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A New Setting

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19 hours ago, Old Man said:

Re: Westerns--It occurs to me that what might actually have happened is that the genre grew up.  Honestly, when I watch early Westerns today I feel like I'm watching a kids' show.  Not that that's a bad thing, but it's clear that the genre has evolved out of the heroic black-and-white morality that it started with.  Inevitable, really, given the very morally gray time period it's set in.

 

I agree with this for the most part. Pulp also had the same sort of naiveté that may not be possible anymore. Noire, while still pulpy, pretty much changed the nature of the stories being told.

 

I had a professor, years ago, who wrote his dissertation on the "Old West," and his ultimate takeaway was that the "Old West" never really existed, and what part of it that we might recognize in the movies only lasted for about 30 years after the Civil War, if at all. Cowboys were mostly Black and Mexican, frontier settlers were squatters, cattlemen were crooks, and the railroads eliminated the frontier. I think we romanticize the past in how we tell our stories, whether it's the Old West, inter-war Pulp adventures, and Fantasy. That's why they intrigue us and charm us, and really, let's be honest, one of the reasons why we game is to get away from the mundane ambiguities of our daily lives. Gaming is an escape, and it's more fun to tell stories of good versus evil, and play a part in them, than it is to waste away in moral quandaries that are too much like our everyday experiences.

 

It occurred to me that may Firefly would count as a Western because it really does have a strong moral compass despite being set in "lawless" space. But again, it's a genre-bending series rather than a pure throwback, so this takes us back to Duke's original contention: the Western no longer exists. I think maybe he's right.

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

I had a professor, years ago, who wrote his dissertation on the "Old West," and his ultimate takeaway was that the "Old West" never really existed, and what part of it that we might recognize in the movies only lasted for about 30 years after the Civil War, if at all. Cowboys were mostly Black and Mexican, frontier settlers were squatters, cattlemen were crooks, and the railroads eliminated the frontier. I think we romanticize the past in how we tell our stories, whether it's the Old West, inter-war Pulp adventures, and Fantasy. That's why they intrigue us and charm us, and really, let's be honest, one of the reasons why we game is to get away from the mundane ambiguities of our daily lives. Gaming is an escape, and it's more fun to tell stories of good versus evil, and play a part in them, than it is to waste away in moral quandaries that are too much like our everyday experiences.

 

Did your professor figure out where the romanticized version of the Old West came from?  I wonder if Buffalo Bill's shows had a greater impact than we realize.

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1 hour ago, Old Man said:

 

Did your professor figure out where the romanticized version of the Old West came from?  I wonder if Buffalo Bill's shows had a greater impact than we realize.

"Adam Ruins Everything" theorizes it was Hollywood

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6 hours ago, Old Man said:

 

Did your professor figure out where the romanticized version of the Old West came from?  I wonder if Buffalo Bill's shows had a greater impact than we realize.

 

I'm not sure anymore. It's been so long ago. But I do remember that the artwork about the West was romanticized, and the stories told about it as the place of opportunity and as part of our "Manifest Destiny." Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show played a part in that too, and the stories about Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday, for example. They were all just flat-out fictions, but they fit what we wanted them to be as a culture at the time.

 

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Romanticized westerns go back as far as the late 19th century. All sorts of cheap dime novels (ie: pulps) were being written and sold in the thousands. If I get more time I'll do a little research and throw it in here.

 

As for a setting I'd like to see... hmmm. Urban Fantasy is good. Complete with the "all myth is real"  thing that seems to be the way of urban fantasy.

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On 1/16/2019 at 11:21 PM, drunkonduty said:

Romanticized westerns go back as far as the late 19th century. All sorts of cheap dime novels (ie: pulps) were being written and sold in the thousands. If I get more time I'll do a little research and throw it in here.

 

As for a setting I'd like to see... hmmm. Urban Fantasy is good. Complete with the "all myth is real"  thing that seems to be the way of urban fantasy.

