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Breaking Tolkien
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Which Fantasy Race Trope Can You Live Without?
Dwarves
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Elves
3%
 3%  [ 1 ]
Gnomes/Halflings/Small Folk
12%
 12%  [ 4 ]
Half-Breeds
12%
 12%  [ 4 ]
Humans
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Goblins/Orcs/Green Skins
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Cat/Bear/Dog/Animal People
30%
 30%  [ 10 ]
I can't! I need my standard fantasy damn you!
9%
 9%  [ 3 ]
Get rid of all of them!
33%
 33%  [ 11 ]
Total Votes : 33

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Savage Cheerleader
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:50 am    Post subject: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

With Numenera out and my going back to re-read Eberron, I began to toy with the the concept of a non-traditional (read non Tolkien) game setting. I am curious as to the thoughts and opinions on the subject from a group I can respect. It is my finding that,despite statements made by most gamers/groups of, "I don't want to play lord of the rings" they almost always end up playing lord of the rings. And I mean that in the most generic, standard fantasy way: pathfinder, d&d worlds, Midgard setting, dragon age; it's all just medieval European fantasy. And basically middle earth at heart.

So, are we just prone to take the easy road or is Tolkien so ingrained in our gamer brains we can't rebel/switch it up a bit?
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amerigoV
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:08 am    Post subject: Re: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

KosherInfidel wrote:
...pathfinder, d&d worlds, Midgard setting, dragon age; it's all just medieval European fantasy. And basically middle earth at heart.

So, are we just prone to take the easy road or is Tolkien so ingrained in our gamer brains we can't rebel/switch it up a bit?


I would separate those statements - odds are high that fantasy will have some medieval European aspects just due to the demographics of the players.

Now for what flavor of fantasy, the game system in my opinion can easily create a skew. Its my believe that D&D/Pathfinder/Clones are not just rule systems but are also a genre toolkit. When someone says "lets may D&D" - immediately elves, dwarves, orcs and Dragons all pop into ones mind. Its very hard to say "lets play D&D, but humans are the only race, low magic, no clerical healing, and if I let you play a wizard you will be hated, feared, and maybe even mechanically gimped." You've not just thrown out most of the cool player option books, you have also thrown out most of the core book. Its hard to get players to agree to that.

Now, what I described was Conan/Hyboria or Beast & Barbarians - so presentation is the other. Savage Worlds does that setting fantastically. Since many of us come from a D&D heritage, saying Fantasy immediately put us back in the dwarves/elves/orcs mindset. So if one wants to stray, one needs to really think about descriptions that will resonate. Its like coming up with a movie pitch.

The key is not to present other settings as Fantasy minus Elves. But Humans plus Magic.
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Ryche
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:29 am    Post subject: Re: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

amerigoV wrote:
Its very hard to say "lets play D&D, but humans are the only race, low magic, no clerical healing, and if I let you play a wizard you will be hated, feared, and maybe even mechanically gimped." You've not just thrown out most of the cool player option books, you have also thrown out most of the core book. Its hard to get players to agree to that.

Unless it was Lankhmar, for 2nd Ed. Twisted Evil But a bit off topic.

There are different genres of fantasy, so it's like amerigoV said, it all depends on what you pitch and present. If you want to go the non-Tolkienish route, then look at a Swords and Sorcery game, such as Conan, Lakhmar, Beasts and Barbarians. A lot of these setting do away with the elves, dwarves, and other races but still let you fight fantastical creatures and deal with raving sorcerers.

The other step is maybe look at something even more different, such as Weird Wars Rome. You definitely lose the Tolkien aspect, but now get to delve more into strange events and mythology.

In the end it comes down to the group of gamers and what is easier for them to wrap their minds around. I have found that new players that don't have a notion of gaming will find the Tolkienish game easier to play since they often have at least read LoTR (or saw the movies) so they can relate. Also, that style of the genre is proliferated with material so its easy to fall back on.

