Before I dive in to this post about Traumatic Fantasy, I’m going to spend a moment discussing a new approach to posting. In the past, the genesis of most blog posts was the development of a specific game feature or process. Sometimes (most excitingly) the posts were about the release of a new iteration of the beta. However, the further I get into writing, and the more Let Thrones Beware edges toward completion, the fewer new things there are to write about. This results in postings slowing down, which is a pity, because it’s a great way to connect with the new and old audiences.
So! Going forward, I’m undertaking a new approach. Rather than just milestone blogging, I’ve developed a schedule that encompasses a whole myriad of topics, ranging from theme and mechanics to character design and GMing. Now, without further adieu, the first of these new posts!
Just What is Traumatic Fantasy?
What is Traumatic Fantasy and how does it differ from high fantasy and dark fantasy? Great question – here’s what I mean when I describe Let Thrones Beware as traumatic fantasy!
Just about everyone who plays RPGs is familiar with high fantasy games – lots of magic, powerful heroes who maraud their way through ancient crypts and dungeons, amassing crazy new magics. Old favourites Diablo and DND are classic high-fantasy staples. Heroes start at a relatively low power level. Gradually over time as they overcome challenges, they amass more and more powerful abilities, magic items, and whatnots.
Dark fantasy tends toward the gritty; there’s typically an emphasis on (supernatural) horror and psychological spookiness. Heroes are much less capable. At least a few RPGs predicated on being “Dark Fantasy” gleefully describe themselves as meat grinders. Oftentimes (but not always), dark fantasy games are “mature,” which can mean anything from having an emphasis on gritty violence or a few surprise boobs in the artwork to incorporating real or imagined racism, to full on sexual peril and excessive gore not normally seen outside of old Troma Entertainment films.
With Traumatic Fantasy, a genre I’ve made up out of nowhere, I’ve tried to walk a different path. Despite the word trauma, Let Thrones Beware is not a “mature” game – you won’t find excessive gore or any sexual peril within its pages. Instead, the trauma describes what’s happened to the world and its inhabitants after the Kingdom of Man’s invasion. This trauma exists everywhere: the destruction of the Mrymekes hiveminds, the artificially low lifespan of the Cabeiri, the destruction of ancient kingdoms and old ways of life. These traumas are to be confronted and overcome.
Ultimately, this is a game about hope. Banding together, a group of exceptional heroes struggles against the darkness and strives to defeat the lingering evil that plagues their world. The adventures of Let Thrones Beware aren’t about stopping an evil from conquering the world. That’s already happened. Instead, they’re about throwing off shackles and restoring light to the world.
Next week I’ll unpack more about what this focus on Trauma Fantasy means for the heroes of Let Thrones Beware – their motivations, adventures, and pasts. Plus, an examination of hope vs. grit as a theme.
Try it for Yourself
As always, you can download the playtest packet and try it for yourself. Visit drivethrurpg to download the beta and introductory adventure for free.