HERE is a HUGE fuck-off list of themes in literature, movies, poetry and other forms of creative endeavour.
Roleplaying games are their own art form however, and don’t quite fit into anything else. RPG story themes share most with literary themes and movie themes, but you’re going to have a mix and match of those themes from adventure to adventure, from the campaign, and from the player’s story arcs.
Common Adventure Themes
- Uncover a mystery.
- Avenge me.
- Eliminate a threat.
- Look for treasure.
- Find a clue.
- A farcical heist.
- Fuck that guy in particular.
- Escape a threat.
- Survive a disaster/the wilderness.
- Leave the Shire.
Common Campaign Themes
- Machinations around the throne.
- An ancient evil threatens to rise.
- Rags to riches.
- Aimless wandering.
- Absolute power.
- Unraveling a conspiracy.
- Overthrow that dick.
- One of us is secretly really important.
- Liberate the homeland.
- Big damn heroes/villains.
Common Player Arc Themes
- I am a frustrated novelist. Validate my ideas.
- Become the best at what I do.
- Become a ruler.
- Avenge my mentor/family/etc.
- Get fat, rich and old.
- Earn the hand of the fair princess/prince.
- I’ll show them, I’ll show them all. Muahahahaha!
- Become a god.
- Become immortal.
- Take up my rightful position.
Default Game Themes
- Old School D&D: Rags to riches.
- Cyberpunk 2020: Get rich enough to live above dystopia.
- Twilight 2000: It’s a long way home.
- Traveller: Explore strange new worlds, and sell them things.
- 5e D&D: Highschool drama and the occasional dungeon.
- Call of Cthulhu: Accrue lore, delay going mad.
- Vampire the Masquerade: Accrue the power of an elder without becoming an asshole.
- Degenesis: Survive and thrive on a dying planet.
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Heroic failure.
- Eclipse Phase: Find out what it means to be human while trying to prevent (another) hard singularity.