View Full Version : "Modern" Fantasy

2013-01-29, 05:23 PM
I really like the idea of combining fantasy with the modern world. I think it makes for interesting possibilities. While I enjoy most 'universes' I've seen this done in--Lost Girl being the most recent example--I like for there to be some sort of abstract separation between the 'real world' and the 'fantasy world'.

The best examples I'm most familiar with are the two most recent games in the Persona series. In Persona 3, there is a point in time called the dark hour which occurs at midnight sharp. Time freezes for most people, and there are plot devices that are supposed to explain this not ruining continuity (etc), and monsters prey on those frozen. A select few people are able to remain conscious and alert during the dark hour, the protagonists task themselves with investigating the phenomenon and trying to safe the world from the forces at work. In Persona 4, there is an alternate universe that is accessible through televisions, certain individuals are able to pass through any TV set with a screen large enough for them to fit through.

I've heard there's an alternate world called "Limbo" in the most recent Devil May Cry game (the series reboot), and it sounds like it's along the lines of what I'm thinking of. A parallel, abstract, and 'fantastic' version of our world.

Both the Devil May Cry series as well as the Persona series (or rather, the entire Shin Megami Tensei series) heavily reference mythology for their character, monster, and item concepts. I'm not very well versed in this field, but I'd like to carry the torch regardless. This is why I turn to you fellow forum-goers.

I'm fishing for ideas that could be interesting to combine with the modern world, as well as explanations, justifications, and reasons for there to be a paralell, abstract, and enchanted version of our world that is hidden from the average human.
Furthermore, I'm trying to find interesting mythological beings, places, monsters, and treasures that could be featured in my game.

2013-01-29, 05:29 PM
D20 Modern has a couple of campaign themes focusing on this- Urban Arcana, and Shadow Chasers (Urban Arcana has its own book).

In that, there is a magical censorship field- to the heroes, a troll looks like a troll- to the average citizen, it looks like a big ugly human.

2013-01-29, 06:28 PM
It's not quite in keeping with the OP, but I never hesitate to suggest Unknown Armies.

Put simply, it's a modern fantasy game about a bunch of whackjobs and their attempts to fundamentally change the world. What makes it interesting is how unique the setting is in comparison to most fantasy. Rather than rehash old legends, it works within its own mythos, sort of like what Lovecraft did with his stories.

Edit: It's difficult to explain what it is, but I suppose I should try.

Basically, there's no Heaven, Hell, or anything else like that. Everyone has it wrong. Instead, the entire universe appears to be human-centric; there are no proper gods.

There are these people called Archetypes who embody universally known roles such as the Mother or the Warrior. Each Archetype is also a member of the Invisible Clergy, and when enough Archetypes join the Invisible Clergy, it becomes the planning committee for the next incarnation of Earth. The cool part is that the players have a very real chance of actually changing the world, rather than just spending their time keeping the horrors of the supernatural world at bay.

2013-01-29, 06:37 PM
To second the call for unknown armies, the arbitrary division between magic and modern is caused by
1. Magic driving people insane
2. Mages are consequently bad at communicating.
Which works... surprisingly well.

2013-01-29, 07:28 PM
You might want to check out a game called JAGS Wonderland (http://www.jagsrpg.org/) - the PDF for it is free now. It's sort of a horror game, with the lower 'chessboard' levels of reality getting increasingly weird and abstract. Like Silent Hill by way of Platonism.

2013-01-29, 08:06 PM
Dresden Files RPG may work too.

I don't know where to find it, sorry.

2013-01-29, 10:38 PM
Thanks for the system suggestions, folks, but I'm more interested in finding character, location, plot, etc ideas.

What I'd really like is for there to be several incarnations of various mythological figures/gods and various giant, epic representations of monsters of legend. If I could also tie in weapons of lore like the muramasa and the sword in the stone, bonus joy will be awarded.

A great, easy way to help me would be to just tell me what your favorite figure (character/place/thing, whatever) of legend/folklore is, and perhaps even give me a source on it. :)

doc neon
2013-02-01, 09:21 PM
What might help you in any searching you do elsewhere is the term, "Urban Fantasy." That's essentially the genre that you're describing; the modern world, only with fantasy elements.

Reading different urban fantasy books, or even just summaries of them, might give you some ideas. The draw of urban fantasy is the masquerade and the marriage of traditional magic and modern technology. For the masquerade, do normals just magically ignore magical things? (Urban Arcana, Percy Jackson series) Does the supernatural community police itself to stay secret? (Dresden Files series) Do supernatural creatures just disguise themselves? Do elves have to tape up their ears every day? Or is there no masquerade at all, and magical elements have integrated into everyday life, a la Shadowrun?

Next, I find it most compelling if magic is actually integrated with technology. No need to use a spellbook if you've got an iPad, and the "knowledge of the location" required for Teleport can be acquired with Google Maps. Something that lots of urban fantasy authors like to do is to turn pantheons into supernatural corporations. At the top level of Olympus Tower, Mr. Zeus looks over the board, consisting of the rest of the pantheon.

Wikipedia's myth portal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Mythology) should be helpful for looking up mythology. As an initiate of the classics, I'd recommend including a modernized version of an epic journey; a very dangerous road trip.

2013-02-01, 10:26 PM
I'm writing a story at the moment in a setting where magic is integrated into the world after some cataclysm many years earlier (it's the dividing line between AD and BCE, and my book takes place in the twenties). I'm working on a whole mythology, but then the book proves that mythos wrong.

The Fury
2013-02-01, 11:15 PM
One thing I recently started wondering about is what would your typical D&D-type setting look like if it did eventually advance to a modern era? Provided that the setting was run long enough that previous player characters had an established legacy it might be pretty cool! After I saw the Full Metal Alchemist series I thought it might be really fun to have a fantasy RPG in a setting like that, where supernatural elements exist along side early 20th century tech.

Unfortunately the 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder rule-set doesn't work very well for a modern setting. I have played in a few modern-ish games, including the D20 Call of Cthulu all the while wondering why firearms ended up replacing melee weapons. There's of course a meta-reason why my character wouldn't be hefting a greatsword around-- that being where the hell am I going to find a greatsword in twentieth century New England? That said, it doesn't quite excuse the fact that by the given rules a greatsword is way better than the .38 revolver my character is using.
It occurs to me that I might be able to tweak how modern weapons are meant to work so they're actually worth using-- like maybe giving them a damage bonus or something like how Chaosium's Call of Cthulu did.