Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
"There's something terribly weird about the standard fantasy setting, not least of which that 'Standard Fantasy Setting' can be uttered completely without irony. Look at us; we're a civilization so steeped in escapism that we've managed to find mundanity in something that doesn't exist and never will (no matter what your Otherkin friend might say). Why is it accepted fact that Elves fire bows and arrows and commune with trees? That was Tolkien's thing; without him, elves would just about be qualified to sell Rice Krispies. And he made Dwarves wear braided beards and wield battle-axes. Real dwarves don't do that, they get hired by Lucasfilm or take corporate office jobs because they're an equal-opportunity bonanza. Are we all but children, playing eternally on the same swingset while JRR is the grumpy dad watching from the park bench and trying not to get aroused?"
Similarly, technology is often all over the place, with Iron, Bronze, and Stone-age weapons existing alongside actual Middle Age- and early Renaissance-era weapons. Even if there are no guns, for example, you will often easily find rapiers, light blades that only came about in Real Life because guns began making armor less prevalent.
Fantasy Character Classes, if the work in question is a Roleplaying Game of some kind, though this is not a necessary element. If it's not a game it may still feature some of the character archetypes that inspired the modern classes.
Every fantasy series by David and Leigh Eddings (usually lack the traditional nonhuman races, but otherwise compliant).
Discworld complies to the standard for its first few books, while parodying and deconstructing it at the same time. Over time the setting becomes increasingly distinct.
It's clear that Discworld started as a parody of fantasy in general, by sending up "standard" (Tolkienesque) high fantasy, the grittier Fafhrd-and-Grey-Mouser type of fantasy, the thud-and-blunder story (Conan and that ilk), and even some more outre stuff like the DragonBooks by McCafferey on an equal opportunity basis. The series arguably gets much better when it stops being almost entirely a collection of Bizarro versions of other works (most people would say somewhere between books 3 and 5).
Magic: The Gathering is an interesting example. The original release of the game was an attempt to cram in as many possible familiar fantasy elements. After that, however, the game started to develop its own style, and the current creative team describes it as "Magepunk".
Additionally, every plane on in the multiverse has their own flavor. Dominaria started as this, but too many big, disastrous events made it more Post Apocalyptic. So, they started over again with the plane of Shandalar, which is, again, standard.
Ravenmark Scourge Of Estellion generally fits. You have The Empire of Estellion, The Kingdom in the form of the Commonwealth of Esotre, The Horde in the form of the Lyri warbands (although the Cardani also fit). There is no Alliance, although Estellion and Esotre have been allies for a long time (at least, until the sequel). As typical, humans make up the largest population group. Jackdaws are this setting's Hobbits. Dwarves are a minority (but they typically don't have beards). The game's take on Elves is fairly unique, though. Unlike Tolkien's tall, high-and-mighty elves, the Cardani Elves are short rat-like people whose culture is based around the idea of insatiable greed. Their homes are the treacherous Cardani Swamps. While every other power uses small units called Daggers that can be joined with like Daggers to form more formidable (but less maneuverable and vulnerable to flank attacks) Deuces and Trines (this also includes the wild Lyri), the Cardani fight in large Swarms that rely on speed and We Have Reserves tactics. Functional Magic isn't used much, although certain people are able to call on the elements. The Empire owes its foundation to wind magic, allowing La Résistance to fight off the Carsis nobles' flamesoul magic. Blood Magic is occasionally used by The Empire's assassins (all Heroic Bastards). Medieval Stasis is played straight for the Tellions but averted for the Sotrans, who live in much a harsher climate and need to innovate to survive. Thus, front-line Sotran troops are armed with muskets and bayonets, while Tellions rely on swordsmen, pikemen, and archers. Sotrans also have prototype inventions such as armored walkers and hovering artillery platforms.
A few particularly non-compliant fantasy settings include:
Collectible Card Games
A few of the Magic: The Gathering settings, especially Rath, Mirrodin, and Ravnica. (Some are compliant, though.)
However, the earliest core sets had a setting best described as this. (That plane, Dominaria, gradually changed over time and is now amid an After the End phase following the conclusion of the Time Spiral block.)
Fables — The Homelands are a patchwork of technologies, cultures, and magics of all types, with literally every imaginable fantasy or mythical creature or race.
With Strings Attached is an almost 100% noncompliant fantasy setting, to the point where the only trope that really applies is Medieval Stasis, and that only in one of the two cultures on C'hou; the other is a thriving quasi-Victorian land with guns, factories, etc. Also, there are elves, but Word of God says they're just a pointy-eared race of humans.
Most fantasy written prior to the late 1970s.
