But...isn't there always a "but?" Maybe...BUT it also got me thinking this: do we really need another low-magic, medieval Europe game that's dark and gritty and realistic even in the abstract? Haven't I been doing too much of that kind of thing myself?
Actually, this has nothing to do with Mr. Taylor's project; his thing looks pretty cool. This is a post I've been wanting to write since...mmm, since about 20 minutes after I posted my last post on chopping spell saves.
One of the things I tried to do with Five Ancient Kingdoms was remove some of the "wa-hoo" factor of D&D while still keeping a "magical" feeling to it. That was not really a design goal I had PRIOR to starting the project: my original concept was something "gritty, low-magic, sword & sorcery-style" with "lots of sand and turbans." What I ended up with was Golden Age Islam and 1001 Arabian Nights. That's what happens when you try to find a way to justify clerics in a non-Western European setting.
ANYway, I like the end result (mostly), as it turned out plenty magical and yet less "wa-hoo" except in (perhaps) the way Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies are (at least they're grounded in some real world mythology/folklore). It's not all white-hooded assassins and blazing sword paladins and wizards blasting shit with fire and lightning. And yet...
And yet, as I work (off and on) on yet another FHB...this one smaller in scope and more basic in design (and more typical in dice shape)...I find myself wondering: should there be maybe just a bit more, "wahoo?"
I left fireballs and lightning bolts out of Five Ancient Kingdoms because it didn't fit with the Arabian Nights concept...didn't fit with the S&S concept for that matter. I wanted to keep the killing of things to cold steel, rather than elemental magic. Let fighters fight and magicians do...um..."magical things." Yes, the magical folks have a few spells that do auto-killing niftiness, but generally they aren't dealing damage with their magic.
And, when I consider the new game, I kind of like the idea of a sorcerer who can strike someone dead "with fire and lightning." Probably not a dragon, of course...but I do like the image from the film Dragonslayer where Ulrich is standing on a mountain, doing his Aleister Crowley impression, pulling lightning from the clouds. I kind of like the idea of "mystic lightning" in the same vein as, say, Return of the Jedi or Big Trouble in Little China.
|"See? That was nothing. But that's how it starts..."|
Anyway, the new FHB is supposed to be more fantastical, heroic in nature and, if not psychedelically outrageous, at least a bit more whimsical (and, yet, dark). Mood is a tough thing to convey through a design process, though some RPGs have succeeded in the past...not just with art and presentation, but with rules and mechanics.
So, since I've decided to axe saving throws, I think I can spare an extra page to add a few more spells to the list. This is shaping up to be a decent game...too bad it's going to be a few months before I can try play-testing it.