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Old 02-14-2015, 12:56 PM   #11
GM Joe
 
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Default Re: Sorry, but how do I initiate someone into fantasy/rpgs/etc?

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Originally Posted by Sir Tifyable View Post
Different suggestion: leave the SF or fantasy gaming aside for the moment, and introduce her to roleplaying first through a genre she does understand. What does she watch/read?

[...]

And then into the fantasy or SF genres, when the time is right.
That's what I'd do. If the ultimate goal is to introduce her to FRPGs, introduce her to RPGs first, using a genre she enjoys. Try to choose a game that appeals to what she likes about games. If she's not likely to dive into the mechanics, use a mechanics-light one or use pregens and keep the mechanics on your side of the GM screen, at least at first.

Above all, keep it fun for *her*. Ignore what you want or need from a role-playing session and just provide what she would find fun. It'll take work, but if you really want this, this is your best chance.

Good luck!
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:56 AM   #12
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Default Re: Sorry, but how do I initiate someone into fantasy/rpgs/etc?

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Then, as suggested, find out what interests her and play to that. I don't know that you could RPG a romance novel easily but it could be done and that is the most extreme female cliché I could think of. If she is a fan of Survivor, introduce her to a Survival campaign, of CSI then a crime campaign, whatever it is it can be done.
I've run a fair number of campaigns where plots about courtship and relationships were important. My campaign about modern teenagers in the realm of the Fair Folk, my Zimiamvian high fantasy campaign, my campaign about Sauron conquering Middle-Earth, my Buffyverse campaign, my campaign about clans of aristocratic wizards in an ancient isolated castle, by Barrayaran campaign—all of them were really big on who was in love with who, at least for some of the players. Of course the courtship was often intertwined with politics.
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Old 02-15-2015, 12:49 PM   #13
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Default Re: Sorry, but how do I initiate someone into fantasy/rpgs/etc?

Let's step back here and answer the original question: how do you explain science fiction and fantasy?

First, let's get the basic ideas out of the way. Science Fiction and Fantasy - Lasers and Swords - are all speculative fiction. That is, the author and the audience imagine a speculative world, willingly accepting, for a time, different rules and history.

Everything after that distinction is controversial, because some stories featuring, say, spaceships and lasers, are more imaginative and fantastic than classical fantasy. On the other hand, some stories about kings and castles are more highly researched and carefully written than anything by the great science fiction authors.

Generally, if the work seems to feature technology, it's probably science fiction. If it's about the past, it's probably fantasy. Of course, there are many exceptions which we need not explore yet.*

Science Fiction tends to imagine possible futures. They often take place in settings that resemble the real world closely, or else expand the known world. Sometimes a Science Fiction setting is as simple as looking forward a few years, making some assumptions about what technologies might be widespread, and then imagining what the consequences of those technologies may be. The characters - be they the personas of players or the characters of a novel - are usually very much like real people in mindset, beliefs, and personality.

Fantasy, on the other hand, often focuses on mythology from the past in both the setting and the characters. People with heroic goals and motivations are usually kind and loyal, and people with selfish goals are usually disloyal and evil. In these settings, gods (In our modern times, polytheism is easier to accept than the idea that only one culture, like, say, the elves, worshiping one specific god is "right," and so all religions in a setting are usually right to some degree). We cannot discuss modern fantasy without mentioning Lord of the Rings, because practically every fantasy story published or played today is only one or two steps away for LotR. Dungeons and Dragons, for instance, removed the main characters and re-wrote the deities, but remained focused on mighty or crafty heroes clearing out monsters and eventually saving the world.

Lately, Fantasy has started to grow up, with more complex plots and more realistic characters. Science Fiction went through the same process years ago simply because in its youth, SF was about nuclear rockets that occasionally contained people- it had farther to go. It kind of merged with political fiction in time. Consider 1984 or Brave New World: both clearly science fiction, both clearly political pulp. Star Trek tried to split the difference and was occasionally goofy for it. Modern Fantasy, therefore, removes a lot of its magic in order to focus on the characters, and it steps away from the characters of mythology and instead focuses on characters who believe in that mythology. Game of Thrones is a rough read for anyone not used to heavy books, not something I'd recommend right off the bat, but a strong contender for the fantasy work that will push LotR out of the public consciousness as the only original fantasy.

If you want to really expose your friend to science fiction and fantasy, I recommend showing them a set of works which are to the spectrum of speculative fiction what the primary colors are to the rainbow. They are: 2001: a space Odyssey, Star Trek, Star Wars, the Harry Potter series, and the Hobbit.

There is one last note I'd like to make. Much fantasy, and a small portion of science fiction, involves the introduction of the main character into the setting from a state of innocence. In theory, a well-constructed campaign (especially a GURPS infinite worlds one like Banestorm) could provide an in-character reason for someone to explore a world with little-to-no knowledge as to how it works. Provided other, native PCs with good, friendly players, this could be a fascinating way to introduce someone to the setting.


