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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Asita:
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.

Samtemdo8:

Asita:
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).

Samtemdo8:
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?

Asita:
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hawki:
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.

Thaluikhain:

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).

Hawki:

Thaluikhain:

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).

Thaluikhain:

Hawki:
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.

Samtemdo8:
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.

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.

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...

Palindromemordnilap:
A Song of Ice and Fire is too grounded to be high fantasy

High fantasy is defined as fantasy where the setting itself is original (as opposed to low fantasy, which is the real-world setting with fantastical elements). So technically, ASoIaF fits.

Well, I really liked Dragon Age: Origins.

Thaluikhain:

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.

It's a moot point, because Age of Sigmar isn't Fantasy Battle. It's a continuation of it, yes, but it's so far removed in setting and tone that...well, let's just say I there's a reason why it got a new branding.

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).

TBH, I don't really think of 'periods' for Fantasy Battle, though they probably exist. I first became aware of it during 5th edition, started playing with 6th edition, and lost interest sometime after Storm of Chaos...

...which adds to what pisses me off, that Storm of Chaos was retconned to "nup, Chaos wins, deal with it!", but TBH, me becoming disenfranchised with 40K and Fantasy was down to plenty of reasons. But even looking at Storm of Chaos, I wouldn't call that over the top - it's not over the top by the standards of the setting (Chaos incursions have occurred before, and with similar force), and by the standards of high fantasy, "armies of evil threatening the world" isn't exactly out of left field. Lord of the Rings itself does it (and that's not even touching on Morgoth).

Thaluikhain:

Hawki:
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.

Tolkien is pretty OtT. I mean Aragorn in the books is constantly showing off his sword to complete randos and just automatically expecting fealty. He's kin of a massive douchebag in Fellowship because he's there tossing up whether he should help Frodo or just simply kick in the doors of Minas Tirith and simply take the throne as if one would take candy from a baby.

Then you've got fucking Gandalf who is like; "Lol, I'm the biggest mofo this side of Mordor...." So on, and so on and so on. Throw on Tolkien's patently racist ideas and his musings about the humanity of people who are simply just not Caucasian, which can be summed up as basically just screaming 'I truly am this British!' considering his time and place.

Tolkien's stuff is pretty OtT. Let me remind people that Tolkien described the Orcs as as if the ugliest specimens of the Mongoloids ... yeah, that patently racist. People can scream 'political correctness gone mad' when they display orcs as the more friendlier depiction of fantasy tropishness of green skinned, tusk-mouthed barbarians ... but just remember that's not what Tolkien was thinking when he was writing about his orcs.

He was thinking Genghis Khan. And this is the interesting thing of Tolkien's works. Is that publicly Tokien despised apparent racism in European society, all while failing to critically interrogate his own works and being incredibly racist. The Lord of the Rings is basically an exercise in how people carry unconscious biases even as they write them down.

So when people say that Tolkien is the 'father of high fantasy' ... I honestly think we've done a bigger paint job of his works than people would actually care to realize.

Because the fact of the matter is that orcs as basically caricatures of East Asians wouldn't fly and even (hopefully) to all those types of people that would just mindlessly scream 'SJW' at the slightest hint of applied critical theory would also (hopefully) feel somewhat uncomfortable if patently displayed as intended in things like the movie trilogies or cover art of the books.

Moreover, what exactly did Tolkien do but reimagine real world constructs like concepts of God (and Eru Iluvator), and misappropriating things like Celtic traditional fairy tales? It even has a weird take on the Irenaean theodicy and Purgatory and Excalibur. IMO people like Lewis and MacDonald were more high fantasy worlds (in C. S. Lewis' case) ... or MacDonald in terms of an evolution of traditional fairy tales.

Stuff we've done with high fantasy that we attribute to Tolkien have gone through so many creative lenses and transformation it's kind of like calling a bar of soap and a stone slab and wash basin as the 'parent of the top loader washing machine'.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Thaluikhain:

Hawki:
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.

Tolkien is pretty OtT. I mean Aragorn in the books is constantly showing off his sword to complete randos and just automatically expecting fealty. He's kin of a massive douchebag in Fellowship because he's there tossing up whether he should help Frodo or just simply kick in the doors of Minas Tirith and simply take the throne as if one would take candy from a baby.

Then you've got fucking Gandalf who is like; "Lol, I'm the biggest mofo this side of Mordor...." So on, and so on and so on. Throw on Tolkien's patently racist ideas and his musings about the humanity of people who are simply just not Caucasian, which can be summed up as basically just screaming 'I truly am this British!' considering his time and place.

