Monday, November 10, 2014

Promiscuity in Genre

I think like most gamers - and particularly writers - I have extremely promiscuous tastes in genre. I love a little bit of everything - fantasy, pulp, science fiction, mainstream fiction, mysteries - the list goes on. I recently discovered Prepper Fiction, at that. Ho boy. The samples I've come across have been amazing as they are terrible.

Likewise, I find that I often want to game in vastly different settings and genres, and I find it somewhat frustrating that the choices seem to be so few. It's not that there are no games in a given genre, it's that there is often one, maybe two, and they are frequently not all that great. Or worse, they are supplements for a generic system which by definition isn't actually built around said genre. Even if one finds an adequate game, you face the larger trouble: finding players.

What is it about gamers that make us cleave so closely to a given genre? Elves & Dwarves fantasy seems to be home base for most people, but there is a large swath that never seem to want to leave that realm. This isn't bashing that kind of game, it's an honest query as to what power it holds over the audience; what it is they perceive about the genre that they seem to be unable to satisfy elsewhere?

As for myself, I have a handful of genres I'd love to get a legitimate campaign in one day, if I could ever find a system and players to do so.
Sword & Sandals: I have a deep and abiding love of sword & sorcery fiction, but my history nerd often bristles at the bizarre anachronisms frequently employed. One day, one day, I am going to run a hyborean style game set in a post-mythic bronze age, with all of the scale and grandeur it deserves. I'm frequently told RuneQuest is a good system for that, but I've yet to get my hands on it. I'm skeptical of d100 systems though, so we shall see.

Westerns: Westerns are literally made for adventurers. Seriously. Isolated frontier towns fighting off marauding bandits, people searching for gold, angry indigenous types raiding? The pulpy frontier is made for adventuring.

Steel & Shot: Anywhere post renaissance, from Alexander Dumas style three musketeer stories, to thrilling tales of piratical adventure or even up to the tumultuous times of the American or French revolutions.

Dark Ages: legitimately a norse or saxon era campaign (think 900AD), played completely straight. As with many of the above, half the interest is going to be in interacting with the world and culture. 

There are a number of others I would love to get in one day as well - post-apocalyptic survival, space opera, etc - but those are the big ones.

If you happen by and feel the urge to comment, especially if you're one of those people that games primarily or exclusively in classic fantasy, leave a comment. Why do you prefer that genre? What do you get out of it that you don't think you would get elsewhere?

Until next time. 


  1. There are a couple of free retroclones based on the RuneQuest system which are well-suited for the sort of sword & sandal adventuring you're talking about. GORE and OpenQuest are the two big names there, if you want to look at them to get a feel for what the full game is like. But if you've played Call of Cthulhu or Pendragon, there are many similarities between those.

    Anyway, I am pretty genre-promiscuous, so I don't have much insight to give into why people never leave their one. Maybe because ongoing games tend to be better than one-shots, and people just don't want to try something new for such a long period?

    1. That's entirely possible.

      I'd heard of OpenQuest, but not GORE. I'll have to go digging and snag a copy from somewhere to take a look. Thanks!