I’ve been listening to a lot of roleplaying podcasts lately and one thing that I always notice when someone is playing D&D or Pathfinder or some other fantasy system, at least when they’re playing them seriously, is that I really lose interest very quickly. I’m fine when they’re playing for laughs, but when they want the listener to take what they’re doing seriously, I just can’t do it. Fantasy roleplaying, to me at least, is a complete waste of time and here’s why.
I want a universe that is, at least potentially, understandable. I want to be able to figure out how things work. I may never actually do so, I just want to know that it is possible, should my character put the time and effort into doing so. With magic, that’s simply not an option. You can’t figure out magic. You can’t dissect it, you can’t study it, it just happens because, well, it’s magic.
And that’s essentially the problem that I have with it when people say “I’m going to cast magic missle!” What they’re really saying is “I’m going to break the rules of reality!” There is a fundamental difference between pulling out a laser blaster and pulling out a magical spell, even if neither of them actually exist right now. We can imagine that one might exist one day, the other never will.
I’ve found, at least in my experience, that the roleplaying narrative is completely different between the two systems. Sure, you can play a really cheesy setting with sci-fi elements, but that’s not what I want to play either. I want to play a serious science fiction game, serious in the sense that you take it seriously and treat it seriously, and I simply cannot do that with fantasy, period. As soon as people start pointing wands at each other, I lose any seriousness I might have had and burst out laughing.
Plus the fact, I want to move forward, not back. I have absolutely no love for the past, I care where we’re going, not where we’ve been and fantasy is going entirely the wrong direction IMO. I’m fine with a good story told in a fantasy setting, but I have no interest in playing through that setting. Fantasy is where it was, science fiction is where it will be. If I’m going to play a game, I want to be where it’s going to be.
And then there’s the suspension of disbelief, which I simply cannot maintain in a fantasy setting. I’m a hyper-rational person and while the things I enjoy don’t have to be real, they have to have a ring of realism to them. They have to at least be reasonable. And I have no interest in escapism. I’m perfectly happy with reality as it is, I don’t need to make up a magical realm to live in because I’m miserable with real life. I don’t get people like that at all. Games are about adventures, not escape for me. I can do things I can’t really do in reality in a game but that doesn’t mean I prefer the game world to the real world. I can play a game and then get back to reality. I’ll never understand those who never want to live in the real world.
Which, of course, makes me a much different gamer than a lot of other people, and why I have such a hard time finding good people worth playing with. But that’s a subject for another post, I suppose. I still love playing games, I just want to play the games that appeal to me, as most do. It just isn’t fantasy that interests me, I’m looking to a bright future, not an imaginary past.