Thursday, October 6, 2011

Realism vs. Fantasy

So I saw a blog post recently, but I can't remember what it was.  It was an OSR blog, and I was thinking about the post lately, and...

...that's it.  Maybe someone will recognize the rant and shove me in the right direction?

Anyway, the author put forth the proposition that you shouldn't care about rational world design when it comes to the dungeon.  These monsters don't need to live in a logical ecology that worries about energy distribution; these monsters need to symbolically represent our fears.  I'm paraphrasing my rapidly decaying memory of the article when I say that orcs represent our fear of the prehuman ancestors we killed, while liches represent our fear of our politicians ruling us forever; nobody cares about how an owlbear gets nutrition out of the vermin scurrying around the dungeon, because the symbolism behind him is more important than ecology.

It gets back to noisms talking about non-banal D&D (and collating some stuff on the same topic here), and Zak's rebuttal here.

Basically: do you want to make a logical setting, or do you want to explore a weird, fantastical world of symbolism?

Some games imply an answer — we tend to just expect a certain level of realism from modern-day games — but the answer is highly subjective and pretty complex.

For example, you can bring the fantastical into the modern world — just watch anything made by David Lynch.

Also note some of the advice in the above blog posts.  You can always have a place where the fantastic holds sway.  Maybe civilization is held in place by the psychic residue of its residents, but the wild is wild.

As normal, something to consider.

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