Sunday, January 18, 2009

I've Got Your Science Fantasy Right Here

I was inspired to watch Ralph Bakshi's "Wizards" for a few reasons. First, my wife and I are systematically going through some of the classic films of which she is ignorant; we've done "Bridge On The River Kwai", the original "The Day the Earth Stood Still", "The Madness of King George", "Gandhi", and "This Island Earth". More to come (a viewing of "Alien" with the lights out is in the immediate future, and "Patton" is in the queue).

Second, over at Grognardia, James recently posted about science fantasy and D&D, and this struck me as quintessentially capturing that milieu. The ancient civilization of technology dimly remembered by the magical civilization now inhabiting the Earth.

A brief bit of background; I first encountered "Wizards" in college, years after I had seen Bakshi's (IMNSHO) lame effort at "Lord of the Rings", and I was struck by its idiosyncratic approach that seemed so much freer than that which he was forced to take with Tolkien (although-- listen carefully to the voice-over on that trailer, and you'll hear that it takes place in a "Tolkienian world"). Tolkien was never like this, unless Galadriel was half-naked with perpetual high-beams and I never noticed.


My point in bringing this up is that it is a great set-up for a science fantasy campaign, one might even say that it is quintessentially so. A nuclear war has occurred millions of years in the past, and regions of radioactivity still persist. Elves and sprites eschew now-forbidden technology, while the mutants of the wastes embrace it. Swords vs. rifles. It's only the lack of organization and coherence of the mutants that prevents them from overrunning the "good" lands. But it's still out there to be found, as Blackwolf finds the Nazi propaganda films and turns them to his advantage. He could easily have found a couple of hydrogen bombs; let the players deal with THAT. A stirring setting for gaming, all told, and a pretty nifty movie even now (even if the soundtrack is, to be merciful, somewhat dated).

But ye gods! Eleanor is still hawt, even 20 years later. As I kept saying to my wife at every instance of raunchiness, "It is a Ralph Bakshi movie, after all."