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Non-Traditional Fantasy – Ep96

Monster Hunter International est 1895
Monster Hunter International est 1895

There is a recent trend in modern fantasy which suggests that traditional fantasy, as we know it, is rather passé.


Is it? What is non-traditional fantasy, and how does it translate to RPGs?

Listen on Stitcher:

If you have some input on this, leave a comment here, via email or on our Facebook page.


Cast – Eric, Mike, Dan, Mark, Jayson, Greg and Shawn


Intro: Eric

Outro: Dan


Items Mentioned:

Lord of the Rings, Dresden Files, Monster Hunter International, Twilight, Harry Potter, Anne Rice, White Wolf Publishing, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan, Mack Bolan, Remo Williams, The Sword in the Stone, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Mad Max, Iron Druid, Eberron, EN World, Spell Jammer, Planescape, The Fantasy Shop, Star Wars, Archon StL, Quantum Thief, Big Bang Theory, Talisman, Forgotten Realms, Shadowrun, Victoriana, GURPS, Hero System, Rifts, Gen Con, Supernatural, American Horror Story, Mike Carey, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Merlin, Doctor Who, Techno Viking, Pathfinder


Editor’s Note:

This episode Eric is still adjusting his sound quality. Again we apologize for it.


  1. Brian
    Brian February 12, 2013

    Ok, here’s my take on Rifts: It is a great set of books to read, but the system has to be played to be believed. Kevin S. may refuse to believe it, but there are problems with the system and balance. The cheapest normal basic weapon is 99% AUTOSPLAT to any typical unarmored person. Combined with the average of 2-6 actions PER TURN, it can be pretty nuts. Think about this for a moment, in a world of guns, demons, magic, cthulhu monsters, robots and anything else you could toss into a dimension at random, you pretty much can go wtfsplat at any moment. FUN… just not long term.

    • hopeless
      hopeless February 13, 2013

      Several years ago whilst I had a copy of the Tenchi Muyo game from Guardians of Order (based on Big Eyes Small Mouth) I joined an online game where I designed a character ala Ryuoki the spaceship so he had the ability to turn into a suit of power armour if he had someone to act as the pilot and a spaceship if needed and point wise wasn’t as strong as the namesake characters but good stand on his own as any character should.
      First game we ran into the gm’s version of Rift powered armour capable of blitzing my character who had no idea what they were since this was supposed to be the Tenchi Muyo setting no stargate no earth actually knows what the rest of the universe is doing and equipped to make that Death Star remake look like a pea shooter… stopped playing shortly after that wouldn’t have minded if it didn’t then devolve into their personal political idea of a game but I was just interested in playing in the Tenchi Universe not the rough equivalent of what they did to the Dragonball movie!

  2. hopeless
    hopeless February 13, 2013

    Oh how would you describe a post apocalyptic fantasy campaign?

    Would it qualify as a non-traditional fantasy?

    • Gamerstable
      Gamerstable February 13, 2013

      Post-apocalyptic fantasy (ala Monte Cook’s Numenara) is definitely non-traditional. If you add “super science” of the distant past with horses-and-sword fantasy it becomes non-traditional. Other instances of this would be John Carter of Mars (as mentioned in the episode) and Thundar the Barbarian.

      If you are talking about “Mad Max” type post-apocalypse, that could also be considered fantasy, though there are those who would say it’s sci-fi.

    • Brian
      Brian February 16, 2013

      Traditional fantasy… isn’t that phrase sad in itself? How silly of us to have stagnated the very IDEA of fantasy. *sigh* Anyway, I’ve typically heard (in RPG context) Traditional fantasy being Gygaxian D&D type settings. Tolkenesk with elements of Fritz Leiber Theives and magic. Orcs, Elves, Knights, ect.

      Now, adding elements like Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Horror, Aliens, ect is typically where people go into Non-traditional. My problem with this concept is that there were plenty of these elements around in those early days, however they tended to be slightly in the background or not the focus because FRODO was simply more hot then SCI-FYI at that moment. The 80’s brought electronics into the home at a rapid pace, and so the collective interest generated more cyberpunk elements. Moody emo was hot in the early 90’s and the games reflect that too.

      These games are works of fiction, and fiction is inspired by the popular culture of its age. For all we know, our grandkids will think Twilight was ‘traditional’ vampire fiction of their time…. Yuck.

  3. hopeless
    hopeless February 13, 2013

    Sorry forgot to elaborate, earth of at least 1500 years from now, civilisation has collapsed and game set on a shattered british isles where the Thames now called the Tames is considered an ocean since its expanded since the modern age and the much smaller southern part is now an island whilst the larger remaint to the North has gone back to the bronze age ala Runequest or in this case Mongoose Legend game system.
    Low magic, healing potions limited to one group who can supply them and magic is normally restricted to spellcasting professions at the start of the game but there are exceptions since I’d rather keep some of the runes as a source of magic.
    Modern technology from today is the mythical vorpal weapons we look upon in d&d and the new Atlantis myth is the sunken city of London whose spires can sometime be seen under the ocean waves if not peaking out above them according to legends!
    I’ll stop there I tend to forget to be brief!

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