Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What's YOUR Domain?

As I get older and write more, I notice that certain genres and sub-genres speak to me. I call this gravitational pull "my Domain." The further away a story/game takes me from my Domain, the harder a time I have telling stories/playing games there. The closer they are to my Domain, the more natural and comfortable I feel.

So here's my Domain:

  • Suspense/Psychological thrillers, with or without supernatural/paranormal horror
  • The 90's
  • Investigative scenarios, with infrequent combat
  • Non-hero protagonists (i.e. no super-powers, advanced technology, or special training)
  • Fictional settings (not using real-life cities/locations)

I don't believe my Domain necessarily has anything to do with my personal preferences. The majority of movies I watch these days are sci-fi/fantasy/superhero films, yet none of the elements of those genres are anywhere near my Domain.

I actually think my Domain has more to do with my personal growth. I was in my teens during the 90s. Like most people, I was probably at my most emotionally intense in my teens, and all the connections I made at that time have stuck more persistently than anything before or since. Psych-thrillers were big back in the 90s: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Single White Female. The Silence of the Lambs. I loved all of those films back then!

When I apply that preference to RPGs, I come up with the Palladium games (Rifts, Ninjas & Superspies), AD&D 2nd edition, the "Old" World of Darkness, and the 5th edition of Call of Cthulhu. I've been threatening to run a Palladium game for ages now, and the appeal is still there, despite how antiquated and down-right embarrassing that system is compared to the games of today!

I wonder if I'm alone here...not with my specific Domain, but with the very idea of Domains and their dominance over the storyteller. Stephen King is virtually inseparable from his Domain...supernatural horror, the 60s, coming of age tales, a little splash of survival stories...but what about other storytellers? Particularly GMs of role-playing games. Does every GM have a Domain they inevitably wander back to?

Or, perhaps more interestingly, has anyone successfully changed their Domain? I have tried repeatedly to integrate sci-fi and superheroes into my games, and the success has been minimal-to-non-existent. I'm finally just starting to accept that my Domain is my Domain. That doesn't mean I don't try and test myself every once and awhile, to try and push and challenge the borders of my Domain, but I haven't moved the needle much, as it were.

1 comment:

  1. I've changed my domain over the years though not of my own free will. I used to run a lot of epic journey style fantasy games (like LotR or the Hobbit) but over time I've burnt out on it. At the same time I transitioned to Urban Fantasy sandbox investigation style games. And now I'm finding myself drawn more and more to science fiction espionage while World of Darkness style games seems more and more tired to me.


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