D&D 5E D&D and who it's aimed at

During every age, the wheel is on its way up for some civilizations, and on its way down (or already all the way down) for others. Many of Conan's adventures are set amongst the ruins of the latter.
Even if that was correct, it doesn't make it dystopian. In a dystopia things are BAD, and can only get worse. It not a mixture of bad and good.
 

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In a dystopia things are BAD, and can only get worse. It not a mixture of bad and good.
This would disqualify The Hunger Games, classic dystopian novel series, from being dystopian. And also arguably The Handmaid's Tale as the framing story makes it clear things did eventually get better, so I'm not sure it's quite right. Also 1984 which IIRC has a similar framing story saying "Yo well that all ended in tears!" (unless I'm confusing it with Brave New World).

Nonetheless I wouldn't call Conan "dystopian", because dystopia tends to be about a particular civilization, and Conan is sort of outside that and traveling among various civilizations, some of which are in worse states than others.
 
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Even if that was correct, it doesn't make it dystopian. In a dystopia things are BAD, and can only get worse. It not a mixture of bad and good.
That's a really interesting take. Mockingjay, for example*, ends with a revolution that overthrows the old, corrupt order. Things have gotten better. Katniss battles and battles and ultimately makes the world a better place. For me, this is a dramatically different vibe than REH, where both Kull and Conan become kings and also don't change anything. In REH, that cyclical rise and fall are baked into human history.

* I'm assuming we'd all agree that The Hunger Games series counts as dystopian fiction.

EDIT: Ninja! :D
 

Nonetheless I wouldn't call Conan "dystopian", because dystopia tends to be about a particular civilization, and Conan is sort of outside that and traveling among various civilizations, some of which are in worse states than others.
That's a good take. The oppressive, tyrannical order in dystopian fiction tends to be monolithic, and the Hyborian Age ain't that.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Yeah part of the issue is simply that S&S as a genre has basically been erased by "epic fantasy" in the modern fantasy-reader's consciousness. If you're not publishing a trilogy or even better a series of dead-minimum 300, preferably 500-page plus novels, do you even write fantasy, bro? Certainly the average fantasy fan today will say "No". The idea of reading short stories (THE HORROR) is particularly repugnant, when they're used to immense rolling novels. I mean, I can't entirely blame them - a lot of fantasy works really well in that format, but it also means that older S&S doesn't stand a chance. Even amazing writers like Le Guin, who did write multi-book series are gradually getting forgotten because there aren't literally thousands of pages of blather about Sparrowhawk, only a few hundred, and it's insufficiently power-fantasy-ish. And it's becoming increasingly clear that quantity might be more important than quality though I will not name names re: the authors making this evident!

Is it too hard to make a movie out of a novelette or short story?

Anyway, it's amazing how slim some of the appendix N books, books I read in K-12, and classic detective stories are! (Or if they're thick, they're a collection or omnibus). Do you think those authors would have written that way if they didn't have to appeal to the magazines and/or papers that published or serialized them?

I have yet to find a fantasy short story anthology I didn't like -- I just need to start picking up more of them, and not just the ones that had a story by a favorite author in them.
 

Is it too hard to make a movie out of a novelette or short story?
I think it's actually easier to make a movie out of a novelette or short story than 99% of fantasy novel series, which is why relatively few fantasy novel series have been made into movies (LotR being the main one, let's not talk about The Hobbit).

But the issue is that now, it's all about "the IP", not just an individual movie or TV series.

And whilst with lengthy fantasy novel series, you probably want to go with a TV series not a movie, that is more useful than S&S, generally. The closest we have to S&S on TV now is The Witcher (despite repeated threats of a Conan TV series), which is essentially S&S-adjacent at least, but had so much written that they were able to use it like a more conventional fantasy novel series. Marvel's continuing success with the MCU is only making this "IP-first" concept seem more appealing to the decision-makers behind movies and TV.

I'll be pretty surprised if it doesn't end up making Brandon Sanderson a lot of money at some point. His books are absolute bait for this and interconnected via the Cosmere stuff. The only things holding him back are that, by his own admission, he is not good at writing romances (and indeed his earlier books are actively staid-seeming, and not in a good way!), which weakens some of his stories, and that most of his novels would need a fairly big FX budget (but every year that is less of an issue).
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
That's a good take. The oppressive, tyrannical order in dystopian fiction tends to be monolithic, and the Hyborian Age ain't that.

I don't know if that holds at all. YA dystopia tends to have monoliths, but they often have simplified settings to support the other YA tropes. But outside the YA space, things are different. A lot of cyberpunk dystopia doesn't have single monoliths, but instead has collections of extra-national corporate powers vying for control. A lot of post-apocalypse work can also be viewed as dystopian, and in such stories technology usually doesn't support large-scale monoliths any more.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
You don't need a setting to do Sword and Sorcery. According to wikipedia
I never said you did.
My point is the people upset won't get what they want because it's handled by base D&D and old books.


