View Full Version : Subgenre campaigns are difficicult

2016-01-20, 05:26 AM
Hi everyone.

Just some thoughts I would like to share.

I propose the theory that subgenre campaigns are much more difficult to run than ordinary ones.
By subgenre I mean certain mission types, e. g. a campaign that focusses only on investigation, court intrigue, battle and so on. One example that comes to my mind is Cthulhu, which offers the right setting for certain ideas like investigation, but does not work well with epic battles.
If you look at a generic fantasy (or sci-fi or what have you) rpg, you can vary the mission types / subgenres easily. It is no problem to have an adventure about court intrigues, than another one on dungeon crawling, survival horror, a marvellous heist and so on.
While it is possible to have a campaign within a certain subgenre, it is more difficult because you have to come up with similar themes that are still different enough to not feel like a copy.
I realize that certain groups might strictly favour certain subgenres, but I also think that these are a minority, which might also be the reason for the dominance of broader genres.

2016-01-20, 05:48 AM
Cthulhu works just fine with epic battles, don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

But yes, a setting or rules system that is very good at doing a single thing is not going to have as much longevity as a thing that kind of sort of does everything. I still prefer very specific games, though. I like the challenge of working within a set framework and trying to put a fresh spin on it for as long as possible. A vague sandbox of everyone doing whatever they want while the GM improvises whatever sounds like fun at the time is easy, sure, but it can lose focus eventually if you're not careful and at that point you really need to have a strong cast of characters to justify calling all of these separate elements a campaign in the first place.

Edit: High-five on the Torment sig! Speaking of which, Planescape is an awesome setting if you want to run a campaign that has the potential for literally anything but it also has the potential for a campaign that is very focused on a narrow range of themes and actions, as witnessed in Planescape: Torment.

2016-01-20, 06:12 AM
Most TV shows I follow have the characters basically doing the same thing for the majority of episodes and still manage to keep it varied. For example, Lie To Me basically has the characters doing nothing but solving mysteries by reading nonverbal cues really well. But the mysteries are varied and interesting, even though they all fall into the same genre.

If you really can't think of anything new to do, try watching a TV show in that genre and cribbing episodes from it. As long as you change enough minor details, the players won't notice.

2016-01-20, 07:22 AM
I think it's really about the characters (and thus sometimes about the system) It's easy to keep in genre when the PCs tend to solve problems in ways that push the story where you want it. If you have a party built for intrigue and courtly manners, they aren't likely to surprise you with a sudden killing spree that changes the nature of the game, because their not good at that.

In some systems, some genre's become harder, because it's hard to build PCs without out-of-genre abilities that push the story in other directions. D&D and courtly intrigue comes to mind, because powerful characters will have combat toys that push them toward violent solutions.