. There's a book being written in third person omniscient with a narrator who spends a lot of time talking about how great good monarchs are*. There's persistent portrayals of any authority other than nobility as deeply suspect. It gets old.

*See: C.S. Lewis.

hamishspence
2017-09-24, 03:42 AM
Any of the tropes that suggest that the author thought that nobles were legitimately just better fit here. There's the humble commoner who rises based on being instinctively heroic and then turns out to be a lost king. There's a book being written in third person omniscient with a narrator who spends a lot of time talking about how great good monarchs are*. There's persistent portrayals of any authority other than nobility as deeply suspect. It gets old.

*See: C.S. Lewis.

C.S Lewis at least gets points for separating "kings" from "nobility is in the blood".

The first king of Narnia isn't an aristocrat - he's a cabman from London.

The Pensevie children aren't implied to be particularly "highborn" in the non-Narnia world.

Prince Caspian's dynasty started with a bunch of marooned pirates.

And so forth.

Knaight
2017-09-24, 03:56 AM
C.S Lewis at least gets points for separating "kings" from "nobility is in the blood".

A Horse and His Boy says he doesn't, although it seems like the necessary blood is just being vaguely Englishish.

Guizonde
2017-09-24, 04:15 AM
magic annoys me in fantasy. i'm not saying i don't like magic, but just the schizophrenia of it. here's an example:

in the elder scrolls (morrowind or skyrim), everyone and their mother who can scrape up a 100 septims can get their hands on an enchanted iron shock sword. great for ghosts when you're level 1. how the hell can you get a magic-infused item for that cheap? where's the profit margin?

in dnd, from my experience, you get peasants and you get rich as all snot. how do you tell the difference? a level 10 character has so much wealth in magic items they could probably cause a market crash if they sold a few of them. an adventurer parading around in an enchanted mithril plate is showing off he's wealthier than the local king. the local king, on the other hand, has maybe a +1 masterwork sword (complete with a paragraph describing the bling on it) and if the dm invested more time on the dude, perhaps a ring of poison resistance.

either you swallow your pride and make magic omnipresent (elder scrolls: anyone can cast magic, and its power level varies) or you actually make magic be a bit rarer. court wizards in dnd should be on par with a retired level 3-5 adventurer, i remember reading in the dmg. that means that there's a lot less magic items and effects floating around. how long is training to be a wizard again? iirc it's like 10-15 years of study. a phd irl. so why are there so many wizards around? where did they get the money to pay for their studies? i'll give a pass to paladins and clerics, since historically clerics represented about 5% of a population (and a paladin is really just a mashup of charlemagne's trusted battle-brothers and joan of arc). some actually performed miracles, if you believe in those things. hell, my psycho dm actually made my cleric be respected for being a level 7 cleric by the rest of his church. i was a bishop, and the lowliest clerics could not cast anything at all. the archbishop talked to me as a friend and a trusted colleague, but was only one caster level above me. the dude was an exception in terms of ability, and that's what i feel is wrong with the balance of magic vs mundane in dnd.

so in other words for dnd, either you democratize the magic usage to everyone or you restrict it a bit more. magic being only abundant for the pc's and the bad guy does not make sense when kings have court wizards, sorcerors are pretty vrekkin' common, and don't get me started on half-casters. at least some should be creating minor magic items to make ends meet, and with the number of casters, the market should be flooded with them.

on the flip side, warhammer. ok, ok, i know that magic in that game is to be shunned more than snakeskin boots at a vegan rally, but hear me out. there are a lot of very low level casters (hedge wizards, hamlet witches, basically strong enough to make you sleep or cure a toothache, not much more). there are very few borderline overpowered casters (elves, imperial wizards), and those guys take forever to get any small measure of control over their powers. magic make them age more slowly, but casting a fireball before age 60 without opening up a rift in the warp makes you a precocious apprentice. i understand there's less than 50 magic items in that world. most are lost to the mists of time, and the few remaining are in the hands of the elite. knowing the dangers of magic, i understand why there is so little of it in that world except on the battlefield. it feels like a gritty, low magic world. magic is feared. oddly enough, it feels more coherent for me.

why is magic in dnd not feared? you've got reality-bending people who're walking around, destroying acres of property just to get rid of a goblin. i don't know the level of coolheadedness of a dnd peasant, but i'd probably be screaming and running away. off the top of my head: searing light, fireball, fly, black tentacles, animate object, bigby's grasping hand, meteor swarm... imagine talking to some dude and with a word and a wave you're being grabbed by the wall behind you.

instead it's just "nope, not caring. by the way, can you save my 3 goats from the troll under the bridge? i'll pay you 5gp, it's all i have".

be consistent, pelor damn it!!

hamishspence
2017-09-24, 04:24 AM
A Horse and His Boy says he doesn't, although it seems like the necessary blood is just being vaguely Englishish.

aside from that one line about his good horsemanship from an Archenlander "He has a true horseman's seat. I'll wager there's noble blood in him" (that was due to large amounts of teaching from said Horse)- I don't remember it really dwelling on "nobles are Just Better than commoners".

Though there might be overtones of it in places.

When Caspian comments on being a bit ashamed of his pirate heritage, Aslan points out that just being human is both Great Glory and Great Shame.


i understand there's less than 50 magic items in that world. most are lost to the mists of time, and the few remaining are in the hands of the elite.

I'm pretty sure that if you totalled up the number of items in every army book, you'd get a much higher figure than that, and that's without mentioning very minor ones that aren't unique.

Altair_the_Vexed
2017-09-24, 05:59 AM
A wizard did it

https://media.giphy.com/media/l2JdTjcYNdvBEvvqg/giphy.gif

Sure, by its nature fantasy has magical stuff in there, but it shouldn't be used as an excuse for mistakes. Too often it seems like plot errors and design flaws in equipment, architecture, battle-plans, and so on are glossed over with magic - "It's a fantasy world with dragons and wizards, and you want realism?"
No, but I want consistency, and I want magical effects to be explicitly stated.

If stripper armour works through some sexy magic mojo in this setting, then please show us. If the evil horde sets their pikes against a cavalry charge, but the holy wrath of the righteous army makes this reliable tactic fail - then let us see that somehow.

Magic is not an excuse for poor continuity or design.

hymer
2017-09-24, 05:59 AM
1) Unrealistic Language: A little overspecific, but geez is it prevalent. I don't expect writers to come up with new languages like Tolkien or anything, but it's not hard to tell when a writer is just picking random sounds and punctuation and smushing it together to make names. Most real places are named things like "River Town" or taken from an older name that is familiar to the person doing the naming. Watch as I create amazing new names with my patented "slamming my hands on the keyboard method": Dasmi'da, Fnac, Nofwe, Nac-lik, Powcker :smallamused:

This I agree with wholeheartedly. It's also very noticeable when you have several names ostensibly from the same culture, and they have comepletely different sounds, elements and overall construction; like Shadowtree, S'p'lnä'dth and Billy, e.g.

For me, I guess it's Good Monsters. I get the appeal of the moral that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and every child should hear that story every now and again. But for me that story has long since been done to death. The nice monster can be a very useful tool in an occasional story, though we're not likely to be in any way surprised by it. But nothing reduces a monster type's coolness more than having their teeth blunted and their claws pulled. Vampires have it bad and have had for decades now. Lycanthropes were close behind. Dragons have gotten there not that long ago. Even orcs have gotten that way. Let's have some more monster protagonists, not these diabetes-inducing... Right, you get the point.

Guizonde
2017-09-24, 07:07 AM
I'm pretty sure that if you totalled up the number of items in every army book, you'd get a much higher figure than that, and that's without mentioning very minor ones that aren't unique.

i never played the wargame (i played 40k, but loved the universe). i played whfrp, and in the rulebook and the skaven supplement, there isn't much in the ways of the plethora of dnd-esque items. hell, the runefangs are basically just +1 swords infused with a light offensive effect. and that's what the rulers of the countries use. aren't there like, only 8 left anyway?

the exact figure doesn't matter for my argument (although it should feel significantly low). the fact is that there is a very clear disconnect between the supply and the demand. magic scrolls, fine. they're rare, expensive, and you need training to use them. potions? when i played, i saw two in 9 sessions, and were worth a small fortune each. surviving in that game is a balance between wits and luck. it's not a matter of boiling it down to a magic-item arms race.

if you want a magic item or effect, you need to earn it. magic rituals, learning magic safely, tomes of eldritch lore... sure, some people are cursed/blessed by the warp and able to do minor effects, but we're very far from the high magic feel of dnd. i dunno, it just bugs me that magic is so omnipresent yet so restricted to the elite in dnd.

hamishspence
2017-09-24, 07:17 AM
In the wargame, runefangs are vastly more powerful than "bottom-rank magical weapons" (of the kind that virtually every army can take) are - ignoring armour completely, autowounding even immensely tough monsters, etc.

Bottom-rank weapons might be called something like "Sword of Swift Striking" or "Biting Blade".

kivzirrum
2017-09-24, 07:31 AM
I know this has been said by a couple people, but it's the Always Evil races thing that gets me the most. Other cliches maybe annoy me, but I recognize they can be done well or they can be fun, or whatever (like worlds where everyone can learn magic just by studying it annoy me in most media, but I recognize it's important for people to be able to play as mages/wizards in D&D and video games). Races that are always evil... implications unpleasant.

PhoenixPhyre
2017-09-24, 07:59 AM
I know this has been said by a couple people, but it's the Always Evil races thing that gets me the most. Other cliches maybe annoy me, but I recognize they can be done well or they can be fun, or whatever (like worlds where everyone can learn magic just by studying it annoy me in most media, but I recognize it's important for people to be able to play as mages/wizards in D&D and video games). Races that are always evil... implications unpleasant.
I agree. That's why my setting doesn't have any (including devils/demons/undead). Undead are hazardous because they require a constant supply of energy to exist, so they tend to drain things around them. Devils like making deals, and they're not too concerned, generally, with common morality, but there are some nice, kind, altruistic devils. Demons just have plans and desires that are inimical to the order of the universe. Heck, angels tend to not be concerned with collateral damage--even less so than demons.

Frozen_Feet
2017-09-24, 08:27 AM
Some of my pet-peeve tropes and cliches appear more often among perusers of fantasy works rather than the works themselves, but regardless:

#1
What: "supernatural really exists, so religions are non-existent/are completely different from real-life."
Why: in real life, we have shamans who try to invoke spirits of Lenin and Stalin, just to name one out of myriad examples. Quite clearly, people can have superstitious, religious etc. beliefs of things which really exist. So the existence of real supernatural beings won't mean religion is non-existent or works differently, unless humans also work different from reality.

#2
What: "If aliens, then Jesus!"
Why: if one fantastic thing is proven true, it logically says nothing about other unrelated fantastic things. Sometimes this is raised as an argument against realism in the form of "But dragons!" fallacy, as if presence of one fantastic thing automatically means all fantastic things are allowable. These people fundamentally misunderstand realism and apparently have never heard of magical realism.

#3
What: "All myths are true!"
Why: see #1. People are very good at coming up with nonsense. This includes nonsense about existing things. Just because something exists, doesn't mean all stories about it are true. A setting should include fantastic myths, creatures and events which are wholly fabricated.

#4
What: "Magic as unified force/energy"
Why: there is no need to have Grand Unified Theory of Magic (trademark) which handily explains all supernatural phenomena. Especially if it's non-explanation of the sort "magic is force/energy that can do anything!"

#5
What: "Magic as science." (Especially if combined with #4)
Why: Larry Niven already did this and he did it better than you. Besides, this trope is you telling me your imagination is limited to swapping labcoats for wizard robes. Especially if combined with "magitech" that's really just ordinary tech "but magic!" A fire-shooting wand that's used like a rifle is no more interesting than a real rifle, it might even be less so if you're using magic as an excuse to skip actual research on rifles.

#6
What: "I can see the fuuutuuuure!"
Why: when was the last time you saw, read, or played a work with precognition that did anything remotely original with it? Prophecy, divination, fate, destiny etc. are some of the oldest concepts mankind thought up and they have been done to death. So have all the subversion and all the deconstructions. Don't do them.

#7
What: Straw nobles
Why: people have mentioned how tiresome it is that all the cool people are nobles, but the opposite is just as tiresome. Casting all nobles as petty upper class twits or corrupt monsters, or insinuating that everything would get better if you just killed them all off, makes you sound like you are stuck at the French revolution. And never examined in depth what happened afterwards. For modern setting, replace "nobles" with "politicians".

Cluedrew
2017-09-24, 09:05 AM
There are quite a few general ones I could go on, but for fantasy:

Super Races:
OK, why does a race that amounts to "humans, but better" exist and how? Evolution-wise it doesn't make sense and even for a created setting, did the gods pick favourites or something? Especially when there are no particular draw backs, or the draw backs are hidden away behind hand-wave. Elves are especially problematic here, although I can give a pass to the more "mystical" interpretations, but the ones that are very much animals (in that they are biologically beings) don't really make sense because they should age according to the same rules as humans, but they don't.

Magic is Just Better:
Magic just being better than the physical/intellectual solution in almost all or many cases is a terrible idea and creates problems every single time. Some exceptions if it is really hard to access, but otherwise see other comments on this.

It Doesn't Have to Make Sense:
No, it really should make sense. Perhaps not according to our rules, in fact it makes sense according to our rules it isn't really fantasy, but there should be some sort of logic behind it. And by some sort, I mean just about anything, but stick to it whatever, and however loose, it is.

Guizonde
2017-09-24, 09:16 AM
#7
What: Straw nobles
Why: people have mentioned how tiresome it is that all the cool people are nobles, but the opposite is just as tiresome. Casting all nobles as petty upper class twits or corrupt monsters, or insinuating that everything would get better if you just killed them all off, makes you sound like you are stuck at the French revolution. And never examined in depth what happened afterwards. For modern setting, replace "nobles" with "politicians".

if i may play devil's advocate (and believe me, it hurts me since that bugs me too), america in particular has got a thing about nobles, not seeing them as people but rather as "the enemy", kinda like communism. now, in the old world it's a bit more complicated. sure, you've got your bloody mary's, your henry VIII's, and your vlad's. you've also got your henri IV (beloved king of france), your louis XIV, your windsor family, and whatnot. truth of it all, it's neither, but since most of us are from commoner stock, we extrapolate into a polarized vision of nobility. either saints or depraved sinners.

i actually know a couple of bluebloods irl. one defining trait of them all is that they're serious history buffs, and i've got a bachelor's in history, so that's saying something. one of them (traced his ancestry to the late IXth century) is an archaeologist just to bug his parents who're still landowners and philanthropists. friendly people, if a bit conservative concerning new fads or practices. i believe i learned he was a blueblood a few years after when i saw his ancestor name-checked during the battle of crecy in a book i was studying.

but he's really old blood. what is called "noblesse d'épée". the worst offenders gained their letters of nobility in the late XVIth century, or "noblesse de robe". they bought their title and have a tendency to be really pretentious about it (i know 2, and both use their full ancestry as a last name). that's where the stereotype of the "straw nobleman" comes from, i'm pretty sure. to wit, "noblesse d'épée" payed their status in blood, living and dying by the sword to protect the kingdom. that's where the "cool nobleman" comes from. most were pretty poor by the time of the revolution, having been replaced by the ineffectual dilettantes known as "noblesse de robe". basically magistrates or wealthy third estate that bought or married into their noble status with an office from the king. the corruption stereotype is actually understated, to be honest. anyway, those dudes were all about "appearing" rather than "doing", thus the evil reputation. nevermind that sword nobility were full of cruel psychopaths and genocidal maniacs.

so on the one hand, you've got corrupt bureaucrats, on the other you've got serial killers. or you've got lawmakers doing their utmost to better the life of the people or you've got the knight in shining armor. any wonder you've only got aristos in two flavors? :smallamused:

bulbaquil
2017-09-24, 09:27 AM
1. "Subverted Trope"/"Averted Trope"

Attempting to avoid a cliche solely for the sake of avoiding cliches... is itself a cliche. If, given the constraints of your setting or game, a cliche makes sense, then use it without apology.

2a. "Gods exist, therefore they must be constantly interfering in the affairs of mortals."
2b. "Gods exist, therefore they must be perfect/omnipotent/omniscient/omnipresent."
2c. "Gods exist, therefore there are no religious disagreements because the clerics can just ask."

These three are birds of a feather. Yes, gods exist and are powerful. That does not necessarily require that they are constantly at the beck and call of everyone who prays. In my mind (and therefore in my setting), gods are rather like CEOs of huge multinational corporations; they can't and don't respond to every single instance of "customer feedback". They delegate much of that (often including the granting of spells) to less powerful demigods, angels, departed souls, and - indeed - mortal clerics, any and all of whom might have their own agendas and/or be beholden to temporal authorities. When do the gods themselves get involved? When a situation is (in their opinion) dire enough to warrant intervention.

3. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

You know what else is indistinguishable from magic? Magic. It is not necessary to have a non-magical explanation (e.g. advanced alien technology, quantum/zero-point energy manipulation, some subatomic particle we haven't discovered yet, etc.) for a magical phenomenon.

4. "Magic can do anything"

The main problem with this is largely a system limitation caused by the fact that in 3.5/PF, magic indeed can do just about anything, since it's designed as a kitchen sink where anything magic has been attested as having done must be possible. But magical powers should come with asterisks - things that you simply can't do, or that you "can do, but", or something like that. (This should, of course, be consistent - if magic can do A but not do B, it should not suddenly be able to do B and not do A without a very good reason).

5. "Dragon Riders"

Dragons are immensely powerful and proud creatures, highly territorial and hyperintelligent. Even if they have a "G" in their alignment, they are not to be trifled with or dealt with lightly. They are smart enough to recognize e.g. Pavlovian conditioning for what it is. If a dragon befriends you, lets you ride it, or in any way acts "tame", it is because doing so is somehow beneficial to the dragon's goals. You do not ever have a dragon pet or dragon slave; if you think you do, it's you who are the pet or slave.

Lord Raziere
2017-09-24, 10:01 AM
Come up with some good metaphors that make darkness sound positive. If you can come up with more than five, maybe you've got something. Light/dark just have strong metaphorical PR and, really, always have. Comes with being a diurnal species, maybe?

Honestly, i can't think of a cliche i well and truly dislike. Poorly done attempts at subversion are just as bad as anything else, even if they mean well, and cliches are around because they're efficient communicators/baselines. Also, easier to perfect than a subversion.

Hey y'know whats also annoying? arguing with me over the cliches and being dismissive and spiteful like that like a jerk. your not being clever either, your acting as if your opinion is fact. don't do that. Its rude.

I don't care if you love all the cliches I hate and want to argue about it. I hate what I hate, I love what I love, and like everyone else that is never to going change and it useless to argue about these things. Your life will get a lot easier when you recognize this fact and know when not to do the thing your doing now. Because the whole internet "oh look an opinion thats different than mine, lets speak out against it because I have my opinion and feeling contrary." thing? Its gets old. I know, I've been there a million times. It never leads anywhere good.

Guizonde
2017-09-24, 10:07 AM
1. "Subverted Trope"/"Averted Trope"

Attempting to avoid a cliche solely for the sake of avoiding cliches... is itself a cliche. If, given the constraints of your setting or game, a cliche makes sense, then use it without apology.

2a. "Gods exist, therefore they must be constantly interfering in the affairs of mortals."
2b. "Gods exist, therefore they must be perfect/omnipotent/omniscient/omnipresent."
2c. "Gods exist, therefore there are no religious disagreements because the clerics can just ask."

These three are birds of a feather. Yes, gods exist and are powerful. That does not necessarily require that they are constantly at the beck and call of everyone who prays. In my mind (and therefore in my setting), gods are rather like CEOs of huge multinational corporations; they can't and don't respond to every single instance of "customer feedback". They delegate much of that (often including the granting of spells) to less powerful demigods, angels, departed souls, and - indeed - mortal clerics, any and all of whom might have their own agendas and/or be beholden to temporal authorities. When do the gods themselves get involved? When a situation is (in their opinion) dire enough to warrant intervention.
i like the way you think. i'd also add wilful misinterpretation of the tenets of the faith (actually a core problem in my current pf campaign), hijacking agendas, or plain personal incompetence. just because you're a cleric doesn't automatically make you a highly trained theologian. for gods, some are actually stated to have no interest whatsoever in the material plane. some are in it for their amusement, and of course some go "meh, i'll watch this. if i'm bored, i'll watch simpsons reruns again".



3. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

You know what else is indistinguishable from magic? Magic. It is not necessary to have a non-magical explanation (e.g. advanced alien technology, quantum/zero-point energy manipulation, some subatomic particle we haven't discovered yet, etc.) for a magical phenomenon.

i actually had a player who had the opposite viewpoint. while playing in my homebrew post-apocalyptic system, he asked me what happened to the fluoride in the cold-fusion generator they were hooking up their computer to. to say i was flat-footed is an understatement. i said, "is your character a nuclear physicist?" "no..." "are you a nuclear physicist?" "nooo.... but.." "i know i'm not, so don't think about it too much, because none of us have the answer". he then over the course of 3 days sent pm's, texts, and instant messages to me (with links) describing why cold-fusion doesn't work in our universe. i believe it bugged him that there was no concrete evidence for how something worked. he actually said "i hate the easy explanation that a wizard did it! it's got to work or it breaks immersion!"

i don't want to play with that player again, because if he was that passionate about one minor detail of my homebrew, imagine how rules-lawyer he was in-game. including idiot things like "i want an smg!" *gives smg* "omg it's not as powerful as a sniper rifle! it's only as powerful as the medic's pistol! you're a cheat!"

it may have its issues, but my universe is pretty consistent when it comes to its firearms. a submachine gun fires pistol rounds, so it's doing pistol damage on each hit. he had issues with that. i blame too many video games. i suggested he play dnd or another fantasy system, a suggestion he promptly threw away in favor of trying like most newbies-who-know-better-than-everyone to create his own system. i believe he struggled to scientifically explain how magic worked. i'm fairly confident he's still trying to solve that riddle.

funny thing, but one thing applicable to fantasy: i had to draw out a mechanical trap for him to believe how it worked. the trap in question? right here (http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Snare-Trap). why call for magic or dm fiat when gravity and spring tension work just fine?

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-24, 10:24 AM
Come up with some good metaphors that make darkness sound positive. If you can come up with more than five, maybe you've got something. Light/dark just have strong metaphorical PR and, really, always have. Comes with being a diurnal species, maybe?



Will five work?


Darkness is the Great Unconquerable, for who can destroy the Void? The mad beast of Destruction and Death may annihilate the whole world and all that is in it, yet Darkness receives it all and exists after. When the king stands over the last of his slain enemies, mighty in his power and pride, he, too, will come to Darkness in the end.

Darkness is the Protector of the Helpless, concealing them so that the ravenous mighty cannot find them to devour. All beginnings come from the Dark, because the living prey upon the new and helpless. Is there a womb or an egg where one can see the bare start of any life? No.

Darkness is the Knower of Secrets, that which knows everything that no one knows. The Light exposes the Truth, but the proud and mighty create their own Truth and wield it and the Light as an unconquerable weapon. What the mighty do not want known lies in Darkness, and from the Darkness comes hopes and beginnings of their downfall.

Darkness is the Great Mercy, where a mind broken by horror and body riven with pain can find relief from the agony of its existence. In relief can come healing, as woes are held at bay, the packs of thieves and looters pass unknowing. In rest comes renewed strength, restored will, and eternal hope.

"Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first."


The first four come from a discussion I had on another forum years ago. The last one is from Pratchett

Lord Raziere
2017-09-24, 10:29 AM
The first four come from a discussion I had on another forum years ago. The last one is from Pratchett

I do have one:
The Darkness has many refuges for us, various little shades from the burning tyranny of the sun. the darkness scatters these little refuges of shade far and wide across the desert of life so that we may all find shelter from the burning rays, the searing light of pain and destruction.

