"These look like crops! Who the heck farms in this kingdom?"An interesting phenomenon in World Building in gaming, and certain kinds of Speculative Fiction: the focus of a game or story dictates aspects of the setting in many subtle ways. Typically, a heroic setting focuses on a handful of characters able to accomplish things sufficiently great to create a story about. This means the authors increase the potential impact of individuals while the accomplishments of large masses of people such as armies and society as a whole are toned down. In order to justify that, the authors frequently extrapolate the Anthropic Principle and imply that it is a valid choice for characters to embark on a given adventure precisely because the world is designed to encourage adventures of that type. To provide an example, let's say you want to have legal duels to the death over a matter of revenge; well, in order to have that, you need to have very weak law-enforcement (a relatively strong law-enforcement body takes, of necessity, a very dim view of revenge, as it runs directly counter to the very premise of strong law-enforcement), a heavy honor code on the part of the background culture (otherwise, why take lethal revenge, and even if you do take revenge, why not just assassinate the target?), and a world where life is cheap (why risk your life on such a matter if it isn't?). Can be explained in several different ways:
— Bowser, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
- Functional - how the various natural or unnatural laws of the universe ensure the universe is what it is in spite of the tendency of its sentient inhabitants to change it. For example, using functional magic and fictional natural phenomena to explain why the world inexplicably never seems to run out of monsters and dungeons despite the fact that a single party of adventurers can clear them rather handily.
- Cultural - why people act in various implausible ways. For example, explaining how the local navy hasn't managed to hunt down the Pirates for centuries despite being able to, by a combination of social and political factors: political instability, corruption and occasionally having said pirates being useful pawns in a larger conflict.
- External - why the world's rules only seem plausible from a certain point of view. For example, using Lampshade Hanging to show that, yes, the authors are aware that a land with More Criminals Than Targets only makes sense from the point of view of a crime-fighting hero, rather than an average farmer or trader, and yes, they decided to ignore it because this is not a story about farmers.
Functional explanations include:
- The very concept of fictional stasis, whether medieval, modern, futuristic, or just technological ensures that the narrative may continue for lengthy periods of time, from decades to millennia, without the overarching conflict rendered irrelevant or easily solvable simply because Technology Marches On.
- Certain advances in technology may eliminate types of action and adventure that you want. If you want space combat to resemble the Age of Sail, you probably don't want the possibility of fast, autonomous drone fighters or A.I.-guided missiles to battle at extended range with little human input, or FTL communications, which would cut down enormously on the captains' autonomy. Point Defenseless has to be present if you want the glamour of fighter jocks that don't get unceremoniously blown out of the air en masse by Anti-Air.
- Recent advancements in artificial intelligence, cybernetic prosthetics and bioengineering made a lot of science faction readers wonder whether baseline humans in general will remain relevant at all by the point Casual Interstellar Travel is possible. In order to plausibly explain the lack (or rarity) of Transhuman characters or Artificial Intelligence in a Space Opera, the authors often have to resort to "tried it, didn't work" explanations such as Cybernetics Eat Your Soul or A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
- If you want knights in gleaming full-plate or lots of sword-dueling, you probably don't want gunpowder to be common or useful at all.
- Alternately, in a setting heavy on functional magic, guns may be deemed comparatively inferior, or tough to maintain and conceal.
- On the other hand, you may not want to deal with a setting with no indoor plumbing or modern medicine, and if you want to have your cake and eat it too, you may end up with the Schizo Tech of most Punk Punk settings.
- As a result of the above, Minovsky Physics is commonly used in better-developed settings. Need a static world? Have something destroy technologies outside the paradigm. We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future? The Plott-Devais machine enables humans - perhaps even just a small number of humans - to consistently outperform machines. Need to make cybernetics less common? Discover "souls" that machines lack and cybernetics damage. Want melee weapons to make a comeback? Invent shields that stop fast projectiles but not slow ones, or just some Phlebotinum that destroys gunpowder.
Cultural explanations include:
- An old-school Dungeons & Dragons-styled game needs a lot of unexplored wilderness and ruins (possibly even a Dungeon-Based Economy). This strongly implies a recent collapse, or people moving into a new territory if you're willing to forego ruins. Guess what two things most fantasy roleplaying settings have in their recent background?
