Genre Blending in Role-Playing Games

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Cojo asked us to talk about Genre Blending in role-playing games:

“I wanted to get your opinion on blending genres in your gaming… Personally, I am a huge fan of genre mash-ups. I love games that mix genres such as Rifts, Dungeon Crawl Classics, the Spelljammer campaign setting, or Call of Cthulhu.

I am also a game master who will drop some sci-fi in my fantasy and vice versa, on a semi-regular basis… I have had my share of players who do not like [mash-ups] but I have learned over the years that their concerns can be addressed in the way the genre blending is presented. 
For example, I use the time honored method of describing things from the PC’s perspective, and avoid meta game descriptions. 

  • Robots are presented as “magical animated iron statues.”
  • Psionics are just another form of magic effects. 
  • To PCs, aliens are just more monsters from someplace they have not explored such as another plane or the Underdark. 

When the out-of-genre elements are presented in this manner, I find that my players do not have as much cognitive dissonance about what is showing up in the campaign.
Some of the adventures that blend genres that we have enjoyed the most over the years include:

* S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (which is getting a full 5e conversion by Goodman Games later this year) by Gary Gygax (for AD&D)
* Dungeon Crawl Classics #79 Frozen in Time by Michael Curtis
* The Stars are Right scenario collection (for Call of Cthulhu)
* SJS1 Goblin’s Return by Bruce Nesmith (for Spelljammer)
* DA3 City of the Gods by Dave Arneson and David Ritchie (for Basic D&D)

So…. what do Sean and Brett think about blending genres like this?”

Do we like it?

Hate it?

Have we done it?

How would we do it?

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