2020-01-31 EDO Fantasy (Elves Dwarves Orcs)

Here’s something I’ve seen German speakers use a lot to describe a boring setting: “EDO Fantasy,” meaning “elves, dwarves, orcs.”

This came up because I often compare my own games to campaign settings I read about online and feel like my game is weak sauce. I mean, I don’t run Planet Algol. My player handbook has elves, dwarves, and halflings, my monster manual has orcs... It’s the most bog-standard, D&D derived, Tolkien derived setup. I regurgitate the superficialities from all the media I consume and call it a campaign setting. It’s “EDO Fantasy,” for sure.

I’m hoping that the act of playing transforms my campaign into an experience my players enjoy, and they keep coming back so I guess they do enjoy it, but that also means that I don’t think I could publish my setting as a book, for example. It’d be too boring, to confusing, to superficial unless you’ve been there, unless you sat at that table and helped bring down Susrael, the queen of the grey elves on the astral sea.

The act of participating, of actively influencing the shared imaginary events at hand is what elevates the campaign from boring EDO fantasy to the greatness that is role-playing games. Because role-playing games are the best games. It’s where we can give it our all, our creativity, our imagination, our social skills, where we can experience love, camaraderie, where we can laugh and shout, where we can be humans in all our breadth and depth.




Thanks for this.

Anonymous 2020-01-31 23:59 UTC

Ha, I love that EDO description. My campaign world and game sounds much like your description, vanilla D&D Tolkien, made flavourful and appetising through the creativity of play and interaction. I’ll respond to your list of questions in the comments of your other post.

– Glenn 2020-02-01 00:39 UTC

“The act of participating, of actively influencing the shared imaginary events at hand is what elevates the campaign from boring EDO fantasy to the greatness that is role-playing games.”

But that’s the whole point! As I wrote in a recent worldbuilding article:

“Conversely, the Standard Fantasy Setting exists for a reason. Don’t try to make your fantasy races different for the sake of “being original”. By the time you’re done explaining how your totally-not-elves aren’t like Legolas or Drizzt Do’Urden, your readers will be long asleep.”

It’s not forced originality that makes a fantasy world come to life. It’s the characters. Wish I had understood that sooner, like Gene Roddenberry did when he made a boring space elf into one of the most iconic and beloved fictional characters ever created.

Felix 2020-02-01 13:26 UTC

We both agree on what the point is. But reading about campaigns in the blogs is the very thing that omits the point. And that, in turn, is the other point I’m trying to make: when somebody writes about their setting, we (you know, the theoretical “we”) judge it by the originality of the setting because we aren’t participating in the game, and then we end up valuing, talking about, buying, and emulating the original setting without considering whether our game is improved. And thus, if any of my readers – me included – feels sad because of their unoriginal campaign, then we need reminding that this is not the point. Which is where we started. And even if nobody else needs reminding, I know I need this reminder from time to time.

Standard Fantasy Setting is a painful eye opener, haha. And when I say “painful” then that is just another reminder that I need the reminder. 🙂

– Alex Schroeder 2020-02-01 16:15 UTC

That’s funny, because in my experience settings that try the hardest to be original also manage to be the most uninteresting, just a parade of gratuitous weirdness that tells me nothing at all. Troika gets points for style, but otherwise to me it’s a big “so what?” And most aren’t nearly that good.

Felix 2020-02-01 17:31 UTC

For a few years after discovering the wider blogosphere I felt the same way. It took some time for me to realise I prefer the more grounded settings with the occasional weirdness, even though I immensely enjoy reading about those crazy worlds of others.

Ynas Midgard 2020-02-07 08:07 UTC

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