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Tropes And Conventions From Other Genres?

 
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:14 pm    Post subject: Tropes And Conventions From Other Genres? Reply with quote

The debate on "acceptable anomalies" at Canonfire had a contribution by Tarelton that clearly explained for me why I'm so against the idea of things like robots, spaceships and laser guns in my version of Greyhawk. Tarelton mentioned that they can change the story the DM (or author, in my case) wants to tell.

I can't help but think that too many of those hard, tangible sci-fi elements would lead to industrialization and end Oerth's medieval stasis, and in turn I can't help but think that would lead to the decline of sorcery and sorcery-heavy races like elves and fairy-folk. I really don't want that-while I'm fine with a lot of fantasy cliches, the idea of dwarves and elves declining and dying out isn't one of them.

And yet I don't have an issue with other tropes and conventions that could be associate with sci-fi, such as genetic engineering of the sort that created the derro, or unknowable alien creatures like the Elder Elemental God.

That made me wonder-what kinds of storytelling tropes and conventions from other genres fit into your versions of Greyhawk? The Lovecraftian cosmic horror creatures such as illithids and aboleths are probably the most iconic example. For me, the intrigues and manipulation in A Game Of Crowns are heavily influenced by what I read in Dumas's The Count Of Monte Cristo.
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tarelton
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CSL,

First, thank you for the compliment... every now and then a stopped clock like myself is right.

The progressive concept of history is relatively new, and historically localized to western Europe since the Renaissance. This is the concept we now live under, and it is based on the idea that people and societies will continue to improve. This is not to say everything is perfect, but the last 500 years have seen a remarkable increase in human material wealth and flourishing, first localized to western Europe, than the Atlantic World, and finally globally. Deirdre McCloskey calls this period the Great Enrichment, while Steven Pinker considers (most of) it the Enlightenment.

Before this period, history was seen as cyclical... states and civilizations rose and fell, and the best people could do was to bring their society and themselves into harmony with circumstances. This is still a prevalent view in Asia and Africa, and may yet be right.

I think that the most important tropes are those that are timeless, and emphasize a cyclical nature to history, such as the world suggested by Robert Howard for Conan... while major events occur, they do not fundamentally alter people's relations with each other, their environment, and political power. Another approach to this is Tom Bombadil's character in Lord of the Rings. When the protagonists tell him about their quest, he basically says "rulers come and go" hinting that the current quest, no matter how Tolkien builds it up, is not the first or last such.

A corollary to this is the idea that the past was once much more advanced in some ways, usually magically. Howard's lost empires and cities hint at this, though tinged with corruption. Similarly, Tolkien's Elves and Numenoreans have lost much knowledge by the time of the main story in Lord of the Rings.

On Oerth, this role is played by the Suel Empire or the early Aerdi which have now fallen into decline and decadence. The Ur-Flan and unnamed civilizations also back this concept of a cyclical or timeless approach to history... what the characters do today will matter very much today, but in a thousand years the world will be similar, even if the lines on the map are changed and renamed. I.e. changes like popular participation in politics, widespread literacy, and the scientific method will not occur.

IMHO, AD&D as envisioned by EGG, peace be upon his name, and its derivates are about heroic fantasy. If I want to engage in social engineering and technological progress, I'll play Civilization, current version by Sid Meier, praise be heaped on his name.
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jamesdglick
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:52 am    Post subject: Re: Tropes And Conventions From Other Genres? Reply with quote

CruelSummerLord wrote:
...I can't help but think that too many of those hard, tangible sci-fi elements would lead to industrialization and end Oerth's medieval stasis, and in turn I can't help but think that would lead to the decline of sorcery and sorcery-heavy races like elves and fairy-folk...


-I've seen people say that (it's on of JRR Tolkien's assumptions, IIRC), but I don't see why why 18th Century tech' would have to kill off the elves, or even magic. Magic would still be handy to have around. Imagine what EMTs, combat medics, or an ER could do with something as minor as "Cure Minor Wounds".

