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Darker And Edgier / Tabletop Games

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  • Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition has gone both this route and the opposite simultaneously.
    • The first player's handbook removed the gnomes and replaced them with tieflings, who are no longer fiend-blooded mortals but the blood-cursed descendants of a fallen empire that turned to worship of Asmodeus in an effort to conquer the world and lost everything.
      • When gnomes returned in the second player's handbook, the previously wacky (if somewhat generic) gnomes had been given a new backstory as a race bullied and enslaved by the demented and depraved Fomorians, a race of deformed fey giants, which has left those free enclaves scarred and paranoid.
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    • Half-orcs, meanwhile, were removed from the first player's handbook due to their Child by Rape backstory and were instead replaced with the Dragonborn, a Proud Warrior Race Guy species of Draconic Humanoids who used to rule an empire, but have been left as homeless wanderers ever since their empire was shattered in a war against the tieflings. When they returned in the second, half-orcs had essentially lost their rape-associations, being a true-breeding race in their own right whose pasts are mysterious, but mostly involve divine or arcane creation, or consensual Interspecies Romance.
    • Elves went from being super-perfect beings who were naturally gifted in both nature and magic to two races; the "masters of magic" became the Eladrin race, who are now a fallen empire that struggle ceaselessly against their Drow kindred and the above-mentioned Fomorians, whilst the Elves who retain the "ones who walk with nature" aspect are now those who were stranded in (or fled to) the mortal world, where they have lost the bulk of their magical nature from living outside of the Feywild.
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    • The Aasimars, mortals bearing the blood of angels and celestial beings and the good counterparts to tieflings, were replaced with Devas; angels who either chose to forsake their immortal power and glory, or who were exiled to a semi-mortal existence.
    • Forgotten Realms definitely went darker, with glorious cathedrals crumbling and different gods and longtime power characters being slain or depowered left and right. Though one must remember that Forgotten Realms wasn't the only campaign setting, just the most popular; other settings, particularly Ravenloft and Dark Sun, were noticeably darker than FR was anyway — this more brought FR "down" to Greyhawk's level. Players still have Eberron, with its pulp-adventure-y feel, for less depressing fare.
    • On the third hand, the system is much Lighter and Softer, in that every adverse condition that happens to the players can be removed almost instantly. Several of the nastier conditions from earlier editions (e.g. attribute drain) simply don't exist anymore, and all of the others either automatically wear off in five minutes, or can be removed by a low-level spell. Hungry? Oh, here are some infinite rations. Room is dark? Plenty of infinite light sources around. The world may be dark and edgy, but harsh, long-lasting hardship for the player characters is non-existent.
      • But they do introduce quite a few nasty semi-permanent conditions in the 4e version of the Book of Vile Darkness. Which itself is actually a lot less darker and edgier than its 3e version and actually ends up a lot better for it.
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  • Exalted is for adults to begin with, but the splat for Abyssals takes it up to a whole new level of disturbing. You're a machine of murder, and all of the solutions you can come up with involve death and destruction whereas Solars, Lunars, and even the frikkin' Infernals can nurture and build. Unfortunately it's badly done, and it's one of the more ignored official materials.
  • The 6th edition of Gamma World used the d20 Modern ruleset and was the grimmest, darkest edition of the game, period. While the first edition of Gamma World had been a parody of post-nuclear apocalypse, a Black Comedy rich game of wackiness, where one could see things like a laser rifle-toting yeti/cockroach hybrid, Gamma World D20 took everything seriously, making the backstory realistic (genetic engineering and nanotech vs. nuclear war) and portraying all of the horror inherent in such a ruined, freakish world. Gamma World 1e would point out the hilarious side of fighting a garbage grinding robot whose programming had gone mad: Gamma World 6e would emphatically point out what it would like to be on the wrong end of those grinding, snapping, mashing jaws and relentless, implacable hunger... For better or for worse, the 7th edition swung towards playing up the comedic aspect for all its worth.
  • The Old World of Darkness was initially marketed along these lines, as an "adult role-playing game" for "mature gamers." Both it and the Spiritual Successor New World of Darkness can be described as modern day Earth... only, you guessed it, darker and edgier. And within the overall series, Changeling is an example. The original game, Changeling: The Dreaming had its darker moments, but was widely considered "kiddy" as it was a game about the power of imagination and resisting crushing banality. Then came Changeling: The Lost, which hewed much closer to the original myths of The Fair Folk by having the main characters be humans who fought their way back to Earth after being abducted and hideously abused by mad alien gods.
    • The New World of Darkness actually plays with this. True, the world is, in general, more miserable and suspicious, but there aren't any looming apocalypses or sense that things are getting worse beyond the perspectives of individual people, and the moral fabric has been lightened a bit (even the Card-Carrying Villain groups have explicit Evil Virtues and actual reasons for what they do-however arcane those reasons are). Thus, it's only the prerogative of the Storyteller that decides if it's a World Half Full or not. And you know Lost? "World Half Full" is one of the basic premises of the game. You know what happens to the Lost if they avoid behavior they know is dangerous like maxing out Wyrd and not decreasing it after you start being hit with Clarity rolls? Absolutely nothing. This is in contrast to the old game, where it was either death or going Dauntain.
