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Default Fantasy tropes that need to go away

May 10th, 2013, 14:01
Maybe I'm just getting exponentially more curmudgeonly as I age, but I find that I'm getting increasingly annoyed and put off by some of the over-used elements of fantasy. I suppose these apply mainly to games, both traditional and computer, but there's some crossover with other media.

Now, a lot of these are fine in a parody or something that otherwise relies on common fantasy tropes (ex, a game about building a generic fantasy village might be hard to get into if dwarves live in trees and eat nectar), but when I see them used straight I start losing interest.

Hippy Elves: Somehow elves have gone from being ethereal demi-gods to ridiculous, nature-obsessed caricatures. They moan about abuse of trees, rabbits, clouds, bumble-bees, and an elf NPC in Neverwinter Nights 2, in an example so over the top that it must have been a deliberate parody, actually bemoaned the torture of rocks used to build walls in the city. And that's just the start of the problem with elves, who now seem to make up half of all race lists. I might as well just stick elves on the list, but I can do better and go with…

Ultra-distilled Races: At this point nearly all of the standard fantasy races have been distilled and re-distilled and stereotyped and distilled some more and re-stereotyped that they're almost like a child's crayon drawing of the originals (OK, "originals"). This is a problem with so much of fantasy, and I could lump classes in here too. Regardless of whether you like it or not, when Dungeons and Dragons released 4E, it was such a distilled version of itself via derivative works over the years and World of Warcraft that it's unrecognisable as the same game. At this point it's refreshing to see the races as they were 30 years ago, but I'd rather see something new than another WoWesque elf, dwarf, or gnome.

Clerics: Since I mentioned classes, I might as well throw clerics onto the fire. It might be that my love of fantasy comes from the pulp classics that inspired the original D&D, where priests were sorcerers and gods were either totally aloof or some ancient horror lurking somewhere unpleasant, but clerics are just boring. They've always felt like they were shoved in to give characters a way to recover during an adventure, and now they're seen as a necessary, if dull, part of any group. Back in my D&D days I always offered other ways of healing to keep anyone from being lumbered with the medic role, and I wish everything else did.

Druids: Oy, these guys. First of all, speaking as an archaeologist, there is very little evidence of druids existing at all, and they had nothing whatever to do with the building of Stonehenge despite what some New Age weirdos claim. In fact, I think their inclusion in games has given those nuts a form of legitimacy. In any case, they weren't the elves' hippy friends. Just call them shamans and move on. Leave the semi-mythical Frenchmen alone.

The Undead: To be fair, I think a lot of this grew from giving clerics something else to do, but the walking dead have lost all of their horror. Armies of skeletons and zombies are so common that you have to wonder if anyone's left in the ground. I don't think I even need to mention vampires. Let's leave the dead buried until we can make better use of them.

Anyone got anything to add to the list? Come on, get your grump on!
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May 10th, 2013, 14:31
Don't have much to add except that I like pretty much all of those things. I can agree that Elves need more variety - but I'm not bothered by established standards. In fact, I tend to feel most comfortable and happy knowing what do expect from races and classes.

I'm much more interested in stories and individual characters.

Oh, I'm not against mixing it up and trying new things. But too much strikes me as re-inventing the wheel - and the wheel is working perfectly. It's just something to get the cart going, nothing more.
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May 10th, 2013, 15:27
Gnomes. Pure and simple. I always thought the gnomes were little people responsible for putting Rip VanWinkle to sleep. Or making Vernors. I can't stand em so if you want to leave in games then make em something we can kill. Grrrr.

Druids: Oy, these guys. First of all, speaking as an archaeologist, there is very little evidence of druids existing at all, and they had nothing whatever to do with the building of Stonehenge despite what some New Age weirdos claim. In fact, I think their inclusion in games has given those nuts a form of legitimacy. In any case, they weren't the elves' hippy friends. Just call them shamans and move on. Leave the semi-mythical Frenchmen alone.
Ok great. After years of abuse in EQ about how my class was useless, we have to re-visit that old argument? I am all for getting rid of the Shamans instead. I have always leaned to the Druid class in games because I can usually go out and do my own thing. Thats what druids do.
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May 10th, 2013, 15:50
Chicks in platemail. Because chaffing is just evil. Seriously, I was in SCA in my youth and there's damn little that's sexy about being in armour. Especially for girls.


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May 10th, 2013, 16:11
Chosen One syndrome.
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May 10th, 2013, 19:28
In some of my short stories, I'm already working on that Undead cliché … Making it to go away …

But I have some more :

- Dwarves & Elves often don't like each other
- Dwarves are Anti-Magic (sort of)
- Elves are magically talented
- Dragons are ultra-powerful
- Magicians are usually highly intelligent
- A world is dominated by humans


Additionally, I'd add :

There don't exist like

- post-traumatic stress disorder
- Depressions
- Phobias
- people who are at the same time for example extremely shy or have an social phobia AND extremely powerful.



I once read about a novel with an protagonist who is t the same time ( ! ) having a dyslexia AND being an magic-user - and that in a world/setting where magic is usually brought into use by words … - But unfortunately I just don't seem to find this book anymore … If someone finds it on Amazon or so - PLEASE call me !!!

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May 10th, 2013, 19:43
- people who are at the same time for example extremely shy or have an social phobia AND extremely powerful.
Xardas seems to dislike being with people. He's always cooped up in his tower far away from everything else. Especially since he could basically build himself a large house without the need for 1000 steps. He seems to old to go up and down the stairs al the time
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May 10th, 2013, 19:53
Originally Posted by redman5427 View Post
Gnomes. Pure and simple. I always thought the gnomes were little people responsible for putting Rip VanWinkle to sleep. Or making Vernors. I can't stand em so if you want to leave in games then make em something we can kill
Personally, the gnomes in wow are the funniest race I've ever played. Especially when armed with large axes.

