1. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Too dark fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Safety Turtle, Sep 15, 2016.

    So over the past few years I've been developing this setting (world rather) that I'm using in the novel I'm writing and I have to say that I'm a bit proud of my "creation, but lately I've become concerned that the setting is too
    dark and depressing to be enjoyed by the readers and it's actually something I've started to worry about a lot.
    It is of course in the Dark Fantasy genre, but like I said, it might just be too dark.

    The world is very much like our own in the 16-17th century (with some minor difference), there is no magic, no elves, dwarves, orcs or anything like that.
    A civil war has raged for 53 years, countless factions, big and small, have thought for "lordship" of the entire land, with no one succeeding.
    Many thousands dead and poverty is rampant.
    About 10 years into the war, Markus, an advisor and scholar to the leader of one of the larger and more successfull faction discovers a tome hidden away in a library, no author, title or date and containing strange drawings and
    a language unknown to anyone in the land.
    He starts translating it which leads to breakthroughs in science, medicine (gunpowder is one of the things gained from it) but he also learns that outside of mans "perception" is an unknown entity (more like a "dimension", but sort
    of alive) which is created by and contains all of humans fears, sick ideas, deplorable concepts and debraved thoughts.
    He founds the Order of Occultists who's aim is to learn from the tome for the betterment of mankind, but the more they learn and the more people become aware of this "entity", the more it starts "bleeding through" into their known
    world.

    At first many people start acting odd and "out of character" and people talk about how the world seems "darker". More and more children are stillborn and many of the ones who survive are deformed in greater or lesser ways.
    Then something occurs that can only be called an epedemic of madness: people talking about strange, unnatural things, claiming they see ghosts and monsters in the woods, they commit suicide in grotesque ways, people gouging their
    eyes out, tearing their own skin off and other such horrible things.
    The Church then, which so far have been rather tame and silent, tries to take control, they start a "witch hunt" for the people suffering from madness, believing it to be infectious and even quarantining off entire towns to prevent
    it from spreading (sort of like the plague in Europe) and create sanitariums to try and "cure" the madness.
    Some people start to deform, becoming monster-like, eating corpses and other people and mass hysteria is rampant.
    It lasts for about two years (afterwars named the Long Madness) and it leaves the world in ruins, many tens if not hundreds of thousands of people are dead or turned into unhuman things and the human race is on the brink of
    extinction.

    It's greatly inspired by Lovecraft and the Dark Souls/Bloodborne games...everything in it is rather morbid, especially the magic that involved drinking alchemical potions that cause addiction and slowly destroys the body.
    And the story in the novel follows a lone "wanderer" character who finds out that when he die, he wakes up again, so is practically "immortal" but is also slowly losing his humanity as he keeps coming back to life and slowly
    changing him.

    So what do you think? is it too dark? would it be hard to enjoy such a setting or am I just too worried about nothing?

    Also, I apologize if this is posted in the wrong forum.
     
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  2. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    One thing that came to mind was that gunpowder way predates the 16-17th centuries. I realize its fantasy and a different world but just thought I would bring it up. If I'm remembering correctly, the Chinese came up with it (known as black powder then) in the 9th century and finding its way to the western world in the 11th-12th (?)

    That being said, it doesn't sound too dark to me at all but then again I like my stories dark. I actually just picked up my first Dark Fantasy book recently and I'm just about to finish it (Dusk by Tim Lebbon) so I'm not hugely familiar with the genre but I have enjoyed the book quite a bit. Enough to buy the sequel so I'll probably try to read some more of the genre. Anyways, I think a lot of it has to do with how you bring the story to life and the amount of detail you offer. If you write a single sentence about someone's death and then quickly move on, it won't have the same impact to a reader as spending an entire paragraph of how he died, the sounds he made, the smell, etc if that makes sense.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Makes perfect sense.

    And yes, I know gunpowder is way earlier, it's just one of those fantasy things ^^
    I may even leave that part out as it's actually not that important, guess I just wanted to point out that gunpowder weapons was a thing, but not exactly widespread.
     
  4. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    By any chance do those of the church become the most mad of all?
     
