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Default Rampant Games - Hey! You got science fiction in my fantasy!

July 19th, 2008, 09:11
Rampant Coyote Jay Barnson's latest post muses on the topic of mixed science fiction / fantasy worlds, which - as he points out - used to be more common:
Back at the birth of RPGs (generally acknowledged to be around 1974, the time of the first publication of the D&D rules), science fiction and fantasy were really not very distinct. I mean, Anne McCaffrey insisted that her Dragonriders of Pern series was science fiction, not fantasy. You had the covers of Heavy Metal magazine, which often consisted of a scantily-armored chick with a sword and a blaster. And even the movie Star Wars, possibly the greatest impact science fiction had on our culture, was really as much fantasy as science fiction.

And back in the 70's and early 80's, we seemed cool with that. Well, okay, I was only a kid, and wouldn't have understood the difference much otherwise. But it seemed that Dungeons & Dragons games often had a mix of powered armor, vibro-blades, and laser rifles muddying the waters of homebrewed Middle Earths. On the computer front, the early Ultima games mixed hover cars, space ships, evil computers, and time travel pretty freely.

Somewhere in the mid 80's (subjective time), the dividing line came down. Fantasy, as a genre, began standing on its own on the shelves of the bookstores, instead of being lumped into the anemic "science fiction" shelves. People started drawing a hard line between what constituted fantasy and what was required of science fiction. The term "speculative fiction" had been coined to include both genres, and began coming into vogue sometime after that to prevent the terms for the specific genres from getting misused with broader meanings.
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July 19th, 2008, 09:11
Personally I like the Sci-Fi tidbits in the Might and Magic games, its a loss such creative things are rare these days.
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July 19th, 2008, 19:56
Sacred 1 has them, too.

But personally, I'm not too fond of them … apart from the prospect of one earlier, now extinct, race of superior technology …
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July 19th, 2008, 21:58
I don't mind the mix as long as it's thoughtful. If it makes sense that it can happen, and a balance is found, it can be refreshing. But badly done it just comes off cheesy.
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July 20th, 2008, 14:51
Doesn't TES (the elder scrolls) also have this? I mean, from what I've understand
there are tales & legends about the now long forgotten Dwemer race who were supposed to be technologically very advanced. And in Oblivion you have the remnants after the Ayleid race?

I don't mind mixing fantasy and science fiction if it is done properly. The old Might and Magic games did this, but from # 6 and onwards it became a little silly in how it was implemented in the game.

It is funny and weird, though, as the article mentions that if you have a sword being powered by fusion cells you're in sci fi land, but if you have a sword being -ehm- powered?- by some magic enchantments, youøre in fantasy land…
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July 20th, 2008, 15:48
It stems from the Atlantis myth and is prevalent in much fantasy, such as Númenor.
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July 20th, 2008, 20:09
I never really liked going from killing demons and minotaurs to futuristic robots. It was done very well in Arcanum, but that's not really science fiction - it's just science.
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