Low Fantasy


Low Fantasy is a catchall, and rather inexact, term for that sub-genre of fantasy that is neither high nor Heroic Fantasy, and usually not Urban Fantasy, though it may overlap with the other sub-genres. Not a good way to define a genre, but English is funny like that — especially our particular brand of it.

The designation is not a description of the quality of the work, but rather the amount of fantasy, and the number of fantastic or otherwise supernatural elements, it contains, which can be rather difficult to measure. Sometimes comedies are also excluded from the genre, but either way the works that remain don't have a natural unity.

However, while there are no features all Low Fantasy has in common, there are features common in many low fantasies, each the opposite of one of the defining features of High Fantasy:

GURPS Fantasy defines low fantasy as "closer to realistic fiction than to myth. Low Fantasy stories focus on people's daily lives and practical goals ... A Low Fantasy campaign asks what it's like to live in a world of monsters, magic, and demigods."

The Low Fantasy Gaming RPG defines the low fantasy gaming genre as low magic, with an emphasis on magic being not only rare, but also dark and inherently dangerous. Every time a spell is cast, the caster must check for a Dark & Dangerous magic effect https://lowfantasygaming.com/2016/05/29/dark-dangerous-magic/

Low magic tends to indicate low fantasy, but not always: The Lord of the Rings, Trope Maker for High Fantasy, is set in a low-magic world, for... certain backstory reasons.

Distinguishing between low fantasy and soft science fiction can be tricky. Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, wrote both; the Cthulhu mythos is both.

Not to be confused with Demythtification, which removes the magical elements, but can keep the Black and White Morality and such.

Compare with Magic Realism, Mundane Fantastic and Dark Fantasy. Contrast with Standard Fantasy Setting, Dungeon Punk, and Urban Fantasy, plus the tropes mentioned above.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • +Anima: Is a story about a group of children (the oldest being 17) that are +Anima, people that can transform to varying degrees into animals, which is the closest thing to magic the setting has. The setting is a world with (with very few exceptions) medieval or renaissance technology, full of wars, slavery, discrimination, ethnic conflicts, insecurity, inequality, amoral researchers and abuse of power. The story however is fairly optimistic about it, with the main characters and most people they meet merely trying to survive and find happiness despite everything.
  • Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash: A group of young Japanese teenagers awaken in the world of Grimgar with no memory of how they got there. Magic is largely limited to minor healing, some sword skills, and a few dark-based spells that inflict minor status ailments. Combat is brutal and savage: many of the battles our main party gets into are far more reminiscent of Urban Warfare of the likes seen in Fallujah as goblins take full advantage of buildings and town architecture to ambush and snipe from . The goblins so far are the only non-human race, and the question of how "evil" they are is implicitly asked as they are clearly intelligent creatures who enjoy games and playing with small animals. And even all this, fighting is only a small part of life in Grimgar: much of the time, the characters are living in a much more mundane fashion by doing things such as washing clothes, cooking meals, and paying for daily living expenses.
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit has a disillusioned cynic trying to make up for her past deeds. Fictional medieval setting with limited magic.
  • Spice and Wolf: one of the two main character is a wolf goddess in humanoid form, but the plot is mostly about the mundane things she and the trader she travels with encounter.

    Fan Works 
  • A Scotsman in Egypt is mostly a Historical Fiction/Alternate History story, but it also contains a few low-key fantasy elements, mostly consisting of the visions various characters experience, coupled with the one witch who uncannily recites a conversation from decades ago, mostly spoken by dead men half a continent away.

