Dark. Dangerous. Disturbing. That’s the typical Foozle lair. In fact, that could almost describe the lair of any mini-Foozle, too. Have you noticed how similar these places tend to be?
Jim Rossignol, in a post on the oddly-named bldgblog blog, discusses the architecture of evil lairs. In particular, he notes that evil beings, especially in fantasy RPGs, always live in evil-looking places.
Of course, most Foozles tend to be “Ancient Evil” something-or-other: demon, god, necromancer, or powerful undead. So we have an expectation that, wherever they’re hiding, the place just has to be a reflection of their evilness.
In the real world, that’s usually not true. Plenty of evil people have walked the earth, and lived in quite nice places, including palaces and mansions. However, real-world people are just that: people. They aren’t demons, gods, necromancers or powerful undead.
Does that bother us? Is that why we can accept those nasty, evil-looking dens in game after game? And aren’t we becoming tired of that particular look? As Jim mentions, there isn’t a lot of variation in it.
So many places are underground: below the castle, below the city, below the tower, below the ruins, below the river, etc. and ad infinitum. Are we after Foozle or a mole here?
Even when a lair is “up top” instead of “down under”, there is an overall sameness to the “evil HQ” that persists from game to game. We hardly notice the architecture any more.
Personally, I think Foozle ought to smarten up his den. Why should it have to be some foul-looking construction that just reeks of evil? To emphasize he’s a “bad boy”? C’mon, we knew that a long time ago.
In fact, I think it might be more disturbing and unsettling to have “Ancient Evil” hanging out in a pristine lair rather than surrounded by hellfire. The idea that “evil = dark & dirty” is a childish one, and it’s time to move away from that perspective, difficult though it may be.