PDA

View Full Version : SciFi in a fantasy setting?



Combatant
2007-12-22, 01:11 AM
Does it work? Is there a way to do it tastefully? Or would it just be like the Draeni in WoW?

psychoticbarber
2007-12-22, 01:18 AM
I'm not familiar with the Draeni, but I can give you some of my personal insights.

For me, it only really works when you have the PCs representing either the Fantasy or the Sci-Fi, and the antagonists representing the other side.

In the first case, you can run "Aliens Invade!", and in the second, you can run "How Much For Just The Planet" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Much_for_Just_the_Planet%3F), or "The Natives Can Alter The Forces Of The Universe Without Technology, And This Doesn't At All Bother You!?"

Mark Hall
2007-12-22, 01:24 AM
It can be done, but you need to consider your goals. What are you trying to accomplish by introducing Sci-fi into what's essentially a fantasy setting.

For example, there's a very old adventure called "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks". The adventure is a dungeon crawl, but instead of the standard D&D monsters in an abandoned complex somewhere, you're crawling through a spaceship. The bad guys are armed with energy weapons but, for all intents and purposes, they're pretty much no different than powerful wands, and the robots are slightly odd golems.

Now, if you're looking at making it a campaign feature, it CAN work, but you need to consider where it comes from and how it works. For example, I understand that Eberron includes some "magitek"... things that are equivalents of modern technology, but powered by magic. Conversely, you might consider Fading Suns; while the game is a blend of fantasy and science fiction, it's not hard to weight the game towards fantasy, with only occasional notes of sci-fi (a rare person with blasters or firearms). Many common technological items can be explained away as being the equivalent of magic in a more "standard" fantasy world.

Nerd-o-rama
2007-12-22, 01:24 AM
No, never do this, because if it wasn't in the works of JRR Tolkien, it is clearly Not D&D.

Yes, I'm sarcastic and bitter over other arguments happening right now.

horseboy
2007-12-22, 01:28 AM
Hmm, I've seen it tried several times. Stuff like Dragon's Gold or King Kobold, Tragg and the Sky Gods. Usually, it's "spaceship crashes on midevil world" type stuff. Every once in a while it's "degenerated space faring culture regressing into barbarism.
Which way were you looking to go?

Lemur
2007-12-22, 01:36 AM
I remember reading an interesting book by some 15 year old where the medieval society was all that was left of a once technologically advanced world. The BBEG was the only survivor from that world, and had access to technology. I don't think he did much himself (in classic BBEG fashion) other than escaping in his spaceship after his dragon was defeated.

Don't look at me like that, it was a decent story.

Anyway, yes it can be done, if you do it right. That applies to any sort of trope, though. The Draenei are messed up for more reasons than just their magic spaceships, so they're probably not a good representation of the concept as a whole.

Nebo_
2007-12-22, 01:48 AM
The best way to mix sci-fi and fantasy is to find something pointy and stab yourself as punishment for considering it. The very thought of mixing the two makes me feel dirty.

horseboy
2007-12-22, 01:53 AM
I remember reading an interesting book by some 15 year old where the medieval society was all that was left of a once technologically advanced world. The BBEG was the only survivor from that world, and had access to technology. I don't think he did much himself (in classic BBEG fashion) other than escaping in his spaceship after his dragon was defeated.

Don't look at me like that, it was a decent story.

Anyway, yes it can be done, if you do it right. That applies to any sort of trope, though. The Draenei are messed up for more reasons than just their magic spaceships, so they're probably not a good representation of the concept as a whole.

Did you read the one where the castle's weapons were old laser cannons from the original ship? And the "wizards" were using "demons" to instill viciousness and fearlessness into the troops, more like a psychological thing. Then they got invaded by these bug aliens, and an apprentice, through applying the scientific method figured out that they could dissolve the weapons and armour of the invaders with ammonia? Man, I've got to go looking for that story now.

Lemur
2007-12-22, 02:40 AM
The best way to mix sci-fi and fantasy is to find something pointy and stab yourself as punishment for considering it. The very thought of mixing the two makes me feel dirty.

http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u39/Syntarsus/spartalol.gif

I have too much free time.

