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

So, is that the 2d20 one or the 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons one? Is there a 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons one?

I played the 2d20 one once at a convention.

I don't even bother to buy the books anymore. I just feel it would be a waste of money and shelf space. Especially since they are appreciating in value. It would seem that a lot of people want to collect them, but not many people want to play it. At least not people I know.

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Kinda neutral on it. I wouldn't claim it's fundamental to the game but things like Eberron and Barrier Peaks don't offend me or elements of it in Midgard/Golarion.


I don't agree with the extent to which it has applied today. D&D has always sort of existed in this vaguely 13-15th century Europe but some weird stuff does exist that today we have tossed into the sci fi or science fantasy band wagon when it doesn't really belong there either. Adventures like Barrier Peaks (was it?) weren't common in the first 25 years of D&D not was it really common place in 3.x with Eberron being an exception and some of the aspects of the Realms like Lantan. The Realms material fit within the visionary works of Da Vinci and/or the fantastical stories of the time period and the gnomes of Dragonlance inventions were failures more often than not. It wasn't "magitech". In Greyhawk it was a crashed space ship but the setting itself was not science fiction, it was straight fantasy with the Lovecraft elements becoming a more defined part of it in 3e.

I don't personally have an issue with it until the word "essential" or "fundamental" comes into play. It isn't essential. The attempted toolkit nature of 2e tried to make D&D a game that it did not work well as under those rule sets and 3.x was more successful at encouraging. As the game has evolved since then its become a fun element but I would not call it essential by any stretch.

Some players would rather some thing style low-level of magic and sword&sorcery, but others love to add some touchs of sci-fi.

I have suggested some times Gamma World should be added to the M:tG+D&D Universe, but the high tech can break the power balance too easily in the game

The magictech can alter radically the society and battlefield. For example a crossbow with a motor to reload itself, or a war chariot with a motor would mean the end of chavalry.

And all the political powers wanted the most advanced magictech.

Lots of factions wouldn't wellcome the advanced tech, for example dragons and giants, because they can be defeated by smaller humanoids thanks that.

And even if this was allowed, the normal people would fear. Why? If you remember Stephen King's "Christine" or "Maximum Overdrive" you could imagine the level of menace if a ghost or an infernal outsider could control one of those machines. A true walking nightmare.

The sheens, the biomecanical horror from Dragon Magazine, should return.

Mystara had got a flying island of tinker gnomes.

Last year my players stepped through a portal onto the bridge of the Enterprise (deserted). Complete with authentic sound effects, since we where on a VTT. I've run several adventures based on old Doctor Who stories, including ships trapped on the ethereal plane.

Since the 1980s I've always run D&D with heavy science fiction (and pop culture) influences. And it was never remotely pseudo-historical. I knew too much actual history for me to ever consider D&D in that light. But then I prefer science fiction to fantasy generally. But I think D&D's strength is its flexibility. It doesn't do everything well, but it is good for a wide range of genres.

It goes the other way too. Also in the 80s, I had a party of AD&D characters transported into the superhero RPG we where playing (Golden Heroes). You know what, even 1st edition AD&D characters are superpowered when you drop them into something resembling the real world!
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I don't have a fixed line for what level of scifi is acceptable in my games. Back in 2E, even before the revised boxed set came out, my Dark Sun campaign had a subplot foreshadowing the upcoming invasion of biotechnological space halflings, which apparently was something TSR was actually considering for the official line.

Barring out of context scenarios, like an alien invasion or the return of not-Atlantis, what matters to me is that blending of different elements makes sense in the internal logic of the setting, otherwise it feels like the 60' dragon waiting in the single entrance dungeon room at the end of the 10'x10' corridor.

I like Eberron because I can see the effort that went into making sure all the bits and pieces fit organically in the setting, but Revel's End/Prisoner 13 (from what I read in the other thread, haven't actually played it) gives me more of a tone dissonance with the rest of the setting and it feels like it would break my immersion. Admittedly, it's mostly a matter of taste where the line falls.

the Hollywood mishmash of Arthurian epics and its near cousins of Robin Hood and Ivanhoe and the rest.
I would point to Ivanhoe as the start of it all. Scott's Victorian novel was immensely popular in it's day, and was a big influence on the 30s-60s Hollywood trend for Knights in shining armour movies, which in turn influenced early D&D.

It's hard to imagine Tolkien never read it. It's easy to imagine he hated it!

And, of course, Robin Hood is in it!



I love science-fantasy. I grew up on '80s science fantasy: e.g., Thundarr the Barbarian, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, Star Wars, etc. It may be one of my favorite genres, and I actually think that it is woefully underrepresented in TTRPGs. I was definitely the target audience, for example, for Wil Wheaton's Titansgrave or Monte Cook's Numenera on that basis alone.

