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What Is It About the Fantasy Genre Anyway?

JRRNeiklot

First Post
Fantasy lets men be men. In a sword fight, the best man generally wins. In modern times, some punk with a 2 dollar pistol in his pocket can blow away the hero from across the room. No honorable combat, just bang you're dead. Swords require training, and some kid with a stolen sword is not really ever a threat to a warrior. You can't say the same about a kid with a nine millimeter, even if he does hold it sideways. That to me has always been the main difference in fantasy. Modern weapons are death in anyone's hands, not just the skilled.
 

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Fallen Seraph

First Post
I prefer each equally, though I have a tendency to bring a lot of science fiction and cyberpunk into my fantasy games. In both the themes shown in them and also actual stuff from them; like ley-line internet and hacking, hacking into people by switching out their spirits, space-shipesque airships, mecha like golems, etc.

As for actually playing science fiction and cyberpunk games I think it is pretty easy to do with the right idea and rule-system. An example of a good rule-system is in Cthulhutech with how the mecha/Engels use the same rules as the normal characters but on a larger scale.

As for not being tethered too a organization. I don't think that is necessary or even bad if you are. You can run a Ghost in The Shell game where your players are Section 9 and you give the freedom to explore a case as they wish with minor cases/side cases coming up like ordinary side-quests. Or, say Mass Effect where the players are Spectres and have complete freedom in completing their tasks across the galaxy. You could run games where your rogue agents, smugglers, explorers of new areas of the galaxy, etc.
 

Psion

Adventurer
I think it's largely installed player base and instilled taste. One thing I noticed when running Traveller:

Some players just gotta have magic. I grew up playing with players who played in a variety of systems many of which would assume PCs are perfectly mundane with no supernatural abilities. But as I moved, I ran into people who acted like they felt naked if they were forced to rely on mundane skills.
 

Drowbane

First Post
Fantasy, Supers, Sci-Fantasy (star-wars), Sci-fi (star-trek), Modern... in that order. Generally, I'd rather play solitaire than roll up a modern character.
 

The Green Adam

First Post
Hmmm...

I disagree with several of these points. Such as...

I prefer fantasy gaming.

I usually prefer sci-fi settings, but most such settings aren't designed for gaming. It's rather difficult to twist something like Battlestar Galactica (most character are highly-competent military officers who act like a cross between marines and fighter pilots and are dependent on high technology) into something appropriate for gaming.

Why? You have characters, they have skills and they use weapons and equipment to fight enemies and achieve a goal. Sounds like gaming 101 to me.

Honestly, the only setting I've seen that wasn't designed for gaming but could be easily made into a sci-fi RPG is Firefly/Serenity. (Of course, someone did make an RPG for it, but you could turn any good ruleset into Firefly/Serenity). The very low technology (the main characters fly in an unarmed spaceship until the movie!) makes this a lot easier to pull off.

That's because Serenity/Firefly was based on Traveller. Joss Whedon has stated a number of times that he played Traveller, the SciFi/Space setting uses projectile firearms, the Reavers are inspired by the Reavers of Traveller (an entire sector of space is called Reaver's Deep) and in the first or second episode the ship's pilot actually says, "Hold on Travelers!"

I've used that very same game to run stuff like Star Wars, Farscape, B5, Battlestar Galactica and more hard sf fare like Ringworld, Heinlein's stuff and much more. Most of my campaigns are a blend of all of these.

Now try this in sci-fi, where every little thing and every big thing is quite different. Even modern-day games (and movies!) run into problems with things like cell phones, so naturally sci-fi games run into this problem too.

I'm not sure I understand. What problems are you referring to? Personally my players and I find it much easier to relate to people talking on cell phones, shooting rifles and driving cars then we do to milling grain and building castle walls. Need to know what a hotel room looks like and how much it is, easy. We've all been there. Now when was the last time you experienced the squalor of an 11th century peasant village?

IME, it's extraordinarily difficult playing a skills-based character in a modern setting. Unless you know the skill in questio in real-life, any description (whether you're the player or GM) will come off as "boring" or "just a bunch of dice rolls). At least thinking about using a skill is pretty easy in a modern setting though. Also, it's rather difficult for GMs to make many skills useful in an RPG, to the point where a scientist-type player might keep asking the GM "is Craft (pharmaceutical) going to be useful at all in this adventure? Do I get to roll it more than twice?" Doing the same thing in a sci-fi setting is much harder since the same problems exist and no one really knows what the future will hold. Things that would be obvious to characters that live in the future will often simply not occur to players born in modern times.

