Why Fantasy?

DavetheLost

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I have one PC who has been captured in my campaign right now and it is causing a problem. That one PC is tied up in a cellar. Hopefully the rest of the party will rescue him early next session.

If you want to do a captured PCs scenario it is usually best to start the scenario with them already captured, and even then be ready for pushback.
 

jorganos

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I have one PC who has been captured in my campaign right now and it is causing a problem. That one PC is tied up in a cellar. Hopefully the rest of the party will rescue him early next session.

If you want to do a captured PCs scenario it is usually best to start the scenario with them already captured, and even then be ready for pushback.
Ugh. Possible in episodic gaming after a cliff-hanger, but about the worst way to start a new scenario.
Step 1: have the players create and equip their characters.
Step 2: strip them of all equipment.
Step 3: start the scenario.

Step 4: take a turn as a player while someone else does the GMing.

You can mitigate this by asking the players which special effects they manage to keep or to hide in recoverable spots after step 2, but a significant amount of character identification comes with the character accoutrements and props.

The typical James Bond capture scene is different - the protagonists (usually Bond and his girl of the week, occasionally an agent of a rival service who might or might not be the girl of the week) enter the villain's lair on occasion of a social event. Bond and partner pack lightly in terms of firepower, but carry a number of concealed Chekhov's gun gimmicks provided by Q. The gun usually is confiscated - quite probably already at the entrance of the event, after all the license to kill is a well known feature in those circles, and Bond only rarely manages to carry off a disguise. The villain gloats, often before springing the trap. The trap closes, and Bond is facing his first capture. Gimmick's 1 or 2 plus possibly outside help get him out of the fix, with several goons and possibly a lieutenant of the villain overcome.

Next part sees the black ops insertion of Bond into the villain's facility. This part of the scenario doesn't have an automatic capture feature, but it happens every now and then. Allies of Bond betray him, allies of the villain (often under duress) come to his aid, lots of Mexican stand-off in the meantime. The villain activates his doomsday command and leaves the scene, Bond and allies manage a last minute damage control. Sometimes they catch up with the villain, sometimes the villain recurs in a later sequel.


In a fairly standard fantasy dungeon crawl, I had an almost TPK situation that I turned into a capture of the majority of the PCs instead. One of the characters who managed to escape undetected led an expedition of different PCs (and players) to rescue them. Fun for me, fun for the rescuing party, and only a cliffhanger of bummer for the captured PCs of the first party. Some feathers ruffled, the nimbus of invincibility ruffled, nothing worse.

This happened early on in my long-running campaign on that game world (which saw some GMing by other players in the same general world) and probably set the expectations of my party that captivity wasn't equivalent with annihilation. They even returned the favor in a memorable fight where a last breath attack against a sizeable dragon which knocked it out (critical to the head, giant strength, not enough to kill it in one blow) led to them releasing the dragon and taking only three magic items each from the hoard as their ransom. Most other parties might have killed that dragon for a chance to have a Siegfried bath in its blood, a potentially deadly and potentially very armoring process, but this party decided to return to their main mission instead.
 

DavetheLost

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If I am starting a scenario with the PCs captured and held prisoner I straight up tell the players at character generation not to bother with equipment. And I almost always start the scenario with clear possibilities for escape. If they have equipment I make sure they have an opportunity to recover it early in the adventure.

Bond style capture and escape requires players willing to not fight to death to avoid capture under any circumstances...
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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If I am starting a scenario with the PCs captured and held prisoner I straight up tell the players at character generation not to bother with equipment. And I almost always start the scenario with clear possibilities for escape. If they have equipment I make sure they have an opportunity to recover it early in the adventure.

Bond style capture and escape requires players willing to not fight to death to avoid capture under any circumstances...
Yeah. Its hard enough to make a capture scenario seriously irritating for people; being coy about it at the start of a campaign is pretty much a formula for failure.
 

Solarn

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It has been mentioned before, but I think a big reason is scale and detail. A fantasy setting is a single planet (even if it's not actually a planet), where a major location is a city or dungeon that can be intricately detailed almost down to the level of individual inhabitants in the space of a chapter in a sourcebook, and the spaces between those locations can be given the same, or almost the same level of detail to make the world feel alive. A sci-fi setting is an entire universe where a major location is a planet, which needs much more space to describe in much less detail, and the space between those locations is literally space, where the best you can do is slap an encounter table on it for encountering other ships or negative space wedgies, because otherwise it's just empty void.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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A sci-fi setting is an entire universe where a major location is a planet, which needs much more space to describe in much less detail, and the space between those locations is literally space, where the best you can do is slap an encounter table on it for encountering other ships or negative space wedgies, because otherwise it's just empty void.
This seems to have a pretty narrow definition of what constitutes a sci-fi setting.
 

Ulzgoroth

Mad Scientist
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This seems to have a pretty narrow definition of what constitutes a sci-fi setting.
Not a terribly uncommon one, though. There are other kinds of sci-fi settings, but ones where players are expected to travel between planets through space fairly often are not a small share... Though in such a situation, a given planet usually only has a handful of significant locations.

Though I'd contest that anything that could be called a city is not going to be detailed that deeply. Even something as small as a town of 1000 people is big enough to fill a tome if you really detailed it.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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Not a terribly uncommon one, though. There are other kinds of sci-fi settings, but ones where players are expected to travel between planets through space fairly often are not a small share... Though in such a situation, a given planet usually only has a handful of significant locations.

Though I'd contest that anything that could be called a city is not going to be detailed that deeply. Even something as small as a town of 1000 people is big enough to fill a tome if you really detailed it.
Yeah, I'm not sure it matters whether a town or a planet is painted in broad strokes. And it seems odd to not class a cyberpunk setting as sci-fi if you're going to split them up. Or, one, say, where you're fighting against an alien invasion.
 

DavetheLost

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Blue Planet is a science fiction RPG set on a single planet. The planet is fairly well detailed. It is in fact the only planet detailed for the game, even Earth is not really detailed.
 

steamee

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Fantasy is popular because GMs are running it.

The reasons can be any number and combination of the 18-pages of explanations so far, but one thing might just be because it's easy to run.

The sheer amount of GM resources is one thing for an aging gaming population with RL issues. Pre-made monsters, lots of modules, YT gaming advice, and probably a large community of users (I wouldn't know as I haven't run D&D since the early 1990s).

Running a typical dungeon is easy compared to say a CoC mystery. The constrained environments, technology, and play style (e.g. murder hobos) make it easy. If you started with D&D as a GM then creating games for that specific genre is easier. I had only really DM'd AD&D back when I started and any detour to SF or modern seemed stupidly difficult (What? No gold pieces? Why would the players even get out of bed?). It wasn't until I did a tour of GMing supers did I break out of the constraints of D&D play constructs (e.g. level progression, inventory management, magic item focus, looting & killing = XP, player vs GM, system mastery and optimization, etc).

Clearly people enjoy the D&D play style and that's fine. What I'm suggesting is that if D&D style fantasy has been 90% of a GM's experience it can result in a kind of creative stagnation that is hard to break out of even if they want. This is doubly so when you're trying to break out of a system that probably has the most GM support in the industry (assuming you have the money). And so, where your GM goes so do the players and the self-selection continues.
 
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