- A more politically-focused game either implies a powerful city, within a relatively stable state, or a closely-connected world.
- A smaller scale tactical wargame (on the order of a very small number of units) is going to want a very connected world (to maximize the possible pairings), with more Border Skirmishes than outright war. As you go up in scale, the setting will have more and more war and political instability, to better explain why one side or the other is regularly throwing large fighting forces at a target.
- If you want pirates, you need either virtually no state at all, or fairly weak states. Or, alternatively (or in addition to), you can use their cousins, Privateers, who require at least fairly potent states capable of commissioning and supporting one, but not strong enough to send regular forces out to do it themselves. Another possibility is lacking a desire to do so, maybe due to political complexities where privateers are deniable assets that states can disavow but regular armies obviously are not.
- Bounty Hunting in the classic fictional sense relies on a similar kind of logic as piracy, in that you need a setting where the police are overstretched (or incompetent) or the criminals are otherwise beyond the reach of the long arm of the law, but the government (or perhaps a wealthy individual with a grudge) has the resources to make a bounty hunting career profitable to anyone who's willing to take the contracts.
- If you want Spy Fiction, you need (at least) two powers at each other's throats (possibly at war, depending on the kind of spy you want).
- Open conflict between two similarly powerful blocs requires some excuse for why nukes or equivalent WMD don't start flying. Mutually Assured Destruction usually works for this (it did in real life). For bonus points, have the two powers engage in proxy wars instead of fighting each other directly.
- Wide Open Sandbox crime games, or mob dramas in general, usually take place in a Wretched Hive where Police Are Useless or Dirty to explain why there can be so many or powerful gangs running around openly while the cops only go after the protagonist for the slightest offence.
External explanations include:
- Flat out implying that it would be impossible to imagine a fully fleshed-out ruleset for the world due to the sheer magnitude of World Building required, so it might as well be kept brief and comprehensible.
- Proving that acting as an ordinary contemporary human would makes even less sense in this setting than what characters actually do.
- Arguing for grandfather clause: for example, tactical wargames have a tendency to have more and more unrealistic logistics as their focus expands because they're inherited from small unit warfare.
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- According to Word of God, the Schizo Tech in Naruto depends on how technology would affect relevance of ninja. If a piece of technology would get in the way of ninjas doing cool ninja things, it doesn't exist. This is why you don't have motor vehicles (with some exceptions) or telephones, because they would obsolete running through forests and relying on messenger birds, but you still have computers, televisions and oddly short-wave radio. Modern telephones do apparently exist but no-one ever uses them.
- The world of One Piece is an argument for Intelligent Design theory, as the very geography seems tailor-made for wacky pirating adventures, and it strains credulity that it could have occurred naturally. The planet is mostly covered with oceans dotted with small islands. The only large landmass perfectly bisects the planet at the prime meridian. The equator, known as the Grand Line, is bordered north and south by "Calm Belts" with no water or air movement, making it impossible to sail through, and they're infested with giant, incredibly powerful Sea Monsters so attempting to make it through by oar power or other means is inadvisable in most circumstances. Standard compasses don't work (because of reasons), so the only way to navigate is through a "Log Pose," which locks onto the magnetic field of the next island on the Line and requires a varying amount of time to "reset" upon arriving there, explaining why sailors have time to fool around at the Town of the Week on every island, why they can't just sail directly for the MacGuffin Location at the end of the Line, and why there isn't regular trade or cultural exchange between most islands (justifying some of the Schizo Tech in the process). The World Government has special navigational Applied Phlebotinum that allows them to bypass some of these restrictions, explaining why they're able to show up exactly where they need to be to cause trouble for Our Heroes.
- Greenhill Town in Daisuki! BuBu ChaCha seems to be set up for this, with the goal of letting the protagonist of the show learn new things in each episode.
- Magic: The Gathering
- Every plane has the five basic land types, even planes where that doesn't make much sense, like City Planets. Almost every setting has five major races of sapient beings, each one strongly leaning towards a specific type of land and the associated terrain, with a dozen more minor races not so closely aligned to colors. Individual races may look drastically different from plane to plane, but almost always have the same basic culture and Hat. A major change to the world almost always happens during or right before the events of the first set on a given plane. There are exceptions to the last three of those rules, but those exceptions are almost always plot-significant.
