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D20-Designs: Changing the system
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Sep. 14th, 2005 @ 10:13 pm
REALISM VS. FANTASY- a discussion
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September 15th, 2005 03:10 am (UTC)
Getting both aspects to balance out can be very difficult, if not impossible.
Seeing as how the real world never had to worry about things like wizards casting "chain lightning", reality will certainly have to give way to fantasy, especially since fantasy is, in my experience, more conducive to more imaginative gameplay. I may come across as a dyed-in-the-wool realist, but this impression would be just a tad unfair to me.
On the other hand, however, we cannot ignore lessons in our own history, as the problems we all face now have already been faced by someone else in another time. The same applies to creating a fantasy world-- in order for it to be believable, the global climate and general methodology must borrow from our own history.
Seeing as how one of my most keen areas of interest are arms, armor, and hand-to-hand combat, I'd like to use it as an example. The weapons and armor used by knights, samurai, peasants, sheiks, or whatever else have you, were all developed to serve as solutions to a problem of the time. For example, since leather and thin iron chainmaille were the dominant forms of armor during the Migration Era and Viking Age, the spears, axes, and swords of those eras all address the problem of how to defeat that armor, and how to combat an opponent wearing that armor in addition to a shield.
When the first suits of plate armor first began rolling out of Flanders and Germany, their opponents had to quickly find a way to defeat that armor. Thus, the diamond cross-sectioned sword, not seen since the fall of Rome, quickly gained popularity for its rigidity, agility, and its accurate, acute point, which could be thrust into the gaps of plate armor. Also, the knightly class had begun adopting halberds, lucerne hammers, and maces.
In short, it would be positively arrogant of us to think that we can develop a better medieval weapon than the smiths and engineers of the time (your saw-toothed, siege-engine-hacking swords came to mind, Artemissgk), who had to rely on their designs and craftsmanship for their very livelihood. In many instances, if it hasn't already been done, chances are that it's because it simply CANNOT be done effectively.
Because fantasy worlds usually involve magic, however, we have to not only take the point of view from the historical figure, but also a completely imaginative one. For example, we already know how castle defenders were able to fight off archers and footmen. Now we need to ask ourselves "how would an engineer in this world defend his new castle against 'meteor storm'"?
This is where it is very easy to get carried-away. Too often, we get wrapped-up in what looks cool as opposed to creating any element of believability (I'll also credit a lot of that to my fellow gamers' obsessions with anime) in the world that we have created.
Feel free to disagree with me, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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