This may be an effect of the game you're playing more then the genre but I personally haven't experienced this. Its as easy to play a skill based character in a modern setting as it is in any setting. You figure out what you want to do, what skill fits the bill and you roll. You can't be sure Craft (Pharmaceutical) is going to be useful in a modern or sf game any more then you can Craft (Blacksmithing) in a fantasy game. Sometimes its useful, sometimes its not. If an alien virus breaks out and you have it, well you just saved the day potentially.

Sci-fi games also tend to have scaling problems. I'll use Battlestar Galactica as an example. (Note that I'm not discussing the actual BS:G game, as I've never even seen the system.) Writing a set of rules for characters as people, and another for characters as space pilots just makes the game more complicated. And good luck if only some of the PCs are pilots.

Again I don't understand this logic (to quote a favorite Scifi character). My character is a person. He has personal skills like shoot stuff, Knowledge (Interstellar Politics) and Craft (Rayguns). He gets in to a starfighter. Now he uses a skill called Starship Piloting and Starship Weaponry (Ship Rayguns) or something similar. If you don't find it hard to play a character on horseback in D&D, a guy in a Shuttlecraft is no big deal.

Even in modern games, a character who wants to be a good driver will continually impose a different subsystem (that would be driving rules) on the game. And of course, probably no one else will be any good at it, either. This is before taking into account some rules systems having terrible driving rules (d20 Modern made running people over way too good!).

In my last Traveller game, at least two people other then the pilot/vehicle driver could drive the vehicle. The pilot had a 5 in his skill and the other two PCs had 3 and 2 I think. No rules more unique or special then Psionics, Horseback, Mass Combat, Feats and a dozen other things in D&D.

I once went through a bag d20 Future game where the GM allowed almost everything. We had aliens, mutants, people owning robots (those rules were busted, by the way), people owning mecha, people owning spaceships... guess how the mecha-operator felt when they realized spaceships were umpteen times better than mecha in every way that counted?

And in the end I have to wonder if its the system. D20 Modern/Future is not the best at portraying SciFi. Traveller, Star Wars (D6), Star Trek (FASA/Last Unicorn), the awesome new StarBlazer Adventures by Cubicle 7, the modified and updated online rules for Star Frontiers and many, many more are much better. For your above example, Mekton II or Z would've been a much better choice.

I've been gaming over 30 years and I play SciFi about 85% of the time. The rest is taken up by Superheroes (which is actually what got me into RPGs even though my first game was D&D Red Box) with the occaisonal smattering of Fantasy. And by Fantasy I mean Faery's Tale Deluxe, Ars Magica or a number of other games. I rarely play and hardly run D&D.

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The Green Adam

First Post
IMO, fantasy was first and its easy because the majority of the work is done for you. World-building in Fantasy is a single world into which you can insert one of the thousands of monsters already designed and assembled into a hundred handy manuals. The terrain is our terrain, Earth's terrain, and its people and animals are ours as well. These are the elements that make D&D and similar games so user-friendly. Of course I've seen some awesome design work by some very talented people but the vast majority of the genre is pretty cut and dry, plug and play.

Part of this is because medieval fantasy is based on a coherent past, a set time we are generally familiar with. But what is the future? Is it a low tech universe of wild west worlds and down and out smugglers? Is it vast interstellar empires of mile long starships constantly at war? Is it an alliance of like minded species united to explore and broaden their knowledge? Yes. Very much so.

In SciFi, world-building is worlds-building, not to mention developing the interplanetary authorites that govern the space between worlds. Its no aliens...wait...a few...wait...how about, yeah! hundreds of playable alien races. Its anything from cyborged mutant animals to space elevators to the moon to psychic soldiers and on and on.

Bottom line...its a lot of work. But for the life of me I can't figure out why it isn't better represented in the gaming market. As discussed on another thread a while back, if Star Frontiers had been three hardcover books with character classes, high tech artifacts to find and an entire volume of space creatures, we'd all be arguing over whether its 4th edition was true to the majesty of the original.

