Has anyone tried to explain the ahistorical features of the standard fantasy setting in-universe?


Now of course you don't have to explain it; a lot of people just want to have fun playing, and you don't want to annoy or offend players! But has anyone with a flair for worldbuilding tried to come up with reasons for all this as part of the history of your world? The deities set it that way at the start? (Probably the easiest way.) Feminist movement 500 years ago that's long since triumphed and nobody holds stereotypes anymore?
Yes, I have. IMHO, you can't understand the European Middle Ages without the "Roman Catholic Church" as an institution. So when I created a faux-Venetian Renaissance setting for a game in Fate (and now Cortex), I felt that I needed a similar institution in society to create the faux-Renaissance feel but one that also let my queer friends play queer characters.

So I created the Angelic Church, which is a religious institution that venerates seven angels/spirits as the primary aspects of the will of the Creator. So religious ethics formed around the teachings of these seven virtues rather than those of any Abrahamic religion. This naturally would produce a diverging set of norms around things like gender, sexuality, etc. Homosexuality is not considered a sin; however, things like promiscuity, lust, and hedonism likely would violate socio-religious notions of the virtue of “temperance” regardless of sexuality. Moreover, homosexuality could potentially be perceived as "incovenient" when it comes to arranging marriage alliances with other families and/or producing heirs.

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Policing and a city watch is one I struggle with conceptually a bit as to what often feels natural for a fantasy context.

Policing can feel very modern and sometimes jarring in a medieval/renaissance/ancient world context unless you just want to do a modern police/crime type story with a fantasy backdrop.
Thieves guilds I think of conceptually as organized crime under a different name and go from there.
One possibility is to have the city watch and the thieves guild fundamentally be "one and the same."

For example, in ancient Rome civil collegia often administered and watched over districts of the city, but they were sometimes run almost like organized crime associations.

Similarly in the Middle Ages, various trade guilds may have held jurisdiction over certain districts of the city and run those districts in the manner of city watch, organized crime, or gangs.

I usually don't, as either the game worlds I create don't work that way or, if I am running a campaign in a commercially available world (like Forgotten Realms), its just accepted as is.

For my own game worlds, I typically give it a little thought. Some modern standards in present western societies are far easier to work with as 'generic' systems.

One consideration with the high fantasy side of things is that, the economics of spell casting might mean cures aren't readily available. If your campaign is running on a silver or copper standard, casting a Revivify spell except for on the very wealthy might be out of the question. I am playing in a game right now that, because of the component costs of some spells, those spells just don't get used.


The EN World kitten
In all honesty, I think a lot of this comes down to answering the following:
  • Is there some in-character recognition of "levels" (that characters have as a result of experience points) and how they're gained?
  • If so, what is it? If not, why not?

In all honesty, I think a lot of this comes down to answering the following:
  • Is there some in-character recognition of "levels" (that characters have as a result of experience points) and how they're gained?
  • If so, what is it? If not, why not?
That is an even deeper rabbit hole and one reason why I have been thinking a lot more about if worlds are full of zero level beings as a norm or, if most everyone has a level. A high magic society that has potion stores and resurrections on tap really call out for answers.

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
Many of these "ahistorical" bits are just misunderstandings of the massive variations among cultures across the world in the thousand year span that inspires fantasy gaming

Guilds? Yes, very much real.
City guard -- yep.
Big universities - welcome to Andulussia, Baghdad, etc
Varying sexualities as common and featured in contemporary literature - the Ottoman empire
Coffee? Same
Tea? Absolutely!!


Magic Energy Drinks. ;)

Street Fighter Yes GIF


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