Finding My Fantasy

It’s no secret that I like my fantasy grounded and toned-down from the super-powered glitz that seems so popular in the realms of computer and tabletop roleplaying games. But what kind of a fantasy am I seeking and why can I not quite seem to work out how to build it?

I think my strongest influences and ideas lie in a form of European Dark Ages or Early Medieval culture with an overlay of magic and mystery. In many ways, I feel a kind of alternate Earth is most familiar and understandable but I wish to layer in elements of classical fantasy.

Yet other periods of history tempt me: the era of Classical Greece was once the subject of an attempt to build “Heroic Mykenea”, a fantasy that blended real-world geography and low-fantasy swords and sorcery with Classical Greek legend.

Perhaps the longest niggle in my brain has been to take things back to the time of prehistory. I have many times read GURPS Ice Age and pondered the later eras of the Stone Age, such as the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Ages. The appeal here is the lack of historical data and the ease with which a culture might be infused with magic.

The task is to decide. There is a need to channel both the heart – my desires and interests – along the harder contours of the mind – studying those elements which might offer a good root from which to build play. But there is also the imperative to make the game one which offers the players a clear and interesting direction of play. What do they spend their time doing?

Thank goodness that I have an ample shelf of inspiring and informative books from which to draw some ideas. Perhaps the simplest place to start is with a pencil, paper, and the guidelines from GURPS Fantasy.

Game on!

One comment

  1. I have a similar desire. No fireballs, no glowing lights swirling. I wanted my magic to be real and effective in the setting, but to be more like the Three Witches of the Scottish Play or the Witch of Endor, or like the 11th chapter of The Odyssey or the Daemons of Michael Psellus. GURPS gives me advantages like Medium and Channeling and Oracle and Visualization (with Blessing and Cursing). One-skill only Imbuement with Ghostly Weapon and Exorcism provides another direction to approach similar things, as do Skills like Meditation or Dreaming. And of course there’s the section on Technicians of the Sacred in Low-Tech Companion 1. As you can tell, I like my fantasy a little on the darker side, so Horror has a lot to recommend it as well, especially its spirits and demons and the like. If I want something a little more directly effective, but still not flashy, there’s always Path/Book Magic, as long as the more dramatic Paths like Elements are kept out, or in the case of ones like Cunning or Technology are stripped of the more egregious Rituals.

    Liked by 1 person

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