Recently, I was wondering about the aesthetic of low fantasy as a genre. People talk about things like, “realism” or “grittiness”, but what does that translate into aesthetically? Like any red-blooded netizen, I searched the internet for images using “low fantasy art” as my keywords for a search.

I had expected to see imagery from “A Song of Fire and Ice” and maybe “Conan” show up, but no. Actually, what I found were mostly portraits. This kind of interesting. Why?

It almost makes me wonder if the emphasis in low fantasy is almost more on individuals rather than setting. Epic fantasy requires some big time world-building. When I read about how to handle fantasy worlds, something that often comes up is that the setting needs to be actively present in the story. Setting needs to do something in fantasy.

But maybe not in low fantasy. Maybe the real idea in low fantasy is to scale down setting, and play up character. It’s still fantasy, and it’s still magical, but these things play less of an importance. Maybe.

I don’t know that this is true, but I like this idea a lot. Maybe in a low fantasy, an imposing forest can be just a forest, but charged with emotional baggage from old tales, rather than a magical place over-populated with ghosts and spirits and what not.

It’s just an idea, but one I like. There’s a lot to like a bout low fantasy, and I feel like it’s an iteration of fantasy I’ll be playing a lot more of.

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