  • The Pathfinder Adventure Paths and campaign setting have also gotten noticeably Darker and Edgier. The half-orcs' origins as the product of rape are made more explicit, ogres are reimagined as inbred monsters right out of Deliverance, and most monsters explicitly like to eat people. Even the gnomes get in on the act. In Pathfinder, they are fey creatures who have been separated from their original world. If they do not constantly seek out new and ever more sensational experiences, their features begin to 'bleach', the banality of existence aging them to death.
  • Shadowrun, while already dark just simply doesn't let up with the 4th edition. One example is the Horizon Corporation, the only corporation without atrocities to their name has shown their true colors as they commit some rather heinous actions that features them. As of the 5th edition, they were shamed when they tried to control technomancers (one group they had been known to champion for the rights of) which ended in a brutal massacre.
  • Tales from the Loop: The expansion/sequel Things From The Flood is definitely this to the core game. The core game is set in The '80s, the PCs are Kid Heroes whose pluck and courage will win the day, the big lab in their Company Town home is churning out horrible and amazing things at breakneck speed, and everything is an adventure á là The Goonies. "Things" moves the timeframe to The '90s. The end of the Cold War and the financial crisis of 1990 have left the lab under-funded or sold-off, and a lot of people have lost their jobs. Changes in the Earth's magnetic field have made magnetrine transports non-viable, and sent the economy into another death-spiral. The titular "flood" is forcing people from their homes and everyone is looking for a scapegoat. Everything seems bleak and hopeless. On top of this, the PCs have been aged up, meaning they don't just have to deal with bullies, school, and adults who just don't get it, but also puberty, sexuality, gang violence, drugs, possible conscription and enroaching adulthood. Oh, and "Things" also introduces PC death as a possibility, which was not the case in vanilla "Tales".
  • The second and third editions of Traveller, MegaTraveller and The New Era, got progressively darker. MT opened with the assassination of The Emperor and a drawn-out Civil War shattering the Imperium. Things went From Bad to Worse in the so-called Hard Times and the Black War, where several factions targetted their enemies' civilian populations. Between then and TNE, Virus, a superweapon created as part of Lucan's Final Solution, was released, wiping out or enslaving most life in Charted Space.
  • Warhammer 40,000 is this trope to Warhammer Fantasy (which itself was already Darker and Edgier by tabletop game standards), though not by the margins of some other works on this page, as the source material was already parodying "Darker and Edgier" works by playing this trope to the extreme. Needless to say, it served as the Trope Codifier.
    • The tagline - "In the grim, dark future of the 41st millennium, there is only war" - led to the meme of "grimdark", the extreme edge of Darker And Edgier where everything is so bleak and nasty it tips over into being ridiculous (although that can still be highly entertaining — if not in the way it was intended — or even awesome). Alternatively, it means embracing the Black Comedy potential of the relentlessly hopeless nature of such an absurdly bleak setting, as exemplified by Paranoia. Thanks to Memetic Mutation the term escaped and has largely morphed into Darker and Edgier played totally straight in common usage, meaning many people do not consider the setting grimdark despite naming the term.
    • The novels of Warhammer 40000 often play around with this trope. Notably our favorite HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, Ciaphas Cain's novels are significantly Lighter and Softer than the rest of the universe.
    • The 3rd edition of Warhammer 40000 is often seen by fans as being this trope to the editions that came before it, as it abandoned a lot of the game's lightheartedness and pushed the Crapsack Galaxy aspect Up to Eleven. In addition, the gothic aspects that had featured in some of the 2nd edition artwork (especially pieces by John Blanche) were amplified, to the point where they became defining elements of the franchise.
      • Subsequent editions have maintained this aesthetic, although some of the more adult parts have been toned down to make the game a bit more family-friendly. One of the more notorious examples among the fandom is the Daemonettes of Slaanesh: just compare the models that they had during 3rd edition (warning: mildly NSFW) with the less sexualised ones that replaced them in 4th.
    • The Tau, initially introduced as a highly idealistic alien species, received a number of complaints about being Purity Sues. Cue 7th Edition, which shows the Tau have adopted a policy of extermination on a number of species including the Orks and the Eldar (as they are "lost causes") and stopped peacefully integrating human populations in favour of simply sending everyone off to forced labour camps. There's also the startling reveal that the Ethereal caste are controlling the other Tau through pheromones, and also suppressing knowledge of Chaos in the Tau population at large — which is why Commander Farsight left.
  • Witch Girls was initially a lighthearted RPG parodying girls' shows like WITCH or Winx Club, but after the weird transformation fetishism inherent in the design was gradually revealed, it came out with a "Wicked Edition", supplements included primarily Nightmare Fuel monsters, and a "Zombiegeddon" was scheduled focusing on necromancy-type witches.
  • In fall of 2018, Hasbro released a series of "parody" versions of classic board games to which they had the license, which added dares, stunts, and elements of adult-oriented humor. These included Game of Life: Quarter Life Crisis, which casts the players as struggling twenty-something millennials racing to pay off their "crippling debt"; Sorry: Not Sorry, which combined the classic Parcheesi variant with "Not Sorry!" cards that could force your opponents to answer "Have you ever...?" questions; and Clue: Lost in Vegas, where the mystery to be solved is not "Who killed Mr. Black?", but "What happened to our mutual friend Buddy after a wild night in Las Vegas?"