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pawsplay

First Post
Fantasy lets men be men. In a sword fight, the best man generally wins. In modern times, some punk with a 2 dollar pistol in his pocket can blow away the hero from across the room. No honorable combat, just bang you're dead. Swords require training, and some kid with a stolen sword is not really ever a threat to a warrior. You can't say the same about a kid with a nine millimeter, even if he does hold it sideways. That to me has always been the main difference in fantasy. Modern weapons are death in anyone's hands, not just the skilled.

Swords are actually more deadly than most firearms. Badly used firearms tend to miss a lot. The reason guns became king is because of suppression fire, not because of accuracy or stopping power. A fireman's axe is probably more likely to kill someone in one hit than a .38 round is.
 

WayneLigon

Adventurer
It's always surprised me, especially given the popularity of Star Trek, Star Wars, etc that Sci-Fi is not the dominant genre. Most of your early adopters of D&D were in the computer fields and sciences, so it's doubly surprising. At the time D&D was introduced, finding heroic fantasy on the shelves was not nearly so easy as it is today.

There are a few big reasons that I think fantasy was a big hit:

1) I think most people have a firmer grounding in what to expect from a more primitive time period. You say 'middle ages with real magic and dragons' and 99% of the people are going to at least have a good notion of what you're talking about. If sometime describes to me 'far future adventures among the stars', then I have about a million questions on just what kind of future are we talking about.

2) Technology. You say 'a sword' then again the vast majority of people are going to know exactly what a sword is and what it does and how it's used. There is also a lower expectation of what can be had to Do Stuff with. You put people into a modern or futuristic setting and the first thing they go for is the equipment books since they have a very, very good idea about the availability of Stuff and what it does. There's more control with a fantasy setting. People will accept that magic does x and y but not z, or that there's not a good enough weaponsmith in town to make a decent steel blade. You tell people in a modern setting that such-and-such gun isn't available and someone's going to Google up a well-stocked gun store ten feet from where the party is rooming and you'll look like an idiot for saying that.

For the GM, it's vastly simpler to run fantasy, especially if you have gun-nut, computer geek or engineer at the table. Nine times out of ten, those people turn into tremendous problem players in a high-tech setting because they are much less willing to let go their disbelief and go with the flow of the game world. It takes no more than a session or two of Traveller before someone says 'you know, all we need to do to take out the pirate base is shove a couple asteroids into orbit and bomb the base with them'. This is actually a very hard thing to do but a lot of GMs don't know that and will let it stand because it sounds plausible. After a couple sessions of feeling like the players are running roughshod over them, the campaign usually ends.

3) Fantasy has more personalized Cool Stuff. All gamers want Cool Stuff. The Wand of The Nine Kings is inherently much cooler than a new gun. Everyone and their brother can buy that same gun. Only you have The Wand of The Nine Kings. Even if you have a setting with magic stores and the like, magic items still tend to be more unique than almost any form of technology. Cool Stuff makes people feel special in a way that the blue-light-special at K-Mart never will.
 
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Darrin Drader

First Post
Part of this is because medieval fantasy is based on a coherent past, a set time we are generally familiar with.

This is probably a side conversation deserving of its own thread, but hey, I started the thread, so I'll diverge anyway,

Fantasy doesn't actually have to be all that familiar. There are so many people who play these games who aren't up on real world history, ranging from ancient to somewhere around 1500 AD that there's a lot of material to mine, much of which hasn't been, or at least not very much. Most fantasy settings assume a generally European setting from somewhere in the middle ages, with polytheism as opposed to the monotheistic Christianity that utterly dominated the true middle ages. Culturally, the assumed setting is kind of an odd combination of ancient Greece and medieval Germany. Suppose instead that we looked more towards Mesopotamia or Egypt as primary influences. Or perhapse instead of having lands simulating the Rome-centric medieval Europe, base it more on the Constantinople-centric middle ages, which was very, very different. Make it so that the world includes humans of every skin tone on Earth instead of white being default, with the occasional exception.

Just a thought.
 

This is probably a side conversation deserving of its own thread, but hey, I started the thread, so I'll diverge anyway,

Fantasy doesn't actually have to be all that familiar.