Talic
2007-12-22, 03:04 AM
One of my favorite blends is the "Two worlds, Two rules" method. Just as different planes often have different rules that apply, you can make different planes that serve this.

Terry Brooks has a series starting with "Magic Kingdom for Sale: SOLD!" that shows this, there's an Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony, and if I recall, there's a book titled, "Echoes of the Fourth Magic" that blends the two, albeit not in the Two worlds method. Not sure if that one is by R.A. Salvatore or not.

KillianHawkeye
2007-12-22, 03:10 AM
For example, there's a very old adventure called "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks". The adventure is a dungeon crawl, but instead of the standard D&D monsters in an abandoned complex somewhere, you're crawling through a spaceship. The bad guys are armed with energy weapons but, for all intents and purposes, they're pretty much no different than powerful wands, and the robots are slightly odd golems.

Ugh. My last DM updated/ran this adventure in our 3.5 game. It pretty much caused the ruination of the game, since we are now playing something else without ever figuring out why we had to go there in the first place.

If I sign up to play D&D, then I want fantasy. If we're doing a modern or Sci-Fi setting, then that's fine, too. If you tell me in advance that we're mixing those genres, then I can get behind that as well. But I DON'T want to start out playing D&D and all of a sudden be in a Sci-Fi game with no warning or explaination.

Xuincherguixe
2007-12-22, 03:21 AM
It can work. Look at Star Wars. You can't really call that Science Fiction. (It's Science Fantasy!)

Some might disagree, but I think Shadowrun pulls it off fairly well. Magic gets misrepresented by the media ("Shoot a laser out of your mouth Mr. Wizard! What do you mean you don't know that spell, and what do you mean you're not even a spell casting magician? That doesn't make any sense, because I *know* every magician casts spells!") and a bleak corporate office filled with countless three walled prisons can grant toxic power. ("What do you mean that my questionable business decisions have made people so depressed that crazy magicians are sneaking in at night and summoning evil stuff? And like hell I'm going to make clearer orders, my orders are already clear. You're fired! ... What do you mean you're going visit upon me such horrors as I can't even begin to imagine, you can't do that to.... OH GOD! NO MAKE IT STOP! AUUUGGHHH")

But I got way off on a tangent (wee! More fun than Sines and Cosines!) It's doable.

Nebo_
2007-12-22, 05:02 AM
http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u39/Syntarsus/spartalol.gif

Lemur, stay where you are while I invent a device to cause physical pain through the internet.

Iku Rex
2007-12-22, 05:13 AM
I admit I've wanted to try a campaign where the PCs are standard fantasy heroes in a published campaign setting, and then a ship (or an invasion fleet) from the Dragonstar (http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/dragonstar.html) empire arrives.

Dragonstar:

Welcome to Dragonstar, a boundless universe of magic and machine, science and sorcery. Intrepid adventurers explore the Outlands in starships powered by fusion fire and arcane rituals. Dwarven prospectors work veins of pure adamantite in remote asteroid belts, and elven loremasters conduct secret experiments in living space stations. Grizzled mercenaries augment their bodies with bioengineered spellware, and orc raiders armed with pulse lasers massacre innocents on isolated colony worlds.

bosssmiley
2007-12-22, 05:24 AM
What sort of scifi in what sort of fantasy?

"Dragonstar" futuristic D&D with sci-fi trappings?
"Spelljammer" standard D&D in spaaaaaaace?
"Mystara" standard D&D w. kludged in "Metamorphosis Alpha" elements?
"Tekumel" or "Fading Suns"-style post historic ultratech-as-magic?

It *can* be done well, just so long as the blend isn't obviously grating. I've seen Protoss in a homebrew WFRP adventure before (got my coat at about that point...).

Pronounceable
2007-12-22, 06:15 AM
It's quite possible (as is everything imaginable) with a good DM. Or good writers to make the setting. Or even a good game developer, say Jeff Vogel. Ever heard of Geneforge (www.spiderwebsoftware.com/geneforge/index.html) series? A testament to awesomential of fantasy scifi IMO.

Although a bad merge will both suck and blow.

And someone above is right, Star Wars is as scifi as LotR.