Briare0s
2017-09-24, 11:43 AM
For me it's the checklist of fantasy races that almost every author seems to rely upon instead of making their own races that fit into the world itself. It's gotten to the point where I kind of get somewhat disinterested in a fantasy world that heavily uses the same Elves/Dwarves/Halfings/Orcs/Giants/Goblins/Trolls/etc. That or they will simply do what's essentially a palette swap on the race to make it "different"(See Trollocs/Half-Giants/Dark Elves/etc). Now some stories can have some level of reasoning or something else that validates the existence of said race although it always comes off as a bit lazy. Now that's not to say that the worlds/stories themselves always suffer from overuse of this trope, but I feel like they always lose an important piece of world-building when one hamfists a common race like the Elves into their fantasy setting. For example in Brandon Sanderson's books, all of his races(other than humans obviously) come with their own special origins or backstory that ties themselves to directly the roots of the world they live in. Essentially they all feel like they have narrative importance as you understand their role in the world. This helps make each race feel unique and cool compared to seeing the same old races we see in every fantasy. I wish every fantasy author took this approach to building their worlds as it adds so much to the the different races and therefore the individual characters themselves.

Other than that I'm ok with any other "cliche" as long as it is done well enough.

JAL_1138
2017-09-24, 12:56 PM
Related to the "Unrealistic Language" one Scripten posted upthread: names that sound like they're trying too hard to sound "fantasy." Like it's beating you over the head with a mallet with "fantasy" written on it and shouting "SEE? IT'S FANTASY! LOOK HOW FANTASY IT IS!" Forgotten Realms is a major offender here—it's one of the reasons I don't like the setting. Nobody talks like that, and nobody names real places like that. (And especially, nobody shoves "moon" into every third place name on the planet, too.)

And I'm originally from a state with place names like "Hell-for-Certain," "Black Gnat," "Thousandsticks," "Coldiron" (though it's pronounced "Coal-darn"—or rather "Coaldarn," all as one word—and you'll confuse people if you call it "Cold Iron"), "Tyewhoppety," "Vortex," "Stinking Creek," and "Monkey's Eyebrow," so that's saying something.

As with most tropes, trying-too-hard fantasy place names can be done well, though in this case generally only as parody or spoof, or at least with some self-awareness. Discworld is rife with examples of it done well, all of which are deliberate (and some are outright puns).

JBPuffin
2017-09-24, 01:35 PM
Hey y'know whats also annoying? arguing with me over the cliches and being dismissive and spiteful like that like a jerk. your not being clever either, your acting as if your opinion is fact. don't do that. Its rude.

I don't care if you love all the cliches I hate and want to argue about it. I hate what I hate, I love what I love, and like everyone else that is never to going change and it useless to argue about these things. Your life will get a lot easier when you recognize this fact and know when not to do the thing your doing now. Because the whole internet "oh look an opinion thats different than mine, lets speak out against it because I have my opinion and feeling contrary." thing? Its gets old. I know, I've been there a million times. It never leads anywhere good.

Sorry, I didn't mean to come off dismissive or spiteful; i was legitimately curious if you could think of some good metaphors, because I haven't heard any, and was suggesting reasons the cliche is the way it is. I'm sorry it came off as a personal attack on you and your position.

Velaryon
2017-09-24, 01:55 PM
1. This has been mentioned already, but the "chosen one" trope (and prophecy in general) are almost always going to bother me. The only two cases I can think of where I actually liked it were in the Wheel of Time (where the cyclical nature of the ages and the world bending around ta'veren to make things work in their favor are actual features of the world), and in Mistborn, where everyone keeps getting the whole Hero of Ages thing wrong.

2. Overuse of apostrophes in your fantasy language to make it look more "exotic." Just stop.

3. Weak villains. Whether this is because all the competent people are on the side of the good guys (for example, the Elenium series by David Eddings), or the villain's competence is almost entirely informed rather than demonstrated (the Mage Winds trilogy by Mercedes Lackey), I just hate it when the villain doesn't seem like an actual threat. For me, a hero is only as interesting as the evil they overcome. Fail at making a compelling villain, and your entire story is undermined. Now, I actually did enjoy both of those series to a degree, but I do believe that they were weaker than they could otherwise have been.

4. Any series that's a blatant attempt to emulate whatever the most recent big success was. This happens in all genres, not just fantasy - or rather, in all forms of media. I think it bears mentioning anyway. Just like the proliferation of cookie-cutter dystopias after The Hunger Games struck it big, or everyone going full grimdark in emulation of A Game of Thrones. I recognize that there are only so many ideas out there, and some works will have similarities to others, and that's okay. But when it's clearly done as an attempt to cash in on a fad, it makes the whole work feel like nothing but a soulless and exploitative cash grab.

Lord Raziere
2017-09-24, 02:06 PM
Sorry, I didn't mean to come off dismissive or spiteful; i was legitimately curious if you could think of some good metaphors, because I haven't heard any, and was suggesting reasons the cliche is the way it is. I'm sorry it came off as a personal attack on you and your position.

Hm. Very well. I apologize, your good.

Put me down as another who dislikes all powerful wizards. Prefer magic with rules and limitations to make them interesting, why I read Brandon Sanderson.

I don't like only human settings myself. prefer settings with lots of races, hopefully creative but playable races.

now there are some people who point out that "subverting things just make more cliches" this is fact, but I don't care. Everyone goes towards what they want and shuns what they don't. if there are two equal but opposite cliches all the better for people to enjoy one or the other. I don't like always evil races, others don't like my cliche of races turning not be evil, ok. Guess I know who I won't be writing for/playing with, thats all. Find the cliches you like, what you want to express and don't get bogged down in shooting down other peoples ideas. All ideas can be criticized if you look hard enough, because someone will always criticize them. its practically an internet rule: if an idea exists, there is criticism of it. so remember that if there is a trope that annoys you, find or make the trope, the method that YOU want to use and see. the cliche that your comfortable with, so that you can be happier.

Cluedrew
2017-09-24, 02:20 PM
I got one more:

Race/Species=Culture:
You do not need a biological difference to create different cultures. Actually biological differences aren't enough to create cultural differences unless sufficiently extreme. Putting that aside it is both shallow and echoes a lot of real world "of course someone of X is going to be Y" which I find uncomfortable whenever I think about it too much. Also seen in a lot of sci-fi.

Corollary:
All races except humans are limited to one town/country/region is also weird.

PhoenixPhyre
2017-09-24, 02:31 PM
I got one more:

Race/Species=Culture:
You do not need a biological difference to create different cultures. Actually biological differences aren't enough to create cultural differences unless sufficiently extreme. Putting that aside it is both shallow and echoes a lot of real world "of course someone of X is going to be Y" which I find uncomfortable whenever I think about it too much. Also seen in a lot of sci-fi.

Corollary:
All races except humans are limited to one town/country/region is also weird.

Related: I find single-race nations (except for tribal cultures) to be strange and uncomfortable. I don't mind distribution (my dragonborn from the central play area have mostly migrated to one nation, but they're found in two major areas, halflings are mostly found in one, but tribal groups are found in a couple others), but pure-race nations (or even super-dominant racial nations in regions of mixed race) make me squirm a bit.

Dragonexx
2017-09-24, 02:50 PM
Add me to the |Subverting a cliche for the sake of subverting it|. If it fits the story you're trying to tell, then just play it straight, most people don't actually care that much, and it detracts from the story to keep trying to avoid it. This applies to most any trope (standard races, calvinball magic, prophecies, ect.)

rooster707
2017-09-24, 06:26 PM
Honestly, i can't think of a cliche i well and truly dislike. Poorly done attempts at subversion are just as bad as anything else, even if they mean well, and cliches are around because they're efficient communicators/baselines. Also, easier to perfect than a subversion.

This. Tropes are tools, (tvtropes.org/main/TropesAreTools) not inherently good or bad things - and that includes the clichéd ones. A really good author, IMO, is one that can take things that everyone is sick of and make them new and interesting again. ...but that's just my opinion.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-24, 06:38 PM
This. Tropes are tools, (http://tvtropes.org/main/TropesAreTools) not inherently good or bad things - and that includes the clichéd ones. A really good author, IMO, is one that can take things that everyone is sick of and make them new and interesting again. ...but that's just my opinion.


Half the problem with "tropes" is that anything that's happened at least twice in fiction is regarded as a "trope" by some, and even if you're really not trying to play with tropes and indulge in cliches and "memes", someone will also assert that you are no matter what you say.

A Tad Insane
2017-09-24, 06:45 PM
"Every other culture, past and and present, is more mystical than the current prevalent culture"

An irl problem, to be sure, but I really hate the , to me, part of the western culture, the over mysticism of all of all other cultures.

'In ancient times, magic was strong, and we went skinny dipping with fairies until the ignorant king banned it' or 'This primitive culture never stopped listening to the spirits of the earth, unlike us

Just stop. We live in a cool era, too!

Lord Raziere
2017-09-24, 06:49 PM
Half the problem with "tropes" is that anything that's happened at least twice in fiction is regarded as a "trope" by some, and even if you're really not trying to play with tropes and indulge in cliches and "memes", someone will also assert that you are no matter what you say.

Then do I what do:
Not care, and make you want, what you like, happen. You are the person that determines whats awesome. If everything is a cliche, then it being a cliche doesn't matter! The only thing that matters is the story YOU want to tell, for the reasons why YOU want them! because all these cliches? they have reasons behind them. and you can't use something without having a reason behind it, could be deep, could be "just cause its awesome" but there is more to the trope whether its used or not- its WHY its used and what its used FOR. And if you want subvert something? Thats fine to! Its the story YOU want to tell, not anyone elses! A subversion depends just as much as the cliche itself in the skill of which its executed! If all did we stick to and perfect the cliches, it'd be just as bad if we just subverted constantly without rhyme or reason.

and if you don't like tropes and don't want to use them or whatever, don't want to put labels on it, thats fine to. You do you. For some people, labels are just not good things, and thats fine, they do it the way they comfortable with. thats whats art and entertainment are about.

Faily
2017-09-24, 07:27 PM
I got one more:

Race/Species=Culture:
You do not need a biological difference to create different cultures. Actually biological differences aren't enough to create cultural differences unless sufficiently extreme. Putting that aside it is both shallow and echoes a lot of real world "of course someone of X is going to be Y" which I find uncomfortable whenever I think about it too much. Also seen in a lot of sci-fi.

Corollary:
All races except humans are limited to one town/country/region is also weird.

I was going to say that there aren't really any tropes or cliches that greatly bother me (as I tend to think it's fine as long as it's interesting or fun), but THIS one does irk me.

Like, why do Humans (usually) get to have different sort of cultures and ethnicities, but other races are restricted to Elf culture and Dwarf culture.

Thankfully some settings do try to do it differently, but it's certainly in the minority.

Mr Beer
2017-09-24, 10:28 PM
Any time a strong but not superhuman being uses a weapon which is 'too heavy for a normal man to lift'. A 150lb battleaxe or whatever is not usable as a weapon by any human.

Minting and then using fantasy language terms for mundane items e.g. the elf's belt referred to as an erinyan, his cloak as a taugalad, his boots are elestals and so on. No it's not immersive, just call them belts, cloaks, boots etc.

Potato_Priest
2017-09-24, 10:36 PM
I often play barbarians, and it gets on my nerves when people expect me to be all THOG SMASH TALKY MAN!, especially when I have a decent intelligence score.

Scripten
2017-09-24, 10:48 PM
Minting and then using fantasy language terms for mundane items e.g. the elf's belt referred to as an erinyan, his cloak as a taugalad, his boots are elestals and so on. No it's not immersive, just call them belts, cloaks, boots etc.

Uuurrrgh, yeah, this is so irritating. It also feeds into how poorly written non-native speakers of any language can be in any genre, but it's even more irritating than normal in fantasy.

If your character is messing up the sentence structure of a language, why are they doing that? If you can't answer in a reasonable matter, just make them speak using more commonplace vocabulary. (By reasonable, I mean things such as, "Their native language uses an inverse sentence structure so they sometimes forget certain rules in Common." I once came across a very interesting post that went through all the different ways to represent that concept in a literary context, but I can't recall where.)

Mr Beer
2017-09-24, 11:52 PM
I often play barbarians, and it gets on my nerves when people expect me to be all THOG SMASH TALKY MAN!, especially when I have a decent intelligence score.

Agree, it's worth noting that the absolute quintessential barbarian Conan didn't talk like a caricature of a caveman. He was direct but perfectly articulate.

Mr Beer
2017-09-24, 11:57 PM
Uuurrrgh, yeah, this is so irritating. It also feeds into how poorly written non-native speakers of any language can be in any genre, but it's even more irritating than normal in fantasy.

If your character is messing up the sentence structure of a language, why are they doing that? If you can't answer in a reasonable matter, just make them speak using more commonplace vocabulary. (By reasonable, I mean things such as, "Their native language uses an inverse sentence structure so they sometimes forget certain rules in Common." I once came across a very interesting post that went through all the different ways to represent that concept in a literary context, but I can't recall where.)

I think the easiest way for a player to have their character differentiate their language from the standard, and do so consistently, is simply to adopt a real world foreign accent. This has the advantage of built in cultural stereotypes (Elves appreciate fine wine and are snobbish = French, Scots quaff ale and headbutt things = Dwarves, etc.). But not everyone is happy with that approach so YMMV.

Pex
2017-09-25, 12:56 AM
Elves being absolutely perfect in every way.

Matriarchal societies enslaving men/use men for procreation then killed/eating men. Female protagonists say nothing and rescue the party's males, but let there be a patriarchal society where women are veiled or something and hear the female protagonists roar.

When the kingdom is in trouble the vizier is behind it.

When the protagonists seek the alliance of some nation to fight a Great Evil, the protagonists must fight something to the death to prove their worth.

The male hero or sidekick is seduced by a female bad guy despite all logic knowing there's no way she wants sex at first sight. The female is not necessarily working for the BBEG. She could just be a bad guy in her own right wanting to steal something or eat him.

The kid will always do exactly what you tell him/her not to do making the situation worse or needs rescuing.

The hero's mentor is killed.

The Answer is always what's in the hero's heart, never his brain.

Xuc Xac
2017-09-25, 01:03 AM
I hate it when characters on another world are obviously speaking English. Not just "their words are translated into English for the benefit of the reader" or something like many books do, but actually speaking English.

This is usually a result of authors who only speak English and ignorantly assume every other language works the same way and all the vocabulary is just a word for word substitution cypher of English. It's obvious when something like a pun or riddle only works in English or, worse yet, depends on English spelling in the Roman alphabet.

"Oh! Don't you see? The king's signet ring with a sun symbol on it wouldn't open the magic gate because we need the prince! The prophet meant 'the king's son' not "sun'!" English is probably the only language on Earth where that works. Why would it work on another planet or plane of existence that knows nothing of Earth?

Yogibear41
2017-09-25, 01:14 AM
Dark = Evil:
I don't like this cliche either, despite its symbolic associations. I mean its just a color? Why does everybody have to assign a moral value to it? It makes no sense. Why can't dark just be another element for once? Why does aesthetics have to be so tied to moral value, ugh.


In Onimusha 4(I think it was 4) The god of light was evil, and the god of darkness was good(ish).

Mordaedil
2017-09-25, 02:30 AM
I tend to like cliches, they are cliches for a reason and it is usually because they fundamentally trigger something vital in the human little ape brain we have, much like the hero with a thousand faces.

Generally I don't go looking about clichés or tropes for things I like or dislike, as I find it actually hinders creativity by locking you into set thought-patterns. I go for something I find interesting first and then I look it over and go "oh, huh, I guess I ended up using that cliché here, neat" and sometimes it ends up being a cliche twist or an outright break of cliché.

But the problem is that everything is a cliché now. Used to be that stories about orphans was new an innovative, but then it became tired and old, then it became interesting to have characters with actual family, but now that is a cliche too.

You can't win at this, there's always going to be something that has been done before. Right now I have an hour-glass family structure, where two separate families ended up divorcing their partners after they cheated on their partners only for them to marry later. I don't know if even that is unique, but if it has been done in fiction before, it's from somewhere I haven't read it!

But that wasn't something I did because I wanted to break a cliche, I did that because I wanted a realistic family with intrigue that could be used as plot points by the DM later.

RedMage125
2017-09-25, 02:44 AM
I'm also in the camp of disliking "subverted trope for the sake of subverting it".
I happen to greatly ENJOY a lot of the classic fantasy tropes, including a few of the ones people brought up here, but I even more enjoy creativity. Which means I am frequently delighted at subverted tropes, when used with some thought and determination. My only real objection is when it seems like it's just for the sake of subverting it.

Any of the tropes that suggest that the author thought that nobles were legitimately just better fit here. There's the humble commoner who rises based on being instinctively heroic and then turns out to be a lost king. There's a book being written in third person omniscient with a narrator who spends a lot of time talking about how great good monarchs are*. There's persistent portrayals of any authority other than nobility as deeply suspect. It gets old.

*See: C.S. Lewis.
I'm a little confused by this, because C.S. Lewis is also the man who brought us this quote:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Lewis was a firm believer that legitimate or not, authority must be JUST.




Fantasy Blasphemy: You know when in fantasy they want to use God's name as an expletive, but they worship a fictional pantheon instead? This is it. A good example is that in The Elder Scrolls people say "By the Nine" or "By Azura" all the time. It might just be that it just sounds off to me due to living in a world where people don't worship those gods.
Have you never heard the expression "By Jove?" You do know that's a reference to the Roman version of Zeus, right? There's more examples from other real-world cultures as well. To claim that fantasy examples of invoking polytheistic deities is somehow "appropriating" a Judeo-Christian expletive is profoundly myopic.


1. This has been mentioned already, but the "chosen one" trope (and prophecy in general) are almost always going to bother me. The only two cases I can think of where I actually liked it were in the Wheel of Time (where the cyclical nature of the ages and the world bending around ta'veren to make things work in their favor are actual features of the world), and in Mistborn, where everyone keeps getting the whole Hero of Ages thing wrong.
I generally feel this way as well, but have come close to using something like this. In 4e, one of the races was the Deva, who live multiple lifetimes, and when they die are "reborn" fully-formed, adult, usually already with class features and only vague hints of their previous lives that come back in flashes. I had a player who made a Deva Cleric of Bahamut, and decided to put an enormous amount of trust in me by deciding that his character's incarnation was only a few years old, leaving everything else about his past lives up to me. Well down the line of the game (end of Heroic Tier, into Paragon Tier) they discovered a legend in dragonborn lands about an ancient champion of Bahamut called The Platinum Champion, who was always depicted as a dragonborn. They eventually found out that not only was he NOT a dragonborn, but he was one of the PC cleric's previous incarnations, the memory of which he recovered when he picked up the Champion's sword. That's about the closest I've come, and technically is more about connection to the past than a prophecy for the future. Regardless, the whole party enjoyed the surprise and liked having a connection to the legend that had shaped so much of the quests they had pursues for months.



2. Overuse of apostrophes in your fantasy language to make it look more "exotic." Just stop.
I confess to being guilty of that with Elven names.



3. Weak villains. Whether this is because all the competent people are on the side of the good guys (for example, the Elenium series by David Eddings), or the villain's competence is almost entirely informed rather than demonstrated (the Mage Winds trilogy by Mercedes Lackey), I just hate it when the villain doesn't seem like an actual threat. For me, a hero is only as interesting as the evil they overcome. Fail at making a compelling villain, and your entire story is undermined. Now, I actually did enjoy both of those series to a degree, but I do believe that they were weaker than they could otherwise have been.
I am confused by your Eddings example. Martel was extremely competent and dangerous. His siege of Chyrellos very nearly succeeded. Only at the last fight with Sparhawk did any kind of failure come forth, and that was more about (even as he admits) his own vanity being his downfall. Sparhawk is even thinking during the fight about how evenly matched they were. And Annias was a cunning and conniving politician who had a well-developed scheme that almost succeeded several times. If Eddings is guilty of tat, I think it's in the Mallorean, where any and all threats are just kind of casually brushed aside. The only fights that ever appear to be ACTUALLY dangerous are the 2 fights with the dragon. Unlike in the Belgariad, where most skirmishes seemed much more dangerous. The second series has people like Silk and Sadi, who, between them seems to have "just the right thing" up their sleeve. Belgarion himself is incredibly blasé about most combat, and even demons in that series, which they emphasize are a HUGE threat, never actually amount to any kind of sense of danger to our heroes.



Related: I find single-race nations (except for tribal cultures) to be strange and uncomfortable. I don't mind distribution (my dragonborn from the central play area have mostly migrated to one nation, but they're found in two major areas, halflings are mostly found in one, but tribal groups are found in a couple others), but pure-race nations (or even super-dominant racial nations in regions of mixed race) make me squirm a bit.

I think racial-dominant cities/nations makes sense in a fantasy setting to some extent, depending on how it's done. I do it in my setting. Dwarves, for example, live in subterranean cities that elves would abhor, and most humans would not be comfortable in. But gnomes (rock gnomes in 5e) are considered "little cousins" by dwarves, and are frequently found in both "primarily dwarf" and "primarily human" settlements. I also have a southern continent from which dragonborn hail. There is a smattering of the other humanoids who have moves there, but many dragonborn have come north and integrated to the "primary" continent. I even have a few settlements of surface drow (which are the only valid origins for a drow PC in my world. No Drizzt clones). One is a small town full of them (with some humans, Halfling and half-elves), and one larger human city that openly accepts them.

Vitruviansquid
2017-09-25, 03:26 AM
There are a lot of tropes and cliches I know about, but to annoy me...

I guess I'm not a terribly big fan of the way gods are portrayed in so many fantasy universes where they seem to be just very strong wizards with some kind of moral attitude. D&D is a particularly egregious one here.

Akisa
2017-09-25, 03:33 AM
court wizards in dnd should be on par with a retired level 3-5 adventurer, how long is training to be a wizard again? iirc it's like 10-15 years of study. a phd irl.


In 3.x and pathfinder starting age for wizards is 2d6 + 15 which average out to 22, so it's closer to bachelor degree.

Kitten Champion
2017-09-25, 03:50 AM
A common trait for many a fantasy setting's deeper history is there's some sort of Golden Age of which the present world is but a pale shadow of and now it can only be remembered wistfully with hushed reverence, there are probably ruins involved and maybe a toppled giant statue or two. The magic was better then, the architecture more grand, the swords sharper, the people more perfect, the farts less smelly, etc, etc.

It's not a trope I'm necessarily against in and of itself, it's when its paired with a stagnant world where the Golden Age has represented its peak and nothing that follow will ever match its luster where it becomes really irksome. The "we can't hope to do/make X anymore, that was lost to the ages".

I get why its there, it provides for easy story opportunities especially in game settings. You can have a dungeon to dive made by the Precursors which explains why it hasn't crumbled in on itself and is filled with valuable things -- for instance. Or you might need a McGuffin and because it was made during the Golden Age it isn't easy to find and naturally you can't just make a new one because lost technology, but when you do find it it will still probably work because they made **** to last millenniums ago. It's just tying into fairly ubiquitous element to the Fantasy genre, the fetishism of yore.

I like a sense that a setting is changing, in flux even. Change doesn't have to be universally good or bad, examining the repercussions is the intriguing thing about Speculative Fiction and that's no less true for a world with castles, wizards, and elves. The idea that everything was once awesome but now we're swirling the metaphorical drain because of some transgressive spiritual event is just dull.

Knaight
2017-09-25, 04:06 AM
For me it's the checklist of fantasy races that almost every author seems to rely upon instead of making their own races that fit into the world itself. It's gotten to the point where I kind of get somewhat disinterested in a fantasy world that heavily uses the same.

This is annoyingly common, but it's far from almost every author - although most outside of this paradigm just don't have fantasy races at all, as just having humans is totally fine for most purposes.

Bulhakov
2017-09-25, 05:49 AM
For me it's the "Traveling impossibly light" trope. You rarely see a hero carry a big backpack, food, water, blankets, tools unless it's part of comic relief.
Same thing can be upscaled for fantasy armies. In a typical ancient army about 1 in 5 persons were non-combatants (animal handlers, cooks, smiths, builders, medics) and armies had to be followed by trains of animals/carts with provisions.

Scripten
2017-09-25, 07:44 AM
A common trait for many a fantasy setting's deeper history is there's some sort of Golden Age of which the present world is but a pale shadow of and now it can only be remembered wistfully with hushed reverence, there are probably ruins involved and maybe a toppled giant statue or two.

-snip-

I like a sense that a setting is changing, in flux even. Change doesn't have to be universally good or bad, examining the repercussions is the intriguing thing about Speculative Fiction and that's no less true for a world with castles, wizards, and elves. The idea that everything was once awesome but now we're swirling the metaphorical drain because of some transgressive spiritual event is just dull.