- One example resembles RPG settings specifically: the plane of Zendikar is tailor-made for adventurers. A natural phenomenon called the Roil causes entire landscapes to shift regularly, meaning that entire continents are constantly recreated to be rediscovered over and over again. Developers have explained the original concept of the plane was an "adventure world."
- Played with in Bird, a great deal of the worldbuilding is oriented towards explaining how a psychiatric hospital for parahumans would function in the real world. The kicker? It couldn't.
- With Strings Attached is set in C'hou, such a world, but it ran out of adventure. The society on Baravada is a crumbling anarchy, and the people are literally dying of boredom.
- In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, C'hou has been turned into one of these, complete with new geography, Monsters Everywhere, and ruins that make no sense, as the four constantly lampshade. They're told that the Pyar gods made the world to be more like the G'heddi'onian homeworld, which logically leads them to the conclusion that the gods are crazy.
- Triptych Continuum: Word of God asserts that roughly 6% of the land and 7% of the sky of Equestria is actually a "settled zone", a place where ponies actually live and work. The rest of the continent is all wilderness, often crawling with monsters.
- Titan, the world in which the majority of the Fighting Fantasy games are set, is constantly having some part of it threatened by some sort of evil villain in order to support numerous homeless mercenaries the reader plays as. Most of the markets only seem to sell adventure-related gear, though it's mostly indicated that they also sell lots of other stuff, and the items the reader can buy are just the useful things that are on sale. Interestingly, Black Vein Prophecy and The Crimson Tide do make some effort to show a wider economy, and the effects of the wars and conflicts on ordinary farmers and craftsmen.
- Magnamund, the setting of the Lone Wolf gamebooks, is constantly being attacked by the forces of Naar necessitating the Kai Order running about essentially putting out fires. When the Kai Order is down to one person, Lone Wolf has to do this all by himself....
- Don Quixote is a Deconstruction: the protagonist wants to be a Knight Errant in a Medieval European Fantasy. Unfortunately, all he can be is the original Lord Error-Prone in a Picaresque novel. However, his world (heavily based on Real Life Spain) is really focused on maximizing the misadventures of a Lord Error-Prone. La Mancha, where the plot of the first part of the novel happens, has a hierarchical structure where everyone knows his place: An innkeeper calls the Victimized Bystander that wants to kill Don Quixote (because he attacked them first) invoking the Insanity Defense as a way Don Quixote will never be found guilty. But the population always takes the law on their hands, so they become Badass Bystander who beat Don Quixote; when Don Quixote doesnít want to pay another innkeeper they gave Sancho a Humiliation Conga; etc. There is a rural police called the Holy Brotherhood, but they cannot be bothered with a loony guy. They are seen doing their job escorting criminals to their punishment, but their competence is dubious when Don Quixote can outsmart them. The second part of the novel show us all the resources the Spanish empire has are invested fighting the Ottoman empire. At the last part of the second part, don Quixote goes to Barcelona, where there is a Civil War. Then, this environment, that must be more friendly to a Knight Errant, is even more aggressive: the Lovable Rogue, a Affably Evil Anti-Villain, fears from his own men a treason; most of the Pirates are the Ottoman empire's Privateers, and we discover the Spanish crown has convinced the Muslim population to do The Migration as a better alternative to a Final Solution. The idea is that even without a Instant Emergency Response, La Mancha population knows there is a government and they better behave. The clash between fiction assumptions and reality is one of the book themes.
- In Dale Brown books, Mutually Assured Destruction is not strongly enforced. Nuclear release has repeatedly failed to result in full-blown nuclear war, instead occurring as part of or lead-up to conventional conflicts.
- The Hyborean Age in the Conan the Barbarian stories is an especially adventure-friendly world since it provides ample opportunity for a self-made man like Conan to have adventures at the outskirts of civilization, being a pirate, a mercenary, a thief, a general, a king etc.
- The title city of the web-novel Domina is a prison city largely abandoned by the mainland, with only the barest touches of regulation on all the guns and Bio-Augmentation going around.
