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    Default Generic RPGs last longer

    As opposed to setting specific RPGs.

    I have been reading various RPGs for awhile now and I'll stumble upon great RPGs that are basically dead. No one plays them, no one talks about them. No new content is being made. I think this can come from an RPG being 'done'. At some point the idea the RPG is trying to convey is finished. People can only play with a finished concept for so long before they are done with it to. Since RPGs mainly grow through established groups recruiting new people, then people liking your game and praising it but not running it or playing it anymore will eventually cause it to fade away.

    Another problem that comes with more specific RPGs is all the material made for it is expected to be cumulative. For example, once enough widgets are printed for a D&D edition it becomes "bloated" and designers can struggle what new widgets to make. Even if you make content that is explicitly "setting specific", the GMs and players out there are tempted to combine things across setting because the game does not fundamentally change from setting to setting.

    Two RPG systems that I've seen that are both fairly old now and still making new content are Fate (2003) and Savage Worlds (2003), from what I've seen a 16 year run-time over very similar editions (as opposed to D&D editions) is rare especially among newer RPGs. I think these games stay alive and basically the same since their start because they can focus on a setting, have very specific crunch for it, and change how the game runs enough that people can keep playing the game without "getting done" with it. You avoid bloat because setting specific content is just not reused and you avoid "being finished" because there is always more settings to adapt.

    There are exceptions to this idea, for example GURPS focuses on universal crunch that can be applied to settings. The older it gets the more "finished" it is. It's alive enough for now, but I do not see the constant stream of product and kickstarters like I do for the other two.

    And of course, D&D being specific to D&D fantasy does not prevent it from being most popular, but 5e D&D is only 5ish years old now. Who knows if/when WotC will decide that 5e is "finished" and move on to a new set of core books?

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    If games from the early 2000s are considered old, then some of the games that have stuck around longer must be ancient.

    The opinion of what games are being played varies greatly depending on the circles you frequent. Vampire is pretty darn old (V:tM being published in 1991!) in comparison to FATE and Savage Worlds, and yet I feel like almost everyone I know who play RPGs have played Vampire in one form or another, are playing it in one form or another, or want to play. In general World of Darkness and it's ilk (Werewolf, Wraith, Changeling, Mage, Hunter, etc) have been around for a long time, is setting-specific, and is still relevant.

    I never heard about FATE before I started to actually lurk actively on this forum, and very few I know have heard about it, and I think you're about the only one I've heard talking about Savage Worlds. But as I said, it depends a lot on what sort of gamers you hang out with.

    D&D is always going to be around, with its many specific setting-related books. I don't see it going away soon as 5e has a pretty solid core and loyal base (I don't care for 5e myself, but I acknowledge that they went all in to make a well-designed game with a clear goal in mind).

    My impression is that generic RPGs might stick around for a while because of their applicability, but will rarely draw the majority of attention of the buyers and will remain less memorable than setting-specific RPGs.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    The Rifts RPG will turn 30 next year. It has only had one edition and a single revision; all of the books are still compatible.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    The Rifts RPG will turn 30 next year. It has only had one edition and a single revision; all of the books are still compatible.
    That is pretty impressive! I have some friends that are big fan of Rifts.

    And it's funny that the game is older than some people I know too.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Thing is, it takes QUITE a while for games to reach 'mass' appeal and somewhat hit the mainstream of even a focus group. And for RPGs you generally need a group to accept the new rules and the game so the more basic it is the easier it is to create a group for it.

    Imagine that we played Pathfinder, 5. Edition D&D and Degenesis (some post apo game from Germany) only to fail to create a Warhammer Fantasy or 40k group. Both reasons where one player (different for 40k and Fantasy) jumping board, eventually killing interest.

    Though honestly I do not support your claim that the rules system is the be all and end all but the range of fluff it can be applied to, including popular RPG tropes. It should start at the standard "adventurers delve the dungeon and find loot x" and its own dynamic can develop into something else entirely but a very simple framework has to be there.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    I occasionally mention savage worlds

    It is actually my favorite generic system. If I had my druthers, Iíd use it most often. However there is a certain charm and cultural mystique about D&D that I still love and most of my players enjoy. So I usually end up running/playing 5e D&D these days.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    I think an important feature is having money behind it to keep publishing, and the ability (through other media) to keep it in peoples minds.

    Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was first published in 1986, and its latest edition was released last year, so it is definitely up there amoungst the oldest still-breathing RPG systems. But it has very definitely gone through some ups and downs, with pretty strong highs, followed by periods where it all but disappeared. What has kept it going forward is, despite it being single-setting, is that the setting is very well known and well loved thanks to the battle game (though that thread is burned now) and more recently some pretty successful video games keeping the setting in peoples minds. But on the downside, some pretty shoddy support by Games Workshop (their habit of reviving it, pushing it strongly, then dropping it, cutting off support, and trying to hide the remains) means its constantly on the verge of dying for the last time.

    With stronger, more consistant support, it could be one of the big games (especially when you count Dark heresy and the rest of the 40k line as well), but only if the company behind it keeps it at the forefront.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Itís demonstrably untrue that setting-specific games donít have longevity. Closer to the mainstream, WoD, WHFRP, and Rifts have all been mentioned, but Battletech has been publishing RPG incarnations since 1986, and Exalted is nearly 18 now. There are also more niche titles like Traveler (1977) or Ars Magica (1987). You've also got out-of-print games like Amber Diceless (1991), which nonetheless have a huge, incredibly consistent playerbase. Do D&D settings count? Because Forgotten Realms has been around since 1987, outliving four editions of that game, and is at this point probably going stronger than ever (indeed, WotC seems to be betting ever more on FR's incredible longevity).

    This is off the top of my head, without getting into Japan's significant and very different tabletop scene.

    All that said, the phenomenon of, ďand now weíre finished,Ē is a real one, and not by any means exclusive to setting-specific games. Itís simply the product of having a less franchise-oriented mindset, or of having a smaller idea. And thatís fine. Itís too bad that games like that tend to be forgotten, but longevity is a fact, not a virtue.
    Last edited by gkathellar; 2019-03-21 at 06:32 AM.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Shadowrun is setting-specific, and has been around for ages.

    But what about, say, Forgotten Realms? It's so old it's retro, and so bad it's kitch, and it presumably wont ever die. I know Forgotten Realms isn't an RPG, but if setting specific games die out, shouldn't the same hold true for specific settings?

    Oh, previous poster also mentioned FR. Right. Um. Move along then, nothing to see here =)

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    Itís demonstrably untrue that setting-specific games donít have longevity. Closer to the mainstream, WoD, WHFRP, and Rifts have all been mentioned, but Battletech has been publishing RPG incarnations since 1986, and Exalted is nearly 18 now. There are also more niche titles like Traveler (1977) or Ars Magica (1987). You've also got out-of-print games like Amber Diceless (1991), which nonetheless have a huge, incredibly consistent playerbase. Do D&D settings count? Because Forgotten Realms has been around since 1987, outliving four editions of that game, and is at this point probably going stronger than ever (indeed, WotC seems to be betting ever more on FR's incredible longevity).

    This is off the top of my head, without getting into Japan's significant and very different tabletop scene.

    All that said, the phenomenon of, ďand now weíre finished,Ē is a real one, and not by any means exclusive to setting-specific games. Itís simply the product of having a less franchise-oriented mindset, or of having a smaller idea. And thatís fine. Itís too bad that games like that tend to be forgotten, but longevity is a fact, not a virtue.
    Out of print seems dead to me for Amber (I would argue BECMI is more active with people printing the RC to augment their OSR games). Likewise the Ars Magica scene seems to lack many people talking about playing recently and there is a severe lack of new books.

    FR is a setting that has been applied to a bunch of different games each calling themselves D&D. Sure the setting stayed alive, but through edition treadmill.

    Oh longevity isn't necessarily a virtue. I just notice that plenty of great games basically disappear without it.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    That is pretty impressive! I have some friends that are big fan of Rifts.

    And it's funny that the game is older than some people I know too.
    I own several games older than me. Mostly setting specific games.

