High Fantasy

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High Fantasy is perhaps the most famous, or at least well known, of the fantasy Setting Aesthetics. Popularized, if not codified, by J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings novels, it has a very loose array of traits, but the most commonly accepted elements are a high level of fantastical elements, such as many different kinds of sapient races, wide-spread and/or high-powered magic, and a tendency towards a clear-cut moralism scale.

The polar opposite is, of course, Low Fantasy. Heroic Fantasy is the intermediary between the two extremes.

Common trappings include:

  • Standard fantasy races of humans, elves and dwarves.
  • The focus of the story is a conflict between clearly defined good and clearly defined evil.
  • The world is at stake, so while politics may be involved they take a back seat to cosmic affairs.
  • There is at least one race that's either always evil or at least every member shown is working for the villains.
  • A BBEG who wants to take over.
  • The gods are real and taking part in the conflict for better or worse. If there's only one god, that god will be all-powerful but hands-off or indirect (the one god's morality will depend on the personal real-life beliefs of the author).
  • Religions are either good or evil with no middle ground, though members can vary at times.