But I think it would sell better if it were.

There was another thread a week or so ago, about changing default assumptions about the game.

One poster said he wanted to remove humans from a setting, but if he did so, he'd lose most of his players! I think more people are familiar with this German/Greek cross than with something based on other cultures.

The Green Adam said:
Why? You have characters, they have skills and they use weapons and equipment to fight enemies and achieve a goal. Sounds like gaming 101 to me.

Was this in reply to the whole thread, or just BS:G?

In any event, I think focusing on space ships is a real negative. It adds a different skillset with a completely different set of ... skills. (Wow, that was so eloquent.)

Let's compare this to 4e DnD. In 4e, the game is designed around small team "infantry" combat. Everyone is good at this kind of combat, whether they're doing so with swords, sneakiness, mobility, or magic... and they're all theoretically as powerful.

In a game with spaceship combat, now you're trying to ensure everyone is almost equally skilled with spaceship combat as well. In some settings (like Star*Drive) the system tries to parcel out different spaceship roles, but (unlike fighting in an "infantry squad" each role doesn't hold the balance of fun). The engineer isn't going to have as much fun as the gunner.

I'm not sure I understand. What problems are you referring to? Personally my players and I find it much easier to relate to people talking on cell phones, shooting rifles and driving cars then we do to milling grain and building castle walls. Need to know what a hotel room looks like and how much it is, easy. We've all been there. Now when was the last time you experienced the squalor of an 11th century peasant village?

I can relate to the squalor of an 11th century peasant village more easily than to an underhive or a holo chamber or what have you in the 25th century. I can relate better to messenger pigeons than to hyperspace communication relays.

And as for phones... you can't really call for help timely in a fantasy setting, at least not at low level. The players have to solve the problem or find a way for the characters to survive for some time.

Its as easy to play a skill based character in a modern setting as it is in any setting. You figure out what you want to do, what skill fits the bill and you roll. You can't be sure Craft (Pharmaceutical) is going to be useful in a modern or sf game any more then you can Craft (Blacksmithing) in a fantasy game. Sometimes its useful, sometimes its not. If an alien virus breaks out and you have it, well you just saved the day potentially.

In a modern game, players tend to treat their skills are more important than in a fantasy game. It's much harder to make these skills relevant to any adventure.

It's often difficult to make a skill relevant when it didn't seem relevant at first, eg, the player who wants to use their Craft (mechanical) to make weapons. Not guns, but something like a rocket launcher that is "out of scale" with the rest of the party.

If you don't find it hard to play a character on horseback in D&D, a guy in a Shuttlecraft is no big deal.

It's a huge deal. A horse moves in a manner similar to a human character. You don't need a special set of rules to describe the movement of a horse. A shuttle craft or any other kind of space ship is a heck of a lot bigger, often uses acceleration and maneuver rules (the likes of which a human or horse never have to deal with) and tends to use a lot of special combat rules to boot.

Some settings did this particularly poorly. Alternity/Star*Drive had rules for turning your ship 45 degrees (an easy skill check and it made you harder to hit... we're not talking dogfighting, as that was more complicated), and rules for hitting random parts of the ship (and aiming did little good). D20 Future did this a bit better; you didn't have to roll a skill just to move the ship, and was more similar to personal combat, but the weapons were horrendously imbalanced.

In my last Traveller game, at least two people other then the pilot/vehicle driver could drive the vehicle. The pilot had a 5 in his skill and the other two PCs had 3 and 2 I think. No rules more unique or special then Psionics, Horseback, Mass Combat, Feats and a dozen other things in D&D.

Did the other characters have any spaceship relevant skilsl?

Also, I don't find psionics to be a huge subsystem (from 3.x onward, it was very similar to magic), horse back riding has only a few added rules, feats are part of the base game itself and mass combat is a huge subsystem I avoid like the plague.

I noticed you mentioned "system" repeatedly. Maybe there are systems that do this well, but I don't think they sell as well as systems that do things poorly (ironically).
 
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Mallus

Hero
I can relate to the squalor of an 11th century peasant village more easily than to an underhive or a holo chamber or what have you in the 25th century. I can relate better to messenger pigeons than to hyperspace communication relays.
I grew up watching Star Trek reruns in a middle-class household. I can relate to the b*llshit science of the future better than I can to actual medieval living conditions.