- Discworld was one of these early on. There were great swaths of unexplored lands filled with ancient temples, marauding 'heroes' and evil monsters. There were cities, but their law enforcement was a joke, fatal brawls were daily events and it takes almost nothing to get the largest city, Anhk-Morpork, burned to the ground in the first novel. However, over the course of the series, this changes. Many of the 'monsters' (e.g. trolls, vampires, zombies) immigrate to the cities and become productive members of society. The City Watch becomes a formidable force for good. Technology advances, and the invention of clacks towers, newspapers, a reliable post and steam power eventually causes the sun to set on the old world.
- S.M. Stirling stated in the afterword "Why Then, There" to his The Peshawar Lancers side story "Shirkari in Galveston" in the Alternate History anthology Worlds That Weren't that real-world advances in scientific knowledge had ruined the wonder of traditional adventure fiction, and thus alternate history was a way to bring back the wonder of those stories without the dread and letdown that Historical Fiction brings about.
- Parodied in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which constantly points out that Fantasyland doesn't entirely make sense economically, geographically or culturally, since it exists purely as a place for an adventure to happen. Later deconstructed in the follow-up novel Dark Lord of Derkholm, where an evil extradimensional mobster is forcing a fantasy world to remain adventure-friendly so that he can sell trips there for tourists, at tremendous long-term cost and damage to its inhabitants.
- While the plot of the Gaea Trilogy itself doesn't much dwell on it, Wizard explains that Gaea, several decades after her first contact with humans in the first novel, has turned herself into one of these for human tourists — both to keep herself entertained and to avoid looking like too much of a threat to a species whose technology and practical experience with warfare could feasibly destroy her.
- Delvers LLC: The planet Ludus is a giant lab for the "great god" Dolos to study the magic-granting native species of spirits. To that end, he outlaws all electrical technology, fills dungeons with magic and monsters, kidnaps people from across the universe to populate the world, and provides newcomers with powerful magic items so he can get data from their interactions with the world. Nearly every plant in the wild is edible so that no one has to farm, but they all taste terrible so people farm anyway. It's repeatedly made clear that this has resulted in a planet that is absolutely horrible, with war and bandits being commonplace and no real way to fix anything. If all the monsters in an area are wiped out, Dolos will just replace them. If a country gets too stable, Dolos will drop a bunch of magic items in the middle of it to spark a conflict. Oh, and Dolos is one of the nice gods—his sister is starting a war from her own lab-planet just out of petty competition, another god is infiltrating Ludus and demanding human sacrifice apparently just for giggles, and there is even word of a vague "Enemy," which has something to do with the reason Dolos created Ludus in the first place, that is gaining power and preparing to strike.
- Sufficiently Advanced Magic: The Shifting Spires are tests that provide magic and power to all those who enter. Once someone has been marked (called an attunement), they gain magical talents and the ability to improve upon them with training and practice. Gaining extra attunements is possible and results in more power, but it is rare.
- The City And The Dungeon: Deconstructed twice over. First, failure rates for delvers are ridiculously high, especially new delvers. Second, if a delver does succeed in gaining power and money, they quickly become more powerful than either the City or the outside world can handle. Any Blue-spectrum delver or above can crash the economy, fight armies, and altogether do absolutely whatever they want unless another, stronger delver tries to stop them.
- Star Fleet Battles started out as a licensed Star Trek game of ship vs. ship combat, but then the developers wanted to have battles with more ships in them, so a General War broke out, and then another, and then another. Also, because the traditional Star Trek universe avoids warfare and focuses on character interaction and solving problems nonviolently, the Star Fleet gaming universe deviates from the Star Trek universe in many ways, including a more militaristic Federation with more combat-specific ships, some of which originate in the Franz Joseph Star Trek Technical Manual. Gene Roddenberry, for example, was uncomfortable with the idea of the Federation having a dreadnought class of starship, but he never outright vetoed their canonicity.
