D&D General Magitech and Science Fantasy are Fundamental to D&D

Reynard

Legend
Spinning off the Revel's End/Prisoner 13 thread because I don't want to thread jack that one.

D&D has always embraced what we would call "magitech" and science fantasy. The pulp authors that dominate Appendix N did not make the same kinds of genre distinctions that became more common in publishing later on. The line between magic and science and fantasy and future were much fuzzier (see: Vancian).

Long before Eberron, D&D depicted nations that codified magic into science analogs. Long before 3E's "sheens" robots and layers made appearances in D&D. "Lovecraftian cosmic horror" IS science fiction.

What are your favorite blurring of lines between sci-fi and fantasy in D&D? What kinds of science fantasy have you embraced in your games and campaigns? Where do you think D&D needs MORE science fantasy?
 

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Oofta

Legend
In yesterday's game the BBEG was based on a Nevermind Gnome Mastermind that I described as having Doc Oc tentacles and and a "gun" that had different functions that fired his gadgets. He was doing experiments and dissecting brains, as all mad scientists are wont to do.

Other things include monsters being grown in those glass cylinders you see in the movies and of course flying ships. I even had an entire campaign set in a set of spheres orbiting the planet with each sphere having a slightly separate environment. Constructs that may or may not be sentient, giant clockwork mechanisms that acted as refineries for misguided prayers to a lich. There's "small magics" at play in most of society, little things that make people's lives easier.

I guess I just never assumed that if magic existed it would only be used for what primarily boils down to, with a few exceptions, combat magic. PC class spellcasters focus on one niche of magic and are specialists in their field. Other types of magical craftsmen can get results just as powerful, if not more so, than wizards even if those craftsmen couldn't cast a fireball with a snap of the fingers to save their lives.
 



overgeeked

B/X Known World
Spinning off the Revel's End/Prisoner 13 thread because I don't want to thread jack that one.

D&D has always embraced what we would call "magitech" and science fantasy. The pulp authors that dominate Appendix N did not make the same kinds of genre distinctions that became more common in publishing later on. The line between magic and science and fantasy and future were much fuzzier (see: Vancian).

Long before Eberron, D&D depicted nations that codified magic into science analogs. Long before 3E's "sheens" robots and layers made appearances in D&D. "Lovecraftian cosmic horror" IS science fiction.
Amen.
What are your favorite blurring of lines between sci-fi and fantasy in D&D?
I love when the two are slapped together with no explanation at all. I think the explanation cheapens the science-fantasy.

Expedition to Barrier Peaks. A spaceship crashed. Go explore it. Only the PCs don’t know it’s a spaceship and have to explore it like any other dungeon. The referee gets to explain and describe the tech in vague, in-context ways that the players have to figure out on their own.

Robots in the three original D&D books. No explanation. No reason why. They just exist. Because it’s fun.
What kinds of science fantasy have you embraced in your games and campaigns?
All kinds. I drop radiation and mutations into most games. I steal blatantly from sources like Gamma World and Traveller and cheesy sci-fi and horror movies. I love anything-goes gonzo games. That’s absolutely my favorite style.

In non-D&D terms, mix DCC and MCC in a blender. Pull freely from any relevant source and go.
Where do you think D&D needs MORE science fantasy?
Literally everywhere.
 
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Stormonu

Legend
I don't know about embracing, but in the history of my homebrew, when the dragons went to war in the First Dragon war, some of them wore power armor:

dragon armor.jpg
 

Kurotowa

Legend
The urge for low magic that doesn't meaningfully disrupt the pseudo-medieval setting is a mix of two things, IMO. One is Tolkien and his idealized pastoral gentry, and the other is the Hollywood mishmash of Arthurian epics and its near cousins of Robin Hood and Ivanhoe and the rest. If you want your D&D to be close to those, you want magic to be non-intrusive and minimally employed.

If you go to any other literary branch, then it's a different story. The pulp science-fantasy style of A. Merritt and Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore was all about treating magic as a previously unknown science, and putting it in the hands of a clever protagonist mean exploring every shortcut and exploit possible. Or if you go over to the more sword and sorcery genre of R.E. Howard or Fritz Leiber, then magic may be a lot less safe but it's definitely omnipresent and highly influential.

I think different people have different genre expectations of D&D, often with very little self-awareness of what those expectations are. It's had a lot of influences and different setting books have gone in different directions. It's possible to find (or make) a corner that conforms to what you want, but again that requires people to clearly understand what those wants are.
 

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