And as for phones... you can't really call for help timely in a fantasy setting, at least not at low level.
You can't call for help, or have help reach you in a reasonable amount of time in many places around our world, even with access to helpful devices.

As for the question: why fantasy? I'm think a large part of it has to do with the popularity of D&D itself, the fact it became a legitimate cultural phenomenon. I'm not sure you're going to find many causative reasons in the genre itself, though I have to think on that some more.
 
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ardoughter

Adventurer
Supporter
Let me put it another way then. There's no reason to use standard military units in a BS:G setting.

I don't see why you made your first reply to my post. I wasn't saying I was bothered by the characters being military, but by them being very competent and being very tech-reliant.
That bit was not obvious to me.

B:SG is closer to how a real military works than most shows. Every one is within a pretty tight chain of command. This limits player freedom of action and there are consquences for screwing up. That is what occured to me when you brought up BSG and military sci-fi.

On the competence issue, that depends on how much handwaving you are prepared to do. I would have little problems with it given a good enough skills/talent system.
 

Raven Crowking

First Post
Before I toss my hat into the ring, I'd like to say that there are already some really top-notch answers in this thread already.

I like sf, but I do find sf gaming a lot harder to prep that sf gaming. Some of the reasons are:

1. I know, or can easily discover, what a grain mill looks like, and how it works. So, if I want to run an adventure within that space, it is easy to devise floorplans and understand the operation of the simple machine that is a water wheel. Not so for space stations, starships, etc. Heck, even running a modern game, what do I do when the players go through the restricted areas of the mall? How many of us have been in the spaces behind the stores, and know what they are like enough to describe them?

(This made the original Gamma World, which I enjoyed, hard for me to run. Running fight down a ruined subway system? Cool idea! Knowing what the non-public parts of a subway station or even a subway line should look like? No idea......Except that I do know that there are doors and side tunnels down there, 'cause I've seen 'em through the window!)

2. Fantasy is forgiving. If I take Tolkein's orcs, and toss them into the mix with Lovecraftian monsters and Gygaxian dragons, no one blinks. Lump Vulcans, Daleks, and Wookies into the same universe, though, and you can have pretty dramatic breakdown of suspension of disbelief.

3. Travel Prep. In a fantasy game, to begin I need to sketch out a village or town, the local wilderness within 5 days' travel, and a few local adventure sites. I know how far the PCs can get in their first few forays, so I need plan no farther. In the Star Wars universe, say, they can ignore my plot hook and go........anywhere. How the heck do I prep the whole bleeding galaxy?!?!!? Jump into the TARDIS, and you have to potentially prep the universe, as well as alternates, at all potential time periods. SF has a much larger "stage" than fantasy.

4. Survivability. Most sf systems are a lot less forgiving of PC missteps than D&D is. The players need not only to be able to explore the star systems they encounter; they need to be able to survive that exploration. If one phaser blast is all it takes to remove a wall, how do you design a system that both allows the wall to be removed and the PC (but not the red shirt) to survive? I have some real hope for the upcoming Doctor Who RPG in this regard, but it is difficult to have energy weapons that both seem deadly and yet the PCs can survive. There is no doubt that a lightsaber, a phaser, or a Dalek gun is more deadly than a sword. IMHO, at least.

(Same problem with radium guns in ERG's Mars series as a setting. If you can shoot someone from miles away, how does John Carter survive except by authorial fiat? And, assuming that you prefer a game where getting into a deadly situation can be....well, deadly.....how do you both give John Carter a chance to survive and make radium guns the threat they should be in that setting?)

5. Economics. I don't know about you, but a lot of my early Traveller experiences (mostly as a player) ended up revolving around economics. We traded, we gambled, we bought more and got larger starships. My PC ended up owning a luxury liner. We did very little actual adventuring, and a lot more speculation in markets. It was fun, in a way, but I'd enjoy a sf game that had a bit more of a hands-on approach to things.

6. The Law. When I kill an orc, I am fairly certain in most settings that the Law isn't going to ride up on hoverbikes and send me to the Mars Penal Colony. When I kill the slimy slug monster in a sf game, I am never really sure.


