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7/19/2019 2:14 pm  #1


JRPG's and Sword & Sorcery Fiction

I came across an interesting article yesterday at Gizmodo and I've been thinking about it since.  My upbringing in fiction and gaming was Tolkien and Gygax respectively. The books I read now and the games I play now are sprung from those antecedents, and are what I'm most comfortable with.  Of course, I've varied my tastes in the decades since, going from the narrow and deep to broad and well, not as maniacally deep as when I was a teen.  I've gained some perspective and shall I say discernment, and maybe even some taste.  But I still know what I like.  And what I like is Sword & Sorcery fiction and the games inspired by it.

For the tl;dr crowd, the article describes how modern fantasy fiction by younger authors has been inspired by the jrpg's (electronic Japanese RPG's like Zelda etc...) of the 90's and later.  I know there is a synergistic effect between the gaming community and people who read books, since there is a good bit of overlap in a community that tends to like the same things at the same time (i.e. Nerds).  For me, I started firmly in the analog camp, pen & paper rpg and the books that inspired them, but fantasy fiction had a firm head start of many decades before tabletop rpg's showed up in the 70's. The role playing gamers of that period were steeped in Conan, Fafhrd,& the GM, Elric, Hobbits and such, and their games looked like it.  Fast-forward, and now the games are influencing the fiction and the kids growing up with those games are now writing the books we read. 

It's this reversal in direction of influence that for me marks a generational difference between how I see gaming and what I feel is the get-off-mah-lawn proper way to do it, vs new school gaming that, go figure, is more closely based on cooperative tactics and a narrative structure that is less sand-boxy than old-school gaming. The jrpg's basically chucked the Euro-centric model (for the most part) and just did whatever they thought made a good story.  For me, this meant a disorientation because the game-play didn't reflect what I thought a game should be.

I'm not wanting to get ahead of my skis here, but I'll make my point in a second.  I am in a gaming group of mixed ages, I'd guess between 30's and 50's, and we've had some interesting discussions about the influences of old pulp S&S fiction on the setting and the game play of AS&SH.  And aside from the GM (my buddy Druvas), I was astounded to find that no one else had the fiction background I had, that no one really had the cultural touchstones that were what defined for me a game I enjoyed playing. So anyways I'm explaining the how's and why's of Hyperborea as seen through the lens of Dying Earth fiction like Vance and CAS and I find I'm unable to to make the connection for them, because they never read either author.  

This boggled my mind. I had a hard time understanding why someone who DIDN'T read those books would even want to play such a narrowly tuned game setting and system that was derived from fiction and games that the younger folks weren't even alive to experience.  Of course, my first thought was "Well, AS&SH is a pretty good game all by itself I guess!"  My second was that I needed to proselytize more about reading the contents of Appendix N.  My third was that would just annoy people even more.  Not only would I be accusing them of playing the game wrong, I'm telling them that only with some education they could be playing it the right way. 

Nope, gonna keep my mouth shut.  Anyways, read the article.


"AS&SH feels like late 70’s fantasy roleplaying from a parallel dimension where Frodo was unceremoniously slain by Conan." - rpg.net review
 

7/19/2019 2:53 pm  #2


Re: JRPG's and Sword & Sorcery Fiction

Hackhamster wrote:

This boggled my mind. I had a hard time understanding why someone who DIDN'T read those books would even want to play such a narrowly tuned game setting and system that was derived from fiction and games that the younger folks weren't even alive to experience.  Of course, my first thought was "Well, AS&SH is a pretty good game all by itself I guess!"  My second was that I needed to proselytize more about reading the contents of Appendix N.  My third was that would just annoy people even more.  Not only would I be accusing them of playing the game wrong, I'm telling them that only with some education they could be playing it the right way. 

Nope, gonna keep my mouth shut.  Anyways, read the article.

