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"Realistic" things that no-one actually wants to deal with in fantasy games

Lukas Sjöström

Society of Unity scholar
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And there is a huge piece of ignored realism for me. Anatomy and physiology of RPG creatures. Go ahead make a pegasus or a centaur that actually works biologically. I'll wait. Even if you hand wave the aerodynamics required for a horse to fly, I want to see how you attach and articulate the wings...
I'll happily accept magical explanations for things that break the law of physics if it makes sense within the game world. However, as long as people are depicted as being basically the same as in our world, I would expect them to make use of these magical phenomena, and for this to affect their societies. For example, if pegasi are available and possible to domesticate, I expect travel and warfare to look very different, no matter if they need magic to fly or not.
 

Reynard

Registered User
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I'll happily accept magical explanations for things that break the law of physics if it makes sense within the game world. However, as long as people are depicted as being basically the same as in our world, I would expect them to make use of these magical phenomena, and for this to affect their societies. For example, if pegasi are available and possible to domesticate, I expect travel and warfare to look very different, no matter if they need magic to fly or not.
Assuming we are talking about something approximating the medieval era, it would likely have an impact on the upper classes and warfare, but commoners still wouldn't be able to afford horses, flying or not. The real defining element would be how rare pegasi are. Can you field a massive aerial cavalry unit, or something more like a strike force or royal bodyguard. The rarer, the more elite the aerial knights would have to be.
 

Litpho

Wandering stranger
RPGnet Member
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Regarding armor, the fact that walking casually in full plate is commonly accepted in gaming groups. Go to a re-enactment fair and put a hand on a chest plate exposed under the sun: it's hot as a grill! On the other hand it's ice-cold in winter. It's not something you dress up with just because you own it and you feel safer in it!
On the other hand, in the average fantasy setting wearing it is the most foolproof way to prevent it from getting stolen.
 

nightwyrm

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One thing I’ve noticed about realism is that it’s a lot easier to handwave things I’m not all that familiar with.
Reading through the Monster Manual can be a difficult experience if you're a real life ecologist.
 

FoolishOwl

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Reading through the Monster Manual can be a difficult experience if you're a real life ecologist.
I'd read an "Elminster's Ecologies" once, narrated by a grouchy druid/necromancer, who really despised adventurers for messing things up all the time. She pointed out that, if you open a portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire, you're going to wreak havoc on the local ecology. But, over time, the ecosystem will adjust, as creatures that thrive on heat move in to the area, creatures that can tolerate it move into the periphery, and so on. So at that point, shutting down the portal will wreak havoc on the local ecology.
 

DavetheLost

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For me the anatomy and physiology question is more of an intellectual and artistic puzzle to play with. I had a commission to paint a Pegasus and had a devil of a time getting the wings in right.

“It’s magic” works once you declare magic to be a part of reality.

I agree that flying mounts, etc should make for changes in the way things work. At least for those who can afford them. A flying cavalry unit could shake things up on the battlefield
 

bwridge

Registered User
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Yea... in the Midnight setting from FFG we're told that the economy has collapsed and that all market interactions are on a barter system. But from a game play perspective that doesn't sound like too much fun. Are characters going to be forced to travel around with chickens and other valuable knick-knacks in case they need to find a room for the night? I'll probably just establish some sort of imperial script that can be used in the big cities while less useful in the countryside.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
we're told that the economy has collapsed and that all market interactions are on a barter system
Speaking of a little familiarity damaging handwaving... that strikes me as implausible. When people have trade frequently enough to even talk about a market, they invent money. Some stable high-value commodity if no authority is providing something better. They do this even *despite* the local authorities, like cigarette 'money' in prisons. 'Barter' but with a standardized commodity of value.

If things are really bad and you barely have trade, then you don't really have market interaction. Even then, or especially then, I would guess most households would take either food or e.g. metal tools, if some passing adventurer wants to buy something the household can actually spare.
 

DarkStarling

Brilliantly Crazed
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This thread made me realize, the reason I like DND so much at lower levels (like, below level 10 or so) is because those are the point where all the interesting minor challenges still matter and you actually have to pay attention to them. Higher level and the handwaves just become too easy.

Awhile ago someone mentioned how wild animals don't attack much unless people are already badly hurt or something is awry. And someone else mentioned how they have them go for the pack animals. Well, now I'm thinking of all the pioneer stories involving panthers acting in exactly that way. And given how tense those often are, I think there's serious potential.

I think a good use for how infected animal bites can get is as a time thing. Make sure the characters know after a fight that they should be cleaning their wounds, and that takes time. And let them cheat with remove disease later if they really need it. But then, once they're used to it, have them in a race against time situation where they have to choose between treating their injuries and pressing on, and make them take the consequences.

I also really like the idea of running a PROPER expedition. Maybe have the campaign building up to the characters actually organizing the caravan with hirelings and all because if they don't there's no way they'll actually make it to The North Pole/The Lost City/The Far Side of the Desert. All those level 1 followers you get from Leadership not so useless NOW huh?

Speaking of a little familiarity damaging handwaving... that strikes me as implausible. When people have trade frequently enough to even talk about a market, they invent money. Some stable high-value commodity if no authority is providing something better. They do this even *despite* the local authorities, like cigarette 'money' in prisons. 'Barter' but with a standardized commodity of value.

If things are really bad and you barely have trade, then you don't really have market interaction. Even then, or especially then, I would guess most households would take either food or e.g. metal tools, if some passing adventurer wants to buy something the household can actually spare.
People really, really underestimate just how standardized a 'barter' economy can be. During the times when the norse were out and about, not only did you have standard costs across all of Europe but they were actually enforced.

Also I've been told that the go to currency in prisons, if you can get it, is actually snack food. Which is even more interesting.

And there is a huge piece of ignored realism for me. Anatomy and physiology of RPG creatures. Go ahead make a pegasus or a centaur that actually works biologically. I'll wait. Even if you hand wave the aerodynamics required for a horse to fly, I want to see how you attach and articulate the wings...
I was really amused when I realized that in My Little Pony the pegasi are actually drawn with the wing attached mid-body instead of the shoulder, like it's a third set of limbs. Because it is.

True, and then there's the whole well-established square/cube law thing for anything 'giant'. I think, though, that this is one area in which I'm generally happy to waive too-close adherence to real life rules; after all, the weirdest stuff generally tends to crop up in the already more fantastic settings whose actual (if of course fictional) in-setting reality has every excuse it needs to sneer at our world's plebeian notions of 'realism'. :)
There's a REASON most of my settings are actually on low gravity planets with a thick atmosphere. Plus that it's easy to put those around gas giants, and that means other worlds in relatively close reach.

Also, I find that magical biology actually gives you interesting potential. Why does the monster eat eyeballs and go out to howl at the full moon? That's how it fuels the magic that supports it's weight and lets it see in the dark...
 
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Dalillama

Registered User
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Also I've been told that the go to currency in prisons, if you can get it, is actually snack food. Which is even more interesting.
Cigarettes were banned in US prisons a while back, so the currency moved to things that were easier to get.
 
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