This article is an introduction and precursor to an upcoming project, “Classic Fantasy” (here is the home page for the Classic Fantasy setting). It’s something that’s been on the mind of the author for a while, and he’s finally decided to put it down on digital paper.
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I once introduced a magic item to the group, gave it a name, gave it a backstory, impressed how the item was somehow important, and then gave it to a player character. Before the end of the session, the player was trying to get rid of it so that he could get two other magical items.
So, magic in 4E is plentiful. I can dig it. I do dig it. It makes for cool customization, bonuses, and benefits. 4e’s magic items allotment has added something to the game, but it has also taken something away. Now, magic items are practically everyday tools. In your typical 4e game, every Tom, Dick, and Harry has a magical item. No, he has several.
“Anybody need a magic sword? No? Ok, I throw it in the Bag of Holding with the magical bow and wizard’s staff.”
Ok. Moving on.
In the last three campaigns that I was involved in, we had:
- one gnome
- one shifter
- one half-orc
- one tiefling
- two dwarves
- two elves
- two eladrin
- four dragonborn
- annnnnnd one human
Where are my humans? Sure, most of the towns we enter are filled with humans. Most of the NPCs we talk to are human. They’re the most abundant race in the game world, yet practically non-existent in the gaming group.
“Oh look, we’ve come across a group of travelers – two shifters, a deva, a dwarf, and another half-orc.”
Ok. Moving on, still…
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into a tribe of goblins, a band of hobgoblins, or a pack of orcs. Not only are they all over the place, but they have their own societies, cultures, traditions, and laws. And, they all have children! Oooh, scary. They just don’t really seem like monsters. They may as well be races for us to play. Wait, they are.
“Well, let’s go talk to that minotaur and see if he has what we need.”
What it boils down to…
I’m sorry, but all of these magic items, all of these non-human races, and all of these non-monster monsters just don’t seem like my preferred fantasy setting. When I think of the fantasy genre, I think of:
- The Hobbit
- Lord of the Rings
- Clash of the Titans
- The Dragon Slayer
- Red Sonja
- The Sword and the Sorceress
- and on and on and on…
All of the above movies belong to what I call “Classic Fantasy.” Are there some magic items? Yeah, a few, and they’re powerful. Are there some non-human races? Yeah, a few, and they’re mysterious. Are there some orcs? Yeah, a few, and they’re nasty.
I want my fantasy to be powerful, mysterious, and nasty. I want my character to be a nobody in a vast world where home is relatively safe, and everything outside of that is unknown, wild, and dangerous. I want my fantasy to be fantastic.
Classic Fantasy is going to be the first project for a new page (XTRAS) here at Stuffer Shack. There, I’ll be adding ways to turn your fantasy game into a classic fantasy game.
- Many races are going to be converted into different types of humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings (with backstories and histories).
- I’ll explain how to converge magic items into one powerful item, or how to make characters of equal strength without magic items.
- And I’ll rewrite some of today’s watered down enemies into old school monsters – all mean and nasty-like.
I hope you find it all useful!