This Wednesday, I’m running an adventure for my RPG table-top group that should take us through our next three games. I’ve already confessed here that I’m a lousy Dungeon Master—but that doesn’t stop me from inflicting my games on the group now and then.
I dedicated this past weekend to world building. Always fun stuff, regardless of whether you’re working on a game or a novel. But I stumbled onto a problem that seems applicable to both.
This is how it happened: the game is D&D 5e. The setting is tropical, there will be a lot of combat and, therefore, characters who want to wear armor. I started wondering how someone could bear walking around in, say, plate mail in a city-state with weather like Miami and a wilderness like the Everglades.
Other gamers must have put some thought into this. And sure enough, I found a Reddit thread on this subject. One person called worrying about issues like this “selective realism.” Perfect term!
With all the unrealistic aspects of D&D, why fixate on this one issue? (Yup. Magic, monsters and fiends—all fine. But heavy armor in hot, humid weather? How could anyone manage that?) And yet, if I didn’t come up with a solution, I knew it would spoil the game for me.
There are plenty of solutions, of course—I like the one in the thread about the beetle carapace!—but the whole thing got me thinking about when in fantasy I can suspend my disbelief, and when I need things to seem accurate.
How about you? When you’re writing (or reading or playing) fantasy and the impossible, what little details have to seem realistic for you?