Thursday, August 1, 2013

The lure of the alien...

I'm having a yearning for running something not based in traditional fantasy tropes. No elves, dwarves, halflings. No strictly medieval European society. That sort of thing.

So strange of me, to have Gamer ADD, eh?
Hmmm, speaking of "no elves," that reminds me of Talislanta. A game I first encountered in the old days of the old Dragon Magazine, a game that I own and would dearly love to play. Ah, if you are like me, you remember those Talislanta ads as being exotic and mysterious! I mean, the ads in Dragon for ANY game that wasn't D&D were always intriguing to me when I was new to the hobby. But there was something alluringly alien about Talislanta. I had similar feelings for Skyrealms of Jorune...
These days, I'm also interested in Barbarians of Lemuria. Then there's Magnamund (the setting of the Lone Wolf gamebooks) and the Fabled Lands...though I suppose part of their appeal for me is that they originated "across the pond."
Then there's of course The Dying Earth (so far in the future that the earth itself becomes alien). And let's not forget Leiber's Nehwon. And I suppose Howard's Hyborea (so far in the past that the earth is alien) ...although these last three worlds are perhaps less alien when it comes to racial variety.
The upcoming Lords of Gossamer & Shadow RPG and the Amber RPG from which it draws inspiration also have something of the alien to them, of course. That reminds me, ugh...I need to really get on a retrospection of Amber and its monolothic place in my RPG career...

I even find myself thinking of Thundercats and Thundarr the Barbarian of late. Hmmm, cat people...
I suppose all this is connected to the sword & sorcery side of the genre. Ooh, and then there's sword & planet!
OK, I need to stop. Please, chime in and let me know your experiences, if any, with Talislanta or other RPGs that have a setting that could be considered more "alien" than the default medieval D&D world.


  1. I am both working on and beginning to run a campaign that would best be described as RPG non-fantasy stew. Part steam-punk, post apocalypse, undead ridden and evil infested world. Changing some of the fundamental constructs of playing Dragonquest has been.

  2. This is why I like Uresia so much. There's plenty of familiar territory, with maudlin elves, stout dwarves, and lovable munchkins (granted they're slimes instead of halflings), but tons of whimsy and weirdness, too. (Examples: competitive chefs who wield baguettes and sausage links as weapons, nanny-ninjas, child-cultists whose murderous instincts can only be placated by handheld video game consoles, and power-armor knights. I think any fantasy setting that owes at least a little something to Japanese pulp culture might scratch your itch.

    Nice to see a shout-out to Magnamund. Cubicle 7 are working on a new licensed RPG that I can't wait to get my hands on, though I imagine it'll be a little while. I'm not sure it's all that alien, though, unless you count "80s British fantasy" as alien compared to today's fare. Which would certainly be a valid argument.

    1. Yep, that was the point I was trying to get across with Magnamund and other 80's British fantasy: their British origin made them exotic to me, but their settings are also somewhat exotic with regard to cultures. At least to me.

  3. I played and ran Talislanta off and on for years, 4th edition, because the Big Blue Book is what I got into. Recently I ran it again, a game that lasted six months or so, and was a blast. A bunch of skyshipwrecked vagabonds exploring Ancient Magical Disneyland. It wasn't until the ninth session or so that they figured out where they were. Much fun was had.