Elves and Dwarves Don't Define Fantasy

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Yahtzee Croshaw:
I do think that if you set a game in a vision of space assuming that everything people popularly assumed about it circa 1800 was true, that would be a fine setting indeed for a pulpy, swashbuckling adventure. So the planets of the Solar System would all be inhabited by various colorful civilizations and they'd all be within a few hours' drive of each other. And in-space battles would be more like naval warfare as you perched along the side of your wooden space ship and fired blunderbusses at oncoming pirates.

Sounds like Disney's Treasure Planet. Which apparently got a lot of flak for being too unrealistic or some shit. (Yes, because Star Wars and the like are totally believable portrayals of outer space and the travel thereof and technologies that could really exist.) So even outside the realm of video games, getting too creative with your setting and premise apparently doesn't go over well with audiences.

Come to think of it, the only media I know of that can get away with that are kids' cartoons on TV. The setting of Adventure Time, for example, feels like a game from the '80s or early '90s, where you could slap together any random creatures and structures and people would still buy into it as long as it played well. And on a more down-to-earth level, you have Equestria from that new My Little Pony series that all the cool kids are talking about: Everything is powered by magic in some form, to the point that the ponies themselves have to use theirs to control weather and the growing cycle; you have about half the D&D Monster Manual hiding out in the forbidden woods just outside town, along with original, cleverly-named creatures like "parasprites" (exactly what it sounds like) and the "ursa major" (a giant bear made of a piece of the night sky). And that's just scraping the surface. Simple enough for kids to take in, deep and creative enough for adults to appreciate.

Would that more writers were able to cook up stuff like that, and would that we could get some of them in our video games.

Just gonna...awkwardly..place...Final Fantasy and Shin Megami Tensei...on this spot, yeah, completely unusual and non cliche fantasy games/settings right there both modern, post modern, steampunk-ish...and most of the main characters don't need the describing of everything, FFX does literally everything good with it's world

Dresden Files game would have the potential to be incredible. Free roaming Chicago with random encounter events, portals to the Nevernever, and with a detective plot if taken from Dresden's perspective? my GOD.

Nox was a pretty awesome and funny fantasy RPG that fits that "contemporary" idea like a glove. Your character is more or less a low income trailer park guy who gets sucked into his TV (I think) by an evil sorceress from the world of Nox. You then fall from the sky and into a Zeppelin (think WoW style) with a crazy captain who becomes a bit of a guide for the rest of the game.

And then for the second idea, well sadly not many games are like that, but I'd like to highlight the His Dark Materials saga, aka "The Amber Spyglass", "The Golden Compass", and "The Subtle Knife" which are basically exactly that idea. More or less a modern world but completely fantastical.

I realize there are a shit-load of elves vs dwarves w/ man in the middle type fantasy games, but it is *the* achetype. The rivalry between elves and dwarves is at the stage where it may as well be the Yankees vs Red Sox, it's engrained in the conscience of most fans of fantasy books, games, TV shows, etc.

Expecting game developers to stray away from this formula is real folly in my opinion. I enjoy games that try to do things differently to switch up playable races or introduce an altogether different dynamic, but I just can't agree with Yahtzee's topic title that Elves and Dwarves don't define fantasy, at least from the archetype perspective.

I agree with him that fantasy should encompass anything you can imagine, and even that the elf/dwarf dynamic has dulled out a lot of fantasy games, but to divorce elves/dwarves from the fantasy genre is ridiculous. If a game has elves, dwarves, magic, swords & shield, and is set in an "olden times" setting it can't really be classified as anything but fantasy.

As some posters have pointed out, there hasn't been that many attempts at a fantasy fusion with modern times. Steampunk has many of those elements, but you still don't see elves in rocket ships or dwarves on a cell phone (although Tolkien dwarves may have difficulty with their reception underground). How a company would go about making this sort of game is anyone's guess, but it has a ton of intriguing possibilities. Magic along side machine guns, cities of skyscrapers populated by elves, a nuclear threat from a dissident orcish race... the sheer notion of it makes me think if it was done well it would be a smashing success.

I think elves/dwarves define fantasy in the minds of the majority of people, and just because a large number of avid gamers/readers/viewers of fantasy are tiring with the same old dynamic doesn't make them correct in asserting that the majority are sheep to continue to believe in the value of the classic definition of fantasy.

I'm all for expanding the genre and trying new things, but elves/dwarves still retain value, it's simply a matter of making the setting, characters, and plot engaging and fresh. How companies do that, well, that's a discussion for someone with far more creativity than I.

