Hand waving/ its the author's world /A wizard did it/ Its magic duh!


#1

What is everyone’s opinion on explanations that make little sense and tend to be defended with similar statements from the title? I’ve tried to approach my game in as realistic manner as possible (for a game involving monsters can be) but some parts I have to break that realism to tell the story. How much hand waving do you allow before you just go “This is too stupid.” And stop playing the game?


#2

Im the typical that admit zero non sense. Except story is 100% fantastic or a Terry Pratchett i love Discworld. I love Harry potter universe hating the stupid harry and his friends they adventures are 100% incredibles. But the universe itself has sense.

Always you maintain a internal logic coherence all would be ok. Unnatural is coherent for me at least


#3

That depends on how good the handwaving is. If the author can justify it in a way that makes sense within the story’s internal logic that eventually rests on a solid worldbuilding foundation, I’ll take it.

For example, I won’t accept “All Fnarg nobles are green because magic”, but I WILL accept “All Fnarg nobles are green because they are enchanted to be that way, as a foolproof way of establishing noble blood in class-conscious Fnargite society.”


#4

So you wouldn’t accept I’m faster than you because I just am but would accept I’m faster because I was born on a planet with heavier gravity?


#5

But some people are faster than others just because. Though I suspect its not a human your talking about.


#6

There is no ‘just because’. Everything has a cause. If someone is faster then you, there is a biological, physical or psychological explanation to it. It isn’t mysticism.
(Of course, that depends on what you define as ‘faster’, but that’s nitpicking.)

I accept handwaving if the explanation is interesting. It doesn’t have to be perfectly logical, but if it’s entertaining, I’d take it (like Terry Prattchett’s Narrative Casuality). It’s less about realism, and more about consistency, to me.


#7

It was just an example although I should have said super speed faster. Interesting thoughts indeed. So far it seems consistency is important as is following the set rules of the story’s universe.


#8

@Jackrabbit i totally agree Internal consistency is all in a story


#9

I’d rather read something unrealistic and entertaining than something realistic and boring. I’ve never been one to mind handwaving, though. Not as long as the author follows whatever in-universe rules they’ve already established, anyway.

Also, I hate when the author decides to try to explain the hows and whys of the universe. If it’s relevant to the story, that’s one thing, and should be worked in naturally. But explaining for the sake of explaining just becomes tedious to read.


#10

Internal consistency is very important to the believability of the story. It’s vital to the suspension of disbelief. Not everyone draws the line in the same place however. Some people have a far easier time suspending disbelief than others. Some people are fairly docile readers going exactly where the author wants their minds to go, while others pick at everything, exploring all the possibilities in their own minds that this new world affords, and becoming greatly disappointed when they find glaring inconsistencies. Finally, some people don’t care how unbelievable a story is as long as it scratches an itch that they have. Porn is the classic example of this, but not all itches are sexual in nature. So opinions are going to vary widely.

The CoR trilogy was bent and stretched to scratch certain itches. I just wish its authors hadn’t allowed story consistency to suffer as a result. This makes their political agenda appear to be more important than the quality of their story, and causes a not insignificant slice of the audience to lose respect for their work.


#11

The more thought an author puts into their work, the better. They do not have to include all of this thought within the text itself, but a few remarks, here and there, helps to impart a consistent image with its own internal realistic logic, which does wonders for a readers immersion.

If you create a beast, for example, give some thought to its anatomy and function, rather than just its form and capabilities. If you create, - to use a generic example, - a zombie, have an idea of the cause of that state, alongside, e.g., changes to its muscle mass, its central nervous system, its brain activity, its perception, et cetera. As a result, you’ll create a more immersive and interesting dynamic. Do their eyes succumb to necrosis, for example, making them susceptible to sound alone? How will this affect combat? Or, do they retain their old perception, in which case can they be considered as astute as any other creature, making them more formidable than is typical? Simply saying “Oh, the zombie knows you’re there and attacks” tells the reader pretty much nothing about the creature.

So, yeah, hand-waving is a big no-no. A few “Assume this to be true/possible”'s here and there are plot grease, only insofar as they are kept to the minimum level of necessity. Even magic requires an explanation, of some sort, - despite what slovenly world-creators seems to have decided.


#12

Hand waving magic is fine. IMO, this is the mainstream view, especially among buyers and readers of fantasy fiction. Almost no popular works of fantasy adequately consider the impact of magic on economy, culture, and war, and yet people continue to buy and enjoy these works. (Imagine what a disaster it would be if you wrote the next Harry Potter! You’d have to cry yourself to sleep on a big pile of letters from your adoring fans.)

There is a vocal minority of fantasy readers who want magic to be as minimal as possible, but almost nobody satisfies their needs, and especially almost no mainstream works satisfy them. (They are even more vocal in science-fiction fandom, but IMO they’re not really any more numerous, or, if they are, they’re continuing to buy hand-wavy SF anyway and grumbling about it.)

Having said this, in each story, there are some plot-relevant details that need to be worked out. For example, if you don’t have an adequate “theory of mind” for your important characters, they’ll behave in ways that don’t make sense to the reader, undermining your narrative.

