Fantasy Lite vs The Cronut of Fantasy (or: Dragon Age vs Planescape)

The Cronut: Innocuous baked good or fantasy setting comparison metaphor?The cronut.

Have you heard of it? If you haven’t, then I’m about to ruin your health. The cronut is more than a food; it’s a statement. It’s an ideal. It’s an invention that encompasses the ideals that America was founded on: freedom and the right the choose an early, artery clogging death. The cronut is George Washington and Abe Lincoln high fiving as they watch Betsy Ross sew a flaming eagle clutching a donut in its talon on the American frickin’ flag. The cronut is brilliant and horrifying and a blessing and a curse to our world. Sort of like Bono.

Fine. You want the literal definition of a cronut? It’s a croissant-doughnut hybrid. And it’s delicious. Oh, it’ll put your ass in the grave years before your time if you eat them on a continuous basis, but they are filled with everything good and bad in the world that just blends to euphoria.

I have a reason for explaining what a cronut is beyond just making our European listeners wish more they could be part of this great nation. I speak of the cronut because you might have heard us refer a few times of Jesus’ fantasy games as the ‘cronut of fantasy’. And you also might have heard of my fantasy games as being ‘Fantasy Lite’ or the ‘Diet Fantasy’ of fantasy settings. Now that you understand what a cronut is, I can begin explaining the differences between the two settings.

What is Fantasy Lite?

Fantasy Lite is a world that is filled with a familiar collection of universal laws. We have laws in our world that pretty much everybody obeys – such as the Law of Gravity, the Law of Thermodynamics, or Law of Ridic (Judge Judy). In a Fantasy Lite game, the world has laws that people obey. Up is up, down is down, and if you run really quickly at the soldier and get hit in the face with his maul, you will fly back and come crashing down a few yards away.

Now, some of you might be flailing around and saying that I’m preaching about a historical game – not a fantasy game. And right you are. What makes a Fantasy Lite game is allowing for these laws to be circumvented. You can bend a law with a spell or ‘hack the matrix’. You might even have fantastical settings such as Dragon Age’s The Fade… but the bulk of the setting is still bound in the understanding of our own reality.

Let’s explore Dragon Age as a Fantasy Lite game. In Dragon Age, it explains the setting pretty much off the bat. Hey, magic users tried to be gods, almost succeeded, became corrupt, and now they are darkspawn. Hey, demons are negative energies from a realm just outside our own. You got it? Great – now let’s begin the game. Dragon Age explains to you the setting very quickly, gets you to understand that there are a few alterations to the Laws of Reality that we need to accept in order to play the game, and then you start out on the adventure.

To me, that is what makes a Fantasy Lite game. It isn’t looking to alter our understanding of how things work too much. If you fall in a Fantasy Lite game, you are most likely falling down. If you are near an explosion, you are most likely getting hurt.

What is the Cronut of Fantasy?

Ever want to have sex with the letter Q?

A Fantasy Cronut isn’t about filling a character with a few shifts in reality. It’s about taking the reality we know and wiping your butt with it. You invent the entire reality and this reality is an alien and wonderful and terrifying place to explore. It’s a place where babies can be born as adults or where a mage might pilot a giant lady bug made of concepts or where, yes, you can have sex with the letter Q (just avoid R unless you want an STD).

An example of this setting is Planescape. Now, I’m not saying Planescape doesn’t have rules. I’m just saying that the reality of Planescape is more altered than something along the lines of Games of Throne. Planescape allows for things to not make sense – endless borders that end and all that Angela-raging goodness. And it’s not a bad thing either! Planescape is a very fun and amazing adventure, but what I think makes it so fun is how alien you feel in it. Fantasy Lite is like having a sleepover with your best buddy. Cronut Fantasy is like having a sleepover IN your best friend – things are out of place, and you aren’t sure what you’re rubbing up against.

So what do you prefer? Fantasy Lite, Fantasy Cronut, or somewhere in between? Leave a comment!


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About the Author
Billy started out his roots like many roleplayers - D&D. Playing it and then Vampire all through highschool and college, Billy picked it all up again when he made the move from Michigan to New York. Now working in publishing, Billy does what he can to view roleplaying games through a narrative's lens. Does that sound classy as balls? It should.

4 comments on “Fantasy Lite vs The Cronut of Fantasy (or: Dragon Age vs Planescape)

  1. crawlkill says:

    Planescape is the only fantasy setting I can think of I can tolerate. genre fiction needs to be doing something more than swilling a mouthful of tropes and regurgitating it into our ears (which metaphor you may quote).

  2. FandibleDave says:

    This is, without a doubt, some of Billy’s finest work.

  3. Quorganism says:

    I tend towards the cronut, mostly I think because I tend to not leave much off the table. You wanna step through the crackling dimensional vortex? Great! That’s my players giving me a blank cheque for all kinds of crazy, and I’m usually happy to oblige.

    Not to say I haven’t posted and enjoyed limited settings; Vampire is a favorite, and it as a have has a glorious bloody tunnel vision to it… but I guess I’m kinda over the top by nature.

  4. MDMann says:

    Try Harn though calling it lite is a bit of an understatement. It’s the grognard of lite…

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