RPG Categories

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Khedrac
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RPG Categories

Post by Khedrac » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:18 pm

As I think everyone has noticed, we have quite a few surveys of which RPGs people have played, divided by type.
The current list is:
  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Horror
  • Contemporary/Action (Spy)
  • Period/Historical
  • Superhero
  • 'Universal' systems
But how complete is this list?
Some games seem to fit in multiple categories, e.g. original and Dark Ages Call of Cthulhu are both Horror and Period, and Shadowrun is both Fantasy and SciFi while others don't fit any category very well (where do you put 'Lost Souls'?)
The first new category we should probably have is "Cartoon" for games like 'Toon' (and perhaps 'Teenagers from Outer Space'?) but what other categories are lurking out there that need adding?
Do we need to sub-divide categories? - E.g. 'Comedy SciFi', 'Cyber SciFi' and 'classic SciFi'?
Do we need to merge categories like 'Period' and 'Contemporary'? - a lot of old espionage games are distinctly 'period' by now - politics and technology move on fast.

Edit: how do I get the bullets to repeat on the list?


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Re: RPG Categories

Post by shesheyan » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:27 pm

Multi-genre is a Rpg category on wikipedia. Comedy also is. Other than that no classification can withstand the test of time. Science-fiction is a very complex genre. Transhumanism should be a category. Science-fantasy is a category (flash gordon), alternate history science fiction is another one...
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Re: RPG Categories

Post by agathokles » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:45 pm

Many games fit in multiple categories because the categories are based mostly on codified genres, not on a set of characteristics. E.g., you can classify games (rules+setting, because rules alone can accommodate multiple tech levels) according to tech level, obtaining a difference between "SciFi" (i.e., more than modern tech), Contemporary, Modern, Age of Sails, Medieval, Iron Age, Bronze Age, etc. Then you could cross this classification with the tone (Horror, Heroic, Comedy, etc), and possibly with the level of supernatural elements (none, covert/limited to NPCs, covert/available to PCs, overt, dominant), to obtain a more complete classification.
However, codified genres are both more popular and more representative, with most cross-genre games being purposefully cross-genre -- e.g., Deadlands is clearly Western + Supernatural Horror, and Shadowrun is Cyberpunk + Fantasy.

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Re: RPG Categories

Post by Havard » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:33 pm

Funny how people think in similar ways! :D I was thinking about creating a topic more or less like this the other day, but something got in the way.

Like with most categories and definitions there is no right or wrong. It simply depends on what you want to investigate.

I don't see any problems with RPGs falling into multiple categories. I think that is unavoidable.

A few thoughts on the current categories:

Horror: I like that Shesheyan included supernatural into this category. This allows for us to include games like Buffy, Angel,WitchCraft. Dresden Files etc which aren't strictly horror games. Alternatively we could have a separate category for these games.

Contemporary/Action/Spy: I sort of like how WotC included in their Modern line anything from 1600s to current day. Since historical is a separate category there is a question of where to draw the line. I would be fine with either anytthing after 1945 as modern or anything after the Cold War. The second option would leave things like James Bond 007 (published in the 1980s) as historical and I still feel like that belongs as modern.

Period/Historical: This one will often blend with Horror, Fantasy or Modern/Action/Spy, but I think it is still a useful category. I prefer somewhat broad categories so I dont think a strictly historical with no supernatural elements is of interest.



Cartoon (proposed): If we want to make this category a bit larger, I think comedy, parody and satire games could include most cartoon RPGs, although there are obviously cartoons that aren't humorous. Tales from the Floating Vagabond, Paranoia, TWERPS, Baron Munchhausen and others might fit in a comedy category.

One category I think is missing so far is the Cross-Genre RPGs. Not sure how popular these are anymore, but TORG and RIFTS are the main examples I can think of where the same campaign can include elements from multiple genres. Feng Shui might fit here too (YMMV). IMO that is significantly different from universal systems.

Maybe even a separate category for WEIRD rpgs like Over the Edge?

Anyway, I suppose there is no reason why you couldn't have BOTH broad categories and narrow categories that overlap, especially if we are talking about polls here on The Piazza. Let's go wild! :)

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Re: RPG Categories

Post by willpell » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:33 pm

I had very minimal experience with a Mecha RPG called Mekton Zeta. I mention it only because it would be hard to classify; Sci-Fi is the closest fit, but it's hardly the same game as Traveler or Star Wars.

