[MUD-Dev] RE: [MUD-Dev] Re: [MUD-Dev] RE: [MUD-Dev] Fant asy clichés (was: Acting casual about casualgamers)

Raph Koster rkoster at austin.rr.com
Sun Jul 9 17:36:19 New Zealand Standard Time 2000


> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> Dave Rickey
> Sent: Sunday, July 09, 2000 11:30 AM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: [MUD-Dev] RE: [MUD-Dev] Fantasy clichés (was:
> Acting casual about casualgamers)
>
>     On the other hand, perhaps AD&D ties into the subconscious
> archetypes on
> a symbolic level, and departures from that simply don't fit as well?  What
> I'm saying is that if AD&D had been significantly different,
> something else
> would have hit on the same archetypal mapping and we'd be protesting the
> arbitrariness of *that*, instead?

Hurm, I tend to doubt it overall, though there are. The AD&D mythological
underpinnings are largely from Tolkien, and Tolkien's are largely from
Nordic mythology. To be specific, the elves are clearly Alfar, rather than
being the much more archetypical elfin mythology from the basic
Indo-European current that led across Europe and eventually reached fullest
fruition in Celtic myth. Enough so that many of the typical archetypes
instantly familiar to us today (puckish tricksters, brownies that help
around the house, eat not of fairie food, the lost isles, etc) are greatly
minimized or forgotten in the AD&D universe. The archetypes still
resonate--they're just not in the game. In the case of drow, it's nothing
more than a clear misuse of the term--"drow" is equivalent to "troll" in
Nordic myth. The closest parallel to the AD&D image of drow is actually
Celtic, the Unseelie Sidhe...

In the case of dragons, the AD&D dragons are clearly derived from Nordic
myth, whence comes the whole love of gold thing--symbolically, dragons in
Nordic myth (going back to Beowulf and also the Volsunga Saga aka the
Nibenlungenlied) are greedy people--in the latter, it's literal, a king who
because of his love of gold became a dragon. The "dragon" in traditional
Celtic/British myth is actually more like a giant worm or snake--not that
big either, since they tended to live in wells. There's a fair amount of
evidence for the winged nature of them being crosspollination from Eastern
mythology, since even in the Nordic myths the damn things don't really fly,
they're underground dwellers.

>     Maybe the current taxonomy of fantasy critters was inevitable?  You
can
> differ in detail, but if you substitute an entirely new structure, it
feels
> arbitrary, unfamiliar, and somehow forced?  The AD&D fantasy mileau isn't
> arbitrary at all, but rather simply a reflection of unconscious
> expectations?

If this were the case, I'd expect to see Faerie in there, and it's damn near
missing from AD&D. It's only the most central element of Western mythology
after all.

-Raph




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