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    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    See also: Elves, dwarves. I'll happily make an exception for other works which pull from the same mythology Tolkien pulled from, but usually people just go straight to Tolkien.
    Elves and dwarves are fine. They were generic fantasy prior to Tolkien.

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

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Elves and dwarves are fine. They were generic fantasy prior to Tolkien.
    They weren't nearly as standardized though, and it's the cookie cutter Tolkien elf/dwarf that I'm objecting to.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Quote Originally Posted by S@tanicoaldo View Post
    The fact that in most fantasy settings magic is consequence free.
    On that note: Magic Can Do Anything and Magic Is Always Better Than Non-Magic, aka the roots of D&D3's Caster Supremacy.
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
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    That said, trolling is entirely counterproductive (yes, even when it's hilarious).

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    Farmboy Saves The World: Enough with using farm work as shorthand for humility already.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    On that note: Magic Can Do Anything and Magic Is Always Better Than Non-Magic, aka the roots of D&D3's Caster Supremacy.
    I feel that. i like magic, love that it can do so much, but there really are no drawbacks to it. I want to play a game where it costs something to use magic besides "you need to sleep to do that again". There's gotta be some balance of magic power and consequence that keeps things fun - maybe the most difficult magics you know have consequences to using them, maybe casting over a certain number over a certain level (if we think in DnD terms) will cause exhaustion, just something to make magic feel less like a tap and more like a well.
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    The one that bothers me in film and literature is the divide between magic and science and the related Flat-Earth Atheist.

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

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hypersmith View Post
    I feel that. i like magic, love that it can do so much, but there really are no drawbacks to it. I want to play a game where it costs something to use magic besides "you need to sleep to do that again". There's gotta be some balance of magic power and consequence that keeps things fun - maybe the most difficult magics you know have consequences to using them, maybe casting over a certain number over a certain level (if we think in DnD terms) will cause exhaustion, just something to make magic feel less like a tap and more like a well.
    I've always felt that overrelaince on positive energy healing magic seems like exactly the sort of thing that should give you cancer. You're channeling the power of life and growth into somebody, how are they not covered in big tumors?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    The one that bothers me in film and literature is the divide between magic and science and the related Flat-Earth Atheist.
    Oh yeah, this. And related "magic interferes with technology". So it makes shoes come untied? Knives go dull? Wheels stop turning? Saddles fall off? Crop rotation doesn't work? Certainly at least something like a crossbow would fail, no? Oh, you actually meant "electronic stuff"? Then say that - but it's still an overused trope even if you get the description right.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2017-09-26 at 02:51 PM.

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    Flat-Earth Atheist works just fine if the author remembers that the association of atheism with science/scientism is itself a modern trope. Especially in a non-modern setting, there is no real reason why atheists would be particularly more rational or non-superstitious than other folks. Heck, it used to be once that the stereotype of an atheist/irreligious person was an illiterate simpleton who detests higher learning, because at that time the clerical class and the Church were the primary institutions for scholarship!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitten Champion View Post
    A common trait for many a fantasy setting's deeper history is there's some sort of Golden Age of which the present world is but a pale shadow of and now it can only be remembered wistfully with hushed reverence, there are probably ruins involved and maybe a toppled giant statue or two. The magic was better then, the architecture more grand, the swords sharper, the people more perfect, the farts less smelly, etc, etc.
    Well, living in a modern era Western world, his might seem kinda of unrealistic. But for most of history and most of the world this is the case. There are just brief pop-ups of the next world-spanning era that becomes the next golden age. And even then, the current golden age often looks back at the previous one. For example in Pax Renassaince, Pax Romana was still idolized.