Tolkien's stuff is pretty OtT. Let me remind people that Tolkien described the Orcs as as if the ugliest specimens of the Mongoloids ... yeah, that patently racist. People can scream 'political correctness gone mad' when they display orcs as the more friendlier depiction of fantasy tropishness of green skinned, tusk-mouthed barbarians ... but just remember that's not what Tolkien was thinking when he was writing about his orcs.

He was thinking Genghis Khan. And this is the interesting thing of Tolkien's works. Is that publicly Tokien despised apparent racism in European society, all while failing to critically interrogate his own works and being incredibly racist. The Lord of the Rings is basically an exercise in how people carry unconscious biases even as they write them down.

So when people say that Tolkien is the 'father of high fantasy' ... I honestly think we've done a bigger paint job of his works than people would actually care to realize.

Because the fact of the matter is that orcs as basically caricatures of East Asians wouldn't fly and even (hopefully) to all those types of people that would just mindlessly scream 'SJW' at the slightest hint of applied critical theory would also (hopefully) feel somewhat uncomfortable if patently displayed as intended in things like the movie trilogies or cover art of the books.

Moreover, what exactly did Tolkien do but reimagine real world constructs like concepts of God (and Eru Iluvator), and misappropriating things like Celtic traditional fairy tales? It even has a weird take on the Irenaean theodicy and Purgatory and Excalibur. IMO people like Lewis and MacDonald were more high fantasy worlds (in C. S. Lewis' case) ... or MacDonald in terms of an evolution of traditional fairy tales.

Stuff we've done with high fantasy that we attribute to Tolkien have gone through so many creative lenses and transformation it's kind of like calling a bar of soap and a stone slab and wash basin as the 'parent of the top loader washing machine'.

Sooooo world saving, tea sipping, good eatin', hairy footed, cowardly halflings are Britons or maybe Frenchies?
Think you went overboard a tad bit with your accusations and interpretation of Tolkien's intent.
Fantasy authors draw a lot from history, cultures, superstitions, legends etc. If you put forth thesis, that appropriating and then rehashing such material is inherently evil (done with ill-will) you can just as well call all fantasy racist, sexists etc. (cause these are part of human heritage) and be done with it. Example, in many European countries mongoloid is synonym of brutish, ugly, uncommunicative and ill willed. These come from deeply rooted fear (in their ansectors shaping these languages) of hun hordes (and in general nomadic warring tribes) that were for centuries coming to Europe from Asia just to murder, rape, burn, steal and abduct people to slavery.

It was a clash of 'relatively' peaceful agricultural society (former nomads...) with nomadic society. One preyed on another but ultimately failed due to inefficiency and unreliability of nomadic based society. Now trying to purify language or assign ill will for mere usage of word of that language is both ignorant and disrespectful to history, culture and heritage of people using that language.

Part about 'top loader washing machine' is spot on though. Just you went overboard on poor Tolkien's ass :P

Okay, source needed on the whole orcs = Mongols thing, because that really doesn't come across in the text. Since the orcs are described as "black skinned and red lipped" in the books, if anything, they're a play on African stereotypes. If you want an actual Mongol example in LotR, it would be the Variags.

As for the whole 'appropriation angle...that's pretty much what fantasy does, or at least, any fantasy that takes any inspiration from real-world history. Don't see that as a bad thing.

(Okay, seriously, how did this become a discussion about racism?)

Hawki:
Okay, source needed on the whole orcs = Mongols thing, because that really doesn't come across in the text. Since the orcs are described as "black skinned and red lipped" in the books, if anything, they're a play on African stereotypes. If you want an actual Mongol example in LotR, it would be the Variags.

As for the whole 'appropriation angle...that's pretty much what fantasy does, or at least, any fantasy that takes any inspiration from real-world history. Don't see that as a bad thing.

(Okay, seriously, how did this become a discussion about racism?)

I do believe it was in his letters to Zimmerman concerning correspondence about how a hypothetical theatrical presentation of his works should look like. Also I'm pretty sure you're referencing the snufflers, which were a different breed. Snufflers were described as black skinned goblinish sized creatures.

... besides, no one said he wasn't just referencing skin colour in his letters. And their black skin made be a reference to the fact that they routinely killed their own kin. He's described various types of orcs (including 'goblins') as being multiple hues.