This is one of the things I really love about the Battletech setting. The timeline in which the game is played 99% of the time has references to the golden age of the Star League, which spanned almost all of humanity's territory in space. However, if you look back at the real history, you find that the Star League were actually a bunch of holier-than-thou colonizers who violently absorbed any societies outside their own.

I'm also a huge fan of the Abusive Precursor trope, especially when it's portrayed in an even-handed fashion. Ultimate power corrupts, indeed.

Frozen_Feet
2017-09-25, 08:06 AM
2a. "Gods exist, therefore they must be constantly interfering in the affairs of mortals."
2b. "Gods exist, therefore they must be perfect/omnipotent/omniscient/omnipresent."
2c. "Gods exist, therefore there are no religious disagreements because the clerics can just ask."

Hehehe. I've written in-universe religious works which exists to teach people how all three assumptions are faulty. Raziere knows what I'm talking about. :smallamused:

Lord Torath
2017-09-25, 08:14 AM
"Every other culture, past and and present, is more mystical than the current prevalent culture"

An irl problem, to be sure, but I really hate the , to me, part of the western culture, the over mysticism of all of all other cultures.

'In ancient times, magic was strong, and we went skinny dipping with fairies until the ignorant king banned it' or 'This primitive culture never stopped listening to the spirits of the earth, unlike us

Just stop. We live in a cool era, too!I keep hearing how good the "Good Old Days" were. We have records showing people have been nostalgic for the "Good Old Days" within 300 years of the invention of writing. Whenever I hear someone say how much better things were back in the day, I'm reminded of this line from "Keeping the Faith" by Billy Joel:


"The Good Old Days weren't always good
And tomorrow's not as bad as it seems."

PhoenixPhyre
2017-09-25, 09:03 AM
A common trait for many a fantasy setting's deeper history is there's some sort of Golden Age of which the present world is but a pale shadow of and now it can only be remembered wistfully with hushed reverence, there are probably ruins involved and maybe a toppled giant statue or two. The magic was better then, the architecture more grand, the swords sharper, the people more perfect, the farts less smelly, etc, etc.


My setting is roughly cyclical--a high magic age usually involving magitek and soul-manipulations, followed by some cataclysmic event (usually due to hubris causing wars). Then a long slow rebuilding. Each time, the magic is different--the gods of each new cycle tweak things to prevent the previous catastrophe, but the universe is better at creating new and unique idiots than the gods are at making things idiot proof.



It's not a trope I'm necessarily against in and of itself, it's when its paired with a stagnant world where the Golden Age has represented its peak and nothing that follow will ever match its luster where it becomes really irksome. The "we can't hope to do/make X anymore, that was lost to the ages".

I get why its there, it provides for easy story opportunities especially in game settings. You can have a dungeon to dive made by the Precursors which explains why it hasn't crumbled in on itself and is filled with valuable things -- for instance. Or you might need a McGuffin and because it was made during the Golden Age it isn't easy to find and naturally you can't just make a new one because lost technology, but when you do find it it will still probably work because they made **** to last millenniums ago. It's just tying into fairly ubiquitous element to the Fantasy genre, the fetishism of yore.


I tend to play in the rebuilding part of the cycle, because it keeps things grounded and smaller scale. Also provides excuses for dungeon delving. The more they do, the more they realize that the ancients weren't so great--one particular empire whose descendents the players discovered had been into genetic manipulation and had locked their descendents (and slaves) into an eternal cycle of unwitting demon worship so that they could try to ascend to godhood. This involved the emperor sacrificing his daughter to become the living linch-pin, the living filter for the souls of all the sacrificed people. A major theme is the effects of hubris.



I like a sense that a setting is changing, in flux even. Change doesn't have to be universally good or bad, examining the repercussions is the intriguing thing about Speculative Fiction and that's no less true for a world with castles, wizards, and elves. The idea that everything was once awesome but now we're swirling the metaphorical drain because of some transgressive spiritual event is just dull.

Agreed.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-25, 09:50 AM
A common trait for many a fantasy setting's deeper history is there's some sort of Golden Age of which the present world is but a pale shadow of and now it can only be remembered wistfully with hushed reverence, there are probably ruins involved and maybe a toppled giant statue or two. The magic was better then, the architecture more grand, the swords sharper, the people more perfect, the farts less smelly, etc, etc.

It's not a trope I'm necessarily against in and of itself, it's when its paired with a stagnant world where the Golden Age has represented its peak and nothing that follow will ever match its luster where it becomes really irksome. The "we can't hope to do/make X anymore, that was lost to the ages".

I get why its there, it provides for easy story opportunities especially in game settings. You can have a dungeon to dive made by the Precursors which explains why it hasn't crumbled in on itself and is filled with valuable things -- for instance. Or you might need a McGuffin and because it was made during the Golden Age it isn't easy to find and naturally you can't just make a new one because lost technology, but when you do find it it will still probably work because they made **** to last millenniums ago. It's just tying into fairly ubiquitous element to the Fantasy genre, the fetishism of yore.

I like a sense that a setting is changing, in flux even. Change doesn't have to be universally good or bad, examining the repercussions is the intriguing thing about Speculative Fiction and that's no less true for a world with castles, wizards, and elves. The idea that everything was once awesome but now we're swirling the metaphorical drain because of some transgressive spiritual event is just dull.




This is one of the things I really love about the Battletech setting. The timeline in which the game is played 99% of the time has references to the golden age of the Star League, which spanned almost all of humanity's territory in space. However, if you look back at the real history, you find that the Star League were actually a bunch of holier-than-thou colonizers who violently absorbed any societies outside their own.

I'm also a huge fan of the Abusive Precursor trope, especially when it's portrayed in an even-handed fashion. Ultimate power corrupts, indeed.


One of my WIP settings features a Golden Age, a Precursor Civilization, and a Great Cataclysm.

But it was only a golden age for the "blessed race" that dominated that civilization, most humans were either in a state of permanent servitude or lived in remote HG cultures -- and it ended in literal megadeaths because of the failings of their gods, not because of mortal moral failings.

Tinkerer
2017-09-25, 10:12 AM
Considering there were two threads about it within the past couple of months I'm surprised nobody has mentioned

Orphans - It's motivation in a can (or casket as it were)! :smallwink:

Which I personally don't have a problem with but apparently there are quite a few who do. Aside from that I'd agree with a dislike of always evil mortal races (due to the metaphysics of magic in my world supernatural races are acceptable but fairly rare). And I'll add on:

Ugly = Evil, Beautiful = either Good or high ranking Evil - Actually no need to counteract this in many RPGs since due to min-maxing in their systems your PCs are probably a lot uglier than the NPCs. However I've still run across many people who will write up whatever description for their character regardless of their attractiveness score. I may be old school but getting rid of that stat was one of the best things to happen to modern gaming. Which unfortunately means we are starting to run into this trope again.

Briare0s
2017-09-25, 10:44 AM
This is annoyingly common, but it's far from almost every author - although most outside of this paradigm just don't have fantasy races at all, as just having humans is totally fine for most purposes.

I may have exaggerated a bit yes, but nothing really changes much about what I said.

Velaryon
2017-09-25, 10:46 AM
Half the problem with "tropes" is that anything that's happened at least twice in fiction is regarded as a "trope" by some, and even if you're really not trying to play with tropes and indulge in cliches and "memes", someone will also assert that you are no matter what you say.

Yeah, the list of "tropes" grew to absurd lengths because, as you say, if it's happened twice ever then someone labels it a trope.



I am confused by your Eddings example. Martel was extremely competent and dangerous. His siege of Chyrellos very nearly succeeded. Only at the last fight with Sparhawk did any kind of failure come forth, and that was more about (even as he admits) his own vanity being his downfall. Sparhawk is even thinking during the fight about how evenly matched they were. And Annias was a cunning and conniving politician who had a well-developed scheme that almost succeeded several times. If Eddings is guilty of tat, I think it's in the Mallorean, where any and all threats are just kind of casually brushed aside. The only fights that ever appear to be ACTUALLY dangerous are the 2 fights with the dragon. Unlike in the Belgariad, where most skirmishes seemed much more dangerous. The second series has people like Silk and Sadi, who, between them seems to have "just the right thing" up their sleeve. Belgarion himself is incredibly blasé about most combat, and even demons in that series, which they emphasize are a HUGE threat, never actually amount to any kind of sense of danger to our heroes.

YMMV, but at no point during the Elenium did I ever feel like any of the heroes were in danger, except maybe when one of them (Bevier I think?) was wounded. It wasn't the most egregious example ever, but for me there wasn't enough tension. If Sparhawk & co. had been less likeable, the series wouldn't have worked at all for me.

Falconsbane in the aforementioned Mage Winds trilogy was much worse about this, though.

VoxRationis
2017-09-25, 11:31 AM
Unrealistically long periods of stagnation/stability in the world's status quo. They're basically a way to avoid writing more historical events. Nothing stays the same for 3000 years. Even ancient Egypt changed and evolved over its twenty or so dynasties, and that was both an insular culture and one at the beginnings of recorded history, when rates of change were lower.

M Placeholder
2017-09-25, 12:14 PM
Unrealistically long periods of stagnation/stability in the world's status quo. They're basically a way to avoid writing more historical events. Nothing stays the same for 3000 years. Even ancient Egypt changed and evolved over its twenty or so dynasties, and that was both an insular culture and one at the beginnings of recorded history, when rates of change were lower.

Ancient Egypt was far from an insular culture. There was flow of ideas, people and technology between Egypt and Sub Saharan Africa, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, North Africa and Europe thoughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Sometimes a trickle, sometimes a stream, but there was always a flow.

Cealocanth
2017-09-25, 12:30 PM
The Non-Interference Pact of the Gods - This one is probably common because its a way to explain why there are clerics and not god-emperors trying to dominate all of reality. It's a necessity of the genre, for sure, but clerics and priests as we know them are not. What if, and bear with me here, magic is just like any other field of study and is not inherently good nor evil, cleric magic comes from the same source as wizard magic, and religion in this world is as ambiguous and wishy-washy as real life. Why must it be that in every single fantasy universe, "the gods work in mysterious ways" is not a good enough explanation?

Velaryon
2017-09-25, 12:56 PM
Can I bring up one that I hate even though it's not exclusive to fantasy? I don't care, imma do it.

Love triangles. The generic cookie-cutter plot device of about 90% of young adult fiction, but hardly exclusive to that age range. It hasn't just been done to death - it's been done past the point of even the most determined necromancer's ability to squeeze another drop of freshness out of this tired cliche.

90sMusic
2017-09-25, 01:25 PM
One trope I absolutely hate is the idea of some ancient, super powerful, impossibly advanced empire that just randomly went extinct for no reason. And despite it having happened thousands of years ago, no one has ever come close to their knowledge or skill or ability for some reason. Then one of the central themes of the game is finding some of this ancient crap that is somehow better than anything else.

I hate the idea of ancient, powerful, "lost" stuff as an ex machina excuse to have something absurdly powerful but have a flimsy explanation why people don't just make more of it.

As for the folks talking about the whole black = evil thing, that is just based on the most primitive and instinctual human psychology. From the earliest man Light was seen as a good thing where you could see what you were doing, felt safe in being able to see your surroundings or where to run if danger was after you. Darkness was the first great enemy because you couldn't see what was coming for you, you couldn't see where to run away. Man fears what he doesn't know, what he can't see. So White and Light have always been associated with good while Black and Dark have always been associated with bad/evil.

Someone said it wasn't the same in asian cultures, but that isn't true. One of the most iconic asian symbols, the Yin-Yang is a very basic representation of this same fact that white is good and black is bad, even though that particular symbol is there to indicate there is some dark in the light and some light in the dark.

I think even races with dark vision would have evolved and developed culturally along similar lines because even if you can see in the dark 60 feet, there is still a lot of unknown and potentially scary stuff out there. Children are scared of the darkness for a good reason. Some adults are still scared of the dark. It's a fairly common problem that some people won't even use parking garages unless they are extremely well lit because they're afraid of the dark. Even without "monsters" in the darkness, it is still useful for hiding criminal activity, so again, black and darkness are bad things.

And as one of my other threads indicates, I hate the whole "dead family" trope.

I'm also extremely sick of anything that comes from anime. It has become way too popular in the last 10-15 years and so many people practically worship these emo edgelordy teenage characters and it just makes no sense.

90sMusic
2017-09-25, 01:33 PM
The Non-Interference Pact of the Gods - This one is probably common because its a way to explain why there are clerics and not god-emperors trying to dominate all of reality. It's a necessity of the genre, for sure, but clerics and priests as we know them are not. What if, and bear with me here, magic is just like any other field of study and is not inherently good nor evil, cleric magic comes from the same source as wizard magic, and religion in this world is as ambiguous and wishy-washy as real life. Why must it be that in every single fantasy universe, "the gods work in mysterious ways" is not a good enough explanation?

I dislike this trope as well.

It's like, "Well, we have these all knowing, all powerful entities with very specific beliefs and ideals but they'd basically solve all the world's problems if they did anything so.... We have to make them not do anything."

Very dumb.

In my settings, I get around this because my pantheon of gods aren't gods at all, they are mortals who achieved pseudo-immortality through magical means and took on these roles because they knew people are fickle and foolish and will cling to the words of a god and pay it more mind than the words of a king or emperor. So they tried to guide the world in a better direction for a time. But as mortals aren't meant to live forever, over time they became bored basically being the babysitters of the world and all retreated to their own personal heavens to just live in a paradise they created for themselves.

Clerics can still draw power from them, but these days its basically up to their faithful in the material plane to get anything done because they're all off vegetating in eternity and far removed from the cares of mortal life. Kind of like what happened to Dr Manhattan, they are just so beyond all that **** they don't care anymore because everything feels pointless to them.

lightningcat
2017-09-25, 01:47 PM
My biggest gripe is the Good/Evil are absolutes trope. There is a world of grey and color and very little actual black and white when it comes to people's morality.
And the whole "if you stop being absolutely good, then you become totally evil" has been done so many times and usually badly.

The other trope that needs to be used much less is the idiot/lucky hero. Which is usually combined with the Chosen One. Harry Potter is the easiest example I can think of for that one. He gets all of the credit for the stuff his freinds do, and lucks into success for everything else.

PhoenixPhyre
2017-09-25, 01:48 PM
I dislike this trope as well.

It's like, "Well, we have these all knowing, all powerful entities with very specific beliefs and ideals but they'd basically solve all the world's problems if they did anything so.... We have to make them not do anything."

Very dumb.

In my settings, I get around this because my pantheon of gods aren't gods at all, they are mortals who achieved pseudo-immortality through magical means and took on these roles because they knew people are fickle and foolish and will cling to the words of a god and pay it more mind than the words of a king or emperor. So they tried to guide the world in a better direction for a time. But as mortals aren't meant to live forever, over time they became bored basically being the babysitters of the world and all retreated to their own personal heavens to just live in a paradise they created for themselves.

Clerics can still draw power from them, but these days its basically up to their faithful in the material plane to get anything done because they're all off vegetating in eternity and far removed from the cares of mortal life. Kind of like what happened to Dr Manhattan, they are just so beyond all that **** they don't care anymore because everything feels pointless to them.

See, I like having gods. Provides a balancing against mortal hubris. Mine are more like craftsmen--each has a particular set of responsibilities (domains) for which he or she is responsible. In exchange for maintaining reality and making sure stuff happens, they get fed the power they need to survive. They're not the biggest fish, but the biggest fish have abandoned all personality and only care that the Great Mechanism keeps working. Many of the gods were raised up from mortal spirits because these caretakers (the 4) needed help keeping things working. They also have the task of ensuring that nothing comes in from Outside.

Clerics don't directly draw power from them--they draw it by connecting with the domains and thus the Great Mechanism.

The gods only interfere directly when absolutely necessary (read: the mortals are about to blow up the world...again). That's because they can't--direct intervention means taking on an avatar, avatars can die (pretty easily). It would also get them cut off from the Great Mechanism and they'd fall to become Demon Princes. Most of them only care about mortals because they further their personal desires and schemes. A whole bunch of them couldn't care less about mortals except that they exist--mortal souls produce the anima that keeps the Mechanism going and keeps the planes running.

The current gods are all less than 200 years in their posts--the last set sacrificed themselves (except the 4, who sacrificed their personalities) to keep the planes stable after the last Cataclysm (which was only partially the fault of those pesky mortals).

In fact, I'm tired of the "all morality must be grey, all religion is false/useless." It all blends together into one mushy paste. Overactive, controlling gods are the opposite of passive or useless gods, and neither one is inherently good; both can cause issues for the stories to be told.

JAL_1138
2017-09-25, 02:06 PM
Someone said it wasn't the same in asian cultures, but that isn't true. One of the most iconic asian symbols, the Yin-Yang is a very basic representation of this same fact that white is good and black is bad, even though that particular symbol is there to indicate there is some dark in the light and some light in the dark.



Yin (black half of the symbol) is not bad, and yang (white half of the symbol) is not good. They don't symbolize that at all (Edit: at least in Taoism. Other religions may use the concept differently; I dunno). They're opposing but complementary forces that are inextricably linked and work in concert. Yin represents slowness, softness, spread out, cold, wet, and passive; associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity, and nighttime. Yang is speed, solidness, focused, hot, dry, and active; associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime. Neither of these is intrinsically good or bad, when in harmony with the other.

All-yang would be as bad as all-yin: eternal day (yang) would wither the crops, dry up the rivers, and scorch the land; eternal night (yin) would starve the crops and eventually freeze everything over. Steel that's too hard (yang) is brittle and breaks easily; steel that's too soft (yin) won't hold an edge or resist bending.

But yin and yang also exist together: heat up (yang = hot) steel and it becomes more malleable (yin = soft, yielding)—which lets you forge it to shape, so that it can be used; when you quench it in liquid to cool it (yin) it becomes hardened (yang).

BWR
2017-09-25, 02:47 PM
One trope I absolutely hate is the idea of some ancient, super powerful, impossibly advanced empire that just randomly went extinct for no reason. And despite it having happened thousands of years ago, no one has ever come close to their knowledge or skill or ability for some reason. Then one of the central themes of the game is finding some of this ancient crap that is somehow better than anything else.

I hate the idea of ancient, powerful, "lost" stuff as an ex machina excuse to have something absurdly powerful but have a flimsy explanation why people don't just make more of it.


Except most/all of these ancient advanced empires I can think of had some sort of proper cataclysm that nuked them (sometimes literally). They don't just disappear for no reason. Many D&D settings are post-apocalyptic to various degrees.

Powerful lost stuff makes perfect sense if people don't have the knowhow to do things any more because of an apcalypse. Again, plenty of great examples in literature and games.

90sMusic
2017-09-25, 03:10 PM
Except most/all of these ancient advanced empires I can think of had some sort of proper cataclysm that nuked them (sometimes literally). They don't just disappear for no reason. Many D&D settings are post-apocalyptic to various degrees.

Powerful lost stuff makes perfect sense if people don't have the knowhow to do things any more because of an apcalypse. Again, plenty of great examples in literature and games.

I know there are lots of examples, because it is an overused trope. :)

Whether they nuked themselves, or died to a natural disaster, or ascended to a higher state of consciousness, or they just left and went somewhere else, or whatever the reason: I still find it silly and absurd.

If people ever forget how to do something, one of two things will happen... They will either rediscovery the way to do it eventually, or they will discover another (possibly superior) way to do it thus removing the need to rediscover the old way.

Just like folks who argue all day back and forth about how they built the pyramids, it doesn't really matter ultimately because we have means of building far more impressive structures these days. The original method of producing Damascus steel isn't known anymore, but who cares, we can make better steel now that is superior. All that "old stuff" just gets romanticized and exaggerated to the point where people believe it's almost mythical, especially when you say "NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO DO IT ANYMORE!" they somehow believe its the best stuff on the planet when it isn't. People just love to praise "old stuff" and think it is the bee's knees, like those people who think folding the metal to make an ancient katana made it the best sword in the world because they don't know any better when the reality is they folded the metal because it was inferior metal and they couldn't do any better, they HAD to do that just to make a passable weapon while in medieval europe they just developed a better way to make metal in the first place and didn't have to jump through those hoops. But people always run off with the wrong ideas and want to romanticize everything and give it some mystical, magical properties that it doesn't actually possess.

There are HEAPS of people today that still think Damascus steel was the best metal on the planet and that katanas folded 10,000 times are sharper and more durable than any weapon in the world. It's born of ignorance.

The idea of some ancient society with superior technology or magic or whatever is very silly. Anything they found out would be rediscovered or superior alternatives found. I hate the nature of using that excuse of "superior old crap" as an excuse to have a finite amount of something powerful that can no longer be reproduced. There are plenty of logical, reasonable explanations for why you could have a finite amount of something or something that you can't simply make more of without resorting to the whole "its ancient, lost secrets" trope.

That's why i dislike it. :) If you do, that's fine, you're welcome to your own opinion. I just hate the trope and think it's overused. It recurs a lot, especially in some of my favorite fiction.

DrMartin
2017-09-25, 03:22 PM
the almighty quest-giver. Is either powerful enough that the pc cannot oppose them or know their darkest secrets to use against them as leverage, or some variation of this. Of course still need the pcs to run their errands.

Even worse if they stick around DMNPC-style (Gandalf, I am looking at you!)

Tinkerer
2017-09-25, 04:02 PM
There are HEAPS of people today that still think Damascus steel was the best metal on the planet and that katanas folded 10,000 times are sharper and more durable than any weapon in the world. It's born of ignorance.

I may disagree with a number of things in your post but this is not one of them. I think my favourite example was from Suethulu where the GM refused to provide electrodes that wouldn't decay but the player found a way around that by using folded steel katanas as electrodes since he knew the GM wouldn't admit that katanas could break down. In fact:

Katanas being the greatest weapon ever designed

Is one of my pet peeves, although it seems to be not as bad as it was in the 90s. How many RPGs have you seen where the katana inflicts a truly amazing amount of damage? Far too many. In a narrow handful of cyborg ninja genres I'll let it go because they are already pretty tongue in cheek but it can piss off out of the fantasy genre.

Drakevarg
2017-09-25, 04:07 PM
How many RPGs have you seen where the katana inflicts a truly amazing amount of damage?

Actually, thinking about it, none. People fanboying about how cool they are aside, I don't think I've ever seen a game where they don't deal roughly the same damage as an equivalently-sized European sword. That's more of an animoo trope than an RPG trope.

BRC
2017-09-25, 04:11 PM
I got one more:

Race/Species=Culture:
You do not need a biological difference to create different cultures. Actually biological differences aren't enough to create cultural differences unless sufficiently extreme. Putting that aside it is both shallow and echoes a lot of real world "of course someone of X is going to be Y" which I find uncomfortable whenever I think about it too much. Also seen in a lot of sci-fi.

Corollary:
All races except humans are limited to one town/country/region is also weird.


I actually find this a little bit more acceptable in Sci-Fi, where the different "Races" are from different planets. All Egdaforians are from Egdafor, and grew up in Egdaforian culture. The reason you don't have Human Egdaforians is because the two only made contact fairly recently.

I find that a lot more acceptable than "All Elves are from Elfland and everybody from Elfland is an Elf."

That said, I've got a bit of a complex relationship with this one. I like having a big pile of different fantasy races, and I like having a big pile of different cultures/groups, and mapping them one-to-one is an easy shorthand.
Often, I'll either have a bunch of fantasy races, mapped one-to-one with different cultures, or I'll have everybody be Human, and just use different cultures/groups to play the role of different races. That means I don't have to keep track of two variables for every character. The first thing people with think about is if it's a Dwarf or an Elf, meanwhile the main difference between a Dwarf from southland and an Elf from southland is their height.


As for tropes that bug me...


Stagnation, but not just Stagnation, but the idealization of the Status Quo, or occasionally a return to a recent status quo. Basically, the World is Good, but that changed when the Evil attacked/is threatened by the rising Evil, our Noble Heroes must set out to save it!

I have nothing against Rising Evils, or noble heroes setting out to stop them, that's all fine, but the idea that the Evil is the only force changing the world right now always gets to me. Have the Heroes battle the forces of evil while also negotiating the tricky politics of the old Nobility, and a new rising middle class.

Defeat the Demon Cult, sure, but maybe there's also a shift between the Traditional Wizards, who are expected to spend years studying magical theory as an apprentice before they cast their first spell, vs a generation of Wizards produced by the new University system who jump straight to rote spellcasting without developing an appreciation for the theory and craft behind each spell.

