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Basic Information

Something is in-genre when it's particularly appropriate to the genre, the setting, or the style of the story being told. Chances are (if it's truly in-genre) you've seen that particular something in this particular genre before. As an example, the Retired Gunslinger character concept is very in-genre for The Western.

See also:


Not sure where I picked this up as terminology, but my friends and I have been using it for years.

Game and Story Use

  • Things that are in-genre tend to resonate well, and are easily accepted into the setting. Players will typically just accept them, and you don't have to spend as much time explaining what's going on.
    • Things that are outside the genre either stand out as "just wrong", or feel like a clever twist. The defining factor is often how premeditated it seems, and how often the game has experienced Genre Drift or Mix And Match before. A random improv that's way out of genre tends to be taken less well than a clever inversion of the genre's expectations. See also Deconstruction.
  • Sometimes the fact that something is in-genre can be all the justification that exists for a particular concept.
    • We don't care if the Retired Gunslinger will never be able to hang up his gun - we want to play him for exactly that reason.
    • Another example drawn from The Western would be the notion of one of the Determined Homesteaders Children becoming the Kid Sidekick of The Gunslinger. In the real world, no sane parent would want their child near such a person, and the gunman would know either he'll get the kid killed or vice versa. There's plenty of reason for everyone (except maybe the kid) to know this is a bad idea. Yet, if such a situation were to come up in a game, chances are the GM or at least one player would say "that's cool!" A la Shane some lip-service might be paid to the notion that it's to be discouraged, but the subtext is that the game will be better if the precocious tyke sticks around against the advice of the other characters.
      • In fact, in my recent Deadlands campaign, the exact response from two players was "Cool! It'll be just like Six-string Samurai!" and smiles all around the table. I later found myself referring to the sidekick as "Padawan". The films in those references are not Westerns, but they're both influenced by The Western.
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