Looking for some high fantasy story ideas and writing prompts to spark the imagination? Read on for prompts like a barmaid who’s tricked into replacing a self-proclaimed hero on a heroic mission, to a thief teaching a flightless dragon how to fly!
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What’s High Fantasy?
High fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that takes place in a fictional universe with its own set of physical laws and norms, and is distinguished by the epic scale of its setting or the epic grandeur of its characters, themes, or plot.
This term is a contrast with low fantasy, a subgenre of fantasy in which supernatural or magical happenings interfere with an otherwise ordinary world. Works considered as low fantasy are Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland. The narratives in these stories are set in real world settings, with elements of magic and fantasy weaved into them.
While for high fantasy, the works of author J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings in particular, are recognized as the golden standard or archetypical works of this genre.
Before we dive into some high fantasy writing prompts, let’s dissect the genre a little bit more to get a good grasp of the genre.
Elements of a High Fantasy Story
Evidently, there are many elements that distinguishes this genre from dark fantasy genre, or the sword and sorcery genre. Here are some typical elements in high fantasy works.
1. Viewpoint: the story is often told from the viewpoint of one main hero.
2. Common themes: the mysterious nature or heritage of the main hero, or an issue that might end the world.
3. World-building: extensive and in-depth, think of the universe that G. R. R. Martin conjured up in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, or Tolkien with his The Lord of the Rings series.
4. Message: good prevailing over evil, which is the main difference between high fantasy and many other subgenre of fantasy, including the dark fantasy as well as the sword and sorcery genre.
Without further ado, below are some prompts to spark your imagination!
Please note that the genders in the following entries are just placeholders and do not mean to enforce any hurtful stereotypes nor offend anyone.
1. Two families, two kingdoms, two different magical leanings. One is the conqueror, the other is the conquered. The male heir of the conquered one was smuggled into the court of the conqueror, in order to save his life (or alternatively, as a part of a revenge plan), and ends up befriending the female heir of the conqueror. The result is two star-crossed lovers with the blood of the other’s ancestors staining their hands. (Originally appeared in my post Romance Story Ideas with a Unique Twist.)
2. A disgraced centaur warrior finally gains enough courage to go back to his people and face punishment after the friendship of a lowly elf thief shows him what loyalty is really all about.
3. When a strange sound coming out of a forest begins causing casualties to all who approach, people find out the hard way that it’s the Deity of Earth, who has awakens after thousand years of slumber, and they need sustenance. Will the fairies, the dwarves and the orcs be able to set aside their differences and band together against this looming threat then? (Originally appeared in my post 22 Enchanted Forest Story Ideas.)
4. In a world where dragons are salty creatures who have wings but couldn’t fly, a thief is caught stealing and is being fed to one of such dragons. Only instead of becoming the dragon’s food, the thief strikes a friendship with him, teaches him how to fly and together, they go back to the rest of the dragon’s kin to teach them the art of spreading their wings and fly.
5. A sorcerer quickly rises to power by enchanting every mirror in the realm to behave as he wishes: as his spying tool, as a cloning device, as a portal to travel from one place to another, and more. The only person who can potentially stop his evil agenda is his apprentice, and he’s going to have to use his master’s mirror-enchanting specialty against himself. However, the problem is, his skills are not perfect yet…
6. In a world where shadow magic has been banished, a secret guild of shadow-wielders emerges from the shadows to reclaim their heritage. With darkness rising, they venture on a quest to awaken dormant powers, find lost artifacts, and challenge the oppressive ruling order. Along the way, they must confront their own inner demons and navigate the fine line between light and darkness.
7. A devastating storm of magical origins engulfs the realm, leaving destruction and chaos in its wake. As the storm grows stronger and threatens to consume everything, a group of chosen individuals with innate magical abilities embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth behind the storm’s origins and find a way to restore balance before the world is torn apart.
8. Once every century, during a rare celestial alignment, a grand masquerade ball takes place where every supernatural creature can freely reveal their true forms without fear of persecution. The story follows a down-on-his luck swordsman who uncover a dark conspiracy attempting to hijack the masquerade to shatter the delicate balance between the human and supernatural worlds.
9. Drought has nearly brought the entire world to an end. The only lush corner left in the realm is the territory of the nymphs. However, they are reluctant to open their doors for fear of destroying their own people.
10. Create your own high fantasy race, such as half-dragon, half-human creatures. Or creatures with human upper bodies and tarantula-like legs. Half-komodo, half tiger? Also, creatures which defy common tropes. For example, elves who drink blood? Vegetarian orcs? A humanoid race that consists inexplicably made up of females?
11. In a universe where talking animals live alongside humans, the ravens, one of the smartest animals, holds an important seat of power. When the King of the Raven Kingdom turns up dead, a human King and the heir of the Raven Kingdom must team up to find the culprit and restore peace on the realm.
12. It’s a world where a giant raven threatens to end the world by drawing a symbol in the sky that prevents the sun from rising. A peasant human, a teenage dragon and a misunderstood troll decide to band together and make a name for themselves by slaying the raven.
Here are some picture-based high fantasy story prompts, because, a picture speaks a thousand words! Below are some image prompts as well as some prompt ideas to accompany each.
(Please click on the image for more information.)
1. Write about an unlikely alliance between two fantasy races. The nymphs and the dragons? The goblins and the unicorns?
2. The dragons are an advanced and wise race in the realm, albeit ancient, but their bloodline is slowly fading due to genetical infertility. This is a story about the dragons trying to find a race worthy to succeed their legacy, onto whom they could pass their centuries of wisdom.
(Please click on the image for more information.)
1. The fairy race consists of humanoid creatures who live up in the sky, making their homes among the clouds and gracing the soil with rain, until one high ranking fairy turns dark from losing her wings and withholds rain from touching the earth. (A similar plot originally appeared in my post 22 Enchanted Forest Story Ideas.
2. A humble barmaid is tricked into replacing a self-proclaimed hero on a journey to retrieve a magical fruit to heal the cursed land. But how does a Fire demon prince, a witch and a stable boy end up tangled into the chaos as well?