- One of the reasons the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 settings are so prone to violent upheavals that sweep up all the factions is that every army needs to be able to fight every other army within canon (including itself), so high political instability is the order of the day. Notable however in that, for Warhammer in particular, the tabletop RPG version of the setting slightly modifies the setting in order to keep the world Adventure-Friendly for a different kind of Adventure. Although the high degree of political instability, mistrust and constant war is still present, the rules go to great pains to make it possible (and potentially highly lucrative) to set yourself up as a trader. Indeed the 2nd edition of the rules contained vast supplements detailing the incomes one could make, and the game's careers (read classes) included things like "Smith" and "Merchant" as well as "Soldier" and "Wizard". The game even included rules for a wizard selling spells and favours to locals.
- Legend of the Five Rings deliberately seeks to support both a card game, where the squabbling clans often fight petty wars against one another, and a role-playing game, where players (usually) play as samurai both battling supernatural and common dangers while upholding a social order that is likely to clash with its intended audience's at several points. In order to accommodate all of these, it adds a certain degree of violence and instability to the usual tabletop-world mix, which, following the example of Dungeons & Dragons, is already plenty dangerous at times. Players often jokingly note that Rokugan has had more wars in the last few centuries, following the start of the gameline, than in the millenium-plus that precedeed it.
- Dungeons & Dragons made this trope a staple of the Role-Playing Game genre, in order to allow the most possible adventures to take place in any given setting. The local monster populations are usually described in great detail, but not how the people in the area/town are able to sustain themselves. Most pantheons read like a list of gods an adventurer would worship, rather than gods that would be important in the everyday life of a commoner. This is an explicitly due to the Anthropic Principle, and secondary sources for many settings detail additional information to add depth to their worlds.
- Eberron is a notable subversion of D&D's standard use of this trope while on its way to reconstructing it in believable ways, mostly based on comparable real-world situations. Most adventures are rooted in political intrigues in the wake of a huge war while everyone quietly gets ready for the next, adventurers often come from the ranks of traumatized, disaffected, and unemployed veterans, powerful multinational businesses are always looking to push into new markets by means fair and foul, and the cities are rife with racial tension as "monsters" are treated as second-class citizens. It's a world where Al Capone would still be caught for tax evasion instead of murder, but you could make a heck of an adventure out of the investigation and arrest if you wanted.
- Traveller has a strong interstellar Imperium, but due to Jump drive taking a minimum of one week to travel from one system to another there is a lot of room for pirates and other trouble-makers. Many players are traders, so there has to be a fairly workable economy. And there have been at least two collapses, and the Third Imperium is still expanding. And then there's Megatraveller, which takes place after the collapse of the Third Imperium.
- The world of Shadowrun is an ongoing three-way Cold War between Mega Corps, bureaucracy-strangled governments and new nations of magical races and Magical Natives. Players are "Shadowrunners"; deniable mercenaries hired to engage in operations-other-than-war between these factions.
- On top of that, the return of magic has resulted in plenty of opportunities and perils, including Awakened creatures, mana storms, and oh, yeah, the dragons (some of which run said megacorporations). Expansion of cyberspace and cybernetics have led to the rise of AIs, strange memetic horrors, and people who seem to interact with the Internet using only their minds. Everything inside a city is usually a mixture of corporate intrigue and gang warfare; everything outside a city is likely an overrun wildland full of dangerous and hungry magical beasts. Shadowrunners often find themselves in the position of fantasy adventurers, investigating and battling threats the established authorities are unwilling or unable to recognize or confront.
- Eclipse Phase has a post-apocalyptic solar system with lots of Killer Robot-infested ruins, a three-way cold war, exploration of new solar systems, and a mysterious alien superintelligence that subverts post-Singularity A.I.
- Thunderscape: the World of Aden has been deliberately designed to allow encounters with varied enemies. A decade ago Darkfall — some ill-defined, either malevolent or mindless force — brought to life all monsters that were considered extinct or never existed outside tales. Additionally, Darkfall seems to grant monstrous powers to anybody who asks. When you venture outside fortified cities, or just enter some real dangerous city slum, you stand an equal chance of being attacked by scrap metal that came to life, ambulatory dead, mutant rats or a corrupted feral child serving Darkfall.
- Exalted: Creation has gone through at least three apocalyptic events in the backstory, most recent one happening seven and a half centuries ago. The Great Contagion (a magical plague) has wiped out 90% of everything living and then the Balorian Crusade (invasion of Fair Folk hell-bent on returning the world to Chaos) killing off a lot of the rest. The world has climbed up since then, but it still has vast swathes of unexplored lands and ruins everywhere. Oh and the Scarlet Empress that stopped the Fae with an ancient superweapon has just vanished and all the threats to the world are stirring with new plans (and new and very powerful champions) in absence of that threat. Have fun!
- Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies is set in a world shaped like a snow globe where the only sizable land masses are large floating islands, and the seasons are dictated by massive weather patterns (the 7 Skies) that rotate around the Dome over the year. Large empires are difficult to establish and maintain, and armies are a challenge to raise, arm, and move effectively - especially since some of the Skies are incredibly dangerous to travel. Everything about the world, in short, is tailor-made to require everything important to get done by small groups of daring heroes engaged in high-stakes intrigue as they travel around the world in small, lightly-crewed flying ships.
- Base Raiders takes place in a world where all superheroes and villains just suddenly disappeared fairly recently. Organized crime is making a comeback in the absence of superpowered vigilantes, there's a significant population of non-humans that the government isn't sure what to do with, and there's a growing black market in artifacts looted from the abandoned bases of the missing supers. Some of those artifacts are even capable of providing superpowers to Base Raiders or those they sell them to.
- Empire MUD makes it necessary for the player to farm and chop down trees in order to pick up resources so he or she can create buildings and weapons.
- The Excuse Plot of Quake III: Arena is basically that the Gods wanted more entertainment, so they put you in the Arena Eternal.
- Unreal Tournament has a somewhat similar excuse to Quake: the Tournament is backed by the New Earth Government. Unlike Q3A, though, it has some backstory: basically, the NEG reasons that as long as people can sate their bloodlust by watching a Blood Sport, they don't try to kill each other for kicks. And if they do... well, the Tournament is always open to new contestants. Not to mention the hundreds of billions of profit Liandri and the NEG gets out of the broadcasts.
- The "setting" for Team Fortress 2 is a cartoony, 1960s mod-squad style world in order to handwave the paper-thin Excuse Plot.
- Noticeable in the Warlords franchise, particularly the Puzzle Quest-related spin offs. The relative political stability of the world depends on what this game's plot demands. In some games, everybody is at each other's throats. In others, the factions have set up a peace sufficient to allow the player to travel the world.
- Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale explores how an Adventurer-based Economy would have to work. There would have to be a literal Dungeon Master who constantly fills dungeons with treasure. Where they get their resources is not disclosed.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, the currency is meat. Actual meat, taken from bodies. Naturally, the best way to get this meat is from things that you kill. Combine this with all of the hostile races and a near-universal Healing Factor (the race that the players are have it, as do the Pork elves), and you have an economy based around fighting.
- The Constructed World of Strangereal was created specifically to encourage conflicts which could be won or lost by Ace Combat. Many militarized pseudo-European continents with opposed ideologies exist, and modern fighter aircraft coexist with World War I-style giant superweapons. In any given conflict, one side tends to have all the superweapons (either by stealing them or building them), so even if the other side happens to have The Hero, Mutually Assured Destruction is never actually assured. Thus, there have been a dozen (and counting!) WW2-level conflicts in Strangereal Earth's history, one for each game.
- Solatorobo has an economy that largely centers on quest brokers and people who sell stuff for adventurers (though there are mentions of musicians, fashion designers, cooks, etc., they tend to get little more than a passing glance in the game proper). And, notably, these quests tend to center on someone who has a functional Mini-Mecha and possibly some basic fighting skills; there are no quests up for plumbers, for example.
- X-COM: UFO Defense takes place in a Crapsack World: The galaxy is ruled, rim to core and pole to pole, by an Always Chaotic Evil Hive Mind. Humans might be able to destroy the local node if they become The Unfettered - abolish every civil liberty and article of war. And there's another, unattached(albeit slightly less advanced) node in the Gulf of Mexico. And its destruction would reduce Earth's biosphere to the algae level. And there's an entire planet of Hive Mind aliens just one dimension over. And the best weapon against all these irredeemably hostile aliens are Half-Human Hybrids with Psychic Powers... who will eventually become a permanent underclass treated like parolees from cradle to grave and not allowed to breed without permission(which tends to be withheld between invasions). This works out fine as the backstory of a hyper-lethal squad combat game: the utter monstrosity of your enemy means that as long as you have any surviving humans, you can always find vengeance-crazed replacements for troops lost in combat, or at least someone you can wave a carrot at to die at your command, and you never really run out of alien baddies to kill, capture and vivisect. But taken out of context, X-COM is essentially sending unaccountable death squads against an enemy that can never really be beaten.