    Films — Animation 
  • How to Train Your Dragon, despite having numerous varieties of dragons, is fairly low fantasy. There is little or no actual magic involved in the narrative, and dragons are treated as a separate order of animals that can be tamed and domesticated. The sequel drives this home with the revelation of an alpha dragon, the Bewilderbeast, whose dominance can be challenged by other dragons.
  • Mulan takes place in a mundane fantasy version of Ancient China, where the only fantasy elements include animal guardians and the spirits of ancestors. Besides that, it's pretty much about a war, the main character is a human girl and the fantasy stuff is only a bit of flavouring.
  • Tangled in a similar vein has very little magic - with the only source of it being Rapunzel's hair. Besides the animals being somewhat more intelligent than normal, there's little else. The protagonists are all human, and the story is mainly Rapunzel's journey to the kingdom. The antagonist is said to be a witch, but she has no powers other than knowing how to activate Rapunzel's magic. As far as Grey and Grey Morality goes, it's up for debate whether or not the Wicked Stepmother actually loves the daughter she kidnapped.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Despite taking place in a world filled with somewhat sentient animals and Fairy Godmothers, more emphasis is placed on the human characters in Cinderella. It could have passed for a decent period piece if not for the various fairy tale tropes that crop up from time to time.
  • The Craft overlaps this with Urban Fantasy, but places more emphasis on the bond between the four practising witches. Bonus points for attempting to show accurate Wiccan and neopagan practises (the magic-fuelled climax aside that is). More emphasis is on Sarah overcoming her suicidal issues than the magic.
  • Fairy Tale: A True Story is set in our world, just where fairies happen to be real. The fairies are merely background characters, and the plot is more about the friendship between the two girls who find them in the back garden. Guardian Angels are implied to exist as well.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in contrast to later entries in the franchise, is quite Low Fantasy. The only magic is the curse that keeps the pirates immortal. And the plot is merely about rescuing Elizabeth from them, and them trying to break their curse. The sequels abandon this element and introduce sea monsters, ancient goddesses, mermaids and trips into the underworld.
    • On Stranger Tides, while definitely higher than Curse kind of lowers the High Fantasy of the previous two sequels. Outside of mermaids and Fountain of Youth, the movie turns back into standard action-adventure film. That still does not seem to affect the critics and lots of fans who still think the entry is the lowest in the series.
  • Similar to the Cinderella example, Snow White: A Tale of Terror is implied to take place in The Dark Ages and the only magic comes from Claudia's tricks. The heart of the plot is the relationship between the stepmother and stepdaughter - with Claudia being turned to murder Lilli due to a succession crisis. The fairy tale stuff is mostly just flavouring.

