"Why does the third of the three brothers, who shares his food with the old woman in the wood, go on to become king of the country? Why does James Bond manage to disarm the nuclear bomb a few seconds before it goes off rather than, as it were, a few seconds afterwards? Because a universe where that did not happen would be a dark and hostile place. Let there be goblin hordes, let there be terrible environmental threats, let there be giant mutated slugs if you really must, but let there also be hope. It may be a grim, thin hope, an Arthurian sword at sunset, but let us know that we do not live in vain."
- – Sir Terry Pratchett, “Let There Be Dragons” (A Slip of the Keyboard)
NobleBright is an adjective derived from the term often used to describe Warhammer 40k: Grimdark. Just as every hero has a "mirror opposite" version that is evil, it's supposed that there must be a mirror opposite version of the heroes of WH40k where everything goes RIGHT. It can also be used to describe artwork that has a noble/bright feel, even if the setting itself would not normally be considered noble or bright.
Where the GrimDark tag usually describes a setting in a slow, painful decline, the NobleBright tag usually describes a setting emerging from a dark age and either returning to or in the midst of a golden age.
Example: WarHammer vs. BrightHammer
"We do not need a Warmaster in this age. A Warmaster would fail us. We need a DADDY." - Custodes showing their appreciation to Captain-General Kitten
This alternate universe setting, BrightHammer40k, comes with the tagline "In the Noble Brightness of the far future, there is only HIGH ADVENTURE!" This is as opposed to the original tagline of Warhammer 40k, which stated, "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war." BrightHammer40k's setting has strong 1920s-1940s pulp fiction themes, crossed with an "age of myth" bronze age culture.
Differences between WarHammer 40k and BrightHammer 40k include:
- The setting is loosely divided into city-states united by race, religion, philosophy or just simple common sense, rather than singular empires defined by paranoia.
- There is a wide variety in the type of characters, nations, flora and fauna, and major characters in the setting.
- Speaking of wide varieties of characters/nations, relations between different groups, whether cultural, political, racial, etc. are usually positive. Conflicts are either out of just cause or have the option of being resolved peacefully. (Unlike Grimdark, in which "conflict resolution" is usually genocide)
- There is an overall "pulp fiction" feel. Just like real life.
- The universe is old, in the process of rediscovering a forgotten golden age.
- Low level conflicts such as raiding are considered common, but war is not. Just like Mongolia.
- When a Noblebright universe has a war, it's usually for a well defined, just cause. Wars are usually fought with "smart" technology, and massive, endless slaughters are rare. (Grimdark usually devolves technology in some form, then throws in massive slaughters for the fun of it)
- Technology is wildly inconsistent. Just like Alaska.
- Villains are over the top, campy, and rarely played seriously. Very much like North Korea.
- Leaders are usually diplomats or wise "philosopher-kings" like in North Korea.
- Heroes do most of the heavy lifting in society, and there are heroes, great and minor, at every level of society.
- There is a strong emphasis on individual strength. (Grimdark focuses on the massed collective. Individual strength is insignificant in the enormous Grimdarkian Machine)
- Good guys can be jerks, but are still good guys.
- Over-the-top heroism usually carries the day.
- Obvious, thinly disguised Secret Agents everywhere.
- The setting is entering a technological renaissance.
- Everything is bright or vividly colored.
- As seen on TV!
Compared to Warhammer40k, Brighthammer40k is generally brighter and a nicer place to live, but is by no means peaceful, always in a low level state of conflict, internal and external, never quite turning into war. The skull motif is replaced by wings, and colors are often brighter.
Strikes a balance between Noblebright and Grimdark. Basically, you don't matter much, but if mankind can put their back into it hard enough, it'll turn out okay in the end:
- Big E is alive, and regenerating.
- Primarchs still exist
- There is hope for a better future. Even if you don't live to see it, your children may well.
- While the AdMech got buttfucked twice, it's slowly getting it back together.
