What Is It About the Fantasy Genre Anyway?

Spatula

Explorer
But this still doesn't address the fact that hand-to-hand weapons actually deal more damage than firearms do.
Genre tropes are not reality. And the relative deadliness depends on which firearm & what ammunition, which hand-to-hand weapon, the skill of the wielder(s), the fighting conditions, etc. in any case.

As far as how we describe these things in our own games - we just use the Die Hard model.
How many times does John McClaine get hit by a bullet in Die Hard?

Plus, not all of the game systems we've talked about are based off of the hit point model.
I was discussing the systems that are, as far as modern or future games go.
 
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A system where the object is to not get hit by a bullet in the first place is emulating the action movie genre much better.
That's an excellent point, and is essentially what the D20 Star Wars system is all about. Vitality points measure how much your character is getting "worn down" while a wound is a measure of how much actual damage you've taken. I think straight hit points are an easier system to work with, but it you're looking for good simulationism, I agree that your observation is right on.
 

MonkeyKing

Visitor
I think it may have something to do with SciFi fans being the worlds worst nitpickers.

If your even just slightly off on the science in anyway you can be sure that your gonna hear about it from the "fans".

Take for example this fans complaints about a episode of House (not a scifi show I know but a fair example of the the knda of scrutiny that that the SciFi genre under goes)

"A nesidioblastoma would explain most of Dr. Charles's symptoms, but *wow* that's a convenient tumor. Small enough that it can't be seen on x-rays or MRIs. Intermittent, so it only releases insulin periodically. And yet strong enough to lower the sugar level in his CSF. It's more of a deus ex machina than a diagnosis."

Its really really hard to create a system that can make such persnikity group of geeks happy.......
 

Spatula

Explorer
I think straight hit points are an easier system to work with...
Sure, and there's nothing wrong with hit points as an abstract damage tracker - until (IMO) you have so many that having a gun pointed at you isn't a threat. BRP CoC had hit points, for example, but you get whatever you get at character creation and (from what I recall) never get any more.
 
Genre tropes are not reality. And the relative deadliness depends on which firearm & what ammunition, which hand-to-hand weapon, the skill of the wielder(s), the fighting conditions, etc. in any case.
When you say that genre tropes are not reality, you seem to refute your own point here.

If it's not realistic to get hit by a sword multiple times, why is it even less realistic to get grazed by bullets or hit in the shoulder and leg before going down?

I was discussing the systems that are, as far as modern or future games go.
Well, this also undermines your larger point as well. There are only a few Sci-Fi systems which use the hit point system for damage tracking.

If hit point systems don't represent firearms combat very well (which is another topic), then it still doesn't explain the larger point of why there isn't a large, uber-successful Sci-Fi RPG out there, since many Sci-Fi systems don't use the hit point system. (Although Dark Heresy may be taking that spot).

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As a segway, on "realism". Historically human beings have been able to take quite a bit of firearms damage and still survive. Look at Black Beard the pirate and how many shots he took. Look also at something like the Black Hawk Down incident or Operation Viking Hammer, where people took multiple hits and kept fighting. This is a big garish, but even an untrained person like T-Pac took a gun shot wounds to the groin and the back of the head at close range and lived to tell about it.

Guns can kill a person with one shot...but sometimes people can take multiple wounds at keep going. The human body is weird.
 

Spatula

Explorer
When you say that genre tropes are not reality, you seem to refute your own point here.
I was refuting your point, actually. It doesn't matter whether or not hand-to-hand weapons are more deadly than firearms in real life (which is arguable and depends on circumstances anyway); in the present-day/sci-fi action genre characters can take hits from lead pipes and keep going, but gunshots (or lasershots, etc.) are almost always serious business. And it's that genre that most people are looking to emulate in games. Or at least, that's what most games seem to be trying to emulate.

If hit point systems don't represent firearms combat very well (which is another topic)
No, that was exactly the topic of this particular side-track.
 
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The Shaman

Visitor
I did not mean that there is no chain of command, just that the pc are not in the second squad, platoon 1 of A Company.
I've run almost exactly that game and the chain of command was not a problem. It's about providing the players and their characters situations in which they can still make effective decisions within the chain of command.