  • Glen Cook's The Black Company series is Low Fantasy with a High Fantasy backdrop. The titular Black Company is a mercenary company employed in a High Fantasy-type war of Evil Empire versus Heroic Rebels. However, they aren't working for the Heroic Rebels. Definite gray morality; the "Evil" Empire is more Lawful Neutral, while the "Heroic" Rebels are rather less heroic on closer examination. The main characters are all loyal to each other and the band, but are interested in survival, not saving the world. And as to magic users being rather freakishly evil, there's the Dominator...
  • Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun takes place in an Earth so far in the future that the sun has gone red and counting individual years have become meaningless. Before the fall of humanity into an impoverished dark age of ignorance and superstition, humanity had reached levels of technology that borders on the supernatural, having mastered things such as dimensional portals. Now humanity is fighting over the scraps, while the End Times grow ever closer. Psychic powers and bizarre alien creatures from other planets and dimensions further confuse the line between sci-fi and low fantasy, but these are rare. In this world, eating a pork sausage is considered a stroke of luck for most people and until near the end of his tales, the main character is mostly stumbling around between his execution jobs rather than doing epic deeds.
  • A Brother's Price has absolutely no magic, but a world that is very clearly not ours. The narrative is not clear on whether it is postapocalyptic, or the environment just happens to be one detrimental to the health of male sperm and male fetuses in the womb. The heroism and battles are more of the low-fantasy type, too.
  • Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley has elements of High Fantasy but avoids stock tropes of elves, dwarves and wizards. Its magical system is complex but low-key, it has fantastic creatures like giant birds and a demonic ancient race, but largely the focus is on politics and military training.
  • Alan Campbell's Deepgate Codex trilogy combines many Low Fantasy elements with a steampunk setting.
  • Tim Marquitz's Dirge is set in a world almost on the verge of destruction due to a Zombie Apocalypse but which still has a small chance of survival due to, well, people with swords and walls. Assassin Dirge, a Sweet Polly Olliver killer working for the local church, may change the balance of power between the zombie's necromancer masters and The Empire which controls the walled compounds.
    • Also by Tim Marquitz is the The Blood War Trilogy which takes place in a world where magical artifacts are exceedingly rare and incredibly powerful game-changers—and the Orc equivalents have just found an entire treasure-trove full of them, changing the balance of world power.
  • Discworld, particularly from Men at Arms onwards, as Pratchett begins to explore how a city like Ankh-Morpork would actually work. However while the feel is often Low Fantasy the actual setting - with dwarfs, trolls, extra-dimensional elves and dragons, interactive deities, recurring threats to reality itself and numerous wizards and witches - is more High Fantasy. Much of the humour comes from meshing the two forms together (for example, in Sourcery the magic is very much High Fantasy, but the magicians are as Low Fantasy as they come) and much of the plot and conflict come from the juxtaposition of the idealism of High Fantasy against the cynicism of Low Fantasy.
  • The Dying Earth stories by writer Jack Vance (and the Tabletop RPG based on the books): an After the End setting, where many societies have returned to a feudal and agrarian state or disintegrated completely, magic has all but replaced science, and Life is cheap. Characters include the selfish rogue and conman Cugel the Clever who has to reluctantly undergo quests for a wizard he tried to rob; Liane the Wayfarer, who happily commits casual murder and comes to a bad end at the hands of a collector with an unusual fetish for eyes; and the magician Rhialto the Marvellous, who constantly quarrels with his companions. It's safe to say that 99% of characters encountered are amoral, selfish, callous, narcissistic, sociopathic and thoroughly unpleasant Anti Heroes, or simply insane. The only character who is even remotely sympathetic is Mazirian the Magician, and even he can be ruthless when it suits him.
    • The Dying Earth series kinda straddles between low and high, while the characters aren't paragons and so fit the low fantasy model, magic is far more high than low with characters having flying palaces in the clouds or traveling to black holes.
  • The Eddie LaCrosse series has elements of this, although people also put it in the Sword & Sorcery sub-genre (which is typically not considered low fantasy). It probably varies a bit from book to book exactly which label is best. Supernatural elements definitely exist, but they tend to be relatively rare — there aren't wizard flinging fireballs on every page, and the primary antagonists are non-magical and human.
  • Robin Hobb's Farseer series is classic Low Fantasy. Notable because the events described are very much high fantasy, but the story focuses on characters who barely ever see the significance of their actions, and the plot is very much grounded in their day to day experiences.
  • The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie and following books set in the same world are arguably Low Fantasy at its rawest.
  • Fly By Night Series - so much so, that there is no magic at all, just the occasional bit of weird mechanics.
  • The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch: the main characters are a gang of sophisticated con men, who tend to run around cities rife with organized crime. The magical ability of the world is actually pretty high, but it's all in the hands of a wizards' guild that appears rarely and has it in for the protagonists.
  • The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio is a simple travel tale with little magic involved(mostly dreams and visions which have minor bearing on the plot). The setting is rather like Medieval Central Asia and if you look up place names you will sometimes find them actually corresponding to place names in medieval times.