TL;DR of the Spectrum
- Grim/Noble = whether the future prospects of the setting looks positive/negative, and whether anybody can accomplish anything significant for good or evil. Hope vs. despair.
- Bright/Dark = determines the current state of things. Is it generally a good place to live or a bad one?
8chan Explanation of the Grim/Noble and Dark/Bright Spectrum (by anons)
Grim/Noble asks whether there are heroes that exist, may appear to change the world for good or ill.
- A noble setting isn't one where everyone is good, more like one where people are active. The actions of a single hero can change the world, and a single big villain can ruin it: there are important people, who are so either by birth, rank or sheer willpower, and every single one of these people MATTER.
- In a grim world, no matter what you do, an individual can't secure more than an individual victory, if even that, because the rest of the world is too big/scared/powerless/selfish to act upon his impulse.
Something like Morrowind or Berserk is noble (bright and dark, respectively) because it is about one man forcing destiny's hand and changing the world.
- Now, a bright world is one full of opportunity, of wondrous sights to behold. It doesn't mean that it has to be MLP, it can be dangerous, but your first instinct when looking at a new location should be awe and wonder: people may adventure to save the world, but they leave town with a smile upon their face, eager to see what comes next. The shadow of Risk is largely erased by the glint of Adventure. In a bright world, it's quite possible for people to go on adventure just for the hell of it, since the journey is its own reward. Resurrection, or at least means to heal grave injuries, is usually accessible, to counterbalance the fact that the risks out there are real.
- A dark world is one where life sucks, and something or someone is poised to kill everybody else in the story - whether it be demon overlords, 'nids, or even the lack of water, if this threat has its way everyone dies and they die for good. If you lose an arm, you play a cripple. In the extreme cases, even when you win a fight, your career is over (i.e. gangrene). This means that, even though people may be ready to help (noble), they'll need a damn good reason to do so, since stepping out of line is so dangerous (dark).
Given is an example of each type of setting to show how the combinations of noble/grim and bright/dark work;
- 40k is (grim)dark because, no matter where you go, there is only war, and heroism's only reward is usually a notch on a gun or a corpse in a trench. No matter who you are, most of the galaxy probably wants you dead, and staying home today is the best choice you can make. Even if you make it to the end, you may have to sacrifice everything to save everyone, if you haven't already done so.
- Berserk is (noble)dark because, while there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, it takes men and women of insane willpower to get there: no matter whether you are big or small, even when you have nothing, the only thing that may save the world is the will within you screaming, "Go on!" And if hope was to fail, you're getting a book-long bloodbath-orgy, and all its consequences.
- Morrowind is (noble)bright because, even though the world is fraught with dangers, you can fix everything. The reason it isn't dark is because there is so much to see, so many interesting people to meet, so many cool things to experience that, at the end of the road, you'd do it all over again if given the chance to see it once again with virgin eyes.
- Sandman is (grim)bright because the incredible vistas and interesting people are all that can distract Dream from the dullness of his existence. He will tire of them all, but even he has to admit that he saw some cool shit. Also, notice how the relative freedom from consequences (people can get somewhat rezzed/healed/characters don't die much), a bright trait, reinforces the futility of the struggle in a grim world.
In short, grimdark and noblebright worlds both exist, and both are interesting to play in. So do grimbright (perhaps these are the most narratively counterintuitive and hardest to pull off, but simultaneously they can be the most interesting worlds to run in) and nobledark (seems to be enjoying a big surge in popularity these days - people like the aesthetics and adult nature of dark worlds, but not the crushing nihilism; in nobledark, most things suck, those rare moments of genuine nobility and decent change are all the more poignant, even if they come at great cost). Every type allows for evil and struggles to exist, and for stories to be told. Evil can even triumph: it's less of a matter of who wins, and more of a matter of tone. In a bright world, the BBEG can win, but he won't skullfuck to death everyone the PCs know in front of a crowd without the mood turning to dark.