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

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIronGolem View Post
    Backstory Planck Time Is One Thousand Years: This mostly comes from 90's CRPG's. The AncientsTM built a glorious civilization was peaceful and prosperous for a thousand years. Then it was destroyed by the Big Magic War that lasted a thousand years. Then the Big Bad who started that war was sealed away by Plot Magic but prophesied to return in a thousand years. Guess how long ago that was?
    Is 'Backstory Planck Time' yours? Because it's awesome.
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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 Tanarii View Post
    Well, living in a modern era Western world, his might seem kinda of unrealistic. But for most of history and most of the world this is the case. There are just brief pop-ups of the next world-spanning era that becomes the next golden age. And even then, the current golden age often looks back at the previous one. For example in Pax Renassaince, Pax Romana was still idolized.

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

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Hypersmith View Post
    I feel that. i like magic, love that it can do so much, but there really are no drawbacks to it. I want to play a game where it costs something to use magic besides "you need to sleep to do that again". There's gotta be some balance of magic power and consequence that keeps things fun - maybe the most difficult magics you know have consequences to using them, maybe casting over a certain number over a certain level (if we think in DnD terms) will cause exhaustion, just something to make magic feel less like a tap and more like a well.
    Yeah, it opens the possibility of so many plot holes. Like why are there people hungry if magic can create food? why waste time becoming a warrior if you can learn magic and literally bend time and space?

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

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

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

    I like a sense that a setting is changing, in flux even. Change doesn't have to be universally good or bad, examining the repercussions is the intriguing thing about Speculative Fiction and that's no less true for a world with castles, wizards, and elves. The idea that everything was once awesome but now we're swirling the metaphorical drain because of some transgressive spiritual event is just dull.
    I think that is because most fantasy settings are medieval and medieval times comes after the fall of the Roman Empire... And the romans basically did everything better for a long while.
    Last edited by S@tanicoaldo; 2017-09-26 at 07:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vitruviansquid View Post
    Can I add this is quadruply annoying when the number is 4 and the important things are linked to air, earth, water, and fire?
    You forgot one

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

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

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

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by S@tanicoaldo View Post
    I think that is because most fantasy settings are medieval and medieval times comes after the fall of the Roman Empire... And the romans basically did everything better for a long while.
    Which also turns out to be something that's not as true as was once believed.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    That was just supposed to be a reference to those two series, not actually about bending. Maybe I should have reference the series directly. Probably. But still the first series is definitely built around an elemental themed fetch quest, although A) they start with one and B) it is practice and not an object that is being "fetched".
    Okay, I'll bite, but it's been awhile since I saw the show.

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

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

    2. Since each type of bending is also a kind of posture your personality must adopt, the journey to learn every type of bending for Aang is synonymous with his character development.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Beer View Post
    Is 'Backstory Planck Time' yours? Because it's awesome.
    It is, and thank you. I'd make it a TVTropes page, if I could recall any specific titles from the mishmash of games that inspired the phrase.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    All that is true. Which is actually my point: It did a good job of turning an elemental fetch quest into something good. Even the tired old ideas work well if you use them properly. And they did use that idea well, it was an grand journey, even if it was to fill the shopping list.
    What do you mean that's your point? I thought you were asking a question, not making a point.

    Just because I don't like the cliche doesn't mean I don't like every instance of this thing happening ever. The reason we hate cliches is because they are a braindead shortcut that people use to fill in the void in the absence of good ideas.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Well, living in a modern era Western world, his might seem kinda of unrealistic. But for most of history and most of the world this is the case. There are just brief pop-ups of the next world-spanning era that becomes the next golden age. And even then, the current golden age often looks back at the previous one. For example in Pax Renassaince, Pax Romana was still idolized.

