What franchise do you consider to be the perfect Tolkien-esque Fantasy setting?

Samtemdo8_v1legacy

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I made this thread because I remember having a talk with Adam Jensen here that he likes Fantasy, but is not a fan of the Middle Earth universe. So I feel out of curiousity and ask what franchise do you guys find to be the "Perfect" fantasy universe, and I mean the traditional kind of fantasy with Dragons, Orcs, Knights, Wizards, Castles, etc. and of course what are the things that makes it distinct from others.

Basically if Tolkien's Middle Earth set the standard for a Fantasy universe, what franchise you feel perfected that standard or even suprassed it?

I have mentioned before that I feel the Warhammer Fantasy universe imo perfected the Fantasy genre, it has the perfect portrayal of Orcs, Elves, Dwarfs, Daemons, and imo the Humans in this universe is unique because they are essentially direct Fantasy parallels to real world human cultures. Most Fantasy settings makes Humans a homogony of Western Euro Kingdoms mostly inspired from Great Britan, here they are all distinct with clear cut cultures inspired from real world history.

The Empire of Man for example is essentially the German Holy Roman Empire during the Renaissance era, but also with Magic and Industrialization, and the leading Emperors are heavily influenced by the Habsburg dynsety.

Bretonnia is essentially Feudal Medieval France mixed with Arthurian Legend.

Kislev is Tsarist Russia pre Peter the Great I think. The name Araby explains itself, Arabic Muslims during Saladin's time.

So I just think Warhammer Fantasy perfected the Fantasy genre, but that's what I think, what franchise do you think did it better then Middle Earth or what ideas of your own fantasy setting you think can better then any other?
 

Kyrian007

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Tolkien really nailed traditional High Fantasy. D&D gets it on amount of content, detail, and lore... but Tolkien wins, quality over quantity. Elder Scrolls really has a nice High Fantasy setting, but it was based on D&D... meaning Tolkien wins again. I just don't see anything really surpassing Tolkien. There's plenty of High Fantasy I like, from the easy-to-get-into and familiarly structured Belgariad from David Eddings to the more grounded Deryni-verse from Katherine Kurtz... and a dozen more or so. Jim Butcher's Fury series was more Romanic Fantasy but it was entertaining. Brandon Sanderson's ambitious Cosmere contains settings ranging from fantasy to steampunk and some pretty genre-defying settings in between that are really pretty top-shelf. Raymond Feist's Magician series was really good in places, and Weis and Hickman do pretty good fantasy work inside and outside of stories for D&D. But I'm still not sure anything surpasses Tolkien.
 

Saelune

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I don't know if I would call it perfect...especially due to all the ways the gameplay conflicts with the lore but...

The Elder Scrolls is my favorite fantasy setting, as it does something well enough that I like, which is combine low and high fantasy. Morrowind did it best, where it showed a setting where yeah sure, there are crazy weird fantasy places and wizards, but there are tons of people just living simple commoner's lives, farming and herding...but those things are also fantastical without feeling absurd.
 

Satinavian

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Warhammer Fantasy is pretty good, but for my personal taste far too goofy and over the top. If you could reake it in "serious" (and flesh out everything that is not Not-Europe far more) it would be ideal.

Personally i like and use the TDE-setting a lot. Like most Tolkien inspired fantasy is has most stuff on Not-Europe (with another Not-HRE in the middle), but the rest of the world is full of interesting cultures. And it is far more down to earth.
While it does have a lot of fantasy counterpart cultures, it also has a lot of unique ones and extremely detailed descriptions. And people pay far more attention to internal consistency and versimilitude than to cool stunts which makes for a more believable setting.
 

Asita

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I mean...the fact that you describe it as "Tolkien-esque" is kinda telling, isn't it? Tolkien has pretty much defined the high fantasy genre and the expectations therein. Entries are judged in no small part based on how closely they hew to the traditions set by Lord of the Rings or how successfully they break from those depictions.
 

Samtemdo8_v1legacy

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Asita said:
I mean...the fact that you describe it as "Tolkien-esque" is kinda telling, isn't it? Tolkien has pretty much defined the high fantasy genre and the expectations therein. Entries are judged in no small part based on how closely they hew to the traditions set by Lord of the Rings or how successfully they break from those depictions.
Because if I only said "Fantasy" alone then people here would bring up frachises that does not cover what I am talking about like Harry Potter or the Cthulhu Mythos or fuck even Star Wars.
 

