With all the success in recent years of superhero movies, the recent release of the somewhat suspiciously-cowled playboy iconic of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Intrigue book, and the Crisis of the World Eater Kickstarter it is worth a brief look at the successful tactic employed by big comic book and movie studios… the Genre Remix.
Big studios like Marvel have differentiated a lot of of their superhero movies with a simple tactic: Take the base genre of superheroes and mix it with another genre of story. Stories that often fall flat or might otherwise be considered predictable become instantly more nuanced by the second set thematic of thematic elements coming into play.
Taking the base fantasy structure implied by the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and overlaying a second (or third, or fourth…) genre can make new levels of complexity and depth develop in your game. Horror and Historical pieces are almost already part of the basics of the fantasy worlds laid out for the game, but we don’t need to stop there.
- Alien Invasion – This classic sci-fi story structure can combine with any number of fantasy monsters from possessing doppelgangers to possessing demons for a body snatcher feel to a out and out invasion by infernal princes or aberrant armies, a GM will find explosive story elements instantly at her finger tips.
- Superhero – In low magic worlds or new kingdoms, adventuring parties may be god-like compared to the locals. Don’t be afraid to draw on the elements of superhero movies (hero worship, maintaining privacy, and rivals come to mind) as the party grows in power. Or go for something more overt and big-budget like the Crisis of the World Eater Kickstarter.
- Sci-Fi Exploration – World spanning star-sailboats or time-jumping adventuring parties race to alien worlds or raid the tombs of the past right before the disaster that engulfs the ancient empire. The possible genre adds with these story elements can be amazing in versatility and pacing variation.
- Escape Thrillers – The party wakes up and finds themselves in a dangerous new situation. Basics of survive or society support alter in these stories and the party can hit a breakneck pace trying to find their way home or escape the lawmen tracking them for crimes they didn’t commit.
- Military & War – Classic thematics of fantasy often draw on elements of military engagement as historic backdrops but the actual reality of ongoing war in game (even if the party isn’t soldiers) changes the dials of all sorts of basics. Saving the livestock of the village from a dragon is more important when the roads to the South (and more food) are cut off by the Black Tyrants legions. The decoration and pangentry of post-war stories can be equally engaging.
- Buddy Cop – More of a party initiated common place event, the addition of a partnership (Say Good Cop/Bad Cop or Salty Dog/Wide Eyed Recruit) can add themes of both humor and realism to a campaign.
- Romance – An exotic princess shows up begging the party to find the rarest of moon-blossoming flower for her love to be. Thanking the party profusely she takes the gift only to be rebuffed again and sends the party after a new even more enticing gift.
The list goes on for miles. When planning your next game or campaign, don’t be afraid to mix it up with one or more genres like those above. You might create something your players won’t forget.