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    Default Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    Quote Originally Posted by 8BitNinja View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    Quote Originally Posted by Drakevarg View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    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

    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drakevarg View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    Quote Originally Posted by 8BitNinja View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by 8BitNinja View Post
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Drakevarg View Post
    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.
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    Descriptive: You ate that baby, so you're Evil.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    .

    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'

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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:
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Chosen Ones:
    If your protagonist is yet another person who has been chosen by the gods or destiny....
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAL_1138 View Post
    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

    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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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?
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guizonde View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    A wizard did it



    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scripten View Post
    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
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    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.
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    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".
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kivzirrum View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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".
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    #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?
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.
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