Friday, November 2, 2012

Ulverland Uber Alles

Andrew Shields over at Fictive Fantasies (the blog formerly known as "Between Are the Doors") is just about finished with his tome - "The World Between for Fictive Hack". Fictive Hack is Andrew's own hack of his Old School Hack, which is his fantasy role playing simulacrum.

My apologies to Andrew, but I have not spent much time researching his creations, but we do share the inspiration of Jack Shear's "World Between".

Andrew makes a compelling case for how well-suited Shear's world of gothic horrors and wonders is for his Old School Hack game. One of his points is that in Dungeons & Dragons, your character's level progression pulls away from any real notion of danger or fear within the campaign. The visceral terrors of The World Between are less effective on players coming from a perspective of "oh look! a new monster to fight!"

I can definitely understand that, but what I love about my current campaign, is that my players are all used to the shiny flash of Warhammer or the churning engine of 4th Edition. Dropping them in a miserable fen, in the midst of a ruined necropolis somewhere in Ulverland, leaving them to their own devices, forcing them to think on their character's level and figure out their own way out of the mess, has become a revelation for them. At the lowly 2nd level, there is much to be feared.

It's always strange for me to be playing in someone else's sandbox. When I played 3rd Edition, I bought the lavish Forgotten Realms guidebook, only to never look at it. It was too overwhelming, too many dates and places to remember. Too much information that I felt like I had to incorporate. I just wanted to make my own worlds. But what I love about Jack Shear's World Between, is that it is a real pleasure to work with. It's the sort of game world that I would have liked to build and because it's new and accessible,  I love being able to build within it. Rather than a strict set of places and names, we get a description of the cultures and the "flavor" of the places.

I've never cared for any technological advances in my games, especially gunpowder and firearms. They pull me too far out of the setting and they feel like such an anomaly in the worlds that I like to conjure up. If there were guns, then why would this character want to even wield a sword? If guns were available, I imagine everyone would just stop making swords and armor, and pursue the making of firearms.

Even traditionally Science Fiction elements are strangely off-putting to me. "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" frustrated me to no end as a kid. "Oh! This is the module where you find a spaceship!" While I loved Star Wars and I loved the endless stream of post-apocalyptic films, comics, artwork, murals on custom vans that filled the 70s and 80s, I just didn't want it in my fantasy. Even now, I can't really describe what bugs me about different genres playing nicely together. I suppose it has something to do with the original appeal of swords and sorcery. You succeed by your strength and wits. Live and die by the sword. I don't know, the riddle of steel, something like that. The sudden appearance of a rogue robot or a laser pistol weakens the framework.

But that's just me. Enough of my yackin' go check out Andrew's site and get hackin'!

Apologies to Martin DiBergi

1 comment:

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