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Old 11-15-2021, 08:51 PM   #31
Prince Charon
 
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Default Re: Pre-Enlightenment Horror, Urban Fantasy, et cetra

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
Yes again. Butcher is in some ways remarkably unsentimental about his world, and to the degree there's a trend it's going more that way.

Most of the DF stories are told from the first-person perspective of Wizard Harry Dresden, White Council member and major player. Now Harry gets into some harrowing situations, but he does have the advantage of wielding some pretty potent magic himself, and has access to extensive useful knowledge from his training by Justin, Ebenezar, and his allies.
Arguably, Dresden Files, especially in the later books (unless my memory is way off) is a horror series from the perspective of a monster that is mostly not hostile to humanity.

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
Is it worth it? An honest judge would look at it and probably say 'only if you have a LOT of potential and a reliable trustworthy mentor too'.
If you're talented in an aspect of magic that puts your ability to defend yourself from the monsters ahead of how tasty you are to them, the answer to that is a bit different. A large part of that is skill and creativity, though, and in any case, your mentor is important.

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Are you asserting that because it's possible to turn a Brownie hostile you should pick a fight with the currently non-hostile Brownie? That sounds like the kind of thing that invites becoming a cautionary tale...
Yes, yes it does. Of course, if you have brownies in your house, you are already involved with the supernatural to a degree. The only question is whether you can avoid getting further involved, and if you can't, what you're getting further involved with.

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Originally Posted by Inky View Post
Humans, with sufficient weaponry and ill-will, can be pretty darn dangerous to other humans too. That doesn't mean that it makes sense to summarise other humans as "bad guys".
True.

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Originally Posted by Dalillama View Post
The salient difference is that humans usually behave in a way that's predictable or at least comprehensible to other humans of a similar cultural background.
Well, brownies and many other spirits seem to have a different cultural background than the humans they meet, so perhaps 'like summarising all foreign humans as bad guys' is a closer metaphor. People in the past did that, too.

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Originally Posted by Inky View Post
But anyway - I notice that this thread may have wandered off the original topic. It wasn't actually supposed to be "horror and fantasy based on pre-Enlightenment legends", but "horror and fantasy set in pre-Enlightenment times, based on whatever". It could be both, but, for instance, it could be something like Vampire: the Masquerade Dark Ages Edition, which is very much modern-style "alpha-predator" vampire fiction but showing what they were doing in mediaeval times.
Yes. In fact, Vampire: the Dark Ages is a good example for this thread, since one of the things I was thinking about was discussing the past histories of modern horror and urban fantasy settings.

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Originally Posted by Inky View Post
As for how to justify the "actual facts" in your game being different from what was generally believed at the time - why, for instance, if "elves" and "fairies" are separate and unrelated in your game, nobody at the time knew the difference between them - well, don't underestimate how inaccurate mediaeval ideas of natural history could be. I'm sure that in a world where elves were commonplace the bestiaries could manage to be at least as wrong about them as they were about weasels ("It conceives at the mouth and gives birth through the ear (though some say it is the other way around)").
Also true. GMs would have a lot of leeway here, if developing a new setting rather than looking into the history of an existing one.

For example, in the spirit-based setting mentioned earlier (mostly on page one), the fae are a broad category of nature spirits, with the elves being among the most human, or the most in line with human nature. Some related beings, like dwarves, are likewise human-like spirits, while others (still called elves or dwarves, because most people don't know the difference, as long as they have a similar appearance and abilities) are members of heavily spirit-touched human bloodlines.
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Old 11-17-2021, 04:34 PM   #32
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Default Re: Pre-Enlightenment Horror, Urban Fantasy, et cetra

Thinking a bit more about the development of the Veil/Masquerade:
What if settlements have threasholds? Perhaps they start out weak, much weaker than those of homes, and can be strengthened by emotional ties, population, and age (and might be strengthened or weakened by certain magics). A defined border like the city walls or the pomoerium probably helps, but even just legally-defined city limits could allow a threshold to form. Entering without permission or under false pretenses could be difficult or even impossible for some beings, or interfere with the powers of others. Perhaps the gods or spirits of the city (genius-loci) are stronger within the pomoerium, and thus can force hostile being to leave, or to limit their behavior (though Exact Words may be very important). A monster with legitimate business within the walls might still be able to prey on the inhabitants, but only in ways that do not offend the local gods (far easier if the settlement is built in a bad place). Alternatively, they might prey only on those outside the threshold.

