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Monday, 15th October, 2012, 06:43 AM #1
Hydra (Lvl 25)
Why are the biggest games Fantasy games?
Some idle wondering here. While there are plenty of excellent and successful RPGs in the sci-fi, contemporary, horror, western, cyberpunk, military, superheroes, and other genres, the big daddy of RPG gaming genres tends to be fantasy.
Why do swords and spells tend to be more popular than spaceships and lasers? Is D&D (and Pathifinder) so popular because it's fantasy? Or is fantasy so popular because D&D did that first? Or some other reason?
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Monday, 15th October, 2012, 07:19 AM #2
Guide (Lvl 11)
Hard to say. I've run other genres (military, sci fi, western), but I always come back to D&D.
I think a lot of it is first mover advantage -- almost everyone cut their teeth in RPG's on D&D, and in days of yore you had to like fantasy to get into D&D.
It definitely helped D&D that Tolkien had created millions of fans tuned into fantasy. But Star Wars had probably more fans at the time D&D was becoming popular (1978-1984 era), so perhaps space opera could have worked.
I'd say fantasy RPG allows you to have any world you want, but that's more true of sci fi.
Maybe the limiting factor is more important. By referencing familiar tropes -- knights, witches, dragons, giants, skeletons, ghosts, dark forests, scary caves -- it sticks in your soul. Yup, I think that's it.
Fee fie, fo fum, I smell the referencing of Jungian archetypes buried deep in our souls.
Last edited by haakon1; Monday, 15th October, 2012 at 07:22 AM.
Monday, 15th October, 2012, 09:09 AM #3
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
Familiar archetypes combine with the freedom to play lots of different genres using the same fantasy game. I've run 1e AD&D as a Western, as a Game of Thrones potboiler, as a dungeon crawl, as military-political, as sword & planet, etc.
I think with other genres it's harder to just 'stick in anything'.
Also there's the lack of support. I really like the idea of a soft-sf space opera game but there isn't the kind of support I have for D&D.
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Monday, 15th October, 2012, 09:27 AM #4
Magsman (Lvl 14)
If we include the whole tabletop gaming hobby, I'm quite certain that Warhammer 40K is as big as D&D/Pathfinder and as dominant in the wargame category as D&D has been in the RPG category. A dominant position tha reinforces the ability to keep getting new material out, which in turn increases the brand's dominance over games that can't produce material as fast.
I do wonder sometimes, if FFG produced more small "adventure/scenario" books for their WH 40K RPG lines, whether they'd sell much more material. Compared to Paizo, who sell lots of small products that might be impulse buys, FFG go for bigger glossier books all the time.
Monday, 15th October, 2012, 08:05 PM #5
Gallant (Lvl 3)
One thing about fantasy is it has a kitchen sink appeal. You can throw all sorts of elements from different subgenres and make it work. You can throw in a S&S barbarian alongside a Wuxia monk and a high fantasy elf and they can go off killing dragons together. On the other hand try throwing a starship captain alongside a netrunner and a wasteland mutant. Most other genres just don't kitchen sink as well as fantasy.
Monday, 15th October, 2012, 08:15 PM #6
Grandfather of Assassins (Lvl 19)
I really think it has to do both with D&D being first and having the most game support. White Wolf, I believe, came very close to toppling D&D with its modern-day setting.
I think if you took the editions of D&D out of the picture, I think you would see that modern, fantasy, superheroes and sci-fi would be pretty close in fan base size.
"If it has stats, we can kill it." - T.G. Jackson, intro to 3rd ed Hackmaster
Monday, 15th October, 2012, 11:11 PM #7
Guide (Lvl 11)
Words of wisdom from Gary Gygax:
From my perspective wanting less in the way of rules constraints comes from being a veteran Game Master who feels confident that more good material comes from imagination and player interaction with the environment than from textbook rules material.
more words of wisdom:
Monday, 15th October, 2012, 11:33 PM #8
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Because no one has really tried to do a Science Fiction setting without having some sort of weird mechanical baggage that they deem necessary for the game, or they are too specific, tying their game to a setting with flavors that don't appeal to everyone.
A Harper holds peaceful sharing of the lands above all other goals.
Tuesday, 16th October, 2012, 01:08 AM #9
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
Because swords & sorcery beat space opera to the punch, mostly. If Star Wars had come out in 1970, we'd all be playing Starships & Aliens.
"The Soul of D&D? It's rolling a natural 20 when you're down to 3 hit points and the cleric's on the floor and you're staring that sunnavabitch bugbear right in his bloodshot eye and holding the line just long enough to let the wizard unleash a fireball at the guards who are on their way, because they're all that stands between you, the Foozle and Glory." - WizarDru
Tuesday, 16th October, 2012, 03:50 AM #10
A related problem I have with GMing modern games is that its too easy for me to worry about how closely the things simulate reality... and its kind of awkward GMing things where the other players have lots of real world experience.
And finally, I haven't found many other games that are as easy to have both "dungeon crawls" and investigative play.