While I quite like your ideas, and indeed like reading fantasy which doesn't fit the confines of traditional Tolkeinean. I do like a bit of elves and dwarves every so often, but I don't want it all the time. So why do I disagree with you on the general point?

Maybe because there are fantasy books that don't fit the established mold. So why haven't more people heard of them? Eeeexactly.

Whenever anyone writes a fantasy book that doesn't fit the mold, no one buys it. It's why Bruce Wayne will always be Batman, EA can release a new sports game every year and still make massive profits, and Blizzrd, as you once so eloquently put it, have recently bought their fourteenth yacht. People like what's familiar, and Tolkeinesque fantasy is nothing if not familiar.

And of course, your term is kind of incorrect as well. The real term for modern fantasy would probably be Lewisean, because he was the first author to use mythological kitchen sinks (using creatures from multiple different folklores and mythologies in one setting.) Tolkein actively discouraged his friend from using multiple different folklores.

Screw it! JRPGs are awesome and this article proves it!

Just saying, JRPGs are the best for fantasy.

I love the idea of fantasy set in a modern setting, like an alternate present if Lord of the Rings actually happened in the past and all the magical fantasy stuff stuck around. I really don't see that much in games or media or anything, and I think it's a seriously untapped well of awesomeness.

The last few Final Fantasy games seem to have that kind of setting, and I'd say they use it quite well. That series also manages to have its own set of unique races without resorting to traditional elves and dwarves.

Even if we're sticking with traditional fantasy roles, placing them within a modern context could be great! Mass-produced technology augmented with magic, modern-day civil rights movements for orcs who are unfairly discriminated against, elves with blogs, frickin' internet trolls who are actually trolls!

The reason is that Elves and Dwarves is its own genre, and Tropes Are Not Bad. I -have- played enough Dungeons and Dragons, and I'm not tired of it yet. The setting is as optimal as any I've seen.

I prefer Science Fiction as my fantasy setting. It's all speculative fiction anyway. Both labels serve as the means to drive the plot forward and nothing else.

Sorry, but Dr. West's reanimation tonic or a massive resurrection spell both serve as the means to drive the plot forward and that's it. You end up with the same core story.

Of course years of playing Mage the ascension tends to blur the distinctions between genres anyway.

One of the main reasons that I like JRPGs so much over WRPGs is that JRPGs are willing to have a different setting other than Yet-Another-Dark-Or-Middle-Ages-Euro-Centric-Tolkien-Like-World. While the game-mechanics of most JRPGs are horribly stale (they haven't changed much since 1990), there is an aesthetic quality and design to the worlds in JRPGs that, in my opinion, invoke more of a sense of fantasy, wonder, and awe than most WRPGs. In my opinion, WRPGs are just too bland and utilitarian in their aesthetic. There's no style or pizzazz to it. They have very high-resolution and precise graphics and textures, but there's no soul or emotion to it. It's just simply there, like a hurled ordinary red brick simply following the laws of physics. They're just lifeless.

This is not to say that WRPGs should start copying the style and aesthetic of JRPGs (in fact, they really shouldn't). Rather, it is to say that game developers need to evolve the aesthetic of WRPGs to be more than a high-resolution back-drop or texture map. Put some life into it. Give it some style and flair. Put some actual artistry into it, as opposed to relying on the computer to simply calculate enough polygons. Take it from being a matter of number-crunching power to being a matter of artistic design and identity.

I can actually provide some insight into this one. The reason western fantasy tends to be similar is because there is significant cultural cross-over between the people who design settings for video games and books and the people who design settings for pen-and-paper RPGs. And in a pen-and-paper game, you WANT that kind of standardization.
To begin with, it saves on design time because you don't have to work out the mechanics of a bunch of custom races. You can just say "and these guys use the stats for Elves and Dwarves" and go back to the fun parts of coming up with their culture and history.
Secondly, it means that if a player asks a question about the minutiae of your setting that you haven't prepared for, there's a source you can look too. If you need to come up with the average height and weight of a teenage male dwarf, there are guidelines for that ready to go. If you instead opted to go with, say, three-armed mushroom people, you're on your own.
Finally, there are the players to think of. Players in a pen-and-paper RPG don't have prewritten dialogue options to choose from - they have to come up with everything from scratch. The more familiar touchstones they have to work with, the better they can slip into character.
None of these things actually apply to video games or novels now, but they've carried over since that's where the design mindset comes from.