I'll leave you with some examples:
Grimdark : WHFB, W40K, Game of Thrones, Oedipus, E.Y.E Divine Cybermancy, Gears of War 1-3, Killzone 2-3.
Grimbright : Sandman, The Sims, most Tycoon games, Mass Effect series, The Commonwealth Saga, Eclipse Phase, The Culture novels, Deltarune, most of Zeus' flings with mortals (from the gods' perspective).
Nobledark : Berserk, LotR, Starcraft, Dark Sun, Terminator, Fallout, the Iliad. Also arguably WH40k in the more recent editions.
Noblebright : Morrowind, D&D/PF (usually), Magi, Warcraft, Star wars, Trine, the Odyssey, and of course, Star Trek.
More examples of works and their ranking
|BrightHammer 40k OR Age of Sigmar||WarHammer 40k|
|WarHammer 40k 8th ED, but more like Nobledark||Xeelee universe OR Age of Sigmar 2nd Edition|
(sorta. Could be considered approaching Noblebright->Dark)
|Exalted (Well, Zig-zags between the two)||Vampire:tM, Werewolf:tA (oWoD)|
|Changeling:tD (oWoD)||Changeling:tL (nWoD)|
|Geist: The Sin-Eaters (nWoD)||Wraith: The Oblivion (oWoD)|
|D20 Modern||Call of Cthulhu|
|Steven Spielberg||Quentin Tarantino|
|The West Wing||House of Cards|
|Special Unit 2||Delta Green|
|Star Trek (in general)||Babylon 5 (closer to Nobledark)|
|Star Trek (in general)||Star Trek Picard (or even Discovery)|
|Star Trek: Voyager||Red Dwarf|
|Stargate SG-1||The First Wave|
|Firefly (maybe not, see Discussion)||Blake's 7|
|Battlestar Galactica (1978)||Battlestar Galactica (2004)|
|Temeraire Series||Game of Thrones|
|.hack||Sword Art Online|
|Previous season of Sword Art Online||Next season of Sword Art Online|
|Rogue Trader||Dark Heresy|
|Osamu Tezuka||Go Nagai|
|The Wizard of Oz||Soul Eater|
|MACROSS (Robotech)||Mobile Suit Gundam|
|Mobile Suit Gundam||Neon Genesis Evangelion|
|Neon Genesis Evangelion||Bokurano|
|Spirit of the Century||Don't Rest Your Head|
|Avatar (not Cameron's furfic)||Kaze no Stigma|
|Warcraft||Warhammer Fantasy Battle|
|Alara, Theros, Lorwyn||Innistrad, New Phyrexia, Shadowmoor|
|Neverwinter Nights||Dragon Age|
|The Elder Scrolls
(Well, somewhat, if you ignore Kirkbride's EU-thing)
|Final Fantasy||Megami Tensei|
|Persona||Shin Megami Tensei|
|Guin Saga||Berserk (more Nobledark)|
|Persona 4 & 5||Persona 3|
|Red Alert 3||Red Alert 2|
|Red Alert 2||Red Alert|
|Wolfenstein||MachineGames Wolfenstein games|
|Command and Conquer: Red Alert series||Command and Conquer: Tiberium series|
|Starcraft II||Starcraft: Brood War|
|Diablo III||Diablo I & II|
|Grand Theft Auto 1||Saints Row 1|
|Saints Row 3||Grand Theft Auto 4|
|Fable III||Dark Souls|
|Cowboy Bebop||Black Lagoon|
|Kid Icarus||God of War|
|God of War 2018||pre-2018 God of War|
|Mass Effect 1||Mass Effect 3|
|Mass Effect universe||Halo universe|
|Halo universe||Dead Space universe|
|Dead Space Trilogy||Halo: Forerunner Trilogy|
|Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann||Getter Robo Armageddon|
|Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann||Kill la Kill|
|Rebuild of Evangelion (Well, Zig-zags between the two)||Neon Genesis Evangelion|
|Neo-Hunter Casshern||Casshern Sins|
|Dragon Ball||Hunter X Hunter|
|Mai-Otome||Mai-Hime (last 10 episodes at least)|
|Cardcaptor Sakura||Puella Magi Madoka Magica|
|Puella Magi Madoka Magica||Magical Girl Site|
|Power Rangers in General||Power Rangers RPM|
|Super Sentai||Kamen Rider (especially the Showa Era ones)|