    On that note, the real thing is that setting-specific games live and die on their setting, while generic games live and die on their rules. I suspect that this means that generic games have a harder time starting out, as you can't get away with a shoddy ruleset stapled onto an interesting and relatively unique setting*, but that setting specific games have to continually update their fluff to stay relevant or do one very specific idea very well. So while I do own a ton of setting-specific games, I do also have some generics that I'll look into converting the settings to.

    Actually, on that note, I bought both Cyberpunk 2020 (the edition is four years older than me, the game six years) and WFRP4e (the setting is over a decade over than me, the game itself eight years, even if this edition was released last year) less than two weeks ago entirely because of the settings. In fact the setting is what defines my purchases these days, I'm just bored of games that try to be as generic as possible because it gives me no idea what it's good at. I know to use Cyberpunk for gritty gun battles and infiltration because of the way the setting favours those, and I know to use WFRP for dark fantasy because of the focus on being corrupted and going insane, but when I first picked up BD&D I had no idea that you were supposed to go into dungeons and collect treasure, the setting information I saw focused on other things.

    Cyberpunk is actually interesting. I've been looking for a decently priced copy for years, and it seems to have recently got back into print (my FLGS had the corebook, Forbidden Planet seems to have a bunch of books which aren't the corebook but no corebook). I got it, and the setting would be completely laughable if the game wasn't based around it, and I'm sad that there's going to be a new version based on a different system because that'll mean that Cyberpunk discussion might start to move from 2020. It really is one of those games that does its particular style of setting so well that I'm loathe to go anywhere else for it now. Shadowrun is nice and all, but people seem to insist on playing Metahumans in it.

    * Also known as the Vampire the Masquerade strategy.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Ars Magica is now 32 years old, and on its 5th edition. It is specific setting (called "Mythic Europe").
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Ars Magica is now 32 years old, and on its 5th edition. It is specific setting (called "Mythic Europe").
    It's also kind of dead, prints no more new books, and the differences between 1-2 and 4-5 are vast. Even 4e and 5e are basically incompatible.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Also note that some games aren't intended to last forever, they'll have X books planned out from the start and then the designers will abandon or continue it as they desire by that point. Nothing new is coming out for Qin: the Warring States because it's completely finished (at least for the French version).

    Games will also dissappear for some time and then reappear as developers move onto new ideas and come back to old ones. There was a decade or more between UA2 and UA3, although UA3 itself seems to be more of a limited run deal (there's certainly been no sourcebooks since Book 5, but I think there might be occasional new Campaign Starter Kits). Cyberpunk is back in print and is apparently getting a new edition, and I'm sure with access to Google I could find a few more which have either just geared up or are getting ready to. Depending on how you count things oWoD revived with V20 and/or V5 (or potentially jumped the shark in V5).

    Then there are games like Shadowrun and Rifts which are setting specific and have been in print with (relatively) few breaks. Like with generics it's a relatively small number, but like with long-running generics they do exist.

    Also, 'RPG' is somewhat vague. It all seems clear, but is Keltia a different RPG to Yggdrassil? It might be a different setting and different brand, but it's the same system. Is Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Third Edition a different game to 1e and 2e due to using a different system? If so is 4e a different game or is it a revival of 1e/2e due to using a modifed version of their d% roll under system? How many RPGs is D&D anyway? (by my calculations anywhere up to seven [0e, Basic, Advanced 1e, Advanced 2e, 3.X, 4e, 5e])
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    For those of you pointing out long-lasting settings, keep in mind that the OP is talking about actively-published, and on the same ruleset.

    Part of what they're talking about is the fact that publishers (seem to) need to trot out a new version every x years to sell more things, while generic systems can keep the same core and just put out settings/other add-ons/etc.