With the right GM and players willing to explore other settings or styles ( have found this often harder than it sounds). Once you break away from the initial Tolkien style of game, you will find players pleasantly surprised and more willing to branch out into other types of games.
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ValhallaGH
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Warhammer Fantasy is another non-Tolkien fantasy setting (despite having elves, dwarves, magic, and a concentrated evil in the far-away wastes). The elves aren't objectively superior to humans, the dwarves are not particularly short, magic is plentiful, and the only race regularly shorter than humans is the skaven.
And while there are parallels between Chaos and Mordor, the underlying themes are still different. Tolkien was all about the heroic triumph of champions over the chaotic hordes of evil. Warhammer is about surviving till tomorrow's sunrise, with no real hope of doing any better.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

R˙che wrote:
amerigoV wrote:
Its very hard to say "lets play D&D, but humans are the only race, low magic, no clerical healing, and if I let you play a wizard you will be hated, feared, and maybe even mechanically gimped." You've not just thrown out most of the cool player option books, you have also thrown out most of the core book. Its hard to get players to agree to that.

Unless it was Lankhmar, for 2nd Ed. Twisted Evil But a bit off topic.



I have the original AD&D sourcebook (not at home so I am unsure if its 1e or 2e) and it was top of mind when I wrote my post. The one I have actually is in line with what I said - spellcasters are severely gimped to the point that you would never run one RAW as presented in that book, other than as a tag-along NPC. I love the setting would love to run it Savage Style.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

KosherInfidel wrote:
So, are we just prone to take the easy road or is Tolkien so ingrained in our gamer brains we can't rebel/switch it up a bit?


It's easy to fall back on, but for me, the more technology in the setting, the more "out of place" elves, dwarves, etc. seem, while constructed/animal men/aliens are more palatable.

That could be why I like Eberron too, since it straddles both worlds quite well, and incorporates races of each kind (fantasy/medieval world and tech world)

I think elf and dwarf are probably the most "loaded" terms since the names have been used as shorthand for a number of characteristics of a race in all kinds of media for quite some time.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

amerigoV wrote:


I have the original AD&D sourcebook (not at home so I am unsure if its 1e or 2e) and it was top of mind when I wrote my post. The one I have actually is in line with what I said - spellcasters are severely gimped to the point that you would never run one RAW as presented in that book, other than as a tag-along NPC. I love the setting would love to run it Savage Style.


Mine is 1e, after some digging. So I do not know if they backed off the harsh spell-casting rules for 2e.

But also, it appears one Shane Lacy Hensley did some work on Lankmar back in the day. Its weird, Amazon UK listing has him as a designer but not the US sight.

http://www.waynesbooks.com/lankhmar.html

I did not see this in his credits on the PEG site.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

amerigoV wrote:
I have the original AD&D sourcebook (not at home so I am unsure if its 1e or 2e) and it was top of mind when I wrote my post. The one I have actually is in line with what I said - spellcasters are severely gimped to the point that you would never run one RAW as presented in that book, other than as a tag-along NPC.

True, often they only showed up as NPCs.
amerigoV wrote:
I love the setting would love to run it Savage Style.
Take a look at Beast and Barbarians -- Jalizar City of Thieves, comes pretty close for a starting point or ideas on how to handle the urban style campaign.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

R˙che wrote:
amerigoV wrote:
I love the setting would love to run it Savage Style.
Take a look at Beast and Barbarians -- Jalizar City of Thieves, comes pretty close for a starting point or ideas on how to handle the urban style campaign.


I've been meaning to pick that one up. I played in a it for a one-shot. Of course, WHEN will I get to run it is the big question (looks at all the other stuff that I want to run and sighs Wink )
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

amerigoV wrote:
R˙che wrote:
amerigoV wrote:
I love the setting would love to run it Savage Style.
Take a look at Beast and Barbarians -- Jalizar City of Thieves, comes pretty close for a starting point or ideas on how to handle the urban style campaign.