|Kamen Rider (most Heisei Era ones)||GARO|
|Batman: the Brave & the Bold||Batman: TAS (first two seasons only)|
|Star Wars Episode I, IV, VI,
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Movie and Season 1,
and a decent portion of the Expanded Universe
|Star Wars Episode II, III, V, VII,|
Star Wars: The Clone Wars from Season 2 onwards,
and the other half the Expanded Universe, especially The New Jedi Order and Legacy
|Little House on the Prairie||Deadwood|
|Full House||Married With Children|
|The Green Zone||The Hurt Locker|
|The Sarah Jane Adventures||Torchwood|
|Pirates of the Caribbean||Black sails|
|Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag||Risen 2: Dark Waters|
|Twilight Saga||Buffy: The Vampire Slayer|
|Lois and Clark or the 80's Superman Movies||Man of Steel|
|Cyanide and Happiness||pictures for sad children|
|The Silver Age of Comic Books||The Dark Age of Comic Books|
|Steampunk Genre||Cyberpunk Genre|
|Discworld||A Song of Ice and Fire|
|A Wizard of Earthsea||The Tombs of Atuan|
|Mega Man (Classic, Legends, Battle Network,
ZX, Star Forces 1 and 2)
|Mega Man (X, Zero, Star Force 3,), The Protomen|
|The Chronicles of Narnia||His Dark Materials|
|Resistance||Gears of War (The first game especially)|
|Gears of War||Killzone|
|Just Cause 2||Spec Ops: The Line|
|Plants VS Zombies||The Last of Us|
|The Last of Us||The Last of Us Part 2 (10% Grimdark, 90% Grimderp)|
|Mirror's Edge||Assassin's Creed|
|Iron Kingdoms MKii||Iron Kingdoms MKi|
|Marvel Comics films||DC Universe films|
|DC comics||Marvel comics|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Hellsing (any medium)|
|Hellsing (2001 series)||Hellsing (manga and OVA)|
|Marvel comics||Watchmen comics|
|Watchmen comics||Wanted comics|
|Warehouse 13||The SCP Foundation|
|Wilderlands of High Fantasy||Forgotten Realms|
|Harry Potter 1-3||Harry Potter 4-7 (ESPECIALLY 7th)|
|Deus Ex 1-2||System Shock 1-2|
|Homeworld 1 and 2||Homeworld: Cataclysm|
(when the Beast make their first appearance)
|Fist of the North Star||Violence Jack|
|The Simpsons||South Park|
|The Glaive||Conan the Barbarian|
|The Hobbit||The Children of Hurin|
|American Revolution||Vietnam War|
|Civilization:Beyond Earth||Alpha Centauri|
|The New Testament||The Old Testament|
|Overwatch||Team Fortress 2 (Especially Mann vs. Machine)|
|Team Fortress 2||Team Fortress Classic|
|Ghostbusters films and Real Ghostbusters||Extreme Ghostbusters|
|Metal Gear (in general)||Metal Gear Solid V|
|Girls und Panzer||Panzerfraulein Alteseisen|
|Far Cry 1||Far Cry 2 and 3|
|Pokemon Franchise||Digimon Franchise|
|Digimon Adventure||Digimon Tamers|
|Digimon Tamers||Shadow Star Narutaru|
|Fallout series||S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series|
|S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series||Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light|
|Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light||Metro 2033 (novel), Metro 2034 (novel),|
and Metro 2035 (novel)
|Fast And Furious||Death Race|
|Death Race||Mad Max|
|Y:the last man||Children of men|
|Battlefield Bad Company||Call of Duty Modern Warfare trilogy|
|Call of Duty Modern Warfare trilogy||Call of Duty Black Ops III|
|Dead Rising series||Left 4 Dead series|
|Left 4 Dead series||Dead Island series|
|Dead Island series||World War Z movie|