RC
 

garyh

First Post
I like sf, but I do find sf gaming a lot harder to prep that sf gaming. Some of the reasons are:

1. I know, or can easily discover, what a grain mill looks like, and how it works. So, if I want to run an adventure within that space, it is easy to devise floorplans and understand the operation of the simple machine that is a water wheel. Not so for space stations, starships, etc. Heck, even running a modern game, what do I do when the players go through the restricted areas of the mall? How many of us have been in the spaces behind the stores, and know what they are like enough to describe them?

This also becomes a problem when you get maps for something you know in the modern world and they're silly. I remember a Dungeon that had modern maps, including a bowling alley. Great idea, but as my dad is a bowling alley mechanic and I grew up around them, including seeing the back mechanical non-public stuff, I could see where things were just totally off. The map had virtually no space for the pinsetter machines or maintenance support, the lanes pretty much went all the way to the back wall. Which is a shame, because a chase over the whirling, dangerous pinsetters could be a lot of fun (in a game, of course).

In any case, seeing this sort of obvious cluelessness not only made that map something I'd never want to use in a game, it also made me doubt the accuracy (and "fun stuff"-inclusion) of other similar material produced for the game. And that was a bummer.

On the other hand, I'll look at tons of castle maps and not notice there's no space for the privy. And I won't be able to tell that there are too many / few blacksmiths for a village the size that's depicted in a map.
 

Toben the Many

First Post
I disagree with several of these points. Such as...

Yeah, I can't agree more. :)

Bottom line...its a lot of work. But for the life of me I can't figure out why it isn't better represented in the gaming market. As discussed on another thread a while back, if Star Frontiers had been three hardcover books with character classes, high tech artifacts to find and an entire volume of space creatures, we'd all be arguing over whether its 4th edition was true to the majesty of the original.

Right. People keep talking about how Sci-Fi is not more dominant in the RPG market because it's more work. I'll agree that Sci-Fi is more work, because whatever you come up with has to be justified with science somehow. Whereas in Fantasy, you can just say, "It's magic!"

Science-Fiction will often skip over things as well. For example, according to Roddenberry, Warp Speed was always "the speed of plot". Nor did it come up with how "Warp Speed" worked when he was doing the show. But you cannot hand waive everything. That alone creates more work.

However, I don't think that alone is enough to explain why there isn't more of a Sci-Fi market in RPGs.

I think that has to do with a variety of factors. Chief among them is that Fantasy literature nowadays is heavily grounded in the Tolkien/Arthurian mythology. It has its their roots there. Whereas Sci-Fi has multiples roots from multiple trees. When you say Sci-Fi, what do you mean?

  • Jules Verne's vision of the future?
  • Isaac Asimov's vision of the future?
  • The Star Trek utopian view?
  • The Star Wars space opera view?
  • The Traveller hardcore view?
  • The Cyberpunk view?
  • The Transhuman view?

There are so many genres of Sci-Fi, there are so many branches...that's it's very hard to pin Sci-Fi down to one thing. Thus, there is no one Sci-Fi game that dominates the market. Instead, there are a number of small but fanatical followings of various systems.

For exampe, there is a very solid Star Wars RPG fanbase out there. There is a solid RIFTs fanbase out there. Battletech has a dedicated following. So does Traveller. ShadowRun. Etc. And each of these settings, while all falling under the umbrella of Sci-Fi are radically different from each other.

So there's a big Sci-Fi following out there, but they're just blocked off into different corners.
 

Felon

First Post
Why is fantasy the single most played genre out there? I love me some good scifi gaming, including space opera, post apocalyptic, near future, and various others, but fantasy owns gaming. I've met a number of people who won't even consider playing a non-fantasy RPG, and that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
This thread seems to bear a great deal of overanalysis IMHO. At the risk of sounding immodest, I find the matter's pretty straightforward.

Let's start with re-examining the OP's most basic premise: fantasy isn't the dominant genre. D&D is the dominant game. There's a big distinction there. When you look at the runner-up games, those with sword-and-sorcery fantasy settings don't outnumber the rest. That's because most folks choose D&D when they want to play fantasy.