I've been meaning to pick that one up. I played in a it for a one-shot. Of course, WHEN will I get to run it is the big question (looks at all the other stuff that I want to run and sighs Wink )


I can't second B&B enough! It is fantastic for capturing Sword & Sorcery as opposed to High Fantasy.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Breaking Tolkien Reply with quote

Lord Inar wrote:
amerigoV wrote:
R˙che wrote:
amerigoV wrote:
I love the setting would love to run it Savage Style.
Take a look at Beast and Barbarians -- Jalizar City of Thieves, comes pretty close for a starting point or ideas on how to handle the urban style campaign.


I've been meaning to pick that one up. I played in a it for a one-shot. Of course, WHEN will I get to run it is the big question (looks at all the other stuff that I want to run and sighs Wink )


I can't second B&B enough! It is fantastic for capturing Sword & Sorcery as opposed to High Fantasy.


I have the main book, just not Jalizar - I and fully concur!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitely appreciate iate the feedback! One issue, I think it is an issue, is that humans, dwarves, and elves look like us and are therefore much more compatible psychologically with gamers. If you take neoexodus, they have a sentient plant species that looks, well, like a monster, ie, not human.

Maybe, the farther away you get from the standard, it becomes more SciFi and less palatable in a fantasy setting?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KosherInfidel wrote:
Maybe, the farther away you get from the standard, it becomes more SciFi and less palatable in a fantasy setting?

Lizard and cat people fill fantasy settings, without being science fiction, and without breaking palates.

Human-like races are easier to understand because they'll have at least a few psychological similarities to humans. That makes it possible to RP them with a semblance of authenticity. The less human the race is, the harder it is to adopt their completely alien mindset.
That is the big reason to keep your races human-like. So that your human gamers can approximate the races' psychology and behaviors.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At first I thought this was going to be about a Lord of the Rings/ Breaking Bad mashup Mr. Green

These are all relative, of course. D&D is both very similar and very different from Lord of the Rings at the same time. Of course, D&D borrowed heavily from Tolkien in its background setting, but a lot of people not familiar with LOTR might be surprised to find that using D&D to run a game in Middle-Earth really doesn't work well.

"Fantasy" is a very broad genre. There is some element of fantasy in nearly every genre of RPG. When we talk about a fantasy RPG, we're mostly talking about elves, dwarves, and wizards of some kind.

I, for one, like the entire spectrum. I became a bit of a Tolkien fanatic after reading LOTR. This was after years of playing D&D. I have always admitted I wasn't sure I wanted to roleplay in Middle-Earth because the world wasn't custom-built for your typical gamer like Forgotten Realms was. People's ideas of how RPGs should work seems to have changed in the last several years, and now we have a LOTR RPG (The One Ring) that attempts to simulate the setting as it is that I am interested in trying out. At the same time, I love having my assumptions messed with.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elves. I can't stand regular fantasy elves. They should be totally alien to humans, then I can accept them.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

when my store flooded my box of tolkien books in the back room were wrecked including the first books i ever bought for m self
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For alternates, there's Tekumel of course http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%A9kumel

Talislanta. Heck, "No elves" is there motto
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talislanta
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So far, dumping all of the known races is a fan fave. Interesting. I wonder if that is the Savage Worlds talking? Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right now I'd have to say dump all of them, but it's mainly because I've recently discovered the old pulps and find it quite interesting that there were decades of non-tolkien fantasy that I was missing... So I'm leaning more toward the Conan style.

That being said, I think that a problem with most Tolkien based campaigns is the uniformity of roles. Elves are always haughty nature lovers and objects of allure, dwarves are always gruff hairy guys who make weapons, halflings are short and basically designed to be thieves.

That's the reason why I love Eberron though. The elves are all either death-cultists or psychopaths, the halflings are barbarians and ride dinosaurs, the dwarves shave regularly and hold ruthless control over the economy; even the gnomes have gone from living in burrows to embodying the height of technomagical progress.

All the traditional roles have been subverted, and that's part of the big charm of that world. I'm considering running a Savaged version one of these days...
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KosherInfidel wrote:
So far, dumping all of the known races is a fan fave. Interesting. I wonder if that is the Savage Worlds talking? Wink


Well. I only picked that because there wasn't an option for "dump all of 'em except humans". Smile
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