Supernatural is not X-Files 90210

Posted in EpicTable Blog on November 29, 2008 at 7:30 pm

I’ll admit to not giving Supernatural, the TV series a fair shot. I watched a couple episodes when it first came out, and whether it hadn’t hit its stride or I just wasn’t in the right mood, it fell flat with me. I was reminded of the “monster hunter” X-Files episodes that weren’t connected to larger story arc. Combine that with the fact the show was on the teen-oriented CW (or maybe WB back then) network and a little meanness, and you get “X-Files 90210”. And I wrote it off as just that. But I was wrong.

Recently, I caught a couple episodes of Supernatural, and it’s totally different from my first impression. It’s no longer (if it ever was) a disconnected string of encounters between monsters and overly-pretty heroes. It has a compelling and dark story arc, likeable, believable characters, and plenty of good imagery for horror or dark fantasy RPGs:

  • shotgun shells loaded with rock salt for shooting ghosts
  • doors and windows lined with salt to keep out demons or evil spirits
  • artifacts able to kill demons
  • plenty of warding symbols and spells
  • shifting and ambiguous alliances
  • plots within plots within plots

I guess I’d call it dark fantasy—the protagonists aren’t as hopelessly doomed as a Lovecraftian story, but neither are the demons and other adversaries just simple monsters to be killed and looted.

I can imagine using ideas from this show in a lot of games, but it seems particularly good source material for a Sorcerer game. There’s not much in the way of demon-binding in this show, but the relationship between Sam and Ruby is a great example of the a complications that can arise when you have a demon ally.

If, like me, you’d written off Supernatural, you may want to give it a second look.

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