WHAT “Laws of Physics”?!

So I went on YouTube to link to a couple of things for the blog, and inevitably I found this sort of diatribe in the comments:

“Spelljammer sucks!”

Well, there’s no accounting for some people’s tastes.  Fair enough.  I’m not fond of peas or watermelons either.

But this is the one that always gets me, and it was nestled in the middle of a cheerful comment about how much fun this person’d had at a SJ campaign:

“It was absurd with absolutely no grounding is real physics.”

Why do people always feel the need to include this qualifier?  Is it because of Spelljammer’s superficial resemblance to space opera?

Dude, has it occurred to you that you are playing Dungeons & Dragons?!

Let me see . . . here are some standard facts of D&D as I’ve known it:

  • People throw great balls of fire out of their hands without friction, heat transfer or a power source of any kind.
  • Dragons can fly.  So can winged horses, pigs, lions, and even elephants.
  • Giant bugs do not collapse under their own weight and are capable of locomotion.
  • You can teleport without requiring the equivalent energy of a sun.
  • Weird wizardly experiments producing odd crossbreeds continually prove that the rules of genetics are irrelevant.
  • The odds can be manipulated significantly by the use of magic words.
  • Radiation doesn’t break down your cellular structure; it does weird magic sh*t to you.
  • It is possible to accelerate instantly to impossible speeds without any damage to the body.
  • You can time travel.
  • Powerful warriors are capable of a) falling from orbit without breaking their spines b) getting hit by freight trains and walking away from it c) fighting several individuals at once without getting hit at all d) killing entire swarms of little humanoids without being overwhelmed.
  • Also, old warriors never seem to suffer from arthritis.
  • Prayers heal wounds, broken bones, pulverized limbs and deadly diseases.  Instantaneously.
  • People can be brought back from the dead.

Please tell me exactly when the “laws of real physics” became relevant . . . ?



5 comments on “WHAT “Laws of Physics”?!

  1. When people talk about ‘real world’ physics in that context, what they’re really talking about is sci-fi physics. They are two very different things. Sci-fi physics are, essentially, magic. Space is unbelievably hostile to life as we know it; if sci-fi movies and games were based on real-world physics, it would be extremely boring and not flashy at all.

    Ironically, SJ physics are pretty much a fantasy vainer of sci-fi physics. Gravity planes are not much different than artificial gravity; there are no problems with light or radiation (something almost never touched upon; ‘shields’ are just assumed); ships can get hit by weapon fire and not go tumbling in the weightless environment (stabilizers always assumed); etc. Sci-fi has a ton of assumed (physics-defying) mechanics built in that always work unless the plot calls for it not to work. Same with Spelljammer.

  2. I think you’re right in that people get hung up on the similarities to space opera. As time drifts away and I work mostly from my memories and inspiration of Spelljammer, the more I want to include flat worlds in the setting. Better yet, flat worlds on the backs of starbeasts like Discworld. Just something to make the setting pull away the sci-fi feel just a little more.

  3. Pingback: WHAT Laws of Physics? | Confessions of a Geek Queen

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