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The basic notion is that nearly all of the listed games have one great idea buried in them somewhere.... That's why they break my heart, because the nuggets are so buried and bemired within all the painful material I listed above. - Ron Edwards, 2002
A fantasy heartbreaker is, essentially, a Dungeons & Dragons knock-off. Ron Edwards coined the term to describe a species of games published in the RPG boom of the 1990s, long after their purported innovations could be considered original. The term usefully describes games which are mired in preconceptions arising from the D&D paradigm. A criticism of the term is that it implies dismissal of the idea you can make "D&D, but better," which might be a desirable goal for some designers.