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Creation Date: March 1st, 2010 07:15 PM
Blue Ghost Blue Ghost is offline
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Musings of a Knight of the Imperium.
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In Moot Member Blogs Everquest contemplations Entry Tools Rating: 5 Stars!
  #430 New September 12th, 2018 05:09 PM
I like traditional European fantasy. I grew up with tales from European folklore, including but not limited to Tolkien's offerings, and various tales about dwarves, trolls, orcs, knights, fairies, princes, princesses, kingdoms, good kings, bad witches, beautiful queens, dragons and the like.

It's the stuff for a lot of fantasy RPGs, although, to me, it seems like a lot of contemporary RPG offerings, with each successive "generation" or RPGs, just get more "out there".

I remember seeing an add for some fantasy RTS in PC Gamers, with a figure clad in plate mail armor, only his armor not only had metal spike horns on hit helmet, but spikes sticking out here and there, from his leggings to his fore arms, and even his sword was serrated or had spikes on places that would seem intimidating.

I stared at that add and wondered what went through the marketer's head. But it didn't stop there. Warcraft and Warcraft 2 had similar stylized armor and costuming. And it didn't stop there.

Come Everquest, and the armor, weapons, clothes and overall setting just kept getting more extreme, but still maintaining a kind of conventionality. That is dwarves just weren't short anymore, but extremely stocky. Elves somehow got stretched to the height of the average man, or nearly (most folklore tales have them as being another "short" race). And so on, and so on.

Call me odd because when I think of RPing in a fantasy world, I think of "roughing it" in the outdoors. Women of the middle ages, and specifically in Europe, did not dress in skimpy alluring outfits, much less armor, and dressed the way they did because it was cold. In fact most people, men and women, dressed in lots of clothes to keep warm. Most people were peasants or serfs, did not have much money, save for the merchants, and stayed at home. And when they did travel they typically had to sleep outside under the stars.

I bring this up because the trend in contemporary fantasy games is to dress women in "sexy" outfits and armor. Male's have Maximillian era armor etched with gold, if not made out of gold itself. The truth is is that if you were a mercenary man-at-arms (not a knight, though perhaps you might have been), you slept on dirt/dust, grass, leaves, and rocks, and were lucky if someone in your party knew how to make fire, or carried something that burned slowly so you could make a fire.

That, and you may or may not have bathed. I bring that up because a lot of history texts are just in plain disagreement with one another. Some say medieval people never bathed, others say they did. More contemporary texts (from Dover press) state that they did bathe or otherwise clean themselves regularly. I think a Viking documentary I saw showed the raiders "shaving kits" belonging to males, and other evidence of hygiene. I bring this up because there was no indoor plumbing, no toilet paper, a sense of needing to be clean every so often, resulting in a mix hygiene standards and practices. And I bring that up because when you travelled the road, slept on the side of the road for the night, or otherwise outside for the night, you got up the next day, dusted yourself off, maybe had a few bites of jerky or moldy bread, and then continued your journey. You were dirty, you didn't shower, your clothes didn't have the fine machine stitching that we take for granted today, and your shoes, if you were lucky, had leather souls so you could walk over rocky roads.

But with all fantasy games today there's a very "clean" look. I saw an add for one in the last year or so, and there was some "serving whench" sitting at a table with an alluring look in a very clean looking tavern complete with female adornments; i.e. flowers, dιcor, and very clean. It's typical. I read a few fantasy novels penned by women years back, and of course all the characters bathed frequently. So, I hope I don't sound sexist here, but it does seem like a sex dependent practice in the genre.

When you're RPing with your friends you don't think about the environmental details of being outdoors and camping. The truth is a snake might curl up with you in the night, or maybe a bat, badger, raccoon, rat, mouse or even a bear, might stumble upon your camp. And if that did happen, and you got up, you would be freaked, bumping into your buds in a near pitch black night (especially if you were in the forest) as you fumbled around for your weapons, and generally, chaos would reign before you were able to deal with a nuisance or a threat.

And when you came to the next town or village, odds are there would not be a tavern, and the tavern that was there would smell of people, animals, dirt, wood and hay. But again, the ultra clean tavern of female fantasy seems to reign, even in more male oriented fantasy offerings.

Okay, look, I understand Everquest is a fantasy. You can make anything up in a fantasy. Heck, have UFOs and little green men from Mars with ray guns come and land demanding "Take me to your leader", or whatever. But my point is that there's just a lot of basic loss of information and miseducation with the fantasy genre.

In Everquest you need to buy sleeves, leggings, wrist bands, and everything else for your character. And, on top of that, there's a mix of armors from various eras. And, on top of that, apparently a sword that's been cleaned and refurbished isn't as good as a brand new sword. Well, the truth is is that if you clean a rusted blade, polish it up and sharpen it, then it's just as good as a new sword fresh from the forge. But in Everquest that's not true.

In traditional European fantasy it's essentially "give me a weapon, some armor, and let's go kill sh_t". Okay, fine, that's pretty much all there is to the game. And thinking about stuff like dust, rocks, mud, grass, snakes, vermin, even insects … like ants getting in your food supplies … or personal hygiene like how do you clean yourself after relieve yourself … what happens when you get poison oak or poison ivy, is all just stuff that doesn't belong in the RPing experience.