|World War Z Movie||World War Z novel|
|World War Z Novel||The Walking Dead comics|
|Super Robot anime||Real Robot anime|
|Real Robot anime||WAT Robot anime|
|The Go-Betweens||The Birthday Party/Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds|
|League of Legends||Dota 2|
|Rome: Total War||Total War: Attila|
|Street Fighter franchise||Mortal Kombat franchise|
|Star Wars Jedi: Outcast duology||Star Wars: Battlefront 1 & 2 (2000's)|
|Minecraft||7 Days to Die|
|Blood Diamond||Lord of War|
|Naoki Urusawa's Monster||ERASED|
|Casa de mi Padre||Sicario|
|GammaWorld||The Mutant Epoch|
|Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?||Goblin Slayer|
|This Means War||Savages|
|Brave New World (more like GrimBright, really)||1984|
|Sailor Moon (old censored american dub)||Sailor Moon (original version)|
|Sailor Moon (original version)||Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon|
|Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon||Revolutionary Girl Utena|
|Revolutionary Girl Utena||Puella Magi Madoka Magica|
|Egan's Diaspora||Dukaj's Perfect Imperfection|
|Touhou Project||Crimzon Clover|
|Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and White Lantern Corps||Red, Orange, Yellow, Black, and Ultraviolet Lantern Corps|
|Pod Save America||Chapo Trap House|
|Jimmy Neutron, Back to the Future||Rick and Morty|
|World War II: Western Front||World War II: Eastern Front|
|World War II: Eastern Front||World War II: Pacific Theatre|
|World War II: Pacific Theatre||World War I: Western Front|
|World War II: French Resistance||World War II: Polish Resistance|
|Pork Chop Hill||Tae-Guk-Gi|
|Death Korps of Krieg||Interim Coalition of Governance|
|Disney Channel||Cartoon Network|
|Maple Story||Made in Abyss|
|Ready Player One||20th Century Boys|
|My Hero Academia||ONE PUNCH MAN (more like Grimbright, really)|
|Grand Theft Auto||Mafia|
|Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy.||Jak 2 and later|
|Axis Powers Hetalia||Polandball|
|Soren Kierkegaard||Friedrich Nietzsche|
|John Stuart Mill||David Benatar|
|Noam Chomsky||Michel Foucault|
|Thomas Aquinas||Augustine of Hippo|
|Jean-Jacques Rousseau||Thomas Hobbes|
|Thomas Hobbes||Friedrich Nietzsche|
|Friedrich Nietzsche (before Thus Spoke Zarathustra)||Friedrich Nietzsche (after Thus Spoke Zarathustra)|
|Friedrich Nietzsche||Mark Twain (Best example being the Mysterious Stranger)|
|Arthur Schopenhauer||Emil Cioran|
|Classical Philosophy (e.g. Virtue Ethics, Stoicism)||Contemporary Philosophy (e.g. Existentialism, Postmodernism)|
|Jean-Paul Sartre||Albert Camus|
|The American Revolution||The French Revolution|
|The French Revolution||The Russian Revolution|
|Civilization||Tropico (Can be Grimbright if you are a "benevolent" dictator)|
|Sgt. Frog||Invader Zim|
|Zootopia||Beastars (actually closer to Nobledark)|
|Beastars||Kevin and Kell (The setting, but not the story)|
|I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream (the video game)||I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream (the book)|
|Stellaris (when you play Egalitarian, Xenophile or Federation Builder)||Stellaris (whenever you play Xenophobe/Fanatic Purifier or Psionic Ascension)|
|Care Bears||Happy Tree Friends|
|Kid vs Kat||Mr. Pickles|
|Power Metal||Trash Metal|
|Trash Metal||Death Metal|
|Death Metal||Black Metal|