  • The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake could be seen as an extreme case of this even to the point where it's open to debate whether it actually counts as a fantasy series or not. While it does take place in a rather fantastical setting (i.e. an impossibly large and ambiguously sentient castle) and is doused with a good dose of fantasy imagery (e.g. a giant dead tree suspended many hundreds of feet from the ground on which a set of twins frequently have tea), it contains no instances of magic, dragons, talking animals or any other such elements found in even the lowest of fantasy novels. Also, the nonexistence of major conflict throughout most of the novels sets it apart from other fantasy stories. The third books really brings up doubts about the books' fantasy merit. Still, this doesn't repel book stores from insisting that these books be placed in the fantasy section. Actually, I'm not sure where else they would go. The related novella "Boy in Darkness," however, is a slightly more traditional fantasy story, but most of the magic and shape shifting elements present may've just been more metaphor than anything.
  • Gunfighter's Ride is about a Pony Express rider and his horse dealing with magical menaces.
  • A Harvest Of War: A quasi-historical Constructed World urban setting, the only actual fantasy element is a separate race of rather mundane not-exactly-humans.
  • The Haunting has magic, but it's rare and underpowered enough (and dependent on illusion) that people easily make up reasons why what they saw cannot be.
  • James K. Burk's High Rage (and its as yet unpublished sequel Taking Hope): intrigue, war, politics, swordfighting and some interesting magic, but no dragons or world-shattering conflicts.
  • Although there is an evil dark ancient power threatening to come into play in the Inda series, it's mostly a background event and not at all the main focus of the story, which is instead concerned primarily with explaining the life of the titular character and how it relates to the history of his homeland and the rest of the world, particularly the strait which eventually becomes named after him. In fact, the story of what's going on with Norsunder and the most prominent Norsundrian in the story (Ramis), is a plotline that's left hanging for the next book set in the same world, which takes place some 400 years later - and which again primarily focuses on the intersection between different cultures and how characters cope in day to day life. Basically, the whole Sartorias Deles storyline seems to all be shaping up to have a slowburning High Fantasy epic showdown by having multiple installments of Low Fantasy stories leading up to the ultimate confrontation with Norsunder.
  • The Indigo series fits on most counts: It's After the End. Sentient nonhuman beings are rare. Morality is mainly grey and gray. Clan feuds are more likely than actual wars (although one kingdom does get captured by an Evil Overlord who turns out not to be evil after all). And magic isn't particularly reliable or predictable, and is rarely powerful. However, the future of the human race is on the shoulders of our eponymous heroine and her "dog." Or something.
  • The Iron Teeth a free fantasy web serial that features grey morality, a human dominated world, comedy, and magic is of limited use and often unimportant. It does also feature goblins and other races but while human civilization is fragile and decaying they are still by far the most powerful race.
  • Kalpa Imperial, by Angélica Gorodischer, is a no-magic alterante world with a vast Empire, destroyed and rebuilded over and over again.
  • Last Dragon has very little magic and the dragons are, as might be inferred from the title, extinct. The tone of the novel is rather harsh too.
  • Mortis: The Blood 'n Flowers Series is set in an urban fantasy-style setting with angels, demons, skinwalkers, and the like running amok. The main focus of the story are the character arcs and their emotional development.
  • D. E. Wyatt's No Good Deed... is set in a world influenced by mid-15th Century Western Europe, with neither fantastic creatures or magic to be found.
  • The Paladin by C. J. Cherryh is an example of the "no visible magic" variety of Low Fantasy.
  • The Redwall novels are another example of low fantasy, where the villains often go to war for petty reasons, magic is almost nothing more than prophecy and ascended parlor tricks, the scope is limited to Mossflower woods (or if they do go afar, wherever that place happens to be; our heroes are not going out to save the world as you'd expect in High Fantasy), and where in the earlier books, Anyone Can Die. What breaks that mold is the Funny Animal cast, the Black and White Morality, and the fact the Brian Jacques himself ostensibly writes these books for kids.
  • Return of the Reaper, where we see little to no magic, except that of the demons and angels.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Grey and Gray Morality? Check. Anti-Hero? Check. An almost complete lack of magic? Check. It would actually be easy to mistake the setting of the series for Europe of the mid-1400's if were not for the presence of a polytheistic religion, as well as the chimera, giants, sea monsters, etc. There is some fan speculation that the setting is our own world, long After the End.
  • Ronja the Robber's Daughter is a great example of a Low Fantasy children's book.
  • The Old Norse Saga of Grettir the Strong (from c. 1320 AD) fits the definition rather well. Its main plot is the title hero's struggle to survive as an outlaw, but it also features black magic and fights with undeads and trolls.
  • K.J Parker's The Scavenger Trilogy is good example of a low fantasy. The series sticks to mundane settings and has a dark tone. It provides a troubling take on heroism. Supernatural elements are present but low-key. The wars are inglorious, both in the field and their aims.
