Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Love Fantasy

It is by far my favorite genre for role-playing, one that I only rarely get tired of, and even then it's not long before I want to get back in the saddle. This is not to say that I don't love other genres, I do. Horror can be awesome, and I can even get into some super-hero stuff every now and then. Sci-fi is also great, and of course historical is my go to. But even then, my historical games tend to be history plus elements of fantasy. I just simply adore games with magic and monsters. I really don’t care if they are set on Athas or Middle-Earth, modern Chicago or Ancient Rome, give me some spell casters and some nasties, plus as many of the other trappings as you can fit in, and I am a happy gamer.
Its not just the trappings of the fantasy genre I love, it’s the themes, the supernatural, multiple intelligent species, a strong inspiration from mythology and folklore, and heroes defeating villains. There is a lot of overlap with other genres, and that is one of the things I love the most. Star Wars is fantasy, just set long, long ago with robots, spaceships, and aliens. It is the journey of the hero, complete with magic, evil that is outright evil, and not the run of the mill realistic evil either, and even swords! Fantasy is a very flexible genre, and includes hundreds if not thousands of sub-genres. Dresden Files is as much fantasy as Forgotten Realms, after all.
I really don’t care that much about what system gets used, I have tried so many fantasy systems that do the job nicely, especially with regards to a specific subgenre. Pendragon is a fine fantasy system for historical games set in the Arthurian mythos. I wouldn't want to use it for dungeon crawling classic fantasy, however. Not that it couldn't be adapted, it can and I have, but there are other systems that do it better. World of Darkness both new and old are not expressly fantasy games, though they certainly have many of the trappings and themes. Both of these systems can be readily adapted to a range of fantasy subgenres, some more than others (I am looking at you Werewolf and Mage). True, all the World of Darkness material can be used for other genres, most notably horror, but they also contain many fantasy elements, and its how you run the game that defines the genre, at least in this case, and not so much how the game is written.
My favorite systems for fantasy are the classics, Dungeons and Dragons and its successors. They all do the traditional fantasy well, though they vary in their performance regarding subgenres (D&D 4e more so than the earlier editions is the most laser focused on one subgenre). However, I also enjoy the freedom of generic systems to write by own subgenre, especially with GURPS and BRP. This is not to discount some of the rogue systems out there that do fantasy, and do it well. Barbarians of Lemuria is my go to for swords and sorcery style fantasy. Ars magica isn’t so much a system as a historical fantasy setting, and a good one at that. I wouldn't mind giving Legends of Anglerre a shot again, only do it differently this time and stick to a more structured setting and plot.
I recently picked up Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion and would love to run a fantasy campaign using that, but alas my gaming groups have solid campaigns going that my players and I enjoy, so there is no new campaign in sight. Well, honestly, its just a matter of time before I kill them all or one PC makes a glaring mistake that takes them all down.

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