Well what were you planning on putting in your story exactly?
If you're going with an anti-hero to straight up villain protagonist route and the world is generally brutal with a lot of corruption, then you're probably on the grimdark path.
If you're familiar with the Witcher or Warhammer Fantasy (The old version, not that Age of Sigmar shit) those would be examples of Grimdark fantasy. Everyone is just living a shitty life for the most part. Even if you're a king, you're probably going to be assassinated soon. Impending DOOM of the world (by whatever forces) is usually going on in the background and it isn't a certainty that the "good guys" (Who are probably a bunch of thieves and murderers themselves) can do a damn thing to stop it and even if they can they're probably going to die in the process, along with 90% of the world anyway.
Whether its "High" fantasy (Lots of magic) or "Low" fantasy (Magic is rarer) doesn't matter too much, since it's more of the tone of setting rather than the content.
Low fantasy is probably easier to turn grimdark due to the lack of magic being able to come in and save the day for the good guys. But you can easily still turn a high fantasy setting grimdark.
I believe you're getting it. A true hero with good intentions wouldn't make a grimdark story NOT grimdark. In fact it'd just make it hilarious if he fails.
I do think you're overthinking it honestly. I don't think anyone ever went and made a list of requirements for a story to be grimdark.
Always felt Ned Stark from Game of Thrones was a good example of a fantasy story hero who didn't realize he was in a grimdark fantasy setting.
“'Horror is a story where the protagonist is helpless in the face of a supernatural threat. The protagonist seeks to destroy the supernatural threat in order to save themselves or others, but only when they are forced into a confrontation.'”
"'Dark fantasy is similar to horror in that it is a story where the protagonist is helpless in the face of a supernatural threat. Unlike horror, dark fantasy tends to have a thread of hope running through the story. While at times being helpless, the protagonist generally wins in the end; although the cost (loss of friends/family or even their own innocence) will be great.'"
"'Grimdark is a story where the protagonist faces a supernatural threat, but s/he isn’t helpless against their adversary. Rather than run from the supernatural threat, the grimdark protagonist actively seeks to subvert or control it.'" [...] "One reason grimdark stands out from other subgenres in speculative fiction because, 'the antagonist can be as relatable, or if not more so, than the protagonists. And, you never know if the villain is going to be defeated or the book will end with the world in a worse shape than when it first started.'"
"In all, grimdark can be summarized as: 'a subgenre or a way to describe the tone, style, or setting of speculative fiction (especially fantasy) that is, depending on the definition used, markedly dystopian or amoral, or particularly graphic in its depiction of violence. In most grimdark literature the supernatural is a passive force, controlled by humans—unlike supernatural horror where the preternatural forces are most often an active entity with agency,' (Frohock, 2015). It should be mentioned that the violence depicted in grimdark include: rape, dismemberment, death, torture, all types of abuse, sacrifice, regicide, dark magic, vengeance, etc. This subgenre is not meant for everyone. If you cannot handle more than a few scenes of this sort of violence, then grimdark is NOT for you."
It's got to be "grim," but you ought to have some trope-control in there, for lack of a better term.
I’ve never been under the impression that any of those three genres requires a supernatural threat.
"Dark Fantasy" sort of has another meaning on the internet since it can refer to a story revolving around some sort of hardcore sex fetish. (Usually of the rapey variety).
Hence why we changed the Dark Fantasy name to Grimdark because we started getting degenerates coming around asking for shit like cuck stories.
Of course then you have the retarded spinoffs and "opposites" since people think there's gotta be a 4 chart spectrum for everything.
So you'll see shit like Noblebright, Nobledark, and Grimbright along with Grimdark.
There's a bunch of classifications of what all these supposedly mean, but just write whatever the hell you want and if you label it wrong, we're just going to put it in the appropriate category anyway.
If ever a name-change is needed (perhaps from new degenerates perverting the name), I think the article has a good idea.
If the hero rapes the soldier as he suffocates on his own blood and then eats parts of the corpse due to food being so scarce then you start going beyond grimdark and into edgelord territory.
A wizard that is a racist, rapist, and also has genocided in the past, but is too old now to do so. You can also make him someone that diddles kids for an extra layer of coal to the character. Also he still wants to do the genocide, the king knows but damnit this is our greatest wizard. The wizard however has a secret class of sorts that he teaches these ideas to, and now you have a small faction of racist wizards in your story. Usually such characters would wear white hoods, but since this is fantasy they become your wizards that wear spooky black hoods that block off their faces and stuff.
This thread is way too good now to stay in the noob forum. Moved to the center stage.
Probably should be in the writing forum, but lol, who reads anything there?