End the threat of the Dragons? Sounds Great! But, but since the King signed that treaty with the Orcs, how are the Knights dealing with Glory-seeking Orcish heroes who want in on the Dragon Slaying?

Anonymouswizard
2017-09-25, 04:45 PM
#5
What: "Magic as science." (Especially if combined with #4)
Why: Larry Niven already did this and he did it better than you. Besides, this trope is you telling me your imagination is limited to swapping labcoats for wizard robes. Especially if combined with "magitech" that's really just ordinary tech "but magic!" A fire-shooting wand that's used like a rifle is no more interesting than a real rifle, it might even be less so if you're using magic as an excuse to skip actual research on rifles.

I'm the opposite, I love this trope/cliché and find the complete lack of it to break my immersion. But it comes in levels, you can have research into magic without magitech.

I mean, I'm currently designing two fantasy worlds, one has just started any research into magic (and what's been discovered has MAJOR implications), another has been doing it for hundreds of years and has some technologies based on it. Primarily shardshooters, commonly referred to in the setting as 'guns', which instead of using an explosion to launch a metal shell use a pair of metal rails to channel magic and work as railguns (using metal or stone bullets depending on the model).

I have no problem with 'different workings, same function' magical technology, as long as it's treated as technology. Also no problems with other magitech (although I hate the term), although it should also appear alongside normal technology of the same level. My setting has magical railguns small enough to make into a pistol, and electrical powered flashlights. The only reason it doesn't have computers is because I've not added them yet.

For the record, I know more about how a railgun works than how a firearm works.

Not having the technology is fine, but people should be still applying science to magic.

Oh, and those shardshooters? They're something the golden age civilisation never came up with. In fact 'modern' civilisation has quite a lot of toys the ancients never had, including 'instant' communication and effective computation devices, the ancients just managed to pull off some really big rituals and had access to types of magic that have been forgotten (to justify limiting mages to the corebook Arcana plus any I ok, while still having other effects occasionally appear). Golden Age artefacts aren't generally considered more than a curiosity unless they are based on one of the lost Arcana.


How many RPGs have you seen where the katana inflicts a truly amazing amount of damage?

I think I might have one of the oWoD games where it was the best melee weapon, it's a good choice in Shadowrun although there are more damaging melee weapons that are effectively as hard to conceal, and it's intentionally one of the best weapons in Legend of the Five Rings (although my favourite school turns the standard bow into just as damaging a weapon, and others beat the katana for pure damage in 4e). Otherwise I don't really see any, the best treat it as a two handed sword with maybe a couple of stat tweaks, the rest seem to fall into the myth that it's a one handed sword.

90sMusic
2017-09-25, 04:54 PM
This isn't something I believe i've seen in actual literature or fiction, but I tend to see somewhat often in D&D when playing in other people's homebrew games...

ANd it basically that the world has existed, as it exists right now, same level of medieval technology with absolutely no development or innovation or invention at all in the past 10,000 years.

I find that to be a bit silly. :)

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-25, 05:01 PM
This isn't something I believe i've seen in actual literature or fiction, but I tend to see somewhat often in D&D when playing in other people's homebrew games...

ANd it basically that the world has existed, as it exists right now, same level of medieval technology with absolutely no development or innovation or invention at all in the past 10,000 years.

I find that to be a bit silly. :)

The old "EU" Star Wars setting, including the "Old Republic" stuff, has this really odd contradiction of technology that appears the same over long periods of time -- 1000s of years -- and yet stories and fluff that sound like 20th/21st century rapid-fire technological progress (particularly as applies to combat hardware).

Cluedrew
2017-09-25, 05:21 PM
It's like, "Well, we have these all knowing, all powerful entities with very specific beliefs and ideals but they'd basically solve all the world's problems if they did anything so.... We have to make them not do anything." [...] Very dumb.... From your the rest of your post you disagree with the first half, but I think I have to agree with the second if you end up there.

I think there are two general solutions:
Make the gods small: Either in power or personality, they don't have the ability or inclination to solve every problem.
Make the gods big: They operate on scales, and time spans so completely beyond us that.

You can't write the ideal god, because an ideal god would be the ideal hero and the benevolent dictator and a bunch of other things that are hard to turn into good stories. ... Well I suppose you could but if anyone pulls that off and makes a good read out of it, let me know.


I think my favourite example was from Suethulu where the GM refused to provide electrodes that wouldn't decay but the player found a way around that by using folded steel katanas as electrodes since he knew the GM wouldn't admit that katanas could break down.Basically, the shape of a sword can effect its chemical properties.


I actually find this a little bit more acceptable in Sci-Fi, where the different "Races" are from different planets. All Egdaforians are from Egdafor, and grew up in Egdaforian culture.Yeah, in that context it makes sense for there "international" culture to carry over into space. Still I think generally there should be variations within that, internationalism probably happened pretty recently in the history. So a Egdaforian from Nort Sogda* will be similar to, but not the same as, one from Hagria, and that is on top of any individual variation.

And of course if humans moved to Egdafor for some reason, they would probably end up being kind of Egdaforian after even a generation.

* I'm just making these up, if Egdaforians are an actual alien race I haven't heard of or forgotten, I apologize.

2D8HP
2017-09-25, 05:25 PM
This isn't something I believe i've seen in actual literature or fiction...

...no development or innovation or invention at all in the past 10,000 years.

I find that to be a bit silly. :)


I've seen it in actual literature Moorcock's Elric stories, ASoIaF, etc.

It's a Trope

(http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/SciFiWritersHave/NoSenseOfTime) and also

another one (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MedievalStasis).

Tinkerer
2017-09-25, 05:41 PM
I must say I was definitely engaging in hyperbole when I said a massive amount of damage, however I recall that back in 2nd ed katana's were definitely above other swords being faster and deadlier than 99% of medium weapons. In 3.5 they were automatically considered masterwork bastard swords. And in Palladium (if I recall correctly) they were the most powerful sword not including some unique one offs. So we're up to about 6 systems including some of the most popular of the past 40 years. I'd say my acquired distaste is justified.

Anonymouswizard
2017-09-25, 05:53 PM
In 3.5 they were automatically considered masterwork bastard swords.

On the plus side, I remember them being just as expensive. I believe it was more of a case of 'each one took a long time and was made as good as possible, so they were masterwork'. Which in all honesty wasn't a massive boost, and was only really relevant for the first few levels.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-25, 06:00 PM
ASoIaF -- a perfect example of a work more fixated on trope-busting than actual quality fiction. It tries so hard that it just becomes its own set of cliches.

And yet it's loved by many, which I just do not get.

Cluedrew
2017-09-25, 06:10 PM
On ASoIaF: ... Does that stand for A Song of Ice and Fire? That's the only thing I can think of but it is a rather awkward short form. I got about half way into chapter 1 before I stopped reading that.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-25, 06:19 PM
On ASoIaF: ... Does that stand for A Song of Ice and Fire? That's the only thing I can think of but it is a rather awkward short form. I got about half way into chapter 1 before I stopped reading that.

Yeap... Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire, whatever.

Pex
2017-09-25, 06:28 PM
A common trait for many a fantasy setting's deeper history is there's some sort of Golden Age of which the present world is but a pale shadow of and now it can only be remembered wistfully with hushed reverence, there are probably ruins involved and maybe a toppled giant statue or two. The magic was better then, the architecture more grand, the swords sharper, the people more perfect, the farts less smelly, etc, etc.

It's not a trope I'm necessarily against in and of itself, it's when its paired with a stagnant world where the Golden Age has represented its peak and nothing that follow will ever match its luster where it becomes really irksome. The "we can't hope to do/make X anymore, that was lost to the ages".

I get why its there, it provides for easy story opportunities especially in game settings. You can have a dungeon to dive made by the Precursors which explains why it hasn't crumbled in on itself and is filled with valuable things -- for instance. Or you might need a McGuffin and because it was made during the Golden Age it isn't easy to find and naturally you can't just make a new one because lost technology, but when you do find it it will still probably work because they made **** to last millenniums ago. It's just tying into fairly ubiquitous element to the Fantasy genre, the fetishism of yore.

I like a sense that a setting is changing, in flux even. Change doesn't have to be universally good or bad, examining the repercussions is the intriguing thing about Speculative Fiction and that's no less true for a world with castles, wizards, and elves. The idea that everything was once awesome but now we're swirling the metaphorical drain because of some transgressive spiritual event is just dull.

I knew I forgot something. I actually hate this trope.

ZamielVanWeber
2017-09-25, 06:29 PM
ASoIaF -- a perfect example of a work more fixated on trope-busting than actual quality fiction. It tries so hard that it just becomes its own set of cliches.

And yet it's loved by many, which I just do not get.

The writing is solid, but the world building is utter garbage. So much just feels utterly arbitrary without even a token nod or lampshade or anything and everyone is dumbfoundingly stupid, incredible sadistic for no good reason, a puppet, or some mix of these. Everyone. It's like diet FATAL at times honestly.

8BitNinja
2017-09-25, 07:23 PM
<Number> <Important Thing> that the hero needs to get.

Slay the three dragons of evil, find the four crowns of destiny, raise the three hammers high, etc.

Okay, maybe I like that last one.

Vitruviansquid
2017-09-25, 07:28 PM
<Number> <Important Thing> that the hero needs to get.

Slay the three dragons of evil, find the four crowns of destiny, raise the three hammers high, etc.

Okay, maybe I like that last one.

Can I add this is quadruply annoying when the number is 4 and the important things are linked to air, earth, water, and fire?

Knaight
2017-09-25, 07:37 PM
<Number> <Important Thing> that the hero needs to get.

Slay the three dragons of evil, find the four crowns of destiny, raise the three hammers high, etc.

Okay, maybe I like that last one.

Ugh, repetitive gathering quests. They're obnoxious enough when they show up in video games, but plots this bad cropping up in actual books are just terrible. This is one of the reason the Deltora Quest novels are terrible - sure, they're aimed at young children with limited taste, but there's decent writing in that category and those aren't it.

Mr Beer
2017-09-25, 07:45 PM
A common trait for many a fantasy setting's deeper history is there's some sort of Golden Age of which the present world is but a pale shadow of and now it can only be remembered wistfully with hushed reverence, there are probably ruins involved and maybe a toppled giant statue or two. The magic was better then, the architecture more grand, the swords sharper, the people more perfect, the farts less smelly, etc, etc.

I disagree.

Back in the Golden Age, the farts were more powerful and so smelly that great heroes could weaponise them. The majestic sight of fart-powered wizards strafing the Dark Lord's goblin hordes could bring tears to your eyes. Indeed, some sages believe that the Great Bean Blight of '36 was responsible for the ending of the Golden Age.

Scripten
2017-09-25, 07:49 PM
I disagree.

Back in the Golden Age, the farts were more powerful and so smelly that great heroes could weaponise them. The majestic sight of fart-powered wizards strafing the Dark Lord's goblin hordes could bring tears to your eyes.

Probably not just the sight, either.

Heyooooo

Kitten Champion
2017-09-25, 07:59 PM
Can I add this is quadruply annoying when the number is 4 and the important things are linked to air, earth, water, and fire?

Yes, because then it would be lacking the fifth and most important - ❤Heart❤

Bohandas
2017-09-25, 08:11 PM
Chosen Ones:
If your protagonist is yet another person who has been chosen by the gods or destiny and everyone loves them, I will sigh and lament to myself. A hero does not need the backing of some great destiny to be awesome and save the day. They can be, y'know, just a good person who works hard to defeat all the evil they can and defy any doom coming their way. A hero who defies destiny is much better in my opinion. Chosen Ones are just fate-based mary sues really.

I like to deconstruct this by having it that the gods chose them by picking their name out of a hat.

Hey, that could be a quest or even an entire campaign. The gods' magic hat with the names of all intelligent beings in it has been stolen by the dark lord. It's become clear that a bunch of normal prople are going to have to go after it because the gods cannot choose champions without it.

Faily
2017-09-25, 08:14 PM
Ugh, repetitive gathering quests. They're obnoxious enough when they show up in video games, but plots this bad cropping up in actual books are just terrible. This is one of the reason the Deltora Quest novels are terrible - sure, they're aimed at young children with limited taste, but there's decent writing in that category and those aren't it.

It's not so much that I consider it a trope/cliche that annoys me as I consider it to be dull writing most of the time. I mean, it can be done well, like Akatsuki no Yona, where the protagonist sets out to find the four legendary dragon warriors - it is actually really well done, IMHO. :smallsmile:

Lord Raziere
2017-09-25, 08:39 PM
I like to deconstruct this by having it that the gods chose them by picking their name out of a hat.

Hey, that could be a quest or even an entire campaign. The gods' magic hat with the names of all intelligent beings in it has been stolen by the dark lord. It's become clear that a bunch of normal prople are going to have to go after it because the gods cannot choose champions without it.

Well if I were deconstructing it, I'd just turn it from a fighting of objective good and evil into a fight between two warring gods neither better than the other, using propaganda to paint the other side as evil and their chosen one as the champion, and that either chosen one winning would be bad, because one god would conquer over the other god do a lot of oppression upon the people who worship that god. and yes you can still have action with that kind of set up, think medieval fantasy gundam without the mecha.

Cluedrew
2017-09-25, 09:31 PM
Can I add this is quadruply annoying when the number is 4 and the important things are linked to air, earth, water, and fire?The four elements are slightly over done, and by slightly I mean a lot. Still they are different and I would take that over 4 different pieces of ancient demon slaying armour. And no one has really managed to "improve" the elemental system very much. Even other stories that I have enjoyed with different systems, well there systems are a bit odd. Like ice is really "not fire" when you get down to it.

Also what is your opinion on elemental bending?


This is one of the reason the Deltora Quest novels are terribleI'll agree they were not great, but I wouldn't call them terrible. Any other particular reasons?


I mean, it can be done well, like Akatsuki no Yona,I have absolutely nothing of significance to say, except I have it open on the other tab. And yes I'm enjoying it.

Grim Portent
2017-09-25, 09:46 PM
A scarcity of inhumane punishments in an otherwise medieval society is a big one for me. Traitors, murderers, spies and a host of lesser criminals shouldn't be getting thrown in a cell for years without a good reason, they should be getting public executions. Strangely common quality among humans until fairly recently was horrific public executions for a host of crimes.

Second is the good kingdom that has been good and ruled by good people for centuries. It strains my belief that there's been no political murders, cultural frenzies akin to the anti-Jew or anti-Spaniard paranoia that would occasionally run through England, rebellions by peasants or nobles, religious conflict, regime changes, insane or just unpleasant rulers, major wars, plagues, famines or gross misamanagment of the realm for even 30 years, let alone hundreds of them.

90sMusic
2017-09-25, 10:04 PM
... From your the rest of your post you disagree with the first half, but I think I have to agree with the second if you end up there.


Aroo? I didn't disagree with myself at all.

My gods aren't anything like the example I gave there. They aren't all-knowing, they just have access to powerful divination magics that can give them the ability to see things if they want to, and they did take a very active role in solving world problems for a long time. The problem is, imagine being revered as this all-knowing, all-powerful entity which is the guise they used, and being expected to solve all the problems for everyone all the time. Millions of people praying to you, all wanting different things, and you having to dedicate all your time to problem solving and cleaning up other people's messes. And these aren't eternal, cosmic entities that were basically birthed by the universe to serve this function, these were former adventurers. They just got tired of the whole thing. After everyone they knew and cared about died of old age, after their children and children's children live their lives and died of old age, they just got kind of tired of it all.

It's like working a high stress, high maintenance job without vacations for thousands of years and finally just getting fed up with it and quitting.

My deities still exist, and they created their own servants (like solars and devas) with very construct-like absolute mentalities that continue to channel power to followers and occasionally answer prayers from the truly devout and so on, but the "gods" themselves as it were created their own little paradises they dwell in and they just don't really care much about the world anymore and kind of stopped checking in on it, like an old video game they just got tired of playing.

But these aren't your typical gods. They don't know everything, they aren't all powerful, it's all just a big sham anyway to make people believe that. Because FAITH is stronger than the reality. And just like the real world, people who believe in it can't be convinced otherwise regardless of the fact prayers never really get answered and evil is allowed to exist, the faithful always make up excuses for why their deity doesn't do certain things. And they credit them for "answering prayers" everytime they pray for something and it does just happen to happen, like the real world. Unlike the real world though, the clerics are in fact gifted with some measure of divine power which helps build faith and belief in the people and it does prove to some extent that there is certainly something there.

They just don't realize it's a bunch of retired veterans who are all soaking it up on a never ending beach drinking fruity beverages surrounded by beautiful women in another reality they created for themselves for their own amusement.

Potato_Priest
2017-09-25, 10:16 PM
Elves being absolutely perfect in every way.

I hate that one too. Luckily I've not encountered it in D&D before, just in other games of a larger scale or with less defined mechanics. (Basically, it's not too bad as long as elves actually have game rules describing their characters in detail to limit their capabilities, and a murderhobo PC behind the wheel to keep em from getting to Mary-Sue-ish.)


This is one of the reason the Deltora Quest novels are terrible - sure, they're aimed at young children with limited taste, but there's decent writing in this category and those aren't it.

If I think back to when I was a young child with limited taste, the Deltora's quest novels were partially responsible for getting me solidly into fantasy, so for that I am grateful. I really enjoyed them at the time, too, since I was very taken with giant monsters, of which Deltora's quest had a large number.

Vitruviansquid
2017-09-25, 10:53 PM
The four elements are slightly over done, and by slightly I mean a lot. Still they are different and I would take that over 4 different pieces of ancient demon slaying armour. And no one has really managed to "improve" the elemental system very much. Even other stories that I have enjoyed with different systems, well there systems are a bit odd. Like ice is really "not fire" when you get down to it.

Also what is your opinion on elemental bending?

Bending is great in that one setting defined by it, and the two cartoon series that were defined by that setting.

But put bending in some other setting for the sake of "bending is cool" and you'd have missed the point entirely.

The thing that sells bending as cool to me is the way they are all connected to an approach to problem-solving that is adopted like a philosophy by the elementally color-coded people in the world, like how earthbending is about being stubborn and withstanding things while waterbending is about change and adaptation. Take bending out of that context and say a wizard in your fantasy setting can move water by gesturing, and it's suddenly become really bland and awful.

VoxRationis
2017-09-26, 01:03 AM
Ancient Egypt was far from an insular culture. There was flow of ideas, people and technology between Egypt and Sub Saharan Africa, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, North Africa and Europe thoughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Sometimes a trickle, sometimes a stream, but there was always a flow.

Not as insular as, say, the Sentinelese, but significantly more so than, say, early modern France. A little cultural flow into a well-established society over a period of 3000 years is not enough that I would exactly call it xenophilic or cosmopolitan.

NovenFromTheSun
2017-09-26, 01:06 AM
Humanoid species used to represent real life races. Instead of using, say, moon elves to symbolize black people, why not just write black people?

Anything with swords and horses being called "medieval".

Pragmatism = cowardice.

Guns being dishonorable.

The main character being either always right or always wrong.

Morality being always black and white or always gray, instead of having all of them in the same setting.

I'm sure I'll think of more.

Bohandas
2017-09-26, 01:44 AM
Bending is great in that one setting defined by it, and the two cartoon series that were defined by that setting.

But put bending in some other setting for the sake of "bending is cool" and you'd have missed the point entirely.

Sort of like hobbits or hobbit knockoffs outside of a Tolkien novek

Anonymouswizard
2017-09-26, 02:37 AM
I like to deconstruct this by having it that the gods chose them by picking their name out of a hat.

Hey, that could be a quest or even an entire campaign. The gods' magic hat with the names of all intelligent beings in it has been stolen by the dark lord. It's become clear that a bunch of normal prople are going to have to go after it because the gods cannot choose champions without it.

You see, I dislike it enough to just avert it. Any prophecies about chosen ones are bunk, in fact anything smaller than a town can't be prophesized (and even then you want a decent sized city for good results).

To get me to subvert or deconstruct a troops I have to actually care about it. Most of the time I don't.

Florian
2017-09-26, 03:34 AM
"Evil is always self-destructive and stupid" annoys me to no end. "Might makes right" even more so, especially when the protagonist has to steadily learn ever greater "power" of one sort or another to overcome the opposition.

Cluedrew
2017-09-26, 06:54 AM
Bending is great in that one setting defined by it, and the two cartoon series that were defined by that setting.

But put bending in some other setting for the sake of "bending is cool" and you'd have missed the point entirely.That was just supposed to be a reference to those two series, not actually about bending. Maybe I should have reference the series directly. Probably. But still the first series is definitely built around an elemental themed fetch quest, although A) they start with one and B) it is practice and not an object that is being "fetched".

To 90sMusic: No you didn't disagree with yourself. It was just a little joke about the phrasing of the quoted section.

Hero's Home is Destroyed:
Not always bad but often overused and rarely has the emotional impact it is supposed to because I (the reader) don't know these people nor to they feel like real people yet and the protagonist tends to move on so quickly or... actually that's the main on. I suppose there is plenty of room for edgelord from it but I don't see that so often.

Knaight
2017-09-26, 09:37 AM
Sort of like hobbits or hobbit knockoffs outside of a Tolkien novek

See also: Elves, dwarves. I'll happily make an exception for other works which pull from the same mythology Tolkien pulled from, but usually people just go straight to Tolkien.

ZamielVanWeber
2017-09-26, 10:09 AM
See also: Elves, dwarves. I'll happily make an exception for other works which pull from the same mythology Tolkien pulled from, but usually people just go straight to Tolkien.

DND was awful about this until 3rd ed. 2nd Ed AD&D not only were elves absolutely amazing as a race but also they were biologically immortal. When they grew to old they would simply leave. IIRC it was literally to the West.

One of the tropes I hate the most is the Awesome Super Race that is Better Than You. I watch a lot of sci-fi so I know more advanced races appear and having them intimidating and advanced without turning it into an anatomy waving contest is hard and, in my opinion, this trope is generally handled well but, when they fail it hurts and pretty much guarantees I cannot take the story/world/mythos etc seriously anymore. For me the biggest offender were the elves in the Eragon books but there are other examples.

Otherwise I am generally okay with tropes as long as they fit into the narrative/world well for reasons beyond that they are tropes.

2017-09-26, 11:00 AM
The fact that in most fantasy settings magic is consequence free.

Bohandas
2017-09-26, 11:09 AM
See also: Elves, dwarves. I'll happily make an exception for other works which pull from the same mythology Tolkien pulled from, but usually people just go straight to Tolkien.

Elves and dwarves are fine. They were generic fantasy prior to Tolkien.

Hobbits were Tolkien's own invention. Furthermore they barely even fit into Middle Earth, they certainly don't bit into any other setting. Like if you read the Silmarillion they just kind of show up at the end; the Silmarillion has the origins of all the other races of Middle Earth but for hobbits it just shrugs it's shoulders

EDIT:
I do take some issue with orcs as well as these were sort of an invention of Tolkien (IIRC the word 'orc' existed prior to him but until then was merely an archaic spelling and pronunciation of 'ogre'). However unlike halflings they fit well into other settings (and into their own) and writers have been generally prudent enough to make necessary changes where they don't.

Knaight
2017-09-26, 11:13 AM
Elves and dwarves are fine. They were generic fantasy prior to Tolkien.

They weren't nearly as standardized though, and it's the cookie cutter Tolkien elf/dwarf that I'm objecting to.

Arbane
2017-09-26, 11:20 AM
The fact that in most fantasy settings magic is consequence free.

On that note: Magic Can Do Anything and Magic Is Always Better Than Non-Magic, aka the roots of D&D3's Caster Supremacy. :smallfurious:

TheIronGolem
2017-09-26, 11:23 AM
Farmboy Saves The World: Enough with using farm work as shorthand for humility already.

Backstory Planck Time Is One Thousand Years: This mostly comes from 90's CRPG's. The AncientsTM built a glorious civilization was peaceful and prosperous for a thousand years. Then it was destroyed by the Big Magic War that lasted a thousand years. Then the Big Bad who started that war was sealed away by Plot Magic but prophesied to return in a thousand years. Guess how long ago that was?