- In the world of Diablo most of the magical equipment you come by (barring some made using ancient relics) was forged by the demons for use in their wars. The events of the first game created a bustling trade from adventurers dredging the items up from the demons of the cathedral, while most traders in Diablo III admit to getting their goods by stealing, looting corpses, or digging them out of the ground.
- Defiance takes place thirty years after an alien invasion. What's left of the Earth Republic and the Votan Collective have an uneasy truce, but malfunctioning terraformers have spawned a variety of monstrous creatures, pieces of the Votan Arks periodically fall to Earth, causing destruction but also bringing valuable tech that Arkhunters scavenge (and fight over). And, of course, not all humans and Votan are aligned with either of the big factions (heck the TV series takes place in a multi-species city-state that frequently clashes with both of them). The Irathients and Volge in particular seem to have little interest in "civilization".
- The Elder Scrolls:
- Tamriel is dotted with countless ruins, smuggler dens, bandit caves, cultist hideouts, necromancer lairs, ancient tombs and just about any other standard fantasy "dungeon" you can imagine. A large part of the series' popularity is the openness of the world that allows you to explore all of these places whenever and however you want. Need some quick gold? There will always be some sort of dungeon within a stone's throw of wherever you are at, full of things to kill and valuables to take.
- In particular, High Rock, home of the Bretons, supports an adventure friendly culture. Rising in class by performing quests and services to curry favor with various rulers is considered the best way to do, which has created a cultural "quest obsession" among young Bretons.
- The constant wars between the various kingdoms of the Mount & Blade games create opportunities for wandering adventurers to make a name for themselves, and the bandits that pop up in the absence of any effective police force (because most of the kingdoms' resources are going into fighting the wars) ensures there are plenty of targets for guilt-free looting and level-grinding.
- Touhou is a Shoot 'em Up series (or in the case of the Gaiden Games, Fighting Games) that devotes multiple Universe Compendiums to explaining the type of setting where everyone fights everyone else at the drop of a hat and events that risk upsetting the social order or just killing everyone are a regular occurrence, yet still manages to be a functioning society. Gensokyo is a small, isolated Fantastic Nature Reserve with creatures from all sorts of mythologies, most of whom are Blood Knights that recognise killing your opponent means you can't fight them again, and the humans recognise that youkai need to cause trouble so they don't wink out of existence, so Non-Lethal Warfare was instituted and everyone is remarkably forgiving given that it's all part of the fun.
- Lemuria, the setting of Child of Light, is a literal Fairy Tale land, so there's an evil queen and vicious monsters to fight and magical abilities and a child of prophecy and all that good stuff.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place just after a cease fire has been reached between The Empire and The Federation (well, the Republic) where they kicked the crap out of each other. Tensions are still high but open warfare is off the table for a moment, so both sides focus on sabotage, subterfuge, and commando operations to weaken their enemy behind the scenes. So soon after the war order and law enforcement hasn't been reestablished in a lot of areas, so there's plenty of opportunity for both sides and independent parties to exploit people and regions to their benefit or just cause havoc. And being Star Wars, there are lots of ancient lairs and powerful artifacts lying around waiting for some enterprising individual to find them. Perfect for a MMORPG.
- Mass Effect is an interesting example. The way technology was developed makes conflict quite likely, with easy FTL and high levels of energy, but technology for things like terraforming is rather limited. It makes habitable worlds a commodity worth fighting over. This is obviously intentional in universe, as the Reapers rely on conflicts between races to make their military victory over the galaxy easier. They deliberately left behind the technology they did to encourage races to develop along this path.
- Persona 5 has the Mental World of the Palace: It responds to the hidden desires of evil humans by creating massive dungeons, giving you an excuse for Dungeon Crawling and Boss Battles. Its Clap Your Hands If You Believe properties also make it so even toy guns and fake melee weapons work like real ones, giving your party a way to obtain weapons to fight the monsters that inhabit the Palace, despite the heroes being teenagers in Japan, where real weapons (especially guns) are usually extremely hard to obtain.
