This is called a system, because it is the intellectualization of
fantasy landscapes. It has its roots in Zen, but recently has
played a large role in defining the deeper meaning of science
fiction. Nonetheless, it is a discipline that is often overlooked.
Some writers assume that it belongs only to the medieval, i.e. 'the
land of the fairies' (a childhood feeling), or to a particular epoch,
such as commonly the Renaissance, or feudal Japan. However, in
reality, the tools of intellectualizing fantasy landscape are more
broad and general than any specific period. They are even more
general than science fiction. And, they are often employed in the
best fantasy games.
Abyssthmus : An island in the middle of an abyss, represents the
ultimate magical or natural achievement. Yet it is often called
'forsaken' suggesting that it takes a long time to get there.
Sometimes the island is never reached. It becomes a romantic
ideal. The yin-yang: possibility within impossibility. The positive
Takeover Aesthetic: In games like Mario Bros. a single aesthetic
takes over, suggesting (1) The influence of a mastermind, such as
someone who would create logic puzzles, and (2) The exaggerated
appropriateness of variation within the scheme.
Magic Paper: Contains the key to all power, so long as it doesn't
catch fire. The power of fate. Also, microcosm within macrocosm.
Destruction: Scattered remnants of puzzles, machines, cities,
items, etc. provides an opportunity to reflect on all that it meant.
However, what a waste! Unless the stuff springs back! Ultimately
destruction is just an aesthetic, or a sign of industry.
Enchantments: Powerful enchantments give the deceptive
appearance of reality. Sometimes the illusion only appears
during certain times of day. The wizards must be proud, but
everyone else must remain wary! Enchantment is similar to
virtual reality and hallucination, somewhat analogous to sophistry
and artistic inspiration.
Qualified Nature: Somewhat analogous to the Takeover
Aesthetic, qualified nature is when nature has special attributes
like unicorns, aqua vitae, or Heaven. Granting nature these
attributes is often the last chance for their possibility. The
magical attributes are governed by specialized laws involved in
the fates of mortals, to prevent damages.
Special Abilities: Powers like time travel, immortality,
teleportation, and invisibility connect the landscape with higher
dimensions, such as immortal time, alternate universes, time
eddies, and metaphysics.
Equipped with knowledge of some of these things, the explorer
ventures out, discovering new aesthetic puzzles, each of them
solved when it is understood.
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