Hypersmith
2017-09-26, 11:29 AM
On that note: Magic Can Do Anything and Magic Is Always Better Than Non-Magic, aka the roots of D&D3's Caster Supremacy. :smallfurious:

I feel that. i like magic, love that it can do so much, but there really are no drawbacks to it. I want to play a game where it costs something to use magic besides "you need to sleep to do that again". There's gotta be some balance of magic power and consequence that keeps things fun - maybe the most difficult magics you know have consequences to using them, maybe casting over a certain number over a certain level (if we think in DnD terms) will cause exhaustion, just something to make magic feel less like a tap and more like a well.

Bohandas
2017-09-26, 11:54 AM
The one that bothers me in film and literature is the divide between magic and science and the related Flat-Earth Atheist (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlatEarthAtheist).

That's not what science is and if it exists it can be studied.

This is precisely why I like Ghostbusters 1, for the most part it doesn't do this and the one character who does is portrayed as a moron. (It's also why I dislike the first half of Ghostbusters 2; it's implausible that there would be that many morons, even in New York)

Bohandas
2017-09-26, 11:57 AM
I feel that. i like magic, love that it can do so much, but there really are no drawbacks to it. I want to play a game where it costs something to use magic besides "you need to sleep to do that again". There's gotta be some balance of magic power and consequence that keeps things fun - maybe the most difficult magics you know have consequences to using them, maybe casting over a certain number over a certain level (if we think in DnD terms) will cause exhaustion, just something to make magic feel less like a tap and more like a well.

I've always felt that overrelaince on positive energy healing magic seems like exactly the sort of thing that should give you cancer. You're channeling the power of life and growth into somebody, how are they not covered in big tumors?

icefractal
2017-09-26, 02:50 PM
The one that bothers me in film and literature is the divide between magic and science and the related Flat-Earth Atheist (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlatEarthAtheist).Oh yeah, this. And related "magic interferes with technology". So it makes shoes come untied? Knives go dull? Wheels stop turning? Saddles fall off? Crop rotation doesn't work? Certainly at least something like a crossbow would fail, no? Oh, you actually meant "electronic stuff"? Then say that - but it's still an overused trope even if you get the description right.

Frozen_Feet
2017-09-26, 03:14 PM
Flat-Earth Atheist works just fine if the author remembers that the association of atheism with science/scientism is itself a modern trope. Especially in a non-modern setting, there is no real reason why atheists would be particularly more rational or non-superstitious than other folks. Heck, it used to be once that the stereotype of an atheist/irreligious person was an illiterate simpleton who detests higher learning, because at that time the clerical class and the Church were the primary institutions for scholarship!

Tanarii
2017-09-26, 04:57 PM
A common trait for many a fantasy setting's deeper history is there's some sort of Golden Age of which the present world is but a pale shadow of and now it can only be remembered wistfully with hushed reverence, there are probably ruins involved and maybe a toppled giant statue or two. The magic was better then, the architecture more grand, the swords sharper, the people more perfect, the farts less smelly, etc, etc. Well, living in a modern era Western world, his might seem kinda of unrealistic. But for most of history and most of the world this is the case. There are just brief pop-ups of the next world-spanning era that becomes the next golden age. And even then, the current golden age often looks back at the previous one. For example in Pax Renassaince, Pax Romana was still idolized.

Even in modern Pax Americana, many Americans and Europeans idolize various of the Romans, Greeks, Mongols, Aztec etc, Chinese, Viking, Japanese, etc empires. Imagine how the future people's between the fall of Pax Americana and the next Pax empire will view our times. Pretty sure it's going to look like a Golden Age.

What's 'unrealistic' is a view that history only moves forward, with improvements in lifestyle. Or that Golden Ages don't end, usually after a few hundred years, followed by something less than Golden.

Mr Beer
2017-09-26, 06:56 PM
Backstory Planck Time Is One Thousand Years: This mostly comes from 90's CRPG's. The AncientsTM built a glorious civilization was peaceful and prosperous for a thousand years. Then it was destroyed by the Big Magic War that lasted a thousand years. Then the Big Bad who started that war was sealed away by Plot Magic but prophesied to return in a thousand years. Guess how long ago that was?

Is 'Backstory Planck Time' yours? Because it's awesome.

2017-09-26, 07:04 PM
Well, living in a modern era Western world, his might seem kinda of unrealistic. But for most of history and most of the world this is the case. There are just brief pop-ups of the next world-spanning era that becomes the next golden age. And even then, the current golden age often looks back at the previous one. For example in Pax Renassaince, Pax Romana was still idolized.

Even in modern Pax Americana, many Americans and Europeans idolize various of the Romans, Greeks, Mongols, Aztec etc, Chinese, Viking, Japanese, etc empires. Imagine how the future people's between the fall of Pax Americana and the next Pax empire will view our times. Pretty sure it's going to look like a Golden Age.

What's 'unrealistic' is a view that history only moves forward, with improvements in lifestyle. Or that Golden Ages don't end, usually after a few hundred years, followed by something less than Golden.

Preach it!


I feel that. i like magic, love that it can do so much, but there really are no drawbacks to it. I want to play a game where it costs something to use magic besides "you need to sleep to do that again". There's gotta be some balance of magic power and consequence that keeps things fun - maybe the most difficult magics you know have consequences to using them, maybe casting over a certain number over a certain level (if we think in DnD terms) will cause exhaustion, just something to make magic feel less like a tap and more like a well.

Yeah, it opens the possibility of so many plot holes. Like why are there people hungry if magic can create food? why waste time becoming a warrior if you can learn magic and literally bend time and space?


A common trait for many a fantasy setting's deeper history is there's some sort of Golden Age of which the present world is but a pale shadow of and now it can only be remembered wistfully with hushed reverence, there are probably ruins involved and maybe a toppled giant statue or two. The magic was better then, the architecture more grand, the swords sharper, the people more perfect, the farts less smelly, etc, etc.

It's not a trope I'm necessarily against in and of itself, it's when its paired with a stagnant world where the Golden Age has represented its peak and nothing that follow will ever match its luster where it becomes really irksome. The "we can't hope to do/make X anymore, that was lost to the ages".

I get why its there, it provides for easy story opportunities especially in game settings. You can have a dungeon to dive made by the Precursors which explains why it hasn't crumbled in on itself and is filled with valuable things -- for instance. Or you might need a McGuffin and because it was made during the Golden Age it isn't easy to find and naturally you can't just make a new one because lost technology, but when you do find it it will still probably work because they made **** to last millenniums ago. It's just tying into fairly ubiquitous element to the Fantasy genre, the fetishism of yore.

I like a sense that a setting is changing, in flux even. Change doesn't have to be universally good or bad, examining the repercussions is the intriguing thing about Speculative Fiction and that's no less true for a world with castles, wizards, and elves. The idea that everything was once awesome but now we're swirling the metaphorical drain because of some transgressive spiritual event is just dull.

I think that is because most fantasy settings are medieval and medieval times comes after the fall of the Roman Empire... And the romans basically did everything better for a long while.

8BitNinja
2017-09-26, 07:06 PM
Can I add this is quadruply annoying when the number is 4 and the important things are linked to air, earth, water, and fire?

You forgot one

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BZWFjYmZmZGQtYzg4YS00ZGE5LTgwYzAtZmQwZjQ2NDliMG [email protected]_V1_UY268_CR2,0,182 ,268_AL_.jpg

Cluedrew
2017-09-26, 07:34 PM
One of the tropes I hate the most is the Awesome Super Race that is Better Than You.The only way to make "human with a hat" less interesting is make the hat "is better". I have enjoyed the occasional subversion of this, such as making a race that has problems because of the thing that sounds so great on the surface. However generally I think it is best to just make a race that are better than humans in some ways, worse in others, the same in some and incomparable in the rest.

Of course there are even elements of this in Lord of the Rings: if elves are so great, why are they going extinct? (Actually, I think it is symbolism, but I can't help but wonder.)


The fact that in most fantasy settings magic is consequence free.Slight variant: Magic without Cost
This only applies to the more scientific feeling kind of magic: where "law of conservation of energy" starts to feel like it should be a thing. Where does that energy come from? How can you just set something on fire forever and leave it there? Now in more mystic feeling varieties of magic, it doesn't happen. I mean there are plenty of times where magic comes across as far too clean, but that is closer to being without "consequence" than "cost".

I guess... if you are taking a scientific approach to magic, follow through with that. And magic should always feel like a part of the world, not a convenient cheat code on it.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-26, 08:07 PM
I think that is because most fantasy settings are medieval and medieval times comes after the fall of the Roman Empire... And the romans basically did everything better for a long while.


Which also turns out to be something that's not as true as was once believed.

Vitruviansquid
2017-09-26, 08:27 PM
That was just supposed to be a reference to those two series, not actually about bending. Maybe I should have reference the series directly. Probably. But still the first series is definitely built around an elemental themed fetch quest, although A) they start with one and B) it is practice and not an object that is being "fetched".

Okay, I'll bite, but it's been awhile since I saw the show.

Aang's journey fails to have the same foible that the 4-elemental-MacGuffins-quest cliche tends to have, that makes it contemptible. It fails this because of two reasons:

1. Each leg of the journey occurs under different circumstances. Aang starts the journey knowing how to airbend, and learning waterbending is supposed to be easy for him because he already has an ally who knows it. Earthbending is supposed to be difficult because it is the opposite philosophy to airbending, and then firebending will also be difficult because it would be hard to find someone to teach him. As the show progresses, the timing of the final battle also becomes important, and the show succeeded, as far as my memory goes, of imparting a sense of urgency to the last legs of the journey.

2. Since each type of bending is also a kind of posture your personality must adopt, the journey to learn every type of bending for Aang is synonymous with his character development.

TheIronGolem
2017-09-26, 09:21 PM
Is 'Backstory Planck Time' yours? Because it's awesome.

It is, and thank you. I'd make it a TVTropes page, if I could recall any specific titles from the mishmash of games that inspired the phrase.

Cluedrew
2017-09-26, 09:23 PM
All that is true. Which is actually my point: It did a good job of turning an elemental fetch quest into something good. Even the tired old ideas work well if you use them properly. And they did use that idea well, it was an grand journey, even if it was to fill the shopping list.

Vitruviansquid
2017-09-26, 10:14 PM
All that is true. Which is actually my point: It did a good job of turning an elemental fetch quest into something good. Even the tired old ideas work well if you use them properly. And they did use that idea well, it was an grand journey, even if it was to fill the shopping list.

What do you mean that's your point? I thought you were asking a question, not making a point.

Just because I don't like the cliche doesn't mean I don't like every instance of this thing happening ever. The reason we hate cliches is because they are a braindead shortcut that people use to fill in the void in the absence of good ideas.

VoxRationis
2017-09-27, 12:51 AM
Well, living in a modern era Western world, his might seem kinda of unrealistic. But for most of history and most of the world this is the case. There are just brief pop-ups of the next world-spanning era that becomes the next golden age. And even then, the current golden age often looks back at the previous one. For example in Pax Renassaince, Pax Romana was still idolized.

Even in modern Pax Americana, many Americans and Europeans idolize various of the Romans, Greeks, Mongols, Aztec etc, Chinese, Viking, Japanese, etc empires. Imagine how the future people's between the fall of Pax Americana and the next Pax empire will view our times. Pretty sure it's going to look like a Golden Age.

What's 'unrealistic' is a view that history only moves forward, with improvements in lifestyle. Or that Golden Ages don't end, usually after a few hundred years, followed by something less than Golden.

A lot of the time, the dark ages make the golden ages seem greater than they were in relation to the "present day." The term Cyclopean, when applied to architecture, comes from the idea that the old Mycenean tombs and monuments were so great in scope that only the cyclopes could have made them, yet that term is attributed to the classical Greeks, who were already building things just as fancy! They were so colored by the dark age following the Bronze Age Collapse that they retained the memory of how great the Mycenean period was even after they had surpassed it.
Similarly, the Romans were revered by all of Europe, even after their achievements were greater, because they remembered how much it sucked that everyone stopped building roads and aqueducts and everyone had to move into fortified areas or risk being killed by the Marauding Horde of the Week.
It would be interesting to incorporate this idea into a setting—the idea that the ancient magical precursor civilization was great and splendid largely in comparison to the dark period that came after it, and the modern period, even with all its flaws, has largely outgrown that earlier peak.

Tanarii
2017-09-27, 01:44 AM
It would be interesting to incorporate this idea into a setting—the idea that the ancient magical precursor civilization was great and splendid largely in comparison to the dark period that came after it, and the modern period, even with all its flaws, has largely outgrown that earlier peak.
Oh I like that. Because yeah, that's definitely a real thing.

RedMage125
2017-09-27, 05:38 AM
YMMV, but at no point during the Elenium did I ever feel like any of the heroes were in danger, except maybe when one of them (Bevier I think?) was wounded. It wasn't the most egregious example ever, but for me there wasn't enough tension. If Sparhawk & co. had been less likeable, the series wouldn't have worked at all for me.

Falconsbane in the aforementioned Mage Winds trilogy was much worse about this, though.
Didn't read that last one, but I guess I DO have the opposite "mileage" out of the Elenium. Namely because I find the Elenium/Tamuli to be better BECAUSE of the more gritty, harsher feel about it. In the Belgariad/Mallorean, there's just a little too much fatalistic "the Prophecy made this happen and has prepared for any and all eventualities". Don't get me wrong, I love the series, have read it at least 12 times (and am currently wrapping up reading #10 or 11 of Polgara before I dive back into the Elenium).


My biggest gripe is the Good/Evil are absolutes trope. There is a world of grey and color and very little actual black and white when it comes to people's morality.
And the whole "if you stop being absolutely good, then you become totally evil" has been done so many times and usually badly.

I don't know where that trope exists except for Bad DMs who misinterpret the rules. In 3.5e D&D, for example, Good and Evil exist as objective and cosmic absolutes, yes. That has NO BEARING on people's morality. A person's morality may be just as varied and complex as the real world, but regardless of their perceptions or motivations, there is a faceless, emotionless, cosmic scale by which their actions are judged.

I personally find the blend to be more compelling. Someone may believe themselves to be doing good, and be quite shocked to take damage from a Holy Smite spell.



As for the folks talking about the whole black = evil thing, that is just based on the most primitive and instinctual human psychology. From the earliest man Light was seen as a good thing where you could see what you were doing, felt safe in being able to see your surroundings or where to run if danger was after you. Darkness was the first great enemy because you couldn't see what was coming for you, you couldn't see where to run away. Man fears what he doesn't know, what he can't see. So White and Light have always been associated with good while Black and Dark have always been associated with bad/evil.

Someone said it wasn't the same in asian cultures, but that isn't true. One of the most iconic asian symbols, the Yin-Yang is a very basic representation of this same fact that white is good and black is bad, even though that particular symbol is there to indicate there is some dark in the light and some light in the dark.


This was responded to in some measure, and I want to build on it.

Yin-Yangs are, first off, never depicted in black and white in their original forms. If you go to Daoist temples in China you will always see them in Black and Red. This for a few reasons. The most important of which is something that escapes us Westerners on a fundamental level. We depict them in White and Black because we perceive White and Black to be opposites. This could not be farther from the truth. Eastern thought emphasizes the idea that just because things are different does not mean that they are opposite, or even separate. And there is certainly no necessity for a value judgment of which is better. In fact, the most important aspect of the yin-yang symbol is that fact that it is, above all else, a circle. It is ONE, unified whole. The next most important thing is that Yin contains a small dot of the Yang color, and vis-versa. This is to show that Neither is wholly separate, because each contains some elements of the other.
Back to the color. Yin-Yangs are depicted in Black and Red, not because the Chinese consider Black and Red opposites, but because Black is the absence of color, and Red is representative of the totality of only one color.

The Yin-Yang does not represent Good and Bad. Completely to the contrary, it highlights that there is no such thing. Because to do such would indicate a value judgment between Yin and Yang. Instead of "Good and Bad", it's "Male and Female", or "Hard and Soft", or "Wet and Dry". It is "NO color" or "A color". Even on a chromatic scale, we think of black & white as opposites because one is "no color" and the other is "all colors combined". But this is STILL representing that same basic failure in Western thinking. We're STILL trying to make them opposites, and they are not meant to be. By showing that both Yin and Yang are incomplete parts of the SAME whole, you see that instead it should indicate things on different sides of the same spectrum. Emphasis on SAME. Yang is not "better" than Yin, although as a patriarchal society, the Chinese did consider "yang" virtues to be more favorable, but they still recognized that males were incomplete without our counterparts. The patriarch of the family may be the one earning income, but the woman runs the house entirely. Women made ALL the financial decisions for a family in that time. If the male wanted to spend money on something, he had to ask his wife for the money. Daosim is about more than just Balance. It is about Harmony. Harmony within oneself. Harmony with the people around us. Harmony with the world we live in.

Cluedrew
2017-09-27, 06:40 AM
What do you mean that's your point? I thought you were asking a question, not making a point.I needed the answer to my question before I could make the point. Notably, I couldn't use it as an example if you didn't know about it. But you ended up making the point before I could.

Bohandas
2017-09-27, 09:55 AM
Of course there are even elements of this in Lord of the Rings: if elves are so great, why are they going extinct? (Actually, I think it is symbolism, but I can't help but wonder.)

I thought it was something more like white flight than that they were going extinct. They all left to live somewhere racially homogeneous

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-27, 10:24 AM
I thought it was something more like white flight than that they were going extinct. They all left to live somewhere racially homogeneous

Uh... no.

http://middle-earth.xenite.org/why-did-the-elves-leave-middle-earth/
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/47478/what-does-it-mean-to-sail-into-the-west

Bohandas
2017-09-27, 10:25 AM
A lot of the time, the dark ages make the golden ages seem greater than they were in relation to the "present day." The term Cyclopean, when applied to architecture, comes from the idea that the old Mycenean tombs and monuments were so great in scope that only the cyclopes could have made them, yet that term is attributed to the classical Greeks, who were already building things just as fancy!

Compare the modern phenomenon of people who believe that the pyramids could only have been built by super-advanced space aliens. I still can't figure out what those people are on about.

Bohandas
2017-09-27, 10:31 AM
Uh... no.

http://middle-earth.xenite.org/why-did-the-elves-leave-middle-earth/
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/47478/what-does-it-mean-to-sail-into-the-west

I know it wasn't because Aman was segregated (though Aman was segregated. Humans were explicitly banned from going there. This comes up multiple times in the silmarillion.), that was a joke. The poibt was that thet were reduced in numbers in middle earth largely because they were all leaving.

EDIT:
And the thing about the backlash from the destruction of the ring doesn't really apply to he larger question because as the article notes most of them had already left by that time

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-27, 10:38 AM
I know it wasn't because Aman was segregated (though Aman was segregated. Humans were explicitly banned from going there. This comes up multiple times in the silmarillion.), that was a joke. The poibt was that thet were reduced in numbers in middle earth largely because they were all leaving.

EDIT:
And the thing about the backlash from the destruction of the ring doesn't really apply to he larger question because as the article notes most of them had already left by that time

Sorry... I've just seen some really dumb ideas out there about Tolkien.

Segev
2017-09-27, 01:20 PM
Backstory Planck Time Is One Thousand Years: This mostly comes from 90's CRPG's. The AncientsTM built a glorious civilization was peaceful and prosperous for a thousand years. Then it was destroyed by the Big Magic War that lasted a thousand years. Then the Big Bad who started that war was sealed away by Plot Magic but prophesied to return in a thousand years. Guess how long ago that was?

What if it was all the SAME 1000 years?

The golden empire stood for a thousand years, but those thousand years were contemporaneous with the massive war they were slowly losing, so the core of prosperity was there for that time, but it's been dwindling in size as more and more goes into fighting the war, and more and more is lost to it. The Big Bad that started the war WAS imprisoned very near the start of it; that may even have been what signified the start of the golden age, as it was believed to be the final VICTORY over the magically-empowered foes that the Great Golden Civilization rose up and united to defeat. Unfortunately, it was swiftly revealed that his final strike against this unified foe was an equally unified enemy that reveared him as a god.

The hero dwells in a land that started at the outskirts of the Great Golden Civilization, but which has long since seen those borders wither away and leave it bereft, for nearly a thousand years. It's thus been nearly a thousand years since the marvelous city (really a small outpost by the Great Golden Civilization's standards) nearby was abandoned. But with the prophecied return of the Big Bad approaching, signs and portents are abounding, even as the war might again be drawing to a close.

NRSASD
2017-09-27, 02:59 PM
What if it was all the SAME 1000 years?

And here I thought you meant like literally the same 1000 years. A "groundhog day"-style millennium long time loop. Ooooo...

Maybe it's cyclical? No matter what civilization tries, from glorious utopia to war-ravaged hellscape, the big bad always finds a way to calamitously end the current civilization at exactly the 1000 year mark. Whether we accidentally tech ourselves to death, die in a nuclear apocalypse, cause catastrophic climate change, etc. the big bad is always behind the scenes manipulating the big picture...

Frozen_Feet
2017-09-27, 04:40 PM
Compare the modern phenomenon of people who believe that the pyramids could only have been built by super-advanced space aliens. I still can't figure out what those people are on about.

I think it's a combination of two things: Dunning - Kruger effect, and people buying too hard into concept of progressivist history.

For the first, most modern people don't work in pyramid construction, so they unsurprisingly are largely useless at gauging how difficult building a pyramid would actually be. They literally cannot comprehend how a pyramid could've been made without technology familiar to them.

For the second, people have a simplistic idea of society and technology developing on a smooth upward curve. The corollary to that is that if modern people are this smart and capable, ancient people must've been really dumb and inept.

From this viewpoint, ancient humans couldn't have been smart enough to build pyramids, so an additional non-human civilization with modern or beyond-modern technology is assumed.

Segev
2017-09-27, 04:50 PM
And here I thought you meant like literally the same 1000 years. A "groundhog day"-style millennium long time loop. Ooooo...

Maybe it's cyclical? No matter what civilization tries, from glorious utopia to war-ravaged hellscape, the big bad always finds a way to calamitously end the current civilization at exactly the 1000 year mark. Whether we accidentally tech ourselves to death, die in a nuclear apocalypse, cause catastrophic climate change, etc. the big bad is always behind the scenes manipulating the big picture...For an added twist, the Big Bad is actually a wannabe Big Good, and keeps getting the reputation he's got because of his meddling...and his FAILURES are what give him the reputation for SUCCESS (wherein he fails to stop calamity, and thus is blamed for causing it). He's getting increasingly desperate, each loop, wanting to save everybody, save his beloved homeland, and he keeps. failing.


I think it's a combination of two things: Dunning - Kruger effect, and people buying too hard into concept of progressivist history.

For the first, most modern people don't work in pyramid construction, so they unsurprisingly are largely useless at gauging how difficult building a pyramid would actually be. They literally cannot comprehend how a pyramid could've been made without technology familiar to them.

For the second, people have a simplistic idea of society and technology developing on a smooth upward curve. The corollary to that is that if modern people are this smart and capable, ancient people must've been really dumb and inept.

From this viewpoint, ancient humans couldn't have been smart enough to build pyramids, so an additional non-human civilization with modern or beyond-modern technology is assumed.The only real mistake is assuming people were stupider in the past. Often they WERE physically weaker (we have generally better nutrition today than at most times in human history, but conversely we don't exercise as much, so there's some counterweight there), and we have a higher proportion of highly-educated people, especially in broad swaths of subjects. But we're not, overall, smarter. Shoulders of giants, and all that.

However, technology doth march on, and we do have a general upward trend in wealth, productivity, technological prowess, knowledge of the universe and how it works, etc. Assuming that we know more about, say, what fire is than Aristotle is pretty accurate. Assuming that we are smarter than Aristotle, however, is baseless.

Potato_Priest
2017-09-27, 05:05 PM
Compare the modern phenomenon of people who believe that the pyramids could only have been built by super-advanced space aliens. I still can't figure out what those people are on about.

That is a very nice and interesting correlation. Thank you for that.

JBPuffin
2017-09-27, 05:15 PM
I hate it when characters on another world are obviously speaking English. Not just "their words are translated into English for the benefit of the reader" or something like many books do, but actually speaking English.

This is usually a result of authors who only speak English and ignorantly assume every other language works the same way and all the vocabulary is just a word for word substitution cypher of English. It's obvious when something like a pun or riddle only works in English or, worse yet, depends on English spelling in the Roman alphabet.

