Ignor

Norm Johnson alleges that there is an undiscovered planet which has roughly the same orbit as the Earth, but constantly on the opposite side of the sun so that it is never seen.

Ignor appears to have no gravitational effect on anything else. Johnson alleges that the sun and other planets are engaged in a “politically-correct feminist conspiracy” to hide the truth.

A Long Time Ago, in the Final Frontier

"Your reign of terror over the blue guys from Avatar is at an end, Ming the Merciless!"

I’m sure a lot of people who read this blog also read Grognardia, and that some of you have read this post.

For those that haven’t, James Maliszewski’s basic argument is that D&D was successful partly because it had a very broad understanding of ‘fantasy’, and allowed people to combine elements from different sources. So you could have a Conan-like barbarian in the same party as a martial artist monk and a Tolkien-style dwarf, and they could be fighting creatures from horror films. In my experience most players don’t notice this, because they’re familiar with D&D-style fantasy and not familiar with its ingredients except perhaps Tolkien. In fact when people say ‘fantasy’ they often mean D&D-style fantasy.

He goes on to say that “There’s never really been a science fiction game that’s successfully adopted a similar approach…”

The reason I’m writing this is that I’m taking over DMing duties in my gaming group. I’m going to be running a version of d6 Star Wars (I’m looking at Mini Six, but I’m planning to change it a bit), and I was looking at doing exactly the sort of campaign that James M. seems to be talking about, which combines elements from lots of different science fiction (I’m defining ‘science fiction’ here to mean ‘adventure stories but in space’).

The thing is, James Maliszewski makes this sound like an unprecedented and fiendishly difficult undertaking.

I’ve been assuming that this would be reasonably easy. For example Star Wars and Firefly both assume that space will like the world of Westerns. The Alliance in Firefly are like the Federation in Star Trek as seen by their enemies. Star Wars and Avatar both have elements of the Barsoom series.

In any case, settings that don’t fit could be limited to particular planets, in the same way that ewoks are isolated from the main society of Star Wars (incidentally, to me the Na’vi from Avatar and the green martians of Barsoom look more like typical Star Wars aliens than ewoks do).

And another ‘in any case’; I don’t think that role-playing really is, as people sometimes claim, like¬†collaboratively creating a novel or film. In my experience it’s more like collaboratively creating terrible fan-fiction (and hopefully having fun doing so). And I’m sure that there’s fan-fiction with more jarring mashups than having the Russian mafia guy from Firefly as a rival to Jabba the Hutt.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a very good DM (going by my success in setting up long-term campaigns anyway. People seem to enjoy my games). So I wonder if I’ve underestimated the difficulty of the task. Please share your experiences in the comments.

Question about recent fantasy

I haven’t read much published, recently-written fantasy, other than Terry Pratchett. For example I’ve never read any of the Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time series. I started to read Twilight and one of the Harry Potter books, but I didn’t finish either of them. So, I’m hoping that someone who’s read more can answer this question.

In books which were about fantasy worlds, it seems like it used to be very common to have the main character be someone from the real world who went there and learned about it along with the reader. Obvious examples are John Carter on Barsoom and the various children in the Narnia series. There are counter-examples like Conan and the Gormenghast books, but it seems like that was the normal approach before, say, 1960.

I do a lot of critiquing of other amateur writers’ work, and a large proportion of that is fantasy. I can’t think of any examples of amateur stories I’ve read where the main character is from our world. In fact I can’t think of any examples, other than science fiction, where the world of the story is stated to have any relationship to the real world at all.

Come to think of it, this is true even in stories which have a Twilight / Buffy / Anne Rice style setting where monsters exist in an otherwise recognisable modern world. In the amateur stories of that kind that I’ve read, the main character starts with the knowledge that witches / vampires / vampire slayers exist, and indeed is often one of them, whether or not the general populace knows about them.

Is this true of work that actually gets published? I know the main character from Twilight starts by not knowing about vampires, and I think Harry Potter works in a similar way. Would having main characters from the real world make a book seem ‘retro’ or dated?