Pibbur who's favourite axe is the stratocaster.

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May 10th, 2013, 23:51
The Druids in DDO are quite a powerful and versatile class. I really enjoy playing mine.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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May 11th, 2013, 00:08
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
The Druids in DDO are quite a powerful and versatile class. I really enjoy playing mine.
It's not so much the class - a nature-based priest/caster - that bugs me, it's naming it after the enigmatic elite of Iron Age Gaul. To me it's as if someone took, say, the thief and renamed it the hoplite or something.
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May 11th, 2013, 01:07
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
I once read about a novel with an protagonist who is t the same time ( ! ) having a dyslexia AND being an magic-user - and that in a world/setting where magic is usually brought into use by words … - But unfortunately I just don't seem to find this book anymore … If someone finds it on Amazon or so - PLEASE call me !!!
Do you mean Spell Wright by Blacke Charlton? Those are kick-ass books. Can hardly wait till the third in the series comes outs. Really enjoying this series:

http://www.blakecharlton.com/ficton/spellwright/

On-Topic:
I am one the few who don't mind cliches that much. I just like an entertaining adventure and story. About the only thing that annoys me when an online game has has an elven like race and you get all these Drizzt wannabes.

Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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May 11th, 2013, 01:25
One trope does bother me, and that's good guy always win. The evil emperor with thousands of troops, and untold resources always falls to a small band of adventures.

I'm going to give you a sword and tell you go defeat a man who has more power than you ever will. Don't ask why your the chosen one and can despite being weaker. Some books have gone agaisnt this trope at least.

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May 11th, 2013, 02:49
One thing that bothers me is that there can be such a huge disparity between the ratio of "bad guys" to normal people. You have to kill 30 million bandits followed by half a million cult members before killing the epic foozle to save a nation that has all of 50 citizens. I realize this is more of a game/technology problem rather than fantasy in particular, but I notice it more in fantasy.
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May 11th, 2013, 11:37
Originally Posted by wolfgrimdark View Post
Do you mean Spell Wright by Blacke Charlton? Those are kick-ass books. Can hardly wait till the third in the series comes outs. Really enjoying this series:

http://www.blakecharlton.com/ficton/spellwright/
This looks exactly like what I was looking for ! Thank You !

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May 11th, 2013, 11:54
Precariously balanced world: As someone who likes a world to have some sort of believability, it really, really annoys me when a world has some sort of bizarre built-in self-destruct system. Oh no, someone's moved the sacred Orb of Balance from the Coffee Table of Stability and the end is nigh! Oh no, someone slew the Bunny of Worldly Peace and the Shrews of Doom are eating the fabric of reality! If you're going to go with an end of world plot, at least put some effort into it.
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May 11th, 2013, 12:13
Originally Posted by Korplem View Post
One thing that bothers me is that there can be such a huge disparity between the ratio of "bad guys" to normal people. You have to kill 30 million bandits followed by half a million cult members before killing the epic foozle to save a nation that has all of 50 citizens. I realize this is more of a game/technology problem rather than fantasy in particular, but I notice it more in fantasy.
Yet it's the exact opposite when it comes to NPCs. Most, if not all, of the NPCs in any given game will always be good or neutral. It's usually impossible to put together an all-evil party in a game unless you're choosing their alignments yourself.
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May 11th, 2013, 22:58
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Yet it's the exact opposite when it comes to NPCs. Most, if not all, of the NPCs in any given game will always be good or neutral. It's usually impossible to put together an all-evil party in a game unless you're choosing their alignments yourself.
You're right. I can't think of a single game that had more than 2 joinable evil characters. Baldur's Gate had those two that you meet early in the game, might be a few others.

As for fantasy tropes in books, Wizards First Rule is a prime example of what I hate. It is a little old now, so maybe it came out before there were, you know, writing standards and whatnot. I just read it a year or two ago and had to force myself to finish it. Absolute garbage as far as I'm concerned. Oh a nice handsome young man that finds a beautiful woman to save, finds out he is a chosen one, goes on quest to kill big bad man, yada yada yada. Bad guy's name is Panis. Yeah, Panis.
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May 11th, 2013, 23:06
Originally Posted by Korplem View Post
As for fantasy tropes in books, Wizards First Rule is a prime example of what I hate. It is a little old now, so maybe it came out before there were, you know, writing standards and whatnot. I just read it a year or two ago and had to force myself to finish it. Absolute garbage as far as I'm concerned. Oh a nice handsome young man that finds a beautiful woman to save, finds out he is a chosen one, goes on quest to kill big bad man, yada yada yada. Bad guy's name is Panis. Yeah, Panis.
It's the Sword of Truth series, and yes it's full of fantasy tropes. They even made a tv series based on the books. Try reading the other books it gets better and worse just like the Wheel of Time books.

Yet you can't really change the formula to much for books, and games just for the sake of change. It doesn't always work.

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May 12th, 2013, 04:50
Originally Posted by Couchpotato View Post
It's the Sword of Truth series, and yes it's full of fantasy tropes. They even made a tv series based on the books. Try reading the other books it gets better and worse just like the Wheel of Time books.
No thanks.

Yet you can't really change the formula to much for books, and games just for the sake of change. It doesn't always work.
Yeah, I understand that for a story there needs to be a goal and it will usually involve a small group of people moving to a different location. But I don't think a book needs a bad guy.
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May 12th, 2013, 06:08
The Sword of Truth-Series was the only Book-Series, that I Rage-quitted - and I even read most of the Drizzt-Novels back in the days

A Trope that I despise is the benevolent King. Oh, and his Pal, the evil Vizier. Also selfless Nobles.

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