Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Multi-genre-ism: Firefly, Deadlands, 7th Sea, even Land of the Lost

Man, do I ever love Firefly. I've wanted to game it for a long time, but have never quite made it happen.

What I love most about Firefly is the many Genres it draws from. It's relatively hard SciFi, but it's also a cliche-ridden Western. Every so often, an episode will be about courtly affairs and dueling, or creepy Reaver-laced Lovecraftian horror, or a good old fashion heist/caper film. There's even Orcs in Serenity. You can do anything in that setting. Each new planet or episode can have a completely different roots.

In particular, I think it'd be a great RPG setting because you could run a long-term campaign with recurring characters, yet keep everything fresh by setting each session in a different genre. I love trying out new things, yet also get significant pleasure out of ongoing character development. A setting like Firefly gets the best of both worlds in that regards.

There's other RPG settings that get a similar multigenre feel...
  • Deadlands explores much of the same territory, but includes pulp and steampunk elements instead of SciFi, and plays up the Horror aspects much more than Firefly ever did. It also has magic, which is about the only genre trope you couldn't work into Firefly. It uses a variant on Savage Worlds these days, and I expect I'll end up running it or playing in it someday. The poker hands used in Hexslinging and fastdraw shoot-outs is pretty slick.
  • 7th Sea is all historic fantasy, but it leans heavily on more than one era of history. I like that one PC can be a pirate, another a viking, the third a french musketeer, the fourth a celtic bard, and the 5th a spanish inquisitor. Despite all that crossing of the streams, it manages to stay coherent. It's also got the most flavorful magic systems ever set to paper - Porté is damn creepy. Which brings up it's other cross-genre embellishments: Swashbuckling pirates, noble nights and scheming courtiers cross paths with supernatural archaeology, witches and demonologists, the sidhe, dark conspiracies, and Zorro. Good stuff.
This week, I'm embarking on an ongoing RPG experiment. I'll be starting a one-player Savage Worlds campaign with my wife. The setting will be the cheesy old children's show Land of the Lost. More on that in my next post.

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