Jump to content
PhilFleischmann

Fantasy Immersion and the Things that Ruin it.

Recommended Posts

I was waiting to see if the Discworld entered the conversation. :sneaky:  I agree, nothing stifles immersion faster than an author literarily winking at and nudging you: "You get the punchline, right?" :winkgrin:  But the interesting thing to me about the series is, the Great A'tuin who carries the elephants who carry the Discworld, is depicted as "swimming" through actual interstellar space. It's not an alternative to the prevailing natural order we're familiar with; it's an exception to that order, an aberration fueled by magic, and very self-aware of it. It doesn't pretend to be anything more, or that the rest of Reality doesn't exist. So, while I don't personally care for Pratchett's satire, I have no problem with the Discworld in principle. It doesn't break my immersion, because it's not trying to be immersive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At what year does fantasy end? 

 

I ask because there seems to be a presumption that we all define it as preindustrial, and...   Well, I don't.  I accept and have played--even run- a few such games, but fantasy, at least to me, isn't really tied to a particular period.   No; I dont mean that in the all-encompassing "well, Son, when you get down to it, all non-fiction is fantasy" sort of way; I just don't find the connection to agrarian Europe to be of particular necessity. 

 

Electrum tax:  Geuricke invented the first documented electrical generator in 1650.  It's not unthinkable that in an alternate history, it could have happened even sooner, as both the principles he was exploring and the materials he used had been known for a century or so when he did it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

Do what year does fantasy end? 

 

I ask because there seems to be a presumption that we all define it as preindustrial, and...   Well, I don't.  I accept and have played--even run- a few such games, but fantasy, at least to me, isn't really tied to a particular period.   No; I dont mean that in the all-encompassing "well, Son, when you get down to it, all non-fiction is fantasy" sort of way; I just don't find the connection to agrarian Europe to be of particular necessity. 

 

I enjoy... industrial fantasy?  Urban fantasy with no masquerade?  A modern world with magic.  The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump and Operation Chaos.  Less Shadowrun and more... Wizard International?  

 

To me, that's every bit as much fantasy as Clark Ashton-Smith, Robert E. Howard, and J.R.R. Tolkien.  YMMV, of course.

 

Edit to add:  To me, in order to be fantasy, it has to have working magic.  I think that's about all it has to have.  I'm willing to split mixed stuff off from regular "fantasy" fantasy via terminology... industrial fantasy (I like Wizard International for that :D ), Fantastar Hero (wizards in space), and the like. 

Edited by Chris Goodwin
adding some

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, SteveZilla said:


3. Real-world politics - I game to get away from that crap (I don't like it in any game, to be honest).
 

 

This.  I used to game with a guy who had very strange ideas about politics.  He'd cram that stuff into every game he ran.  He was a good GM for the most part, but then we'd have to fight cultists of the evil god of bureaucracy.  Not making that up.  They intentionally try to make the government less efficient and more bloated.  His games were like a weird combination of D&D and Ayn Rand.  It was certainly unique, but it would completely take me out of the game.  You just thought "oh yeah, I have to give the right answer here or Jerry will flip out".  Of course my dwarven battle-rager hates red tape and filling out forms in triplicate.  That's totally something a medieval fantasy dwarf would encounter regularly and deeply care about.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of the "industrial magic" that I've seen depicted tends to lose me, because it's usually magic wedded to clunky mechanisms, gears and rods and pistons. "Magic" to me has always carried connotations of elegance, wonder, mystery -- a reality heightened beyond our mundane technological references. Unless, of course, the technology depicted is so advanced that its manifestation has all those qualities... in which case it might as well BE magic. [Cue Clarke's Law reference.]

 

EDIT: The Hero Universe has used that analogy for the tech of the extraterrestrial Malvans, a civilization hundreds of thousands of years older than ours, with a comparably-sophisticated understanding of science. Less advanced cultures trying to explain how Malvan devices work are usually reduced to the equivalent of saying: "Poof! It happens." While Champions Beyond has likened Earthly scientists essaying to decipher the bits of non-functional Malvan technology they've salvaged, to Neanderthals attempting to reverse-engineer a supercollider.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantasy covers a lot of ground and is surrounded by grey areas. (The absence of magic is one of those grey areas.)

 

Personally, I am currently reading Jorge (sometimes referred to as Jose) Luis Borges, an Argentinian short story writer. His work was all over the place in terms of genre, but certainly came close to fantasy at times. A lot of his work was metafictional - that is, he didn't conceal that it was a story, and simply didn't bother with immersion - except that he was a really good writer, and you get taken for the ride anyway.