Subotei
2007-12-22, 09:59 AM
Micheal Moorcock's Hawkmoon books are a good fantasy/sci-fi setting. Set in a future, post-apocalyptic Europe, thrown back to medieval style technology, apart from some technology resuced from the fall - rediscovered and/or devloped by sorcerers.

Felius
2007-12-22, 10:32 AM
It CAN be done well. But it's very hard to do appropriately, and for the sake on consistency, don't make a band of spear-and-bow-wielding-mounted-on-gryphons soldiers to defeat an army, or even to cause any significant damage to an army of space ships. Nor make a normal army of sword-and-shield soldiers to defeat a modern army with firearms. The previous case can't be simply done. The second, can only be justified as long as there is more fantasy soldiers then are bullets.

KIDS
2007-12-22, 11:58 AM
Well, it can be used, sometimes to great effect, but I'd use it sparingly. In this case since you referenced WoW's Draenei, I always held up Draenei as a good example of how something originally SciFi can be integrated very well into a fantasy setting. Gnomes were much worse offenders in that regard!

Armoury99
2007-12-22, 12:22 PM
Read Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny.

Its perfect.

Mark Hall
2007-12-22, 02:35 PM
I thought of another example: Steven Brust's Dragaera novels (primarily the Vlad Taltos series). In the first book, we learn that a couple people are interested in genetic research, and that Easterners and Dragaerans are both genetically engineered, as were the race of flying stakes called the jhereg.

Of course, you also learn about reincarnation, magic, psychics, etc.

Damn, I wish I could afford that license.

Zenos
2007-12-22, 02:41 PM
I have been thinking about simply have the aliens crash on Earth, and then most of the firearms are destroyed along with lots of other advanced technology, leaving items which coincidentaly are very similar to magic, like powered swords.

Combatant
2007-12-22, 03:40 PM
What I wanted to do was to introduce the Krall and Skaarj from Unreal. Essentially what they would be is advanced lizard men with blasters. If you ever read the Hard Crash and Prophet's Power, they landed, and promptly took over. The only thing is Im not sure about introducing a much higher tech level to my world. (Im running along the lines of the Golden Age of Piracy) It would be difficult to overcome, and my players would have a challange.

I want to start branching out into planer adventures, but the magic level isn't very high. So Im going to have to introduce some other way to get out there.


And to clarify on my starter post, the Dranei got crappy SciFi on my epic fantasy. The gnomes were barely tolerated as it was, lol. (But I do have a Dranei shaman, and having fun)

Mark Hall
2007-12-22, 04:48 PM
What are the limits of this technology? Someone coming in with a ton of new power can be great, but what are the limitations? Do they have limited power (not just per weapon, but overall)? Are they limited to staying within a certain radius of their power sources? Or is the power effectively unlimited, and their limitation is manpower?

If they're low on power, they're going to be big on showing off and not having to spend their precious energy cells. If they have to stay near their ship (or other power source), how are they going to get what they need? If they have low manpower, are they going to absorb another race as their servitors, or are they just going to try and smash all opposition, no matter what?

Basically, figure out what motivates them while they're on the planet. Conquest is all well and good, but once they get there, what problems do they have? That's going to motivate them to their actions... filling in their weak spots, while making sure their strengths don't go to waste.

....
2007-12-22, 04:55 PM
The default D&D setting has a crashed spaceship in it, as well as portals to Earth.

Just saying.

ForzaFiori
2007-12-22, 06:21 PM
One of my favorite blends is the "Two worlds, Two rules" method. Just as different planes often have different rules that apply, you can make different planes that serve this.

Terry Brooks has a series starting with "Magic Kingdom for Sale: SOLD!" that shows this, there's an Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony, and if I recall, there's a book titled, "Echoes of the Fourth Magic" that blends the two, albeit not in the Two worlds method. Not sure if that one is by R.A. Salvatore or not.

Another good example would be the "Myth Inc." books by Robert Asprin. Lots of different worlds, all with different levels of science and magic. some (such as Klad, a major world in the series) has low levels of both, while others (such as Perv, another major world) has high levels of both. Then there are worlds with high magic and low tech, and vis-versa.