Strange Sunday – Roman steampunk and other genre mash-ups

“WWII roman steampunk” by Robbiekooljive

I’m lucky enough to be running my first game of Dungeon World next week, with two people that have made this hobby such a blast for me. As a preparation for the session, I have asked my two players to share some ideas for the setting and “feel” of the world, and after stating that I would like to see some kind of Industrial Revolution and drunken dwarves, while shunning the conflict of technology versus nature and evil orcs, my players shared with me their ideas. The final result is both wicked and challenging: our game of DW will take place in an industrialised Roman Empire, fighting a war against both the barbarians at the gates and a race of space dragons, coming from fallen stars that have ravaged a great part of the world.

Yeah, let me claim copyright on that idea right there, ’cause even Hollywood couldn’t think of that!

Anyway, the sudden appearance of this really unique setting got me thinking about how awesome genre mash-ups are, and how we rarely see many of them becoming big. I mean, it’s actually pretty easy: take two extremely different settings, throw them together, and see what you can come up with. Think it’s hard? Here’s one I have come up with while writing this post:

Knights of the Frontier – Wild West meets Arthurian legend: when gold diggers in Texas discover the Holy Grail in a lost cave, evil forces try to claim it! However, the great wizard Merlin awakens from his long sleep, and empowers a group of outlaws, native Americans and righteous riders with the powers of the legendary King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. With a mix of shamanistic magic and sword-and-rifle action, these brave adventurers fight an alliance of evildoers that want to not only lay waste to the Wild West…

Alright, it might sound stupid and really lame, but it shows that throwing together elements that don’t seem to match can yield you some interesting results. What I have found out that it helps when both settings have at least something they share. In the case of Knights of the Frontier, both the stories from the Wild West and the Arthurian tales include brave riders, fighting against injustice in a dangerous land. Also, druidic and native American “magic” are not so different in style and tone. However, stating that Texan rough riders inherit the powers of British knights will bend some eyebrows, but hopefully in a positive way.

So, while I start to figure out how the hell I can put dwarves and elves in a steampunk Rome, you should see if you can find any funky and / or bizarre genre mash-ups. If you do, please post them here, and we see who can find the strangest setting!

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