How to balance gritty realism vs high fantasy.

tl;dr: How gritty, dirty and realistic is your game? Where on the low-high fantasy spectrum do you enjoy the game the most?

I'm fairly new to the community, but I've noticed that there's some contention regarding how gritty an ArM game should be. For instance, I sometimes see magi hiding in their labs and never leaving for fear of persecution or aging. So, do the Companions in your ideal game live in fear that a snag on a rusty nail will lead to sepsis, shock and death? Or are they flame-wielding pirate lords battling the Tuatha Dé Danann on the high seas, living in glorious splendor and looking down on the Earth from their vast, flying cities? Or where in between those extremes do your games tend to lie? What have you enjoyed the most, and why? Have you ever tried either extreme, and if so, what did you learn?

I'm just trying to learn from others' experience so that my first game will be as enjoyable as possible for everyone.

We don't leave our labs because we have stuff to do and the Gift makes it so we are poorly received.

A lot of sagas downplay or play up the affects of the Gift (that is probably a good sliding scale to look at). In my saga we basically try to avoid the affects of the Gift. We have a companion talk to people and arrange lodging before we show up and then keep enough thuggage around to stop them from going back on their deal. We do things off screen and then use a Companion to tell the townsfolk about our great deeds while staying conspicuously out of sight. Our Blatant Gift guy stays in the lab or stays out of sight when we go abroad.

Injury wise I think people generally just play by the rules. Which tend towards the gritty end. I use spells to let my fighter companions act like Fantasy heroes in the moment (Berserker ignore wounds spell with increased duration). But they have to sleep it off off screen after the fact.

Some of that depends on what types of characters you have. Companions are a bit out of control in my saga. My companion is a Sky-person Elementalist who runs the party around on a ship carved to look like a dragon. We also have a faerie knight explicitly acts like a fantasy hero. I imagine if every one were a pure mortal it would be more down to earth.


Ask your players what they want their characters to do. Take it from there.

Listen to them, not to us. (Except for this totally excellent advice, naturally.)

Because the ideal answer is subjective, and their taste (and yours) is what matters here.



In my home campaign, the players with adventurous magi have quiet companions, and the adventurous companions have lab-based magi. Keeps things nice and balanced. With regards to how high the fantasy is, the world is kind of gritty and grim, and the magi are trying to fix that.