[MUD-Dev] Acting casual about casual gamers

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Sat Jul 8 14:25:02 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

On Saturday, July 08, 2000, Michael Tresca wrote:
> Greg Miller wrote:

>> But does it really make sense for a level 1 dragon to terrorize a
>> village? Seems like thematic level independence is a reasonable
>> objective, but you have to be careful not to go too far :)

> Fear the D&Dization of the fantasy genre!

> Don't get me wrong, I cut my gaming teeth on Dungeons and Dragons, and many
> MUDs owe a lot to the original game.  But it is by no means the absolute
> standard.

> Maybe I have a world populated by dragons who are only one-foot tall (like
> the mini-dragons in Dragonrider's of Pern).  Maybe this world calls
> dragonflies dragons.  Maybe dragons are the psychological manifestation of
> the cumulative fears of the peasant populace.

> Dragons do not have to be different colors.  They don't have to have four
> limbs, snakey necks, and wings.  And they do not have to be "super
> powerful."  Dragon myths and legends give them so much more than the color
> and damage type of their breath weapon.

> There's nothing wrong with having new players fight (and defeat) a dragon
> when they first start out.  The fallacious assumption that a dragon is the
> pinnacle of monster perfection leads to more D&Dism and reinforces a
> paradigm that restricts creativity.

I'll agree that the "D&Dization" of fantasy is a bad thing, but there
are limits to how much you can go the other way.  First off, in a
forum like this, where we're not dealing with a single world, it makes
sense to assume that people are speaking in terms of "standard" (i.e.,
D&D-like, these days) fantasy unless they specifically say otherwise.
Thus, when someone says "newbies shouldn't be able to defeat dragons",
it's reasonable to take that as meaning "newbies shouldn't be able to
defeat dragons in a 'standard' fantasy world", rather than as "newbies
shouldn't be able to defeat dragons, no matter what your dragons are

Second, there's a limit to how much you can change something from its
fantasy/mythological "archetypes" and still use that name.  If your
elves are like Elfquest elves instead of Tolkein elves, that's fine.
If your elves are three-inch tall people with insect wings, that's
fine.  If your elves don't have pointed ears, that's fine -- many
mythological elves don't, and Tolkein's elves in the books don't seem
to.  However, if your elves are four-legged creatures that eat rock
and live in caves, I'd have to wonder why you chose to use the word
"elves" for them at all.

> My experiences at Elfwood (http://www.elfwood.com) show just how much the
> fantasy genre has been diluted by Dungeons and Dragons.  Someone drew an elf
> with long (as in, one-foot long) ears.  The artist was flamed into next week
> because "that's not how elves look."

I definitely would have flamed the flamer, were I there.  As a
long-time resident of alt.vampyres, I've seen plenty of people come
through there who insisted that vampires have to fit a certain
standard -- that only Anne Rice's vampires are "right", or that
vampires have to burn up in sunlight, or have to drink blood, or
whatever.  There are many, many different vampire myths, and very
little that they agree on; to say that any one of them is "right"
makes no sense to me.

However, going back to what I said above, there are points at which
you have to wonder why someone is using the term "vampire" at all.  I
recall someone proposing a "vampire" type that didn't have to drink
blood, steal breath, drain energy or do any other type of "feeding" off
of other life forms and lacked any traditional vampire weaknesses.
The only things that distinguished this person's "vampires" from
humans were that they tended to be pale and that they had psychic
abilities.  There seems to be no reason to call such a creature a
"vampire" except that their creator wanted to -- they could equally
well be called "elves" or "mages" or any of several other names.

> How does anyone know what elves look like?  Of course, the inspiration for
> this art came from Deedlit in Record of the Lodoss Wars.  But Dungeons and
> Dragons (and Tolkien) has become our staple of fantasy.  It's so ingrained,
> some people don't realize where they got their preconceived notions about a
> particular beast or fantasy race.

Well, some of us still do.  Personally, I've decried the D&D-ization
of fantasy as well, especially in fantasy novels.  I'm tired of seeing
new fantasy novels where you can easily label the characters as
"magic-user", "fighter", "thief", "cleric".

       |\      _,,,---,,_    Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)      

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