K without getting into an edition war (as to which is superior and which is inferior) I was wondering if anybody could help me differentiate between “Epic Fantasy” “High Fantasy” Heroic Fantasy” and “Super Heroic” Fantasy and how these might relate to the design of a traditional RPG like dungeons and dragons.
Heroic Fantasy has common characteristics such as setting being otherworldly, etc. and other charistics such as (from wiki) “Frequently, the protagonist is reluctant to be a champion, is of low or humble origin, and has royal ancestors or parents but does not know it. Though events are usually beyond their control, they are thrust into positions of great responsibility where their mettle is tested in a number of spiritual and physical challenges. Although it shares many of the basic themes of Sword and Sorcery the term 'Heroic fantasy' is often used to avoid the garish overtones of the former.[
Epic and High Fantasy seem to have the same charistics but possibly more focused on defeating or ending a great evil.
Super-Heroic Fantasy- is much harder to define… the definition of a super hero (especially considering a human character like Batman or the Punisher) is very hard to nail down. I guess I would say a Super Heroic fantasy is more of a feeling I get… or when every one of the main characters has some set of rare powers vastly superior to normal humans. I guess for me the power level is what makes the difference between Heroic Fantasy and Super Hero fantasy….
Would you have a better way of defining these terms?
I really didn’t play 3.5, I am playing in a PF campaign and it does seem extremely super-heroic to me in that most superheroes from marvel could reach a close approximation by around 10th level with a properly optimized character, some (like Captain America, Hawkeye etc) in a slightly weakened form at 1st level.
4.0 also seemed more super-hero than high fantasy because of the power level of the characters even as first level adventurers. It wasn’t just that they had the capability to use magic, it was that the magic they used was more typical of much higher levels of play than in previous editions , such as fey step (similar to d-door gained as a racial ability)
Arguably in all editions characters progress from gritty fantasy, to heroic fantasy, to wuxa to superherodom (though to me, 4e leapt right into superherodom at first level.) However, the mechanics of say a fighter in AD&D remained the same to the mechanics a mundane NPC would use when trying to attack an opponent, where as later editions relied more on improved class features, paragon, specialization, advanced feats or powers to greatly improve on how a melee character might attack.
The power level and availability of magic items also seemed to increase with each edition especially once characters were given the ability to craft their own permanent magic items.