 

Pratchett's non-immersive elements don't bother me for the same reason. I'd happily play in a (competently GMed and played) Discworld game.

As for worlds, well, I don't see any reason why the world shouldn't look like this. In fact, maybe it should.

 

But then again, I am also fiddling around with a world that is essentially Neolithic, with a bit of iron being traded in from the fringes. It lack cities, kings and temples, and chiefs are mostly just "Big Men" with pretensions. (Google "motu hiri lakatoi" for all the details of the setting you can eat. Oh, and this for the metal users.

 

File off the serial numbers for the fantasy version, of course. But how much magic is there? There are certainly ritual and taboos surrounding even the smallest activities - but is it "magic" in the fantasy sense? Honestly, I don't know - the only way to tell would be for someone to ignore those rituals and break those taboos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

Do what year does fantasy end? 

 

I ask because there seems to be a presumption that we all define it as preindustrial, and...   Well, I don't.  I accept and have played--even run- a few such games, but fantasy, at least to me, isn't really tied to a particular period.   No; I dont mean that in the all-encompassing "well, Son, when you get down to it, all non-fiction is fantasy" sort of way; I just don't find the connection to agrarian Europe to be of particular necessity. 

 

Electrum tax:  Geuricke invented the first documented electrical generator in 1650.  It's not unthinkable that in an alternate history, it could have happened even sooner, as both the principles he was exploring and the materials he used had been known for a century or do when he did it. 

 

No set ending date for me. But I have my preferences for late classic period, Age of exploration/ Empires. or depending on the GM< Modern Urban Fantasy.  Typical Medieval Feudalism iass getting a bit old and dry for me, but I have to grin and bear it, as that is what is being run by most gamers, so.....

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

Most of the "industrial magic" that I've seen depicted tends to lose me, because it's usually magic wedded to clunky mechanisms, gears and rods and pistons.

 

Well, the HERO System isn't called a toolkit for nothing... ;) 

 

Quote

 

"Magic" to me has always carried connotations of elegance, wonder, mystery -- a reality heightened beyond our mundane technological references.

 

I get that, but I don't think I've ever seen a game system in which magic works like that.  In books, when I see a magic system with wonder and mystery to it, it's because the author left out something important that they asspull at the end of the story to have their wizard character save the world.  (See also Sanderson's Laws of Magichard/soft magic, and rational or not).  At the very least, any magic system with wonder and mystery is hard to do in a roleplaying game which is (a) balanced and (b) usable by the players.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I submit that this is because to build or play it, you have to k ow how it works exactly, and once you know that, a lot of the mystery is gone.  :(

 

Probably why, no matter how much I prefer it, I have never had that same "ahh" moment with Fantasy HERO magic that other games have ( eiwflt) given me. At the end of the day, I know I'm rebranding Champions powers. 

 

 

:(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO there's an important distinction between knowing how something works, and understanding why it works. When the answer to that second question boils down to, "Because it's magic," you're dealing with something fundamentally mysterious and wondrous, however the mechanics fall out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

I submit that this is because to build or play it, you have to k ow how it works exactly, and once you know that, a lot of the mystery is gone.  :(

 

Probably why, no matter how much I prefer it, I have never had that same "ahh" moment with Fantasy HERO magic that other games have ( eiwflt) given me. At the end of the day, I know I'm rebranding Champions powers. 

 

 

:(

You are absolutely right. HERO by it's very structure only supports Hard and Rational  magic systems. it takes GMs Vast amount of work to create that "sensawunda" necessary for soft magic to seem unlike GM Fiat, especially for this system. It's mostly why I tended to run low to no magic Fantasy.  As a player, I never ran casters, because I am still math-tarded, and just run straightforward characters with just stats and a list of skills (and levels).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Out of Rep again (I'm starting to think it's a condition or something!). 

 

Re: soft magic and "sensawunda" (which reminds me: Scott, I have to report a theft.... :lol: ), I've got a thread going on Chris's board about some of the cantrip builds we did back I. The late 80s for our fantasy game: we stretched some of the rules to absolute agony here and there just to make things that felt more like magic than superpowers.

 

Check it out if you like and evetone is invited to play: just post a cantrip from one of your own games with as much or as little detail as you'd like.  The only rule is you can't tell anyone else that they are doing it wrong: it was their game; it would be perfectly impossible for them to do their own game "wrong.". ;)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember in the Fantasy Hero genre book for Fourth Edition, one of its manifold "spell colleges" was the College of Demonology. One of the spells in the College was just called, "Dispel," a bog-standard 10D6 Dispel against any magic spell. But the SFX description has always stood out for me: "The caster summons a small anti-magic demon, which he then hurls at the target. When the demon hits it explodes in a small, stinking green cloud which dispels magic."