Yeah part of the issue is simply that S&S as a genre has basically been erased by "epic fantasy" in the modern fantasy-reader's consciousness
It's more that Dark Fantast and Intrigue ate S&D's lunch and popularity.
 

A lot of post-apocalypse work can also be viewed as dystopian, and in such stories technology usually doesn't support large-scale monoliths any more.
That's true, but I think most of the post-apocalyptic novels I'd think of as also dystopian are, in fact, about a specific civilization/society, like the Wool series.

I don't think monolithic is necessarily right, but if it's not monolithic, to be dystopian generally means it's specifically about one -topia - i.e. civilization (I'm aware it originally meant "city").

Re: cyberpunk I think the issue is complicated by the fact that there tends to be one inescapable "world-culture" which the corporations essentially control.
It's more that Dark Fantast and Intrigue ate S&D's lunch and popularity.
I don't think so, because S&S starts being overrun long before those two things become particularly popular (indeed dark fantasy still isn't very popular, rather fantasy as a whole got a bit darker like pouring more coffee in milky coffee, and intrigue-based fantasy didn't get big until after ASoIaF), and the sort of reader who loves intrigue is not the same as the sort of reader who loves S&S tropes, I'd suggest. Indeed they may be opposites. S&S has more in common with shonen manga/anime than it does with, say, A Song of Ice and Fire (despite superficial use of S&S tropes in Essos).
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I don't think so, because S&S starts being overrun long before those two things become particularly popular (indeed dark fantasy still isn't very popular, and intrigue-based fantasy didn't get big until after ASoIaF), and the sort of reader who loves intrigue is not the same as the sort of reader who loves S&S tropes, I'd suggest. Indeed they may be opposites. S&S has more in common with shonen manga/anime than it does with, say, A Song of Ice and Fire (despite superficial use of S&S tropes in Essos).

What I mean is that what S&S does well, Dark and Intrigue also does and adds more without the issues.

If some wants to be grey and personal, they want something extra. Vampire lovers, cursed friends, political enojes, and shady allies.
 

I don't know if that holds at all. YA dystopia tends to have monoliths, but they often have simplified settings to support the other YA tropes. But outside the YA space, things are different. A lot of cyberpunk dystopia doesn't have single monoliths, but instead has collections of extra-national corporate powers vying for control.
I was thinking of, for example, 1984. But isn't the monolith in cyberpunk dystopias "the System"?

EDIT: @Ruin Explorer the Ninja strikes again. FML.
 




DataDwarf

Explorer
Honestly, the game has been moving away from sword and sorcery and toward high, heroic fantasy since 2e. Certainly all of the wotc editions lend themselves more to heroic fantasy. You can modify base-5e at least to make it more low-magic and institute all kinds of restrictions to make it more that style. But that has nothing to do with so-called disneyfication or recent trends, that’s been going on for a while

there has been a shift in tone away from books like ToA, or Rime, and even the 2 pages on Dark Fantasy made mention of keeping it heroic or something like that.

I think this hits the nail on the head.

The shift/evolution of D&D, as WotC is headed, has come really into its stride within the last couple of years. The fans that liked material like in ToA and Rime (whatever we are calling it) are feeling like the game they enjoy is moving on without them when the company that created the game stops publishing material they like.

One of the great things about the 2e/3e publishing days (problematic content aside) was there was something for everyone. Not every book, adventure, setting, etc. had to be for the largest possible market. I would love to see WotC publish material that supports, and is for, various playstyles and settings.

And yes there is a ton of old and 3rd party products to support a variety of playstyles and settings, but we are talking about the direction that WotC is taking in this thread.

Edit: grammar
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Even if that was correct, it doesn't make it dystopian. In a dystopia things are BAD, and can only get worse. It not a mixture of bad and good.
A dystopia need not be 100% bad. It just has to be such that the overarching power has to be in the hands of the oppressive to the point of posing a clear and present danger to any positive groups that remain.
 

Do you think those authors would have written that way if they didn't have to appeal to the magazines and/or papers that published or serialized them?
Well, most of Dickens was written for serialisation in magazines, and short they are not!

And some, Moorcock for example, where first published as slim novels.

Terry Pratchett largely managed to resist the temptation to write doorstops and spread a story across 40 volumes, although he did make extensive use of recurring characters.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I think there's rather more to the point than that, but you don't seem interested. I'll pass.

The point I wqas seeing is going to levels of abstraction to claim there was a monolith. Which feels a lot like moving goalposts. No, I am not interested in disucssing if the goalposts are moving. If that wasn't what was meant, you'll need to explain how it isn't an abstraction.
 

I think this hits the nail on the head.

The shift/evolution of D&D, as WotC is headed, has come really into its stride within the last couple of years.
No, this is the internet phenomena of extrapolating trends based on a sample size of one rearing it's ugly head again. When only one or two adventures are released in a year they are hardly going to publish every type of adventure every year are they? There have only been three full adventures published since Rime. It's ridiculous to try and infer that "they aren't doing adventures like that now" based on such a tiny sample size.
 

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