    I don't know if I agree with that, but it's part of the point. That's why D&D doesn't count (though it's clearly one of the oldest systems) - it's been through a huge number of rewrites. Meanwhile, GURPS has had one new edition since the mid 80s.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Also note that some games aren't intended to last forever, they'll have X books planned out from the start and then the designers will abandon or continue it as they desire by that point. Nothing new is coming out for Qin: the Warring States because it's completely finished (at least for the French version).
    This is especially true when a writer is trading on their name, rather than a brand. Designers like John Harper, Jenna Moran, and Monte Cook are basically this hobby's equivalent of wild-and-crazy art house directors, and are well-known enough that basically anything they work on will draw attention and support. People in that category have an ability to keep eating food that is not dependent on continuing any particular franchise, and so their work is often (though not always) more self-contained.

    By contrast, major IPs managed by companies will tend to be a little more focused on shelf-life, if only because they've got staff to employ and quotas to meet.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    For those of you pointing out long-lasting settings, keep in mind that the OP is talking about actively-published, and on the same ruleset.
    I hear that, but generic games don't really have any more longevity in that regard. GURPS isn't an example of how generic games last forever, but rather an anomaly as TTRPGs go in a number of respects.
    Last edited by gkathellar; 2019-03-21 at 04:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    For those of you pointing out long-lasting settings, keep in mind that the OP is talking about actively-published, and on the same ruleset.

    Part of what they're talking about is the fact that publishers (seem to) need to trot out a new version every x years to sell more things, while generic systems can keep the same core and just put out settings/other add-ons/etc.
    Core Books sell vastly more copies than splatbooks, always have, always will. The reason is simple: most TTRPG book-buyers are players only, not GMs, and they only buy the books they need to run their characters. A small number of fanatical collect-them-all hardcore GM fans isn't enough to sustain a game as an ongoing in-print concern. The economics are quite clear on this point. Now, it is enough people to sustain a kickstarter-funded print-on-demand business model, which is how Onyx Path stays in business or to churn out cheap PDF-only sales on DriveThruRPG, which is how most FATE content is produced. That's a perfectly viable strategy, but it's a different kind of 'alive' than being actively in print.

    In general, being able to successfully publish a new edition and make money off of it is a sign that your game is healthy. A game that limps on without doing so periodically is a zombie.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    On the subject of Ars Magica:

    They are currently a "victim of their own success" with 5th edition. 5th edition proved to be their most popular and most liked edition, so much that they started reprinting older material into updated formats once they had covered pretty much anything else they could possibly publish. Once they had done that, they began to reach out on the Atlas Games forums of what people would like of a possible 6th edition, and a good chunk of the feedback was along the lines of "why do we need a new edition? 5th edition is perfectly fine".

    However, this is not a problem specific to setting-focused RPGs or generic RPGs either. At some point, you have printed all there is to print of support and splat-books (and as mentioned above, splats never sell as well as corebooks), so you either must look to refining the system you have into a new edition, or you start scraping the bottom of the barrel and begin publishing material of low quality that is just becoming unnescessary bloat. And to be fair, Ars Magica's 5e splats have all been top-notch quality.

    The general consensus of their customers and the fanbase has leaned heavily in favor of just keeping 5e, so I don't think Atlas Games is going to invest too hard into pushing for a 6th edition but I could very well be wrong as I haven't checked in on that community in a while.

    the differences between 1-2 and 4-5 are vast. Even 4e and 5e are basically incompatible.
    Incorrect. Porting over mechanics and characters from 4th to 5th is a quick and painless process, with only minimal adjustments. Trust me, I know, our group switched to 5e when it came out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    once they had covered pretty much anything else they could possibly publish
    Hey, they still haven't published rules for the Terram specialists of House Guernicus! So that's like ... one entire thing that there's no sourcebook for.

    Probably.

    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Incorrect. Porting over mechanics and characters from 4th to 5th is a quick and painless process, with only minimal adjustments. Trust me, I know, our group switched to 5e when it came out.
    There's even an appendix in the 5E rulebook on what's changed and how to port stuff.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Yeah, there were a couple of Virtues and Flaws that were removed/replaced, but that was mostly minor from what I recall. Characteristics were done differently, but if you really wanted to be crazy (like we were) you could keep the ones generated in 4e and use in 5e if you absolutely wanted to.

    And everyone rejoiced over the changes to wearing armor!

