I've been gaming for a long time. No, longer than that.
I was lucky, though, in that I wasn't in the initial, late-seventies generation of gamers. When I started gaming in '82 it was when companies and games were popping up out of the woodwork. D&D was the king of the sword and sorcery fantasy genre so other companies decided the best way to 'win' was to not directly compete.
This article is about which ones I've felt, over the years, that don't translate so well. I'm not saying that they couldn't, but so far, not so much.
Now, I imagine many folks have great Boot Hill stories but its not about the stories I'm talking about. No, my difficulty with a traditional western is the lethality. Don't get me wrong, I love westerns, film and literature, but when you are playing in a game with a random element for task resolution you are going to have folks get shot.
Without superpowers or some supernatural defenses, folks get shot, folks die.
So most 'western' games that do work do so by being non-traditional or, in the case of Dust Devils, make the destruction of the character the point of the game.
2. Super Heroes.
This is going to sound crazy coming from me, as its my second favorite genre to run but this one makes the list not because the rules don't work but, generally speaking, its the players vs the genre.
Most players find the idea of not killing their enemies and not looting the bodies and dealing with the melodrama to be dumb. Unless all of your players are superhero comic junkies, its going to be a rough road to hoe.
And finally, at number one..
This one sounds even crazier coming from me as this IS my favorite genre to run. Once again, it doesn't go to fault with finding a game that works. There's some great systems for horror, from Little Fears, to Dread to Call of Cthulhu. The difficulty comes with getting the players to not only get into the mood but to STAY there. Players are friends and sometimes they want to joke and jibe and break mood. Its normally easy to recover the flow though, but in horror its much much harder.
Once one of the guys mocks the monster or makes a sexual innuendo about the dangerous psycho its almost over for the horror part. Also, since you are trying to evoke fear and horror, its doubly difficult because not everyone has the same idea of what is fearful or terrifying.
Some folks cover their eyes at a a slasher flick while others are having a ball and laughing.
Session 9 is my prime example. Its an hour plus slow burn until the horror erupts. I find it one of my absolute favorite horror films because of that slow build.
But you run a game like that, some of your players will get bored. And a bored player is a dangerous and disruptive player.
Tomorrow, the three that translate, for me, the best.