Friday, January 7, 2022

Ori is a good example of High Fantasy Nature

In many fantasy settings, "nature" exists as a secondary or wholly existent form of order separate from the intelligent races or humanity in that world. Of course, people use their real world experience with the natural world to define it; the natural world of fantasy has wolves and bison- but rarely do they have wholly supernatural creatures. Nature and nature magic may exist in some ways, but rarely is it a fully fictionalized source that goes beyond the real world conception of "natural". 

Some may took an example from Princess Mononoke and intelligent animal spirits rule their peoples- maybe you'll get nature spirits and faerie glens. But what other elements can we add to make a more "high fantasy" version of nature?

I've been playing Ori and the Blind Forest recently; and that game has in my opinion a very good depiction of what a "high fantasy" nature might look like. It should be noted that it isn't a chaotic, wild and untamed version of nature, but nature as a form of order. The "Spirit Tree" is the game world's God or central being, to which the life and plenty of nature relies on. Once the tree loses its light, nature begins to weaken. The corruption brought by Kuro's theft of the light is natural too, but represents a sick or corrupted form of nature- something like a fantasy blight or darklands.

If you play the game; various levels are made up of natural places and areas with high amounts of growth. Magical glowing plants provide both restoration to your life, jump pads, various folding/unfolding platforms, plants that shoot energy blasts, and so on. The locals have also used this energy to various effects, in the form of machines or laser beams that are used as weapons. One could consider this magitech, but these technologies exist because of the natural energy, and is not shown to be directly damaging to it; much of it is built by the Gumon or the race that Naru comes from- and they still live in caves despite building lasers. Even without these features, I'd like to imagine something like "spirit wells" still exist in the world; they are just concentrated points of natural energy.

Ori herself can absorb and use power- her primary source of energy is the "light" that is sourced from the great tree. Whenever she uses one of the shrines, she gains a new power- this power is always a physical ability or enhancement. The power to dash, double jump, climb walls, and so on. From this, we can say that the direct blessings and power of nature is all about improving the innate aspects of a creature- if a party explores or finds magical blessings or power sources in nature; it fits here more then a dusty stone dungeon built by humans to gain a permanent bonus to a stat or maximum health.

Another aspect of nature being magical or something aligned with order is the temples and dungeons that actually control the world. At the beginning of the game, the land of Nibel is shown to be in chaos because it is missing its three elements; the Waters, the Winds, and the Warmth. These elements are directly tied to physical places in the world; dungeons formed or built by nature itself. With the source of these elements corrupted or blocked off, the world itself is wrong and nature is corrupt. This is another high fantasyization of nature; rain is a magical entity that is caused by a specific thing, not the water cycle. If a tower that controlled the rains existed in your setting; people going up there to steal it away and gain control over all the kingdoms by controlling their rains and crops would be a high fantasy plot- something only possible in a world that operates under fantastical rules.

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