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I'm late but here's my advice:

1) It has to be "metal": High lethality, violence, a bit of brutality, swashbuckling, acrobatics, exaggerate a few things every now and then, and add a few grimdark features. Not necessarily pessimistic, though.

2) Adventurers, not heroes: Your characters aren't saving the world; most of them are looking for treasure and personal benefit. Consider that treasure = XP. They're not heroes so they have no moral obligation to do the right thing, but they're not expected to be immoral either.

3) Sorcery, not magic: Magic is not common, it's not flashy lights and hovering crystals and it's not "nice". Magic is a weird, arcane art which only a few, mad warlocks know. It's effects are not as flashy, flamboyant and obvious as "high fantasy" magic. Instead of talented teens snapping fingers and shooting "mana", you may have sorcerers who conjure spirits or demons to learn their spells in the darkness of their basements, alchemists who spend some time brewing potions, erudite astrologers who live like hermits in their high towers crafting talismans under the influence of a passing comet or a constellation, shamans that take substances to travel the astral plane, etc.

4) Keep it special, stupid: No freakshitting. Keep elves, dwarves, fairies and goblins rare or nonexistent. If you have them all at an inn drinking ale together, it loses the magic since they become mundane; simply different biological species. Magical objects have to be uncommon as well. Everybody remembers the name of "the" magic sword, but not the names of each one of the magic arrows. Supply & Demand.

5) The setting: It's common to find pulpy stories that take place in forgotten continents or weird planets: Lemuria, Hyperborea, Dreamlands, Zothique, Atlantis, Saturn, Barsoom, Gor, etc. Imagine a world full of ancient temples, monoliths, megaliths, city-states, sunken ruins, etc. Rust, moss, dust, etc.

6) Choice and freedom: Allow your players to choose and actually earn their treasure. No railroading, no linearity. Give them a few incentives every now and then to keep them hooked.
I always start with what I know, then what I think.  For example, Nebraska has the most miles of rivers than any other state in the country.

I had to look that up, I don’t know if I’m disappointed or relieved that it’s not true
The transition towards freakshit started in the 60's, with Elric of Melnibone.
Whatever the current version of Savage Worlds is
When I spoke out against the hate mob attacking Bob Bledsoe Jr all I got was grief from both sides. It was clear to me at that point that "the SJWs" were not the problem, merely a symptom of the problem. The issue is the entire idea that there's a line where if someone believes anything beyond that line, they need to be banned from RPGs. All that we have now are groups of people arguing as to where the line should be drawn. But any time you have such a line, it will always be moved to include more and more people. That part is inevitable.

The moment you say something like "D&D has always been Inclusive" or "D&D has always been Diverse" you've lost the argument because you are making the case that inclusivity and diversity are qualities on which an RPG should be judge. And if a little Inclusiveness is good, more Inclusiveness is better. So, one again you are simply arguing on how high a percentage of straight while males are allowed to play a game before that game is bad.

We need to completely reject the idea that RPGs should be judge on such criteria. That is the only way out of this mess.

It has made me very hesitant to want to pick up new games because I hate to invest my time and money into a game where the devs hate me and would see me put in a fucking gulag if they could and what is apolitical or not woke today, won't necessarily be still apolitical or not woke tomorrow.

This is the best course of action. Avoid the RPG industry and make your own games.

I know I'm late but I just read your comment and I wanted to say: YES. This is the right thing to do. Don't "lose frame". Don't argue on their terms, don't give in to their scale of values, don't get defensive. "Diversity" and "inclusivity" (i.e. shoehorning characters of every possible "minority" for the sake of representation) are not positive nor valuable aspects of a game. It's pushing an agenda, period. They may act oblivious but they know it's part of their manifesto. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a party of straight, white males; especially not in a European fantasy setting. Your game does not need to go out of its way to pander to people who will still feel pissed off.

Wokes are like children testing their parents' strength of character; seeing how far they can get with their tantrum. Give them an inch and you'll have them banning people for not worshipping a gay couple. Stop them in their tracks, otherwise they'll feel enabled.
Notice how I said the "new school of fantasy"; not just RPGs, but fantasy in general.

How did we go from Frank Frazzetta/Boris Vallejo/Jeff Easley, etc. illustrations, Conan the Cimmerian, Clark Ashton Smith, Sword & Sorcery, 70's psychedelics and 80's metal, hand-drawn art and a "basement" feeling to pauldroncore, freakshit, "anti-racist" soyboy digital art fantasy, in which no character can get harmed and there's lots of cheeky "humor" and anime personalities?


