5.5E I think we are on the cusp of a sea change.


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It worked for Deadpool!
Deadpool is the good kind of jerk though! Whereas Namor is just a jerk. Then again, they did manage to make that work with Cable (also "just a jerk" most of the time) by having him play off Deadpool.

Honestly I think the best way Namor is actually fun enough to make a movie about if you make him maybe just a tremendous catty b-in-apartment-23, making horrifically catty/cutting comments to just everyone, and just being the shadiest dude out there.
 

I think if we are honest, its about presentation of the setting, way way more than about the setting actually being restrictive.
I think there's some truth in this, for sure, especially re: inclusiveness.

But I think beyond presentation there are come actual underlaying changes in what people want. Albeit most had happened by the 1990s.

Like:

1) The 1980s in fantasy settings was utterly dominated by "basically an Earth society but renamed and with some tweaks" (if even that), from Mystara to the Forgotten Realms, to Dangerous Journeys, to Greyhawk and so on. From the 1990s onwards, this is no longer popular or and indeed is seen as a negative unless the setting intentionally apes the real world (7th Sea etc.). I don't think mere presentation can fix that (though it is arguable with Greyhawk at least).

2) A lot of 1980s fantasy also focuses on "hatreds" between groups. Not "evil plans" so much - those still fly fine (hi Zhentarim!), but when you have these settings where there's a lot of "kill on sight" or "angry villagers will murder you" or "if you're from X, you can't go to Y". I don't think this works for a lot of people now as well, and this change is even impacting stuff like video games (World of Warcraft has been considering dropping the central, well, war, and allowing cross-faction stuff for years, it's so built-in that it's hard to do though). In many cases I don't think presentation can eliminate this issue, and can conflict with inclusiveness. I know there are some DMs/groups who totally love the idea that being a Tiefling gets you lynched, or Dragonborn will be run out of town, but that's definitely not mainstream stuff anymore, if it ever was. (Also I think some of it is just passive-aggression from DMs who are still stuck in an early 3E or earlier mindset re: races, but that's a whole other discussion). I think distrust/dislike which can be overcome tends to be acceptable, though. Just not like "oh we gotta deal with people hating half the party 24-7, that's fun...". It's not like there won't be enough legit reasons to hate most parties... :p

3) I think players now are a lot more interested in big complex cities, urban and semi-urban environments, and so on, than people in the 1980s and even 1990s were. Wilderness fantasy doesn't seem to attract the same level of interest it once did. This is partly possible to do with presentation and just focusing on cities, but, if your setting is mostly villages and trackless wilderness, it's going to be harder to pull off, especially if you don't even have any really wild cities. And I don't think Waterdeep, say, cuts it.

4) Level of magic. With 1980s settings, there is often powerful magic that has happened or that is linked to an artifact or whatever, but things tend to be fairly or extremely low-magic generally, and even when Eberron came along in 2004 some people groused about it being "too magical". I don't think the mass market would agree now. I think, being raised on all sorts of very high-fantasy video games, that people want to see stuff that's more magical. And yeah, again this is a long-term trend. Spelljammer and Planescape I already mentioned. I feel like presentation can modify this but only so much.
 

3) I think players now are a lot more interested in big complex cities, urban and semi-urban environments, and so o
I can't say as I've seen any evidence for that, or much evidence for the opposite, wilderness vs urban seems much the same as it ever was. As evidence, I cite City State of the Invincible Overlord (1976).

There might be a British vs American bias going on with this one, we don't exactly have much true wilderness in the UK!
4) Level of magic.
I think this is more down to mechanics. Magic is a way of having a bunch of interesting things to do in a fight. It's a way to give PCs superpowers without officially being a superhero game.
 

I think this is more down to mechanics. Magic is a way of having a bunch of interesting things to do in a fight. It's a way to give PCs superpowers without officially being a superhero game.
I'm talking about in the setting. Not necessarily in terms of the PCs at all. Eberron's magitech for example.
 

I'm talking about in the setting. Not necessarily in terms of the PCs at all. Eberron's magitech for example.
I don't think you can really separate them. It's very hard to fit high magic PCs in a low magic world, ergo the world the PCs occupy has to be high magic. Eberron was largely designed around (3e) game mechanics.
 

I don't think you can really separate them. It's very hard to fit high magic PCs in a low magic world, ergo the world the PCs occupy has to be high magic. Eberron was largely designed around (3e) game mechanics.
You say "ergo" but that's certainly not really how worlds used to be designed, despite PCs potentially being very "high magic". So if there is an ergo, it's one that's developed in the 1990s and later.

I think there's a pretty clear difference between worlds were massive magic is a day-to-day thing (at least in a certain locations in those worlds), like Eberron, Spelljammer and Planescape, and worlds like the Greyhawk or the FR, where if there massively magical places, they're far from civilization and haunted ruins and so on, for the most part.
 