*Star Wars is perhaps the most obvious, featuring Emperors, magic, and wandering knights as well as space ships, robots, and lasers. Anything steampunk is also a mix of genera, taking place in a fictional, fantastic past yet featuring - to the point of obsession - lovingly rendered ideas of clockwork and steam technology.

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Old 02-15-2015, 02:06 PM   #14
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Default Re: Sorry, but how do I initiate someone into fantasy/rpgs/etc?

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Science Fiction went through the same process years ago simply because in its youth, SF was about nuclear rockets that occasionally contained people- it had farther to go. It kind of merged with political fiction in time. Consider 1984 or Brave New World: both clearly science fiction, both clearly political pulp. Star Trek tried to split the difference and was occasionally goofy for it.
Really, I think "lately" is inaccurate. The push in that direction in American science fiction came about primarily on John W. Campbell's watch on Astounding Science Fiction. It was Campbell, for example, who published Heinlein's Beyond This Horizon, an almost purely sociological novel, as well as two series whose main emphasis was on political, economic, and social issues, Heinlein's Future History (near future) and Asimov's Foundation stories (much more distant future). And the signature technique that Campbell pushed on his writers, "indirect exposition," dates back at least to 1912, when Kipling used it in "As Easy as A.B.C.," a story set in the mid-21st century.

For that matter, what "indirect exposition" was a replacement for was not so much pulp adventure as utopian fiction, where the hero visits a future society and gets a guided tour with lectures on its institutions; in fact Heinlein's Beyond This Horizon was largely a rewrite of his earlier attempt at a novel, For Us the Living, which had all the failings of utopian fiction. And utopia (a) is almost purely about social and ethical themes and (b) is a very old genre—Thomas More wrote the trope namer in the reign of Henry VIII and Plato wrote the first widely known example in ancient Athens, though admitted utopias set in the future, or "uchronias," probably date no earlier than the 19th century.
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Old 02-15-2015, 06:05 PM   #15
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Default Re: Sorry, but how do I initiate someone into fantasy/rpgs/etc?

Is uchronia your word? If so, you might consider spelling with an e.
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Old 02-15-2015, 06:52 PM   #16
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Default Re: Sorry, but how do I initiate someone into fantasy/rpgs/etc?

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Is uchronia your word? If so, you might consider spelling with an e.
As in "euchronia"? I can see the point, since http://www.uchronia.net uses the word to mean "alternate history" rather than "better future." On the other hand, I like the parallel with "utopia.'

As long as you understand my point, though, I don't think I'm going to worry about the matter much. It isn't as if English words had to have only one meaning.
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Old 02-23-2015, 03:46 PM   #17
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Default Re: Sorry, but how do I initiate someone into fantasy/rpgs/etc?

I haven't seen anything from the OP since the first post. Wonder how this turned out?
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Old 02-24-2015, 08:27 AM   #18
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Default Re: Sorry, but how do I initiate someone into fantasy/rpgs/etc?

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Originally Posted by PTTG View Post
There is one last note I'd like to make. Much fantasy, and a small portion of science fiction, involves the introduction of the main character into the setting from a state of innocence. In theory, a well-constructed campaign (especially a GURPS infinite worlds one like Banestorm) could provide an in-character reason for someone to explore a world with little-to-no knowledge as to how it works. Provided other, native PCs with good, friendly players, this could be a fascinating way to introduce someone to the setting.
Yup. I call those hobbits. I strongly disapprove of the use of them in non-interactive written fiction, as more sophisticated solutions exist to the problems they solve (albeit solutions that demand more of both author and reader), but for an RPG, or any other interactive process, hobbit usage might be a good idea.
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:25 PM   #19
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Default Re: Sorry, but how do I initiate someone into fantasy/rpgs/etc?

I once tried to convince a gaggle of good friends to try TFT. They wanted no part of it. All they knew about RPGs came from second-hand stories about D&D. Rigid character classes and alignments interested them not even a little bit. I managed to wear them down, saying they were not obligated to play a hobbit or dwarf or whatever. They came back with outlandish character concepts, expecting me to wilt. I did not. We designed those whackadoodle characters and had a game. Those first characters didn't survive long, but the guys were hooked. Subsequent characters were still pretty off-the-wall, but functional.

Second moment came years later and I was going to run a supers campaign. One lady wanted to join in desperately, but her parents had forbade those mind-rotting things in the house. She therefore felt she had no knowledge of the supers genre and probably would have to miss out. She was a great SF fan. I explained that many superheroes were, in fact, aliens from another planet. Don't think "superhero" so much as visualizing Mr. Spock or a Kzinti or someone stranded on Earth. And make that alien generally a nice guy. I've never seen the proverbial "light bulb" go off in someone's eyes so distinctly.

Similar to that woman, and in a few other instances, I've had people who shy away because they've never read or seen "LotR". My gateway for them is "The Wizard of Oz". Everyone has watched the quest of the fellowship of the yellow brick road. It's perhaps the best general example of a group of PCs with a goal, facing challenges physical and magical. Though I have yet to run a game with that much choreography and singing.
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