 

That ain't super-powers.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, SteveZilla said:


3. Real-world politics - I game to get away from that crap (I don't like it in any game, to be honest).

 

Completely with you on that!  And to go one further, I've noticed that it bugs me tenfold what it used to in the pre-internet days (though, to be fair, it bothered me then, too.)  And truthfully, I really, deeply disliked Turakian Age just because of all that politics and social engineering that went into it.  Lord Liaden's thread on the book has brought me around: I don't actively dislike any more, but I still don't expect I'll be setting a game in it: as the GM, I would be the _most_ involved with keeping up with all that tedium.  :lol:

 

 

 

 

9 hours ago, SteveZilla said:

*Fantasy as in "sword and sorcery" games.  Which is why I consider Gamma World to be Sci-Fi and not Fantasy.

 

 

Wait--  

 

who classifies Gamma World as fantasy?!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

I have my preferences for late classic period, Age of exploration/ Empires. 

 

 

Dude, I have _got_ to sit in on one of your games.  Can I just audit it or something?  :lol:

 

We seem to have similar taste in settings in which to play (though I'm more down with atomic rockets than hard science :D  )

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On February 18, 2020 at 1:46 PM, Lord Liaden said:

This is more a complaint for fantasy artwork, and video games, but: Giant weapons for human-sized fighters. Seven-foot swords. Hundred-pound hammers. Axes as broad as a car door. All of the insecurity-overcompensating, penis-substituting, power-fantasizing behemoth bodkins that even Conan couldn't swing in a fight.

I agree with you here, but I'd like to point out the hypocracy of the double standard we're respresenting. Why, when in capes settings strength great enough to lift cars is practically an "Everyman Power", should barbarians not get to wield "unrealisticly large" weapons?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

I remember in the Fantasy Hero genre book for Fourth Edition, one of its manifold "spell colleges" was the College of Demonology. One of the spells in the College was just called, "Dispel," a bog-standard 10D6 Dispel against any magic spell. But the SFX description has always stood out for me: "The caster summons a small anti-magic demon, which he then hurls at the target. When the demon hits it explodes in a small, stinking green cloud which dispels magic."

 

That ain't super-powers.
 

This book is what helped me with the concept of mechanics separate from sfx.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, Shoug said:

I agree with you here, but I'd like to point out the hypocracy of the double standard we're respresenting. Why, when in capes settings strength great enough to lift cars is practically an "Everyman Power", should barbarians not get to wield "unrealisticly large" weapons?

Because Fantasy isn't Capes. 

Some Fantasy is Cape-esque.  I'd be amazed if somebody was offended by oversized pigstickers in high-level D&D, or Shadowrun, or Exalted.  Somebody with a sword the size of a surfboard?  They fit in! 

But other Fantasy is "realistic".  Low-level D&D, Honor+Intrigue, you get the point.  Having a sword of unusual size defies genre conventions and "realism" expectations. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

This book is what helped me with the concept of mechanics separate from sfx.

Honestly, the superhero model is a good one to use as the foundation for a generic system like Hero. Supers have come to have an enormous influence on Anime, and therefore Fantasy. In superhero settings, everybody has a few powerful and unique abilities of enormous implication, unlike fantasy where everybody for the most part shares the same abilities and the story is about characters and plot surrounding those abilities and how they're concentrated. Fighters do violence, rogues have skills and backstab, wizards have magic. But Anime has bridged the gap with increasing success over the years with shows such as Naruto (where Ninjas are warrior mages with completely unique magical Jutsus), Demon Slayer (where Demon Slayers are warrior mages who use breathing techniques to empower themselves until they are strong enough to cut through boulders and use special moves mostly unique to each character), and JoJo (where Stand users are able to exercise the physical manifestations of their own fighter spirits to be warrior mages). 

 

The days of the "Warrior, Mage and, Rogue" are over, Hero system has ushered forth unto me the dawn of taking a character concept as far as you want to go mechanically with no restrictions. I wanna be a pyromancer? I don't have to look through the spell tome and find all the fire themed spells, pick all but one them because that one basically sucks, and I'd rather just have something useful like misty step or greater illusion. I want to be a battlemage? I don't have to multicast and then just be a mediocre fighter who can sling a few spells that a wizard could use since lvl 3. EDIT: In Hero, I'm able to make a barbarian who accidentally goes berserk, which turns him into a "whirling devil of burning red elemental rage" granting him fire breath and flight. 