  • Shadow of the Lion by Eric Flint, Dave Freer, and Mercedes Lackey is a good example. It is set in ancient Venice, and, though magic exists, it has little more to do with the day to day life of most citizens than historical "witchcraft" did, and, indeed is treated in much the same way. Except of course for protagonist Marco Valdosta who ends up fulfilling his destiny as a mage by acting as a vessel for the Winged Lion of Venice and saving the city. Virtually the only other fantastical elements are spirits/demigods and demons (from whom humans draw magical power, so arguably these two are just different aspects of the same element).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire is a generally low-magic setting, with a cynically pragmatic worldview and a focus on political maneuvering between rival factions who are all at least morally gray; however, the politics spans two continents and reaches epic levels on its own even without more traditional, stirring High adventure elements. However, because The Magic Comes Back slowly over the course of the story, the fantasy does get progressively Higher as the series goes on, even though the general tone remains Low in nature. The magic and other mysteries are treated as ambiguous, yet highly dangerous, potentially world-changing and complicating factors in an already combustible political and social situation.
  • Eisenstein's Sorcerer's Son is fairly idealistic, but the small scale plot and human dominated world are enough to mark it as low fantasy.
  • The Stone Dance of the Chameleon takes place in a world with no magic at all, but has all the worldbuilding hallmarks of a fantasy series.
  • Tales of the Otori: A series in which magic is rare (and controlled by a secretive network of supernatural spies and assassins), magic-users are generally feared and mistrusted, all but one of the main antagonists are non-magical, political intrigue and military strategy play as big a part in the plot as the supernatural elements, and the protagonist is a former religious pacifist turned vengeance seeker after the massacre of his village.
  • Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis certainly skews in this direction. Somewhat surprising from the author of The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Uprooted is set in a fantasy version of Poland with magic and Grey and Grey morality. Even the wood is more complicated then it first seems.
  • War God by Tim Marquitz has plenty of magic but it's not very powerful and the world is a Black Comedy fantasy setting where it's only used to make money or make people miserable.
  • Although a series about talking cats may sound like High Fantasy, Warrior Cats has some very distinct Low Fantasy qualities, with its dark tone, Gray and Grey Morality, increasingly dysfunctional characters, and minimal involvement of supernatural forces.
  • Watership Down is from the perspective of rabbits trying to find a new home. A few of the rabbits have precognition powers - the plot getting started by one having a vision of their home being destroyed. As far as cynicism goes, there's a lot of it.
  • The Witcher stories fit very much. and considered for the most part, a posterchild of low fantasy. While the series has some high fantasy elements, low fantasy concepts, the human condition, drive the fantasy of the world, curses and monsters are driven from failure in humanity, and war and social strife come from realistic human power struggles and fear far more than anything.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charmed began as this. The three witch sisters had minimal magic - one could see the future, one could freeze time and the third could move things with her mind. Plots were usually about stopping a Monster of the Week from hurting innocents or the sisters trying to balance tbeir Charmed duties with their personal lives. Around the third season, a Big Bad was introduced and enemies started getting more powerful. By the fifth it had moved closer towards Heroic Fantasy.
  • I Dream of Jeannie has a genie living with a US astronaut and using small wishes to interfere in his daily life. There's No Antagonist for the most part, and most episodes revolve around Tony trying to conceal Jeannie's powers from everyone.
  • Supernatural's two main characters are human brothers who hunt various demons and monsters hiding in the real world. It's usually Monster of the Week rather than a Big Bad - though later seasons do up the epic scale a bit.
  • True Blood treats vampires as a subculture within the human world, though it later introduces things like faeries and shapeshifters. But most of the protagonists are human.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Bunnies & Burrows: A game about intelligent rabbits trying to survive in a modern setting. Magic does not exist, but there are mild psychic powers (rare) and herbs can be combined into medicine. Your average monsters include humans, dogs, and owls.
  • While Magicians, Witches, and magic in general, exists in the setting of Citadels, they do not play a significant role in the actual gameplay, which focuses more on city-building rather than character battles. The "magical" skills of the characters have no inherent difference from their non-magical counterparts.
  • d20 Modern: The "Shadow Chasers" setting.
  • Iron Kingdoms (at least in their RPG incarnation) take a pretty good shot at this one. Even in the tabletop battle game, wars between nations are usually concerned with either land-grabbing or religious differences (the kind with fire), but anything involving the undead Cryx faction usually veers off into ludicrous world-threatening territory.
  • Ironclaw emphasizes interpersonal conflict, politics, and characters who actually have a place and role in society other than "adventurer". The relative paucity of "monsters" (Guilt Free Slaughter Victims) in a Funny Animal-populated setting gets a Lampshade Hanging in one supplement:
    Frater Perphredo: Where are the monsters? My friend, we're all monsters.
    • That said it's not Dark fantasy, most of the factions have a sympathetic side and magic is treated similarly to High fantasy, aside from Unholy magic which is unquestionably evil (though White Magic isn't necessarily good), and the setting is reaching a renaissance.
  • Maelstrom is set like this. The magic only exists as the power of God or as part of a mystical, mistrusted force. (There IS a character class of Mage.) Otherwise it is just normal Tudor England. You could even remove the magic with no major changes.
  • Warhammer Swings from Low to High Fantasy, and everything in between. In particular, many areas around The Empire or the Border Princes are typically Low Fantasy for the most part. An article in White Dwarf magazine even gave tips on how players can structure their armies to be Low Fantasy.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay on the other hand defaults and mostly stays there. Although you can encounter very potent supernatural elements, it usually means you're in way over your head.

