Friday, April 15, 2011

M: Magitech and Mecha

My go-to game is D&D of many stripes, and always has been; and yet when I look at the bookshelf behind me the fantasy games are outnumbered by the scifi games:

- Pathfinder

- Mekton Zeta
- Alternity
- Jovian Chronicles
- Traveller

It's an interesting dichotomy to be sure, but I would be a rank liar if I said that nothing science-tech-mechanical made it into my D&D games. Readers of this blog know my fascination with magitech and magical clockworks; there's been at least one flying mecha-ship, in the form of a bird of prey, and the number of robots living statues and similar such non-fleshy beasties is by no means small.

This works for me, obviously -- the basic idea if still the same, after all, only the trappings and the exterior appearance has been adapted to fit. This is better than trying to shoehorn straight-up mecha into a D&D game in my opinion; that kind of jarring juxtaposition can wreak havoc unless handled very carefully and I freely admit to preferring being "sneaky" about the subject. It causes fewer moments of cognitive dissonance for my players, I get to be creative with descriptions, and it neatly dodges the whole "you're putting scifi in my D&D baaaaww" I've occasionally been forced to listen to. (see also: psionics.)

... Well, unless I ever write up that Voltron adaptation. Then the giant-robots-in-"fantasy"-world scenario just might make sense.


trollsmyth said...

I'm not sure which is my favorite fantasy mecha: the gate to the Goblin City in the movie "Labyrinth" or the guymelefs from "Vision of Escaflowne." But yes, I rarely do that sort of thing myself.

Adam Dickstein said...

Anime - Aura Battler Dunbine

Manga - Rune Masquer

RPG - Wares Blade

Console Game - White Knight Chronicle

All Japanese, all examples of medieval fantasy (or roughly so) settings using giant robots that are not necessarily science tech based but more magical constructs or magitech if you must.

I could name about 10-15 others but I'm tired from three very long, very tough work days back to back. Love to talk about it sometime.

Only run a few campaigns like this myself but there are at least four 60 ft. mecha on my mainstay D&D homebrew world.

Anonymous said...

I once ran the companion-level D&D module Earthshaker, scaled down somewhat for expert-level characters...

My players were not impressed.

Nor did they like the Blackmoor modules.


Chris said...

Fading Suns renaissance-in-space setting played around with the 'sufficiently advanced' thing in a fun way. (back before the setting succumbed to splat sprawl)

The in-game slang for the few dysfunctional, centuries-old robots left over from the Golden Age was "golems".

Big bulky construction robots were called ogres (and treated as such by the commons), the few remaining warbots were stylised as ninja or knights in full plate, etc.

The leftover computers were treated as magical talking puzzle boxes and oracles.

NaldoDrinan said...

I have had at least two players in two distinct groups flat out say they would not play in a game focusing on Mecha, fantasy or otherwise. This has always been a huge disappointment for me.

I do still manage to fit some giant robots in nearly every campaign I run. I've been debating on home-brewing some mecha rules for S&W/LL inspired by mutant future's power armor and Exalted's Warstrider rules...