Archetypes Vs. Cliches

Kevin, Troll, CJ, and Allegra talk about archetypes and how playing them straight and turning them on their heads benefits gaming style. Bunny trails abound as we discussed authors, game designers, and other nerdy media that play with archetypes and inspire cliches.

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6 Responses to “Archetypes Vs. Cliches”

  1. S. Tarzan Says:

    My admittedly limited understanding of Akira Kurosawa is that his samurai movies were inspired (in part) by Hollywood westerns, and particularly by John Ford westerns; even as Kurosawa ended up inspiring a later generation of filmmakers (and not just westerns).

  2. Jason Pitre Says:

    With regards to subverting Archetypes, there’s a handful of games that qualify.

    1) Better Angels by Stolze is intentionally designed to have the cackling supervillain make sense by making mistakes to keep the demon posessing them in control. Clever.

    2) Durance, with the structure behind oaths seems like a good example. Each of the character oaths will tend to make the character differentiated from their position on the ladder.

    On the Seinfield isn’t funny list, most of the White Wolf stuff is worth your attention. Animist, eco-terrorist werewolves were to the best of my knowledge created there.
    Demon: the Fallen was pretty much there as well, as I suspect the only similar work might be the screwtape letters.


  3. Bill Says:

    I was a big fan of Aberrant back in the day, but with the exception of one really high powered game where we played Gods, everyone I knew basically used it for straight supers gaming. It filled that niche for mid-level supers crunch during a time when most of the early supers games were out of print.

    I think you pretty much hit the point when you were talking about there being only a certain number of different conflicts and everything else is in the details. When looking for something new and different to do with a game I like to hit TVTropes and see where tropes can be mixed together in different ways. Something as simple as shifting the genre (cf. Buffy and Veronica Mars) can make all the difference.

  4. malkav11 Says:

    Unknown Armies was largely Greg Stolze’s baby, and since he also did a lot of work for White Wolf, it’s not surprising that you’d detect a similar level of fluff quality. I was going to bring up Better Angels but was beaten to the punch.

    And FWIW, I -never- thought Seinfeld was funny. But it’s pretty much the exact opposite of my taste in humor, so that’s not surprising.

  5. Julian Says:

    I enjoyed the archetypes I played with in my early D&D and AD&D adventures. (though I don’t think I even knew the word cliche at the age I started with those…)

    The first game I remember catching my attention for subverting archetypes was Star Frontiers. Each PC race had a clear stereotype, but they suggested characters could easily take a non-cliched approach to the race’s culture. An example was a Yazirian (proud warrior race) choosing their life-enemy to be a particularly virulent disease, and devoting a lifetime to defeating it with science.

  6. Julian Says:

    Oh, and the thing I remembered just after I posted: the Ultimate Powers Book (Marvel Super Heroes) has a long list of character origins. I liked that a lot of the origins gave characters a richer starting template than other games I’d played, without necessarily locking into a specific archetype.

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