TheSword

Legend
You say "ergo" but that's certainly not really how worlds used to be designed, despite PCs potentially being very "high magic". So if there is an ergo, it's one that's developed in the 1990s and later.

I think there's a pretty clear difference between worlds were massive magic is a day-to-day thing (at least in a certain locations in those worlds), like Eberron, Spelljammer and Planescape, and worlds like the Greyhawk or the FR, where if there massively magical places, they're far from civilization and haunted ruins and so on, for the most part.
What like Waterdeep? Built on a massive magical dungeon, surrounded by a mythal, ruled by an archmage chosen of the goddess of magic. Policed by a wizards guild, defended my magic walking statues… etc etc.
 

You say "ergo" but that's certainly not really how worlds used to be designed, despite PCs potentially being very "high magic". So if there is an ergo, it's one that's developed in the 1990s and later.
Yeah, high magic PCs (and NPCs) had a big impact on the development of FR, and was at the core of Eberron design. And somewhat impacted Dragonlance in the 80s. If you view it as a change, it's a change that happened a very long time ago now.
I think there's a pretty clear difference between worlds were massive magic is a day-to-day thing (at least in a certain locations in those worlds), like Eberron, Spelljammer and Planescape, and worlds like the Greyhawk or the FR, where if there massively magical places, they're far from civilization and haunted ruins and so on, for the most part.
Greyhawk is about the last setting designed without high magic as a basic assumption. Pretty much every population centre in FR is ruled by high level spellcasters.
 

Just listing traits as a bullet point for 2021:

Setting is inclusive/diverse (little in the way of sexism/racism/homophobia etc. - D&D has always avoided the latter for the most part).
Setting is "High Magic" - i.e. like strongly magical things can and do regularly happen.
Setting is "High Fantasy" - or "Epic Fantasy", as opposed to "Dark Fantasy" or "Low Fantasy".
Setting allows kitchen-sink-ish usage of elements like class/race, isn't about narrowing options
Probably some of the popular newer races would have a larger role in the world lore, with some of the less popular old races still present, but on the margins.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Probably some of the popular newer races would have a larger role in the world lore, with some of the less popular old races still present, but on the margins.
Nah.

A true 2021 setting would bring the new race, old races, and humans to equality of importance. And their would be good, evil, and nuetral factions of each.

Basically take every PHB race plus orcs and goblins and make 3-5 countries/factions/cults for each. Then take some of the other races like warforged and leonin and make them into nations and factions as well.

It would look like Total War Warhammer's Mortal Empire's Map.
Humans,Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Lizardmen, Warforged, Halflings, Dragonborn. Tiefling, Goblins, Orges, Tabaxi, etc all over the place.
 
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What like Waterdeep? Built on a massive magical dungeon, surrounded by a mythal, ruled by an archmage chosen of the goddess of magic. Policed by a wizards guild, defended my magic walking statues… etc etc.
Waterdeep is a pretty good example for presentation, I guess.

You can spin that stuff up or down. In 2E it was spun down pretty hard, for sure. Waterdeep was very much presented as a normal city with this stuff largely "in the shadows".

Waterdeep has a separate problem though, in that, last I checked, it was ruled by oppressive jerks who don't want to let anyone do anything, and is basically pretty unfun and intentionally hostile to adventurers, well, adventuring. But maybe that changed in 5E presentations? That was a pretty common problem in a lot of 2E and 3E FR approaches - "We've made this cool place, you could be adventurers based here! Oh btw they hate adventurers and there are taxes and mandatory charters and loads of pushy cops/quasi-cops who want to get all up in your business! Enjoy!".
 

Nah.

A true 2021 setting would bring the new race, old races, and humans to equality of importance. And their would be good, evil, and nuetral factions of each.

Basically take every PHB race plus orcs and goblins and make 3-5 countries/factions/cults for each. Then take some of the other races like warforged and leonin and make them into nations and factions as well.

It would look like Total War Warhammer's Mortal Empire's Map.
I really strongly disagree.

The massive racial separatism you're describing is absolutely the opposite of a 2021 setting.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
4) Level of magic. With 1980s settings, there is often powerful magic that has happened or that is linked to an artifact or whatever, but things tend to be fairly or extremely low-magic generally, and even when Eberron came along in 2004 some people groused about it being "too magical". I don't think the mass market would agree now. I think, being raised on all sorts of very high-fantasy video games, that people want to see stuff that's more magical. And yeah, again this is a long-term trend. Spelljammer and Planescape I already mentioned. I feel like presentation can modify this but only so much.

Exalted was quite popular when it was published, very high magic over the top and magitech influence. I think it predates Eberron but I really can't remember. Late 1990s?

The massive racial separatism you're describing is absolutely the opposite of a 2021 setting.

Same here. Cities have been cosmopolitan to the point of stretching suspension of disbelief since 3e, it's not something new, even if it was limited to a subset of races (generally the good aligned, eg Waterdeep : humans, dwarves, elves, halflings, half-elves, gnomes and half-orcs).

