101 Lazy Tropes, Fixed
Your genre tropes are lazy and you’re bad for not critically evaluating them. I’ve done the work so you don’t have to.
Your trope: evil races.
Instead: they’re not evil, they’re just other human tribes you don’t know about yet. Their skin is a weird color, their eyes and faces don’t look right, they smell awful. Stories abound about these monsters and their unspeakable rites. When they first meet in battle, show your players any National Geographic you may have laying around. Bonus: “Detect Evil” spells are really just your heightened visceral reaction to smelling spices in food you’d never eat, ie curry or whatever.
Your trope: utilitarian magic.
Instead: magic is entirely unpredictable and awful and not something one aspires to learn. It’s a curse. You can study your curse and hope to take some control over it, but no your wizard is not just a walking artillery piece with a funny hat. Wizards are liabilities, even if occasionally you can make use of whatever random shit they’ve just created.
Your trope: Evil faceless megacorporations.
Instead: Megacorporations are made up of people and they’re not faceless. There are sometimes bad actors who will badly misuse their resources and face few consequences because of limited oversight. But mostly companies are filled with well-meaning employees with jobs to do, just like governments. (Feel free to swap in evil faceless Big Government if your tastes run more libertarian.)
Your trope: Cybergear is awesome!
Instead: Cybergear is what you get when you’ve fucked up. It’s never as good as the real thing, although it can be built with other, different capacity. Military-grade hardware is entirely illegal and it’s just impossible to travel with it. You can’t feel through them. Daily tasks are harder and the public has never quite gotten over the uncanny valley/squick factor of prosthetics.
Your trope: you’ve got a space RV you and your friends can zip around in doing whatever you feel like.
Instead: RVs cost money to keep up and their operational lifespan is not that long. I mean, yeah, Traveller and Firefly and whatever kind of does this but not really, right? In Cortex+, having to repair or refuel is just a tag the GM can drop on you when they feel like. It’s just not really a well-handled “subversion” because maintaining a finicky vehicle is a huge pain in the ass. Unless you’re a hobbyist or a professional.
Your trope: Aliens are stand-ins for foreign people because scifi is just a big metaphor for the modern world maaaan.
Instead: Aliens are fucking alien. There are unbridgeable linguistic gaps, biological differences, and ideologies. Can’t be done. Stop trying. Physical destruction is of course an option but it’s worse than zero-sum. So everyone just kind of coexists in parallel, unable to create any kind of relationship.
Okay so that’s just six, not 101. But it’s not hard.
0 thoughts on “101 Lazy Tropes, Fixed”
Note to self: Send Paul link to Ariel Cayce’s book about alien aliens when you get home.
Love love love!
When are you running something again?
Online? When I get the courage and can work out my various logistical problems here. I could mmmaaaaybe run a thing during daylight hours. But my home office has no privacy and the sound carries literally everywhere.
Your trope: Only Netrunners or Deckers are good in cyberspace
Instead: Everyone can be good in cyberspace. Netrunners or Deckers are just a little more specialized. No one thinks its weird when the Decker puts a few points into their Guns skill and takes shots during a firefight. So other PCs can put a couple of points into Decking and help fight hostile ICE. The entire shadow runner team (or gang of cyberpunks) can go on a cyber-raid rather than a meatspace raid.
What have I inspired here?
Kicking lazy gamers in the ass.
No worries, I’ll be the one who draws fire. How dare I suggest anyone do literally anything different ever for any reason?
I’m not worried. I’m entertained and I have food for thought, which is great!
Way to subvert that “articles titled ‘N things’ will have N things in them” trope.
Dan Maruschak thank you, my finest work this year.
Nicholas Hopkins, if you want to change things up AND still be lazy, you could pull this into your beginning of game palette discussion. Every player picks one genre trope they want to see subverted during play.
Your trope: hitting things in the face with a big double bitted axe like some Scottish speaking Viking dwarf.
Instead, hit things in the face with a fokos, or a falx, or a nice nadziak.
Ralph Mazza see my upcoming hot-take post, “101 Fussy History Geek Details, Ignored.”
see my upcoming hot-take post, “101
FussyAwesome History GeekDetails, Ignoredthat you’re a bad person for ignoring.”
Paul Beakley fixed it for you.
I love all of them, and some more. Dare I make my Demons “not bad” in my current Urban Shadows? Mayyyybe, I’ll ponder on it…
Pierre M, I’ve always played Demons as creatures who are genuine fans of humankind and are actually trying to help.
Matt Bohnhoff, I like it!
Démons might be cool, friendly, helpful, and even kind. Harder to play nice with Tainted, though :/
How about a villain that is seemingly doing the mad cackle thing while trying to roast a city. What the heroes come to figure out is that the villain is roasting that entire city to power a giant ion cannon that will destroy a massive alien warship that is on its way to Earth. What do your heroes do now? Start with a madcap villain and reveal their intentions to be rational and disturbingly close to the heroes’ own.