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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Genre Mash-Ups

I love a good crossover or mash-up, and I'm not the only one.

I think that part of the appeal (especially in RPGs) is to create something new, but retain the ability to make easy reference for new players. If you create an entirely original setting idea, then you have to explain a ton of details to everyone just to establish the basic concept. But if you start with a mash-up setting, then you can explain the basic concept with a few words. For example, Shadowrun can describe itself as "Lord of the Rings meets Neuromancer," and people who know those references will have an immediate idea of what kind of world it might be.

I occasionally pull specific examples for mash-ups (see my cyberpunk-Star Wars idea), but generally I prefer to use basic genres, like paranormal and noir. Once I've picked a couple of genres, I isolate a few key elements and see if there's any overlap or stark contrast, and if there is, then I can create a basic framework. After that, it's just a matter of zooming in to the level of detail I want.

Here are a few of my favorite genre mash-ups ideas.

Genre Mash-Ups

Renaissance Resistance: Roman gods return in 1502 to rule Italy through death & fear. Leonardo da Vinci leads the rebels. (clockpunk / dystopia)

Steel and Flesh: Merciless scientific guilds rule from ivory towers. Cyborg rebels follow a bushido and defend the people. (transhumanist / samurai)

Hack the Devil: PCs are hackers with arm-mounted Enochian keyboards that they use to hack reality and counter the forces of Satan throughout the solar system. (paranormal / sci-fi / cyberpunk)

Solar Civil War: Cadets are the only hope for the Union Alliance when the Liberty Confederation ambushes the Solar Fleet. (historical / space opera)

W.E.I.R.D.: In ’47, the Bureau acquired alien tech. Now, 10 years later, they’ll have to use it to stop monsters from Faerie. (paranormal / atomic age)

Trojan War Heroes: Legendary Greek heroes go to Troy by themselves to defeat the Trojan army with their unique fighting styles. (wuxia / mythic)

A Fistul of Neurons: Old West lawbringers arrive in the cyberpunk future and attempt to bring their own style of justice to the dystopia. (western / cyberpunk)

Press Start: PCs are classic video game characters who must recover the pieces of the Genesis Code before an alliance of villains can reboot the universe. (adventure / humor)

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