Now, with a new premise we have a new question: why is D&D the dominant game? One word: loot. There's a reward system that dispenses tangible, quantifiable, and modular power-ups at regular intervals that you just don't have in other games. Even other fantasy setting games don't make a big deal out of loot; some of them actually take a disdainful look towards it. Rather, other games have you playing just for the less-palpable reward of experience points and, well..fun.

Next question: is the fantasy setting relevant to D&D's popularity? Well, it facilitates the dispensation of loot, since it's in this setting where wealth and power is largely decentralized and hidden away in ancient, forgotten caches. And those caches just happen to also contain monsters and hazards. And you get to kill the monsters and tackle the hazards without any authority telling you trespassing, theft, and mass homocide is wrong--or at least bears some degree of oversight and regulation. Come to think of it, maybe I should have said two words: loot + freedom. In this respect, D&D is very much the GTA of RPG's.

Fie upon all talk of subtle nuances. Kill things and take their stuff. What game is even trying to serve that up besides D&D? Thread over. :)
 
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Spatula

Explorer
My theory is that the central conceit of RPGs is that "as you do more stuff, you become harder to kill."
That's a central conceit of D&D (and many RPGs have copied D&D there), but it's not at all intrinsic to RPGs and there are quite a few games where that isn't the case.

For me, any system where you get mystically tougher to kill as a function of time has serious problems being used for modern-day or future-tech games. With heroic fantasy, it's easy to hand-wave away injuries as nicks, bruises, etc. I personally have a harder time applying that to settings where everyone is carrying around laser guns ("another grazing shot! what are the odds!"). But at the same time I don't think that many people want to play games where the character they've played for months can just randomly die.
 

Tequila Sunrise

First Post
Darrin Drader said:
Do you prefer fantasy gaming? If so, why?
I'm in your boat. SciFi is nice, but just doesn't have the same appeal that fantasy has. Even Star Wars, which is really just a fantasy epic with a scifi veneer, is only 'meh' for me. I played a few sessions of a Star Wars game and a single session of V:tM but neither really did anything for me, though I suspect that if they hadn't been so rp-heavy and/or diceless I would have enjoyed them more.

I'm not sure why I like fantasy so much. Maybe it's that deep-seated desire that we all have to some degree to go back to the good old times, when life was simple.

TS
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Why is fantasy the single most played genre out there? I love me some good scifi gaming, including space opera, post apocalyptic, near future, and various others, but fantasy owns gaming. I've met a number of people who won't even consider playing a non-fantasy RPG, and that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

I read loads and loads of fantasy/mythology, sci-fi, horror, and used to read TONS of superhero comics- all of which have at least some kind of RPG presence in the market.

But when it comes to gaming, I wind up playing D&D almost exclusively. Not FRPGs...D&D.

That's not by choice.

IME, its because of 2 things:

1) more gamers seem to be into fantasy & mythology more than any other genres,

and

2) D&D is the 800lb gorilla in the RPG market.

The second one is somewhat key- D&D is likely to be the first RPG that someone hears of and plays. Depending on where you are, you might not even hear of another RPG until you've been in the hobby a while.
 

Jack7

First Post
A lot of people have mentioned very good and very valid reasons for the phenomenon. One extremely important one however is the idea and ideal of personal heroism (as played out through the imaginary character). When fantasy games first started heroism was immediately and innately understood to be part of the fundamental basis/nature of fantasy gaming and was intimately and intrinsically considered central to it.

This remained the case for a very long time and even after the ideal of heroism was lost in most modern games (that is recently, not as in related to genre) heroism still reminded a central issue, even if only as a shadow of its former self. It is simply stimulating to the mind and soul of most people, the idea of playing the hero. Even when heroism is lost, confused, diluted, and dispersed in modern game construction, like a mostly forgotten, long buried artifact, it still remains central in the background, like some quested after, unbroken, universal monument, gilding the idea of adventure with meaning. Though heroism becomes hidden beneath an artificial facade of mechanical and technical and diversionary game issues, it still remains a living, if unrecognized force, and an impetus of purpose.

And even though one can be heroic, and should be, in sci-fi, modern, and other such genre-based games, there remains a sort of immediate and intimate connection, a sort of basic, intuitive ideal of a peculiar and particular kind of heroism associated with the fantasy genre.
 

Presents for Goblins

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