Asita

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Samtemdo8 said:
Asita said:
I mean...the fact that you describe it as "Tolkien-esque" is kinda telling, isn't it? Tolkien has pretty much defined the high fantasy genre and the expectations therein. Entries are judged in no small part based on how closely they hew to the traditions set by Lord of the Rings or how successfully they break from those depictions.
Because if I only said "Fantasy" alone then people here would bring up frachises that does not cover what I am talking about like Harry Potter or the Cthulhu Mythos or fuck even Star Wars.
I refer you to the second sentence: "Tolkien has pretty much defined the high fantasy genre..."

Perhaps I should clarify, however. I did not say that as criticism of you or your choice of wording. I said it to indicate that Tolkien's influence on the genre was such that asking 'who did it better' is almost an exercise in futility, because his is the metric by which success or failure is measured, much like Lovecraft's influence on cosmic horror (aka, Lovecraftian horror).
 

PsychedelicDiamond

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Samtemdo8 said:
I made this thread because I remember having a talk with Adam Jensen here that he likes Fantasy, but is not a fan of the Middle Earth universe. So I feel out of curiousity and ask what franchise do you guys find to be the "Perfect" fantasy universe, and I mean the traditional kind of fantasy with Dragons, Orcs, Knights, Wizards, Castles, etc. and of course what are the things that makes it distinct from others.
See, the reason why Tolkien's novels don't do much for me is because I don't care much for most of these to begin with. Same goes for most of its derivatives. Elder Scrolls? Warcraft? Dungeons and Dragons? Get out with that shit.

If I really have to choose... Discworld. Read the hell out of it as a teen and chances are those books aren't anywhere near as good as I remember them but I have a great fondness for them anyway. Mostly because I actually care about these characters. About Captain Vimes and Granny Weatherwax and Arch chancellor Ridcully and... God, why did Terry Pratchett have to die?
 

Abomination

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Asita said:
Perhaps I should clarify, however. I did not say that as criticism of you or your choice of wording. I said it to indicate that Tolkien's influence on the genre was such that asking 'who did it better' is almost an exercise in futility, because his is the metric by which success or failure is measured, much like Lovecraft's influence on cosmic horror (aka, Lovecraftian horror).
I think the OP is asking for individual preferences.

I can't say Discworld because it's actually a satire WEARING a fantasy setting.

Warhammer Fantasy is a great fun romp but you can't take it seriously because of how bombastic it eventually finds itself.

The Forgotten Realms is probably the most "mainstream" fantasy setting and tends to hit a lot of notes. It is also the official setting of D&D 5E.

I am mostly interested in what other people think because I'm looking for a series of book to pick up and I've got the itch for some traditional fantasy that needs scratched.
 
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Warhammer is definitely my favourite, with the setting as it was around 3rd ed battle or 1st ed RPG, with a bit of 4th ed (battle) sprinkled in. I liked the way it almost felt historical rather than fantasy. Familiar but different.


EDIT:
To further explain, I think unlike the general opinion these days (at least from what I've seen in this thread and gathered from yon internet in general) it was something I actually could take seriously because it felt a lot more grounded.
 

Belaam

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Tolkien is pretty much the founder of epic fantasy. It's like Frankenstein and SciFi, Lovecraft and Cosmic Horror, etc. I mean to be fair, Tolkien took from earlier sources (Smaug is pretty much the dragon who killed Beowulf, right up to being set off by having a thief steal a goblet from him), but Tolkein put it all together in a way that defined the genre.

I'd agree with an earlier poster that Forgotten Realms is probably the closest setting currently running (Dragonlance a little behind it). Discworld is amazing, but also a satire of ... well, everything, but mostly fantasy. But as far as multi-race epic settings, you pretty much need something based off Tolkien, D&D (which ran with Tolkien's ideas) or MMOs based on the same.