  5. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Well some of them surely will (I have some ideas for short stories set in the time of the Long Madness, seeing as the novel I'm working on is set some years after).
    Mainly it's them taking advantage, the church had no real power and it's members were mostly made up of orphans who had not other place to go...people didn't worship or consider the gods to take an active interest in what went on in the world, they just believe the gods gave them the sun and moon, placed the humans there and now they just watch and don't really care...that was until the church started wanting power and all of a sudden said that it was a punishment from the gods.
    Should also be said that in the world the gods are not confirmed to actually exist (unlike in Dungeons and Dragons etc)...some miracles do happen, but that has more to do with the same entity creating all this madness and making the fears of the people come true, also makes some miracles come true, simply because some of the people desperately wants them to.
     
  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Nothing's too dark for me. :D I like your genre of choice, it's probably my favorite. And I looove Dark Souls! So I think your story will find an audience. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, it probably won't attract the majority, but there are still a lot of people who will enjoy a darker take on the genre as long as it's well-written, of course. Just make sure you have some glimmers of hope amidst all the darkness, at least for contrast, but also to keep things from getting boring in the long run. A book won't offer the same sense of accomplishment as defeating a foe in a relentless game, so you need to find other ways to deliver the pay-off.
     
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  7. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Actually just realised that my MC may well be a Dark Souls player: he keeps dying and his soul is slowly taken away...now I just need to end every chapter with "you died" ^^

    I will try and put in some glimmer of hope, I knew I had to from the start ^^
    I also never expected it to be a hit or anything, it's my first attempt after all ^^

    But thank you for your feedback!
     
  8. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love it. I'd read that book, although It's definitely more A.

    Side note, I encourage you to look into the Darkest Dungeon video game. You seem inspired by some games, and Darkest Dungeon is inspired by Lovecraft's work.
     
  9. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    All I'm saying is that the Bloodborne influences are very clear.
     
  10. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Already played Darkest Dungeon a ton...it's a great game ^^

    Bloodborne was a big influence, yes, which also leads back to Lovecraft ^^
     
  11. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anyone else think we should have a "explain your world" thread?
     
  12. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    It would be interesting to see what others have come up with!
     
  13. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    By the way, the important thing to remember about Souls/Borne is not only the lore itself, but how it delivers it, in that you have to purposefully seek it out, both in that it's almost all in item descriptions, and that it's cryptic at best.
     
  14. PhantomThief
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    It sounds like a possibility. Obviously it's fiction, but dark aspects like that are similar to real-life rituals and events. It doesn't sound dark to me at all. Here are examples of books that had nefarious events in them: The Road by Cormac McCarthy, 1984 by George Orwell, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo...

    These authors had babies being roasted and eaten on sticks, women used as only babymakers in a dystopian society, a man locked within his own body and thought brain dead for years, teaching a young boy how to properly kill himself... My advice to you is, if you are worried about it being too dark, then try to trim the details. These authors used very little but meaningful context to describe their horrors and somehow that hit more profoundly, because it lingers (at least for me). Hope I helped a little. Good luck!
     
  15. karldots92
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    karldots92 Active Member

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    It sound really good. Its definitely something I'd be interested in reading.
     
  16. petey0707
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    petey0707 Member

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    No way, I think it sounds great, and aligns more with horror fantasy. I say keep it, sounds amazing, and if people can't handle it they can go back to their Lord of the Rings and Hobbit books.
     
  17. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Thank you all, really appreciate your feedback and have encouraged me to soldier on even more and I feel like I'm on the right track!
     
  18. Infel
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    Infel Active Member

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    Honestly that setting sounds pretty badass to me. It's dark, but just because the setting is dark doesn't mean that the themes you write about have to end tragically. I'd love to see a 'relatively' happy ending come out of a setting like that--maybe they find a way to push the entity bleeding through back a bit, but its only temporary.

    I'm usually not a fan of Dark Fantasy, but thats mostly because I'm a giddy school girl who loves happy endings. It would be really cool to see even a sliver of hope come out of something so bleak.

    Just my two cents though!
     
  19. Safety Turtle
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    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Well I guess what constitutes a happy ending is relative...especially in a world such as this and I actually have thought about it...one thought being that a happy ending, for this character at least, would be to finally have rest...to close his eyes knowing he won't have to open them again and maybe not recognize himself when he does.
     
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  20. King_Horror
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    King_Horror Member

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    Setting too dark? Nonsense!

    If you ask me, there isn't enough of these kinds of settings. You're worrying over nothing, the setting seems fine.
     

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