"Oh! Don't you see? The king's signet ring with a sun symbol on it wouldn't open the magic gate because we need the prince! The prophet meant 'the king's son' not "sun'!" English is probably the only language on Earth where that works. Why would it work on another planet or plane of existence that knows nothing of Earth?

You mean just that specific example, right? You're not saying other languages don't do this, too, and are suggesting that we start using other languages' homophones in our work?

The sun metaphor...German Sohn vs Sonne could be confused when spoken, so it's possible? I think you're right, though, that most aren't going to have that one. Non-English writers will have their own wordplay, and you'd have to read the original to truly grasp the effect they're going for, but I won't have enough proficiency to do that for awhile in any other language...'cept German, sometimes.

bulbaquil
2017-09-27, 05:31 PM
And here I thought you meant like literally the same 1000 years. A "groundhog day"-style millennium long time loop. Ooooo...

Actually, that would be a pretty interesting plot hook, with the stipulation that unlike in Groundhog Day, nobody's memories are preserved. (Or, the only person whose memories are preserved - the Phil Connors of the setting - lives at the end of the loop, and won't be born until 965 years in...

Bohandas
2017-09-27, 05:41 PM
The only real mistake is assuming people were stupider in the past. Often they WERE physically weaker (we have generally better nutrition today than at most times in human history, but conversely we don't exercise as much, so there's some counterweight there), and we have a higher proportion of highly-educated people, especially in broad swaths of subjects. But we're not, overall, smarter. Shoulders of giants, and all that.

That metaphor's going too far in the opposite direction. It's more like a stony coral (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scleractinia)


However, technology doth march on, and we do have a general upward trend in wealth, productivity, technological prowess, knowledge of the universe and how it works, etc. Assuming that we know more about, say, what fire is than Aristotle is pretty accurate. Assuming that we are smarter than Aristotle, however, is baseless.

Yeah, Aristotle could be the poster boy for "garbage in, garbage out (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garbage_in,_garbage_out)"

Xuc Xac
2017-09-27, 05:46 PM
You mean just that specific example, right? You're not saying other languages don't do this, too, and are suggesting that we start using other languages' homophones in our work?

The sun metaphor...German Sohn vs Sonne could be confused when spoken, so it's possible? I think you're right, though, that most aren't going to have that one. Non-English writers will have their own wordplay, and you'd have to read the original to truly grasp the effect they're going for, but I won't have enough proficiency to do that for awhile in any other language...'cept German, sometimes.

Other languages do use wordplay and puns and stuff, but if we're reading the "English translation" of it, then it won't be a pun or homophone in English. Even that specific example of "son" and "sun". In German, "Sohn" is one syllable and "Sonne" is two syllables and the "o" is a different vowel sound ("Sauna" and "Sonne" are pretty close, but that doesn't lead to the puzzle's answer being the prince). Imagine if you were reading the French translation of that and the characters were acting like it was obvious that "soleil" and "fils" were homophones. You would need to include a translator's footnote to explain that the two words sound the same in the original language, because they aren't homophones in French. That's how puns should appear if the characters aren't speaking English.

Or, for example, in the movie "The Goonies", they are translating a bunch of map clues from Spanish into English. All the English translations form rhyming couplets, but the Spanish version doesn't rhyme and the two lines of the couplet would be very different lengths so they couldn't have the same meter. It's obvious that the writers came up with the English "translation" first and then added in some "original" Spanish words.

Fantasy characters engaging in wordplay that only works in English makes as much sense as them referencing things that only exist on Earth. If your fantasy warrior in Greyhawk or Eberron faces a druid who summons a giant rooster to peck your face off, you shouldn't be saying "Where's Colonel Sanders when you need him?" because there is no Colonel Sanders in your world.

Bohandas
2017-09-27, 05:48 PM
You mean just that specific example, right? You're not saying other languages don't do this, too, and are suggesting that we start using other languages' homophones in our work?

The sun metaphor...German Sohn vs Sonne could be confused when spoken, so it's possible? I think you're right, though, that most aren't going to have that one. Non-English writers will have their own wordplay, and you'd have to read the original to truly grasp the effect they're going for, but I won't have enough proficiency to do that for awhile in any other language...'cept German, sometimes.

He's talking about fantasy languages. What are the odds they'd have all the same homophones and rhymes as whatever language the author speaks. Moreover I think he's talking specifically about fantasy languages that are handwaved; it's far less egregious when it's by someone like Tolkien who generally has actually constructed a language to have the right sounds in the right places and will show you both versions side by side to prove it.

Hypersmith
2017-09-27, 07:06 PM
He's talking about fantasy languages. What are the odds they'd have all the same homophones and rhymes as whatever language the author speaks. Moreover I think he's talking specifically about fantasy languages that are handwaved; it's far less egregious when it's by someone like Tolkien who generally has actually constructed a language to have the right sounds in the right places and will show you both versions side by side to prove it.

I haven't really thought about that - but yeah, I can see it. Find a tomb built 1000 years ago, the puzzle still makes sense even though it's written in "undercommon." Even if it was in common/English it probably wouldn't translate the same just because of the years, let alone another language entirely. On that note I also am not a fan of races that live damn near forever.


I've always felt that overrelaince on positive energy healing magic seems like exactly the sort of thing that should give you cancer. You're channeling the power of life and growth into somebody, how are they not covered in big tumors?
Now that's some worldbuilding I can roll with. No giant ass empires that all the history of is lost, no "The War." 'We got a humanitarian crises on our hands and we've used healing like this for three generations, wtf we gonna do?'

8BitNinja
2017-09-27, 07:07 PM
This is more of RPGs than fantasy in general, but people who make these games have no idea how weapons work.

Rapiers being a valid choice of weapon against all armor types

Swords being superior in damage to guns

Bows being used by linguine armed archers. Draw strength being an unknown concept

Plate armor being used in a world with widespread firearm use

I could keep going with this.

Mr Beer
2017-09-27, 07:14 PM
This is more of RPGs than fantasy in general, but people who make these games have no idea how weapons work.

Rapiers being a valid choice of weapon against all armor types
Swords being superior in damage to guns
Bows being used by linguine armed archers. Draw strength being an unknown concept
Plate armor being used in a world with widespread firearm use
I could keep going with this.

Agree but bolded happened, at least for a given value of 'widespread'.

JAL_1138
2017-09-27, 07:16 PM
He's talking about fantasy languages. What are the odds they'd have all the same homophones and rhymes as whatever language the author speaks. Moreover I think he's talking specifically about fantasy languages that are handwaved; it's far less egregious when it's by someone like Tolkien who generally has actually constructed a language to have the right sounds in the right places and will show you both versions side by side to prove it.

Just expanding on the Tolkien point: he went so far as to have versions of the names that would form the pun or carry the same connotation in the "original" language, then "translate" that by coming up with an entirely different English name that would preserve the homophones. Meriadoc's name was Kalimac, for example, and "kali" had the same sound as a word that meant "merry" in the conlang. (In reality it was probably a back formation, but he wrote the "translation notes" with the Literary Agent Hypothesis dial cranked up to 11.)

I need to dig my copy out sometime and reread the bit on the translation. It's some really fascinating stuff.

For that matter his note to translators for other languages shows how much research went into some of the English names...and which ones he just basically picked out of the blue.

Cluedrew
2017-09-27, 07:30 PM
Swords being superior in damage to gunsI'm actually the opposite. I've never tested it but I image that being chopped with sword does more damage than being shot with a handgun. It might be superior in other ways (say: range) but damage, I've seen people crank it up just because it is more advanced and "advanced" means a lot more than damaging.

In an extreme example: SUE stated Star Wars blasters with higher damage than Warhammer 40k bolters*. Now I agree that blasters are much more technically advanced than a bolter. But the blasters are much lighter weapons and most of that advancement has gone into ease of use, a blaster can go hundreds of shots without needing to replace the battery, a bolter probably has a clip size in the dozens, has no stun setting and has a bit more kick-back to it.

So ironically, if it came down to it (from what I know) I would both rather use and get shot by a blaster. Which conforms with the general trend of I would rather live in Star Wars than 40k. What was the original question?

* This may actually be incorrect, but I doubt anyone cares enough to defend that system.

On Tolken: A description of Lord of the Rings that relates to the subject: "... so he wrote a story to explore the setting he created to explain where these languages he made came from." I'm not entirely sure how accurate that is.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-27, 07:37 PM
I'm actually the opposite. I've never tested it but I image that being chopped with sword does more damage than being shot with a handgun. It might be superior in other ways (say: range) but damage, I've seen people crank it up just because it is more advanced and "advanced" means a lot more than damaging.


They're damaging in different ways, with one or the other being "more damaging" depending on where you're wounded and a lot of other factors.

A pistol round to the head or torso might very well not kill you. Or you might die in moments.

A butter knife or screwdriver wound 2" deep in the wrong place can kill you... other places it can go completely through your body and hurt like hell and leave a nasty pair of scars.

ZamielVanWeber
2017-09-27, 07:50 PM
I'm actually the opposite. I've never tested it but I image that being chopped with sword does more damage than being shot with a handgun. It might be superior in other ways (say: range) but damage, I've seen people crank it up just because it is more advanced and "advanced" means a lot more than damaging.

Cavitation counts for A LOT when it comes to dealing damage and swords are bad a cavitation.

Bohandas
2017-09-27, 07:55 PM
Oh yeah, this. And related "magic interferes with technology".

This is one of the reasons I like the Evil Dead series. For those of you unfamiliar in Evil Dead 1 demons are summoned via a tape recorded incantation and in the videogame Evil Dead: Fistfull of Boomstick a large scale zombie outbreak/demonic incursion starts as a result of someone reading a passage from the Necromomicon on live network television

Bohandas
2017-09-27, 07:58 PM
They're damaging in different ways, with one or the other being "more damaging" depending on where you're wounded and a lot of other factors.

A pistol round to the head or torso might very well not kill you. Or you might die in moments.

A butter knife or screwdriver wound 2" deep in the wrong place can kill you... other places it can go completely through your body and hurt like hell and leave a nasty pair of scars.

Yeah, a pistol ought to use a single large die where another weapon might use a couple of small dice. It could do nothing or it could kill you instantly.

Bohandas
2017-09-27, 08:03 PM
I haven't really thought about that - but yeah, I can see it. Find a tomb built 1000 years ago, the puzzle still makes sense even though it's written in "undercommon." Even if it was in common/English it probably wouldn't translate the same just because of the years, let alone another language entirely. On that note I also am not a fan of races that live damn near forever.

Though you have to admit that they mitigiate the language-shift-over-time problem. Undercommon over the last 1000 years might have only shifted as much as english has since the united states civil war because that's about the same number of human lifetimes to drow lifetimes

JBPuffin
2017-09-27, 08:34 PM
Oh. Okay, yeah, this is a fantasy thread after all...I'm down for conlanging to make a language with its own homophones and whatnot to explain why a puzzle is the way it is. The norm involves a lot less work, though, so most times writers won't bother. A shame that's how things are.

Re: Tolkien. Lord of the Rings was an intersection of his war experience and his lifelong love of conlangs and language I general. Part therapy, part tracing his languages' roots, never meant to be the world spanning classic it became.

Arbane
2017-09-27, 10:21 PM
I think it's a combination of two things: Dunning - Kruger effect, and people buying too hard into concept of progressivist history.


There is a very obvious third thing, as obvious as the broken-off nose on the Sphinx's face.

Lord Raziere
2017-09-27, 10:52 PM
There is a very obvious third thing, as obvious as the broken-off nose on the Sphinx's face.

......They were good enough to do it somehow, but not THAT good? :smallconfused:

anyways, its pretty easy to see how they did it: through slaves and not caring about the lives lost. anything is possible when you don't have to worry about work breaks, unions, or paying your workers, or treating them properly, and so on and so forth. In China's case it was particularly horrific, how the Great Wall of China was built: on the corpses of dead chinese peasants. Literally, they just used corpses in the construction, a worker fell dead? put him in, it'll save on bricks and cement. there is an actual chinese legend of a sad wife going forth to search for her husband and asking where he husband is on the Wall as, as he had been missing and the Wall itself allowing the corpse of her husband to slide out in response.

so yeah, anything great can be achieved as long as your willing to sacrifice lots of human lives to do it. but even then, some of these structures probably took like, centuries to fully build, I think? point is, they took a really long time to build, it wasn't just a few months thing, or even a couple years thing, this was a decades or more thing to build any of these, you could be a young man, start a family, raise a son, have that son grow to adulthood and join you in the construction because they'd probably inherit your job, then you die of old age without the darn thing even being finished yet and your son having to take up your duties in your place and maybe they and your grandson sees the end of it. thats the kind of construction we're talking about. of course by then the pharoah proclaims "oh good! my great grandfathers tomb is done! now get started on mine and be quicker about it.".........

Lemmy
2017-09-27, 11:01 PM
Actually, most of the people who worked on the pyramids were paid workers... But of course, what's considered "reasonable wage and working conditions" has changed a lot in the millennia that passed since then...

davidmitchell13
2017-09-28, 12:06 AM
Really glad to see this forum

VoxRationis
2017-09-28, 01:41 AM
......They were good enough to do it somehow, but not THAT good? :smallconfused:
so yeah, anything great can be achieved as long as your willing to sacrifice lots of human lives to do it. but even then, some of these structures probably took like, centuries to fully build, I think? point is, they took a really long time to build, it wasn't just a few months thing, or even a couple years thing, this was a decades or more thing to build any of these, you could be a young man, start a family, raise a son, have that son grow to adulthood and join you in the construction because they'd probably inherit your job, then you die of old age without the darn thing even being finished yet and your son having to take up your duties in your place and maybe they and your grandson sees the end of it. thats the kind of construction we're talking about. of course by then the pharoah proclaims "oh good! my great grandfathers tomb is done! now get started on mine and be quicker about it.".........

I was under the impression that these tombs and such usually managed to be constructed within the lifetime of the ruler who would be interred therein. Cathedrals probably had a worse construction rate.

Bohandas
2017-09-28, 02:03 AM
I think it's a combination of two things: Dunning - Kruger effect, and people buying too hard into concept of progressivist history.

For the first, most modern people don't work in pyramid construction, so they unsurprisingly are largely useless at gauging how difficult building a pyramid would actually be. They literally cannot comprehend how a pyramid could've been made without technology familiar to them.

For the second, people have a simplistic idea of society and technology developing on a smooth upward curve. The corollary to that is that if modern people are this smart and capable, ancient people must've been really dumb and inept.

From this viewpoint, ancient humans couldn't have been smart enough to build pyramids, so an additional non-human civilization with modern or beyond-modern technology is assumed.

I dunno. Belittling ancient cultures is practically my religion but come on, how hard is it to stack one rock on top of another? All they'd need are ramps, chisels, dray animals, and some kind of simple vehicular technology (whether it be based on wheels, runners, or rollers)

Bohandas
2017-09-28, 02:10 AM
Actually, most of the people who worked on the pyramids were paid workers... But of course, what's considered "reasonable wage and working conditions" has changed a lot in the millennia that passed since then...

It's my understanding that a not insignificant portion were neither slaves nor paid workers but rather sycophants and religious fundamentalists looking to suck up to the royal family

Frozen_Feet
2017-09-28, 05:03 AM
There is a very obvious third thing, as obvious as the broken-off nose on the Sphinx's face.

I can't brain today, so feel free to share what this obvious third thing is supposed to be. :smalltongue:


I dunno. Belittling ancient cultures is practically my religion but come on, how hard is it to stack one rock on top of another? All they'd need are ramps, chisels, dray animals, and some kind of simple vehicular technology (whether it be based on wheels, runners, or rollers)

There are people alive today who have never held a chisel, never even seen a ramp used in construction, never handled any animals and never lifted any rocks. Why would they have any idea of how easy or hard something is?

---

Re: "pyramids were built by slaves."

Current understanding is that they were built by free workers and loyal supporters of whatever regime the pyramid was made for.

Florian
2017-09-28, 05:07 AM
I dunno. Belittling ancient cultures is practically my religion but come on, how hard is it to stack one rock on top of another? All they'd need are ramps, chisels, dray animals, and some kind of simple vehicular technology (whether it be based on wheels, runners, or rollers)

Progress is easy: Just be the first to invent something and than put that something into practice.
I still don´t understand why we don´t have starships, can teleport or have mass converters, because in theory it is more or less easy to do....

Guizonde
2017-09-28, 05:13 AM
Progress is easy: Just be the first to invent something and than put that something into practice.
I still don´t understand why we don´t have starships, can teleport or have mass converters, because in theory it is more or less easy to do....

money, dear boy, money. that, and it's more fun and profitable to kill each other than further human progress. unfortunately.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-28, 06:44 AM
money, dear boy, money. that, and it's more fun and profitable to kill each other than further human progress. unfortunately.

No amount of "less war" and "more money for research" over all of human existence would give us mass converters and teleporters at this point in time... they're not easy and may not ever happen.

RedMage125
2017-09-28, 07:35 AM
Plate armor being used in a world with widespread firearm use


You know, it's actually one of those "erronious historical facts" that a lot of us got taught in school that armor stopped being a thing because guns could pierce it. The early arquebus and its relatives were not piercing plate armor. Pretty much anything with a non-rifled barrel that fired a spherical ball was not going to pierce plate armor. Armor was actually VERY effective at stopping a bullet.

No amount of "less war" and "more money for research" over all of human existence would give us mass converters and teleporters at this point in time... they're not easy and may not ever happen.

And more to the point, if teleportation WAS developed, do you REALLY believe it wouldn't get military use before it spread to the civilian sector?

NRSASD
2017-09-28, 07:36 AM
I still don´t understand why we don´t have starships, can teleport or have mass converters, because in theory it is more or less easy to do....

Starships on the other hand... That's mostly just money. And actual, effective radiation shielding. And a distinct lack of volunteers willing to live on Mars.

As for the whole pyramid construction crew discussion, it was free laborers and loyal subjects. It was what everyone did while the Nile flooded and farming wasn't possible. Unlike some other great building projects, the worker fatality rate was fairly low, cause Egypt needed all of those farmers-turned-masons once the Nile receded and planting season began.

At least, armor stopped early bullets as well as it stopped crossbow bolts. Decently at range, not so hot up close.

JBPuffin
2017-09-28, 09:25 AM
Progress is easy: Just be the first to invent something and than put that something into practice.
I still don´t understand why we don´t have starships, can teleport or have mass converters, because in theory it is more or less easy to do....

We're not a hundred percent sure on the physics for this stuff. Like, actual teleporters that don't kill people? That'll probably be awhile, if ever, because finding the physics-tools to actually decide those things...not exactly a quick play process.

Komatik
2017-09-28, 11:09 AM
on the flip side, warhammer. ok, ok, i know that magic in that game is to be shunned more than snakeskin boots at a vegan rally, but hear me out. there are a lot of very low level casters (hedge wizards, hamlet witches, basically strong enough to make you sleep or cure a toothache, not much more). there are very few borderline overpowered casters (elves, imperial wizards), and those guys take forever to get any small measure of control over their powers. magic make them age more slowly, but casting a fireball before age 60 without opening up a rift in the warp makes you a precocious apprentice. i understand there's less than 50 magic items in that world. most are lost to the mists of time, and the few remaining are in the hands of the elite. knowing the dangers of magic, i understand why there is so little of it in that world except on the battlefield. it feels like a gritty, low magic world. magic is feared. oddly enough, it feels more coherent for me.

This was on the first page, so sorry for necromancy but I felt like writing a bunch of words:

Not so much gain control, as to learn the specifics of how to work strong magic without going insane. All magic in the Warhammer world is naturally in three states - the raw mess of the Eight Winds blowing from the North Pole (using this raw magic with sheer force of will is called Dark Magic), coalesced-together Dhar (still ephemeral magic, gathers in graveyards, swamps, battlefields etc. The stuff of necromancy), or Dhar solidified into Warpstone. Neither raw magic or Dhar can be used beyond cantrips by a living being for an extended period of time without that being going mad, or in the case of improperly handled Warpstone just getting radiation poisoning or mutating into a pile of goop or worse. Vampires and daemons can, but, well, daemons. And vampires aren't exactly chosen from the most upstanding parts of society and turning undead isn't exactly a nudge towards staying sane.

The speed of going mad depends on usage - cantrips are not very dangerous, real magic is very - and who the person is. Strong-willed people last longer, Elves last longer because they're built to do magic and can handle multiple winds, humans are decidedly not, and so on. Only way to avoid going nuts are some kinds of shield from the corruption (forest of Athel Loren for wood elves, channeling spells through corpses to delay the madness for living necromancers) or extensive use of ritual to purify the raw magic into something that can be handled and contained (religious rituals and gods' power, High Elven rituals used by High Elves and the sanctioned human mages of the Old World). Even with High Elven discipline humans can only handle one purified wind and that affects the caster's psyche - not to madness, but every responsible human archmage is still some kind of eccentric without fail.

There's more than 50 magic items, but strong ones are indeed pretty damn rare and you don't see them all over the place.

Arbane
2017-09-28, 11:25 AM
I can't brain today, so feel free to share what this obvious third thing is supposed to be. :smalltongue:


Racism. You very rarely hear anyone saying the primitive Ancient Greeks couldn't possibly have built all THEIR monuments without extraterrestrial aid. But Egyptians or Mayans? MUST'VE had help!

Necroticplague
2017-09-28, 11:33 AM
I've always been faintly bothered by the 'ancient thing of power' that seems all to prevalent in fantasy. It seems to be an incredibly recurring theme: "Stuff used to be way more powerful back in the day, we can't hope to re-create it today." That seems to fly in absolute back-***wardness to any sense, unless you're living post-apocalyptically. Stuff from 5000 years ago are mild amusements compared to anything we can manage in a similar category today across the board, so why does it seem so many fantasy setting have all the ancient stuff exceed modern by miles?

NRSASD
2017-09-28, 11:46 AM
@Necroticplague: 9 times out of 10 the standard fantasy world is a post-apocalyptic one, or at least one dragging itself out of a post-apocalyptic state.

@Arbane: I'd say a lack of widely available translated Egyptian or Mayan literature detailing the construction of monuments might have more of impact than racism. That, combined with the fact that two otherwise extremely dissimilar cultures on separate continents millennia apart decided to build the same style of architecture.

Or maybe the Greek wonders are boring and mundane in comparison :smalltongue:

Bohandas
2017-09-28, 11:46 AM
You know, it's actually one of those "erronious historical facts" that a lot of us got taught in school that armor stopped being a thing because guns could pierce it. The early arquebus and its relatives were not piercing plate armor. Pretty much anything with a non-rifled barrel that fired a spherical ball was not going to pierce plate armor. Armor was actually VERY effective at stopping a bullet.

I had always heard that the thing about armor stopping because of guns was wrong for the opposite reason, namely that a good crossbow could already pierce it even before guns became popular

Cosi
2017-09-28, 11:49 AM
I've always been faintly bothered by the 'ancient thing of power' that seems all to prevalent in fantasy. It seems to be an incredibly recurring theme: "Stuff used to be way more powerful back in the day, we can't hope to re-create it today." That seems to fly in absolute back-***wardness to any sense, unless you're living post-apocalyptically. Stuff from 5000 years ago are mild amusements compared to anything we can manage in a similar category today across the board, so why does it seem so many fantasy setting have all the ancient stuff exceed modern by miles?

From a real-world perspective, it's a justification for having dungeons full of cool stuff. If the ancients' stuff is worse than our stuff, why go exploring?

From an in-world perspective, it mostly is "because apocalypse", with the occasional side of "because aliens". Honestly, those are pretty cool reasons, and are an established trope I don't at all mind.

Segev
2017-09-28, 11:51 AM
Racism. You very rarely hear anyone saying the primitive Ancient Greeks couldn't possibly have built all THEIR monuments without extraterrestrial aid. But Egyptians or Mayans? MUST'VE had help!

Nonsense. Greek architecture just isn't so impressive that we can't conceive how it'd be built without advanced technology. Or are you saying we're also racist against Anglos and Saxons and their ancestors? People make the same claims about the menhirs at Stonehenge.

rs2excelsior
2017-09-28, 02:19 PM
I've always been faintly bothered by the 'ancient thing of power' that seems all to prevalent in fantasy. It seems to be an incredibly recurring theme: "Stuff used to be way more powerful back in the day, we can't hope to re-create it today." That seems to fly in absolute back-***wardness to any sense, unless you're living post-apocalyptically. Stuff from 5000 years ago are mild amusements compared to anything we can manage in a similar category today across the board, so why does it seem so many fantasy setting have all the ancient stuff exceed modern by miles?

