View Full Version : What's the RPG of Today?

2016-10-31, 11:40 AM
Just sharing a train of thought.

In the 90s, RPGs got a lot of influence from Vampire: The Masquerade and the World of Darkness; Grimdark and Post-Apocalyptic worlds. However, that genre looks a little dated now, and the trenchcoated (anti-)hero is a rather tired cliche.

So what's the equivalent for today? Is there a particular influence on RPG settings produced now? And what do you think it will look dated by, say, 2025?

2016-10-31, 11:56 AM
Right now Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition is quite recent and seeminly very popular. But whether that really brought anything new or brought something back is a different question.

There aren't really any other big names right now.

While you can get infinitly new content out of RPGs,there's only so many mechanics you can use that people enjoy. In that way, RPGs could be seen as a mature market where nothing drastically new is happening for the time being.
People by now have found something that works for them and it's really hard to offer something that feels substentially better. If you want to sell a new game these days, the main selling point has to be the setting. I think almost all games that have made some waves in the last 10 years are really setting with some mechanics attached to them, which nobody would care about just by themselves.

2016-10-31, 12:08 PM
Fantasy is king again. Between 5e, PF, OSR games, Savage Worlds, Dungeon World, and systems cropping up around popular fantasy properties like ASoIaF, it seems like most games are quasi-medieval/renaissance, with many but not all being very heavily D&D-influenced specifically. Even bizarre science-fantasy games like Numenera actually kind of resemble early D&D weirdness with Blackmoor (which blended in a lot of sci-fi elements...and then there's the fact that Numenera was written by a major D&D alum).

In a lot of ways, old-school D&D is probably most influential, with the exception of PF. 5e drew heavily on it for the "feel" and is releasing some heavily nostalgia-fueled material like Curse of Strahd. OSR is all about recapturing it and slimming the rules down, with slim and fluid rules being the goal of many non-OSR games too. And as mentioned earlier Numenera has a lot of similar sci-fi/fantasy elements to really early D&D, albeit with markedly different mechanics.

2016-10-31, 12:17 PM
The new thing looks like taking new systems and applying them to older settings. Rifts, Shadowrun, Star Wars. I'm seeing a load of PbtA and FATE hacks being applied to rpg that have been around for a few decades. Is it a good thing? I think so. New systems give dated settings a different flavor in my opinion.

Joe the Rat
2016-10-31, 12:33 PM
Weird fantasy is getting a real kick, between techno-fantasy Numenera, The Strange, Deadlands and RIFTS for Savage Worlds, to the more Eldritch veins of OSG like Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Dungeon Crawl Classics. And Cthulhu-flavored goodies (Achtung!)

Looking at that list, there's a lot of revival going on - renewing, revising, and retrofitting old brands and concepts. New edition of Villains and Vigilantes, anyone? Gamma World was messed up, Mutant Crawl Classics wants to make it messier (or at least have more pastels and tentacles). Savage Worlds is literally taking over worlds.
Edit: What PinkSpray said.

2016-10-31, 12:40 PM
Big name wise D&D 5e is the modern game. It's back to the days of D&D dominating through having an okay game an lots of brand recognition (whereas ironically the one time D&D was a great game, but not to my personal tastes, was 4e). The problem with 5e is that it's roughly 10-15 years behind the times mechanics wise, and mistakes 'imcomplete rules' for 'rules medium/light's.

In the mechanics sector narrative mechanics are king. In my experience Fate (or FATE to use the old styling) is the most influential, not the d20 of the modern day but it seems to have been key to the swing from 'storytelling game' to 'narrative simulation'. I've seen several games that use the rules, Core has a successful line of 50 page mini settings/adventures, and at least one game (Eclipse Phase) has published an official Fate conversion. I don't think Fate's going to stay in the position for another five years, I dont see it mentioned on this forum as much as it used to be, but at least right now I'd say it's the leader.

