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Author Topic: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles  (Read 9021 times)

BFEL

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Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« on: February 15, 2015, 07:32:24 pm »

So, as many of you are aware, the works of J.R.R Tolkien are pretty much THE "Standard Fantasy Setting"
While I'm not going to make the case that Tolkien's works aren't great, it troubles me a bit that Fantasy has become "rip off Tolkien forever" and that...well that there is such a thing as a "Standard Fantasy Setting"

This thread is for those who either want to read some stuff that is a bit off the beaten path, and even moreso for those brave forumgoers who actually have their own creative works to get some different inspiration.

This is to be accomplished by posting things that we have found to be unique from new sources, whether they be characters, settings, or miscellany.

The structure shall go as follows:

1. The concept you found unique
2. A short (or not) description of what makes it so unique (spoilered if its something absolutely major within the work)
3. The book/game/etc. that contains this concept
 
These rules can and will be adjusted as needed.

Discussion is of course allowed, at least until it turns into a war of "that's not original" "YES IT IS"

EDIT: ok, small clarification, when I say "new" or "original" I don't mean something made recently, what I really mean is
"something that hasn't been ripped off by every author/game dev/etc. ever"
« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 11:03:22 am by BFEL »
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Bohandas

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2015, 09:46:16 pm »

Concept: Orcs are technically a type of fungus
Description They're part animal, and a larger part mushroom.
Source: WarHammer 40000

----------------------------

Concept: Elves=Aliens
Description: Elves come from another dimension, and look like grey aliens to anyone who can see through their illusions
Source: Discworld (specifically Lords and Ladies and to a lesser extent The Wee Free men)

----------------------------

Concept: Self-Transforming Machine Elves
Description: Hallucinations from taking Ayahuasca or Dimethyltryptamine have a pronounced tendency to include visions of shapechanging elf-like entities living in a dome deep below the earth. In one famous account they constantly transformed from elves to jeweled basketballs to elves again and went around distributing faberge eggs.
Source: stoners, Peruvian shamans, scientists who study psychadelic drugs and peruvian shamanism, and most especially scientists who are also stoners
« Last Edit: February 15, 2015, 10:33:58 pm by Bohandas »
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Frumple

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2015, 10:08:16 pm »

So, uh. When you say new, like. What year are we talking? Because just post-tolkien leaves a lot of space to work with. Pre-tolkien was pretty out there at times, too. And for all T was the baseline for a long time, it definitely feels like we're starting to get some standard output more along other lines -- urban fantasy, steampunk, etc., sorta' feel like they've grown in popularity over the last... while.

Throwing some stuff out there, relative to the bog-standard sword&sorcery though...

Concept: Urban Fantasy.
Description: ... urban fantasy. Fantasy with bits of sci-fi or modern-day stuff thrown in, or the other way around.
Some notables: Dresden Files (books). Shadowrun (books, pen&paper games, video games). Mage: The Awakening (P&P games, apparently books).

Concept: Postapocalyptic Fantasy.
Description: Again what it says on the tin. Fantasy worlds set after the proverbial "end".
Some notables: Dark Sun (books, P&P, video games).

Concept: Dragon as major characters.
Description: As per tin!
Some notables: There were several Krynn novels along those lines. The Basil Broketail stuff also went some interesting directions with that. There's more that I'm forgetting, obviously.

... actually, limiting it to at-most three per day sounds kinda' interesting. At least partially because my memory's failing me. Actually remember where all the off-beaten-path fantasy concepts I've ran into came from? Ach, me head. There's so bloody much, especially if you trawl used book stores and whatnot. E: And that's not getting into anime and related works. Anime has done some shit with fantasy settings.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2015, 10:13:38 pm by Frumple »
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Tawa

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2015, 12:14:25 am »

Nah, that's not a spoiler. You can see discarded weapons and a bomb in the opening sequence--it's been addressed often ever since the Season 2 finale.
Anyway.

Y'know, if we really want to get into it, most fantasy isn't really ripping off Tolkien--it's ripping off Norse mythology, which is what Tolkien ripped off in the first place. And a lot of fantasy has elements that distinguish it further--a lot of fantasy doesn't have elves and dwarves in it, for example, so it's "ripping off" the middle ages and Renaissance more closely. There's a lot of fantasy where wizards are freaking everywhere--Tolkien, meanwhile, had five "wizards" (plus Sauron and all that, I hate specifics.)

Really, most fantasy--good fantasy, anyway--doesn't rip off Tolkien--it borrows elements, like pseudo-feudalism (pseudalism, if you will) where they play fast and loose with medieval politics, polytheism in a historically monotheistic world, and the presence of wielders of otherworldly, arcane power. A lot of fantasy borrows from other sources, too--there's a lot of Greek Mythology-based fantasy, for example. Really, the "standard fantasy setting" is more or less "Tolkien and anything by somebody who wants to write fantasy but has no creativity", because there's so much diversity.

I have nothing more to add.
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Bohandas

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2015, 12:34:41 am »

Really, most fantasy--good fantasy, anyway--doesn't rip off Tolkien--

D&D does though. The first edition plagiarized so much that Tolkien's estate threatened to sue Gary Gygax. That's why the game's crawling with halflings and ents and orcs that are clearly Tolkien's orcs.