But my personal favorite it the Wheel of Time. You only have humans and some monsters, but the world building, magic system, and politics are easily among the most engaging.
 

the December King

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Yeah, I can't really think of anything that 'outdoes' Tolkien's work in medieval fantasy.

Read tons of the older Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books (back from the 1st/2nd edition AD&D days), I have enjoyed what I have read of George R.R Martin's A Song Of Ice and Fire series, and Brian Ruckley's Godless World series, and I enjoyed the writing in the first two books of the KingKiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss (vivid descriptions and neat ideas, about the often tedious exploits of a seemingly infallible protagonist) and I also read a little of the Something Red series by the late Douglas Nicholas (amazing settings, and more of an intriguing historical bent, but revolving around a fawning protagonist in thrall to a Mary Sue heroine)... but they only came so close, and never really hit the same level for me.
 

Hawki

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I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't think WFB is an example of Tolkienesque family. The presence of orcs, dwarves, elves, and everything else doesn't make it Tolkienesque, when the worldbuilding and themes are so divergent, as is the style of presentation (LotR is a cohesive story, WFB is a setting that stories are told in).

Now, if you want to discuss my favourite high fantasy setting, then that's a much more interesting (and difficult) question, but when I think of "Tolkienesque," I think of settings such as Shannara and Wheel of Time, both of which are pale imitations of the genuine article.

But since people are bringing it up, I disagree that WFB is over the top. W40K? Sure. But WFB is pretty tame in comparison. The most esoteric things you get are Chaos, and even then, the idea of "demons from beyond the world that want to kill us" isn't exactly without precedent in mythology.
 

Thaluikhain

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Hawki said:
But since people are bringing it up, I disagree that WFB is over the top. W40K? Sure. But WFB is pretty tame in comparison. The most esoteric things you get are Chaos, and even then, the idea of "demons from beyond the world that want to kill us" isn't exactly without precedent in mythology.
The OtT of both 40k and WHFB waxed and waned depending on which author you were reading and what GW was doing with the setting.

I mean, WHFB is nowdays replaced with Age of Sigmar, and that is ridiculously over the top.

But yeah, WHFB went somewhere very different from LotR. In part, I think, so that every army has a reason to fight eveyr other army, and themselves, rather than the "Good" side and the "Evil" side.
 

Hawki

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Thaluikhain said:
I mean, WHFB is nowdays replaced with Age of Sigmar, and that is ridiculously over the top.
Key word being "replaced." Age of Sigmar may be a continuation of WFB (sort of), but it doesn't retroactively affect its predecessor (not that I'm aware of at least).
 

Thaluikhain

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Hawki said:
Thaluikhain said:
I mean, WHFB is nowdays replaced with Age of Sigmar, and that is ridiculously over the top.
Key word being "replaced." Age of Sigmar may be a continuation of WFB (sort of), but it doesn't retroactively affect its predecessor (not that I'm aware of at least).
It's the most current fluff. Now, if you want to say it's not as good as old stuff, fair enough, but what period of WHFB do you mean? They did change things a lot over the years.

For me, WHFB was just after the Albion campaign ended (and we didn't know GW would just say "nah, don't care" and forget their promises to keep doing stuff there) and when Storm of Chaos was just being hinted at (and we didn't know GW would just say "nah, don't care" and forget their promises to do stuff there).
 

Samtemdo8_v1legacy

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Thaluikhain said:
Hawki said:
But since people are bringing it up, I disagree that WFB is over the top. W40K? Sure. But WFB is pretty tame in comparison. The most esoteric things you get are Chaos, and even then, the idea of "demons from beyond the world that want to kill us" isn't exactly without precedent in mythology.
The OtT of both 40k and WHFB waxed and waned depending on which author you were reading and what GW was doing with the setting.

I mean, WHFB is nowdays replaced with Age of Sigmar, and that is ridiculously over the top.

But yeah, WHFB went somewhere very different from LotR. In part, I think, so that every army has a reason to fight eveyr other army, and themselves, rather than the "Good" side and the "Evil" side.
It less to do with every army has a reason to fight each other and more to do with the "good" factions not completely liking each other. It sorta like the relationship Gondor and Rohan had with each other in the movie "Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell?"