In my experience the squad is ideal: it provides interplay between player and non-player characters and a level of granularity at which the decisions of the individual soldier are meaningful.
Honestly, trying to run a hard SF campaign is about as much fun as trying to run a game in which you play daring lawyers and trying to work out all the realistic legal angles of the cases.
I teach marine biology and oceanography for a living, so for me playing a hard science game isn't a chore. Creating or exploring settings and adventures based on speculative science is a big part of the fun for me.
Higher levels of technology are harder and harder to handwave away, and many, if not most, traditional adventure storylines, would fall apart if one of the protagonists had a cellphone or whatever, let alone supertech stuff like transporters (which end up having to oh-so-conveniently fail due to an 'ion storm' or whatever whenever they are needed...). "Oh, we're trapped in an exotic hostile location!" "Get out your cellphone and call for help." "Oh, there's a killer in the house!" "Call 911 and hide until the cops show up." "We have to figure out this puzzle, quick everyone rack your brains..." "Right, I just Googled it. It's the Voynich manuscript." "I can't get the door open, we're trapped!" "According to the online help menu, there's a manual release under the jamb, in case of power failures. Also, I called a locksmith."
I see the same problem in fantasy games: Referees can't handle the level of magic that the adventurers can employ, so they nerf spells like teleportation or scrying or divination.

Most of the time it's because referees are falling back on overused gauntlets, to force the adventurers through a series of linear encounters for which they have no opportunity to prepare or to bypass altogether. In other words, they want high-level characters to keep facing the same challenges as low-level characters, but with more dice.

I like the fact that modern adventurers have access to lots of tools, to get away from exactly those same trite, overworked scanarios: "Here is a satellite photo of the rebel camp. Based on observed activity the missing scientist is most likely located in one of these two structures, here or here. The complex is surrounded by jungle in all directions - the rebels patrol on an irregular schedule, and they have good relations with the local villagers, but not with the tribesmen in the forest. Intel suggests they have a couple of machine guns and shoulder-fired SAMS." Now we get to the action: infiltrating the camp and escaping with the scientist. How will the players manage the challenges of the environment, the rebels, and the villagers? Will they try to contact the tribesmen for assistance? What other information will they need? What equipment? What other hazards could they face? Is any of the information wrong?

I guess I'm not seeing the problem of having enough for the players and their characters to do here despite more access to information. No matter what they learn, they still have to get into the camp, free the scientist, and get away alive. That's the adventure.
Set said:
Even when I play sci-fi settings (which I do love, especially Trinity), I tend to end up playing 'magical' characters like psychics or alien shapeshifters or whatever, rather than 'dude with gun #1428.' Dudes with guns bore me, and that's, unfortunately, what every single viper pilot or away team member turns into in the end, just another dude with a gun.
As opposed to playing another dude with power x that deals damage y, whether that power is a magic sword or a sneak attack or a spell that goes *ZAMPF!*

Ultimately the mechanics are the same regardless of the chrome - that said, I understand that for gamers (myself included) the chrome matters a lot, so it appears that swinging a big-ass sword or pointing a wand tickles the imagination more than firing a burst from an Uzi or spraying nuclear fire from a shoulder-carried fusion gun for the majority of gamers.

Let me be clear here: I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. Taste in games is a strictly personal thing. I'm well aware that my tastes run counter to the "mainstream" among gamers.

That said, I would urge all gamers to branch out a bit. Try playing a sci fi or modern or historical roleplaying game with a referee who really has a feel for games other than fantasy, one who isn't just trying to recreate D&D in different genres. In my experience that's the problem that many gamers face when they try playing other games: they're still trying to run the same adventures the same way, rather than treating these other genres as different and distinctive, and the experience ends up lacking. Square pegs, round holes, and all that.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
I teach marine biology and oceanography for a living, so for me playing a hard science game isn't a chore. Creating or exploring settings and adventures based on speculative science is a big part of the fun for me.
Shaman, I know this is a tangent, but you might want to check out this thread (if you haven't already):

http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/35621-why-underwater.html

You could have some insights we might not...or you might simply enjoy it.
 
