Friday, April 22, 2016

Fantasy Gaming's Bleeding

That is an extreme title isn't it?

But as titles should be succinct I feel like that is the best I got in this case. I don't plan to ramble on but I do want to put this out there to maybe stimulate some conversation. Also I don't know if this issue i'm about to bring up is a localized one or a global one considering our community of hobbyist.

The issue in short is...

 Fantasy gaming has become so branded that we are losing our creativity and the fantasy that made it fun.

I may just be deep in nostalgia so as always take me with a grain of salt. A little history is in order to get where i'm coming from. I started role playing games (Dungeons & Dragons) at around 10 years old with the Keep on the Borderlands module. I started painting miniatures at about 16 years old, my first finished miniature was a Troll by Ral Partha (seen below and formerly posted on this blog). My frist card game was Magic the Gatehring at around 16 asa well. My first war gaming experience was Warhammer Fantasy Battles 5th edition (the lovely set with Lizardmen and Bretonnians) and from that point my gaming entered what I would call the "maturing phase".

So my back ground is pretty solidly grounded in the famous brands. DnD, Games Workshop, Magic, these are the core of gaming in general. All my initial learning was from these companies and my community which was limited to my college friendships and the off and on LGS friendships as the LGS's opened and closed in my area.
I was very proud of this figure then, and still am now :)
But as I have grown as a hobbyist, gamer, what ever you want to call it, I have come to realize there was a wild frontier at one point where fantasy gaming wasn't branded and these brands that are so dominant today were only one of the strange beasts out there.

If you get that then you are on my page, if you think i'm crazy then either i'm crazy or you're not on my page.

I feel like the pioneer spirit has been lost in contemporary fantasy gaming. Where before game masters and players built elaborate or daring fantasy war games with scenarios or orders of battle, now they willingly limit themselves to the branding's structure and therefore limit their creativity.

Age of Sigmar is a good litmus test for this. I've not played AoS so i'm not talking about how it plays. I've read through the 4 page rules set and honestly it was mixed feelings on my part. I'm not a fan of it, not because of the rules being 4 pages but because they sacrificed a fantastic game and model line for it.

The litmus though is the rules of army building. Or more specifically the lack of rules for army building. I liked those aspects as the advent of points system has created a false idea that fantasy gaming is symmetric warfare (which it isn't) and that you can design something to balance something as wildly various as trolls and elves and dwarfs and whatever else with out a referee to impose some situation based common sense (which you can't).

Since that game launched people have been trying to find a way to apply a points system to it. Which is not only unnecessary it also absurd considering the power level of the little plastic men and the designers obvious intent for epic wild battles.

Let it happen people. Just let it happen.

But back to my point. 30 years ago no one would have batted an eye about this. They would have just started collecting models and played with them. Hell they would have played with any models to play the game just to play what they wanted to.

Look. I can go on and on about this. Really. I'm a talker. But I feel like I got the gist of my point across. I have been looking into re-pioneering my own gaming and hope to have some kind of interesting battle report/rpg/war game/thingy to post on here soon.

Until then I hope this generates some thinking and conversing. Also I hope all your dice roll in your favor ;)


  1. Have a look at Dragon Rampant and Lion Rampant, even Frostgrave might be just what the doctor ordered.

    1. I've read LR and FG and both are quite nice. They are close to what i'm talking about but even Frostrgrave has been branded now. It's hard to resist. That box of soldiers is a fantastic sell. LOL>

  2. DR and LR are exactly the opposite of what you describe. You can let imagination run wild with them - you want some halflings riding giant chickens? Go for it. A giant were sheep? Sure why not.

    That miniature companies want to sell miniatures is no surprise but having been on and off in the hobby since WFB 2nd edition I would say things have never been so good. If you want multi part plastics to kitbash you can, most of the old models are available still on ebay, old style and new style are for sale from many kickstarters and individual sculptors and you can re-purpose mainstream models.

    Fantasy settings are multi and varied. Start a Game of Thrones campaign by modding some Perry plastics. Go back to Greyhawk with Reaper Bones, The Old World is all still there, Conan, Elric, make up your own, go ancient, go oriental, go crusades, go crazy!

    1. Yeah, I do do this stuff :) I meant this in the more global hobby sense rather than personally.