- Super Robot Wars X: The fantasy-like world of "Al-Warth", which, according to an interview with producer Terada, is centered around the world of "Soukaizan" from Wataru, and "Soukaizan," featuring the main storyline of the first Wataru Series; while also incorporates elements from the alternate 19th century Earth from Nadia and the "future Earth" from Buddy Complex. Said interview also implies that the plots of Code Geass R2, Gurren Lagann, and Shin Mazinger will also be modified to work with this setting.
- RWBY is set on a world where humanity is mostly restricted to four kingdoms, with everywhere else being the domain of monsters that grossly outnumber mankind and are out to Kill All Humans. Huntsmen and huntresses are trained to beat back the monsters threatening civilization, but the female narrator of the first episode thinks their failure is inevitable.
- In addition, the Grimm are a constant, unrelenting threat. They specifically only target humans (only fighting normal animals due to territorial concerns) and large human expansions outside of the natural barriers protecting the kingdoms tends to result in disaster because of massive Grimm attacks. There are villages outside the kingdoms and nomads who roam the wilderness, who are often protected by the Hunters, but they are still vulnerable to being attacked by the Grimm. There is actually an in-universe theory that the Grimm don't even need to eat, and only eat human flesh because they choose to.
- The world of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures is partially built around the idea of freelance adventurers. Specifically, they supplement the highly corrupt judicial system. Criminals are supposed to be sentenced by a member of their own race, and society includes creatures that consider beings food.
- A Modest Destiny is meant to be a deconstruction of RPG tropes, with an economy dependent on the Thieves' Guild, and an industry of custom made dungeons.
- The Order of the Stick expands on how "a large number of Dungeons & Dragons settings describe the local monster populations in great detail, but often not how the people in the area actually make their living..." which turns out to be "Killing and eating monsters and taking their stuff, obviously." Thus, there are a large number of humanoid Rapid Aging Explosive Breeder races who the gods of the setting created solely to be slaughtered by roaming adventurers. Redcloak is a member of one such race who has lucked into an absurd amount of power, and is planning on doing something about it even if it destroys the entire universe.
- Overside has an indeterminate number of strange, fantastical creatures who are constantly meeting, merging, or competing with each other, with plenty of ancient legends, relics, and ruined empires from the days of yore to go around (some of which get rebuilt and repopulated by successor empires which later collapse and leave new ruins on top of the old ones).
- Goblins, being a Dungeons & Dragons-based comic, has adventurer as a separate profession. For their convenience there are several dungeon crawls around the world that is specifically designed to test the strength and wits of adventurers. Of course, most adventurers fail in these and get killed.
- Critical Hit's Season 1 and 2 World is one of these — it's a loosely affiliated continent of kingdoms, with monsters to the north, ancient ruins of Tiefling and Dragonborn civilizations, an underground city of robots, and even a moon full of Insane Gods and their creations.
- Worm is one of these, with the profoundly unnatural superhero/supervillain system existing only because of the mutual threat of the Endbringers, the manipulations of Cauldron - and both are the result of the Meta Origin passing the Conflict Ball around.
The entity passed by him, and it leveraged a power. Wiping a memory, setting a block in place. The same blocks that prevented accord between the Wardens and the Shepherds. The same blocks that prevented Partisanís special sight from seeing the entityís power at work.
- The world of Adventure Time suffered from an apocalypse about 1000 years ago due to a nuclear war and the return of magic, and still hasn't quite recovered. Civilization is limited to small, sporadic kingdoms, and the rest of the world is filled with ruins, ancient dungeons, monsters, etc, perfect for any young adventurers out there.
- Interestingly, Equestria of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic technically qualifies. Within the borders of actual cities, ponies are generally able to go about their lives normally, but there are numerous monsters and lost artifacts outside said borders—even nonpony civilizations appear to be more rough and tumble than what the characters usually experience. It's simply that most episodes focus on the life in the safe zones; there was even a joke where the main character had an epic adventure off-screen, leaving her assistant to lounge about for a while.