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Fantastic Fantasy Is Mundane

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"Ah — I am a golem. Robots are a thing of fiction."
Reggie, The Sword Interval

In the real world, people like to read fantastical stories about wizards and dwarfs and play games about dragons in dungeons. Which raises the question: what do wizards and dwarfs and dragons do on their down time?

One possible answer is that they enjoy fantastical stories, or play Magic Ampersand games, about people like us, who visit "shopping malls" and do things with a mystical force known as "science".


Related tropes include Faeries Don't Believe in Humans, Either (fantastic beings consider humans to be fantastic beings) and Double-Blind What-If (sf writers in alternate histories try to imagine what our history is like).


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    Comic Books 
  • A major part of The Folk Lords by Matt Kindt, the Main character goes on his coming of age quest based on the dreams of our reality, which looks like a mythical kingdom compared to his Standard Fantasy Setting world.
  • In Smax, a group of dwarfs play Malls & Muggers. One of them encounters a salesman, fails a saving throw against persuasion and is forced to buy a sandwich toaster plus a five-year extra warranty.
  • Top 10, set in a city where everybody has superpowers, features the incredibly popular comic book "Businessman", with the tagline "You'll Believe a Man Can't Fly!".
  • In Watchmen, because superheroes are a real thing in this world, superhero comic books never took off, and instead other genres of comic books filled the void. Pirate adventure stories are especially popular, one of which is the plot-important Tales of the Black Freighter.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Phoebe and Her Unicorn sequence has Marigold downloading a popular game called Pokhúmon Go to her horn, and trying to capture virtual businessmen and flight attendants.
    Marigold: We unicorns got the idea for Pokhúmon Go from you humans, of course. If you can enjoy pretending to catch magical creatures, we can pretend to capture you back.

  • Carpe Jugulum: Teenage vampires going through the equivalent of a goth/Vampire Vannabe phase do things like dressing in mundane clothes, insisting on being called "Chad" instead of "Maladict", and drinking blood in bottles but claiming it's wine.
  • "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire" by Neil Gaiman is set in a Gothic Horror world where everyone lives in an Old, Dark House and works like The Castle of Otranto and The Mysteries of Udolpho are considered realist literary fiction. The protagonist is trying — in between feeding the Madwoman in the Attic and defeating his Evil Twin — to write a serious literary novel in that vein, but eventually admits that he finds the real world too boring to write about and instead starts writing a fantasy novel about a suburban housewife feeling dissatisfied with her marriage.
  • In The Magicians of Caprona, the protagonist, who comes from a family of powerful magicians, likes to read fantasy novels, which is to say implausible stories about people saving the world using no magic at all.
  • Tales of MU takes place in a magic-based world where speculative fiction is categorized into "Magic-Fiction" and "Fantasy". As a kid, Mack used to watch a TV show in the fantasy genre about bikers with chainsaws.
  • Implied in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Ron is revealed to own a comic book titled "The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle". It's an unusual example, since wizards in the Harry Potter universe actually live in the "real" world (as opposed to the series being set in a parallel dimension) and would thus be expected to have some knowledge of Muggle popular culture.
  • In Anno Dracula, A Dance to the Music of Time is considered a work of AU fantasy, set as it is in a world without any vampires.
  • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Prince Caspian says he used to read stories about worlds that were round like a ball, and is taken aback to learn that they really exist.
  • The Dresden Files: The Fair Folk tell stories about humans among themselves, and are especially fond of the ones where plucky underdog humans manage to get one over on their rivals. The tale about how the titular wizard defeated one of Titania's elite assassins with some quick wordplay and a donut apparently had both the courts and a significant number of Wyldfae in stitches for months.

  • In some of the premium episodes of Hello, from the Magic Tavern the cast play an RPG called "Offices and Bosses". Arnie, being a human from Earth who fell through a portal into the magical land of Foon, plays an elf.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A cartoon in the first edition Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide showed a fantasy adventuring party playing "Papers & Paychecks", "a great new fantasy role-playing game [in which the players] pretend we're workers and students in an industrialized and technological society."

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom of Loathing: The "Get Real" encounter revolves around a group of nerds in a tavern playing Cubicles & Conference Calls (or C&CC for short).
    "It takes place in a fantastic world where there's no magic, no monsters, and you're not allowed to beat people up and take their stuff. It's really, really cool."
    "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," you say. "You guys should really get out into the real world instead of spending all your time on this ridiculous fantasy crap."
  • At one point in Simon the Sorcerer 3D, Simon happens upon a group of people playing a Tabletop RPG called "Apartments & Accountants".
  • In Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls, one area of the dormitory at Sorcerer University is occupied by group of gamers playing "Malls & Muggers".
  • Temtem:
    • Vumbi's Prancing Gnu bar is named after a mythical creature that looks like a Kauren, but with its horns pointing the other way. In the real world, a gnu is a kind of antelope.
    • One of the Crema developers in Neoedo says they're developing a game set on a round planet in a universe where gravity works differently. Temtem is set in a World in the Sky of islands that orbit a miniature star within the atmosphere.

    Visual Novels 
  • Sweet Enchantments: In Emeril's route, a visit to a bookstore in the magician world turns up a "mundane" section, which is about reimagining society without magic.

    Web Comics 
  • Advanced Offices & Humans is about a group of young dragons playing a roleplaying game in which they pretend to be humans working in an office.
  • Chainsawsuit: Cthulhu and friends play a tabletop RPG called "Humans and Habitats". After his businessman PC suffers a heart attack on a bad roll, Cthulhu is both puzzled and miffed when he learns that the guy will remain dead permanently.
  • Dark Legacy Comics: In "Crush", the gang play Cubicles & Condos. One of the players has to be reminded that real-world solutions like smiting your enemies with a greataxe don't work so well in the world of the game.
  • In Dungeon Damage, a group of dragons play "Humans & Houses".
  • One chapter of Scenes from a Multiverse has a group of teenagers from the Eternal Fearzones playing an RPG in which they're mundane office workers. One player, because there's always one, responds to every problem by hitting it, which turns out to be the right approach for fixing the malfunctioning Xerox machine.

    Web Videos 
  • The Gamers: Humans & Households is about a group of adventurers in a fantasy realm playing an RPG about living in suburbia.
  • Zero Punctuation has a semi-running gag where orcs play a tabletop game about an accounting firm. The Shadow of Mordor episode has an Orc come out as human-kin, and asks to be called "Allan" from now on.

    Western Animation 
  • The first episode of Disenchantment features this as a quick joke. Bean is miserable and wishes she could find a magical place where everyone was always happy. Meanwhile, in the magical Elfwood, Elfo is sick of always being happy and wishes he could find a non-magical place where everyone was always miserable.
  • A Robot Chicken sketch had a group of fantasy races playing an RPG about working in an accounting firm.
  • In Rick and Morty, one popular game in an intergalactic arcade is Roy, a Brain Uploading VR experience where you play the mundane life of a human man from birth to death.