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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Gritty Romantic vs Self-Righteous Shiny Knights

I've been reading a blog dedicated to romantic fantasy in OSR games (among other stuff).
Now, I've never considered myself a "romantic" GM...but a lot of what the author recommends holds true for my campaigns as well. To enumerate some principles:

  • Talk before fighting, because fighting is ugly and brutal.
  • Almost nobody is hopelessly evil, to the point that you can't persuade them to change.
  • The PCs can change the world.

Sounds familiar? Sure sounds familiar to me. I just call it "decent worldbuilding" (and the systems I run make fighting ugly and brutal, too).

But ruminating over this, I suddenly was able to realize why I don't like the opposite style. You know which style I mean - Orcs (or other races) are born Evil, so you can slaughter them with ethical impunity. The world is black and white, maybe with a touch of grey. Characters are assured of being righteous. People that oppose them are obviously unrighteus, so there's not much point in talking with them. Combat usually remains clinical, often only saying the damage numbers, because who wants to see the shiny knight's armour to lose its polish due to pedestrian issues like arterial spray? (I do, for the record).

I don't like that, because in history, people who believe(d) in their own righteousness and their enemies' lack of virtues, have been causing untold suffering. In fact, it still happens (hint: check the current news from the Middle East).

Now, don't get me wrong: I realize that in life, there are situations where everything is black and white. I'm just not all that interested in playing (most of) them out.