November 19, 2013

TFT - Science Fiction in Your Fantasy

The Fantasy Trip was a role-playing game that came out in 1980 with the release of In The Labyrinth, the core rule set. It also included Melee (tactical combat) and Wizard (spellcasting), as well as the Advanced versions of them. The game was written by Steve Jackson who later used the system as a base for GURPS. This series of articles is a look at the rules of The Fantasy Trip as seen through modern eyes.

The world of The Fantasy Trip (TFT) is huge, and as already mentioned, a kitchen sink of styles and tropes. It is a melting pot of other worlds, including some with futuristic elements. In fact, artifacts in TFT are nothing but modern/future items in a medieval-type fantasy setting. These include such things as a BB gun, walkie talkies, a tape recorder, and a pen. Similar to how artifacts are handled in other games, these are rare items full of mystery (determining a use for these is a series of die rolls).

It's interesting that artifacts in TFT are not the extra-powerful magic items found in every other fantasy setting. I kind of like the concept for a few reasons.
-It makes their inclusion easy to explain as you don't have to bend the setting to explain why there are potentially world-ending items in play.
-They are still unique without being powerful.
-They are something different from the usual "lump-a-bunch-of-powers-together" or the "take-a-known-power-and-make-it-much-more-powerful" artifacts we too often see.

I know this is not a new idea; D&D did it all the way back in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1976). I myself remember running around a dungeon in a home-brew setting with a bazooka blowing rust monsters up. Through the years there have been other fantasy adventures and settings with science-fiction thrown in.

What do yo think about modern-day/futuristic items in a fantasy setting? Do you like the randomness and touches of the unexpected in your game? Or do you feel it detracts from a purely fantasy/medieval-based world? Is it alright in certain campaigns? Should the players know ahead of time that the fantasy setting will have science-fiction elements in it?
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