Battle Fantasia is not a theme for everyone. We're comfortable with this, but to help would-be players decide if the place is for them, we have thrown together some important conventions of the genre to consider - both in terms of the type of RP we consider most likely to occur on the game, and in terms of how the game world will react to peoples' RP.
- Transformation items, or at least some other item of power, are required, and further exploration of the source of one’s powers is heavily recommended. The Paths to Power guidelines discuss the nature of power on Battle Fantasia in depth; the shortest of all versions is “the power of the heart, after you gain access to it via some external impetus like an object, fairy, or revelation of a past life.”
- Discrete transformations are also required, between being a civilian and a powered combatant, though costumes are not. They’re just encouraged, and so is, in general, embrace rather than avoidance of magical girl conventions.
- Furthermore, feelings have primacy: it isn’t how much of a badass all your training and/or talent have made you, it’s the strength of your feelings, and your choice to act on that strength, that ultimately defines victory and defeat in the genre.
- Magical girls fight to save dying people and dying worlds, dying ideals, even dying dreams... but the battle, in itself, is not the part of the story that’s important. It is a vehicle for connections between people that might be established and explored during the battles -- people saving one another being the most prominent example -- but it is never battle for battle’s sake. Violence is always the last resort, not the first one... mostly. And whenever there are characters hardened by the world who feel otherwise -- it is a universal constant in the magical girl story that these characters eventually discover that they are wrong. That all their violence will be for naught, when the right person extends the hand of friendship or peace or love at the right time.
- That is another way of saying that the magical girl genre explores issues of morality and altruism in depth. There is a fair bit of gray, but ultimately hope tends to triumph over despair, love over hatred, good over evil.
- Also, because relationships are important, characters rarely go it totally alone -- not even the villains! If they do, something has gone badly wrong for them.
- One way in which characters rarely go it alone is with mascots, though they don’t stand in for a team dynamic. Mascots are sometimes more mature than their partners, and sometimes less. More mature mascots are usually mentor figures; less mature mascots generally highlight the magical girl’s relative independence and sense of responsibility -- whether she enjoys that or not. Mascots are usually cute, but that doesn’t preclude them having their own agendas. They aren’t always totally useless, but their combat utility is generally pretty limited. Not everyone has a mascot, but mascots are undeniably a part of the setting that are more than only comic relief, and should be treated as more than just a running joke.
- Sexism is simply not a major element of the theme; magical girl stories have very, very few ‘Girl Power Hooray, We Beat The Man’ moments because they are not written through the lens of ‘girls are normally less powerful than boys.’ When a magical girl rescues a boy, the boy is almost always grateful, not embarrassed. Conversely, powered males don’t whine because they lost to girls (though they occasionally whine that they lost to meddling kids; in coming of age stories, ageism is not uncommon), and they also don’t protect magical girls because they’re girls. They protect them for other reasons, like love and justice. That isn’t to say that we’re pretending sexism doesn’t exist, but the average character in the setting, be they hero or villain, does not discriminate by gender.
- Any issue of sexuality or gender should be undertaken sensitively on BF, but especially those involving queer characters. Any character can be funny, queer characters included! If you're primarily using these elements for humor, though, you should probably rethink the choice.
- There is certainly racism in modern Japan, but the reality of magical girl is that it tends not to explore the issue, probably in part because everybody is painted all manner of unrealistic hues. Also because anime often avoids confronting issues that matter, instead quietly sweeping them under the rug. As with gender, at Battle Fantasia acceptance and embrace of people of all color is the norm, but that doesn’t mean the topic can’t be maturely explored.
- One final note to remember: while most of our sources are anime, anime doesn't always match the tone we strive for on gender, sexuality, and race. From panty shots, to genderbending for pure titillation, to queer characters being treated as inferior or weird, to cruel racial stereotypes, it's unfortunately true that our integrated canons occasionally engage in behavior that's not appropriate for BF. We trust our players to be mature and kind in their treatment of these very personal issues.