I loved Neverwhere. That was awesome.
But I don't like the "I'm a fish out of water" character in fantasy genre because it leads to the temptation of the author to spend lots of time explaining things. You never get a sense of what "normal" is for the said setting because you're always looking at it from the perspective of an outsider. I once wrote a story about a race of subterranean blind people from the perspective of one of those people (never used a single visual description once) because I felt I could go deeper into the culture of said race than I could with someone who stood on the outside looking in. It also gave a greater sense of what their world was like.
But then, my biggest and longest running fantasy setting features orcs and elves and dwarves - mostly due to the fact that I played D&D in it - but I've spent most of the twelve years I've worked on it finding ways for it to have all the standard fantasy elements, but have them be different enough to be fresh. For example, instead of being song-singing, tree-huggers who mystic and wise and all about how sad it is that the world is moving on without them, elves are extremely individualistic anarchists who have no social or legal institutions and are all totally different from one another. They're also all of them (for lack of a better term) bisexual and don't have strict rules of marriage (or, in fact, any concept of marriage at all). As a whole, I don't think it's so much a matter of what you use, as what you do with it. And really, I differ considerably from Tolkien because I write stories that are on a small scale and focused heavily on the interactions and relationships between characters. I've never once written an epic quest style fantasy about a rag-tag band of heroes on a journey to defeat a dark lord because, in all honesty, that particular story has kind of been done to death.
But then, so has just about every story you can imagine, if you look at things from the perspective of the entire history of literature. Genuinely NEW stories are extremely rare. Almost non-existant. I don't think we can claim to have seen one in over 1000 years at least.

So yeah, Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne, Persona, Digital Devil Saga,Devil Summoner....
All of those fit the modern fantasy setting, DDS is futuristic in some sense.
And they are definetly not cliched when it comes to 'Only Elves and Dwarves'...Nope, Almost every single deity,fairy,demon,etc you care to name has PROBABLY been in a SMT game.
So there you have it.

I came here to say this. China Mieville. That't the guy everyone should be reading if you agree with Yahtzee on this. Perdido Street Station does that exact same thing with fantasy, it takes all the magical and mystical elements, build a huge universe with many races and all sort of wacky science and magic, hints at past events that shaped the current shape of the world and delivers an epic tale... not a single elf is sight.

If Yahtzee reads this comments then I would like to recommend to him and everyone else here to give this author a try.

I have to agree, what's especially vexing about it is that while it exists in fantasy literature, there is at least a fair ammount of books that deviate. In RPGs however it's pretty much all Tolkein all the time (well more Greenwood than Tolkein but that doesn't make it any better). I'd love to see some RPGs that are more inline with Gormenghast, Perdido Street Station, The Book of The New Sun, Elric, City of Lost Children, The Dark Tower or The Sandman. And that's just a few examples of the top of my head, there's thousands of books overflowing with fresh ideas an RPG developer could harvest for their setting. Or they could do something shocking and come up with an idea of their own.

RJ Dalton:
Genuinely NEW stories are extremely rare. Almost non-existant. I don't think we can claim to have seen one in over 1000 years at least.

You need to read more books.

About time I heard someone other than myself say "Elves and Dwarves don't define fantasy". Lord of the Rings get away with it because it was the first proper fantasy setting to introduce these races (yes, I know, they're based on folk lore!). I do get sick of seeing new Fantasy settings that go with these tried and tested races, but they are getting boring as all hell.

I do give Dragon Age some props for changing up the roles these races play (Elves aren't the greatest race in the universe and Dwarves have a class system) plus the fact they added a few new races (Qunari comes to mind) but they are still ELVES AND DWARVES.

Give me a fantasy setting where these don't exist... in fact, no, scratch that, I'll write my own.

I'm gonna chime in with the chorus of people saying a lot of J-RPGS are very good at not falling in to the same molds. Even when they do use things like dwarves or elves, they're sufficiently different from what we're used to.

Don't get me wrong, I've got a lot of issues with J-rpgs. Especially modern J-rpgs (honestly cannot remember the last one I finished, much less put more than ten hours into). But in terms of at least attempting to give us original and imaginative worlds? They beat the hell out of a LOT of W-rpgs.

Axolotl:
I have to agree, what's especially vexing about it is that while it exists in fantasy literature, there is at least a fair ammount of books that deviate. In RPGs however it's pretty much all Tolkein all the time (well more Greenwood than Tolkein but that doesn't make it any better). I'd love to see some RPGs that are more inline with Gormenghast, Perdido Street Station, The Book of The New Sun, Elric, City of Lost Children, The Dark Tower or The Sandman. And that's just a few examples of the top of my head, there's thousands of books overflowing with fresh ideas an RPG developer could harvest for their setting. Or they could do something shocking and come up with an idea of their own.

