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I have run into a reocurring conflict with a friend, and I am not sure how to proceed.

The game world our DM uses (to me, at least) seems to be a mixture of High Fantasy tropes, attempts at realism, and a certain amount of "magitech", though there is admittedly a limited amount of that and it is downplayed when it appears.

My character revolves around the creation and use of magical devices, and I tend to theme things far more strongly towards a "scifi" or magitech setting than one of pure high fantasy, creating projectile and light weapons, powered armor, and floating vehicles. The problem lies not in the balance of this- I work closely with my DM to make sure that the mechanics that the items introduce, or the stats they rely on, are fair and reflect the resources expended to create them.

One of the other players, my friend, claims that the items break his suspension of disbelief, even though mechanically the items my character uses are equivalent in power to fantasy themed weapons. He considers the game world to be pure high fantasy, and after several months of this conversation, I get the impression that he resents my unwillingness to budge on the "theme" that my character has.

My DM actively works with me on the creation of the items, and hasn't really taken a stance on the problem. The other player in the group thinks the items are really cool, and is basing some of his items in a different (high fantasy themed) campaign on them.

My items and associated fluff represent many hours of effort, and, more to the point, I like my character as is, but I understand that my friend disagrees and I feel guilty that it is lessening his enjoyment of the game. On the other hand, I don't want to modify my character to fit his tastes, especially if no one else has a problem with it.

I have known my friend for several years and I care far more about that friendship than a stack of papers, but I'd like to convince him that the items add to the flavor of the campaign rather than subtract from it. I'd like to compromise and go for a less sci-fi flavor, but the whole matter is rather nebulous and I don't want it turn into other people dictating things about my character.

I also can't help but feel that it is fair to invoke the MST3K mantra, given that it is just a game, and the specifics of my items come up rarely enough that it isn't that hard to push it aside or imagine it as something else. His characters have their own quirks and issues that often make it difficult to complete game objectives, but those add to the game and I actively enjoy working with and around the problems they introduce. Considering I accept his, often rediculous, characters at face value, I don't see why he can't accept mine.

Any suggestions as to how I should proceed?

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2 Answers 2

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Have you attempted to have a sort of post-hoc Session 0 discussion?

Perhaps bring the players and your GM to the table for a 20 minute chat about the world?

meta-fix

Maybe this will help bring to light logical ways (in world ways that is) for your magi-tech to fit into the world in ways that will appease his preferences. Or help him accept that this isn't a generi-Tolkien game world, but something somewhere between generi-Tolkien and steampunk and... whatever else.

Weird Tech Fix

Or maybe he's adamant that the world must remain a pristine high-fantasy. If so, maybe your character's background could be adapted / ret-conned to be an offworlder*. Maybe your world is higher-tech (the magi-tech) and his PC is native to the world you're gaming on. In this scenario, your stuff represents a radical new concept. This could give him an out that doesn't change the game world in any real way, but lets him excuse your wacky sci-fi things as alien -- they don't belong in his mind because those things don't actually belong in this world.

Backwoods Savage Fix

Or maybe his PC is the offworlder*, taken to a strange new plane of existence where magi-tech exists, and he's the backwoods character who is trying to adapt to this new way of doing things... It is still a ret-con, but it allows the world to include more magi-tech things, if that's what you (plural; your group) want.

Goal

I mention these not as an all-inclusive way to solve the problem, but more to highlight that there are both in-character and out-of-character ways to attack this disconnect. But either way, be prepared to compromise. And accept that a solution may involve minor tweaks to the world and/or your character(s).

But hey, plus side, those tweaks could open up exciting new character-based plot hooks.

I hope you're able to bridge the gap between what you want to play and what he wants to see you play.


*By offworlder, I mean anyone from a different point. They could be from another continent. Another Prime Material Plane. Another crystal sphere. Another world. Just someone who showed up thanks to a glitching teleportation portal. Etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for explaining that the problem is one of differing expectations and tolerances and that no specific individual is at fault. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Nov 7, 2017 at 0:57
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Which campaign setting are you playing?

It makes a difference.

D&D is a homebrew creation of two+ beings who published their combined various ideas from all the games they were playing at the time. As such, it is rather a mix of themes, genres, tropes, and even settings.