Your story has to make sense; your fantasy world does not.


#13

Hand-waving/ignoring is mandatory, of course. The extent depends. It’s good/required when it avoids needless exposition on things that would only bog down the story with useless fluff, or to keep the story ballooning out of control with alternate paths because a player feels that in “Choice of the Space-Samurai” they would really rather be a Rocket-Knight.

Some people are going to rip apart a story no matter what the author tries, particularly if they don’t like certain plot elements that don’t fit their worldview. There’s no level of exposition that would satisfy those people because what’s acceptable exposition to them is defined arbitrarily, often inconsistently.

The only real way is to play it by ear and see if it’s a common point of confusion among many players or just the one materials science major upset that your fantasy metal is lighter that aluminum yet stronger than steel.


#14

I will admit that I dislike the argument that believability is sacrificed in the name of politics. For a start I don’t consider inclusivity to be a matter of politics. I don’t think Choice of Games makes games to be political. They make games to be inclusive.

I think inclusivity is extremely important. I actually did thoroughly enjoy Choice of Romance. One of the reasons I pick at the logical inconsistencies is because I’m hoping that the next game will improve on the mistakes of the first.

I don’t mind handwaving and I’m more than willing to suspend belief. I’ll enjoy things even if they don’t make sense. But, I also find world-building fascinating, especially in regards to the roles of sex, sexuality and gender.

I think, for me, while I’m happy to handwave anything. I was more than happy to accept Choice of Broadsides gender-flipped world with absolutely no explanation for why it was how it was. I had fun.

If Choice of Romance had taken the same route, I wouldn’t have minded. But they decided to do something different.

I actually loved that they did decide to do something different. That they said “okay, we want a game like Anne Boleyn/Henry 8th but we’re not going to limit your sexuality or force you to just play as a female.” I like that. I was happy to believe in that world.

But then you have small issues crop up.

  1. The Monarch requires an heir
  2. The Monarch should be married to the heir’s other parent
  3. The heir must be a life mage.

The moment the Monarch is female there’s a problem with the second premise. If the Monarch is female, surely she will be bearing the children she has. In such a case how do they prove that the child is not her husband’s?

Tomas does not present a problem if the monarch is male. If the monarch is female though, then does it mean that Augustina carried him? Or did she arrange for a life mage ritual with a female lover and he was born to them?

However, with Antonio, it is made clear that the Queen is the one who carries him. If you’re not married to her he’s not considered legitimate.

Surely the Consort would be willing to claim the child as their own, especially if it would help cement their own position.

Now, there may be a life mage spell that can tell the parents of any child born. But if that was the case there’d be no questions about Antonio’s heritage. There would also be the matter that the spouse is a prominent life mage, with strong connections to other life mage families. Surely they’d be willing to lie about the results.

It’s questions like this that start causing me issues.

It’s that it provides a hierarchy of paths through the game. It’s that they didn’t do as much effort into making the other alternative paths as believable.

The female main character makes sense. It feels like the true path. The lesbian playthrough is actually my favourite, since I also prefer all of the love interests as female.

It feels as if there’s been less effort put into making the male path believable. It feels like the male path is an afterthought. I’m not speaking of things like the male character being rather passive, and pursued instead of being the pursuer.

I’m speaking of matters such as the above mentioned issues with a female Monarch and questions of legitimacy. As well as if you’re male and in a gay relationship then you’ve got to end up pregnant.

I think there could have been other ways to establish the premise that they wanted. To make all four paths as compelling.

It’s that a simple gender-swap and magic to ensure everyone can have babies, feels as if it’s not going far enough with inclusivity.

Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Choice of Romance, since I did.


#15

I think it is perfectly fine to wave the hand at some things. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy filling the small gaps, or sometimes ignoring them entirely. It doesn’t really matter to the plot how exactly something is done, sometimes.

I don’t know about all of you, but I think that to explain every possible aspect of magic, every single possibility for applying magic, and every single possible effect of magic, how every working of magic is made to exist, and every other minute detail that doesn’t make a lick of difference to the plot or the character development would take ENDLESS pages of crazy-boring explanation that nobody, not even the most diehard fan of magic in the world, would bother to read. You would end up with volumes upon volumes of nothing but physics of magic, and what sorts of magic can ignore those physics, and what can’t; what magic can change those physics, and what magic can only function given some other magic’s physics present. It’s just not necessary, and even providing explanations of things is not really necessary either. Sometimes it is, though. The reader does at least want to know how magic is accessed and SOME details, or else the story just doesn’t make any sense at all and it would be a terrible read. Knowing “more than is necessary,” however, is not necessary. A ramble about how a person can use magic and someone else can’t with a long, drawn out explanation of whatever conditions must be met serves no purpose but to derail the story and take a person’s mind out of the story. It is better to just say “some people are born with the ability to use magic, and others are not.” This is the case with a lot of magic. Explaining the minute details is not something that needs to be done because once that happens, the story is ruined by pages of random stuff about magic that the story would do just as well without the reader knowing.