Secondly its not just inspiration from the real world but that of existing fantasy and fairy tales. A lost blade heralding the return of the 'True King', a person who is the real heir but has been cast out by circumstance and their kingdom lost to them and time? Someone who just so happens to unite a collection of gentry and militia as part of their gallantry and leadership? Who just so happened to have a powerful mage that assisted in their redemption and their rightful ownership as but distant heirs of a throne once thought utterly broken?

Hell, even the whole naming of swords he totally lifted from Arthurian legends and associated Celtic fairytales over the centuries of their distortion since. Caliburnus isn't the only one .... there is a metric fuckton. We owe more to Irish fairytales the idea of 'enchanted weapons' in D&D than we do Tolkien. We owe to Celtic tales and Shakespeare, and other distant writers modern depictions of fairies, demons and dragons.

We owe to 17th century romantics common fantasy tropes of chivalric orders that are rife in fantasy. Even the idea of druids in D&D have a positively Arthurian bent and lineage.

As I was saying before. What we owe to Tolkien is pretty fucking slight. A lot of people may argue that he popularized fantasy as a storytelling medium, but that's simply not true. Victorian appetites of evolved takes on ancient fairytales were extensive. The subject matter moved mad volume of stories. And clearly Arthurian legends are pretty fucking quintessential to evolved ideas of things like British nationalism and its own mythos creation of its peoples, cultures, and self-identities.

King Arthur is to fantasy, mystical adventure and high magic, far more than Tolkien's works will ever be to creating all the tropes of what we consider 'high fantasy'. And arguably mosdern writers of fantasy are doing more with their ideas than Tolkien could ever allow himself. C.S. Lewis is still arguably a bigger influence over our ideas of sheer escapism on its own... and Lewis had no problems moving books.

Not only that, but Arthurian legends were infinitely more creative with what one may consider 'high fantasy' elements. Like a scabbard that when worn meant that your wounds would simply seal magically, allowing you to fight longer and harder, and survive most attacks... Blades constructed of light that could pierce any hide... Secretive domains of existence containing the whimsical Fair Folk... High magic allowing sorcerers to communicate with animals and trees and lives in a land where apple trees spring up as if grass, and where grape vines creep everywhere... and where mortal men will be spirited away and held prisoner to their own desires for eternity...

Hawki:
Okay, source needed on the whole orcs = Mongols thing, because that really doesn't come across in the text. Since the orcs are described as "black skinned and red lipped" in the books, if anything, they're a play on African stereotypes. If you want an actual Mongol example in LotR, it would be the Variags.

As for the whole 'appropriation angle...that's pretty much what fantasy does, or at least, any fantasy that takes any inspiration from real-world history. Don't see that as a bad thing.

(Okay, seriously, how did this become a discussion about racism?)

As I said this is taken overboard.
What I found is "...squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes; in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types." as citation from Tolkien's letter no 210 from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. published by his son in 1981 (but I was unable to verify, I don't have that publication).
Either way to me he is just being descriptive and not at all offensive, just uses language to paint his vision.

Jamcie Kerbizz:

Sooooo world saving, tea sipping, good eatin', hairy footed, cowardly halflings are Britons or maybe Frenchies?
Think you went overboard a tad bit with your accusations and interpretation of Tolkien's intent.

Absolutely. As I was saying before, it's more an aspect of time and place. And honestly his attitudes were probably better than the average Briton. That being said, just by going offthe stuff he wrote there's kind of reasons why we have re-packaged it.

Fantasy authors draw a lot from history, cultures, superstitions, legends etc. If you put forth thesis, that appropriating and then rehashing such material is inherently evil (done with ill-will) you can just as well call all fantasy racist, sexists etc. (cause these are part of human heritage) and be done with it. Example, in many European countries mongoloid is synonym of brutish, ugly, uncommunicative and ill willed. These come from deeply rooted fear (in their ansectors shaping these languages) of hun hordes (and in general nomadic warring tribes) that were for centuries coming to Europe from Asia just to murder, rape, burn, steal and abduct people to slavery.

It was a clash of 'relatively' peaceful agricultural society (former nomads...) with nomadic society. One preyed on another but ultimately failed due to inefficiency and unreliability of nomadic based society. Now trying to purify language or assign ill will for mere usage of word of that language is both ignorant and disrespectful to history, culture and heritage of people using that language.

Part about 'top loader washing machine' is spot on though. Just you went overboard on poor Tolkien's ass :P

I swear, you commit a handful of genocidal campaigns that creates a major Caucasian diaspora of tribes to run roughshod over Western Europe and whitey never lets you forget it.