 

It's awesome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

Dude, I have _got_ to sit in on one of your games.  Can I just audit it or something?  :lol:

 

We seem to have similar taste in settings in which to play (though I'm more down with atomic rockets than hard science :D  )

 

 Read the Jaggiri Thread to get an idea of how I put things together (Blast from the Past Part Two, in the FH Sub-genre).  But I was a little disappointed that the players voted to do the Near future thing, as that was one of three campaigns I proposed, So I have to work on that and I have a lot of id3as. Technically they "ARE" atomic rockets as they are using Helium 3 to keep their engines thrusting all the time at 1G or less. for manned ships to get anywhere in the solar system in any reasonable time and without the crew deconditioning into noodle armed invalids due to prolongues Zero G Exposure.  So it became an interesting mental excercise, though as I said before writing out all the background materials is slow, and comes after my paying artwork.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Shoug said:

Honestly, the superhero model is a good one to use as the foundation for a generic system like Hero. Supers have come to have an enormous influence on Anime, and therefore Fantasy. In superhero settings, everybody has a few powerful and unique abilities of enormous implication, unlike fantasy where everybody for the most part shares the same abilities and the story is about characters and plot surrounding those abilities and how they're concentrated. Fighters do violence, rogues have skills and backstab, wizards have magic. But Anime has bridged the gap with increasing success over the years with shows such as Naruto (where Ninjas are warrior mages with completely unique magical Jutsus), Demon Slayer (where Demon Slayers are warrior mages who use breathing techniques to empower themselves until they are strong enough to cut through boulders and use special moves mostly unique to each character), and JoJo (where Stand users are able to exercise the physical manifestations of their own fighter spirits to be warrior mages). 

 

The days of the "Warrior, Mage and, Rogue" are over, Hero system has ushered forth unto me the dawn of taking a character concept as far as you want to go mechanically with no restrictions. I wanna be a pyromancer? I don't have to look through the spell tome and find all the fire themed spells, pick all but one them because that one basically sucks, and I'd rather just have something useful like misty step or greater illusion. I want to be a battlemage? I don't have to multicast and then just be a mediocre fighter who can sling a few spells that a wizard could use since lvl 3. EDIT: In Hero, I'm able to make a barbarian who accidentally goes berserk, which turns him into a "whirling devil of burning red elemental rage" granting him fire breath and flight. 

 

It's awesome.

 

I'm delighted that Hero System has opened a world of possibilities for you. :D  But the superhero genre was incorporating elements of fantasy long before anime took notice, or before many people in the West noticed anime. Many decades ago, Marvel Comics' Black Knight, and DC Comics' Shining Knight and Etrigan the Demon, were linked to King Arthur; while Morgana LeFay is a villain for both companies. Captain Marvel/Shazam was empowered by a wizard. Marvel's Thor has met Conan during the Hyborian Age. Iron Man has been to Camelot. Hawkman and Hawkwoman were reincarnated Egyptian demigods. Dr. Strange has fought Dracula. Marvel's Bloodwraith was cursed by a soul-sucking ebony sword -- sound familiar? ;)

 

The kitchen-sink approach to super origins taken by the mainstream comics companies has allowed the genre to absorb elements from practically every other fictional genre: literary fantasy, sci-fi, horror, pulp, mythology and folklore, espionage, space-opera, film noir, martial-arts action. In that context, the evolution of Hero System from supers-focused to universal can be viewed as a natural consequence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

Completely with you on that!  And to go one further, I've noticed that it bugs me tenfold what it used to in the pre-internet days (though, to be fair, it bothered me then, too.)  And truthfully, I really, deeply disliked Turakian Age just because of all that politics and social engineering that went into it.  Lord Liaden's thread on the book has brought me around: I don't actively dislike any more, but I still don't expect I'll be setting a game in it: as the GM, I would be the _most_ involved with keeping up with all that tedium.  :lol:

 

Perfectly fair; but although we've discussed this privately, Duke, I want to state for the record that despite my horning in on it, "The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated" thread was started by sentry0, and many other folks have contributed substantially to it.

 

(I'm not done horning in yet, though.) :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/19/2020 at 4:26 PM, Anaximander said:

Related to Hermit's statement on religion, I think that his argument can be broadened to differences in station in general.  I might not hold serving people in especially low regard or the well-to-do in high regard.  I judge people equally regardless of station, but I was raised that way, but that is not how I would have been raised in medieval Europe where everyone was expected to live according to their station whether they liked it or not.  So, I find it jarring when I see a character talking smack to noblemen in general conversation without having their heads summarily removed.  Admittedly, enforcing those kind of standards with modern players presents its own issues beyond mere story writing.

 

Ha. Here's where I get a bit embarrassed because I'm sure at least once or twice I've been "that guy" who told a nobleman off ICly.

But I definitely see your point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...