It's called progress sweety...

Here's fucking Dark Sun for God's sake:

So my questions would be:

When did this transition take place and what triggered it? (No pun intended, I swear)

I dont think it's political since it's been around way before the 2010's. I think videogames and digital art contributed to a certain extent since they changed the aesthetics. I think anime did the rest; everybody wanted to play either Zero Morningstar, the silver-haired edgelord who has two guns (one possessed by a cheeky devil and another one by an angel who's totally a pervert :333 >__< ), likes blood and cries under the rain while saying "Y-You probably think I'm selfish...", the funny, comic relief freakshit character (the typical bard stereotype). Well, either that or the guy who likes to play out a sexual fantasy.

And then along came "diversity" to top it all off... So they went from the edgy rogue that makes snarky comments about organized religion to playing disabled POC with 4 pages of backstory.
Mekton Zeta + or Mekton 2 Techbook.
Keep in mind WOTC wanted to hard reboot Dragonlance as its 5e setting. "What if the group never met at the tavern?"
"What if Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman told WotC to go fuck themselves?"

(Not disagreeing with you, but gawd, WotC must be pretty dumb if that was Plan A.)

WOTC did try and do a Dragonlance reboot. They even hired Jim Butcher now of Dresden files fame to write it up. He was all exited about it and then he asked if Hickman and Weis were down with the re-boot plan... WOTC dissembled...  Butcher then said: "WTF!? They're not on board? Hell no, I'm out bitches!! Holla!...".

I don't think that went down too well at WOTC. They were in the odd situation of being the IP owners, yet the setting creators were viewed by fandom as DL being 'their baby'.

Put on your tinfoil hats kids, Uncle Jaeger is goin' off the deep end now...

So fast forward to when Hickman and Weis Paid WOTC for a DragonLance license to write and publish three new books. Things went fine for a while, then their editor was changed to an almost parody of a SJW male, and they found that their approval process was stopped. So no new books, and H&W are SOL: "Too bad so sad says WOTC..."

Hickman and Weis then say: "We are not just two rando's from the internet, we actually saved some cash from all those bestselling DragonLance books we wrote back in the day. We got lawyers and shit too motherfuckers!".

H&W then sue WOTC for breach of contract: "Give us ten million dollars bitches for fucking with the license we paid you for!"

In an epically fast turnaround for a multi-million dollar corporation; WOTC backed down. (IMHO some kind of out of court agreement was reached.) H&W withdrew their lawsuit, and like fucking magic all their approval issues went away...

IMHO, Hickman and Weiss had a legit case, and someone from Hasbro legal came down from on high and said: "WTF are you guys doing!?".

*Insert corporate overlord bitch-slaps here*

So fast forward to today; The SJW editor that gave H&W grief is fired, and the first of the new DragonLance novels is set to drop soon.

As to the new trilogy: I would find it absolutely incredulous that H&W would retcon and invalidate their past writings for the three new books primarily marketed to current DL fandom.

So how does this relate to Crawfords musings: "The only D&D Lore that is 'cannon', is what we make for 5e motherfuckers. Suck it grognards!"

1: WOTC has been on a bit of a kick lately taking popular older settings like Ravenloft, and absolutely fucking them up.

2: It is also rather interesting that Crawford specifically cites DragonLance as an example of something that was ok in its day, but is not considered in any way sacrosanct now...

3: How much you wanna bet the SJW's like Crawford hate the fact that Hickman and Weis still got to do their books, and hate the fact that last time they tried to do a DL setting reboot without them; Butcher bounced...

Any takers?

4: Remember: SJW's always lie. SJW's always project. And SJW's always double-down.

IMHO the timing of this might have to do with the fact that although new DragonLance books will becoming out by Hickman and Weiss. There is zero indication or announcements of any kind by WOTC that the new DL trilogy even exists...

5: There is this:

One of the two classic setting set to make a comeback could very easily be a DragonLance setting book that retcons huge swaths of H&W established Lore, bringing it  “in line with modern sensibilities” pouring on as much gay, bisexual, gender, and race swapping that they can, and still call it "DragonLance".


Because: "Fuck You Hickman and Weis!"

That's why.
Cults of Prax
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