Sunday, August 9, 2020

RPGaDay Challenge 2020 - LIGHT



The last prompt was Shade and Light is, well, not exactly the opposite of Shade. The opposite of Light would be Dark. What am I getting at? I have no idea. I suppose I am merely stalling as I try to think of something to discuss in regards to Light. 

Light provides clarity of vision. Light is what illuminates the darkness, bringing hidden things into focus and eliminating the vagueness of formless shapes moving in the shadows. Light is the ally of grand visages and the enemy of mystery, at least on face value. 

Many Fantasy RPGs try to limit light. More specifically, they try to limit the ability to see in the dark and focus on the fact that a good deal of darkness is inherent in the locations where most adventures are set. Dungeons are dark, forests at night are dark, as are the ruins of old keeps.

However, it is also incredibly common to give the PCs the ability to create light or to see in darkness. Light spells, infra-vision and dark-vision, glowing swords, all provide a means of brightening the way into the hostile environments adventurers find themselves in. 

Why? Why do we do this? If we want it dark, why do we make light so attainable in a Medieval setting?

In Sci-Fi we don't exactly have the same problem. Most of the adventures occur in well lit places. The decks of starships and space stations, the stretches of alien terrain under twin blue suns, and even the derelict hulks of long, lost tramp freighters are often flooded with light. 

Except...when they're not. Sure, many an abandoned cargo vessel or forgotten outpost is likely to have gone dark or be bathed in the dim, red emergency lighting of auxiliary power. The thing is, it seems to be that in my experience with Science Fiction - and granted I have a lot more experience with Science Fiction than I do with Fantasy - it's a lot easier to keep things exciting and interesting in the light in that genre. Come to think of it, that's kind of amazing given, ya'know, outer space.

Weird, huh?

Superheroes, another favorite genre of mine, is the same way. Dark Knight Detectives and Blind Boxer-Acrobats aside, most Superhero activities seem to occur in broad daylight. Amazonian Warrior Women and Patriotic Super-Soldiers do their best work in the Light. Alien invasions, giant killer robots, and the costumed megalomaniac of the week do not wait for nightfall.

What am I driving at here? Simple. Don't be afraid of the Light.

Don't plunge your world into darkness every time you are looking to add some excitement to it. Shadows definitely aid in the hiding of secrets but they are required. Mysteries can happen anywhere and at any time. 

Try to do them during the day, in the far too fleeting hours between dawn and dusk. Don't be ashamed of giving the players a gander at what danger looks like head on. There's no reason to hide it all in a black void. Let them see what's coming and do it in brilliant technicolor. 

Let there be Light.

Barking Alien

1 comment:

  1. I'll day that, paradoxically, it is easier to play with light and darkness in modern and sci fi setting: flickering lights, dying flashlights, power outages, and grainy monochrome vision are exceptional and prompt you to make something about them. Darkness in earlier age settings is so prevalent and absolute that we end ignoring it or using magic to cheat it.