A guildmate posted this link on our forums. It is a very good read, with a humorous take on many of the more pervasive cliches in RPGs.
One RPG cliche that has always particularly bothered me is the fact that all the monsters in the game drop things like weapons and armor. Even dumb brutes, like bears and rats, that don't have much use for said weapons or armor. When EverQuest II first came out, all mobs in the game dropped coin. (Thankfully, they later restricted that to humanoid monsters only.)
Some people aren't bothered by having animals in fantasy games drop coin, potions, and armor. They shrug it off, figuring, its a magical world with hopping humanoid dragon-slaying frogs, so whats the big deal suspending ones disbelief about a bear with pockets that can be picked?
And maybe that's because my idea of "suspension of disbelief" differs from some. In my opinion, the concept of "suspension of disbelief" should apply only to the environment or the "foundational premise" of the show/book/game.
So, establishing a fantasy world with a character like Superman who can fly is fine (from an artistic standpoint); we suspend our disbelief for that. Even saying he can turn back time by flying around the world so fast it spins backwards is fine (stupid, but fine.) The problem is, he only does it once, and then seemingly forgets he can undo all the evils in the world by seeing what happens, flying back in time one day, and then stopping them all. So, giving him that power ends up being inconsistent with his goody two shoes nature, and therefore, its no longer believable.
Ultimately, these stories are about people and characters. Flying alien people maybe, hopping frog-like people maybe, but still, people, with motivations that shouldn't contradict the environment they are in.
Suspension of disbelief doesn't work as well in the absence of internal consistency. If we are to accept any random event as "if it were real," regardless of internal consistency, the fictional world (or work of art) loses all meaning.
What I wish for is for more "realistic" fantasy worlds to play in. (Realistic within reason... I hardly want to manage my character's bathroom urges... save that for the Sims 2: Dragon-Slayers expansion pack.) And, by that I mean:
Establishing a fictional, fantasy world with humanoid frogs that shop and talk and hop around battling dragons is fine. Having a game world with bells that transport us halfway across the game world is also fine, since we are to understand that, "offscreen," a boat came and took us away. Or that teleportation magic exists.
Saying there are bears in that world is also fine. But saying they are unintelligent bears and yet letting them carry swords and coin is no longer fine, as it is inconsistent with the foundational premise we established. Unless said bears show up in front of the auction house trying to upgrade their armor. In which case it would be fine, because we could then presume they were somewhat intelligent. And who wouldn't like a Teddy Ruxpin MMO???
So, MMO developers take note: bears in future MMOs should either not drop coins, or, at the very least, be seen on occasion shopping.