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Lighter And Softer / Tabletop Games

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  • Magic: The Gathering has "Lorwyn," a plane which by its design was meant to be lighter and softer, until you looked closer. Its Darker and Edgier counterpart is "Shadowmoor." Which is appropriate, considering that the two sets' inspiration were fairy tales and their older folk tale counterparts respectively.
    • Lorwyn was something of an inversion of the way worlds usually work in Magic: the Gathering. Goblins and faeries were both the same as they always are, but the world is so much lighter and softer than usual that their traditional mischief and hedonism is close enough to true evil to be aligned with black mana. Merfolk, generally xenophobic and hostile to surface-dwellers, got hit with true Disneyfication and became sociable, lounging out of wells and on riverbanks chatting with townfolk. Elves were the biggest reversal; in normal Magic settings they are definitively from forests and green mana, but generally leaning towards white mana on the side, indicating a preference for order and the status quo versus whatever maniac was trying to conquer the world in the storyline of this expansion. With no world-ending threat to Lorwyn, though, they are still green but their pride and disdain for everything else is sufficient to make them the closest thing to a Big Bad. And then Shadowmoor came along and partially inverted it in a few more ways all over again.
  • Wraith: The Oblivion was considered to be by far the darkest game of the Old World of Darkness line, which is really saying something. Characters spent their undead days in a decaying afterlife, trying to avoid the machinations of the power-hungry Hierarchy and the insatiable Oblivion while trying to hold on to their ties to life and fighting off the dark voices in their head. Now comes the Spiritual Successor, Geist: The Sin-Eaters, where the characters have returned from the brink of death with a ghostly passenger and superpowers, and a major component of their culture is celebrating another day of life.
    • Geist also tends to be lighter and softer compared to the New World of Darkness in general. It's not exactly a bag of kittens, but it's generally optimistic — the Bound got a second chance at life, and intend to use it to the fullest, whether that means saving people, helping innocent ghosts, destroying malevolent ghosts, killing villainous people, or just making their lives comfortable. After previous games have been the likes of Promethean: The Created, Changeling: The Lost, or even Hunter: The Vigil, it's a bit of a shock to see a game that falls closer to Mage: The Ascension on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.
    • The New World of Darkness itself is actually slightly lighter than the Old one, due to lack of genuinely evil truly invincible Eldritch Abominations (the ones it has are either oblivious or can be negotiated with if their Blue and Orange Morality is grokked), and there's nothing in particular that wants things to get worse just because, everyone has their reasons (even if they're arcane and purely selfish ones). There's also a recurrent idea that the few beams of light it has can be and often are protected, just enough to make the world worth fighting for. And of course, there is no worldwide apocalypse coming, either.
  • Warhammer 40,000. During 3e , there were chaos cultists on Terra, the Imperium was losing worlds by the hundreds and High Lords did not care, in fact most of them had been driven insane by imperfect deageing treatments. This was before the Horus Heresy, before the Imperium's methods were justified by dozens of books. There was no Ciaphas Cain, no likable or sane character to be found. The Sisters of Battle fielded suicide bomber cadres, the Space Marines were a shadow of their power in later editions, and more insane: imperfections in their half forgotten surgical techniques rendered 9 out of 10 recruits dead and the survivors deranged. The Religious Horror was at its peak, the artwork like of things that can barely be called human hugging and kissing undetonated artillery shells, begging the gods of war for salvation has never been reprinted, the forces of Chaos, later Ultimate Evil, were simply presented as an alternate form of insanity to that of the Imperium's. By 5e, Warhammer shows an Age of War where humanity's survival hangs in the balance. 3e showed an Age of Insanity where the spirit of man was long dead.
    • More recently the trend is to depict the Imperium as less of an impossibly hellish totalitarian dystopia and more like real life western society, but with a buttload of ornate Gothic Punk technology. More and more often does the Imperium find itself with genuinely heroic (and sometimes even competent) soldiers to defend it, the Adeptus Mechanicus being actually effective (if a bit restrictive and... eccentric) at maintaining the Imperium's military-industrial base and even coming up with new stuff now and then, and life generally seems to be pretty comfortable on planets that aren't currently being invaded by aliens and/or the Ruinous Powers.
    • And then there's this... And Brighthammer 40000, which takes every race and makes them more sympathetic save the Tau, who conveniently are Always Chaotic Evil. Note that this is not achieved by altering the Tau from canon, but merely by shifting everyone else in the setting so that the Tau seem like a terrible, evil option among numerous better ones, rather than the least of a great number of evils.
  • Blood Bowl is set in an alternate version of the Warhammer world where some rugby/gridiron hybrid has become such Serious Business that even the foul forces of Chaos are more concerned with winning the cup than destroying the world. None of the races are actually even at war with each other, though there's still plenty of Fantastic Racism to go around. The sport is also awful; chainsaws and flame pits are cherished pitch features, players are often killed playing the game (and in fact the halfling team has suffered a Total Party Kill more than a few times in its history) and bribing referees is such common practice that there's a referee union which offers guidelines on what rates are acceptable and when and how it is appropriate to accept one. It's a Crapsack World, but at least it's funny about it.
  • Little Fears Nightmare Edition as compared to the original. The constant pall of child abuse is gone, and it's actually fairly well-suited to running a relatively light-hearted Kids Vs. Monsters adventure in the vein of The Monster Squad. It has suggested rules modifications for taking it even further in this direction with the Dark Fairy Tales playmode (think Coraline — or your choice of children's fairy stories with a dark cast to them, if that one scared you too much)... or, alternately, darkening it to the point that it's more in line with the original game.
  • Mutant Chronicles can be considered a lighter and softer take on Warhammer 40,000. There are a lot of similar elements and the feel is much the same, but in Mutant Chronicles, human life is considered precious and humanity still has a fighting chance.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition went this route in regards to certain races. In regards to others, though, it went the Darker and Edgier route. The Lighter and Softer stance is emphasized when contrasted to Pathfinder, which openly styles itself as the Darker and Edgier setting.
    • Half-orcs, previously stereotyped with a Child by Rape backstory, are in this rendition a true-breeding race of their own with no known origin, but several possibilities, most of which involve transformed humans (or orcs) or Interspecies Romance.
  • Grimtooth's Traps Lite was a lighter and softer collection of traps. While most of the other books in the series gave one- to five-skull ratings to measure lethality, Traps Lite gave one- to five-insurance salesmen ratings to measure the annoyance factor and concentrated on non-lethal traps. Grimtooth spent most of the book complaining about that. (Finally subverted when he demanded the final chapter be six-skull traps able to kill an entire adventuring party.)