- Your magical life and your mundane life are both essential. Going hard in one direction or the other is conventionally a Bad Move - either you're shirking your duties and allowing evil a chance at victory, or you're shirking your /life/ and quite possibly ruining it in the process. Remember, even the hardcore Tuners-4-lyfe are in school. Even the one who hunts monsters to get enough money /to eat/.
- The median age is a lot lower than is typical for large games; "youth" really are about 8, the average person is around 14/8th grade/2nd year Japanese middle school, and if you're 18 you're practically a mummy. Playing adults is fine, but you’re not going to be the norm. Adults are generally either villains or backed-away mysterious mentor figures. Quite a few source themes are at least moderately restricted to youth, as well, given their coming-of-age nature.
- The secret must be kept. The fantastic world is a terrifying, ugly thing, full of wonder but also full of monsters, and violence, and creatures from the underbelly of the universe eating peoples' souls. Normal people don't need to know about just how ugly it is. Exactly how 'kept' it needs to be varies - some people worry about keeping the public from knowing about magic at all, but others prefer to just make sure they aren't associated with it in daily life. Some don't even care if their enemies find out their identities, as long as their school doesn't. But regardless of how concerned you are with active secret-keeping: /Drawing attention/ to the secret world is something to be fought against. Often, the secret keeps itself; magical girl finishing attacks inexplicably also repairing the landscape is a good example.
- Fortunately on Battle Fantasia there is also the tangible IC concept of Recognition Inhibition to draw upon, courtesy of a dying wish of Queen Serenity; not only is collateral damage spontaneously fixed by lovebeams, but normal people tend to react to what they see in the moment, and then after the fact, rationalize magical girls vs. monsters as vigilantes vs. criminals, gas line explosions, and so forth. This is also why transformed magical girls are unrecognizable to their best friends.
- Collateral damage in the real world is very rare in magical girl: when the sparkles clear from the lovebeams at the end of the battle, anything damaged is, more often than not, repaired. This can be for a variety of reasons, but no real explanation is required beyond the power of love. Of course, there are exceptions. But we very much want to discourage casual real-world destruction. Instead, we highly recommend limiting meaningful collateral damage of any kind, post-battle, to very major plot events; otherwise, in this setting, it loses its narrative weight. Recognition Inhibition shields almost nobody who's a Player Character on our game, and the regular world getting blown up should be a very big deal to those who see through it, like magical girls. Even damage masked by RI can entirely change the tone of a setting; it creates a climate of fear and oppression. That's something done on Battle Fantasia, but it's strictly a sometimes food, and one that requires staff permission, per Player Run Plots.
- Magical girl stories are light-hearted, but sometimes about extremely dark topics. In general, though, that darkness is treated both thoughtfully and tastefully. Things can get very ugly indeed, because there are fates much worse than death. What is life without love? And because of that, magical girl stories are about life -- coming-of-age, relationships blossoming and evolving, as together everyone discovers the endless wonder of their infinitely weird, mysterious world.
- The genre not only deals with both the weighty and the goofy, but often does so in the same place. Madoka Magica is notorious for being rather grim, but in a lot of ways it doesn't actually go much further than, say, Heartcatch Pretty Cure - it just doesn't add that layer of sparkles and innocence that makes Pretty Cure seem a lot nicer of a world. By the same token, Battle Fantasia is perfectly capable of hosting a scene where the monster of the week enforces a hot-dog eating contest -- and is just as capable of making children watch as their parents' souls are torn out right in front of their eyes.
Of course, these and similar genre rules aren't iron clad; people go against the grain often enough, and surely more than one plot will call some of these out for IC examination, deconstruction, and reconstruction. But by the same token, this file should be taken as a description of what the genre considers 'good' - and therefore, what the administration does. Being someone who thinks the whole world should be aware of magic might not make you evil, but it does make you someone the world disagrees with, and you will be treated accordingly.