I was even thinking about how I would love to see something more like a science-fantasy version of Ravenloft or MtG's Innistrad. A futuristic science-fantasy setting, preferrably in the vein of the aforementioned '80s sci-fantasy, with supernatural horror elements like vampires, werewolves, undead, mad science monsters, etc. Is there a setting like that?*

* Not you, Shadowrun.


It's kinda fun seeing the Fantasy purists desperately trying to wrestle the stick away from 'modern' fantasy fans, yelling t them about their magic robots and 'sci-fi' psionics and using words that sound 'too scientific' and all around desperately trying to ignore that the 'good old days' were when speculative fiction hadn't been sundered into sci-fi and fantasy by screaming nerds who needed definitive genres to fight over.

Or pretend one of the most popular sci-fi franchises ever isn't about space wizards and the most popular fantasy isn't about magic coinciding with the modern world.
I've come to terms with that fact. When I want to play without magitech I'm not playing D&D and certainly not 5E.


I was even thinking about how I would love to see something more like a science-fantasy version of Ravenloft or MtG's Innistrad. A futuristic science-fantasy setting, preferrably in the vein of the aforementioned '80s sci-fantasy, with supernatural horror elements like vampires, werewolves, undead, mad science monsters, etc. Is there a setting like that?
Someone needs to license Castlevania-- specifically the Nextflix anime version.


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Im really picky about this. I prefer the magictech sci-fi in my fantasy to be an all out campaign and/or setting, or not present. It's really strange to me to have a traditional campaign with like a lone module about a crashed spaceship. It can work, but often its a weird distraction. I also feel this way about Cosmic horror in the vein of Lovecraft mythos.

For my favorite example of it done well, I'd point to the PF1 AP Iron Gods. I had a blast running that and it was the right mixture of sci-fi and fantasy for me.


Come on, that's not a fair characterization and you're kind of punching down on us here. We're simply lamenting from our position on the margins of the gamerspace that we can't find others of our kind to play with. Because, like you've indicated, space wizards and modern magic are more popular than low fantasy and mystical magic.

In the end we're going to play Dungeons and Dragons with the people we can find, and that usually means the party will consist of several powerful magically endowed characters and maybe one grumpy rogue wishing he could experience the dream of a low magic game.

We're already in pain, why do you gotta' beat down on us like that.

Because that's not my experience.

Instead, I see the wild and fantastic and especially any attempts to modernize how D&D works getting the stick.

Nothing can be fantastic without being in the form of discreet, wizard-friendly magic and god help you if you want some of the magitech the game was built on the back of. 'How dare you have robots and firearms! That's not medieval fantasy--the game MUST BE MEDIEVAL FANTASY! And psionics must be just another magic. Why are they bringing back Spelljammer? Why are they showing even a glimmer of support for Eberron? Why can't you just go away and play Star Wars and leave us to our Pure Wizard Fantasy where it's Earth with a thin veneer of magic painted on?


What are your favorite blurring of lines between sci-fi and fantasy in D&D?
In published D&D my first real published setting love was Mystara, which built on Dave Arneson's Blackmoor background and had a crashed starship from the "Federation" where the crew had used their advanced technology to dominate the locals. So I've embraced science-fantasy in D&D pretty much from when I started.

What kinds of science fantasy have you embraced in your games and campaigns? Where do you think D&D needs MORE science fantasy?
I've embraced all of it. D&D is built on a bedrock of science fantasy - and not just science-fantasy but actual science fiction. Folks often forget or don't realize that Blackmoor was the second expansion book published for the game and it had a plot directly ripped from Star Trek right there. And Empire of the Petal Throne was published by TSR as its first licensed setting and Tekumel was explicitly a science-fantasy world. It isn't like the founders of the game were all that precious about mixing sci-fi and fantasy together, because in that era the borders were much more porous than now.

I personally think that folks who want to play D&D with strict "no science fantasy" rules would be better served by the (sadly now no longer published) Adventures in Middle Earth game by Cubicle 7. That was a good version of D&D without the science-fantasy anywhere near it - maybe the Free League version that is supposed to be out soon will be as good. Or my actual personal favorite historical fantasy game, Ars Magica - I personally feel that both give a better "pure fantasy" experience than D&D, which really makes you fight back against the kitchen-sink approach if you want to keep it to just fantasy.

Advanced technology that existed long ago is a trope that I like to pull out of DM Bag o' Tricks every once in a while. Something that's intended to make players respond with "WTF?" and pique* their interest. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

As I mentioned in another thread, I've used "Cavemen with lasers * * " The next adventure I plan to run in my DCC campaign is Crypt of the Science Wizard by Skeeter Green; which assumes that powerful magic and advanced science knowledge existed long ago, but was lost in a cataclysmic event. It combines Mesopotamian culture * * * Necromancy, and Magic Tech. The final battles involves Mummies that are powered by advanced technology.

* Or is it "peak their interest"?
** I don't think it really worked in this case. The players viewed it as just some anomaly and moved on.
*** Might by Egyptian

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