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Genre Descriptions

Action / Adventure


Pulse-pounding adrenaline and daring deeds are the hallmarks of this material.

  • Action / Adventure (Gangster / Mafia)

Material where the world of mobsters, smugglers, speakeasies, nightclubs, or gang infighting all take center stage.
  • Action / Adventure (Nautical)
Material involving ships, the ocean, and underwater or island adventures.
  • Action / Adventure (Pirate / Swashbuckler)
It's adventure on the high seas, with tales of daring swordplay and heartless scallywags.
  • Action / Adventure (Pulp)
Material in the diverse settings featured in pulp magazines of the 1920s through 1950s. Focus is on the brazen adventurers who took on evil-doers wherever in the world they might go. From The Shadow to Doc Savage to Indiana Jones are all archetypical characters of the pulp genre.
  • Action / Adventure (Sports)
Material set in the world of athletes, competitive games, and the pageantry and culture that surround them.
  • Action / Adventure (Superheroes)
Material where people endowed with extraordinary powers battle evil- doers. Whether their powers are acquired through extreme athleticism, genetic mutations, gadgetry, or simply being born on another planet, these individuals are larger than life and change the world around them.

Animal

Material that centers around the animal kingdom or bestial traits.

  • Animal

Material where the player characters are animals. In particular, games in this genre should feature animal characters playable as PCs in which the animal character has no thumbs; the animal character generally does not use weapons or tools; the animal character does not drive vehicles or ride other animals; the animal character does not wear clothing.
  • Animal (Anthropomorphic)
Material with animal characters that have very human-like characteristics: they have opposable thumbs, use weapons and tools, often wear clothing, stand upright on two legs, etc. It is possible for some animals to be anthropomorphic while others are just ordinary animals, such as horses or chickens.

Animation / Comics


Material set in a world of drawings, illustrations, or art come to life.

  • Animation / Comics (Anime / Manga)

Material set in the world of Japanese anime (video animation) and manga (comic books).
  • Animation / Comics (Western Cartoons / Comics)
Material drawn from the world of newspaper cartoons and comic books.

Childhood

Material focusing on the world of kids--toys, playgrounds, games, school, bullies, and dealing with adults.

Comedy / Satire

Material intended to entertain through humor, satire, or parody.

Corporations

Material where the world may be held under the sway of mega-corporations, following their capitalistic and perhaps dark agendas, or it might be a mindless, ineffective bureaucracy of the worst kind.

Crime

Material where breaking or enforcing the law is the name of the game. Everything from petty larceny to murder to state espionage are the focus in this material.

  • Crime (Conspiracy)

Material set in a world where mysterious agents are advancing vast unknown agendas. Where uncovering one answer only leads to another larger, more mystifying question. The danger of discovery is mounting, because the last thing you want is for THEM to find out what you know...
  • Crime (Criminal / Law Enforcement)
Material set in a world where the players act either as criminals out to break the law or as agents of law and order.
  • Crime (Mystery / Detective / Noir)
Material set in an environment where the players are confronted with some mysterious circumstances, a murder, or dark dealings. Icons of this genre include Sherlock Holmes and Sam Spade.
  • Crime (Spy / Espionage)
Material set in the world of government organizations, secret agents, and the little-known but often violent clashes between governments and against rogue elements out to wreak their wrath upon the world. James Bond, Mission: Impossible, or Mata Hari are all found in this genre.

Culture


Material set in or about a specific real-world culture.

  • Culture (Asian / Oriental)

Material set in East Asia in and around Japan, China, and southeast Asia including ninja and samurai campaigns as well as those involving invading Mongols and the Vietnam War.

Fantasy


Material set in a world in which anything is possible. Impossible traits are powered by a mysterious force, or magic. Typically, technology is either muted, disguised, or treated as an oddity.