RJ Dalton:
Genuinely NEW stories are extremely rare. Almost non-existant. I don't think we can claim to have seen one in over 1000 years at least.

You need to read more books.

First of all, reading is what I spend the majority of my time doing. I have a degree in literature studies and it is a life-long hobby. When you break it down, all stories that you see today are variations of a few basic stories that have been around for centuries. Even the so-called "literary" fiction is just the same basic stories and themes repeated with endless variation. Actually, a thousand years *might* be a bit much, because some of Science Fiction by the classic authors could be considered new stories for their age. They were experimenting with new scientific concepts and their possible effects on human society. You could make an argument that that was a new kind of story, but even then, we still haven't seen a NEW story in at least sixty years.

On the whole, I would appreciate more original settings in RPGs though. I think we rely too much on the Greenwood style because it's public domain and therefore free. No effort needed to come up with new stuff. The thing that fantasy is best at is exploring different cultures, so it's such a waste that we keep coming back to the same cultures that have been explored since Tolkien more or less created them.

So by using Control-F I can tell no one has mentioned
-JAMESTOWN-
shame on you all.

"The game takes place on Mars in an alternate history steampunk 17th century, where the planet is a British colony contested by the Spanish and the indigenous Martians." - WikiP

True, it's not a 'free roaming' 'sand-boxy' type of game but also deserves a mention for one simple thing I've yet to come across in any other game. (and is probably more relevant to somebody else's rant in a post I can't remember/find)

HOLDING a button to skip dialogue/whatever instead of leaving you open to accidentally skipping past 'important' stuff with repeated button presses.

mmmmm.
nuff said.

When I was young, I read the Xanth series of novels by the author Piers Anthony. Horrible (in a funny way) puns aside (the name of one of the books was "Centaur Isle" for example), the books seemed to me to open up a world of fantasy that I haven't seen before or since, while retaining some of the familiar aspects of the genre, as an anchor.

The entertainment industry, in general, has a horrible lack of imagination, lately. Gaming might have it worse, because it deals with hardware first, story second. Actually, that's the problem with movies, too. It's all about the visuals, which is why we are seeing every single comic book, toy and TV show of the 70s and 80s being made into movies. See, if you don't actually have to worry about a story, you can spend all your money on cool visual effects.

Never played the videogame Space 1889, but the PnP version was good pulpy fun-- think flying ironclads over the canals of Mars dueling it out with winged martians, or flying zeppelins over the rain soaked and dinosaur infested jungles of Venus. It was true Steampunk, years before it got popular-- not the hipster goggles and corset style thing, so much as a "What if Jules Verne and all the rest of those guys had got it right?"

There's been a radio show and a book series recently, but it still is crying out for some enterprising game company to turn into a modern cRPG.

RJ Dalton:

Axolotl:
I have to agree, what's especially vexing about it is that while it exists in fantasy literature, there is at least a fair ammount of books that deviate. In RPGs however it's pretty much all Tolkein all the time (well more Greenwood than Tolkein but that doesn't make it any better). I'd love to see some RPGs that are more inline with Gormenghast, Perdido Street Station, The Book of The New Sun, Elric, City of Lost Children, The Dark Tower or The Sandman. And that's just a few examples of the top of my head, there's thousands of books overflowing with fresh ideas an RPG developer could harvest for their setting. Or they could do something shocking and come up with an idea of their own.

RJ Dalton:
Genuinely NEW stories are extremely rare. Almost non-existant. I don't think we can claim to have seen one in over 1000 years at least.

You need to read more books.

First of all, reading is what I spend the majority of my time doing. I have a degree in literature studies and it is a life-long hobby. When you break it down, all stories that you see today are variations of a few basic stories that have been around for centuries. Even the so-called "literary" fiction is just the same basic stories and themes repeated with endless variation. Actually, a thousand years *might* be a bit much, because some of Science Fiction by the classic authors could be considered new stories for their age. They were experimenting with new scientific concepts and their possible effects on human society. You could make an argument that that was a new kind of story, but even then, we still haven't seen a NEW story in at least sixty years.

