SystemMastery 34 – Fantasy Imperium
This game was surprisingly difficult to find art for. The cover is easy enough, since it’s got a famous story behind it, but apparently no one wanted to put any of the many boring knights or cheesecake witches inside the book on the internet. We stuck some fairies on the homepage that get the point across pretty well. Come along as we review Fantasy Imperium, an Interactive Storytelling Game. How is that different from an RPG? More charts, more pictures of swords, and more sweet, sweet sexism. Enjoy!
Were you somehow a fan of Fantasy Imperium? Were you briefly hoping this was a review of Twilight Imperium or Palladium Fantasy? Tell us! Hell, tell us anything in the comments below. If you really love us, show your support over on our Patreon page and help us keep the mics hot!
I am always briefly hoping, whenever I receive notification of a new podcast, that it might be Palladium Fantasy.
Update: After listening to this podcast, I took the $20 I saved from not picking up this game and bought Palladium Fantasy instead. Thanks!
You have made a wise choice as palladium fantasy is at least interesting.
You are quick to decree that no game should ever have different statlines for men and women. I say it’s a matter of what the game is about, what degree of gritty realism it aims for. If a game is set on being Serfs & Shit-farmers, and has a chart of different types of cholera you can get, then yes, it probably should have stat modifiers based on sex too, because biology is still a real thing and not a cultural construct. If, on the other hand, the game is Anime Sword Explosion X, then fuck no.
Also, advantage/disadvantage lists are great and should be in every game.
The biological differences between men and women really only become even slightly noteworthy at the extreme high ends of the spectrum, and only for certain types of activities. And most stats are so broad that the differences won’t even comprise a fraction of the different factors that are condensed into that single number for a stat. So unless your RPG is so insanely granular it has skills for different types of competitive weight lifting, no it doesn’t need stat-modifiers by gender.
I feel like if you’re talking traditional 3D6 then the bell curve is too small to really model the difference between genders, and if you’re talking this game where it’s a raw percentile roll the totally huge spread of stats is already big enough to be accurately modeling it, without needing to pile on modifications. You’re right in that you can totally shoot down the need for a gender stat modification without ever invoking sexism. It’s just more fun to do so, especially in this game of scrabbly dirt men and their ludicrously hot witch wives.
“So unless your RPG is so insanely granular it has skills for different types of competitive weight lifting, no it doesn’t need stat-modifiers by gender.”
Actually, the differences are broad and noticeable enough to show even on a 1-5 pip scale. Pretending it’s a minor thing is self-deception; proper argument against them is simply that they’re not a part of what your game is about, that you’re not concerned with realism, or don’t think it would be fun, or don’t want to force people to “min-max their sex” (especially since a lot of people are really uncomfortable playing characters of opposite sex).
If you wanna see some absurd sexism and half finished mechanics, check out Fantasy Wargaming: The Highest Level of All (City of Violence) by Bruce Galloway. That thing gives women an absurdly bad deal with behavioral restrictions on top of stat penalties and has that weird thing where you track experience separately for each class and then promptly screws up the formulas by making you divide rewards by level and have each class start at zero. And that’s nothing compared to the mess that is the Zodiac system.
I do want to see that. I want to see it very much. I’ll add it to the list, and get to it after I’ve washed low-fantasy serf simulators out of my brain again.
Since you did Maid, there’s always the horror of Witch Girls Adventures. Since you did Nobilis, there’s always the sheer confusion of Noumenon or Eoris Essence. Or the over-the-top indieness of Elfs.
Actually fairly good OOP games too: Unknown Armies, Blue Planet.
Actually AD&D 1e has lower Strength maximums for females as the standard rule.
That was quietly removed in 2e.