Re: [MUD-Dev] RE: [MUD-Dev] Fantasy clichés

Brian 'Psychochild' Green brian at psychochild.org
Sun Jul 9 10:25:58 New Zealand Standard Time 2000


I think I'll add a few clarifications.

Michael Tresca wrote:
> 
> Brian Green wrote:
> 
> > I find D&D is a nice "lingua franca" to discuss things.  Most people
> > interested in game development (especially pen and paper games) know D&D
> > and how it works.  Saying a monster is like an "AD&D Umber Hulk" puts a
> > pretty good image in most people's minds.  Plus, where would we be if we
> > couldn't talk about (and often bash) levels? :)
> 
> Definitely a double-edged sword here.  For one, some of these critters are
> (as TSR has claimed in the past) unique beasts that have no basis in
> folklore, and thus defendable in a court of law.  Umber hulks, beholders,
> and a host of others that some people may think are mythological in origin,
> are actually TSRological in origin instead.  In terms of game development,
> it's important to know the difference.

No argument here.  Part of a good designer's job, IMNSHO, is research,
and it's important to know how not to get yourself in legal trouble. 
You'll notice I said "like" an umber hulk, not "is" one. :)
 
> Second, D&D itself is something of a moving target.  Dragons in First
> Edition were not nearly as tough as Second Edition.  The gaming populace you
> target will probably determine what preconceived notions they bring to the
> MUDding table (so to speak).  For example -- werewolf and vampire powers are
> now so heavily influenced by White Wolf's Vampire and Werewolf, that to
> ignore those two game systems and target only the AD&D version (which aren't
> quite as exciting or in-depth) is likely to irk players who know WW's game
> system better than TSR's.

I think you're delving too far into the stats instead of the ideas.  If
I say "red dragon", you conjure up an image of a large, winged,
quadripedal, scaled beast that breathes fire.  The fact its breath does
10d10 vs. 16d10 + 8 is insignficant, IMHO.

Werewolves and vampires have always been tricky even before White Wolf
came along and muddied the waters further.  Heck, casting werewolves as
savage, angry environmentalists?  That's pretty far out there, IMHO. 
(Not that I don't like it, I'm playing the game with my regular group
later today. :)
 
> What disturbs me is that D&D is fast becoming a standard which contradicts
> myth and legend.  It's one thing to stretch the limits of what constitutes a
> dragon -- it's another when you have an original creation or fantasy myth
> dating back several centuries, base a monster off of it, then someone cries
> foul because it doesn't fit the D&D paradigm.  D&D makes it very easy to
> pump out stock monsters, but it can make a horrible noose for creativity.

Well, let's be honest.  How many people really enjoy reading Beowulf the
first time?  I'm sure lots of people on this list did (I certainly did),
but we're pretty hard-core geeks, am I not right?  Lots of people don't,
but they can accept AD&D's "cooler" versions, especially since they get
to be the hero and kill stuff.

There's no reason for this, though.  In some of the AD&D sourcebooks I
have, they list a bibliography of references they used.  This fueled
some independant research on my part, but how many people care enough to
do that?

> If there's something wrong with the mindless legions of multi-player games
> today, I submit it's because we now have such a rigid paradigm where you
> "can't go wrong."  Elves, dwarves, hobbits -- put in enough elements, and
> you've got a fantasy game.  As long as your goblins are small, your ogres
> are large, and your swords all look like long swords, you're guaranteed to
> be labeled in the fantastic genre.

I think the saddest part is that everyone seems to be ignoring even
other types of fantasy beyond "high fantasy".  Dark fantasy, barbarian
fantasy, steampunk, etc, are all wonderful types of fantasy with at
least a handfull of followers.  Why has no one really explored these
areas?  Fear of the unknown?
 
> This harkens back to the plight of the casual gamer issue.   The casual
> gamer is not going to know the lingua franca, and if game creators depend on
> it, then they're creating yet another barrier for new players to overcome.
> Better to reinforce your own unique fantasy myths through consistency within
> the game itself.

Being an advocate of helping casual gamers, I would like to point out
that I was referring to AD&D being a lingua franca between developers. 
We have enough "casual developers" already, don't we?  Do we need to
worry about them? :)

I'd also warn against assuming that basing your works on AD&D would harm
the casual gamer.  If your more hard-core players know the system and
are comfortable with it, they can dedicate more time to helping the new
players instead of learning a new system for themselves.  Something to
consider.  (Not that AD&D is the most perfect or universal system for
players.)

--
"And I now wait / to shake the hand of fate...."  -"Defender", Manowar
     Brian Green, brian at psychochild.org  aka  Psychochild
       |\      _,,,---,,_      *=* Morpheus, my kitten, says "Hi!" *=*
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_  
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'  "Ritalin Cures Next Picasso" 
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)               -The_Onion_, August 4th, 1999



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