Every few months, the Dying Earth Spell Generator is traded around. I'm glad because despite having it bookmarked, I tend to forget that it is available. For those that think like me, here is the link: Dying Earth Spell Generator.
I've seen this posted somewhere, but I cannot find it. Essentially, someone said that they were taking a break from dark fantasy. This person still wanted fantasy, but something that was light (as in positive) fantasy. In other words, instead of dread and misery, a world of wonder. Yes, maybe even a bit of whimsy.
As hard as it is to imagine, I get a sense of wonder from many of the resutls of the Dying Earth spell generator. For example, Baiti's Vocal Backbone makes me think that some bard made individual vertebrae capable of singing harmony with him. Why the backbone? So that the voices would come from behind him, making his voice stronger and still a lead voice. Hearing a bard perform in this magical way, the typical PCs would examine the instrument, his gloves, his hat, his necklace, bracers, etc. etc. etc. They would never ever guess that it was a spell, and a spell that vocalized his vertebrae.
There's wonder in that for me.
I will be posting a review of James Hutchings, A New Death and others in a couple days. I think there are stories in this tome that can evoke a similar kind of wonder. I read more than one story that make me think "magic should work this way" or "a world like this would be fun to explore." It reminds of when I was collecting Hot Wheels and I found a red Cobra Mustang. It felt to me like I had one of only three in the world (they made more, this is just a feeling) and I had endless delight imagining myself behind the wheel of one of these bad boys.
So I am off dark fantasy for a while. Sure, lurking undead and tentacled horrors from beyond the stars are awesome, but I ready for dragons that are actually awe-inspiring, magic that can't be explained well and creatures that are totally unexpected, but not always evil. Make the good guys cool, too.
That also means a shift to rewarding exploration. I like Greyhawk Grognard's idea of awarding xp awards for finding certain places scattered over the world. I'm going to use that. I'm also going back to when defeating monsters granted xp, not necessarily killing them. Sometimes, attacking a goblin just to get 5 xp will benefit you nothing at all. (No gold farming, please.)
Maybe whimsy is a poor choice of words, but the gist is to look for something with a bit more wonder.