Friday, March 22, 2013

USR Genre Tree

Taking to heart all the discussion found on the blogs concerning railroads and sandboxes I believe the discriminating Game Master, concerned with delivering a high quality of play for his players, should both "play the game he wants to play", and provide as much "player agency" as he can.

This suggests to me the GM should be able to provide a wide array of genre choices for the players at the outset. I myself find all flavors of role playing with their charm and wouldn't mind having a host of choices on any given game night. What I do mind is having to learn entirely new game mechanics to make such a choice possible.

This has always sent me in search of a universal game engine in which to create adventures and settings which could accommodate my changing fancy, and offer play options which gave everyone around the table the most enjoyment too. Whatever universal game system you choose, I recommend some form of "rules-lite" generic set because a GM will be tasked with preparing multiple worlds in anticipation of a random genre choice. I'm also keen on as short of a character creation process as I can. I want to get the group into play as quickly as possible at this first game session. Myself I am designing adventures with Scott Malthouse's Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying System, and have it in mind as I continue here with the subject of this post; the Genre Tree.

The purpose of the Genre Tree is to provide a semi random table for choosing what game the group is all going to play. To create a pallet of intriguing adventure options, to start every ones creative juices flowing, and encourage player agency from the outset.

Here is my initial Genre Tree. I would let the players know they need to settle on one of the twelve possible genres listed under the four "meta-genres". Once the players had made this choice, say Post Apocalypse, we would then look at the choices available for this particular genre; anywhere from one, two or three, and make a final selection on the game world in which to adventure.

Space Opera
Cyber Punk
High Fantasy
Planetary Romance
Comic Book
Dark Fantasy
Hard Sci-Fi
Time Travel
Sword & Sorcery

This would mean your players would be looking at from twelve to thirty six possible game worlds to start adventuring in! Of course you don't have to offer as many choices, but I feel I have enough source books and different rule books on the shelf (let alone sci-fi, and fantasy novels) I can sketch out an initial adventure for all. 

The goal here is to have at this point initial character ideas so your group can have at the simple character creation rules of a system like USR with gusto. This should also help spark ideas for story hooks to begin to populate your new born sandbox.

In upcoming posts I will go through each of the "meta-genres"choices I've thrown out, and give a detailed list of campaign worlds for each.