I can fully understand why this trope can be historically implausible (most historical "dark ages" weren't as "dark" as people tended to believe) but it adds an air of wonder and mystery. It's more thematically appropriate to dig up this wonder of ancient magic rather than picking up the newest bauble the Mages' College has come up with (unless that's the kind of story you want to create--then go for it). Plus, I think it's heavily inspired by Tolkien, where an age is ending in Middle Earth and things are generally declining--the Elves are going into the west, the Dwarves are becoming less and less populous, Men have outlived the glory of Numenor and are not living as long, etc. It's a story where magic is going out of the world, to justify it as a mythological past of our own world, with an alarming lack of magic Elves or crafty Dwarves.

Plus, from an RPG perspective, it's an excuse for the DM to make super-powerful artifacts but not let the party wizard break them apart and start mass-producing them :smalltongue:

Tinkerer
2017-09-28, 03:20 PM
I've always been faintly bothered by the 'ancient thing of power' that seems all to prevalent in fantasy. It seems to be an incredibly recurring theme: "Stuff used to be way more powerful back in the day, we can't hope to re-create it today." That seems to fly in absolute back-***wardness to any sense, unless you're living post-apocalyptically. Stuff from 5000 years ago are mild amusements compared to anything we can manage in a similar category today across the board, so why does it seem so many fantasy setting have all the ancient stuff exceed modern by miles?

Usually it is a result of magic slowly dying in that world. In the works of fiction where this trope came from it's because the world was implied to be OUR world just far far in the past.

Mr Beer
2017-09-28, 06:45 PM
Not an expert on Egypt or pyramids but my understanding is that building big pyramids was a thing for nearly 1000 years, so my guess is that the exact employment methods used probably varied over that time.

In general it's difficult to make broad statements about ancient Egypt which were correct across the whole period (once we get away from comments like 'The Nile was a kind of a big deal') because it was in existence for so incredibly long.

Take a look at England, what can we say about the politics or people's preoccupations which are both a) specific to England and b) hold true from 1000AD to today? Not much and ancient Egypt was a thing for a lot longer than 1000 years.

Komatik
2017-09-28, 08:12 PM
Not an expert on Egypt or pyramids but my understanding is that building big pyramids was a thing for nearly 1000 years, so my guess is that the exact employment methods used probably varied over that time.

In general it's difficult to make broad statements about ancient Egypt which were correct across the whole period (once we get away from comments like 'The Nile was a kind of a big deal') because it was in existence for so incredibly long.

Take a look at England, what can we say about the politics or people's preoccupations which are both a) specific to England and b) hold true from 1000AD to today? Not much and ancient Egypt was a thing for a lot longer than 1000 years.

That's true, but industrialization was a humongous gamechanger. Argument holds even with (post-)industrialization era removed, and would make the point better I think.

Cosi
2017-09-28, 11:14 PM
Usually it is a result of magic slowly dying in that world. In the works of fiction where this trope came from it's because the world was implied to be OUR world just far far in the past.

Or in the distant future, with the artifacts being modern technology. Examples include Empire of the East, most of Vance's stuff, The Book of the New Sun, and any number of others. Sometimes you see riffs where it's on a spaceship (the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy) or a colony world (the Darkover series, Lord of Light). John Ring has a riff that catalogs the collapse of the high-tech civilization into magic-ish barbarism (the Council Wars). Mark Lawrence seems to be particularly fond of the trope, with all three of his published series to date (the Broken Empire, the Red Queens War, and the Book of the Ancestor) taking place in worlds where a technological civilization collapsed leaving behind wonders both magical and technological. For more examples than you could possibly need, see Ancient Advanced Humans (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AdvancedAncientHumans), After the End (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AfterTheEnd), or Advanced Ancient Acropolis (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AdvancedAncientAcropolis) on TV Tropes.

Vknight
2017-09-28, 11:39 PM
Magic with a Cost/Magic is Evil
Blah blah blah whatever variant you wanna go with. Why for me in particular? I feel its a lazy cop out too remove magic from the setting well still including it too have the villains go ha-ha! I have magic!
Not only is that a fair bit bothersome but I have only had Gm's use it for that exact reason.
Game in Gm's custom setting they hated that I played a druid didn't say anything but any moment I used my area control to win a fight they would start too bitch or they would cut the size blah blah blah details they didn't want magic users besides paladins, bards and people only going up to 6th level spells.
Not only this but often they just used magic as well its magic you don't know it despite having invested in Knowledge - Arcane rolling a +12 at level 5 and getting an 18 on the die nope you don't know a thing.
Its a weak excuse too just say because magic and have magic have no limits but deny it too your players(all gm's I have seen also use it too go well you have no magic items and little things like that. I think we found a rare ancient Ork axe that was +1 which was returned to there kingdom... nothing else just +1 axe mind you)
But yeah its this strange oh magic is so deadly and dangerous coming with such high costs but no one knows a thing about even experts.
Its like how in things like Dragon Age or other systems where magic is a terrifying force that scorches the land terrifying those whom see it all most mages can do is a fireball.
Not a fireball is all well and good but... they always have some crippling weakness or some ludicrous force out too destroy them.
Templars, Daemons trying too invade your mind, the Winds of Magic and half a dozen other things. That is before touching on if your Gm lets you do any ritual stuff or just says no and thus your limited too only explosions when all the mysticism is hidden from your character behind the status of being a PC.

Magic User's Being Feared is often a subtrope which I'll talk about in its own post

Potato_Priest
2017-09-29, 12:19 AM
Oh. Okay, yeah, this is a fantasy thread after all...I'm down for conlanging to make a language with its own homophones and whatnot to explain why a puzzle is the way it is. The norm involves a lot less work, though, so most times writers won't bother. A shame that's how things are.


Just in case anyone's thinking "Hey, this is really cool, I'll use it in my next adventure!"

I would lynch any DM that made me do any significant amount of actual linguistics to figure out a puzzle in dwarvish if my character knew the bloody language. In a movie or a book, sure, but that is not the kind of thing that makes a graceful crossover to a crew of 3-5 player-controlled murderhobos. I suppose if you know your players would be into it it might be fine, but in Role playing games I think it's generally better to skip over the nitty gritty elements of the linguistics.

Hypersmith
2017-09-29, 12:25 AM
Magic with a Cost/Magic is Evil

Magic User's Being Feared is often a subtrope which I'll talk about in its own post

That's a trope I'm mostly OK with to be honest. Because the alternative tropes annoy me more. The whole world being the same except - oh yeah! You got casters who can scour an army off the face of the earth, no big deal. In your example I agree that it seems ludicrous, and I think if the DM was so anti magic he should have just not allowed casters in the first place. If it's just a deal of studying to become a caster, then it feels dumb easy.

Magic users being feared I am actually a big fan of, because it makes sense to me. You've got folk who hold massive power in the palm of their hand, while most folk are just that - ordinary folk. Of course they'll be afraid that a man could walk into the tavern and kill them all. Or could go mad and set loose a stream of undead on you. They will feel like casters are chosen few, and that they can do next to nothing to stop them if the casters want to do anything. The natural reaction is fear of this list of superhuman beings when you are at the mercy of their every whim.

Vknight
2017-09-29, 12:46 AM
That's a trope I'm mostly OK with to be honest. Because the alternative tropes annoy me more. The whole world being the same except - oh yeah! You got casters who can scour an army off the face of the earth, no big deal. In your example I agree that it seems ludicrous, and I think if the DM was so anti magic he should have just not allowed casters in the first place. If it's just a deal of studying to become a caster, then it feels dumb easy.

Magic users being feared I am actually a big fan of, because it makes sense to me. You've got folk who hold massive power in the palm of their hand, while most folk are just that - ordinary folk. Of course they'll be afraid that a man could walk into the tavern and kill them all. Or could go mad and set loose a stream of undead on you. They will feel like casters are chosen few, and that they can do next to nothing to stop them if the casters want to do anything. The natural reaction is fear of this list of superhuman beings when you are at the mercy of their every whim.

I disagree on that.
Also we have plenty of settings with low magic where people still scour armies. A Song of Ice and Fire 1 man and his 2 sisters with 3 dragons brought a continent the size of South America too its knees.
I think magic being able too be devastating to a huge army should be 'costly' or take time but the more small scale magic is in itself not.
Sure the badass wizard can take on 10 attackers but so can a strong fighter the wizard is just faster but less loot etc.
Follow me on this. Everyone can use magic, but it takes time/studying, training, and a bit of innate talent.

Sorcerers are pure talent who then trained and maybe studied it but are relying on more there raw power.
Wizards are studying and training too make the most of an innate talent to a high capacity.
Bards are a blend of all three; not the power of a sorcerer, not the studying of a wizard but through training they have blend and use there magic.

Training is for the more divine casters Druids/Paladins/Clerics. They have a spark of magic just like everyone but are focusing it towards a theme of a god and in doing so are blessed and can cast spells through training and the rigors of tenants.
Be it a god, element, or nature as a bold concept. They seek and from it uncover training themselves too access there innate talent which is magnified by said god(which is why without there blessing the character when too far from the gods alignment loses the ability too call lighting down on there foes)


Spark of magic doesn't mean everyone can cast spells though. If your innate ability isn't strong enough maybe it could take years too cast a spell or grow magically powerful enough too do simple magics.
This all comes from the idea of Dresden Files.
In Dresden the longer something lives the more magically powerful and capable it becomes, and thus further extends its own ability. The older a wizard the more scary they are. This is commented on by the fact one of the villains of the books Dresden comments was a novice talent 2000 years ago. But well when your alive for 2000years your innate spark grows.
So these old wizards are able too shred an army sure but well he'd much rather be teaching another wizard then fighting in a war and whose going too water his cat or pet his cactus?
Its also why Spell-Like Abilities exist in say D&D and Pathfinder. Or the strange powers of races in Elder Scrolls. Or the fact Templars can do crazy magic stuff and spirit warriors exist in Dragon Age.

--------------

Finally Warlocks and there ilk who do have it my stance and thought?
They are lacking in one of the categories and thus just cannot use magic to be effective
No Talent they are magically able too do rituals but it takes weeks or months.
Trained they have the power but no ability too focus it into a cohesive spell or anything beyond bursts of magical power that are not destructive but more like huge globs of static electricity.

So they resort too study too gain power or focus it. Maybe its weeks of slowly charging with your limited power the magical ritual or maybe its weeks trying too control the power to this time charge it instead of causing another house fire but the results are the same.

rs2excelsior
2017-09-29, 01:13 AM
This all comes from the idea of Dresden Files.
In Dresden the longer something lives the more magically powerful and capable it becomes, and thus further extends its own ability. The older a wizard the more scary they are. This is commented on by the fact one of the villains of the books Dresden comments was a novice talent 2000 years ago. But well when your alive for 2000years your innate spark grows.
So these old wizards are able too shred an army sure but well he'd much rather be teaching another wizard then fighting in a war and whose going too water his cat or pet his cactus?

Except magic does come with a cost in the Dresden Files. It's physically exhausting to use, for one, and there's forms of magic that have some major bad juju (it's been a while since I last read the books, a bit fuzzy on the details). While your ability grows--as it should, one major point of virtually all RPGs is developing your character in some way--you can still only cast so much before you're out of it or you risk pushing too far and injuring yourself. I actually like the magic is dangerous/exhausting/has some drawback more than standard D&D "you can cast precisely X number of spells every day, and doing so carries exactly no drawback or risk save for no longer being able to cast until you rest."

Of course, your example is valid, and you have reason to be upset with that GM--but it's a case of bad GMing more than this trope. The GM didn't want magic that they perceived as too powerful or game-breaking, and prevented that in an extremely poor manner. I might not like Vancian spellcasting, but unless it's agreed upon well beforehand, if we're sitting down for D&D magic works like it says in D&D. That's basic respect for your players, and telling a player their abilities don't work as expected at the moment they try and use them "just because" is just crappy GM work.


Also we have plenty of settings with low magic where people still scour armies. A Song of Ice and Fire 1 man and his 2 sisters with 3 dragons brought a continent the size of South America too its knees.

Granted I'm not far enough in to know exactly what you're talking about, but I have a suspicion that was more due to the 3 dragons than the 3 people. And in a world like Westeros, dragons don't particularly need to be magic to be devastating.

Also, your mix of "spark of magic" plus training/practice/etc. doesn't preclude magic from having a cost. Heck, even with Vancian casting there's a cost, just not in a format that I find particularly meaningful (you can cast one less spell today). Completely no cost magic means fireballs from dawn to dusk, if you want to. As I mentioned before, I personally like how it works in the Dresden Files--it's mentally and physically taxing to cast spells, more so for more powerful spells. You won't be exhausted from casting basic magic, but doing a -lot- of magic quickly or trying for something really big will have a fatigue effect. Push it further, and you risk more permanent damage. I find that a lot more compelling than arbitrarily declaring "you may cast three spells of third level today."

Potato_Priest
2017-09-29, 01:15 AM
Here's another trope that annoys me.

In settings that juxtapose law and chaos and good and evil, the idea that a balance between good and evil is somehow preferable or necessary.

It's not. Good is better than neutrality, pretty much by definition.

Xuc Xac
2017-09-29, 02:40 AM
Just in case anyone's thinking "Hey, this is really cool, I'll use it in my next adventure!"

I would lynch any DM that made me do any significant amount of actual linguistics to figure out a puzzle in dwarvish if my character knew the bloody language. In a movie or a book, sure, but that is not the kind of thing that makes a graceful crossover to a crew of 3-5 player-controlled murderhobos. I suppose if you know your players would be into it it might be fine, but in Role playing games I think it's generally better to skip over the nitty gritty elements of the linguistics.

A good example is the gate to Moria in the "Lord of the Rings": The puzzle is "speak friend and enter". The answer is realizing that it's saying "say the word 'friend' to enter" and not "Hello, friend! Please say the password". If your character can read it, then they know what it says and the trick is based on the content of the message and not the exact text. The players don't need to know that the elvish word for "friend" is "mellon", because they can answer the riddle by saying "We say the word 'friend' in elvish as it's written on the door."

A bad version would be "The password is a six letter word for 'ally' that starts with F". That makes no sense because the characters shouldn't be speaking English or writing in the Roman alphabet. It's a puzzle for the players but not the characters. Ideally, it should be a puzzle for both of them. If it can only be a puzzle for one of them, it should be aimed at the characters in the world

Frozen_Feet
2017-09-29, 06:42 AM
Nonsense. Greek architecture just isn't so impressive that we can't conceive how it'd be built without advanced technology. Or are you saying we're also racist against Anglos and Saxons and their ancestors? People make the same claims about the menhirs at Stonehenge.

I think it'd be accurate to say that the perceived racism isn't really a separate form of prejudice from the "ancient people were dumb" trope I already described.


Just in case anyone's thinking "Hey, this is really cool, I'll use it in my next adventure!"

I would lynch any DM that made me do any significant amount of actual linguistics to figure out a puzzle in dwarvish if my character knew the bloody language. In a movie or a book, sure, but that is not the kind of thing that makes a graceful crossover to a crew of 3-5 player-controlled murderhobos. I suppose if you know your players would be into it it might be fine, but in Role playing games I think it's generally better to skip over the nitty gritty elements of the linguistics.

... I'll make a note to not invite you to my next game. :smalltongue: (Spoiler alert: it might not involve constructed languages, but it may involve Japanese writing systems. :smallamused:)

Scripten
2017-09-29, 09:05 AM
Here's another trope that annoys me.

In settings that juxtapose law and chaos and good and evil, the idea that a balance between good and evil is somehow preferable or necessary.

It's not. Good is better than neutrality, pretty much by definition.

From a moral standpoint and in the real world I agree with you here, but I do really enjoy a sort of cosmic balance in fictional worlds. It's similar to that popular blog post that talks for a while on how druids are not jolly tree-hugging friends but forces of nature, unforgiving and brutal.

It's one of the few parts of the Star Wars prequels that I actually enjoy; that in a setting where the ostensibly good guys (Jedi) have political and military clout, there's a prophecy that someone will bring balance to the Force. Lo and behold, the prophecy comes true, but in the opposite direction than everyone expected. Honestly, considering the general quality of the plot, the subversive element was probably unintentional, but I still liked it.

Segev
2017-09-29, 09:47 AM
Just in case anyone's thinking "Hey, this is really cool, I'll use it in my next adventure!"

I would lynch any DM that made me do any significant amount of actual linguistics to figure out a puzzle in dwarvish if my character knew the bloody language. In a movie or a book, sure, but that is not the kind of thing that makes a graceful crossover to a crew of 3-5 player-controlled murderhobos. I suppose if you know your players would be into it it might be fine, but in Role playing games I think it's generally better to skip over the nitty gritty elements of the linguistics.For a tabletop RPG, which is a game as well as a story (if not a game FIRST), it is far more acceptable to have "language-the-players-speak" puns that in theory might not work in the mythical languages being actually used. Consider it a representation of a different, but at-least-as-good bit of word-play. Or, you know, a BETTER bit of word-play, since it takes your super-genius PC to figure it out rather than the wash of common demihumanity. Like it or not, most of us players are not as specially brilliant as our super special awesome PCs are; we're more likely to be extras amongst the unwashed masses who can't solve the super-hard eternal riddle than the PCs we're playing, who solve three of them per week.


I think it'd be accurate to say that the perceived racism isn't really a separate form of prejudice from the "ancient people were dumb" trope I already described.Eh, the perceived racism is, I think, inappropriate. The bias is about "ancient people," not about "brown people." Injecting racism into it is just being needlessly provocative, and cheapens legitimate claims of the problem. When EVERYTHING is racist because people will twist ANYTHING to make it seem so, it stops having any legitimate meaning, and that undermines any efforts to actually resolve racism. (It is, on the other hand, a great way to prolong and exacerbate racial tensions and ensure we'll never stop having racism be a problem. Which, for some, is a great business model. I doubt anybody on this forum actually makes their living as a race-rights activist, however.)


From a moral standpoint and in the real world I agree with you here, but I do really enjoy a sort of cosmic balance in fictional worlds. It's similar to that popular blog post that talks for a while on how druids are not jolly tree-hugging friends but forces of nature, unforgiving and brutal.

It's one of the few parts of the Star Wars prequels that I actually enjoy; that in a setting where the ostensibly good guys (Jedi) have political and military clout, there's a prophecy that someone will bring balance to the Force. Lo and behold, the prophecy comes true, but in the opposite direction than everyone expected. Honestly, considering the general quality of the plot, the subversive element was probably unintentional, but I still liked it.
I hate the "balance of good and evil is superior" nonsense because it always has to make Good contain non-Good elements to achieve it. Either it exaggerates "soft" traits until they actually more reflect things most moral systems define as sins than as actual reflections of Good, or it goes for "super-judgmentalism" and makes Good into fascists. Both are silly, at best.

You can have a "cosmic balance is necessary" thing if you want, but you're going to have to go the Omelas route of saying that too much Good, while good for everybody, leads somehow to a collapse on a metaphysical level. It's a hard story to sell if anybody digs into it. Your best bet is to go for the "must needs be opposition in all things" route. There must be the POSSIBILITY to choose evil for good to have meaning. So it's not so much balance as agency. You can't eliminate the possibility of Evil; you can only achieve a point where people are all so diligent in seeking Good that Evil is a choice they never make. And that's never going to be a forever-won fight, because choice will always be there.

Cosi
2017-09-29, 09:51 AM
From a moral standpoint and in the real world I agree with you here, but I do really enjoy a sort of cosmic balance in fictional worlds. It's similar to that popular blog post that talks for a while on how druids are not jolly tree-hugging friends but forces of nature, unforgiving and brutal.

You can have moral conflicts without it being Good versus Evil. Looking at the Star Wars example, it's not really "Good" and "Evil", so much as "Discipline" and "Emotion", neither of which is entirely evil or entirely good. Having a conflict like that where both sides have justifiable positions that reasonable people could hold is a lot more interesting than having the Good Guys who are totally correct all of the time and the Bad Guys who are totally evil all of the time (notably, the real world manages to have complex moral issues without having an objective Good and Evil). Something like MTG's color wheel where different sides have different virtues, but are all capable of being good. Or something more Grimdark like Warhammer where there are a bunch of sides with different approaches, but they're all super evil.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-29, 10:03 AM
On that subject...

Good and Evil, or Chaos and Order, as actual cosmic forces. I loath that trope.

KorvinStarmast
2017-09-29, 10:29 AM
A scarcity of inhumane punishments in an otherwise medieval society is a big one for me. Traitors, murderers, spies and a host of lesser criminals shouldn't be getting thrown in a cell for years without a good reason, they should be getting public executions. Strangely common quality among humans until fairly recently was horrific public executions for a host of crimes. Yeah.
The fact that in most fantasy settings magic is consequence free. That's a problem that Jack Vance(Dying earth), Robin Hobb (Farseers), and Gordon R. Dickson (The dragon and the George) all handled nicely: there was/is a cost for using magic. (I am sure I recall others, but those three leap to mind). Robert Heinlein and other SF writers like to point out ...TNSTAAFL. Magic that follows that principle seems to me to fit into a story better.

There are just brief pop-ups of the next world-spanning era that becomes the next golden age. And even then, the current golden age often looks back at the previous one. For example in Pax Renassaince, Pax Romana was still idolized. The trope is heavily influenced in Western Thought by the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the long struggle to get out of the dark ages. When you find ruins of impressive ancient architecture, as in Angkor Wat, or the Egyptian structures, and then see a civilization that seems to have "fallen form that high perch" it lends realism to the "Golden Age" trope.
What's 'unrealistic' is a view that history only moves forward, with improvements in lifestyle. Or that Golden Ages don't end, usually after a few hundred years, followed by something less than Golden.Yean.

Plate armor being used in a world with widespread firearm use Don't look now, but the US Army has been using flak jackets, and now other body armor, since about the 1960's.

[QUOTE=Max_Killjoy;22430868]Good and Evil, or Chaos and Order, as actual cosmic forces. I loath that trope. Moorcock made it work. Maybe others can't do it as well.

Tanarii
2017-09-29, 12:38 PM
It's not. Good is better than neutrality, pretty much by definition.Depends on your definition neutrality. And to a degree, your definition of Good.

In a cosmic balance situation, where neutral means "balance of good and evil", yeah, you're correct.

If your definition of Good is something like "the most desirable thing", then yeah, you're correct.

But if neutrality is the absence of Moral Good or Moral Evil, then it's quite possible to view Neutral > Good > Evil. Especially if you think what constitutes "Moral Good" is nonsense, even if it's better than what constitutes "Moral Evil".


The trope is heavily influenced in Western Thought by the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the long struggle to get out of the dark ages. When you find ruins of impressive ancient architecture, as in Angkor Wat, or the Egyptian structures, and then see a civilization that seems to have "fallen form that high perch" it lends realism to the "Golden Age" trope.Absolutely. My point was, to view this Trope as somehow problematic, it takes:
- a lack of awareness of history
- viewing the Trope from living in a current Golden Age. (By any reasonable definition.)
- viewing the Trope from living in an era when history is mostly forward progress.

The last is arguably true for the last 1-2 hundred years, certainly technologically. There's the small issue of massive political revolutions and a few world wars, but Americans in particular tend to view those as something we kicked ass and took names in (including the Cold War), so we often don't count them as a lack of forward progress.

Segev
2017-09-29, 12:44 PM
My point was, to view this Trope as somehow problematic, it takes:
- a lack of awareness of history
- viewing the Trope from living in a current Golden Age. (By any reasonable definition.)
- viewing the Trope from living in an era when history is mostly forward progress.

The last is arguably true for the last 1-2 hundred years, certainly technologically. There's the small issue of massive political revolutions and a few world wars, but Americans in particular tend to view those as something we kicked ass and took names in (including the Cold War), so we often don't count them as a lack of forward progress.

I'd argue that the world wars and the cold war are something we've seen general forward progress in spite of.

Cosi
2017-09-29, 12:47 PM
On that subject...

Good and Evil, or Chaos and Order, as actual cosmic forces. I loath that trope.

Yeah. It's kind of hard to get behind a conflict where one side is defined in terms of being disorganized.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-29, 12:57 PM
I'd argue that the world wars and the cold war are something we've seen general forward progress in spite of.