I’ll refer to CoR, which is, I think, what sprouted this discussion. When two characters who are female have a male baby with magic, does knowing where the other chromosome came from actually matter to the plot or to the story? No. The fact remains that the characters had a baby with magic and that the baby turns out to be a wicked person, the same exact result that would have happened had the two characters been of opposing genders. I think what is actually upsetting everyone in that discussion is not the genetics of it, but that the two characters (even though one of them never appears in the story and is dead) were of the same gender, and were part of a political agenda rather than a necessary part to the plot. It would not have made even the slightest bit of a difference to the plot had the characters been opposite genders.


#16

I’ll agree, in a fantasy game, particularly Choice of Romance, the ability of two women to have a male child doesn’t matter. It’s just one of those small niggles that crops up, where them having only female children would have been nice, but it doesn’t break the game for me.

If it had been a game in which gender was important, then it would be different. If it was a game in which a male child was needed, then I would have had issues. But since it’s not relevant to the premise it was just something I mentioned, since it was something I’d wondered.


#17

I just thought I would put in my two cent’s worth since it seemed to me that this discussion came up from the thread about the 1/100 chance to get a Life Mage baby. The genetics seemed to be the dominant reason for hating on the magic in that story, and I wasn’t sure why genetics and their link to magic had to be mentioned since the plot would be utterly unchanged even if that would have been a part of the game.


#18

Is anyone actually hating? I definitely amn’t.

The issue with the life mage ritual isn’t genetics. It’s that its existence causes problems with the main premise of the game and causes some logical inconsistencies.

Okay another example.

To have a legitimate heir the Monarch must be married to the parent of their child.

One of the things Tomas attempts to do is to marry you, to legitify his claim to the throne while declaring your son his heir. If Tomas is already married, then he is willing to flout the customs of Iberia and have two spouses.

This raises one huge question of “why didn’t Augustina/Agustin attempt to do something similar.” Why was polygamy never an option? Why didn’t they take multiple spouses, thus furthering their chances of producing a legitimate heir?

Or if the Monarch is female, why did she not just declare any children born to her are legitimate. How would it be possible to prove otherwise? When Antonio claims she’s not his parent, there’s no suggestions that a life mage does a test to ensure the truth of his words. Which should also mean that if Augustina were to have a child with someone else, how would they tell it wasn’t Esteban’s? And wouldn’t it have just made more sense for Antonio to claim that you weren’t his parent in that case, thus introducing issues which destabilised your role at court, without having the ridiculous explanations given.

I like Choice of Romance, don’t get me wrong. These inconsistencies aren’t a problem for me. They do require some suspension of belief though.

I’m not certain what I’d replace it with though. I think more likely I’d have removed the importance of a child/heir and introduced a different factor.

Perhaps a magical ritual that it was imperative that the monarch and their consort conduct for the good of the land. This was something they were both needed for, they needed to be bound by the vows of marriage to ensure that it worked. It also required a connection between the two of them. But something had happened to the current consort so that the ritual didn’t work between them. The land was suffering because of this, or creatures were attacking, or the harvests failing or something. However due to divorce not existing, and the Consort being a member of an important and powerful family, they couldn’t be disposed of without reason or causing a scandal.

So it removes the emphasis on fertility, children and the like, while still allowing for same-sex relationships, or a female monarch, male protagonist. And it doesn’t create the problem of male pregnancy, or the other issues mentioned.

That’s just a quick suggestion though of an alternative option. There should be others or ways to tweak things.

I think world building is important to be shown and not told. I hate passages of irrelevant information. But it should still exist, between the lines giving depth to the world in everything that the characters do.


#19

I like that suggestion you made about the ritual, even though it would make the player wonder why the monarch disposed of Ines/Esteban in favor of the player’s character. I think it might be a bit too late for the author to make that change to the game, though.

Even though you were not personally hating on the magic, it certainly seems as though some of the others were. It is entirely possible that I was misjudging the tones and attitudes of the others though. Perhaps I simply used the wrong word to describe the feelings demonstrated. “Bashing the magic system” would probably have been better.

Also, I have absolutely no idea what the whole thing about Antonio is. I must have never gotten to a point in the story where Antonio lies about his parents. I’ll have to play through it again and see if I can find it before I make any judgement on that.


#20

Oh no, it wasn’t made as a suggestion to change Choice of Romance in any way. It was just a thought exercise, offering up what could work as an alternative method of allowing equality in regards to gender and sexuality, while ensuring that there were similar problems to all paths.

But no, I wouldn’t want Affairs of the Court to change its basic premise.

It’s just, if anyone else decides to make a game in a similar manner, I’d like for them to think through their premise.

I think it’s extremely easy to poke holes in things, to pull them apart and point out all of the flaws. It’s very easy to criticise. It’s more difficult to find solutions to said problems that work while preserving the same sort of dynamic. So I was just wondering if I could come up with something similar.

I liked the whole idea of the Life Mages and Death Mages. That the royal family was generally the only place where they inter-married and that it was important that they alternate between Life and Death mage.

I think part of the issue is that Choice of Games just don’t have the same freedom as novels do, to worldbuild and explore the worlds created.