Yeah, in the same way the word 'vandal' has been misappropriated. The difference between vandal and Mongol-types is that the word 'vandal' doesn't then go on to list a bunch of qualities as perceived by dehumanizing caricatures of East Asians... Once again, I'm willing to overlook Tolkien's ideas because he was probably better than the average Briton of his time period. You know, the people that made and perpetuated those caricatures not in terms of 'being descriptive' but in terms of blatant xenophobia. But to pretend it doesn't exist, or whywe've somewhat made the orcs far more alien in comparison to many of their descriptors that Tolkien spoke of exists for a reason.

As for drawing inspiration ... a lot of what I'm going to say is stuff that I've already written to Hawki that I'm just repeating myself, but in my honest opinion we owe more to Arthurian legends than we do Tolkien in terms of current fairytales and 'high fantasy'. I mean Aragorn is almost copypasta .... in a way Aragorn is also describes and illustrates an Arthurian Messianic figure in tandem with Arthurian legend dimensions...

Secretive fey sequestered away from the lands of mankind? Check. Building an alliance of lords and common soldiers in fraternity? Check. Powerful, nigh-immortalesque magician that accompany the hero? Check. Enchanted swords and equipment? Check. I mean things like D&D magic and enchanted gear has more in the likeness of Arthurian legends than it does Tolkien.

Like druids and shapeshifting, and having a preternatural connection to the natural world and the fey? Arthurian...

Current Western fantasy writers channel King Arthur far more than Tolkien, and Tolkien almost directly rips many major plot elements from Arthurian legend directly. And I honestly still think Lewis is more influential to ideas of a fantasy worldbuilding ... precisely because Lewis was allegorical in writing and Tolkien was not. So even his contemporaries were more adventurous with ideas of escapism and the human condition, and concepts of high fantasy and the reinvention of fairytales for the 20th century that were rife in 19th century fantasy writing.

Basically Tolkien is responsible simply for removing allegory out of current fantasy. And if we're being honest, that probably presents more problems than it does benefits. So much so current producers of high fantasy products try to reinsert it.

Like philosophy and the Rule-of-Threes in the Planescape setting of D&D and its various products.

The supreme irony is that people claim that 'Tolkien made fantasy an adult consumer good' ... but it's actually the flipside of that that is true. By removing allegory, it removes its own contemplative nature of why fairytales exist.

My dad telling me some of the 'old country' fairytales his parents told them, and their parents told them, are far more adult than anything Tolkien has produced. Precisely because they carry a note of what it means to be human in a world that is routinely unfair, and almost naturally exists to disappoint you and inflict evils.

Fairytales concerning changelings were coping mechanisms for having a child with birth defects. Fairytales concerning shapeshifting sorceresses were misogynistic tales of the whimsical and paradoxical nature of women. Fairytales concerning the valiant steed that carries you to victory were repurposed tales from chivalric orders and moral lessons not to give in to hunger by killing and eating your horse during a siege. That it is better to mount them and grant your last war horse a death in battle than simply the cowardice of sating a temporary pang of hunger.

All of these are 'darker' and 'more adult' than anything of what Tolkien writes.

If it has to be Tolkien-esque, then that doesn't leave much choice. Elves and Orcs only exist in so many settings. Apart from Middle Earth, D&D Forgotten Realms probably comes closest. It dialled Tolkien up to 11, codified and expanded on so much lore and backstory and gave gamers the world over an immense, rich world to adventure in. Elder Scrolls also has certain elements. Fantasy races, different nations and cultures, magic, good gods and evil gods (aedra and daedra), it does a lot in a similar vein.

My personal favourite fantasy worlds are probably Eddings's Belgariad and Jordan's Wheel of Time. But they don't have elves, dwarves or orcs. The former does have dryads, and the latter has trollocs, which are more monstrous versions of orcs, but not so much of Tolkien per se. The Belgariad gives us seven gods and an all-father, similar to Tolkien, and each god chose a people. One, the youngest, was jealous of his elder and stole his Orb, a powerful artifact. Each god has Disciples, sorcerers who use their Wills to use magic.

In the Wheel of Time, the world was created by a creator, with his opposite, the Dark One coming into being at same time as the world and the great Wheel that drives it. There are seven Ages which come in turn, events and history repeating and people being reborn in different forms as the Wheel turns, weaving a pattern. The weaving motif is a vital element of the world...not only is reality known as the Pattern that the Wheel weaves as it turns, individual people and events are "threads" in the Pattern and the three main protagonists are unique in that they exist separate to the Pattern, their destinies being outside of the Wheel. Also, magic in the Wheel of Time world is harnessed by Weaving threads of the elements together in different combinations and ways. One "weave" could open a gateway to another place, another could send out an invisible blade of air, another could compel someone to be truthful or trusting, etc.

