Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Why we love fantasy


Why we love fantasy

Early childhood is a time of wonder and learning. Everything is new, and it’s easy to slip between the world of imagination and the world of reality. During this impressionable time, many of us grew up hearing classic fairy tales, either in their original form, or revisited as a movie. While a lot of us outgrow that, I think for most of us we hold a spot in our hearts and minds where we love to imagine.

As we grow up, we discover that these stories were just made-up tales, but we still love them. Then, as we approach adulthood, we start to fill them out with other things that we’re experiencing in the “real” world. Some of these aren’t so pleasant as well: darkness, unkindness, selfishness, social disorder, and more. The villains become more villainous because we’ve seen more villainy around us.

That also makes us yearn for heroes more and more, I think. It’s like we still want someone to come in and make it right. We still want to believe in justice and kindness, and even love.

And so we need stories.

That’s why we love going to movies, why we watch so much TV, and why we read so many books. Recent years have shown rapid growth in the popularity of the fantasy genre of stories (with all of its subgentres and subsubsubgenres) in popular culture. I really think this ties into our childhood love of fairy tales. Yes, our stories may be more complex, with conflicted heroes and layered villains, and our settings may be grimdark dystopias, but it’s still essentially a fairy tale.

And we love it!

Sense of Adventure

A song by my one of my favorite bands starts:
“Well I get up at seven, yeah
And I go to work at nine
I got no time for living, yeah
I’m working all the time
Seems to me I could live my life
Much better than I think I am
I guess that’s why they call me
Call me the working man!”
-Rush, “Working Man”

I think it captures perfectly the day-to-day drudgery of most of life. Some might have wonderfully exciting and challenging jobs that they love, but even those have their days of dullness.

How do we cope? We try and find ways to escape it in weekend and after hours activities, hobbies, vacations and, of course, stories. Fantasy, as a genre, offers a complete escape. In these stories, we’re inserting ourselves into a whole other world, not just a distant city. We’re discovering new societies and cultures. Like a tourist from halfway around the world, we look around in wonder at the new sights, sounds, and smells. We can forget our own troubles for a bit and be immersed in somewhere else.

A "Safe Place"

And sometimes, we discover that these new places have some problems that are very similar to our own. However, instead of breaking our adventure, that makes us a little more comfortable. We can still relate to the new people we’re meeting because they do have some similarities. 

As we look around in this new space, we can open ourselves up to seeing some of the problems of our own world in a new way. By looking at them in this new world, we can see from a new perspective. Since this new world is, really, just a madeup idea, just “a silly fantasy”, it’s suddenly safe for us to consider what would be a difficult pill to swallow in our own reality.

The fairy tale becomes a way for us to learn about ourselves and grow as individuals and as a society.

So, from the seeds of frivolous imagination, sewn in our childhood, grows into a tree whose roots sink deep into our cultural souls and make us reach higher to the sky as a people. That’s why we love fantasy so much.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

218 - The Poetry of Heathrax Dragonfriend

Here's how you can read the story a week (two scenes) ahead of everyone else!

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Many seeds are planted in my garden
Flowers, fruits, and herbs all grow, tangled
They’ve gathered from many lands.
Some have drifted to me with the winds.
They are all now my friends

    - Heathrax Dragonfriend


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This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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Monday, April 20, 2020

217 - “Rise Again” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

Here's how you can read the story a week (two scenes) ahead of everyone else!

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For two full days, snow had fallen on the mountain, and the canyon winds had funneled the blizzard over the shrine. The terraces, the bridge, the scattered rubble, and the twisted dragon’s body were all covered over in almost two feet of new snow. The bony skeleton of the bridge’s structure underneath held it steady, but the damage from the fight was still evident. The stone debris lay in scattered shambles across the walkway, and the snow, gray in the dim, blended into the charred black stones where the dragon had spit its last flames.

Several of the layered pools along the wall of the canyon had been emptied when the force of the dragon’s body clambering over them crushed the ledges holding the water in place. Without the hot water filling them, the shells were now buried in snow. Jagged stones from the damage stuck up like knives through the snow. The hot springs still flowed, cutting down the side of the mountain in steaming streams, keeping the snow at bay until they faded into the mists in the valley below. Ice flows on either side of the streams dripped in the gray light like blood from daggers. The rising heat of the waters underneath had not yet had time to melt the snow on the bridge, but icicles from that afternoon were starting to dangle from its precipices.

The night weighed heavy on the canyon and the thick darkness of shadow descended. The only sounds were the wooing winds and the haunting mumbled conversations of the springs and falls.

On the bridge near the shrine, a bit of the snow shifted. It crunched a little in the quiet, bumping up a few inches.

Then another piece near it moved, as if a small animal were burrowing under its surface. Then, for a moment, there was an uncertain still again.

Quickly, the snow shook and rustled from side to side with a fiercer motion. A clump of snow rose up, like something was trying to break out from under it into the dark air.

A dark hand burst out. It swung from side to side, sweeping the snow away. It’s motions were jerks and strokes, like its arm below were still frozen and lifeless.

Soon, a second hand emerged and shoved more of the snow aside.

A dark head and torso sat up, and turned over, straining to stand. His face was dark and scaly, and his hair matted and tangled. When he stood, he shook as if his limbs were uncertain of how to be steady. He tossed his cloak to cast off the snow, then bent and reached back into the snow to pull out his spear.

He meticulously began walking across the bridge, stumbling through the snow toward the path down the mountain.


“It will take him a long time to get back here.” Tonklyn said, as he and Kirraxal watched the drama unfold on their shadow stage in the throne room. That’s why Kirraxal wasn’t angry after the battle. It doesn’t matter as much if he’s not so good at fighting. He’ll just wake back up. I wonder how many unlives he has. One more? Two? Maybe he’s undying. 

“True.” Kirraxal agreed. “Maybe I should send him to Emberfire City to wait for you there.”

Maybe. This is an interesting twist that I’ll need to plan for.

“As you command, Your Majesty. As you command.”



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This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

Previous Scene, Next Scene
Start the whole story from the beginningStart from where this current story arc begins. Start from where the current story part begins