Science fiction was invented by Mary Shelley on the shores of Lake Geneva in 1816. (Sort of. There were precursors but let's ignore them for a minute.)

Tabletop RPGs were invented by wargamers on the shores of Lake Geneva in the late 1960s. (Sort of. There were precursors but let's ignore them for a minute.)

There's an interesting alternate history where the two swap. Where Shelley invented a new pastime for the bored poets, where they imagined themselves Gothic heroes by using funny dice.

It's a different Lake Geneva, obviously, but I find the coincidence amusing.


The Appendix N of this hypothetical would be filled with Gothic fantasies like the Castle of Otranto, Vathek and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner instead of pulp fantasy.

Romantic poets were already the equivalent of goths and nerds and metalheads of the 1980s and 1990s that embraced D&D, so you could imagine the game catching on quickly among that sort of crowd.

200 years later, the RPG field would have grown in sophistication and variety in ways that are hard to imagine, as scifi has done.

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@nickwedig trying to grow the RPG field in that direction is an exercise in frustration. Most players just want more weapon and monster stats, and are not interested in fluff.

@WanderingBeekeeper I tend to agree, but I think most attempts to grow or change the RPG field are doomed to failure.

Perhaps in a world where RPGs began with Romantic poets instead of wargames, things might be different.

@WanderingBeekeeper I know >.< I do a lot of online RPG, and there's one player who's now been with me in quite a few game. Every single time they make a powergamed powerhouse ... and then gets upset that I don't like to run combat.

You'd imagine that one of these days they'd make the connection, no?

@melindrea they never do. Shortly before I left FASA, I threatened to cancel all the sourcebooks and adventures in the pipeline and just do two books of 100 stat blocks each and title them GUNZ and MOAR GUNZ. I had players actually respond positively, which convinced me that I had not found the right audience and needed to move on. Nobody wanted deep worldbuilding and actual queer history in their steampunk, they just wanted dirigibles and big guns and Great White Heroes. Fuck that.

@WanderingBeekeeper that is one of the things that I really like in the group I am, though. While there's a few who are very much powergamers (in the annoying sense), we have a lot of queer, neurodiverse and other bits of folks in the group.

And then the one that has now built the same character four times and doesn't get why no one likes it.

@melindrea we had one of those. didn't matter what the system or world was, he built Crazy KungFu Guy. did not work out well in an Earthdawn campaign that was mostly about international diplomacy, mystical quests into other planes of existence, and draconic scheming. And family life, with small children to raise in a very different set of cultures.

@WanderingBeekeeper @melindrea Mood. I have a friend who is fine as a person, but sees every system as a problem to be solved and always tries to make the most efficiently powerful character whose backstory is shored up against any attempt to create a plot hook out of it, no matter what the GM does. And he's always bored and doesn't get why.

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