Genre Discussion, Day 3

Yesterday, I presented 3 definitions of low fantasy. They are all quite different from one another, but as I noted they shared one trait, all of them referred to a sense of realism. I think this is worth noting.

Today, I’ll be presenting my own version of low fantasy. I don’t profess to be an expert in the sub-genre, but I’ll offer my two cents anyway. Isn’t that what blogging is all about?

First of all, I don’t know that I buy the realism argument. Mostly just because it’s fantasy. By definition, the story needs to be set in a world that doesn’t exist. That pretty much gets rid of realism, or anything particularly realistic.

I’ve often felt that low fantasy is a rebuttal of high, or epic, fantasy. It’s still fantasy, but scaled down. There’s magic, but less of it. Demi-humans can exist, but they tend to serve a narrative purpose, rather than just a way to make a story seem, well, fantastic.

In fact, low fantasy is the genre scaled down. Realism always makes me feel like I’m in the world I live in now. That could be fantasy, but doesn’t automatically denote low fantasy.

I feel like low fantasy is a version of fantasy that relies on implied fantasy, rather than overt fantasy. There is magic, but it isn’t everywhere all the time. There are fantastic creatures and races, but they aren’t all over the place all the time. Rather than minotaurs being a distinct race (possible, but not needed), there are individual Minotaur. (I stole this reference from a podcast, but I really like this as a description of low fantasy.) Finally, it is a world where everyday problems might be solvable by fantastic means, but only sometimes. As a definition this is more like a shopping list, but it underscores things I really like for low fantasy. Tomorrow, wrapping up with a chat about how low fantasy can be good for tabletop RPGs.






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