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I take issue with the idea that Low Fantasy is inherently cynical. Dark Fantasy is, yes, but — like Soft Science Fiction — Low Fantasy doesn't have an inherent morality.
I'd like to entertain the idea of changing the main trope description to land more in the middle of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, because the way it's written can be limiting to someone who's just passing through.
It's hard to have a genre that's defined by what it's not and then impose rules on it. Changes like these should help.
Absolutely, completely wrong
This entire thing is completely nonsense. "High fantasy" refers to a setting in which only the elite have magic/power. "Low fantasy" refers to a setting where everyone has magic/power. Middle fantasy, obviously, is where it falls in between. Allow me to explain why the current asinine definition is worthless.
Consider Xanth. Xanth is unabashedly based on Florida, and is a world where everybody has magical abilities. By both the correct and the stupid definitions, this is low fantasy. But there is absolutely no reason why this needs to be the case. Xanth could just as easily have been based in a theoretical world that happens to have a large peninsula, and there would be no difference at all in the stories. By the stupid definition, this would mysteriously become high fantasy, a distinction which therefore would be absolutely worthless.
Similarly, consider the Lord of the Rings, which is often considered the epitome of high fantasy. Unfortunately, Middle Earth is England. (Valinor is the Isle of Wight.) Stupid people might never have realized that, but no proper Englishman would write about anything else. So by this retarded definition, Lot R is low fantasy, while by the proper definition, it is high fantasy. Again, arbitrarily changing this setting in insignificant ways would change the distinction. In what fucking way does that make any sense?
Now consider fantasy role playing. If you have a gaming session, and you say, "This is high fantasy" it should tell your players that magic is rare and special, and they shouldn't expect to find magic items in every dungeon and village they encounter. Likewise, if you specify that it is low fantasy, they know that magic is easy to find, and they shouldn't be surprised if the random farmhand they encounter has some magical ability. This is a useful thing to understand, and has a consistent and meaningful definition across settings.
I hope you will all consider this, and pull your collective heads out of your asses.
Copying from high fantasy discussion:
I apologize for my rude tone previously. However, simply changing a large, incorrect trope without discussion first is not appropriate, which is why I brought it up here for people to discuss. Consider the list of settings and how many of them just seem wrong by the current definition, and see how many would make far more sense using my definition. I think you'll agree that this change needs to be made.
So is this like fictional medieval stuff?
People don't understand low-fantasy it seems.
A very loose definition is the "amount of fantasy" in a setting. Many cited examples DO NOT QUALIFY. Final Fantasy VII is an egregious offender since the setting bleeds with impossible technologies and magic. Bluntly speaking, these are FANTASTIC elements. It also doesn't have anything to do with it being "dark" or "edgy." It isn't simply pessimistic for its own sake.
Along this vein, magic in low-fantasy isn't strictly of the black magic or Lovecraftian variety. And it's important to hammer home this distinction.
For example Vance's Dying Earth, doesn't treat magic as anything particularly vile so much as a lost technological legacy. This a big theme in Dying Earth as the whole point is that people have gotten complacent and largely don't care how the magic works anymore, they just know that it gives power. It's very much about vanished glories and mankind's sense of fatalism in the face of the end times.
I agree (Final Fantasy VI is just as shoehorned, because magic is used on a large scale and there are Cosmic Keystones that warp the entire fabric of the world), and I'm going to move any examples listed that sound like they're just included for being cynical, dark and/or full of moral ambiguity instead of magic being a rarity. Quite a lot sound like they'd be better defined as Heroic Fantasy.
Anime and Manga
Other notes on examples I know about:
There also seem to be some examples that are listed just because of a small plot scale, even if fantasy elements are common (Spice And Wolf, Discworld, )
I'm going to make a case for Final Fantasy Tactics to be added back as an example, since I think it fits all the criteria on the front page, and it's one of the most-cited examples of Low Fantasy, especially compared to the mainline FF's:
Mundane Settings: It's War Of The Roses England with the serial numbers filed off. Check.
Cynicism: Ramza is pretty much the only one still on the idealistic side by the end of the game, and even he knows that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Check.
Human Dominance: This and Vagrant Story are pretty much the only Ivalice games this applies to, so Check.
Plot Scope: A bit iffy. Sure, Ramza ends up saving the world by eliminating the Lucavi (or at least keeping it from getting a lot worse), but the primary focus of the story is how someone can have their worldview completely blown apart and still keep their faith in humanity. Sounds pretty personal to me. Check.
Heroism: Like I said earlier, Ramza is a classic hero, but he's pretty much the only one, and he doesn't end up changing the world that much despite all his efforts. The game also provides a contrast with Delita, who is a Byronic Hero at best and a full-fledged Anti-Hero at worst. Check.
Methods: Considering non-Lucavi magic only seems to happen in gameplay, I'm willing to give this one a Check. The biggest thing Ramza's group did to stop the war was flood that battleground, and that was explicitly done through mundane means.
Tone: War, classism, manipulation, exploitation. And by the end of the game, the hero barely makes a dent in any of it. Sounds pretty grimdark to me. Check.
Sorcery: Again, if you pretend the gameplay sections are non-canon, magic in this game is extremely rare and tends to be of the eldritch nature. Check.
War: There's a clear good/evil conflict between Ramza and the Lucavi, but it's small-scale. The large-scale fighting occurs between three factions that are clearly either Gray or Black Morality, with Ramza being the only one who is unambiguously good. Check.
I would agree with the, Final Fantasy Tactics being low magic if you take game play story segregation into effect.
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