eggdropsoap + fantasy   20

Is is still possible to bring a sense of awe and wonder back to fantasy?
While I have my doubts (despite whatever my fellow players say) about any real insight on this, here's what I do when facing feeling too repetitive with genre stuff (since really, fantasy is hardly alone in this):

Fantasy isn't an original. Fantasy is a remix.

We're not trying to come up with something new, we're trying to come up with a fresh take on something that already exists. This is, after all, what so many creators were doing. Tolkien didn't just imagine Middle Earth out of the blue. He explicitly wanted to craft a version of mythology that was updated to be appeal to contemporary audiences in a way that repeating the same old stories wasn't. George Lucas once described the Jedi and the Force as religion's greatest hits.

Things have gotten repetitive as people have tried to remix the remix without really going back to the original first. That's why things start to feel stale and self-referential. How many ways can you really remix D&D remix of Toklien's remix of different European myths many remixed already by sources like Wagner, and really have something that's not?

I feel like the best fantasy is stuff that goes back to first principles. If a first principle of fantasy is retelling traditional mythology in a new contemporary way, well we don't need to worry about how to make Ents cool enough to avoid Timmy jokes. We need to say, what stories did the Ents come from, and what about those stories would translate into something fantastic now?

If, for example, we want to revisit dragons, lets look at Fafnir. I think it's fair to say that Fafnir is very responsible for the modern cultural association of dragons with greed and gold (even if it predates that, he's iconic thanks to Wagner). But Fafnir was a Dwarf cursed to become a dragon because of his greed. The Icelandic sagas tell a very messy story of essentially a tragic and fatal mistake bringing out the worst in people as good faith attempts to allow for amends are hijacked by the desire to use the event to screw others over. Wagner changes this in various ways, especially the role a magic ring plays in the tale. Tolkien goes farther by cutting out the idea that Smaug is a literal result of a dwarf's greed resulting in a transformation into a dragon, and a larger metaphor of the dangers of unchecked greed. But the iconic image of a dragon sitting on a hoard (esp. with magical items hidden in them) was further distilled. But that image has lost most of it's power because we just assume a dragon has a horde of treasure because that's what dragons do.

So instead of just tossing another gold hording dragon into the mix, we have a lot of options. We can go back to Fafnir and remix that story like Wagner did, but go in a different direction that's interesting? We can pick a different mythological dragon and think about how to distill that into a new idea of what dragons are. What if our dragons are based on Ladon? Rather than having a horde of golden treasures from greed, they're guardians of sacred objects? There's a lot of things you can do with that that are both 'wow' factor fantasy, and not something you see a lot of in mainstream fantasy.
forum-thread  fantasy  commonplace-book  roleplaying-games 
march 2018 by eggdropsoap
Worldbuilding By Map - Fantastic Maps
For worldbuilding purposes a pretty map is a Very Bad Thing. Beautiful things are precious, and we tend to want to leave precious things pristine and untouched. When we’re building worlds we need to break things, and often. So, out with any thoughts that we’re making a pretty map. We’ll be making a functional map. In fact we’ll be making many maps, one after the other. In exactly the same way that your notes are not the final manuscript, a map isn’t the final world. It’s a visual notepad, and you should be crossing things out, erasing sections and rebuilding from scratch as you go along.
howto  mapping  map  fantasy  roleplaying-games  cartography 
april 2015 by eggdropsoap
Maps in Science Fiction and Fantasy - Jonathan Crowe
This page serves as the central hub for my studies. It’s constantly updated and revised as I Learn New Things. I’ll also post updates on my personal blog; see in particular the Maps category. Here are the relevant posts so far. If you’re interested in this subject too, scroll down to the reading list.
maps  fantasy  fiction  science-fiction  reading-list 
february 2012 by eggdropsoap

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