Banning the Bland in an Omni-Genre RPG

Destiny is an omni-genre game, it’s intended to support play in many different and varying genres. Fantasy, cyberpunk, space opera: any potential RPG genre can be represented by Destiny’s mechanics. (Not every setting, but any genre.)

The problem with this, from the point of view of a designer, is how to keep a genre-less rule set from feeling bland or uninspiring. Many, perhaps most “multi-genre” RPG’s fall into this trap.

In part this problem is averted by Destiny’s raison d’tre: it’s an Action-Movie RPG. Destiny is about Bad Boys, The Expendables, Die Hard. It’s about Jet Li, Sylvester Stallone, Will Smith. It’s about heroes and villains. Chases, interrogations, and gunfights. Most importantly, it’s about Trouble and Luck: action heroes suffer through much trouble but are also very lucky.

Trouble and Luck also provide a framework for play. Players are told to expect Trouble (and are given some sway over Luck), gamemasters are counseled to use Trouble to Fuel the Action, and the most prominent mechanics themselves are built around the ideas of Trouble and Luck.

The dice roll Hot and Cold. Traits provide Difficulties and Distinctions. Cards are both Boon and Bane. Spectacular Success is Lucky, Disasters Trouble.

These elements make the game distinctive, they make it stand out, they make it memorable. They implement action movie tropes and make Destiny an action movie RPG. They give the game a sharp focus, and in so doing make it more than a bland, unfocused rules set.

They make Destiny into the game of Omni-Genre Action Movie Heroics. Which is flexible, by design, but never bland.

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