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Re: RPG Categories

Post by timemrick » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:08 am

Havard wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:33 pm
Maybe even a separate category for WEIRD rpgs like Over the Edge?
OTE is an excellent example of a RPG that's hard to describe in terms of genre. Kenneth Hite's label "high weirdness" (which was one of the handful of overlapping categories he used to describe the purview of his old "Suppressed Transmission" columns) probably comes closest.
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Re: RPG Categories

Post by willpell » Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:22 pm

timemrick wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:08 am
Havard wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:33 pm
Maybe even a separate category for WEIRD rpgs like Over the Edge?
OTE is an excellent example of a RPG that's hard to describe in terms of genre. Kenneth Hite's label "high weirdness" (which was one of the handful of overlapping categories he used to describe the purview of his old "Suppressed Transmission" columns) probably comes closest.
I would also name Unknown Armies as a game which seems to fit that label.

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Re: RPG Categories

Post by Havard » Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:23 pm

willpell wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:22 pm
timemrick wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:08 am
Havard wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:33 pm
Maybe even a separate category for WEIRD rpgs like Over the Edge?
OTE is an excellent example of a RPG that's hard to describe in terms of genre. Kenneth Hite's label "high weirdness" (which was one of the handful of overlapping categories he used to describe the purview of his old "Suppressed Transmission" columns) probably comes closest.
I would also name Unknown Armies as a game which seems to fit that label.
Agreed! :)

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snorri
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Re: RPG Categories

Post by snorri » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:22 pm

Western could be distinguished as a genre, even if it fall under the historical game.

Sword'n'Sorcery is somewhat distinct from classic fantasy.

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Re: RPG Categories

Post by willpell » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:45 pm

What about Deadlands, the game of the "weird west"? That's certainly not "historical".

Dividing Sword & Sorcery (Conan etc) from High Fantasy (Tolkien et al) is largely an exercise in hair-splitting, given how much overlap there is between these genres. I wouldn't call them inherently different things, any more than Iron Man and Ant-Man are different genres of movie. They're both superhero movies, even though they have a radical divergence in tone.

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Re: RPG Categories

Post by agathokles » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:27 pm

willpell wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:45 pm
What about Deadlands, the game of the "weird west"? That's certainly not "historical".

Dividing Sword & Sorcery (Conan etc) from High Fantasy (Tolkien et al) is largely an exercise in hair-splitting, given how much overlap there is between these genres. I wouldn't call them inherently different things, any more than Iron Man and Ant-Man are different genres of movie. They're both superhero movies, even though they have a radical divergence in tone.
Such difference move from the hair splitting category to meaningful when you look close enough. High Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, and other sub-genres are distinct enough that some people appreciate one but not the other. When discussing general literature, the difference is indeed minor, when discussing fantasy literature then this is a major split.

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Re: RPG Categories

Post by willpell » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:32 pm

agathokles wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:27 pm
Such difference move from the hair splitting category to meaningful when you look close enough. High Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, and other sub-genres are distinct enough that some people appreciate one but not the other. When discussing general literature, the difference is indeed minor, when discussing fantasy literature then this is a major split.
Some people appreciate black comedies but don't appreciate slapstick and farce. That doesn't mean they don't both qualify as comedy. If your list of genres isn't truly gigantic, there's no reason to split the "comedy" category into different tones, when there's actually going to be quite a lot of overlap from one end of that spectrum to the other.

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Re: RPG Categories

Post by Angel Tarragon » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:12 pm

willpell wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:32 pm
Some people appreciate black comedies but don't appreciate slapstick and farce. That doesn't mean they don't both qualify as comedy. If your list of genres isn't truly gigantic, there's no reason to split the "comedy" category into different tones, when there's actually going to be quite a lot of overlap from one end of that spectrum to the other.
I have to agree with this. While not a huge fan of slapstick, I do occasionally enjoy it. Within each genre there are sub-genres.
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Re: RPG Categories

Post by willpell » Sat Jul 21, 2018 4:25 pm

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:12 pm
willpell wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:32 pm
Some people appreciate black comedies but don't appreciate slapstick and farce. That doesn't mean they don't both qualify as comedy. If your list of genres isn't truly gigantic, there's no reason to split the "comedy" category into different tones, when there's actually going to be quite a lot of overlap from one end of that spectrum to the other.
I have to agree with this. While not a huge fan of slapstick, I do occasionally enjoy it. Within each genre there are sub-genres.
Well I wasn't talking about literal comedy, it was an analogy.

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