Do you understand what "vanilla fantasy" means anymore?

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Here's an experiment: what are the first 3 words and/or images that come to mind when I say "Fantasy"?

I'm going for images, rather than words.

One is an excessively "well-proportioned" man or woman wearing little or no clothing doing battle with some kind of monster and/or a gang of hapless mooks. To imagine the kind of person I see as the centrepiece of this image, look at a Boris Vallejo painting...

The second is of a tall, relatively slender figure, wearing overly elaborate, probably magical armour standing illuminated by the light of the giant glowing crystal behind them, possibly also with glowing eyes or glowing runes etched on their armour.

The final image is of a forest where everything kind of... runs together. I find this one very hard to describe, but it's unlike any forest I've seen in the real world, either firsthand or otherwise. Lots of moss and creepers and... yeah just... "magic forest" sums it up, I suppose.

There are lots of other things that come to mind, too, but those are, I think, the strongest three mental images.

Matt Larkin (author):
  And if there's anything I learned from this thread is that you can not put flavors on settings. Unless it is gumdrop land.


The problem here is that "vanilla" is being so fluidly defined. A better question, certainly a more meaningful one to campaign builders, would be, what tropes bore you in a setting.

Scholaras to books, I've bought them because they were hyped (eragon, locke lamora), because they're part of a series (gaunt's ghosts) or because i liked the premise (dark tower). i've been seldom disappointed.

Mmmm, I've had a lot of the opposite result.  The rules I gave you were born out of a long and annoying process.  My tastes just aren't like so many other people.

Plus I have this thing about popular media: the way people describe it when the like can make my skin crawl.
SteerpikeI certainly agree with Ishmayl that Greyhawk and Eberron aren't considered dystopian by most standards and definitions of the worlds, and I definitely disagree with you that those worlds are "about to fall apart."  There are tensions and problems, but those worlds are relatively stable, not nearly as saturated with evil/destruction/dystopian elements as most classic dystopias.  People in those worlds are not as a rule miserable or depraved or horrendously opressed, for the most part.  Will you at least concede that even if you consider these worlds dystopian in some sense that dystopias lie on a spectrum, and that they're on the "lighter" end of that?

There not dystopian.  I was just being stubborn.  Don't waste time hating me for it, I already hate myself.

I do view them as 'falling apart', though: every tension and/or problem and/or problem that could happen in the future (e.g. a secret group that may try to take over) seems to me like a point at which the world is starting to break.  Enough of these and they add up to 'falling apart'.
SteerpikeSometimes you puzzle me, Silvercat.  I get that you're uncomfortable with depictions of evil and ickiness and dark stuff in games and fiction: it's not your cup of tea.  Cool, fine, I respect that.  But what settings do you like?  For example, I would have pegged you as someone who could appreciate Eberron, because of the pulp elements, but you count it as a dystopia, a type of world that to my understanding you find pretty repulsive, not merely as a world itself (dystopias are meant to be repulsive) but in the sense that you wouldn't want to play a game in a dystopian world or read about a dystopia.  Using such a broad definition of dystopia - a world with lots of problems in it - what worlds are there out there that you enjoy?  I don't mean what type of worlds are out there that you enjoy, I mean what actual settings (like Faerun, Eberron, etc?), either in gaming or in fiction?.

It's got a lot to do with this feeling I have whenever I'm presented with (most) conflict (and/or darkness, in case they aren't always the same thing): I keep thinking someone is trying to show me something but they're being subtle about it.  I don't do well with subtle, in fact I stink at it.  So giving me conflict is giving me a puzzle which I feel like I'm expected to figure out but which I can't, and I get confused and frustrated.  And then multiply that by the large number of conflicts in most settings and it just seems to me like a morass.
(If you want to discuss it, though, I have several objections to Eberron that don't have to do with how light or dark its tone is.)

So what do I like in a setting?  Non-complexity.  I don't want to have to read in to anything.  And I need problems presented to me one at a time and having reasonably easy solutions.

As to exactly which settings I've found that I like'¦'¦'¦'¦it's getting late, so I'll have to tell you later.

Bill Volk:
Here's an experiment: what are the first 3 words and/or images that come to mind when I say "Fantasy"?

A motley band of swordsmen of all different humanoid species kick in the door of a room, kill everyone inside and take their stuff.

An omnipotent dreamer messes around with a world just for the fun of it.

Everything is so glowy and covered in sparkles that you can't see what the hell is going on.

Elemental_ElfHere's an experiment: what are the first 3 words and/or images that come to mind when I say "Fantasy"?

Great, majestic beasts.

Mages throwing around glowing shapes.

Sweeping vistas of huge cliffs, probably on a coast, possibly featuring a multi-leveled city of brick and stone with an impressive castle at the back.


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