Episode 20 – Fantasy Settings

Can you imagine a world where J.R.R. Tolkien never wrote The Lord of the Rings? What would things be like if D&D stood for Deficits & Depressions, where we all played as corporate money-launderers and greasy politicians in the high stakes world of corporate finance?  Thankfully, we don’t have to think of such horrid things!  Join us this week as we discuss the heart and soul of gaming and geekdom, fantasy settings.  Swash your buckles, sheathe your swords, and definitely gird your loins for this week’s discussion, because it’s coming at you like at 10d6 fireball!

(01:11) – Matt’s been the monkey in the cage two weeks in a row, but he spent some quality time with the TV:  Southland, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report with rounds of Muffin Knight in between.

(03:35) – Robert brings us the first round of geek news:  a RoboCop re-boot, X-Men: First Class, and The Catlin Seaview Survey all get discussed.

(06:33) – Ramses is whoring his ears out to more podcasts than ever before:  Mike and Tom Eat Snacks and Judge John Hodgman have made the long but distinguished list, plus The Hunger Games!

(12:11) – Karen brings us some more awesome entertainment news and the Monkeys respond to some listener e-mails:  The Governor casting, Community lives, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones), and Story Forge.

(20:06) – We dive right in like Gandalf fighting the Balrog.  Ramses leads off the discussion as we discuss our ideas of what makes a fantasy setting:  The Forgotten Realms, High Fantasy vs. Low Fantasy, Star Wars, Eberron, and Middle-earth.

(26:07) – Gods walk the earth and the colors are great, but is writing easier in a fantasy setting and what happened to the Gilded Age?  Plus, we talk races and racism in fantasy gaming:  God of War, Enslaved, The Society of Odin, Conan, Shadowrun, and Steampunk are all discussed.

(36:56) – We discuss whether or not fantasy is played out (pun intended) – Dungeons & Dragons Ravenloft, Planescape, and Mouse Guard.

(43:56) – We discuss non-typical fantasy settings like the Final Fantasy franchise, Dystopian worlds, and the beloved Firefly/Serenity series.  Plus, Ramses might be a secret Furry, Robotech was not Evangelion, and what about zombies?

(51:24) – We discuss the accessibility of fantasy genres for gamers and non-gamers alike and how you can always come home.  Plus, characters be crazy!

Closing Song – Through the Fire and Flames – written and performed by DragonForce



9 thoughts on “Episode 20 – Fantasy Settings

  1. Hey there, strangers. What compression techniques are you using when converting the audio into an MP3? I ask because I’m hearing some sharp noises more often that before. It is a little grating but tolerable to hear.

  2. We haven’t made any changes to the conversion process since the first couple podcasts. We did more recently change a piece of equipment though. Could you let me know approximately when in the episode you heard the sharp noises so I could take a look/listen at it?

  3. The S’s are generally much sharper than I’ve heard previously. I noticed it within the first few seconds and thought it was my sound card at first, but on my MP3 player, it happened again.

  4. Good discussion of fantasy settings, Monkeys. Maybe it’s possible to classify two different terms: “Fantasy” as the genre, and distinctions within fantasy could include High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Steam Punk, and even Sci-Fi. I’m sure there are official opinions out there, and there’s probably also an ages-old debate about how to distinguish Sci-Fi from Fantasy. I think the difference hinges on how things beyond the mundane are explained: in a traditional High Fantasy setting, the themes are based on mysticism/magic…in Sci-Fi, advances are explained through science. That’s part of why it’s so hard to define Star Wars–it contains both.

    (By the way, your discussion of “Is the Game of Thrones world High or Low Fantasy” is actually a valid question that plays a role within the books themselves. I really do look forward to hearing more from you guys as you work your way through them.)

  5. Just a note about Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, I had completely forgotten that there was proof of dragons. Won’t go into details as the rest of the group hasn’t read/seen it.

  6. In thinking back on the discussion, I feel that fantasy resides in the realm of prototypical Sword and Sorcery or worlds were the “historical” timeline has not surprassed our mid 17th century or so. For the most part, when guns start becoming a lot more common than swords, we’ve passed the tipping point from fantasy into something else. What exactly that “something else” is… beats me!

  7. Two settings I think would be fun to play in is the worlds of the novels The First Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen, and Sabriel by Garth Nix. The former is a low fantasy setting where the gods have randomly dispersed twelve very powerful, all uniquely magical swords throughout the world so that the gods can gamble on who will conquer the world. The latter is a world where the North and South are separated by an ancient wall. North of the wall, the world is a normal, present day place where magic no longer exists. South of the wall, in the Old Kingdom, magic reigns supreme and technology refuses to work. Also, the Abhorsen protects the Old Kingdom as a reverse necromancer, ushering the dead into the afterlife, so they stay dead. So, yeah, magic and zombies.

  8. Baw! I got a shout out! Thanks for keeping the Flame of Proper Cimmerian Pronounciation burning, Monkeys!! If you’re looking for an almost Mad Maxian post-apocalyptic RPG, take a look at Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker, one of the greatest systems evar! But be forewarned, it is rather adult themed.

    And hurray for Planescape, my second favorite DnD setting, after Dark Sun.

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