Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Updating Your Setting With Modern Gaming

While I'll always be a fan of standard fantasy my real love falls somewhere between sci-fi and urban fantasy.  Lately I've been toying with fusing urban fantasy with more contemporary fantasy tropes.  I'll admit a recent WotC article and the 5e DMG helped inspire me, but I don't just want to run a modern world game that happens to have elves and dwarves. To me what can make a "modern" fantasy game special is figuring out How a world of wizards, dragons, and heroes came to radios and shotguns.

Great Ideas Are Inevitable
Some advancements are just bound to happen like long distance communication and improved transportation.  If there is a big enough need for it someone will eventually find a way to make it happen.  Now yes is fantasy settings like D&D there are powerful teleportation spells and magic items such as sending stones, but that is powerful and rare magic.  The "gate" spell is a 1 minute door to let people pas from one point to another that can basically be anywhere, but that is a "max level" spell so only the most powerful wizards and sorcerers can perform it.  Sure any hero that reaches the right level could do this, but the world isn't made of heroes and technology grows off the needs and resources of the common person.

Keep the Wondrous Wondrous
With people able to travel by train across country some might worry that the wizard that can do it with a spell loses their luster, but rember if your world has magic the technology should TRY to recreate what a powerful sorcerer can do, but it will most likely be expensive and still not as fast or accurate.  With the gate spell example above technology might allow for trains or even airships, but a cross country journey will still take anywhere from hours to days. There will still be the threat of something going wrong along that way, and passage won't be cheap (when you add in the expenses of everyone traveling as a lump sum).  Magic on the other hand can still open an instant door from one area to another.  There's also the fact that if you're dealing with a world with multiple realms or planes of existence that is still probably only in the realm of magic.  A train will connect cities, a plane has some more freedome but will still need a space to land, your wizard can go ANYWHERE.

War, War Never Changes
Unless your game is taking place in a perfect future devoid of conflict (and probably not needing heroes) there will still be a need for weapons.  As technology improves so does ways to kill each other. On the plus side so do ways to defend yourself from those new weapons.  If you're dealing with heavily armors soldier types that are geared for battle then their weapons might be more "powerful" than a medieval knight, but so is the armor of other soldiers.  In the end weapons can sound cooler, but don't worry too much about mechanical changes.  IF there's a new weapon such as a death ray that nothing has caught up in lines of defense then treat it as a magic item.  Cutting edge tech and incredibly rare magic are basically the same just with different serial numbers.

Modern Doesn't Have to Mean Today
The last note I'd give is that modern is a subjective term.  If you want to take your fantasy game and push it up to steam punk then that is just modern to a Victorian era.  You want scifi future, well outside of that just being scifi, that can be ultra modern if you're going near future.  When I talk about "modern" settings I more refer to accelerating their advancement to a point where you can shine a mirror on something about modern life. This doesn't mean everything needs to be up to 2015 standards, it just needs to be able to tell the story you want to tell.

Side Note: The Information Age
One pitfall I will warn anyone who hasn't run a modern game however is to not start in a setting with any form of the internet.  Even phones greatly change how a game is played, how easily help can be called in, and how easy it is to gather information.  This can actually lend itself to fun new avenues of game play, but what in medieval fantasy could be a long drawn out mystery in the information age can be a couple clever actions from a smart players.  Keeping secrets takes more forethought and planning.  Personally I've learned to adapt, but I figured for anyone used to solely running fantasy it can lead to a couple failed games before you get the hang of things.

No comments:

Post a Comment