A dark arcana : subverting harmful normative high fantasy character tropes in table-top roleplaying games : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design at Weta Workshop's School at Massey University, Wellington

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Massey University
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Concept design can be used as a vehicle to deliver and enhance the subversion of harmful normative tropes and stereotypes of fantasy tabletop role-playing games. Through reimagining character genre tropes, concept designers can construct a unique, refreshing and more socially relevant high fantasy setting. By using principles of layered engagement and rehabilitating some of the less harmful tropes the designer can ensure that the setting remains easily accessible to audiences and package the subversion of the most harmful tropes in an acceptable manner for easy audience consumption. The designer proposes to demonstrate and test these ideas through the creation of an illustrated handbook, which serves as a vertical slice of the larger setting guide for the Dark Arcana table-top roleplaying game, an original IP of their own design. This guide will introduce the audience to the intellectual property and explore the creation of a subversive and more socially conscious fantasy tabletop roleplaying game setting. By focusing the vertical slice on the creation of conceptual designs of characters and their cultural placement within the setting, the designer can use principles of worldbuilding to establish a broader set of paradigms for this speculative world. By guiding this creative practice in genre ethnography and an understanding of the socio-cultural politics of postcolonial and feminist theory, the concept designer will explore the subversion of harmful normative genre tropes in the creation of a more socially conscious high fantasy setting for Dark Arcana.