OK, I have a rant here, about Isaac Asimov. (There are a lot of things you can say about him, but in general I’m in favour of his writing, and he should have been told where to get off a few more times, by the people he respected.) I’m going to spoiler one of his books, because this is a rant, and I can’t even remember the name of the book, and I’m doing it anyhow – because this is a rant.
So, for those who don’t know, Asimov wrote the Foundation series. He had a whole big world in which a Galactic Empire sprawled and reigned. There was a Foundation that was pretty sure it would fall apart, and was dedicated purely to reducing the human misery when it did. (He wrote a lot about Robots too, and he is a figure like Tolkein or Kant within the SF world; for a long time everything that people wrote was either based on his thinking or a reaction against it.) He’s big, and the Foundation series, especially the first three books, were things I liked to read, but… after a while, he was just writing about the Foundation, and how it was going, and how it was going. And how it was going. Oh god, it went on for a while.
Eventually I wanted new things. Not that I’m not still interested in the Foundation. The idea of the outer organisation changing the inner one secretly is a big, big part of my thought process. I can’t escape the Foundation and the effect it had on my young thinking.
But then I found a book by Asimov that wasn’t about the Foundation. It was about Time Travel, and the very way that the book was structured made it seem that the Foundation wasn’t possible in this world. It was new, it was great! It had a different form of Earth. It didn’t have a Galactic Empire that grew and grew. It was a book about the troubles of time travel reducing future choice, and the inevitable extinction of humanity, and the plot to stop disaster which was going on in one of the bits of history that the Time Travellers could not reach.
Then the Time Travel Plot reaches its conclusion, time travel is made impossible… and the Galactic Empire arises.
Why does this relate to RPGS? Well, never mess with your players’ expectations like that, is what I’m saying. The word Foundation just set me off. On a related note, I REALLY like Glorantha not being related to Earth or any other game I’ve ever played before. It’s fresh, and that’s why I love it so much.