    Video Games 
  • While not gritty or cynical in the slightest (just the opposite, really), the Atelier series of games tend to have many of the other marks of Low Fantasy. In the earlier (and Japan-exclusive) games especially, the setting is dominated by humans, there is very little blatant magic (most "magical effects" are at least manufactured by the alchemist heroes of the games, often with recipes that have at least a little grounding in actual science), and the setting of the games only encompasses a single country or principality (on purpose, as the protagonist is working in a time limit and typically is running a business anyway, and doesn't have time to go casually Walking the Earth). The Atelier Iris sub-series, which did make it to America, has received some criticism for moving away from most or all of these elements; Mana Khemia and Atelier games on the DS, Liese and Annie, have brought the Low Fantasy elements back to the forefront to at least some degree, with Atelier Rorona deliberately going back to it full-force.
  • Darklands sits comfortably between high and low, although its roots are firmly planted in Low Fantasy due to taking place in 15th century Central Europe, during the last years of the Holy Roman Empire. You spend a great deal of time simply making enough money to survive, and spend a lot of time visiting very mundane cities and villages, negotiating with local lords (most of whom don't have the time to talk to you anyway), studying at universities and cathedrals, and tackling robber knights and brigands. Magic comes only in the form of alchemical concoctions (recipes for which are supposedly, but not really, based on the works of real-world alchemists and philosophers), which take a long time and precious (real-world) ingredients. The supernatural elements, however, are pretty strong, with many mythical creatures from European lore lurking in the countryside, and an over-arching plot involving the summoning of demons from hell. Also, Christian saints apparently have great powers to bestow upon their followers.
  • Dwarf Fortress may have humanoid species besides humans (with the spotlight, naturally, on the dwarves, though all of the races are assholes in their own way), but it's quite low as fantasy goes. Technological advances range between the bronze and medieval ages (though, with a little creativity, the dwarves can go well beyond), there's no magic (and the magic immediately in development, necromancy and immortality, is only controlled by the few who learned of divine secrets), and the most common threats to your colonies are rather mundane issues such as the local wildlife, the scarcity of natural resources, and invasions from the malevolent goblins (or, perish the thought, running out of booze). Dragons and megabeasts may exist, but they are few and far between. With that said, the game is relatively easy to modify, allowing code-savvy players to add their own mythical terrors and magic if they wish.
  • While Final Fantasy VI itself straddles between high and low fantasy (definitely the lowest of the Final Fantasies), the end result of the death of Kefka, who became the God of Magic through draining the power of the Warring Triad, is the elimination of magic in the world, resulting in the end, a low fantasy world.
  • In the Fire Emblem series, the vast majority of characters are human, and conflicts are between human factions, with fantasy creatures usually portrayed as rare or legendary. In addition, most characters are non-magic-users, including almost all of the protagonists. While there are plenty of mages as well, their powers are mostly limited to hurting or healing things, not manipulating cosmic forces. Also, the games focus more on political maneuvering and grand strategy than typical fantasy quests.
  • Gungnir, which is gritty and set to a Black and Gray Morality racial conflict. The world has some magic, but anything flashy is bound to be a forbidden art; there are Sprites, but they tend to stay away from people, and the resident angel's morality and objectives are a bit questionable. It helps that this game is part of the unabashedly Dark Fantasy Dept. Heaven series.
  • Inherit the Earth is set in a world where humanity either died or left. Uplifted Animals, the descendants of humanity's last projects, have built a quasi-medieval society using found artifacts, such as the extremely advanced Orbs, to help keep their lives running smoothly.
  • Last Scenario straddles the line between this and high-fantasy. On one hand, there's a race of elf-like people (though they don't have the longevity that are typically associated with elves,) and in the past everyone had to contend with demons though this turns out to be propaganda. On the other hand, much of the game is spent contending with a messy war involving three different nations and lots of political intrigue and scheming.
    • The spiritual successor, Exit Fate, is most definitely in this category. While elves, magic, spirits, and a destined hero all exist, the focus is primarily on the wars fought between two nations over territory and a third nation that invades both lands as part of a plan to unite the world by force. Furthermore, while spirits exist (and may actually be the souls of the departed), they are inherently eldritch beings who seem either indifferent or actively malevolent towards the living.
