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Friday, November 27th, 2009
2:59a - Advancement
One of the things my wife and I tend to complain about when involved in RPGs is the 'advancement of society' -- to wit, the lack of advancement.  Take a look at Krynn before the Cataclysm, and take a look at it at the 'modern age', and you won't see many differences in the advancement of society.  Take a look at most fantasy RPGs, and a thousand or two thousand years can pass, and the advancement of society is a drop in the bucket.  Star Wars is horrible for this.  I'm involved in a post-KotoR RPG, and I'm looking through the sourcebooks, and there's no real advancement of technology present.  Well, I just peeked at Guild Wars 2, and it is set a mere 250 years after GW1.  In that time, the Asura have created reliable automatons to walk around and crush things for them, and the Charr have firearms (apparently, with a 'twist').  I'm dying for this to be an RPG -- being able to see the advancement of civilization is a wonderful thing for me.

I've heard people say that in a fantasy setting, the technology / civilization growth isn't that important, the story is the important part, and the rest of it is just wallpaper to let you tell the story.  I consider that lazy thinking, really -- society is defined by the technology around it, which alters the culture, which alters your way of thinking.  These changes may start slow as a culture builds itself, but as it progresses it begins to wind up, the changes coming faster as the ability to change things becomes easier or more spread out through society.

Even a 'cataclysmic' event will only go so far.  Unless you reset all of society to 'zero', it will recover, and it will recover faster than it required to get to that point in the first place.  On Krynn, a fiery rock dropped on the heart of the continent, wiping out the core of society.  Fair enough, I'd consider that a... significant... setback.  The gods themselves turned back on civilization.  Fair enough.  This creates a fairly important need in civilization.  Those regions remote from the impact still exist, and probably haven't lost much.  The gods turning their back?  A big thing, and that need would probably force a rather significant push forward, as alternate methods to compensate for the loss of clerical magic is researched and civilization moves ahead.  350 years between the Cataclysm and the start of the War of the Lance?  Take a look at what 350 years can do to a society.  Say, 1200 AD to 1550 AD.  Or 1500 AD to 1800 AD.  Or 1650 AD to the present.  Some regions, of course, will advance faster than others.  I'll admit some places on Ascalon would have moved ahead slower (the closer you are to Ground Zero), but the further away the nations are, the less impact the event would have, and the easier it would be for them to compensate.  Add to this the fact that those areas harder hit would probably be absorbed by their more powerful neighbours.

I've also heard the argument that magic would slow down the advancement of technology -- that the 'need' for technology would be curbed.  Very unlikely, I think.  Magic in most settings is restricted to the middle/upper class, meaning the middle/lower class is still working through mundane methods.  This means that they're more likely to innovate and adjust, technologically, as the demand is there for efficiency and greater production.  On top of this, of course, is magical innovation, those people who want to improve on magical theorems and rituals, not to mention the blending of magic and technology, applying magical principles and rites to help progress society.

That last bit, I'm certain, would progress civilization faster, not slower.

Honestly, it feels like, in most cases, this trope applies.  I'm glad I've found an exception, a shame it is an online game and not an RPG...


current mood: contemplative

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1:50p - d20 Horror
Okay. I'm running an apocalyptic horror campaign using the d20 Modern rules with the Sanity rules stolen from d20 Call of Cthulhu.

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My question is, does anyone have any suggestions on how to maintain a horror atmosphere, both in-game and out? Any other suggestions or questions relating to mechanics, monsters, or just anything?

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