Special Effects R Us
Posted by docryder
So, this post was started last weekend, but with laundry, work (10 hour days being regular currently), Star Wars, and the holidays, I never managed to finish the post.
Like most, I have been to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I won’t be offering any spoilers, or much commentary, for a while. I enjoyed it, but I doubt this one will influence my setting. It might influence my storytelling, but not too much more. There’s really nothing new introduced into the setting, so I can’t see my setting growing from it.
This week’s post came from this comic:
Guns in fantasy games seem to really get to people. There were similar reactions to that player’s on the comic’s Facebook page. Some readers (including myself) were okay with the idea, and others freaked out and called foul play. I think I used to be in the “freaked out by guns in fantasy” camp, but I’m not so much any more. I think most folks problems are based on real world history, and how the muzzle velocity of the gun allowed the bullet to penetrate armor, eventually rendering armor impractical.
But not even Chris Perkins (the “DM to the Stars” WotC Creative Director) is in the “no firearms” camp, as in his Valoreign playtest setting he includes elven firearms. If you look at the weapon stats, it’s obvious that he’s treating the firearms as simply special effects for damage-inflicting mechanics. And the reality of the game is, hit points are ill-defined and unrealistic in most systems, much less D&D. That being so, the idea that adding guns to a story-oriented fantasy system is completely misguided, in my mind. More simulationist gaming will definitely want it, but that sort of game will likely have more clearly defined hit points and armor mechanics.
Which brings me back to an idea I discussed early on in the history of this blog, that RPGs are resource management systems with special effects overlaid. The special effects are what make our games and determine and shape our settings.
Related to this, I was listening some examples of Fate settings, particularly on some of The Tome Show episodes, and I was struck by the idea that I might have overcomplicated my thinking about how to deal with magic in the StarSea setting. If all PCs have magic, then outside of an aspect that determines their type of magic, they really shouldn’t need more system. Magic becomes the special effect of their actions as they determine. Little or no need for a lot of extras and other mechanical rulings to create the setting.
I still probably won’t be using Fate, as I don’t think my players will get the hang of the fate point economy. That’s at least partially because I have trouble priming that pump myself. But also I think the kids will have problems with creating and accepting the “bad stuff” that is necessary to keep the flow going. I still like the system, and hope to use it in the future.
On that note, a couple of weeks ago, while reading some of the Age of Sigmar stuff, I got inspired to create more of the Reincarnated Heroes campaign idea I had commented on back in November. (The quick recap: Heroes of Good are defeated by Evil, but are reincarnated because Evil cheated the laws of the cosmos.) One of my players said when I mentioned the idea “That’s a cool idea. I like that. Build that.” I have the beginnings of ideas for the villains (barbarians following some dark god, kinda like the Bloodsworn of AoS, or the madben Denledhyssi followers of Glandyth-a-Krae in the Corum books). I considered using 4e and the defiling rules from Dark Sun, but upon reexamining those rules, I determined they are too weak. That only allies are injured makes no sense, and the amounts of damage for the pay-off is too much. Less damage against all creatures would make more sense. I could probably use another system, but I’d probably want to find a different cheat that Evil used that allows the heroes to come back to fix their past mistakes. Or, I need to go with a different reason for the heroes’ reincarnation.
I haven’t really thought too much about the StarSea lately, and that’s a good thing. When I get back to it, I’ll be refreshed. Or so I hope.
Anyway, it’s late and I need to go. No work tomorrow, but I don’t need to be up much longer. Later.