  • Fantasy (Arabian Nights)

Material set in the worlds created by Scheherazade in the book A Thousand and One Arabian Nights, from Aladdin, to Ali Baba, to Sinbad.
  • Fantasy (Arthurian)
Material based on the legends of King Arthur. May include courtly intrigue, brave knights, clashes with the evil forces of Mordred or Morgan Le Fay, our material about Camelot, the Lady of the Lake, or Merlin.
  • Fantasy (High Fantasy)
Fantasy material that is epic in nature, has strong good versus evil themes, glorifies personal bravery or heroism, and typically is a world filled with magic and fantastic creatures. Examples include the settings of Middle Earth, Dungeons & Dragons, and Narnia.
  • Fantasy (Low Fantasy)
Fantasy material that is rife with moral ambiguity and some cynicism, focuses more on realism, typically downplaying or restricting outright magic. Characters are often flawed and the storytelling tends to focus less on epic struggles. Specifically avoids absolute good versus absolute evil portrayals. Includes what is often called dark fantasy, but may also include more light-hearted settings where the magic is not overt and the action is more at the personal level. Examples include the World of Darkness, Hârn, or Seventh Sea.
  • Fantasy (Science Fantasy)
Material set in a world that has the impossible elements of fantasy with a thin veneer of realism to make it feel more like science fiction. Some popular authors with books in this genre include Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, most of Poul Anderson’s Operation series, or Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars series.
  • Fantasy (Sword & Sorcery)
Fantasy material featuring an emphasis on personal battles, often entwined with magic, the supernatural, a hint of romance and sexuality, amorality rather than good versus evil, and a significant degree of violence. Conan the Barbarian and Elric are typical examples of this genre.
  • Fantasy (Urban Fantasy)
Material that blends traditional faerie or folk tales, magic, and a modern, urban environment. It's the magical with an modern, urban beat.

Generic / Universal

Material not tied to any one specific genre, material about roleplaying in general, or accessories that are not intrinsically linked to a specific genre (dice, miniatures, reference books, etc.).

History

Material based on a specific time in the history of the world.

  • History (Alternative)

Material that supposes one or more key events in history had happened differently. What if Germany had won World War II? What if Rome hadn't fallen? What if the properties of oil had never been exploited?
  • History (American West)
Material set in the Old West, with cowboys, bandits, sheriffs, Indians, steam trains, telegraphs, saloons, and all the other Western trappings.
  • History (Americas)
Material for settings involving the discovery of the native peoples of North and South America. Such games might include North American Indians, Vikings, the Eskimos, the Aztecs, the Incas, and the Mayans. Material might include stories set in the time of the American colonies, Spanish exploration, or the United States' Civil War.
  • History (Ancient)
Material set in the time of the great empires--Greek, Roman, Persian, Egyptian, and the Mongol Horde. It is the time of Antiquity.
  • History (Britain / Ireland)
Material set in the historical British Isles, from the early days of barbarian invasions, to the Druidic orders, to medieval society, to Scottish conflicts, to royal struggles, up into modern times including the Blitz. See also Fantasy (Arthurian Fantasy).
  • History (Europe)
Material for settings placed in the context of European history.
  • History (Prehistoric)
Material set in the time before recorded human history. This might include the time of the dinosaurs or the Stone Age.
  • History (Victorian Era)
Material set in the 1830s to early 1900s, characterized by prosperity, Gothic Revival architecture, stiff fancy clothing, the dawn of the industrial revolution, the Great Exhibition of 1851. It is the world of Jules Verne and of Jack the Ripper.
  • History (Vikings)
Material set in the time of the Viking explorations, invading with their longboats across the sea, and even exploring Iceland and the New World.

Horror

Material set in an environment of palpable, spine-tingling, skin- crawling fear. Someone may be out to get you, or your darkest secrets may be about to be revealed. Do you crack under the pressure or let the wrong thing slip to the wrong person? Hope for escape might seem slight. A crazy axe murderer might be after you. A spooky haunted castle may be the main backdrop. A monster might be on the loose or a serial killer might be stalking and killing people, one by one...

  • Horror (Cthulhu Mythos)

Any material based upon the settings, ideas, and feeling created and described in the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Often involves the encroachment of the unspeakably malevolent Elder Gods from the void into our reality.
  • Horror (Supernatural)
Material relating to the supernatural world and supernatural folklore. Includes ghosts, haunted houses, vampires, werewolves, zombies, mummies, witches, and contact from the other side.

Martial Arts

Material focused on personal military prowess, often in forms of unarmed combat. Includes ninjas, kung fu masters, karate, judo, aikido, jujitsu, or any other discipline of the like. Sometimes includes weapons mastery study.

Modern

Material about or relating to life in the late 20th and early 21st century.