  • While relativity high on the Fantasy scale, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is a low fantasy take on the typical high fantasy of the series. While Link is able to use basic magic, the fact that he can puts those who witness it in awe and leads them to assume that he's capable of even greater feets like resurrection. And while there is a prophesy that the world will be saved by a hero, it never specifies Link or any vague description of him. Not to mention that the villain isn't a conquering tyrant, but a lonely child corrupted by dark power.
  • Life Is Strange fits both the literary and gaming definition of low fantasy. While the central drama revolves around the fantasy element of Max's time travel powers, the rest of the drama stems from realistic scenarios dealing with real world issues.
  • Monster Hunter has many of the hallmarks of Low Fantasy. Humans are overwhelmingly the dominant race (others exist, like the Felynes and Wyverians, but they get little focus), magic doesn't exist, and the plot scope is centred on individual hunters trying to get by in a world where Everything Is Trying to Kill You.
  • Mount & Blade takes place in the Constructed World of Calradia, and other than the total lack of magic and the supernatural it fits the mold quite well. You take on the role of a wandering hero seeking to make a name for himself in a land of warring kingdoms controlled by Feudal Overlords who are out to expand their holdings and gain personal glory.
  • Bungie's Myth series is arguably an example. While its setting does have wizards of incalcuable power and legions of undead soldiers in a campaign to exterminate the living, the focus of the series tends to be on rank-and-file soldiers struggling to get by, fighting a seemingly hopeless war which none of them expect to survive, and just observing the world falling apart around them. There is little in the way of heroics, just a collective resolve not to go quietly into the night.
  • Pigskin takes place in a "Seventh Century A.D." where Vikings battle barbarian hordes on the English countryside for no determinable reason or purpose, with trolls sometimes joining either or both sides. Historical accuracy is definitely not the point.
  • Suikoden II. While there is magic and runes and a high fantasy artstyle, the humans are the ones that drive the conflict, especially the Complete Monster Luca Blight. The runes basically are elements of symbolism of the aspects of conflict. The game also is not about the defeat of a great evil force, but about the reconciliation between two friends who end up being leaders of opposite sides. Plenty of Grey and Grey Morality as both sides, even after Luca's death (before, its Black and Gray Morality), engage in morally questionable practices. Other than from the runes, the world does have limited magic as well.
  • Sunset Over Imdahl hits seven items out of nine on the checklist, and barely avoids the last two—it's a pointless war to keep a crumbling empire together, and magic is barely present, let alone good or evil.
  • Tactics Ogre: There are magic users, demons and zombies but the main bulk of the story is about a royal secession crisis and a nation torn apart by factionalism.
  • Thera: Legacy of the Great Torment is a Medieval II: Total War mod that puts the player behind the reins of a civilisation in an Earth-like world that has just survived a cataclysmic event known as the Great Torment. The presence of stat-boosting and possibly supernatural artifacts, non-human creatures on the southernmost and northernmost continents, and vague hints of prophecies in some faction's backgrounds, all suggest there is something else going on besides the mundane and scientific. It's much, much more cynical than the average High Fantasy, though - there is no good or evil here, just different civilisations all fighting each other for different reasons, be it freedom, faith, self-defence, revenge, or simple lust for power (mostly that one).
  • Thief fits this trope to a tee and even adds a very gritty Film Noir aesthetic coupled with medievalish Clock Punk and Steam Punk into the overall mix...
  • The Witcher saga, commonly cited as low fantasy. While many aspects, especially near the end of Witcher 3, can be considered High Fantasy (even Heroic Fantasy for Ciri), low fantasy elements drive the world and fantasy concepts for the most part, arise from failures in humanity and the crimes committed against eachother. Quests mostly involve power struggles of people and criminal wrongdoing more than quests for magical artifacts or abilities. The Witcher 3 is especially praised for a portrayal of its world with issues paralleling our own.
  • While the amount of Low and High Fantasy elements fluctuates wildly between individual installments, the Gothic and Risen games generally fit into this quite nicely. Every major character is jaded and melancholic, and the general point of the games is often some personal goal like escaping a Penal Colony or reclaiming your stolen humanity (even though you may save the world in the process, it's never your main motivation). Magic exists, but isn't widespread with the only practitioners being either arrogant high mages or morally questionable Necromancers and Voodoo Priests. Gothic 3 even implies that, since magic comes from the gods, it actually might be a corrupting, evil force after all. And even though there is another humanoid race - the Orcs - their only true difference to humans seems to be the worship of a different god, a simple difference in philosophy.

