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High or Low Fantasy?


Some months ago, I wondered whether I ran high or low fantasy campaigns. It doesn’t matter what I create, but I was interested in what I attuned with, so I researched to find out!

What is my natural style? Magic!

If you have seen my content or played in any of my campaigns, you will know that I adore magic! From the simple spell casters to the archmage, magic is an element of my campaign that I could not do without.

I like the raw power of sorcery but can be drawn to the religious spells of clerics and, in Mythras, the forces of spirits that an animist evokes. There is something exceptional and powerful about magic. It sets mages aside from the usual steel-wielding fighters and allows them to complete many different roles. 

Magic is hidden. You never know whether the unarmoured person in front of you is suddenly going to flick their wrist and summon forth an army of undead or a volley of arrows.

(side note: if you haven’t watched season 3 of The Witcher, then episode 6 is full of epic spellcasting!)

Although initially, they might appear weak and feeble, mages have the power to make a significant contribution to any campaign.

What is my natural style? Quests!

As well as magic, I like epic quests. Those quests pit the party against a powerful foe trying to take over the world! I always want to create adventures that search for hidden artefacts (often broken into several parts), defeat insurmountable opponents and save the world!

I make these super complex. This can lead some players to lose their way. I have therefore reverted to less detailed campaigns that follow a very linear plot. I still have the content of the great quest, but there is less trying to figure out what is going on and more enjoying it.

I never want adventures to be mundane. I want to set the stakes very high and give the characters (and players) the feeling that they saved the world, even if no one knows it was them!

So is this a low or high fantasy?

High fantasy novels have several characteristics from the Jericho Writers website (https://jerichowriters.com/high-fantasy-vs-low-fantasy/). Several of these match up with my campaigns.

For example, the site defines high fantasy as a world very different from ours. It has mystical creatures, a challenge or a quest, plenty of magic and high stakes – good vs evil etc.

From these few characteristics, I am definitely drawn towards high fantasy. Low fantasy campaigns would have hidden magic or no magic at all. The characters would be pretty normal, with some of the characters possibly being able to control hidden mystical powers.

This reference would support my own understanding of high fantasy and align it precisely to the type of campaigns I create and GM.

Does it matter?

Initially, it doesn’t matter what type of campaign you create. But for me and the players, it does matter.

Some players prefer the nitty-gritty of everyday life to produce the challenges. They want to run adventures where their players might search for their next meal rather than a mystical lost epic relic.

If I was invited to a low fantasy campaign, I would still enjoy playing in it, but I would have to adjust my expectations of the content. We are not saving the world, but instead saving our bacon or whatever we had planned for our next meal!


So what kind of fantasy campaigns do you naturally create? And what kind of fantasy campaigns do you like to play in?

Are you the epic quest type of player or the hazards of the ordinary world player?

Let me know and share your views about high and low fantasy campaigns.

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