For me, setting may be the most difficult aspect of writing from the gamerverse.
Most role playing games come with their own broad strokes of genre. For example, we all know Dungeons and Dragons takes it cue from European high fantasy. Call of Cthullu is set in the world of H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction (don’t play games where you lose sanity points!). Champions: The Super Hero Role Playing Game is set in the bright 4-color comics universe, as opposed to Unknown Armies, which is more of a Vertigo kind of thing. There are role playing games out there emulating Hong Kong action cinema, film noir, horror, and well, loads of other things.
The problem with using the setting in these games comes from when some sort of mechanic from the game’s atmospherics interferes with the story you want to tell. One of the biggest issues I have with White Wolf is that while their games give game masters a great deal of atmosphere and plot, those of us who don’t need as much direction are hemmed in by their post-apocalyptic vibe. Or something rather like.
However, like any good
robber baron writer, you can pick or choose what you want. With that in mind, as with characters and games, discard what you don’t like. My Changeling game isn’t as depressing as a White Wolf manual.
Games that paint genre in broader strokes can be excellent tests of your ability to create mood and setting. You’ll need to do it for your players. They’ll appreciate it.
Next up in the Gamerverse series: Plot. Yes, plot.