 

It'd be a lot of work, and I haven't finished reading the series, but an Urban Fantasy setting based on the Rachel Morgan/Hollows books would be fun. Of course, like most "zero to let's-change-everything-everyone-knows-about-the setting" book series I'd want to confine the conversion to the first couple of books. I also have a copy of The Hollows Insider which would be invaluable for doing a conversion.This requires thought...

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On 1/16/2019 at 10:21 PM, drunkonduty said:

Romanticized westerns go back as far as the late 19th century. All sorts of cheap dime novels (ie: pulps) were being written and sold in the thousands.

 

Yeah, most of the country got its ideas of what the west was like from reading escapist literature, even the people who were actually living in the west.

 

Dime store novels started as serials in the 1850's in magazines and newspapers then became books around 1860. The first wild west show came around 1870. By the time Buffalo Bill's Wild West came around in 1883, there'd been decades of free advertising to prime the audiences and tell them what they'd want to see and be disappointed if they didn't see.

 

Yeah, Hollywood played its role later on but it wouldn't have been successful doing that without most of the mythology being in place already. Cutting out the reality of Hispanic and black cowboys so Hollywood could sell movies to primarily white audiences was probably necessary for their business model. A dime store novel could get away with "hey, there's a group of cowboys standing over there" without specifying what race each of the cowboys was. They couldn't get away with that in movies because the audience could see the actors. And even as late as the 1950's many movies still intentionally minimized the number of scenes with black actors in them so those scenes could be cut out of the version of the movie which was distributed in the southern US because people in the south wouldn't go to see a movie if they were going to be subjected to the "horror" of seeing a black actor or musician on the movie screen.

 

I get a kick out of watching old movies sometimes because I realize what I'd seen on TV in my youth was the censored version and all of the sudden this movie has black servants bringing in tea in certain scenes or when the characters go into a club, suddenly there's a black musician or singer on stage doing a song for a couple of minutes. (This probably wasn't malicious racism in my youth as much as it was that the shortened run time of the censored version allowed the TV station to run more commercials).

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If you are trying to come up with a new setting, and looking to draw in younger or new players players it might be good to look at what is currently popular to them on TV. In that regard first look might be at all the CW series:

 

-A bunch of DC hero shows (Flash, green arrow, etc..)

-Supernatural (15+ seasons!)

-Riverdale

-The 100 (7+ seasons)

 

Lets cut The DC hero shows as that is hardly a "new" genre or setting. Might as well use Champions.

Lets cut Riverdale as it is primarily a relationship series (although parts of it could be used)

 

So that leaves Supernatural and The 100.

 

Next lets looks at Netflix series:

 

-Umbrella Academy

-The Marvel series

-Sabrina teenage witch

 

Umbrella Academy and the Marvel shows are again super hero universes, so again lets cut those. 

 

That leaves Sabrina.

 

Other popular series from other channels:

 

-Game of Thrones

-Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead

-Numerous Cops shows

-Numerous Spy/special forces shows

 

So lets cut the cop and spy shows as those don't really have a special setting/genre that would probably translate to an RPG.

 

That leave Game of Thrones - a fantasy genre heavy with politics and a slight approaching apocalypse vibe (with the advancing white walkers.

And Walking Dead series, which are post-apocalypse

 

So over all we are let with two or three possible genres:

 

Urban Horror (Supernatural, Sabrina) - good, but a bit done to death so would need an original take on it to make it work as it has to fit into the "regular" world. 

 

Post-Apocalypse (Walking Dead, The 100) - Easier to develop a setting for this type of game as there is a lot more freedom in the world building.

 

Fantasy (Game of Thrones) - Lots of competition in Fantasy settings, so maybe not the best choice. 

 

So in this analysis I would say a Post-Apocalypse setting is probably the best choice for a new game/setting if you wanted to create one. 

 

One that involves not only survival and re-building the world, but if you could add in some relationship drama, different groups and politics. Then you only need to decide how much of society has collapsed, if things are different in different parts of the campaign world, and what the apocalypse was caused by (aliens, zombies, nuclear war, magic, supernatural monsters (Cthulhu, vampires, etc...) and go from there. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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