  • Modern (Near Future)

Material that is on the threshold of becoming science fiction. It focuses on things that might happen in the next day or even years, just on the horizon.
  • Modern (Pop Culture)
Material centering around television, film, music, fashion, Hollywood, and the current trends and fads.
  • Modern (Urban)
Material set in large urban locations, where the city itself is a primary focus.

Multiverse


Material around a setting that emphasizes distinct play areas that vary widely in theme, technology, culture, or genre. They might include different planes, connected worlds, chaos storms, or worlds where different rules of nature apply in various locations or at various times.

Mythology / Folklore

Material about creation stories, the reason the world behaves the way it does, or all-powerful beings, whether drawn from Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, Chinese, Aztecan, African, Native American, Japanese, or other real-world cultures. This includes material that is less sweeping dealing with folk beliefs of creatures and places beyond the normal human experience, from faeries to animal spirit guides.

  • Mythology / Folklore (Fairy Tale)

Material dealing with the kind of stories popularized by the Brothers Grimm, as well as fairy folklore from across Europe.

Occult


Material dealing with the world of the paranormal intruding on the "real" world, dealing with spiritual realities beyond the ken of science. The occult includes the study of hermetic magic, aetheric forces, mental super-human ability, demonology, symbology, and the Tarot. Occult settings are sometimes characterized by their dusty tomes, secret rituals, eccentric professors, and dark apothecaries.

  • Occult (Magic)

Material dealing with extraordinary powers or forces, such as that claimed by witches, shamans, voodoo priestesses, or hermetic mages. Can include other related topics such as alchemy or potions, charms, or magical wards.
  • Occult (Psionics / Mentalism)
Material covering all things having to do with the power of the mind-- telepathy, telekinesis, Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), and other forms of mentalism.
  • Occult (Symbolism / Tarot)
Material focusing on the world of symbols, runes, Tarot and the mystical forces surrounding them.

Politics / Government

Material set in the arcane world of governments and politics, where getting things done might require shaking the right person's hand or working through an arduous legislative process. It is the world of bureaucracy and agencies, all with competing agendas and loyalties.

Religion


Material based on a religion or faith, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Scientology, Shinto, or any others. Also includes material surrounding the organized institutions of these religions, their places of worship, etc.

Science Fiction


Material that extrapolates from the known science of today and projects forward what might be true in the future. As a genre, science fiction represents blanket "futuristic" themes, grounded in what might really possible.

  • Science Fiction (Cyberpunk)

Material set in a gritty projection of the future where nanotechnology, virtual worlds, and electronic data are the focus. Often corporations are extremely powerful, completely displacing government in some settings. Half of one's intellect might exist only in cyberspace, attached via micro implants...
  • Science Fiction (Hard Sci Fi)
Material set in a futuristic world where incredible attention has been paid to getting the scientific details correct. Often, hard sci fi posits a single scientific breakthrough and derives all other changes in the world from that single "impossible" thing, whether that be faster-than-light travel, or the ability to transfer a consciousness from one body to another, or the invention of a teleportation device.
  • Science Fiction (Post Apocalypse)
Material set in the wake of the destruction of civilization as we know it. Perhaps caused by human self-destruction or invoked by external unearthly forces, humanity has been reduced to a subsistence state, trying to survive the chaos that remains.
  • Science Fiction (Space Opera)
Material in a futuristic setting that follows mythic traditions, such as the Hero's Journey. Typically involves a sweeping galactic drama as the backdrop for very human stories.
  • Science Fiction (Steampunk)
Material set in a slightly dystopian world where different technologies became predominant, such as the steam engine instead of the internal combustion engine. Often, anachronistic technology developments might occur, such as analog computers appearing in the Victorian Era. Dirigibles might have been more popular than jets, or mechanical solutions might predominate over electronic or computerized solutions. Examples from pop culture include Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow or the Wild Wild West movies.
  • Science Fiction (Time / Dimension Travel)
Material about traveling to different times or alternate versions of the present reality. Sometimes just people travel (Quantum Leap, Sliders, or Terminator) and sometimes they need a machine (H.G. Wells’ time machine, a DeLorean, or a TARDIS).

Social / Romance


Material that involves a heavy dose of dealing with society and the social aspects of life (friendship, dating, marriage, etc).

War


Material set against the backdrop of a vast conflict between tribes, nations, or even planets. Tensions have boiled over from disagreements into outright armed conflict.

Weird / Surreal

Material that is just "out there" and hard to classify in any logical way.

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