The more old cities grow in population, the more the monsters and evil spirits and such are pushed back, which allows Enlightenment thinking to form as the Renaissance moves on. Thus, you eventually have the standard Horror/Urban Fantasy tropes of the paranormal being hidden and disbelieved by 'sensible' people, while still being powerful and dangerous away from safe areas, or under special circumstances (e.g. the vampire can live in the city and prey on its inhabitants because the city is his home, or because he owns property there and thus has permission to enter).


Thoughts?
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Old 11-17-2021, 05:35 PM   #33
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Default Re: Pre-Enlightenment Horror, Urban Fantasy, et cetra

Ars Magica dominion (divine in later editions) generally pushed out other forces and would be associated with settlements, though it's not Enlightenment, it's just an alternative supernatural.
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Old 11-19-2021, 07:57 AM   #34
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Default Re: Pre-Enlightenment Horror, Urban Fantasy, et cetra

Harry Turtledove has a semi series,

Between the Rivers is set early bronze age when the god of the cities between the Tigris-Euphrates rivers are starting to lose their focus on what people are doing and in some cities you can do what you want instead of what the god wants as long as you don't get too obvious.

Thessalonica where the old gods have been forced into the very rural areas in early Christian Greece.

The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump set modern times where for example an investigator is impressed with a hermetically sealed lab because maintaining a artificial cult to Hermes is expensive.
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Old 11-21-2021, 04:31 PM   #35
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Default Re: Pre-Enlightenment Horror, Urban Fantasy, et cetra

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Are you asserting that because it's possible to turn a Brownie hostile you should pick a fight with the currently non-hostile Brownie? That sounds like the kind of thing that invites becoming a cautionary tale...
Pick a fight with? No. But it does indicate that having a Brownie in your home is not something you should rationally want.

Which could lead to an interesting example of a clash of Enlightenment thinking with ancient practical understanding of magic. Imagine a young intelligent and highly educated person in 1750, living in, say, London, contemptuous of old superstitions (and possibly of the Church), who discovers that a house he is thinking of buying has a Brownie associated with it. He's fascinated and wants to understand it and communicate with it.

His friend who doesn't share 'rationalist' attitudes, and who was raised to take the supernatural seriously and knows the old stories well from his grandparents, thinks the rational response is to get away from anything to do with the place, double-sharpish. Don't investigate, don't try to communicate, all that does is invite in more trouble including possibly stuff you can't possible cope with. Get away before it gets its hooks into you.

The interesting thing is that they are both behaving 'rationally'...but in terms of different and conflicting assumptions. The can both be wrong, but they cannot both be right.
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Old 11-21-2021, 04:33 PM   #36
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Default Re: Pre-Enlightenment Horror, Urban Fantasy, et cetra

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Humans, with sufficient weaponry and ill-will, can be pretty darn dangerous to other humans too. That doesn't mean that it makes sense to summarise other humans as "bad guys".
No...but it does make sense to treat strangers with caution, until you know something about them. The more foreign the greater the level of caution (not panicky fear) that is reasonable.

The Fae and their ilk are more foreign than the most foreign human, more alien than that guy from around the planet, because they are not human.

Which shapes all interactions with them.

Note that, as I observed upthread, individual contact with aliens in a modern setting carries the exact same overtones of danger and fear, when you look at it rationally. When you listen to some of the stories of people claiming UFO contact, a lot of them are freaking terrifying. Many people have observed that there are a lot of parallels between UFO contact stories in 2021 and stories of interaction with the Fae in 1421, some even speculate that it's the same phenomenon at work.
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