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Fantastic Fantasy Is Mundane

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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 "science" and don't have any magic.

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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).


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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.
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    Podcasts 
  • 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".

    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.
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    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • A Robot Chicken sketch had a group of fantasy races playing an RPG about working in an accounting firm.

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