Virtually all fantasy prior to Lord of the Rings, including, of course, 19th century fantasy.
Most stuff set in our day and age (even if most of the action takes place elsewhere).
Gormenghast is set in a sprawling city castle complex yet the timeless, routine, indolent nature in which the castle is maintained means it could be in any time period from High Medieval to Victorian. There is no apparent magic or magical races, yet once you get beyond the Earldom of Gormenghast, the world is fairly modern (or steampunk), complete with sky scrapers.
The Empire Of The Petal Throne setting, used in both game and novels, is distinctly non-standard, with no elves, dwarves, trolls, or anything similar to European fantasy, by design.
Chronicles Of Magic is set in a fantasy world, but lacks elves, dwarves, etc. and instead relies almost completely on human characters. The exception to this is Magic itself, which is an actual living being that imparts its power on others.
Also Final Fantasy XIII; the setting is 100% sci-fi except for the magic using Jerkass Gods the characters are being controlled by. Their idea of "medieval times" is basically the 20th century, except everybody is some kind of Warrior Poet living in hippie communes.
Fable — The first game is largely compliant, although it lacks most of the usual Five Races; it has mundane humans and High Men, but that's it for the "civilized" types. The second and third games deviate further from the formula by progressing through a renaissance and all the way to an industrial revolution, introducing firearms, factories, etc.
Examples of settings that are almost compliant with the standard include:
The Death Gate Cycle started out as a post-apocalyptic flavor of this standard, but then the world endedagain. The current setting is in some ways very close to the standard and wildly divergent in others. See the article for details.
The setting of Heralds of Valdemar began as one of these in the original Tarma and Kethry stories, but has since come to play with the tropes quite uniquely. Psychic Powers are far more common than magic in Valdemar proper, intelligent nonhumans are most often Bond Creatures, and Medieval Stasis is strongly averted, with a dawning industrial and scientific revolution in The Mage Storms.
The Sword of Truth series shares some of the elements, but mainly uses them as a vehicle for its Author Filibuster, particularly when the latter begins to take precedence over the fantasy elements.
The Dragon Crown War is a borderline example. The only common nonhuman races are elves (the most commonly-encountered ethnicity of whom, the Vorquelves, border on Enslaved Elves as downtrodden refugees from a destroyed homeland) and dragons; the setting's "dwarves", the urZrethi, are actually ancient matriarchal shapeshifters who were created by the Bigger Bad, though they abandoned that allegiance long ago; the Big Bad's armies are composed primarily of the Wookiee-like gibberkin rather than the more traditional orcs; finally, Medieval Stasis is averted as gunpowder and cannons are invented in the prequel and the technology becomes increasingly widespread over the course of the main trilogy.
Eberron is similar, in that it is the logical conclusion of a High Fantasy standard: magic is an industry and the setting's atmosphere is similar to Inter-World War Europe. All races diverge, slightly to significantly from standard (among other things, its response to the Always Chaotic Evil trope is essentially LOLWUT?, so for example the ancient druidic culture that saved the world from Cosmic Horrors ten thousand years ago is actually the Orcs), and industrial magic yields a Steampunk tone without actually using any significant steam or clockwork.
Exalted was created specifically to subvert this trope, focusing more on Bronze Age swords-and-sandals fantasy and Chinese mythology than on the Medieval European Tolkienque things. Nonetheless, some parts of it remain (partially because they're old enough or universal enough that they appear in those influences, too.)
Warhammer Fantasy; the Empire and the Dwarves heavily utilize firearms and even have experimental Steam Punk technology, while the Skaven's Magitek gives them ratlingguns, rat-portable flamethrowers, sniper rifles, energy cannons, mechanical lighting-spewing hamster-wheels, etc.
The Once And Future Nerd is set in a mostly compliant setting, but with an elf with a southern American accent, no Monochrome Casting, and a lot of quirks here and there, including wizards who have the basics for an atomic theory going.
Avatar: The Last Airbender. While there is The Empire and The Kingdom along with rebel fighters, Magic A Is Magic A , and a variety of other fantasy world tropes, there are several differences. Most prominently, instead of being in a European-esque world, the Avatarverse is a fantasy counterpart to East Asia (mostly China and Japan), with some Inuit culture thrown in for good measure. The only other races with human-level intelligence are spirits who all pretty much reside in a different world, and Medieval Stasis is completely subverted, with nascent Steam Punk in the original series (ironclad steamships, tanks, mega-drills, submarines, and zeppelins), which evolves into all-out Diesel Punk in the sequel (complete with radio, skyscrapers, automobiles, film, biplanes, and mecha-tanks).