But with Everquest, and the continued evolution of the fantasy genre, it's like even the historical basis for sword and sorcery fantasy is lost. Whether it's female fantasy ultra clean people and places, or male fantasy of well endowed scantly clad females in a world fraught with cold and disease, it just gets more and more extreme.

Heck, I don't know how, but some years back I even came across some sexually oriented material that again pushed the extremity of fantasy that much further. I mean everyone has a fantasy of some kind, and I think for those who think of swords, armor, dragons, spells and the like, there's a tendency to add onto the fantasy to improve it or give yourself some kind of leg up in your own personal fantasy.

Fine, whatever. But I do wonder how a real 13th century knight would regard some woman carrying an oversized samurai sword who didn't have the muscles to even draw the thing much less fight with it, or some dude wearing armor with spikes all over the place and a sword with some really strange spikes or an unusual shape. I remember when I used to go to DeviantArt regularly I'd come across "cosplay" photos, mostly of women dressed in really outrageous Manga / anime outfits, and more often than not, they had these really huge colorful sniper rifles or swords, while wearing stilettos, maybe a cape, and some outrageous outfit that shows off her body but is supposed to be normal (Kind of like Everquest), and I would sometimes ask the author, "How does she fight in that?" the response I got was "well, it's just an outfit".

I understand fantasy. I'm one of the biggest fantasist there is from my earliest days of gaming and before when I had Tolkien's tales read to me from various people. I've played D&D, T&T, read Pathfinder, and played or read other fantasy books and games in my younger days. Who doesn't like a good medieval era fantasy story? And as much as I enjoyed playing Warcraft 2 the writing was on the wall in that fantasy would keep getting more and more extreme, until there would be nothing recognizable except for the odd sword or reference to some name or label that resembles something from fantasy's past.

So, in Everquest, I guess the other reason I uninstalled the game, is this very thing. A mish mash of medieval and classical eras, a mish mash of mythologies, no real game, and as I've griped about before, at the time I was playing, extremely overcrowded servers, just drove me away.

Heros wearing armor with huge spikey shoulders, women sorceresses with scantly flowing garments, elves that are as tall as a human only blonde, and with huge pointy ears and eyebrows who speak in hushed tones, ultra clean people and outdoor environments … it's all just ridiculous.

It's not just ridiculous, it's stupid. It's ignorant of the actual era. And Everquest reflects that and is a fit example of my gripes with it and contemporary version of the genre as a whole. I mean typically, as I've stated, you don't think, or are not supposed to give much contemplation or credence to the minutiae of the environment. But a lack of groundedness, a lack of realism, and just the whole idealization and continued idealization for not just artistic but marketing purposes (Final Fantasy being just something I dislike with a passion just on general principle), drive me away from the genre.

I don't mind reading about heroes taking on dragons. Who doesn't? But by and large the aggrandizement of the genre to what it is today, including Warcraft 3 and the Japanese takes on the genre and the current crop of flash fantasy games, just churns my stomach. Not just in terms of miseducating people on fantasy and a lack of historical basis for the such, but because it's just stupid.

Again, what would a fully trained medieval knight think of some man or woman dressed in modern fantasy garb … that's typically what I think when I see anything labeled as fantasy.

And I think that's enough said.

Post Script; p.s. one of the most disgusting things to me is animal waste (including human), so it's not like it's something you want in there, and having owned a couple of dogs, been around horses, cows, goats and a lot of other critters, they stink. As loving as dogs are, they still excrete waste like all animals, and it's a dirty and disgusting job of cleaning up after them. We've used farm animals today and historically for their fur, skin, meat and milk, and that stuff has a texture to it. And in medieval times serfs and peasants worked with it by hand, and also tilled the land if they had any. Even a smith (silver, gold, black) ate with hands covered in coal or the ores he was using. We idealize the middle ages, but the religious hold on society, the taxes, having to obey a king who was abusive … again, it's the idealization of fantasy that pervades. Living in the middle ages wasn't all that horrible, but it was a lot of hard work; chopping wood, making your clothes, building your own house, farming, and everything else. It wasn't all that dirty and grime ridden, but it wasn't clean either. It's just a big issue with me and that hyper or female-fantasy idealization of the era, or a fantasy middle ages. I think it's stupid beyond belief.

P.P.S. I noticed that the views shot up to 10 after I posted this log entry. How satisfying to note it.
Views: 56 | Comments: 3


RSS Feed 3 Responses to "Everquest contemplations"
#3 November 21st, 2018 02:07 AM
Blue Ghost Says:
The cows are coming, huh? Oh well.
#2 September 12th, 2018 11:52 PM
Blue Ghost Says:
Well, yeah, and thanks. I've been around farms, swam in rivers, camped outdoors, confronted wildlife (not really a fun experience … rattlers, bears, what not), and as fun as it is to be outdoors or sometimes around a farm, … it's like there's a hyper-fantasy beyond the normal fantasy where everything is clean (clothes, people, homes), romantic, … everyone uses a sword and wears plate mail or very shiny chain. Most soldiers wore a cloth gambeson because they were cheap. It's just this ratcheting up of the fantasy genre that's really a thorn in my paw. But thanks.
#1 September 12th, 2018 11:11 PM
timerover51 Says:
Blue Ghost, you do make a lot of valid points there. I doubt if most gamers have any idea of how a medieval town smelled, or for that matter, I doubt if many have an idea of how a farm smells. Now, someone from Iowa probably would understand that when the farmers are spreading fresh manure. I can remember that smell from college in western Illinois.
 


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