Anyway, even if you assumed that the Flanaess' tech' development was as fast as ours (I don't), you'd have to be playing a really long campaign to see the results, in game. Just the idea of it, I suppose?
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I leave out everything and play pure fantasy, as that is why I got into D&D to begin with. I enjoy genre-specific settings for the most part. Genre-mixing is all too often poorly done, and so presents as overly contrived/"fake" to me. There is so little non-fantasy stuff stuffed into Greyhawk that it is easy just to leave it out. For instance, I like the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (an about perfect classic sci-fi adventure), but would run it as a Gamma World or Star Frontiers adventure rather than plop it into a medieval fantasy setting. I leave out all Lovecraftian references. There is no Necronomicon in my Greyhawk, and aboleths, ilithids, and other critters that have been later tied to things in a manner befitting the Lovecraftian ethos are simply what they originally were - weird D&D creatures. I discuss combined genre's often enough, but I just don't combine them in my personal Greyhawk campaign.
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion wrote:
I leave out everything and play pure fantasy, as that is why I got into D&D to begin with. I enjoy genre-specific settings for the most part. Genre-mixing is all too often poorly done, and so presents as overly contrived/"fake" to me. There is so little non-fantasy stuff stuffed into Greyhawk that it is easy just to leave it out. For instance, I like the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (an about perfect classic sci-fi adventure), but would run it as a Gamma World or Star Frontiers adventure rather than plop it into a medieval fantasy setting. I leave out all Lovecraftian references. There is no Necronomicon in my Greyhawk, and aboleths, ilithids, and other critters that have been later tied to things in a manner befitting the Lovecraftian ethos are simply what they originally were - weird D&D creatures. I discuss combined genre's often enough, but I just don't combine them in my personal Greyhawk campaign.


The thing for me is that I don't the physical trappings of genre-mixing such as the spaceships and texts borrowed from other franchises, but I am intrigued by the more "intangible" tropes. The kinds of plots that you might find in a political thriller or a swashbuckling pirate story could easily be brought into a medieval fantasy campaign (and Greyhawk is particularly well equipped for both these types of stories). One of my favorite parts of the GDQ modules is also how well Gary Gygax invoked the disturbing, otherworldly feeling of the Elder Elemental God, the drow and the kuo-toa, such that I felt chills even just reading the module text.

In a way, isn't D&D kind of built on that? While the spawn of Cthulhu and the deep ones are otherworldly horrors that mortal humans can barely understand, much less stand against, skilled enough humans can both fight and win against illithids and kuo-toa.

jamesdglick wrote:

-I've seen people say that (it's on of JRR Tolkien's assumptions, IIRC), but I don't see why why 18th Century tech' would have to kill off the elves, or even magic. Magic wouldcould do with something as minor as "Cure Minor Wounds".
still be handy to have around. Imagine what EMTs, combat medics, or an ER
Anyway, even if you assumed that the Flanaess' tech' development was as fast as ours (I don't), you'd have to be playing a really long campaign to see the results, in game. Just the idea of it, I suppose?


I like to keep things comparatively low-magic, and technology would in the long run probably be more efficient for a lot of things. If somebody started inventing those sorts of things, it could drastically change the way society works (although social disruptions ranging from constant humanoid raids and magical cataclysms and the deaths of would-be scientists and inventors that would come with them, and the consumption of many fossil fuel resources by non-human races could stunt if not outright stop such development).

And yea, it's just the idea. If the elves are going to inevitably go extinct at some point, then it becomes harder for me to get invested in their culture, history or well-being, since they're screwed no matter what happens.
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love the ancient evils trope, and I use it mostly in the form of the EEG and Tharizdun, though rarely, otherwise their mystique takes a hit. A large part of maintaining that mystique is that almost nobody, anywhere, knows anything about them in my campaign. Also, I do not consider the EEG to be an alien creature. It is not the Elder Elemental Super Aboleth with AC; -20, HP 2000, #Att: 8, DMG: 6d6+12 plus super slime), SA: bad stuff, but the Elder Elemental God with AC: N/A, HP: N/A, #Att: 10D100 (such a lazy god), DMG: roll a D6 - 1. Nothing (Hah! Made you $#!% yourself! That funny EGG!) 2. Blindness 3. Madness 4. Life Drain 5. Annihilation 6. Healed! Just kidding! Suffer effects 2-5, in order, over the next four rounds (What? You thought the EGG was beneficent in some manner? Foolish mortal!), SA: encyclopedic/you don't want to know. Evil Grin Wink

Too much has been written about the great evils related to Greyhawk, and so they have lost their luster to a great degree. Even Vecna has been turned into a relatively contemporary evil by being made...a handful of centuries old. He was an ancient evil, once, but no longer. Now you can only find his action figure, along with hand/eyeball keychains and other kitschy merchandise, at the local 99 Cents Store. Sometimes. So sad. Razz

A few tropes I will be using in the near future:

"The heroes are betrayed, captured and made to fight for amusement. They must escape and turn the table on those who betrayed them."

