One of the fun things about building Homebrew settings is the ability to smash genres together and see what pretty patterns show up. It’s both an intellectual exercise and a creative break. There’s a refreshing amount of freedom that comes with being able to cherry pick the best of things you love and slapping them together.
I suppose the best examples come from published settings. Exalted, Deadlands and Shadowrun are great examples of Genre Mashups, with Exalted pulling on Western Mythology with an Eastern Aesthetic. Deadlands takes the Western setting and infuses it with a heck of a lot of Horror tropes. Shadowrun smashes Cyberpunk Dystopia with Fantasy Creatures. Heck, even the lesser known Hellas is essentially Greeks in Spaaaaace!
What this provides GMs is the ability to take 2 great tastes and see if they taste great together. From a play perspective, one has the advantage of taking tropes that are familiar and easy to relate to from 2 distinct genres and put them together in a fashion that is easy to understand, and remarkably easy to play in. Everyone knows what a hacker is like, and how Elves usually appear arrogant and aloof… so we pretty much have an idea of how an Elven hacker should act.
While I’m working on my next Deadlands session, I’m also idly running a few possible Genre / Setting Mashups that might make for something interesting to run. I don’t have a lot just yet, but some of the things that have come up in my brain are:
- Space Opera / Wuxia – In a time of Warring Star Systems, wandering swordsmen, cunning sages and wily courtiers seek their fortunes to the backdrop of the stars and in massive Chinese-architecture inspired Capital Ships, all of which center their navigations upon the Imperial Capital: Chung Kuo, or the Middle Kingdom.
- Pulp / Supernatural Horror – A series heavily inspired by the brilliant Hellboy and BPRD series by Mike Mignola, a team of misfits and strangely talented individuals are gathered to investigate, and occasionally stop dangerous Supernatural activity. Backed up with massive amounts of research into real world superstition, magical theory and monsters.
- Noir / Fantasy – Forget the idyllic fantasy cities that resemble Belle’s hometown in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The roads stink, there are beggars everywhere and disease is a very real threat, but that’s not your problem is it? As a guild of “adventurers” you’re little more than thugs and investigators for hire, called on to do the odd spelunking job or detective work that the City Watch can’t be bothered with.
I’m certain there’s more that’s hidden away, bouncing around in my brain. But putting them up here on the blog won’t hurt either, who knows, I might inspire someone to run these combinations…