Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Gonzo Sci-Fantasy - Running and Playing It - Equipment and Monsters

Hello All,

Welcome back to this second post about gaming Gonzo Sci-Fantasy. Last post I went over a brief description of what it is. This post will focus on some basic guidelines for equipment and encounters in this settings.

Running this sort of setting as a game is not all that hard unless you are trying to imitate the tropes of a specific series of books or shows. Most fantasy RPG classes, weapons, monsters and abilities are all present in Gozo Sci-Fantasy completely unchanged or with some minor tweaking to the flavor text. These settings still have warriors, rogues, casters and other such archetypal elements though the origins or exact natures of their powers may be different. For example, a paladin or cleric is a bit harder to explain if your world does not have actual gods though this may just mean that these characters tap into a different energy source than wizards or are simply not present with wizards taking over all casting roles. It might even be possible to have your "divine" casters tap into some sort of new secret power source that is wholly unknown to most and may as well be a "god".

Weapons and equipment often exist in these settings unchanged in function but with a different character. Simple materials such as steel and iron are often given new names or replaced by convoluted names like "plasteel" or "armorite". Their effectiveness in the game remains mostly the same. What we do often see is a proliferation of weapons and defenses with magical effects, making the whole setting a bit more high powered. A warrior might wear a suit of armor that is defended by "magnetic sealing" that gives it extra protection, working much like magical armor. This is easy enough to do by just subbing in appropriate magic items from the lists and giving them those snazzy names. Other items might actually provide spell like effects and as such items such as "shield bracelets" or "climbing gloves" can simply be designed as a simple item with a built in spell effects and a number of charges available before it must be recharged or reloaded with a handy dandy power pack.

There should be little concern over making such items available to PCs from the start as it is certainly a guarantee that the threats will rise to meet them and their enhanced capabilities. Anything they can do, the bad guys can do better (until they fail).

Most encounters in this sort of setting are pretty much the same as fantasy RPGs. A group of heroes find themselves in a dangerous place facing the local dangerous inhabitants. One of the main differences is that I have found is that the encounters are often in their own lands and not just dungeon squatters as they are often portrayed in RPGs. This is not universally true but when you are fighting the Centaurpedes you may very well find yourself doing so on their home turf. Creatures are often depicted as minions of a greater power or monstrous beasts which are often unbeatable, often needing to be simply stopped or avoided rather than defeated outright.

Monsters are often caricatures of humanity with some feature enhanced to make them seem bestial, more enlightened or just plain weird. Robots and cyborgs are also popular themes in this genre along with hybrid creatures. These themes are often encountered in varying mixes in creatures as well. It is not strange thing to encounter a robotic minotaur, dragon, or giant and using the statistics of such creatures with minor modification should be no great task. Add some armor and damage capacity and immunity to mind-effecting abilities and you have a pretty straight forward robot monster.

Another element that factors in, especially in the cartoons of this genre, are traps. Villains in gonzo universes love to throw death traps at the heroes. Such traps are often convoluted and elaborate, providing the heroes plenty of opportunity to figure them out and escape. Spikes, energy fields, horrible substances or timed bombs. Power draining effects seem particularly popular methods of menacing heroes.

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