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


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I’m soon gonna be running a game in a homebrew world, technology (magical and mundane) is at its height, very much like the more recent She-Ra cartoon, or maybe Final Fantasy 9.

Airships, magi-tech guns, energy shields, cool vehicles of all kinds, indoor plumbing, cybernetic prosthesis, magi-tech security systems, PC abilities are a mix of magic, tec, and natural ability.

It’s gonna be rad.

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5e Freelancer
Eberron and Spelljammer are two of my favorite D&D settings. So, yeah, I like Magitech and Science Fantasy. I wouldn't say that they're necessarily "fundamental to D&D", as you can easily do a D&D campaign without incorporating them in any way, but they are important in maximizing the amount of fun I get from DMing and worldbuilding for D&D. I generally don't like claims that something is "fundamental to D&D", even when it's something that I enjoy being in my D&D campaigns.

As for where D&D could use more Science Fantasy, I think that a lot more could be done with developing how nations change when they get access to certain types of magic in certain settings (cough, Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance, cough). Not many settings think about the consequences of D&D's magic system, which I get is a major point of Eberron, but not every setting has to do it like Eberron. They could just do a little bit of tweaking to make the current state of the setting fit the magic level of it. Instead of being like the Sword Coast, where there are dozens of Tier 4 Spellcasters running around everywhere, but the setting still largely has the same level of faux-Medieval/Renaissance-era technology level and aesthetic.


Simply not true I'm afraid.

Waterdeep executes people all the time - just check out its legal code. None of those corrupt and self-interested Lords' Alliance cities is remotely shy about executing/maiming people AFAIK. If you have evidence of them being big wimps all of a sudden, I'd love to hear it, but it'd have to be a 4E/5E change. The laws are the same as in 2E, note, just arranged/presented differently, and "murder of a citizen without justification" is, as explained in the more detailed 2E account, extremely broad (self-defence is not necessarily "justification" IIRC).

(As an aside, the major cities/city-states in the Lords' Alliance are:

Baldur's Gate - canonically corrupt as hell, money rules, a council of the wealthy uses famously greedy bully-boy mercenaries to push people around. That's not an exaggeration, note, that's just canon. Let's not even get into when they were literally conquistadors.
Elturel - Been all over the road, but always has something fundamentally messed-up going on, whether it's corruption, brutal puritan authoritarianism (seriously - they were dragging people to work the mines for life for swearing), or being dragged to hell.
Iriaebor - Canonically "Waterdeep but way worse" - super corrupt. Real sword and sorcery/Fritz Leiber vibes. Frequently heavily infiltrated/run by the Zhentarim.
Mirabar - I don't know much about Mirabar - fine maybe?
Neverwinter - Used to be a good-guy city, like genuinely, currently (in 5E) ruled by a "despot" enforcing "heavy-handed laws", so there's another one!
Silverymoon - Maybe still a good-guy city? If so the only one in the Lords' Alliance. I don't see any obvious problems, though I hear the orgies the ruler throws are legendary (thanks Ed Greenwood, we definitely needed to know that!).
Waterdeep - An orderly and brutal city where power rules and nothing else matters much. It is quite historical that non-citizens get treated poorly, at least.

So anyway, point is, there ain't "good guy" cities - these are mostly "greedy merchant"-run cities, with Silverymoon (and previously Neverwinter) kind of an odd fit with the rest. The idea that they're totally cool and only ever jail people who aren't political prisoners or the like is obviously laughable.)

You'd get an honest answer, but it wouldn't necessarily be a useful one, because many malefactors would honestly believe themselves blameless or that they were only doing stuff for a specific reason. Zone of truth just makes them tell what they believe is the truth, not spit forth words of wisdom from the gods. It's also temporally bound - what a person says on one day may not be the truth to them on another day. It's useful to some extent for establishing facts, perhaps, but even then I'd question it because people being truthful are often factually wrong - as we're all aware with how incredibly unreliable and inaccurate witness perceptions are in court cases. I've been on a few juries and that certainly (sadly) seemed to hold true. It's more of a narrative convenience to sidestep the need for interrogation scenes etc.

I think this is kind of conflating three separate things. Golden age stuff is usually that the hero has a good reason to kill them emotionally but doesn't to show their heroism, and where there's a narratively convenient way to imprison the person in question.
Eh. There are many, many shows (the CW Arrowverse shows are frequently a prime example of this) and comics where the protagonists have the big bad literally in their sights and don't take the shot because if they did, they'd be "just like them". That's not really the reason, frequently they just mowed their way through dozens of nameless henchmen. The real answer is that it's not dramatic and you aren't don't telling the story for dramatic reasons. You've built up this nemesis and you either have 5 more episodes in the season, you want to set up a sequel or you want to sell more comics with that nemesis.
Whereas executing prisoners who have been captured and stand no real/significant chance of escape (which even in the FR, is going to be upwards of 95% of people being executed, based on what can get you executed in say, Waterdeep) is much more easy to argue is "Evil". But realistically most adventurers are acting entirely extrajudicially and don't even have jails they could drag prisoners back to, and further, with adventurers, the most dangerous beings they're dealing with are very often massively capable of escape. I mean, what we're going to jail a Beholder? A red dragon? A level 10+ Wizard? Doesn't how much I might value justice reform IRL, that's obviously impractical.

I have to say, I really don't like "adventurers as cops" (I know you aren't suggesting that) unless that's the whole deal. Fundamentally adventurers aren't cops. They're almost the opposite of cops - they're usually acting entirely outside the law, y'know, like outlaws!

PCs have acted as mercenaries hired by the state, conscripts in lieu of paying taxes (at low levels), or working directly with the government to deal with extraordinary/supernatural threats. So if you define them as "cops", then yes. I don't assume a modern day judicial system. I also don't normally put people into "Saving Private Ryan" scenarios where someone surrenders and the only option is kill or release. Many times they are, in effect, soldiers in the front line of an ongoing war. If they abuse the power given, that's a different issue.

As far as zone of truth, I don't think it's hard to ask a few variations of "Do you plan on continuing to kill?" It doesn't come up all that often since I have effectively no long term prisons.

So if you define them as "cops", then yes.
I don't. That's just hired thugs. Everyone loved hired thugs!

< gets shot by Raylan Givens >

I also don't normally put people into "Saving Private Ryan" scenarios where someone surrenders and the only option is kill or release.
Yeah I try to avoid that also, it tends to get gross (as it did in that movie, frankly). Usually people either flee, fight to the death, or I ensure that if they surrender, they aren't going to have to face the choice of murdering them for practicalities sake or derailing the adventure to avoid doing that.

As far as zone of truth, I don't think it's hard to ask a few variations of "Do you plan on continuing to kill?"
Sure, but it's like, the PCs are in the zone too, and if you asked them that question, would you get a different answer lol? That makes it a little tricky as long-term imprisonment justifier because a lot of PCs (absolutely including some well-played LG PCs and including virtually all CG PCs) should be jail, they just haven't been caught yet.

You end up having to use the "True Lies" defence - "Yeah, but they were all bad!" - and that's a comedy line for a reason!

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