For example, you have the classical fantasy settings (Note: some of these settings co-exist with other settings on the same world/planet):

  • D&D Conan
  • Red Sonja
  • Lankhmar (of the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser fame)
  • Council of Wyrms
  • Time of the Dragon
  • Dragonlance
  • Jakandor
  • Birthright
  • Kingdoms of Kalamar
  • Thunder Rift
  • Nentir Vale
  • Pelinore
  • Wilderlands of High Fantasy
  • Planescape (Multi-planar fantasy)

Then you have the standard non-euro-western fantasy (Historical or Eastern based, for the most part):

  • Al-Qadim (Arabian fantasy)
  • The Horde (Mongol fantasy)
  • Kara-Tur (Eastern and South-eastern Oriental fantasy)
  • Malatra (Primitive jungle fantasy)
  • Maztica (Meso-american fantasy)
  • Rokugan (Another oriental fantasy)
  • Mahasarpa (Asian fallen-kingdoms fantasy)
  • Dragon Fist (Wuxia fantasy)

Next you have the mixed tech-fantasy settings (settings which have varying mixtures of tech, magic, and/or magi-tech):

  • Blackmoor (The Egg of Coot, an evil computer AI bent on world conquest)
  • Greyhawk (Starships, robots, power armor, laser guns, giant mecha, sci-fi civilizations-empires, cloning and more; see this question for some of these details)
  • Forgotten Realms (Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogues, anyone? Not to mention occasional visits to Earth)
  • Eberron (pulp-era magi-tech - lightning-rail locomotives, airships, and living robots/constructs)

Last you have the non-standard settings:

  • Dark Sun (post-apocalyptic psi-fantasy)
  • Spelljammer (Magic in SPAAAAAAAAAACE)
  • Ravenloft (Gothic horror)

The expectations and assumptions presented by the authors of each of these settings are quite different, even beyond the overall genres that they could be grouped into. This, of course, assumes that the DM in question is even using one of the pre-built settings.

Many people play in custom worlds that are completely unique to the DM. One of my ongoing PbeM games is set in just such a custom world, despite otherwise using the default D&D rules and sourcebooks.


Next, you need to ask what is breaking the immersion?

It will most likely be an expectation that is not being met, or something that exceeds one or more people's expectations, or even a disagreement of expectation between two or more people. Even if everyone is on the same page as far as the genre and setting goes, specific assumptions as to what is and isn't part of that genre and setting will differ from person to person.

For example, if you are using the default 3rd edition setting, then you are probably either playing in Greyhawk, or a homebrew variant of Greyhawk (this latter is what my primary campaign world is when I'm playing D&D). A Forgotten Realms base (standard or homebrew) is also a possible candidate. In either case, you will note that the default assumption is of a fairly high-tech level of civilization in addition to both being high fantasy worlds.

Forgotten Realms implicitly has Renaissance era mundane tech and extremely sophisticated magical traditions. The magic alone is sufficient to produce "magi-tech" creations. The only real challenge is to explain in-game-context how a character is having all these new ideas.

Greyhawk is even more blatant when it comes to tech. Oerth (by virtue of the existence of Blackmoor) is within the confines of a star-faring empire that is purely sci-fi tech based. Quite a lot of tech has been lost to various corners of Oerth, in fact, so much has been lost that the empire which contains Oerth placed the entire solar system under quarantine and restricts visitation.


Personal example

In any case, people will differ in what they think of as fantasy. In my fantasy campaigns, psionics is primary, and magic, if it even exists at all, is simply a corrupted and degraded off-shoot of pure psionics. Sci-tech exists and can be found and used, with all the attendant risks.

On the other hand, in most of the fantasy games I play in as a character, psionics exist, but are secondary to magic. That still didn't stop me from building a (mostly) psionic-based flying, teleporting, plane-shifting, phasing, submersible, technically space-worthy (though we've never tested our DM on that), bigger-on-the-inside-than-outside-ala-Tardis-style, fire-proof, self-repairing, sailing ship (a fully rigged single masted Pinnance, for those who are interested) which folds down into a briefcase for storage as a mobile stronghold for our gaming group. With DM's approval, of course.

In my group, this construction was well received, especially once the party rogue found out that our sailing ship ala mobile stronghold actually had a dungeon/prison in it that we could store bad guys for later, ah, conversations.

While this worked great in my campaign, others may find a flying sailing ship a stretch, let alone one which is bigger on the inside than the outside, and is airtight, watertight, regrows itself, and is immune to fire. Oh an it can transform into a Caravel type ship as well.

Patient communications and negotiations, and perhaps more than just one conversation about it, are what will eventually resolve an issue of differing expectations.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel the answer would be better if it kept to a shorter list of examples, and made it clearer that it's a subset of possibilities (OP is likely playing a different, home-brew setting). Still, +1 for pointing out that the campaign setting's theme is a big deal, and that people can have honest, legitimate differing assumptions on them. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 7, 2017 at 8:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DannyCuppen Yeah, I maybe went a bit overboard and got all excited about the history of all the different campaign settings TSR and WotC has done over the years. Not saying this is all-inclusive, but I did try to be comprehensive. ^-^ \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Nov 7, 2017 at 14:20

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