I see what you're describing as a 2001 setting, not a 2021 setting.

The 1980s in fantasy settings was utterly dominated by "basically an Earth society but renamed and with some tweaks"

I wasn't there in the 1980s anymore than I was there when Isildur... sorry. But if anything, I feel the current settings are more and more "Earth society", with values imported wholesales, including very recent ideals (like due process, individualism, nations yet tolerance...) into fantasy world without any explanation on how those ideas came into being. How could it be "even more Earthy" in the 80s?
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I really strongly disagree.

The massive racial separatism you're describing is absolutely the opposite of a 2021 setting.
There would be countries and cities with multiple races in them. A bunch of cosmopolitan cities and countries.

But having a home or ethnic country where your PC came from that isn't marginalized as a far away place would be a big thing.

The 2021 player wants to say his Tabaxi go to New Port City or Bondon then tell the bartender he is from Catistan not Felinia and have everyone know the difference.
 

Oofta

Legend
There would be countries and cities with multiple races in them. A bunch of cosmopolitan cities and countries.

But having a home or ethnic country where your PC came from that isn't marginalized as a far away place would be a big thing.

The 2021 player wants to say his Tabaxi go to New Port City or Bondon then tell the bartender he is from Catistan not Felinia and have everyone know the difference.
You're assuming people actually read the lore of a setting. :) If you're talking about NPCs, not players, you're assuming people have broad knowledge of the world which even in today's day and age is sadly lacking.

I do think you could have more interesting factions and forces in a specific campaign world that for the most part ignores race. I do that to a certain degree in my own campaign world, but honestly I have a hard time getting people to read a page of lore so it's not worth the effort most of the time. So most of my factions are relatively local and campaign specific.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
You're assuming people actually read the lore of a setting. :) If you're talking about NPCs, not players, you're assuming people have broad knowledge of the world which even in today's day and age is sadly lacking.

I do think you could have more interesting factions and forces in a specific campaign world that for the most part ignores race. I do that to a certain degree in my own campaign world, but honestly I have a hard time getting people to read a page of lore so it's not worth the effort most of the time. So most of my factions are relatively local and campaign specific.
It's not about the lore.

Catistan is House Cat people. Felinia is Wild Cat people.

The point is the 2021 gamer wants to have the same feeling of saying "My sniper is from Brazil" to the French driver, the Texan gunslingers, the Nigerian hacker, and the assassin from Hong Kong the in a modern RPG. So Brazil has to exist and be different from Columbia.
 

Staffan

Legend
Exalted was quite popular when it was published, very high magic over the top and magitech influence. I think it predates Eberron but I really can't remember. Late 1990s?
Early 00s. I remember White Wolf running an advertisement campaign where you could exchange your 3e PHB for an Exalted book, and that would make little sense after the release of 3.5.
 

Oofta

Legend
It's not about the lore.

Catistan is House Cat people. Felinia is Wild Cat people.

The point is the 2021 gamer wants to have the same feeling of saying "My sniper is from Brazil" to the French driver, the Texan gunslingers, the Nigerian hacker, and the assassin from Hong Kong the in a modern RPG. So Brazil has to exist and be different from Columbia.

As much as you and I may enjoy this kind of in depth lore, a lot of people simply don't care. Most people wouldn't be able to point out Columbia or Brazil on a map much less have any clue that the cultures are different. For that matter if I'm being honest while I know where the locations you listed are, I wouldn't know enough about the cultures to really distinguish them.

I agree that factions that are organized regardless of race can work and add depth to a specific campaign world. I'm just not sure it will have broad enough appeal to justify the effort. It would require a brand new setting and a lot of careful checking for stereotypes, even then I can see it being a potential landmine no matter how well done it is.
 

I wasn't there in the 1980s anymore than I was there when Isildur... sorry. But if anything, I feel the current settings are more and more "Earth society", with values imported wholesales, including very recent ideals (like due process, individualism, nations yet tolerance...) into fantasy world without any explanation on how those ideas came into being. How could it be "even more Earthy" in the 80s?
Huh? No that's not at all what I mean. This was a really common thing.

I'm saying that in those settings many or even most of the nations are simply imported versions of historical Earth societies renamed a bit, sometimes made a non-human race, and often leaning into some stereotypes or anachronism. A particularly spectacular example you might be aware of is the Moonshae Isles in the FR (originally intended to be it's own setting), which is basically a horrific mish-mash of various "Celtic" cultures ("The Ffolk" will never stop being funny) and also some "Vikings". It was just really lazy and a repeated pattern. If you never saw it because you've not played those settings, well, maybe that why you're confused about what I was saying, also you're lucky lol.
I see what you're describing as a 2001 setting, not a 2021 setting.
Is the text where in like, four different posts, I've said "Most of these changes happened in the 1990s", like not showing up for people or something? That's not even sarcasm, I'm genuinely confused at this point. I've said it a bunch of times.
 

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