Why Most RPGs Are "Generic and Cliched"
In his recent editorial, E-Chan mentioned that Lunar's story was "generic and
cliched". Upon reading this, my first impulse was to go to this site's WD
message board & flame him. After all, Lunar is my favorite RPG (heck, my
favorite game) of all time, and the story is a major reason for this. That
impulse lasted for about half a second. Then I thought about it, and realized
that he wasn't really wrong about that. The basic plot was unoriginal. But at
the same time, I realized that the same could be said about the vast majority
of other RPGs as well. No, I'm not saying that all RPGs use the same basic
plot, but if you think about it, you'll see that there are a handful of basic
plotlines that are generally used in RPGs.
In the vast majority of RPGs, there is a single main character whose role the
player assumes. This character is almost always male, and usually between 13
and 25 years in age. He will typically be [A] the great hero whose coming was
foretold in an ancient legend/prophesy, [B] a member of a small band of rebels
fighting an evil empire (or some equally large and powerful evil
organization), or [C] an "ordinary" kid out for adventure (who for some odd
reason is a skilled warrior despite his lack of training & experience). In the
course of the game, he and his allies will [A] save the world from a powerful
villain bent on destroying or conquering it, [B] overthrow the evil empire,
[C] rescue a princess (or some equivalent figure), or [D] some combination of
OK, how many RPGs have you played that you couldn't accurately (if
incompletely) describe with the previous paragraph? I highly doubt there would
be very many. My point is, very few RPGs have basic plotlines that could be
considered particularly original. Most are cliched. But why is this? Well, a
plot concept becomes cliched because it's used a lot. It gets used a lot
because it works. That's why most RPGs use "generic and cliched" plot
concepts; as the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
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