A genre is a category of art or entertainment media that has certain conventions, developed over time, relating to the genre's style, form, or content. Genres both inform the works that are produced in those genres (particularly where works intentionally adhere to or deviate from genre conventions) and are informed by them (particularly where works exist at the edges of established genre conventions). Genres may be distinct or may overlap, particularly when new genres arise out of old ones. Stand-alone works have their own styles, but can be classified as certain genres depending on the conventions that the works embody.
Role-playing games have genres like any other form of media. Genres relating to role-playing games may be any of three broad types: genre of story (based on what happens in the fiction and what characters can be expected to do), genre of setting (based on the trappings of the imaginary world in which the game takes place), and genre of system (based on the sorts of rules and game mechanics the game uses). Like genres themselves, these types are not necessarily mutually exclusive and may overlap.
Genre emulation is using a game's system to emulate the genres of other media (film, television, video games, literature, etc.). Some genres of system, for example Powered by the Apocalypse games (based on mechanical conventions derived from Apocalypse World), have genre emulation (for genres of story and setting) as a genre convention.
Genre of storyEdit
Genre of story comes from the sort of narrative that will be told by the group of players playing the game. It is also, as a result, also about what the player characters will be expected to do and what sort of scenarios they will find themselves in.
Action-adventure is the predominant story genre in role-playing games (known as the action-adventure bias), but there can still be significant genre variation within the action-adventure genre both from its many subgenres and from interactions with other types of genre (setting and system).
Examples of genre of storyEdit
- Heist (or infiltration)
- Investigative (or detective)
- Martial arts
Genre of settingEdit
Genre of setting comes from the conventions of the imaginary world in which the game takes place and the kind of things that player characters can expect to find. For example, magic is likely to exist in a fantasy RPG but not a historical Western.
Dungeons & Dragons is sometimes said to be its own genre, partly because of the popularity of the game, the consistency of its setting assumptions, and the way those assumptions have migrated beyond the game itself (often with very little change).
Examples of genre of settingEdit
- Alternate history
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Many worlds
- Science fiction
- Urban fantasy
- World War 2
Genre of systemEdit
Innovative games may inspire or encourage others to adopt thir conventions, and the resulting games may be classified into a new genre to indicate the inspiration (for example, Powered by the Apocalypse games are those inspired by Apocalypse World). In some cases, influential games originally of one genre may produce new genres of their own (for instance, Blades in the Dark was originally Powered by the Apocalypse before producing the Forged in the Dark genre).
Genre of system is generally considered distinct from a system that may be used for multiple games, usually from the same publisher (such as the Cypher System games of Monte Cook Games, which include Numenera, The Strange, and Predation). However, when systems are made freely available to game designers, games using the system's mechanics may tweak certain rules into new formulations, and the system becomes its own genre (such as the D20 System).
Examples of genre of systemEdit
- D20 System
- Descended from MonkeyDome
- Descended from the Queen
- Forged in the Dark
- Indie game
- Lyric game
- Old school role-playing games (OSR)
- Powered by the Apocalypse
- Story game
- SWORD DREAM
- Traditional role-playing game