But the "Good" factions understand they are better off being allies to each other then being enemies. The Empire of Man and the Dwarfs of the Karaz Ankor will without question ally and support each other because of the each factions debt to each other from the time of the Empire's founder Sigmar Heldenhammer. High Elves still have their arrogance of being above all races, but they understand that they are in their twilight years compared to their former glory. It is they that actually helped teach humanity how to use Magic and slowly overtime both factions are on good terms. The Empire's next door neighbour/rival is the Kingdom of Bretonnia who the Empire far exceeds them technologically. Again while they have some querrels with each other, most prominent is ownership of certain land province called Marienburg, even they understand they are far better off as allies then enemies. Both Empire and Bretonnia joined together and participated in the Crusades against Araby which is exactly how you think it is. The Crusades in this world are pretty much a combination of the Spanish Reconquista and the First/Third Crusade.

And the bad guy factions all pretty much do want to fight and destroy any and all of these good guy factions for whatever reasons.

Orcs want to fight everyone because War and Conquest is fun.

Dark Elves have differing motives, with their leader Malekith only doing this to regain his rightful place as King of all Elves in Ulthuan. His mother Morathi has some secret motives that are not fully elabortated on, but general goes through 2 ideas, she's secretly a follower of the Chaos God Slaanesh or she wants a Pheonix King she can 100% manipulate to her own ends ala Cersei Lannister.

Chaos wants to bring about the End Times so everyone hates them.

The Undead of the Vampire Counts and the Followers of Nagash wants to turn everyone into Undead Zombie Slaves and rule the world.

The Skaven wants to rule the Surface World, but are so incompetent and filled with internal conflict and strife that they can't get anything done.
 

Thaluikhain

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Samtemdo8 said:
But the "Good" factions understand they are better off being allies to each other then being enemies. The Empire of Man and the Dwarfs of the Karaz Ankor will without question ally and support each other because of the each factions debt to each other from the time of the Empire's founder Sigmar Heldenhammer. High Elves still have their arrogance of being above all races, but they understand that they are in their twilight years compared to their former glory. It is they that actually helped teach humanity how to use Magic and slowly overtime both factions are on good terms. The Empire's next door neighbour/rival is the Kingdom of Bretonnia who the Empire far exceeds them technologically. Again while they have some querrels with each other, most prominent is ownership of certain land province called Marienburg, even they understand they are far better off as allies then enemies. Both Empire and Bretonnia joined together and participated in the Crusades against Araby which is exactly how you think it is. The Crusades in this world are pretty much a combination of the Spanish Reconquista and the First/Third Crusade.
Yes and no. GW likes varying their fluff, it's just as accurate to say that you get an alliance of "good" races when there's a big incursion of chaos, and they squabble (and occasionally, fight) amongst themselves most of the other times. The dwarves never forget a grudge, various holds will fight (parts of the) Empire over slights, and they've not forgotten the war of the bear. They even had rules in older WHFB that elf generals don't give bonuses to dwarfs in the same army and the other way around because of this.

Don't think Bretonnia and the Empire quarreled over Marienburg, for one it succeeded from the Empire centuries ago, and for another Bretonnia can't touch it.
 

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I prefer old tales about the Fair Folk myself. They tend to be more interesting precisely because they have troubling in roads to psychology and sociological phenomena. Like how children with birth defects often being chalked up to these creatures snatching the real child from their mother and leaving only a vague mimickry of humanity in its place. Which is ... awful in terms with how people dealt with the grief of losing a child to a birth defect, or simply trying to distance themselves from an unwanted child that may survive its deformities.

But then again it's that latent human cruelty that mimics the whimsical cruelty of the Fair Folk themselves that people once genuinely feared and despised as if they were real and in waiting to prey upon mortals that makes such stories special.
 
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I was wanting to actually contribute to this topic but then realised I can't think of many high fantasy books that I've actually read. There's the Dresden Files but thats more urban fantasy, the Discworld series but thats kind of a satire/parody, A Song of Ice and Fire is too grounded to be high fantasy and Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Saga is historical fiction...
Shit guys I think Tolkein might be the only actual high fantasy I've read...

EDIT: Wait! Hang on! Garth Nix's Abhorsen series! Though I'm not quite sure if that fits Samtendo's OP definition...