An honourable mention goes out to the various Powered by the Apocalypse games, I have nothing against them but they aren't quite as influential as Fate (although still as big on the player side).

2016-10-31, 01:06 PM
Well to give you a broad-based sample:

1) 5e Dungeons & Dragons


I've played some and bought a lot of different RPG's over the years, and I've yet to actually play any game as fun as D&D. Unlike the 1970's D&D rules I own many actual other people play 5e, and playing the game is more fun than just owning the game.
I was also told that 5e was "simpler than earlier editions".

2) Labyrinth Lord


Those "earlier editions" that 5e DnD was "simpler than", must be very complex indeed! Compared to the '70's rules I knew, while 5e is more clearly written, and fun, I find it far from "simple".
When an opportunity came up to play "old school" D&D, I was thilled, until I found out that my D&D was too old! The game offered was bases on the 1981 Basic set, I had the 1977 Basic Set!
Since I never want to order "online", my FLGS was able to get this "clone" of the '81 rules. I need not have bothered, the differences between the '77 and '81rules (and the '94 rules that I later found at a used bookstore) were minor.

3) Flashing Blades


I like the Three Musketeers!
And the adventures are great!



4) Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Very close to old D&D, I bought it to match the "Red and Pleasant Land" adventure.


5) Dungeon World

I had hoped to play a "D&D" like game with other people, but with simpler rules, so yes it was rules not setting for a change.

6) Warbirds
For the setting of course!

7) 7th Sea

Frankly I'm intimidated by the rules, but what a setting it has!
Just wonderful.

8) FATE https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51oY2pE5aaL._SY400_.jpg
To see what the hubbub is about!

Now what I like in fiction doesn't always match what interests me in RPG settings, for example I find "The Maltese Falcon" compelling reading, and "Touch of Evil" kept me in my theatre seat, but I don't want to role-play "Noir", and while I find the television series "Vikings" extremely dull viewing, I think a RPG of it would be cool.
(OK one of these was a game from the '80's, and two are rip-offs homages of '80's games, so maybe they don't count).

2016-10-31, 07:48 PM
Games have shifted back and forth between D&D totally dominating and having some competition. My impression is that nothing compares to WoD right now. At some points, it was selling as much or more than D&D. Nothing really compares. Well, there's Pathfinder, obviously, which is doing very well. But it's sort of D&D as well - different company, same general mindset, very heavily influenced by D&D.

FFG's Star Wars books appear in game stores so it's probably doing well; but not on par with D&D. FATEe gets some buzz among people who are really into rpgs but I bet the sales of all FATE games combined are at least an order of magnitude lower than D&D's sales.

But it's all ok. For anyone looking beyond what's available in physical stores, it's a golden age. Most old games and books are available again and many are getting new editions, often via Kickstarter. There's a wide variety of new games as well. This isn't great for nongamers who will not see this stuff but that's the way it goes.

You know what, nostalgia is what's king now. 5e, all these old games being reborn, all the stuff where people recount their games, it's all about people getting back into gaming and trying to relive the good part of their middle school experience.

2016-11-01, 10:42 AM
D&D is the game. Always has been. Will likely be for some time.

Everything else is a blip, with the possible exception of Pathfinder (which is just warmed over D&D 3.5 anyway).

The other games make a lot of noise online, but are extremely niche.

2016-11-01, 12:02 PM
80s was Punk, leather & crazy hair
90s was trenchcoats & sunglasses
Now, it a trip down nostalgia lane, dusting off the old & giving it a new finish. Just compare to movies/tv shows. Its the same

2016-11-01, 01:08 PM
D&D (including Pathfinder) remains bigger than the rest of the industry combined, and there isn't a clear second place the way there used to be. A lot of old games have new editions and new followings (Shadowrun comes to mind), Fate is big in the indie scene but still relatively small, and there are a ton of games with small fanbases that collectively cover a huge amount of ground in terms of settings, mechanics, etc.