EDIT:
The elves are Tolkien's elves too. They certainly bear little or no resemblence to either Christmas elves, or Tam Lin, or DMT hallucinations.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 01:42:51 am by Bohandas »
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Tawa

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2015, 01:22:46 am »

Oh, yes. DnD rips off plenty of Tolkien. But it rips off a lot of other stuff, too. Pick a Monster Manual and peruse it. Read Wizard mechanics--Gandalf didn't have a spellbook, and he was certainly more intelligent than charismatic. Look at all those magic items--Tolkien had maybe one or two magic things per character, whereas 3rd Edition expects you to be wearing more magic items than there is glass on the Empire State Building. Or read the last DM of the Rings to see why Tolkien's works would make a terrible D&D game.
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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2015, 01:27:50 am »

It's not that he ripped 0ff so much, it's just that the stuff he did rip off is rather blatant.
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Bohandas

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2015, 01:55:23 am »

Concept: Nonstandard elements
Description: Instead of fire, air/wind, earth/stone, and water, the elements are Fire, Ice, Candy, and Slime
Source: Adventure Time With Finn & Jake

Concept: Nonstandard elements
Description: Wood is added to the standard four classical elements and "earth" is replaced with "metal"
Source: Rokugan and other settings based on ancient eastern woo-woo stuff

Concept: Nonstandard elements
Description: the four classical elements are replaced by elements mapping to the five senses: "Boom", "Prickle", "Pungent", "Orange"
Source: Discordianism and discordian influenced settings (check SJ Games' products, they've got a lot of stuff like that)
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Sergarr

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2015, 02:14:41 am »

Concept: It was actually a sci-fi all along.
Description: Somewhere at the end of the game, you learn that everything you thought about the world you live in was a lie and it was actually created by an overpowered space-faring nation.
Source: Might & Magic series.

Concept: It was a sci-fi from the beginning.
Description: Somewhere at the beginning of the game, you learn that everything you thought about the universe was a lie and there are space-faring rhino-human hybrids walking around with flintlock pistols and progressive insectoid-human hybrids using non-lethal shock weapons simultaneously with overpowered fighter-wizards samurais and ridiculous brain-washing psionic aborigines because fuck logic.
Source: Wizardry 5-8.
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Bohandas

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2015, 02:25:31 am »

Concept: It was actually a sci-fi all along.
Description: Somewhere at the end of the game, you learn that everything you thought about the world you live in was a lie and it was actually created by an overpowered space-faring nation.
Source: Might & Magic series.

Also several Star Trek episodes (such as The World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky, and The Apple)

Also does the reverse of this a few times, and one episode, Catspaw, where  the stuff going on looks a lot like both

which brings me to

Concept: Technology and Magic are Compatible
Description: magic is just part of the universe. It can be studied empirically and harnessed technologically; the distinction between magic and applied science is an artificial one. Magic is simply another part of the physics of the setting's universe.
Source: Ghostbusters. Discworld. (and to a lesser extent X-men {the cerebro machine}, Star Wars Expanded Universe {holocrons}, the GWAR mythos {Cardinal Syn's armor}. D&D {Inevitables. Murlynd. Chemically propelled spelljammers, Modrons} the live acti9n Casper the Friendly Ghost movie {the Lazarus Machine}, My Little Pony {the machime that Twilight tries to measure Pinkie Pie's precpgnitive abilities with}), but especially Ghostbusters
« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 02:43:02 am by Bohandas »
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Kadzar

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2015, 02:44:26 am »

Oh, yes. DnD rips off plenty of Tolkien. But it rips off a lot of other stuff, too. Pick a Monster Manual and peruse it. Read Wizard mechanics--Gandalf didn't have a spellbook, and he was certainly more intelligent than charismatic. Look at all those magic items--Tolkien had maybe one or two magic things per character, whereas 3rd Edition expects you to be wearing more magic items than there is glass on the Empire State Building. Or read the last DM of the Rings to see why Tolkien's works would make a terrible D&D game.
For a list of authors D&D "rips off", look to Appendix N from the AD&D DMG. Here is a more comprehensive list of sources, compiled by some guy.
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scrdest

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2015, 03:12:05 am »

Concept: Settings based on non-standard eras/mythologies.

Description: Pretty much self-explanatory.

Source: Pretty much half of what TvTropes Punk Punk consists of (except steampunk, which is almost as generic as Standard Setting nowadays); late Discworld by way of continuity; First two Witcher books (the stories; Slavic mythology and butchered fairytales); Zeno Clash (pop-cavemen era and a LOOOOOOT of drugs involved in the creation). There is a Polish author that wrote mid-XVIII Low Fantasy, but his works were not translated to my knowledge. And, oddly enough, a lot of little girl shows (I have a sister 15-ish years younger than me, so I've been forced to sit through those numerous times) with heavy XIX century stylings and, obviously, fantasy elements but explicitly not Steampunky.

Even Medieval era fantasy could be original here - just use anything except Late Middle Ages-Renaissance and you've got yourself an original setting.
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Orange Wizard

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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2015, 03:20:00 am »

Really, most fantasy--good fantasy, anyway--doesn't rip off Tolkien--

D&D does though. The first edition plagiarized so much that Tolkien's estate threatened to sue Gary Gygax. That's why the game's crawling with halflings and ents and orcs that are clearly Tolkien's orcs.

EDIT:
The elves are Tolkien's elves too. They certainly bear little or no resemblence to either Christmas elves, or Tam Lin, or DMT hallucinations.
I believe he specified good fantasy.
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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2015, 03:30:12 am »

Y'know, if we really want to get into it, most fantasy isn't really ripping off Tolkien--it's ripping off Norse mythology,

No, it's ripping off Tolkien. It doesn't matter where he got the concepts from originally, it's mr JRR that's the reason they're so prevalent today.
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Re: Unique Fantasy Ideas Thread - The Not-Tolkien Chronicles
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2015, 03:40:31 am »

Concept: Nonstandard elements
Description: The standard elements of the world are Hot, Cold, Spooky, Stench, and Sleaze.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Source: Kingdom of Loathing. Not sure it counts, because it's satire of the fantasy genre, though.
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