Monday, May 9, 2016

The Hidden Country Setting

A significant number of works of fantasy take place in some sort of lost or hidden realm within the real world: Oz (at times), Neverwhere, Pellucidar, the Savage Land, Fraggle Rock, Hogwarts, and some versions of fairyland are all around here somewhere. This sort of setting doesn't seem to have been often used in fantasy rpgs, at least outside of modern/urban fantasy.

I suppose their are reasons for this. The Medieval(ish) nature of most fantasy gaming suggests a historical(ish) setting. The scales many settings inhabit would preclude them being tucked away in some corner. Perhaps there's also a fear with the modern world close by it would be too easy for it to intrude.

These seem to me to be only relative contraindications. Most gamers (at least of the old school variety) are comfortable with plenty of science fictional or science fantasy elements that violate the pseudohistorical milieu  The scale may be sort of a problem (though Burroughs never set that stop him in Tarzan's Africa and a Hollow Earth could have plenty of space) and a smaller scale setting isn't necessarily a bad thing.

This sort of setting opens up some new elements: Lost-like underground bases complete with enigmatic video instructions, modern world epherma as treasure, secret societies working in both "worlds." Pretty interesting stuff, I think, with a lot of potential.


Will Arnold said...

Makes me think of The Dark Tower books.

Will Arnold said...

Makes me think of The Dark Tower books.

Anonymous said...

I have always wanted to use some aspects of Fraggle Rock in a game but I have not yet done so.

JDJarvis said...

RPGs have losts worlds aplenty but they always seem to get gobbled up and shoved into the range of options for the campaign at large instead of remaining the isolated setting.
Scaling the entire campaign back to be the remote realm reached by special means should work but when play can stretch into both worlds it mucks things up.
It's sometimes tricky to get back to the normal world, which makes escape (and ending the campaign as is) a goal and that is in itself decidedly limiting. If the game takes place exclusively or mostly in the closed-off realm elsewhere most of what makes a character unique or powerful should likely remain there; sure you can be a warrior king in Narthia but you are a 12 year old boy in Lower Boringsbury.
A pocket setting also needs to set goals and conflict resolution that support the setting and not necessarily character dominance over the setting.

Trey said...

Good thoughts!