Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Gaming in a science fiction setting vs. a fantasy setting

Danger In Deep Space 14 by ArtFavor
You know, I love my science fiction gaming but, in my experience, it's always fantasy that makes for an easier 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 knew 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. It didn't matter that we were all huge Star Wars fans at the time; the setting is so ingrained in pop culture it's easy to reference.

The same as fantasy games. As most fantasy settings are basically medieval-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 other realms of 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.

This is all in my own experience, of course. In fantasy you can picture yourself on a horse in armour 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.

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