RPGs (general)

Does genre dictate system?


I’ve been thinking a lot about systems lately. I recently bought a copy of the Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion and after a preliminary look it seems like a perfect fit for this genre. This isn’t surprising though, as Savage Worlds lends itself so well to campaigns with a pulp feel.

Since its release, I’ve used Savage Worlds for a number of different games and mini-campaigns but the only games that seem to mesh well with the system are those that mix genre elements in a fast paced, action-oriented atmosphere. The same is true of other systems.

I wind up gravitating towards a particular system based on what genre I’m interesting in exploring. For fantasy, I prefer either Castles & Crusades or Labyrinth Lord; for science fiction, I prefer Traveller (big surprise); for horror I like Call of Cthulhu (though I’ve not played it in years); and for modern/spy/action or Weird West I like Savage Worlds.

For me though, these aren’t merely system preferences so much as genre-system preferences. In each case, there’s something about the game system that captures what I’m looking for in a game of that flavor. So much so, that I tend to think of these systems as my defaults for that particular genre.

How much does this factor into your own decisions in running games?

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One thought on “Does genre dictate system?

  1. To me the choice of system is important for the genre I play. Some systems are better at supporting certain genres than others. So for me it is natural to choose a system, that supports a certain genre, and then I begin to add house rules to further support genre and style.

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