But that's only if you break the storiesdown, and if you do that then then you aren't talking about the stories themselves anymore. As an exmaple The Satanic Verses (which I use as an exmple just because it's the last book I read) is about the experiences of an Indian immigrant in Britain (and some stuff about Islam and God that offended some people) now while I'm sure sure there are some old tales with a similar plot structure, they aren't the same story because the immigrant stuff is what the story is about and there's no way anyone could write about that pre-20th century. Sci-Fi writers also provide a good example, much of their stories rely on new or hypothetical technology, those can't be done until the idea for that tech exists and as long as new scientfic ideas are made (and there's a hypothetically infinite number of scientific ideas) then they can write new stories.

On the whole, I would appreciate more original settings in RPGs though. I think we rely too much on the Greenwood style because it's public domain and therefore free. No effort needed to come up with new stuff. The thing that fantasy is best at is exploring different cultures, so it's such a waste that we keep coming back to the same cultures that have been explored since Tolkien more or less created them.

What irritating is that they are putting effort in, just not in being original, I mean Dragon Age; Origins was hyped as having seven novels worth of text in it. Which shows they're putting effort in, just a pity it's seven novels they've already made into RPGs. As I said earlier I wouldn't mind so much if it's weren't that you can find fresh ideas for RPGs without having to leave the fantasy section of the bookstore.

hermes200:
I know I am in a minority here, but that was the reason why I liked the Tidus character in Final Fantasy X (design aspects aside). He was a strange that got send to a weird world and need to have a lot explained to him.

Pretty much this, I liked FFX, my only gripe was that, even though Tidus needing things explained to him made sense...I still felt like he wasn't the brightest candle in the church x.x Theres a difference between lack of knowledge, and lack of understanding/basic thinking.

KDR_11k:
JRPGs tend to have completely different fantasy

Sylocat:
You know, we like to rag on the Final Fantasy games around here, but for all their convoluted clichés and art design, the primary entries have been pretty damn good at getting away from the LotR-ripoff settings.

Andronicus:

Yahtzee:
a modern world where magic and monsters have always existed and are just kind of there. I can't think of many video games that do that, except maybe Shadowrun on the Genesis.

Umm, aren't you basically describing Final Fantasy VII, and several others in the same series?

HA HA HA YAHTZEE, YOU ARE HOIST BY YOUR OWN PETARD. HOIST-HOISTED? YEAH WHATEVER.

But the reason mainstream games don't break out of the mold is the same reason mainstream shooty games choose a setting and hump it tirelessly for years. Fantasy is much worse because you're already going to give players a huge infodump anyway, so it's better to start with something recognizable.

I agree that there should be more modern fantasy games, because I love it and there aren't any.

What are the steampunk games out there? Bioshock is 'dieselpunk', Vessel just came out, and the only steampunk game I know other than those is Damnation, which I know only because of the Unskippable episode. In fact, I find it curious that no major player has jumped in on the whole steampunk aethetic and humped it dry yet.

JRPGs just don't count if you are talking about creativity.

I'm sorry, but they don't.

When your world includes ancient technology, modern technology, magic, gods, demons and christ knows what else all rolled in together, its not creativity, its kitchen sink writing. Will it blend you ask ? No, not really. But no-one cares because its a JRPG and as such the explanations for how basically everything works (and particularly how and from where these suspiciously young characters managed to get a flying aircraft carrier/zepplin) are lost.

Why ? Because they are plot focused games and you just shrug your shoulders at the ugly mix of unrelated things working together and just follow the characters.

The problem with the western approach is of course that fantasy is a setting that seems to poop money, and as such as long as you have elves and dwarfs you will definitely get your game green lit and bought by many many people.

This discussion reminds me of a video game idea I had a few years ago. Too bad I'm an electrical engineer by trade!

Unfortunately, it does not solve Yahtzee's "Elves and Dwarves" or "hidden world" problems, but it does put what I thought to be a unique spin on it. My idea was that in the past some cosmic event happened that changed early mankind and animal life into the mythical creatures of fantasy and horror (elves, dwarves, werewolves, vampires, trolls, orcs, magically-inclined humans, etc.). These elements went into hiding. Fast forward to a few years into the future (2020 or somewhere about there), and the United States is in crisis after a major fracturing of the two-party system allows a fringe group called the Ultraconservatives to come to power. Christianity becomes law and political and religious dissidents are send to walled off slums in major U.S. cities. Then things get worse, when the cosmic event happens yet again, turning some plain old humans into mythical creatures and exposing the secret world. Now the Ultraconservatives are rounding up the "Devil Spawn" as well. The game would play as a modern military first person shooter, with you as an alchemist in a rebel army. You have your gun (no surprise there) and a selection of hybrid magic/technology tools to provide all sorts of different effects, like modifying your gun's bullets as they leave the barrel, or controlling certain materials on the battlefield (making a nearby Morning Glory climbing plant suddenly grow and ensnare an Ultraconserv soldier, etc.). There was also an idea for having the magical creatures escape and start terraforming Mars for their own civilization, but that would probably have to wait for a sequel. At this point it seems like I already have too large an info dump for a single game. That's probably why I'm an engineer and not a game designer.

