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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

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

    Quote Originally Posted by bulbaquil View Post
    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. why call for magic or dm fiat when gravity and spring tension work just fine?
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

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

    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.

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

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

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

    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.

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

    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.

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

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

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

    Quote Originally Posted by JBPuffin View Post
    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, 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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rooster707 View Post
    This. Tropes are tools, 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.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

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

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

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Potato_Priest View Post
    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.
    Re: 100 Things to Beware of that Every DM Should Know

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    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scripten View Post
    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.
    Re: 100 Things to Beware of that Every DM Should Know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.
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    "The DM is the world, the gods, the trees and the bees. But no matter what covenant is struck or words exchanged, the DM is not the PCs."

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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?

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

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

    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.
    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.
    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.

    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.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Velaryon View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Velaryon View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Velaryon View Post
    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.


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

    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.
    It always amazes me how often people on forums would rather accuse you of misreading their posts with malice than re-explain their ideas with clarity.

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    Default Re: Fantasy Tropes/Cliches that Annoy You

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

    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.
    Last edited by Kitten Champion; 2017-09-25 at 03:51 AM.

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