Monday, June 15, 2009

Endurance sports in fantasy

After a weekend of motorsport I have started to think of how to import the "Le Mans experience" into a fantasy rpg campaign. Once a long time ago I had all the boxes Avalon Hill put out for RuneQuest. One of those were a thing called Monster Coliseum, which if I remember correctly included some kind of Ben Hur style racing arena. The box didn't contain much that caught my fancy, so I sold it and kept just the Glorantha boxes. Now I'm wondering if it might have contained something useful after all.

For a fantasy world to feel "real", I think there are somethings which has to be there. Two of those things are sports and religion. For the latter it is usually present in weird cults and as a source of spells for "clerics", which often is just wizards with another name. The former is, as far as I know, more scarce. Sport is something which means a lot to many people all over our world, and it involves a lot of people from the very casual level up to those who are professional athletes. It's not that odd to expect some measure of that devotion to sport in secondary worlds, is it?

Personally I only care for motorsports, which in most fantasy settings will be a bit hard to implement. But, the Monster Coliseum got me thinking. Now, I'm not going to talk about futuristic settings since they are obviously more easy to adapt to phenomena in our world, and fantasy gaming is the major part of gaming. Taking a queue from the enormously popular and truly epic classic Ben Hur, I think low tech sports probably could be the focus of a whole campaign without it being boring! The first thing you think of will probably be arena gladiatorial fighting (like the classic Arena of Khazan from Flying Buffalo for T&T, but since I'm a race fan I'd prefer some sport that is less focused on fighting.

For those of you who don't know what "Le Mans" means, I can summarize the idea like this. You take a car and try to make it run as fast as you can, as far as you can, for 24 hours. It will take not only speed, but also a lot of endurance both by man and machine. Doesn't that sounds like something that could be used in gaming? How about a hunt, going on for many days? How about trials and tribulations along a messaging or mailing service, like the Pony Express in the Old West? How about some arena racing, like in Ben Hur?

I'm beginning to see a lot of interesting campaign possibilities, all having elements of competition and endurance. Not only will there be interesting to explore the wilderness outside the dungeon, it will be an interesting way to roleplay interpersonal conflicts and maybe even some resource management for players who like things like that. If you want to go crazy, you could even have a racetrack, in the dungeon. I'm seriously tempted, let me tell you! I'll be all happy after getting my racing fix for a long time after this weekend. We'll see if it will show up in my campaign. What about yours? If you have included any sports, then I'd love to hear how it went. Race On!


  1. A friend of mine once ran an innovative footrace based on the rules for a racing simulation boardgame called Formula D. Your running speed was something like what gear you were in for turns, plus the number of spaces you covered. You could accelerate and decelerate in certain amounts, and could "risk" corners at higher speeds. It was brilliant. Wish I could remember more. There was a huge combat at the end, of course!

  2. Fun! That's what I call inventiveness.


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