Friday, 19 March 2010

Science Fiction vs. Fantasy - FIGHT!

You know, I like me a bit of science fiction gaming but, in my experience, it's always fantasy that makes for an easier and more enjoyable game to play as far as RPGs are concerned. Why is this?

The only sci-fi game I played for any length of time was D6 Star Wars, but I think this is mainly because we all know Star Wars and the fact that it has a basic grounding in fantasy. It's not hard to imagine what the GM is talking about in Star Wars; lightsabres, star destroyers, stormtroopers, ewoks, it's all very familiar and instantly recognisable.

The same as fantasy games. As most fantasy settings are basically mediaeval-inspired settings it's easy to imagine what things look like. In fact, any historical period and location can be invoked so that the players have a mental image of what is around them.

The same can't be said for science fiction. There are so many design ethics and possible levels of technological advancement that influence the situations the PCs find themselves in that it's incredibly difficult to simply say 'this is where you are' without being inundated with questions about details. Unless the players are as educated about the setting as the GM then making them feel comfortable in the game, to make sure that they know what they can and can't do and what kind of tech is available to them, is going to be difficult.

In fantasy you can picture yourself on a horse in chainmail riding to a castle tower in the rain. That's easy. In science fiction you need a little more detail than that to set a scene.


  1. With SciFi there's often a lot of gadgetry that can change the scope of options the players have for dealing with a scenario. Even modern gadgets like cellphones and the internet change the way you need to approach a lot of "classic" story structure.

  2. I agree with the above entirely.

    I think Sci Fi can give a more varied play experience. Every fantasy game I've tried to play (and read) claims to be different in so many ways but they aren't at all. They are all pretty much clones of one another. As they are based in the past, they have the baggage of history and breaking that can be a problem for those suspending disbelief.