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deltaKshatriya

Why Are There Fewer Sci-Fi RPGs Than Fantasy Ones?

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On 8/9/2018 at 2:58 PM, a light breeze said:

99+% of RPGs are about a small band of adventurers running around and fighting monsters.  This works better in a medieval-or-earlier context than it does in a modern or futuristic one due to long-running historical trends, such as:

  • The evolution of weapon technology.  A small band of adventurers can do reasonably well against monsters armed with swords, but can't do much of anything against nukes.
  • The consolidation of states.  A small band of adventurers can make a large difference in a tribe of a few hundred members, but not so much in a modern nation-state with a population of millions.
  • The increased ability of the state to suppress small-scale conflicts.  People are more likely to die in huge wars involving millions of people, but far less likely to be murdered by brigands when traveling from one town to another.
  • The move from violence to other means for solving conflicts.  More lawsuits, boycotts, political campaigns, predatory business practices, restraining orders, and prisons.  Less actual killing.

 

That's a great way to explain it off. :)

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Admittedly maybe hard Sci-Fi was the wrong term. 

Apologies that I'm having a difficult time explaining this. It seems to be more of a feeling than anything else really @swiftcoder. I guess the impact of Tolkien is pretty high of course on the RPG genre.

On 8/8/2018 at 5:07 PM, Scouting Ninja said:

You are absolutely correct. There is actually a whole High Fantasy list that is considered just as geeky as Sci-Fi. It two suffers from the same fate as Sci-Fi.

Fantasy does a little bit better because most people know what a Dwarf, Elf and Orc is. However games like Age Of Wonders that is heavy on the fantasy lore, suffers as much as any Sci-Fi game to get new players interested.

 

If you search: "Sci-Fi Space Opera computer games" you will find a lot of Sci-Fi RPG games, some heavy focused on space battles. Star Ocean and Final Fantasy are more Sci-Fantasy than Sci-Fiction; if that is what type you are looking for.

My theory was that fantasy and high fantasy are just better escapism since they are so dissociated from reality. Sci-Fi doesn't really dissociate from reality as well. 

On 8/8/2018 at 8:04 PM, Hodgman said:

Sci-fi isn't about space, futuristic guns, and technology. Sci-fi is first and foremost about society and people reacting to new technology. If you have a story set in space, it's not necessarily sci-fi. If you have a story set in space where the implications of space-travel on the fabric of society are examined, then it's sci-fi.

If you have a story set in the modern day, and the social impact of some minor bit of technology is explored via a plot, then it's Sci-fi.

If you have a story set in space with cool space guns and robot suits, but there's no commentary or examination of the consequences of this technology on the people that inhabit the world, then it's not sci-fi, it's just fantasy too.

If you have a story set in medieval times where someone discovers how to transmute lead into gold, and how to cast fireballs via combinations of runes, it could also be sci fi if the plot is about how society reacts to these new inventions.

Hard sci-fi is about using real, known science and keeping things factual and plausible. Soft sci-fi uses magic, just like fantasy, but usually in the form of technobabble.

Like I said, hard sci-fi is a bit of a misnomer from me. I agree with you entirely. I guess I'm examining setting more than anything else though?

On 8/9/2018 at 2:28 AM, a light breeze said:

99+% of RPGs are about a small band of adventurers running around and fighting monsters.  This works better in a medieval-or-earlier context than it does in a modern or futuristic one due to long-running historical trends, such as:

  • The evolution of weapon technology.  A small band of adventurers can do reasonably well against monsters armed with swords, but can't do much of anything against nukes.
  • The consolidation of states.  A small band of adventurers can make a large difference in a tribe of a few hundred members, but not so much in a modern nation-state with a population of millions.
  • The increased ability of the state to suppress small-scale conflicts.  People are more likely to die in huge wars involving millions of people, but far less likely to be murdered by brigands when traveling from one town to another.
  • The move from violence to other means for solving conflicts.  More lawsuits, boycotts, political campaigns, predatory business practices, restraining orders, and prisons.  Less actual killing.

Interesting perspective. I guess that it is more difficult story/setting wise to create a compelling adventure. Fantasy does seem easier, since there's also inherently fewer rules to abide by.

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28 minutes ago, deltaKshatriya said:

Fantasy does seem easier, since there's also inherently fewer rules to abide by.

Could sci-fi possibly have any more rules than DnD? Jeminsin has an entertaining rant on the topic.

But seriously, high fantasy is just very familiar to Western audiences, which makes it a very safe bet for Western publishers. By contrast, very little high fantasy comes out of Japan (or goes in, for that matter).

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On 8/8/2018 at 8:04 PM, Hodgman said:

Sci-fi isn't about space, futuristic guns, and technology. Sci-fi is first and foremost about society and people reacting to new technology. If you have a story set in space, it's not necessarily sci-fi. If you have a story set in space where the implications of space-travel on the fabric of society are examined, then it's sci-fi.

I just want to say it warms my geek heart to see someone else on the internet FINALLY say this! I'm always telling people this.

Anyway, for me, it's because most actual Sci-Fi settings like Deus Ex and stuff are simply too dark and depressing, because that is the nature of Sci Fi; you can't really tell a compelling tale if the consequences of the future tech and events is all rainbows and lollipops. The real world is already looking a bit too much like Blade Runner as it is.

Fantasy settings like Middle Earth or Star Wars are romantic adventures with tons of charm and fun to be had; it's pure escapism and imagination and that's what I like about those movies, games, etc.

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I think there's a large segment of the population who feel incompetent around high technology and dislike anything they don't understand, so they just stay away from it. Fantasy for the most part doesn't need any explanation and anything weird is explained with magic, which isn't supposed to be understood so they're good with that.  

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On 8/10/2018 at 4:12 PM, swiftcoder said:

Could sci-fi possibly have any more rules than DnD? Jeminsin has an entertaining rant on the topic.

But seriously, high fantasy is just very familiar to Western audiences, which makes it a very safe bet for Western publishers. By contrast, very little high fantasy comes out of Japan (or goes in, for that matter).

That's interesting, I didn't really know that Japan doesn't have much of a market for high fantasy. Though in some ways it makes sense, since high fantasy is very pertinent to Western norms in some ways.

But fantasy can make up rules and try to stay within those rules. Sci-fi has to be somewhat tied to reality (I say somewhat in the loosest sense of the term, since Star Wars is technically sci-fi but we do have fighters banking and turning in space as if it were an aerial dogfight).

On 8/11/2018 at 8:23 PM, Old Soul said:

I think there's a large segment of the population who feel incompetent around high technology and dislike anything they don't understand, so they just stay away from it. Fantasy for the most part doesn't need any explanation and anything weird is explained with magic, which isn't supposed to be understood so they're good with that.  

Pretty interesting take as well. 

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