Friday, January 9, 2015

High Fantasy VS Gritty!

I think my style, or atleast how I`ve liked to play games has always been very `High Fantasy``.  A recent review of `The Lizardmen Of Illzathatch`` pointed that out.  Let me point out, I don`t think this is a bad thing, but I need to keep grittiness in mind.

The Lizardmen of Illzathatch has a certain naive or simplistic charm. 

Another thing that I`ve realized is that in RPG`s especially old school stuff, there needs to be RISK & REWARD.  A specific example is in the comments from this post 

Ok, my first response didn't take, so I'm gonna throw out a "shortened" version of it. 

Where's the risk? Where's the cursed items, the helm of alignment changing, or "Brega the Barbarian reaches into the radiant waters of the mysterious pool drawing forth from it a writhing viper!" 
Now this otherwise benign pool of gift giving, just became a question of risk versus reward, and is instantly exciting and a challenge in its own right! If you're going to give valuable magic items away, your PCs will not value them. Inject some danger and suddenly that +1 Ring of Protection, or silver dagger just became a lot more valuable! J Benjamin 

So what I am hoping to keep in mind as I write this mega dungeon is to blur that line between high fantasy and dark fantasy, can we call it MOR Fantasy.  MOR is a music business term that means Middle Of The Road.  ie Easy Listening, Diana Krall, Doobey Brothers, etc.

I`ve always liked the idea of Heroes, good heroes.  I think this comes from my love of this type of literature and movies.  Rooting for the underdogs (bilbo), knights (luke), the bad boy turned good (Han), the outcast turned hero (Drizzt).  Ya get it.  hahaha.

Even reading some S&W literature by C.L. Moore, I really fell in love with the character of Jirel Of Joiry.  Another big influence of late is the Shanara series by Terry Brooks.  All of these characters are still heroes.

Obviously I`ve read and played a bit of `Liberation Of The Demonslayer``, and have an idea of where Mr. Satanis head space is at +Venger Satanis .  Among other things H.P. Lovecraft.

In the back of my mind I have a story written around this mega dungeon that could easily play out in a good aligned PC Hero archetype situation.  However my mind has been wandering lately to evil, and the possible outcomes that may occur. Obviously the plan is to not rail road, I`ve been writing in ideas and rumors that could push the PC`s down a darker path.

Although I hate to admit it, I am not a fan of ``save or die`` situations in writing.  For me it comes down to ``Well if the PC is dumb enough, so be it``.  I have however written in a few of these situations, and will probably throw a few more in for those dumb asses that will poke the sleeping dragon.

I suppose, its friday, I`m riffing here, but its giving me an idea of where to go with certain things.  First and most importantly I think giving stuff away for free (no risk) is a bad idea, as pointed out above.  Writing in those options for a little evil to creep in here and there is another thing that will start happening.

Right its friday!  and I got 3 hours till I can sit back relax and do some more writing.

TLDR:  Inspiration can come from anywhere, soak it up.

Keep rolling those dice



  1. Shane, I absolutely love that you reference CL Moore's, "The Black God's Kiss", in this post. What a great story.
    Without challenge there is no growth, is my judging mantra. Are you familiar with DCCRPG? If not you gotta check it out, especially if you're interested in getting a little dark with your adventures. I mention DCC because of the chararcter funnel, which is basically a "meat-grinder" for 0-level PCs, where-in the player will usually roll up about four such characters, and whichever one survives her first adventure, becomes your character. It's amazing to see players form such a strong bond to a 1st level character because they survived an adventure and took their first step to becoming a hero, or as Joseph Campbell calls it they are answering "the call to adventure". It's also a great way to introduce the concept of "consequence" to players who are otherwise unfamiliar with it. Admittedly, this kind of gameplay isn't for everyone, but I do think everyone should try it out at least once.

    1. Hey J. I've read through the beta rules of DCC, there's a lot of wonderful weirdness within that book. I do really like the idea of a funnel, I may put a "suggestion" in the first part of the book about it. The next time we start a campaign I may just try that to see how it feels. I am however writing with Lab Lord in mind, with a few little alternate rules ideas. The adventure is shaping up to be levels 4 or 5+ for about 4 -6 players. I am going to atleast do a playtest by myself with some dice and check how some of the encounters balance out. Specifically the big baddies bosses against level 4 PCs. As per usual I will also be putting in a bunch of pregens. I like doing that, its just a little something more, bang for your buck. I know its not totally OSR to balance encounters, but I like to keep the Newb GM in mind. If this is the first module a guy is picking up, I'd rather not have him run a TPK on the first map lol. So there's a bit of balance going on there. Some encounters, some not.

      As far as Jirel, I really like the way the underworld is presented in those stories. I'd like to have a bit of waves of that where I can. That and a bit of Terry Brooks thrown in for good measure.