One of the oddest game supplements I’ve ever run across, that I’ve held onto for the sheer novelty and possible bunnies, is a D20 supplement called When The Sky Falls. It was about dropping a meteorite on your game campaign.
…No, really. It has damage charts for HP depending on how close you are to the strike, effects of debris, and a whole host of other things.
It also, because it is a fantasy D20 supplement, has a host of options for what the meteorite actually is, from purely mundane rock to magical ores to a piece of a fallen evil god. (Rather nasty, that one.) And, of course, there are ways intrepid adventurers could either profit from investigating the crater or come to horrible agonizing deaths. Possibly both. You know GMs. 😉
But as I’ve poked and re-read that supplement over the years, I got to thinking: Why is this an oddity? Fantasy universes have all kinds of world-ending spells and monsters thrown around in them all the time; to the point that it’s hard to pick up a fantasy in the bookstore and not find the Fate Of The World Is At Stake!
…Which has actually led me to start looking for fantasies where it isn’t, just for the novelty, but that’s another story. Back to sky rocks.
Why aren’t meteors thrown around in current fantasy more often?
I have two main thoughts; I’m wondering if people will come up with others. First, in these modern days, meteorites are strongly associated with space, other planets, and Science, so people may feel they have no place in fantasy. Which is kind of odd, because if you look not that far back in history, meteorites and meteoric iron were considered Heap Big Magic in a lot of places. Heck, even New Agers today (and some people who aren’t, who just squee over the unique) think anything from outer space is Really Cool. I’ve seen polished meteoric steel, and even tektites cut as unusual smoky gems. They are neat.
Second – the major thing that makes a meteorite so scary is there is very little we can do about them, even with all our vaunted Science. Yet. If we knew a planet-killer was headed our way, we’d have to find some way to deflect it, or blast it into bitty enough pieces that they’d all burn up harmlessly in atmosphere. But first and foremost we would have to know it was coming.
And yet, that’s the very thing a fantasy world might be able to handle that we can’t. We’d have to have a telescope looking in the right place at the right time. In a magical world, someone might cast a divination of Ominous Horror, or spy it through a crystal ball, or even get a sympathetic vibration from their own meteorite pendant. And once you’ve got the threat fixed, all you hopefully have to do is apply enough force in the right place. Which, yes, might be tricky for a mostly medieval tech-level civilization (if that’s what the fantasy is), but I’m confident humans would be creative enough to think of something.
So… anyone have other thoughts on why people don’t drop more rocks in fantasy?