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Standard Japanese Fantasy Setting

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A variant of the Standard Fantasy Setting found in Japanese works.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Prime32 on Aug 9th 2018 at 4:46:50 PM
Last Edited By:
Prime32 on Aug 10th 2018 at 10:58:59 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

When the Standard Fantasy Setting spread to Japan, it picked up a few quirks and lost some others along the way. Japanese fantasy writers tend to draw less on Western fantasy Literature, and more on Video Games and Tabletop RPGs (particularly Replays). While still influenced by Dungeons & Dragons, it tends to take more cues from the original writings of Gary Gygax and less from those of later designers, combined with elements of RuneQuest and the Ultima and Wizardry games.

The first Trope Codifier of Japanese Medieval European Fantasy comes from 1986, when the videogame/manga/videogame manga magazine Comptiq began publishing "Replays" - transcripts of a Dungeons & Dragons/RuneQuest/Tunnels & Trolls campaign titled Record of Lodoss War. Lodoss became popular enough to receive paperback compilations and even be edited into a novel series, which would become some of Japan's first domestic High Fantasy literature. Pressure from lawyers at TSR would force Lodoss to switch from D&D to a homebrew system, which would eventually become the basis of Sword World RPG (aka 2d6 System), produced by Group SNE (translators for many Western TTRPGs at the time).

This year also marked the launch of the Dragon Quest series, the first three entries of which would have enormous cultural impact and become the Trope Makers for the Eastern RPG.

Similar settings can also be found in Chinese and Korean fantasy, albeit with a heavier injection of Wuxia themes.

Common elements include:

The inhabitants:

Other common tropes:

Tropes more common in Light Novels:

  • Adventure Guild: An organisation with outposts in major cities, which provides job postings and sometimes accomodations for wandering adventurers. Often uses Schizo Tech like magical membership cards and long-distance communicators, and may have a device which measures the strength of new entrants (the readings from which can look suspiciously like a Class and Level System). Expect members to be divided into ranks based on precious metals (or in more modern settings, letters), which determine what missions they can accept.
  • Bag of Holding: Items or spells which provide "extradimensional storage" will often exist in some fashion, though they're generally either expensive, difficult or a Unique Protagonist Asset.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Dungeons are in some way a natural phenomenon, forming in areas of strong Mana or around the "core" of a Power Crystal or Lost Technology. They are capable of attracting, creating and/or influencing the behaviour of monsters, and can sometimes reshape the area into a maze. Generally the closer to the core of the dungeon, the more powerful monsters will become. A creature who gains control of a dungeon core is referred to as a dungeon master. Can show up even in Urban Fantasy, usually as Pocket Dimensions.
    • Dungeon-Based Economy: Because these kinds of dungeons can replenish their resources over time, it's not uncommon for towns to grow around them, sending in adventurers to farm the safer areas at regular intervals. Sometimes characters will attempt to create a "friendly" dungeon that lets people collect its treasures without risk, though it's rare for anyone to have succeeded at this before the story began.
  • Magical Slavery: If slavery is practiced, slaves will have a magical collar or tattoo which binds them to their masters in some way. In most cases these bindings are highly regulated and require entering both parties into a Magically Binding Contract (e.g. the collars can only be placed on willing Indentured Servants and prevent running away, but shatter when the agreed term of servitude is up) or even have features designed to protect slaves from cruel masters (e.g. transmitting a message to the authorities if their wearer experiences physical or emotional trauma), though a Black Market of permanent unconditional contracts may also exist. Very popular in Isekai stories, as the protagonist buying or sheltering a slave is an easy way to introduce a character familiar with local customs and give them reasons to stick with the party.
  • RPG-Mechanics Verse: As Replays blend player and PC actions, characters being aware of their own stats is somewhat more common. This also leads to a larger percentage of stories being an Affectionate Parody or set in a Fictional Video Game.

Feedback: 4 replies

Aug 9th 2018 at 5:03:15 PM

This is spun off from Anura's suggestion in the Demon King TLP proposal. Feedback greatly appreciated - there might be some things I missed or which I'm giving too much attention.

Japanese terms are used for concepts that have a consistent name in Japanese but not in translation (genjuu have been called a dozen different things in Final Fantasy alone), or where a translated name would obscure the underlying patterns.

Other potential new tropes that could come out of this:

Aug 9th 2018 at 9:18:34 PM

This is definitely helpful.

Aug 10th 2018 at 10:59:11 AM

There's a TLP concerning the standard Final Boss in this kind of setting, the Demon King.