Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Noblebright Fantasy

I just discovered something very exciting, and I want to share it!

Actually, to be more accurate, I discovered that something I already liked and believed in has a name and a movement, and I want to share that!

In the world of words, of writing and reading, a lot of fuss is made about the taxonomy of genres. It seems that each author wants to have their own sub-sub-sub-sub genre. Well, I have just found the one I want to be shelved into!

The name of this subgenre is “Noblebright”, and since I write fantasy, it becomes “Noblebright Fantasy”. The idea is ages old, but in modern publishing parlance it arose out of a reaction to the “grimdark” subgenre. In grimdark, there are few, if any, good guys. Everybody is out to better their own position and win in the dog-eat-dog world of the story. It’s well-suited for dystopian novels, but it can really fit in any time period and any style.

By contrast, Noblebright has at least one character that strives to attain a certain nobility. In a lot of ways, they’re paragons, or at least want to be. Here’s a clip from a website about it: 

“The character is flawed, but his or her actions are generally defined by honesty, integrity, sacrifice, love, and kindness. The story upholds the goodness of the character; the character’s good qualities are not held up as naiveté, cluelessness, or stupidity, but rather shown to be worthwhile. Good characters can make a difference. Noblebright characters can learn and grow. They can deliberately choose to be kind when tempted to be unkind, they can choose generosity when it hurts, and they can influence their world and other characters for the better.“

It goes on to say that even if the world is an unholy dystopian mess, the overall tone of the style is hopeful, inspiring.

Yes, characters, like people are complicated, and we don’t always know how to choose good, because we might not be fully aware of what “good” is. That’s OK, it’s all a part of the exploration and the growth.

So often, in tabletop RPGs, players leap for the evil side of the alignment scale. It’s not only easier, but in many cases, more fun to play someone that’s a crazy, bloodthirsty murder hobo. In a world without consequences, who would blame them?

But a big, big part of the reason why I made The Hero’s Tale game and taught it to my sons, and why I’m writing the story of A Tale of Heroes, is that it’s better to be a good guy.

So, now, I’m proud to announce that all of this, the game, the story, is part of the Noblebright movement! 

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