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

    What's 'unrealistic' is a view that history only moves forward, with improvements in lifestyle. Or that Golden Ages don't end, usually after a few hundred years, followed by something less than Golden.
    A lot of the time, the dark ages make the golden ages seem greater than they were in relation to the "present day." The term Cyclopean, when applied to architecture, comes from the idea that the old Mycenean tombs and monuments were so great in scope that only the cyclopes could have made them, yet that term is attributed to the classical Greeks, who were already building things just as fancy! They were so colored by the dark age following the Bronze Age Collapse that they retained the memory of how great the Mycenean period was even after they had surpassed it.
    Similarly, the Romans were revered by all of Europe, even after their achievements were greater, because they remembered how much it sucked that everyone stopped building roads and aqueducts and everyone had to move into fortified areas or risk being killed by the Marauding Horde of the Week.
    It would be interesting to incorporate this idea into a setting—the idea that the ancient magical precursor civilization was great and splendid largely in comparison to the dark period that came after it, and the modern period, even with all its flaws, has largely outgrown that earlier peak.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    It would be interesting to incorporate this idea into a setting—the idea that the ancient magical precursor civilization was great and splendid largely in comparison to the dark period that came after it, and the modern period, even with all its flaws, has largely outgrown that earlier peak.
    Oh I like that. Because yeah, that's definitely a real thing.

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

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

    Quote Originally Posted by lightningcat View Post
    My biggest gripe is the Good/Evil are absolutes trope. There is a world of grey and color and very little actual black and white when it comes to people's morality.
    And the whole "if you stop being absolutely good, then you become totally evil" has been done so many times and usually badly.
    I don't know where that trope exists except for Bad DMs who misinterpret the rules. In 3.5e D&D, for example, Good and Evil exist as objective and cosmic absolutes, yes. That has NO BEARING on people's morality. A person's morality may be just as varied and complex as the real world, but regardless of their perceptions or motivations, there is a faceless, emotionless, cosmic scale by which their actions are judged.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by 90sMusic View Post
    As for the folks talking about the whole black = evil thing, that is just based on the most primitive and instinctual human psychology. From the earliest man Light was seen as a good thing where you could see what you were doing, felt safe in being able to see your surroundings or where to run if danger was after you. Darkness was the first great enemy because you couldn't see what was coming for you, you couldn't see where to run away. Man fears what he doesn't know, what he can't see. So White and Light have always been associated with good while Black and Dark have always been associated with bad/evil.

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

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

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Of course there are even elements of this in Lord of the Rings: if elves are so great, why are they going extinct? (Actually, I think it is symbolism, but I can't help but wonder.)
    I thought it was something more like white flight than that they were going extinct. They all left to live somewhere racially homogeneous

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    I thought it was something more like white flight than that they were going extinct. They all left to live somewhere racially homogeneous
    Uh... no.

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    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    A lot of the time, the dark ages make the golden ages seem greater than they were in relation to the "present day." The term Cyclopean, when applied to architecture, comes from the idea that the old Mycenean tombs and monuments were so great in scope that only the cyclopes could have made them, yet that term is attributed to the classical Greeks, who were already building things just as fancy!
    Compare the modern phenomenon of people who believe that the pyramids could only have been built by super-advanced space aliens. I still can't figure out what those people are on about.

  27. - Top - End - #147
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    I know it wasn't because Aman was segregated (though Aman was segregated. Humans were explicitly banned from going there. This comes up multiple times in the silmarillion.), that was a joke. The poibt was that thet were reduced in numbers in middle earth largely because they were all leaving.

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

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

    EDIT:
    And the thing about the backlash from the destruction of the ring doesn't really apply to he larger question because as the article notes most of them had already left by that time
    Sorry... I've just seen some really dumb ideas out there about Tolkien.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

  29. - Top - End - #149
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIronGolem View Post
    Backstory Planck Time Is One Thousand Years: This mostly comes from 90's CRPG's. The AncientsTM built a glorious civilization was peaceful and prosperous for a thousand years. Then it was destroyed by the Big Magic War that lasted a thousand years. Then the Big Bad who started that war was sealed away by Plot Magic but prophesied to return in a thousand years. Guess how long ago that was?
    What if it was all the SAME 1000 years?

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

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

  30. - Top - End - #150
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    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    What if it was all the SAME 1000 years?
    And here I thought you meant like literally the same 1000 years. A "groundhog day"-style millennium long time loop. Ooooo...

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

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