  • The Overture: The world of East Rondelin is a gritty place resembling feudal Japan. Two warlords have decimated the countryside fighting eachother for control of desolate rock, a small, worthless island with no strategic position or resources. Magic does not exist, and even the evil race of Demi has been subdued by the invention of crossbows.
  • Rumors of War: Mundane setting? Ancient Greece. Cynicism? Cloudy with a chance of more clouds. Human Dominance? Yes. Heroism? natch. Rumors of war? Take a wild guess.
  • The Silver Eye: The only magic that remains are a few cursed objects from the time of the Nedarians. Melete is the only Nedarian alive and the only one who can generate curses. Descendants of Nedarians (like the Hollingsworths and the Shephards), have a tiny bit of magic that allow their eyes to change colors and their hands to catch on fire, but that's just about it.

    Web Original 
  • The Solstice War has elements of this. While primarily a war story where the only fireballs are from cannon shells, it takes place in a world where people can reminisce about hunting "drakes" and "rock bears," there's churches dedicated to restoring dead magic (with some indication that it was once alive), and a character with some outright magic (though it could also be psychic powers). But the overwhelming majority of the story is rifle armed soldiers fighting in a conventional mid-20th century style war.

    Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Prince Valiant - Enforced Trope - This Family Channel series is one of the rare animation series set in a low fantasy world, in part by Family Channels guidelines to not allow dragons or magic. Merlin is more a scientist and cannons were mistaken for dragons. One of the few times Executive Meddling works out better.