At 55 I'm the second oldest in my group. I was raised on the LotRs, Conan, and a smattering of ERB, Heinlein, and others. One of my youngest was raised on Harry Potter, Twilight, and other of that ilk. I'm not sure the amount of reading the other players have done but I do not get the impression that they have read much fantasy fiction. We all meet every other Friday night for the experience of playing AS&SH! For me, the game introduced me to CA Smith and caused me to pick up and read HPL (finally). The others may read sword and sorcery fiction as a result of being exposed to AS&SH, that would be cool. But, if playing the game scratches that itch then that's cool as well!
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

7/19/2019 7:10 pm  #3


Re: JRPG's and Sword & Sorcery Fiction

I have a buddy of mine who edits Chinese fantasy fiction as his job. He gets these rough translations and changes them to be readable by western audiences. They all seem to have a rather odd, or at least interesting commonality: thay are completely amoral protagonists who's only drive is the 'cultivation' of power. They usually start as a poor nobody, and over hundreds, if not thousands of chapters, they gain godlike status. And if they have to kill innocents on their path, they do so without any hesitation. Murder hobos to the nth degree. It's almost as if the concept of heroism is unknown to them.

 

7/21/2019 5:35 am  #4


Re: JRPG's and Sword & Sorcery Fiction

mabon5127 wrote:

Hackhamster wrote:

This boggled my mind. I had a hard time understanding why someone who DIDN'T read those books would even want to play such a narrowly tuned game setting and system that was derived from fiction and games that the younger folks weren't even alive to experience.  Of course, my first thought was "Well, AS&SH is a pretty good game all by itself I guess!"  My second was that I needed to proselytize more about reading the contents of Appendix N.  My third was that would just annoy people even more.  Not only would I be accusing them of playing the game wrong, I'm telling them that only with some education they could be playing it the right way. 

Nope, gonna keep my mouth shut.  Anyways, read the article.

At 55 I'm the second oldest in my group. I was raised on the LotRs, Conan, and a smattering of ERB, Heinlein, and others. One of my youngest was raised on Harry Potter, Twilight, and other of that ilk. I'm not sure the amount of reading the other players have done but I do not get the impression that they have read much fantasy fiction. We all meet every other Friday night for the experience of playing AS&SH! For me, the game introduced me to CA Smith and caused me to pick up and read HPL (finally). The others may read sword and sorcery fiction as a result of being exposed to AS&SH, that would be cool. But, if playing the game scratches that itch then that's cool as well!
 

Similar backstory for me: I don't expect all of us (ranging from 13 - 54) to have the same background. All I ask is that everyone have fun and pay attention at the table. Maybe they'll get inspired by the weird and go off and read some of the sources of inspiration for Hyperborea, maybe they won't. And the upside of their unknowing is all the weird will be novel to them...https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


"My own concepts in this regard are easy and clear, and I am sure that the word 'simplistic' will be used by my critics. These folk are callow and turgid of intellect; I am reassured by their howls and yelps."
Jack Vance, The Face
 

7/21/2019 8:13 pm  #5


Re: JRPG's and Sword & Sorcery Fiction

So my regular game is a weekly 5th edition and I've got two guys older than me and four people (including my son) younger. Other than my son we have all read LotR (and the GM took a class on Tolkien in college), but that is really about it. I'm the only person at the table who has read REH, Moorcock, CAS, Vance, and Lieber. The older two gents (both in their late 50s to early 60s) grew up with the traditional scfi authors like Asimov, Bradbury,and Heinlein (who I've also read), while the younger folk have not read much scifi at all. I'm not even sure the younger folks have read the "new modern" fantasy authors like Hambly, Eddings, or Feist.

But the younger ones are all about the anime and the various stories. My exposure to that stopped somewhere in the mid-90s and I have no sense of what is out there any more.

 

7/21/2019 8:20 pm  #6


Re: JRPG's and Sword & Sorcery Fiction

rhialto wrote:

And the upside of their unknowing is all the weird will be novel to them...https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png

Exactly.


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

7/21/2019 8:23 pm  #7


Re: JRPG's and Sword & Sorcery Fiction

tomas wrote:

But the younger ones are all about the anime and the various stories. My exposure to that stopped somewhere in the mid-90s and I have no sense of what is out there any more.

Lots of anime influence in pathfinder, 5e art and systems.


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

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