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  1. Yes, I know I'm a nerd and I know I'm OCD about detail but I've been noticing certain trends in how roleplaying sims are being advertised and they bother my delicate sensibilities. I'm not thinking of any specific RP area as I type this. These are pretty much aggregate thoughts I've had over the past several years and I figured I'd share them. Also, this is just one issue relating to RP sims, it's not the one single issue upon which all RP sims rise or fall, it's just one issue that stood out to me over the years and right now I have the urge to share my thoughts. First, I see a lot of people conflating medieval and ancient times. I know "ancient" has become a catch-all adjective for "old" but when you're talking about a roleplay setting, "ancient" and " medieval" refer to two very distinct eras. "Medieval" is the knights and ladies, castles and kings area you commonly think of in fantasy. King Arthur, dragons and wizards with robes and pointy hats all fit into this era of legend and fantasy. A "medieval fantasy" setting is typically where you find all Tolkien derived fantasy elements. Elves, orcs, evil princesses calling out to dark forces and captured wizards waiting for their Prince Charming to rescue them. All that stuff. An "ancient" setting is much older than that. "Ancient" refers to Rome, the Greek nation states and all points going back to the earliest records of human history. "Ancient" fantasy settings have your Olympian Gods, the Minotaur, adventurers in togas and bronze chestplates fighting Medusa or building giant wooden horses that couldn't possibly be some Athenian trick. So where do the pirates of the Caribbean, the Spanish Inquisition and all of that fit in? Well, neither. Those are a part of what's known as the "Modern" era. Yeah, Blackbeard and his crew are closer in time to Big Macs and Netflix than they are to King Arthur and definitely closer to us than they are to Ulysses or Jason and his argonauts. Speaking of Ancient Greece, did you know that that is where our legends of the Amazons, the warrior women, come from? Amazons didn't live anywhere near a jungle. You're thinking of the river in South America, so named because, in the modern era, Spanish explorers saw tribes which included women warriors, and were reminded of the ancient Greek myths that were old to them! This confusion continued when Hollywood began putting out Tarzan movies with "Amazon warrior women". Yeah, they were bad at history, too. The Greek Amazons had different depictions. Sometimes they were depicted as only being women, no men. Taking men as slaves for breeding, giving away or killing the male babies and only keeping the girls. In other depictions Amazons included men, but the women were the dominant sex. The warriors and leaders. In some legends they're hostile to men, in others friendly. In one of the myths, Herakles/Hercules shows up to ask the queen for her belt as one of his trials. She agrees to give it to him as a gift, but one of the Greek goddesses instigates an all out battle because the Greek deities were jerks. In another version, Herakles just up and conquered the Amazons. Because he was also a jerk. Then of course there's fantasy eras set in other worlds, separate from our own. The "Middle Earth" from Lord of the Rings. Conan's "Hyborian Age" The sci-fi/fantasy world of Gor. Of course, many of these fantasy settings are at least based on hsitory ,using the familiarty of the real world to create a more immersive and engaging world that people can relate to. Middle Earth very much resembles the medieval era. Knights and ladies. Kings in their castles. Wizards in their towers. Swords and plat armour. The Hyborian Age more resembles the Ancient era of our world. Drawing on myths and settings of that time. Ancient gods, walled city states, togas and loin clothes. Ok, so why does any of this matter? Fantasy is not reality, and it's certainly not history. Fantasy is all made up anyways so who cares if minotaurs are fighting knights on pirate ships (which admittedly sounds pretty awesome)? Well, it matters because theming matters. Yes, you can have a fantasy setting that blends all elements of fantasy together into one generic mush, but then what are you offering when every other "medieval" fantasy sim is doing the exact same thing? What sets you apart? Why should I go play in your sim as opposed to the dozen other sims offering the exact same mush of conflicting themes? You're setting yourself up to be the beige of roleplaying. Nobody particularly likes beige. It's only used so much because nobody particularly dislikes it either. You probably won't do badly with a generic mush of fantasy themes, after all anyone can be whatever they want, but you probably won't have a particularly strong draw either. When you have everything tossed in the pot like that, nothing stands out. The sim with the most active population will suck everyone else up until their users get bored and move on to the next shiny new sim.* So if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to offer something unique. You need a strong theme. A distinct setting. Understanding the different eras and the origins of various legends and stories and mythologies can help you do that more effectively. That doesn't necessarily mean sticking to a set, established historical or mythological setting, you can definitely play with different themes. I saw a sim the other day with a theme of a group of islands with Caribbean style pirates and jungle style tribal Amazons. That's a nifty, unique premise. Not historically or mythologically accurate, but that's not the point.They came up with a unique setting with some strong, iconic imagery. Gor, love it or hate it, has it's strong sense of setting and theme. The world is based on the books the setting comes from. You can't be a dragon or a neko in a Gor sim because those don't exist in that world. Allowing nekos, orcs, minotaurs and all that in would weaken the theme, push it more towards that generic "anything goes, nothing stands out" mush. The Pirates and Amazons sim I mentioned early also manages to keep a strong theme by sticking with those two basic elements. Pirates, with their tall, wooden boats and black powder guns and cannons, eyepatches and peg legs, versus the tribal, jungle amazons with their pelts, spears and jungle traps. Learning a bit more about the individual elements you decide to use in your RP sim will let you use those elements more effectively. Using the pirates and Amazons example again, you could incorporate pirate lore into the sim, with ghost ships, buried treasure, and Goonies style One Eyed Willie caves. You could go different directions with the Amazons, too. Either a Wonder Woman style ancient Greek city kept hidden and unchanged to the modern age, or Tarzan style jungle Amazons, or go all out on the Jungle tribes theme and incorporate elements from the Spanish exploration of South America, like the lost city of Gold. All this gives your sim a grounding and lore players can dive into, as well as its unique flavour. Anyway, that's all I had to say right now. How about you? Have you felt the same way about generic fantasy sims, but been unable to put your finger on why you felt that way? Do you think my ideas are stupid and "anything goes" is the only way to go? Have at it! *All else being equal of course. Again, there's definitely other factors that contribute to the success or demise of an RP sim.
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