At least for WW2 and the Cold War, it was a fight against the opposite of forward progress.

Vknight
2017-09-29, 01:10 PM
Except magic does come with a cost in the Dresden Files. It's physically exhausting to use, for one, and there's forms of magic that have some major bad juju (it's been a while since I last read the books, a bit fuzzy on the details). While your ability grows--as it should, one major point of virtually all RPGs is developing your character in some way--you can still only cast so much before you're out of it or you risk pushing too far and injuring yourself. I actually like the magic is dangerous/exhausting/has some drawback more than standard D&D "you can cast precisely X number of spells every day, and doing so carries exactly no drawback or risk save for no longer being able to cast until you rest."

Of course, your example is valid, and you have reason to be upset with that GM--but it's a case of bad GMing more than this trope. The GM didn't want magic that they perceived as too powerful or game-breaking, and prevented that in an extremely poor manner. I might not like Vancian spellcasting, but unless it's agreed upon well beforehand, if we're sitting down for D&D magic works like it says in D&D. That's basic respect for your players, and telling a player their abilities don't work as expected at the moment they try and use them "just because" is just crappy GM work.



Granted I'm not far enough in to know exactly what you're talking about, but I have a suspicion that was more due to the 3 dragons than the 3 people. And in a world like Westeros, dragons don't particularly need to be magic to be devastating.

Also, your mix of "spark of magic" plus training/practice/etc. doesn't preclude magic from having a cost. Heck, even with Vancian casting there's a cost, just not in a format that I find particularly meaningful (you can cast one less spell today). Completely no cost magic means fireballs from dawn to dusk, if you want to. As I mentioned before, I personally like how it works in the Dresden Files--it's mentally and physically taxing to cast spells, more so for more powerful spells. You won't be exhausted from casting basic magic, but doing a -lot- of magic quickly or trying for something really big will have a fatigue effect. Push it further, and you risk more permanent damage. I find that a lot more compelling than arbitrarily declaring "you may cast three spells of third level today."

I'm describing a thought process and to that your missing the point of it.
Also I agree but magic making your tired is not a cost too me.
Cost = Souls potentially summoning demons, all of that.
Magic making you tired just feels like it should be a basis for magic as a concept in general

And no my thought and idea of spark of magic didn't preclude that I never said it did I just said it was one way too think about it. And the cost for it comes from how you go about getting your magic. And more.

Max_Killjoy
2017-09-29, 01:55 PM
So in the back and forth between "magic needs a price" and "stop putting a price on magic"...

In the "Greco-Sumerian (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?497634-How-to-4th-century-BCE-setting&p=22428919#post22428919)" setting I'm working on, there are three "ways of magic" (longer explanations in the link) :

Animism: getting a nature, elemental, or ancestor spirit to do it. Requires rites, chants, prayers, offerings, bargains, honoring taboos, etc.
"Black": drawing on spirits and forces inherently warping and corrosive to reality, using sigils, seals, and precise wording to avoid being consumed
"White": the power of the waking dream; go too far and get permanently lost in the flipside of lucid dreaming.

Does that seem like too much price, not enough price, just about right? The right sorts of prices?

Cosi
2017-09-29, 02:01 PM
I don't think having a price on magic is bad per se, it's just a bad fit for games, because most of the prices that typically get brought up are either not really prices ("oh no, my magic attracts monsters, as an adventurer I would never encounter those otherwise!") or don't really matter to PCs (you aren't going to live long enough to care about your immortal soul or your age at death) or create really bad gameplay (dying randomly "because magic" is stupid).

RedMage125
2017-09-29, 02:10 PM
I'd argue that the world wars and the cold war are something we've seen general forward progress in spite of.

One could even argue that we have made progress BECAUSE OF those things.

Segev
2017-09-29, 02:40 PM
At least for WW2 and the Cold War, it was a fight against the opposite of forward progress.In more ways than many people seem to realize.


One could even argue that we have made progress BECAUSE OF those things.Eh, yes and no. WWII forced the US to get its head out of its proverbial hindquarters and get back to producing things, thus ending the Great Depression, and competition drives innovation (hence Cold War era military advances), but we don't need wars to achieve these things. We only need wars to force certain classes - pretty much in the rulership - to stop getting in the way.


I don't think having a price on magic is bad per se, it's just a bad fit for games, because most of the prices that typically get brought up are either not really prices ("oh no, my magic attracts monsters, as an adventurer I would never encounter those otherwise!") or don't really matter to PCs (you aren't going to live long enough to care about your immortal soul or your age at death) or create really bad gameplay (dying randomly "because magic" is stupid).More to the point, magic in games almost always has a price, but it's a "resource" rather than some sort of dark, forboding, unrecoverable slide towards doom.

Such dark, forboding, unrecoverable slides towards doom don't work well in games because they're either too fast, leading to unplayable characters, or too slow, leading to mages without practical price. And the character becomes less fun as he goes along because he has to be more and more judicious with his resources.

Sapphire Guard
2017-09-29, 03:08 PM
Mean spirited /one sided deconstructions.

"Look, this trope doesn't work."

Where this is true, it would tend to be a basic fact rather than something to point and laugh at in setting.

BRC
2017-09-29, 03:10 PM
I've always been a fan of the idea that SOME magic has a price (Of the Terrible Variety), and that's usually the quick-and-dirty way to power.


So, for example, a PC wizard becomes more powerful through a lifetime of study and practice. You could achieve similar levels of power much faster by paying some TERRIBLE PRICE, taking a shortcut instead of getting your magic the "Proper" way.

This means that, yes, that the PC wizard can still be an individual of rare power in the armies of righteousness, despite the evil demon cult having a half-dozen spellcasters of roughly equivalent power. The Cultists got their magic by driving themselves mad and sacrificing babies.

Komatik
2017-09-29, 03:26 PM
I've always been a fan of the idea that SOME magic has a price (Of the Terrible Variety), and that's usually the quick-and-dirty way to power.


So, for example, a PC wizard becomes more powerful through a lifetime of study and practice. You could achieve similar levels of power much faster by paying some TERRIBLE PRICE, taking a shortcut instead of getting your magic the "Proper" way.

This means that, yes, that the PC wizard can still be an individual of rare power in the armies of righteousness, despite the evil demon cult having a half-dozen spellcasters of roughly equivalent power. The Cultists got their magic by driving themselves mad and sacrificing babies.

Warhammer World, basically.

BRC
2017-09-29, 03:38 PM
Hrmm, idea.

There are Cosmic Forces of Good and Evil. There is ALSO a cosmic force of "Balance" that seeks to maintain parity between the two.

There is absolutely zero practical benefit to this "Balance". The world won't spin out of control if Good becomes dominant. In fact, Good becoming overwhelmingly dominant is straight up The Best Thing that could happen. But, this "Balance" thing exists regardless, for some reason, and it controls the degree to which the various cosmic forces can intervene in a given scenario.


The result is that the various cosmic forces are inversely powerful based on whether Good or Evil is dominant somewhere. In the Kingdom of Kindness, dark cultists get astounding powers from sacrificing farm animals. Meanwhile, in the Empire of Blood mad sorcerers torture themselves for power, while scrappy resistance fighters are handed prophetic visions, boundless courage, and inexplicable talent simply for standing up to the local magistrate.

icefractal
2017-09-29, 03:40 PM
I think that a cosmic balance between Chaos and Order (as a desirable thing) can work, because it's easy to see how the extremes of both would be bad.

Good and Evil, not so much. Every attempt I've seen did it by redefining "Good" as "Bright/Shiny, but actually jerks", which is missing the point entirely. "Light vs Dark" is vague enough to work I guess, but it's cliched as hell.

Tanarii
2017-09-29, 04:36 PM
The result is that the various cosmic forces are inversely powerful based on whether Good or Evil is dominant somewhere. In the Kingdom of Kindness, dark cultists get astounding powers from sacrificing farm animals. Meanwhile, in the Empire of Blood mad sorcerers torture themselves for power, while scrappy resistance fighters are handed prophetic visions, boundless courage, and inexplicable talent simply for standing up to the local magistrate.
Given that's the way many stories, as well as many campaigns, are set up, that sounds about right. :smallbiggrin:
(Not the balance being the reason for it. Just the same 'end results'. When everything is good, evil usually has amazing relative power. When evil is everywhere, Good is relatively individually powerful.)

rs2excelsior
2017-09-29, 05:12 PM
There are Cosmic Forces of Good and Evil. There is ALSO a cosmic force of "Balance" that seeks to maintain parity between the two.

The result is that the various cosmic forces are inversely powerful based on whether Good or Evil is dominant somewhere. In the Kingdom of Kindness, dark cultists get astounding powers from sacrificing farm animals. Meanwhile, in the Empire of Blood mad sorcerers torture themselves for power, while scrappy resistance fighters are handed prophetic visions, boundless courage, and inexplicable talent simply for standing up to the local magistrate.

Alternative: the cosmic force of Balance is actually the only one. There is no cosmic Good or Evil, though whatever force there is leads people to believe that they do exist. Instead this one force continually grants power to the underdog, as it were, to maintain a constant state of struggle between those serving "good" and those serving "evil" in order to further its own purposes. Maybe it gains power from mortals asking it for help, regardless of the side they're on, and its own power is maximized when both sides keep asking for help to get the upper hand. Maybe it wants mortals to be stronger for whatever reason, and believes conflict is how they will become stronger (http://babylon5.wikia.com/wiki/Shadow). Maybe it just gets bored when things get too peaceful.

Bohandas
2017-09-29, 05:27 PM
Here's another trope that annoys me.

In settings that juxtapose law and chaos and good and evil, the idea that a balance between good and evil is somehow preferable or necessary.

It would work if it was a backward reactionary definition of "good"; like if it was "good" as defined by the spanish inquisition or as defined by ayatollah khomeini.

It would also work if it was excessive and stupid good. Like the antivillain Allegro the Panda from Powerpuff Girls, who wants everyone to be happy and to that end uses his magic to basically make everyone high all the time, causing chaos and destruction as doctors and firemen abandon what they were doing to party and stare at their hands

8BitNinja
2017-09-29, 07:13 PM
@Weapons: To he fair, comparing a broadsword, Minnie ball, handgun hollow point round, handgun FMJ round, rifle round, anti material rifle round, birdshot shell, buckshot shell, and slugs could be a completely different thread. So technically, we are both right, but the reason why is that we are both being incredibly vague. Ballistics is another topic entirely.

Bohandas
2017-10-01, 12:42 PM
In more ways than many people seem to realize.

Eh, yes and no. WWII forced the US to get its head out of its proverbial hindquarters and get back to producing things, thus ending the Great Depression, and competition drives innovation (hence Cold War era military advances), but we don't need wars to achieve these things. We only need wars to force certain classes - pretty much in the rulership - to stop getting in the way.

I don't think it's anything as subtle as that. I think it's just that less people means less unemployment. The same thing happe ed after the black death.

Either that or Huitzilopochtli has rewarded us with prosperity for this bloodshed :smalltongue:

Potato_Priest
2017-10-01, 12:57 PM
It would work if it was a backward reactionary definition of "good"; like if it was "good" as defined by the spanish inquisition or as defined by ayatollah khomeini.

It would also work if it was excessive and stupid good. Like the antivillain Allegro the Panda from Powerpuff Girls, who wants everyone to be happy and to that end uses his magic to basically make everyone high all the time, causing chaos and destruction as doctors and firemen abandon what they were doing to party and stare at their hands

Yeah, but it is like Segev said: you need to add non-good elements to good to make it work, which means you're really not actually having conflict between good and evil and any philosophical merit of the exercise is shot.

Segev
2017-10-01, 02:13 PM
Either that or Huitzilopochtli has rewarded us with prosperity for this bloodshed :smalltongue:

This is clearly the true answer. Between Huitzilopochtli and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, we have learned that we must increase bloody piracy in order to improve the world economy and stop global warming!

I'd rather not actually debate the other point. While I know I brought it up, taking it into a debate gets far too much into politics.

Frozen_Feet
2017-10-01, 02:51 PM
Balance between cosmic Law and Chaos is easy to make work, but balance between cosmic Good and Evil really can't be made to work in the same way.

When you're weighing Law and Chaos, you have stasis at one extreme and unstable mess at another. It's easy to see how a bit of both leads to a third option that's superior to either.

When you're weighing Good and Evil, you have Heaven at one extreme and Hell at another. Bit of both is just Earth, really, and while Earth is better than Hell, it's kinda hard to see how it's better than Heaven.

So if you want "Balance of Good and Evil", then you need a different justification for balance than "it is better". My favorite is "it is inescapable, and attempts to make it not so screw everyone over".

If that's too abstract, here is how it works: for each good deed there must be an evil deed, and vice versa. In cosmic terms, the moral sum total of existence is 0. This is the balance point.

So everyone who is trying to do "more good than evil" is acting on false premises. They will, inevitably, cause as much evil as they cause good.

Good gods cheat their way around this by directing who suffers and why. On Earth, they allow people to commit evil and get away with it... so they can then compensate to their victims in afterlife, while roasting the evil-doers in Hell.

Yeah, it may not be nice to let good people suffer in life, or torture evil people in various imaginative and horrifying ways, but on these necessary evils Heaven is built.

(A similar relationship exists between Creation and Destruction. Everything created must be destroyed so the sum total of existence remains 0, but good gods conspire so that would-be destroyers only blow up things which have already run their course or who no-one would miss anyway.)

Bohandas
2017-10-01, 03:01 PM
Balance between cosmic Law and Chaos is easy to make work, but balance between cosmic Good and Evil really can't be made to work in the same way.

When you're weighing Law and Chaos, you have stasis at one extreme and unstable mess at another. It's easy to see how a bit of both leads to a third option that's superior to either.

When you're weighing Good and Evil, you have Heaven at one extreme and Hell at another. Bit of both is just Earth, really, and while Earth is better than Hell, it's kinda hard to see how it's better than Heaven.

I think you have to imagine a kind of puritanical heaven wherein people do nothing all day and all night except dance around their deity singing "hosanna hosanna hosanna"...and a rock-and-roll hell that's more like a really good party that took a really bad turn and now the building's on fire, the toilet is backed up, there's a big brawl going on, folks are choking on their own vomit, and several people have contracted syphilis

Frozen_Feet
2017-10-01, 03:20 PM
I don't see that as Good versus Evil, but rather, Pure/Holy versus Impure/Unholy. Which is another differently working pair and one where you don't have to play zero-sum games. (Balance between Holy and Unholy can work, but you could just forget about balance alltogether.)

Bohandas
2017-10-01, 03:20 PM
Yeah, but it is like Segev said: you need to add non-good elements to good to make it work, which means you're really not actually having conflict between good and evil and any philosophical merit of the exercise is shot.

That's why for the first example I specified khomeini and the inquisition. They were following real world philosophies regarding what is good and what is evil that held a lot of sway.

As for the second example, I think we can all agree that wanting people to be happy is a good motive, but there are good reasons why people are not perpetually happy; things happen that need to be reacted to. Granted not to the extent and level that some people react (like you shouldn;t panic from watching sensationalistic news programs, that's all bs and doesn't affect you), but if you're in a building that's on fire or something you can't just say "I'm comfortable with this", you have to react.

And there are also any number of real world good intentioned but impractacle or downright impossible ideas that have caused far more harm than good.

Grim Portent
2017-10-01, 03:33 PM
Doesn't the cosmic balance version of good and evil usually draw specifically on the traditional Christian morality in which sex, homosexuality, alcohol and so are evil? I recall Good is usually portrayed similar to Law but with moral overtones, which was basically how things worked before D&D divided Law and Chaos into Law, Chaos, Good and Evil.

JBPuffin
2017-10-01, 03:43 PM
Just in case anyone's thinking "Hey, this is really cool, I'll use it in my next adventure!"

I would lynch any DM that made me do any significant amount of actual linguistics to figure out a puzzle in dwarvish if my character knew the bloody language. In a movie or a book, sure, but that is not the kind of thing that makes a graceful crossover to a crew of 3-5 player-controlled murderhobos. I suppose if you know your players would be into it it might be fine, but in Role playing games I think it's generally better to skip over the nitty gritty elements of the linguistics.

Oh, you'll get a translation when it comes time to solve the thing (it'd be 5e, where it's stupid easy to cover all your language needs), but the first thing you get will be a bit of Dorikeep Dwarvish :smallsmile:.

I have to admit, I don't mind the cosmic battle of good and evil, but the idea that they're essentially elements like fire and water is absolutely stupid. In real life, as has been mentioned, good and evil are moral principles, not tangible forces (note: I adhere to a religion where some might argue otherwise. That's the work of beings with strong good and evil allegiances, not some sort of karmic energy), and law and chaos working that way is even worse. Admittedly, it wouldn't be hard to give each alignment a "signature element" - Good could get Light and Evil Shadow (because I do adhere to that trope rather strictly), Chaos could get "entropy" (necrotic without the automatic necromancy association), and Law could have something like Force or Gravity (creating physical restrictions on behavior; "you must fall down," "you cannot pass this point," etc).

Angels defaulting to good and demons/devils to evil...would work, if there weren't explicitly evil gods who use angel servants. If evil gods only use demons/devils, then it works as a model, otherwise it just falls apart. I adhere strongly to an objective good/evil dichotomy, but trying to say, "Oh, this character is only Good" or even "more Good than Evil" is such a vast simplification of real life motivations and actions that I much prefer alignments as non-mechanical features if you must have them at all.

8BitNinja
2017-10-01, 03:58 PM
When there are a million different elves and one or two subraces of every other race.

Seriously, take any noun or adjective you can think of and try to not find an elf of it.

Bohandas
2017-10-01, 04:40 PM
Doesn't the cosmic balance version of good and evil usually draw specifically on the traditional Christian morality in which sex, homosexuality, alcohol and so are evil? I recall Good is usually portrayed similar to Law but with moral overtones, which was basically how things worked before D&D divided Law and Chaos into Law, Chaos, Good and Evil.

That's what I'm saying. I just didn't want to call it out by name

And it isn't specifically Christian morality, it's Abrahamic morality. All of the abrahamic religions share the same heneral sentiments on these sort of issues

Bohandas
2017-10-01, 04:48 PM
Also, if we go with sensible definitions of good and evil I could see how the side of evil could desire a balance between good and evil. If everything is ruined and destroyed than there will be nothing left to ruin and destroy

ZamielVanWeber
2017-10-01, 05:11 PM
When there are a million different elves and one or two subraces of every other race.

Seriously, take any noun or adjective you can think of and try to not find an elf of it.

DND had a ton of subraces for everyone but human. Even races with the human subtype were often crossbreeds or "formerly human but now something else entirely." I suspect it was to avoid accusations of racism but I do not know for sure.

Grim Portent
2017-10-01, 05:12 PM
I'm not sure if evil would be all about ruination and death, domination and sadistic hedonism seem like more sensible things given human behaviour.

Segev
2017-10-01, 08:47 PM
That's what I'm saying. I just didn't want to call it out by name

And it isn't specifically Christian morality, it's Abrahamic morality. All of the abrahamic religions have this failing.

I'd be careful calling it a "failing." Not only is that treading awfully close to the line in terms of attacking people's religions, but there are some solid signs that these moral rules exist for reasons that amount to the fact that following those guidelines overall leads to healthier, more successful cultures than those which do not.

Cosi
2017-10-01, 09:38 PM
Also, if we go with sensible definitions of good and evil I could see how the side of evil could desire a balance between good and evil. If everything is ruined and destroyed than there will be nothing left to ruin and destroy

I guess? But making "Evil's" goal to maximize the amount of stuff they destroy, rather than destroy all the stuff, results in ... strange behavior. Villains now hire craftsman to rebuild things so they can destroy them again, for example. Your evil overlord is now basically a regular government, except he literally lights his tax revenue on fire.

Really, I don't see a reason to try and preserve "Good" versus "Evil". If you make it anything other than black and white, using the terms becomes stupid. If you want to do Ruin versus Preservation, just call the sides that.


DND had a ton of subraces for everyone but human. Even races with the human subtype were often crossbreeds or "formerly human but now something else entirely." I suspect it was to avoid accusations of racism but I do not know for sure.

I mean, subraces are still super racist. Especially when you make the subrace whose primary defining trait is "Evil" the ones with black skin. The whole idea of having "subraces" is just saying that Victorian scientific racism is literally true, which is super racist.

Segev
2017-10-01, 10:46 PM
I mean, subraces are still super racist. Especially when you make the subrace whose primary defining trait is "Evil" the ones with black skin. The whole idea of having "subraces" is just saying that Victorian scientific racism is literally true, which is super racist.

Eh. I disagree on several levels, but the only one I'm going to target here is the notion that "especially when the evil race had black skin" makes it extra super-duper racist. "It's more racist if it reflects this one particular race" is nonsense, logically. Things are either racist or they're not. The notion that the target of the potential racism's race determines whether it's racism or not is asinine, at best, and deeply racist, itself, at worst.

Max_Killjoy
2017-10-01, 11:06 PM
Eh. I disagree on several levels, but the only one I'm going to target here is the notion that "especially when the evil race had black skin" makes it extra super-duper racist. "It's more racist if it reflects this one particular race" is nonsense, logically. Things are either racist or they're not. The notion that the target of the potential racism's race determines whether it's racism or not is asinine, at best, and deeply racist, itself, at worst.

You beat me to it.

One of my fantasy WIP settings features some instances of racism ( speciesism? ). The particular skin color or other superficial features of the target People -- or those who are racist towards them -- doesn't make it any more or less racist.

Bohandas
2017-10-01, 11:23 PM
I mean, subraces are still super racist.

Not when they;re incorrectly using "race" to mean "genus". I'm not sure how or why that happened but it's clearly how they're using it.

EDIT:
Strike that, it's explicitly how they're using it, Frostburn introduces neanderthals as a subrace of humans, meaning that subraces equate to species and thus race to genus.


I'd be careful calling it a "failing." Not only is that treading awfully close to the line in terms of attacking people's religions, but there are some solid signs that these moral rules exist for reasons that amount to the fact that following those guidelines overall leads to healthier, more successful cultures than those which do not.

Until Grim brought it up I went out of my way to avoid bringing up anything specific.

EDIT:
I changed it from "failings" to "sentiments".

EDIT:
And are you implying that the Romans were unsuccessful? For nearly 2 millenia they held the record of being the greatest and best empire the western world had ever seen (though admittedly in the eastern world mongolia was bigger and more powerful in its heyday), and weren't surpassed until the British, French and Spanish empires came along around the 1700's

Bohandas
2017-10-01, 11:48 PM
As for a cost to magic, D&D does have this in some places, it's just poorly abstracted. It's always either some item with an incongrous gold piece value that you need to cast a spell or else it's an xp cost for item creation with the bizarre overall effect that constant practice with making items makes you worse at it.

Frozen_Feet
2017-10-02, 12:40 AM
@Segev & Max_Killjoy:

Man do I have an urge to quote Zak Smith's blog post "the Nazi games" every time these kinds of tangents come up.

Lord Raziere
2017-10-02, 03:20 AM
@Segev & Max_Killjoy:

Man do I have an urge to quote Zak Smith's blog post "the Nazi games" every time these kinds of tangents come up.

Hi I believe that all forms of saying people are inherently evil based upon stupid factors like skin color or appearance in general is stupid and bad and don't care if I keep applying it to my games as well as real life. do you want to quote it at me constantly because I probably won't care and insist back that villains are better when you give them actual motivations even when they are as basic as "I'm a greedy bandit and the only way I care to get money is through force."

Cosi
2017-10-02, 08:17 AM
Eh. I disagree on several levels, but the only one I'm going to target here is the notion that "especially when the evil race had black skin" makes it extra super-duper racist. "It's more racist if it reflects this one particular race" is nonsense, logically. Things are either racist or they're not. The notion that the target of the potential racism's race determines whether it's racism or not is asinine, at best, and deeply racist, itself, at worst.

It's more racist if it reflects specific racist stereotypes. If your game just includes subraces, all you're saying is that racism is, in the abstract, correct and true (to be clear, this is still horrible). If those subraces match existing racial stereotypes, you are saying the specific racists who believe in those stereotypes are right, which is worse.

Max_Killjoy
2017-10-02, 08:20 AM
If your game just includes subraces, all you're saying is that racism is, in the abstract, correct and true (to be clear, this is still horrible).


Huh?

How does the former constitute a claim that the latter is true?