"The heroes must free enslaved innocents and bring justice to the slavers."

"The heroes must find Exotic Locale X and acquire Artifact Y to defeat Nemesis Z."

Oh Ull (or Iuz, or the Bandit Kingdoms, or Rauxes, or...ad infinitum), how you are the perfect setting for this. Laughing

Anything one can think of will be a trope, or combination of tropes. All we can endeavor to do is to implement them in an interesting way.
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I once ran The Lost City adapted to WoG with the pyramid being placed under the Black Ice, heated by ancient steam tunnels and with automated food vats featuring as strategic resources.
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jamesdglick
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CruelSummerLord wrote:
...The thing for me is that I don't the physical trappings of genre-mixing such as the spaceships and texts borrowed from other franchises, but I am intrigued by the more "intangible" tropes. The kinds of plots that you might find in a political thriller or a swashbuckling pirate story could easily be brought into a medieval fantasy campaign (and Greyhawk is particularly well equipped for both these types of stories)...


-Almost any story, from any setting (including history) can be adapted to fantasy. Same thing goes for NPCs.

Cebrion wrote:
...A few tropes I will be using in the near future:

"The heroes are betrayed, captured and made to fight for amusement. They must escape and turn the table on those who betrayed them."

"The heroes must free enslaved innocents and bring justice to the slavers."

"The heroes must find Exotic Locale X and acquire Artifact Y to defeat Nemesis Z."...


https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BetrayalTropes

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RevengeTropes

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Heroes
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Amesang
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:03 am    Post subject: Re: Tropes And Conventions From Other Genres? Reply with quote

jamesdglick wrote:
-I've seen people say that (it's on of JRR Tolkien's assumptions, IIRC), but I don't see why why 18th Century tech' would have to kill off the elves, or even magic. Magic would still be handy to have around. Imagine what EMTs, combat medics, or an ER could do with something as minor as "Cure Minor Wounds".

On the other hand, I'd imagine the existence of magic would hold back the advancement of technology — perhaps explaining why GREYHAWK and the FORGOTTEN REALMS remain "late-Medieval/early-Renaissance" for so long. After all, who needs electric lighting when you've got continual flame/everburning torches?

Quote:
Anyway, even if you assumed that the Flanaess' tech' development was as fast as ours (I don't), you'd have to be playing a really long campaign to see the results, in game. Just the idea of it, I suppose?

…but there's always GREYHAWK 2000. Razz
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:33 am    Post subject: Re: Tropes And Conventions From Other Genres? Reply with quote

Amesang wrote:
jamesdglick wrote:
-I've seen people say that (it's on of JRR Tolkien's assumptions, IIRC), but I don't see why why 18th Century tech' would have to kill off the elves, or even magic. Magic would still be handy to have around. Imagine what EMTs, combat medics, or an ER could do with something as minor as "Cure Minor Wounds".

On the other hand, I'd imagine the existence of magic would hold back the advancement of technology — perhaps explaining why GREYHAWK and the FORGOTTEN REALMS remain "late-Medieval/early-Renaissance" for so long. After all, who needs electric lighting when you've got continual flame/everburning torches?

Quote:
Anyway, even if you assumed that the Flanaess' tech' development was as fast as ours (I don't), you'd have to be playing a really long campaign to see the results, in game. Just the idea of it, I suppose?

…but there's always GREYHAWK 2000. Razz


FR has 'Medieval Stasis' , sure.

But does Greyhawk?

As I recall, the published history really isn't that long. Not compared with Realms.

My impression is that the Suloise Imperium and Bakluni Hegemony reached a technological level comparable to or somewhat in advance of the contemporary civilized Flanaess. Then they blew each other up. A dark age followed, and then a climb back to civilization and technological progress.
To be sure, magical advancements (new spells, items) seem to outshine technological ones and the rates of development appear slow, but I don't see stasis.
And From the Ashes describes heavy-crossbows and fully-rigged sailing ships as recent developments, yes? Or was that 'The Adventure Begins'?
Full and field plate might be new.


Dungeon-building tech seems to have remained advanced all along, at least in some regions, but I assume it wouldn't be lost given all the mining and subterranean races.

I do agree about rates of technological development being slower than Europe in the Medieval Period (which was a really major period of growth and change, despite all the silly 'Dung Ages' propaganda churned out since the Enlightenment. Medieval people invented stirrups, horse collars, iron moldboard plows, water and wind power well in advance of anything the Ancients made, universities, flying buttresses, etc. etc. They also developed the necessary antecedents of the Scientific Method)
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