With authors such as George R R Martin producing grittier, bloodier takes on fantasy, and film-makers like Peter Jackson emphasising the war and corruption at the heart of Lord of the Rings, it's no longer enough to fill a fantasy game with comedy orcs. Fantasy has moved on, and games are only just starting to make the transition.
Hence Dragon Age's entirely new world of Ferelden, custom-written to emphasise the bleakness of existence. In the world of Dragon Age, magic is dangerous and weird, magic users feared, and the consequences of great spells still being felt by a downtrodden and broken populace. Gone are the D&D cliches: the flick-of-a-wrist fireball, the saving throw. In comes inter-species tension, religious hatred, and good old fashioned betrayal.