They aren't directly Tolkien-esque, but IMO what Tolkien really did that was superlative, beyond writing timeless and well told stories, was creating a rich, believable world. He wasn't writing a story, he was creating a mythology and it started with the Elven languages. His genius was in creating such a believable, fantasy world from the Shire to Lothlorien, Moria to Rohan, Mordor to Gondor, all detailed and believable. Now Eddings and Jordan managed the same thing and as easily as I can describe Tolkien's elves and dwarves, I can describe Eddings's Tolnedrans, Alorns and Murgos, or Jordan's Andorans, Aiel, Seanchan or the rest.

Jordan also gave me my second favourite fictional character ever. While Hobb's Fitz is my favourite (how could he not be?), Nynaeve al'Maera is a close second. (Both characters appeared on the r/Fantasy best characters poll.

While I agree Warhammer is close, its a little too grimdark. High Fantasy is all about swords and sorcery, knights with shields fighting dragons and wispy Elven hotties being wispy and Elves and hotties.
Warhammer is more of the 'the women of the town were gang-raped by Chaos Marauders who skinned the men alive to summon a greater Daemon, and we have to go in there and burn everything to the ground with fire magic, including the women who are tainted by Chaos seed' type setting. Darker than Game of Thrones. At least Westeros doesn't have a literal rape God.

Warhammer has the knights and dragons and Elven hotties, but Chaos and Skaven really spoil the party. Too much implied torture, rape, dismemberment and demons to be considered a High Fantasy.

Silentpony:
While I agree Warhammer is close, its a little too grimdark. High Fantasy is all about swords and sorcery, knights with shields fighting dragons and wispy Elven hotties being wispy and Elves and hotties.
Warhammer is more of the 'the women of the town were gang-raped by Chaos Marauders who skinned the men alive to summon a greater Daemon, and we have to go in there and burn everything to the ground with fire magic, including the women who are tainted by Chaos seed' type setting. Darker than Game of Thrones. At least Westeros doesn't have a literal rape God.

Warhammer has the knights and dragons and Elven hotties, but Chaos and Skaven really spoil the party. Too much implied torture, rape, dismemberment and demons to be considered a High Fantasy.

IMPLIED?!

When a City has been taken over by the forces of chaos, the populace's mutilated bodies are merged together to form newly built Chaos walls.

Dark Elves's Witch Elves go on a literal murder spree across any settlement to satisfy the blood night dedicated to the Lord of Murder Khaine!!!

And Slaanesh is Slaanesh.

Samtemdo8:

Silentpony:
While I agree Warhammer is close, its a little too grimdark. High Fantasy is all about swords and sorcery, knights with shields fighting dragons and wispy Elven hotties being wispy and Elves and hotties.
Warhammer is more of the 'the women of the town were gang-raped by Chaos Marauders who skinned the men alive to summon a greater Daemon, and we have to go in there and burn everything to the ground with fire magic, including the women who are tainted by Chaos seed' type setting. Darker than Game of Thrones. At least Westeros doesn't have a literal rape God.

Warhammer has the knights and dragons and Elven hotties, but Chaos and Skaven really spoil the party. Too much implied torture, rape, dismemberment and demons to be considered a High Fantasy.

IMPLIED?!

When a City has been taken over by the forces of chaos, the populace's mutilated bodies are merged together to form newly built Chaos walls.

Dark Elves's Witch Elves go on a literal murder spree across any settlement to satisfy the blood night dedicated to the Lord of Murder Khaine!!!

And Slaanesh is Slaanesh.

Implied in that they use words like 'violated' and 'debauchery'. Its rare a Warhammer story, fantasy or 40k, uses words like 'rape' and 'penetration' and penis/vagina or whatever, and actively writes in a rape scene.

Silentpony:
While I agree Warhammer is close, its a little too grimdark. High Fantasy is all about swords and sorcery, knights with shields fighting dragons and wispy Elven hotties being wispy and Elves and hotties.

Not the actual definition m8.

High fantasy: "Fantasy set in an alternative, fictional ("secondary") world, rather than "the real", or "primary" world. The secondary world is usually internally consistent, but its rules differ from those of the primary world."

 

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