All of that and most likely nobody is going to read it.

EDIT: forgot the most important part about the idea. There would be an effort made to make the races distinct from what we have been conditioned to believe. Standard fantasy elves are fair-skinned, tall, beautiful, with a wisdom beyond their years and a kinship to nature. The elves of the game, however, would indeed be tall and fair, but in varying levels of attractiveness like humans. Kinship to nature? Only insofar as to not deforest their home. Wise? Not really. Their only benefit in the wisdom department is that they live longer (200 years). When young, they can be just as brash and impulsive as normal old humans.

I still say we should have an RPG based on Celtic lore in something like a modern or futuristic setting. Pure Celtic lore is relatively unexplored compared to some of the other sources out there or maybe some more Arabic influences?

I usually like most of Yatzee's stuff, but let's stay away from the "everyday schlub" gets transported to a magical world or Frodo in New York stuff. They did a ton of that stuff in the 80's and a whole lot of it sucked. Hercules in New York, Beast Master II and A Kid in King Arthur's Court Are just a couple that come to mind.

Also, having the workings of a magical world explained to an ignorant character can be fun. The follow-up explanation of modern everyday things such as texting, shopping malls and toilet paper can, however, be truly horrifying.

That blunderbuss space-naval shooting game kind of reminded me of a few scenes from Rogue Galaxy for the PS2. I think that was a good example of going unique with fantasy/sci-fi.

Anyways, I totally agree with the point Yahtzee is trying to make here. I think more fantasy games without stereotypical fantasy creatures and characters would do us all some good. I think that they are used mainly because they are so widely accepted, like he said. People are familiar with them; they don't need explaining, because anyone who has ever had anything to do with fantasy has surely seen them at one point or another. So in one way, it's a lazy way out of having to provide something new, while it still seems solid, regardless of what twists you put on their characters.

I like elves just as much as the next person, and I love reading "classic" fantasy of the sort, but it certainly gets old. However, it also doesn't seem like it's as widespread anymore as it was a few years/decades ago.

I know it's not exactly in line with the fantasy theme but I'd like to put in a good word for realistic historical settings. Playing through Skyrim, I started to get really irritated by the not-Romans and the not-Vikings and all those not-Roman gods. The myths and history of the world are incredibly rich and endlessly fascinating. People think they know them and that it's all old hat but actually most people know very little about them.

It can still be fantasy. If you're going to use an established mythology but a combination of Mickey Mouse copyright laws and Tolkein's descendants' unwillingness to get a job leaves you unable to further J.R.R.'s dream of spawning a new mythology, why not take directly from the Greeks or the Romans or the Scandinavians or the Japanese, Russians, Aboriginal Australians or Americans, any of various African tribes, China, India... Just hit wikipedia and find something cool. There's absolutely no excuse for elves.

I don't read or play too much straight up Elves and Dwarves stuff, so I guess it never really wears on me. The same way I only occasionally play shooters, so I have trouble getting bored with them.

CAPTCHA: High Horse.

Here's where I think the problem with the fantasy genre lie: Coming up with something completely original - as in not ripping off of someone else's work - while not making it sound or appear ridiculous or just plain bizarre. Coming up with something entirely off the fly and actually making it work. It's kind of like with music nowadays. Most of it just sounds alike (to me anyway) because almost all of the styles, combinations, etcetera, etcetera have all been done. Trying to find something different that also works? It's the literal needle in a haystack.

Yahtzee mentions the Dresden Files.

+10 nerd points, and an additional +5 for showing a rudimentary understanding of it.

Now the real question is have you read them...

You know, I'm likely the minority that places Bioware's primary failing in making entertaining games as their want to try and explain everything in garrulous detail. The more you try, the more pretentious (and wrong) you'll appear.

Also mentioning the classic Shadowrun games just makes me want to cry. Mostly because I consider the series dead due to that first-person reboot (which is gaining increasingly popularity as the way to kill an esteemed franchise.)

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