For me I like pretty much all the stuff of fantasy, with magic and how morality is applied. But there is one huge factor that dissuades me from all the fantasy games I've encountered so far:

I don't want to know where the setting is going.
What I mean by this is that fantasy is nearly always set in some past-like realm, with technology and such pretty much equivalent to what Earth was like in that context. So I know what developments are going to happen next in things like science. I feel smothered by history I know has to happen, even if logically I can't actually know where a fantasy world should go. But if the setting is a "modern" or "future"-type age I don't know what's next because it hasn't happened yet.
 

Corinth

Visitor
Fantasy: I can do it cold (i.e. no preparation) and stupid (i.e. knowing nothing about either the rules or the setting), and I will function just fine. This is not true of other settings, and the closer you get to reality the more preparation you need to do and the more you need to know to make it work properly.
 
With people saying they prefer fantasy because it's easier to do/needs less prep I have to ask: Is this really a factor of what's in fantasy vs. anything else? I mean by what you people have said you could have fantasy massively different from the clichéd "kinda like Medieval Europe" and have to do all the preparation. By contrast why couldn't you run a modern game like some TV shows that have made up fictional places and other stuff and just wing the whole thing?
 
I was refuting your point, actually. It doesn't matter whether or not hand-to-hand weapons are more deadly than firearms in real life (which is arguable and depends on circumstances anyway); in the present-day/sci-fi action genre characters can take hits from lead pipes and keep going, but gunshots (or lasershots, etc.) are almost always serious business. And it's that genre that most people are looking to emulate in games. Or at least, that's what most games seem to be trying to emulate.
Ah, I see. We were talking past each other. You're saying that most Sci-Fi games have deadly firearms combat - therefore you stay away.

Personally, that has not been my experience. It's seems to me that firearms combat, across various systems, can be deadly or just like any other damage. Certainly, in my experience, most Sci-Fi games do not feature super-deadly firearms.

Deadly: Cyberpunk 2020, RIFTS
Moderate: ShadowRun, Deadlands, d20 Modern
Not Deadly at All: WEG Star Wars, Feng Shui

No, that was exactly the topic of this particular side-track.
I'd be happy to discuss the pros and cons of hit-point systems used in firearms in a forked thread. :) But only if you'd like.
 

The Shaman

Visitor
Modern/Sci-Fi RPG settings are too close to the modern reality that I live every day.
I have never been a police detective attempting to bust up a crime ring, a gang leader looking to expand my turf, a spy smuggling secrets out of Hong Kong, a UN peacekeeper or crusading journalist in a war zone, a competitor on the Raid Gauloises or Paris-Dakar, a treasure hunter seeking lost Spanish gold, or a wilderness search-and-rescue team leader.*

But I can play all of those in a modern roleplaying game. In fact, I'd rather play any of those than an elf with a magic wand.

Differences of opinion, horse races, et cetera.



* Okay, that last one isn't true - I have been a wilderness search-and-rescue team leader. But you get the idea.
 
On off topic, I find it interesting that so many people lump modern and scifi together. Regardless of TSR and WoTC beliefs about the two genres, the two are very different. Unless I'm playing superheroes or something in which modern people have high tech gear and/or special powers, modern settings bore me to.

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Aeolius

Visitor
I don't have the book in front of me, but I think he said that Fantasy allowed for more setting options, such as different kingdoms, different environmental realms (underground, underwater, flying, the other planes of existence, even side-treks to the SF and modern). Plus, there are more player options--magic, psychic powers, different races, all allow more options.
Works for me. It's easier to put a little SciFi in my Fantasy game (psionics, Spelljamming, Steampunk/Clockwork, Barrier Peaks, etc) than it is to throw Fantasy elements into a SciFi setting.
 

Spatula

Explorer
With people saying they prefer fantasy because it's easier to do/needs less prep I have to ask: Is this really a factor of what's in fantasy vs. anything else? I mean by what you people have said you could have fantasy massively different from the clichéd "kinda like Medieval Europe" and have to do all the preparation. By contrast why couldn't you run a modern game like some TV shows that have made up fictional places and other stuff and just wing the whole thing?
Probably - that's a pretty good idea for modern games. Although I think some of the attraction in playing in such games is that it's the world you know (only more exciting) and you'd be losing out on that element of familiarity.
 

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