    Also, House Guernicus is covered extensively in True Lineages!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Also, House Guernicus is covered extensively in True Lineages!
    They specifically mention that there's a tradition of specialized Guernicus Terram users in that book, and then say, "but that's beyond the scope of this book!" It's maddening.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    On the subject of Ars Magica:

    They are currently a "victim of their own success" with 5th edition. 5th edition proved to be their most popular and most liked edition, so much that they started reprinting older material into updated formats once they had covered pretty much anything else they could possibly publish. Once they had done that, they began to reach out on the Atlas Games forums of what people would like of a possible 6th edition, and a good chunk of the feedback was along the lines of "why do we need a new edition? 5th edition is perfectly fine".

    However, this is not a problem specific to setting-focused RPGs or generic RPGs either. At some point, you have printed all there is to print of support and splat-books (and as mentioned above, splats never sell as well as corebooks), so you either must look to refining the system you have into a new edition, or you start scraping the bottom of the barrel and begin publishing material of low quality that is just becoming unnescessary bloat. And to be fair, Ars Magica's 5e splats have all been top-notch quality.

    The general consensus of their customers and the fanbase has leaned heavily in favor of just keeping 5e, so I don't think Atlas Games is going to invest too hard into pushing for a 6th edition but I could very well be wrong as I haven't checked in on that community in a while.
    This is the issue I find with single setting longevity. They can only print material for less interesting, more detailed setting lore at this point. It's not like Ars Magica has a generic core and a Mythic Europe line that tied characters and magic more closely to that setting and then could publish a "Yggdrasil" setting to bring deep magic to another kind of fantasy world.

    Instead, they finished a great game that no one really plays anymore.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhedyn View Post
    This is the issue I find with single setting longevity. They can only print material for less interesting, more detailed setting lore at this point. It's not like Ars Magica has a generic core and a Mythic Europe line that tied characters and magic more closely to that setting and then could publish a "Yggdrasil" setting to bring deep magic to another kind of fantasy world.

    Instead, they finished a great game that no one really plays anymore.
    At least to me, Ars Magica also deals with a bit of a niche style due to the "troupe" setup.

    (Assuming that their 5th ed kept troupes.)
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    At least to me, Ars Magica also deals with a bit of a niche style due to the "troupe" setup.

    (Assuming that their 5th ed kept troupes.)
    It was treated as normal, but not necessary if your group preferred not to do it.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    I hear that, but generic games don't really have any more longevity in that regard. GURPS isn't an example of how generic games last forever, but rather an anomaly as TTRPGs go in a number of respects.
    The RPG hobby industry is small enough that all RPGs are anomalies, really.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    GURPS fell from popularity due to a combination of poor marketing, changing tastes in RPG mechanics among the masses and poor marketing leading to a stereotype of the game as being for grognards with Physics degrees. Unfortunately it's going to keep slowly dying because SJG basically sees it as an afterthought when Munchkin keeps the company successful singlehandedly. There's no will to spend the marketing dollars to convince people to try out a complex system in the middle of the minimalism fad. I wish I could play the games I want instead of having to run them, but alas GURPS GMs are thin on the ground.
    Last edited by War_lord; 2019-03-22 at 10:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhedyn View Post
    This is the issue I find with single setting longevity. They can only print material for less interesting, more detailed setting lore at this point. It's not like Ars Magica has a generic core and a Mythic Europe line that tied characters and magic more closely to that setting and then could publish a "Yggdrasil" setting to bring deep magic to another kind of fantasy world.

    Instead, they finished a great game that no one really plays anymore.

    See, for you that might be a problem.

    Others, like myself, like to have unique mechanics tied to a setting. It's something that enhances the experience of that setting and gamestyle, custom-made to fit specifically for that kind of storytelling. I love FFG's Star Wars for playing Star Wars, I think it works great for that kind of style that SW often goes for. I hated the similar-but-not-quite-same-system they made for their 5e of Legend of the Five Rings, and felt that the previous system worked much better for L5R's theme. Same goes for Ars Magica. It's a system that's not like anything else, and it works perfectly for that game.

    For me, I am usually not a fan of the generic systems. I feel that most of them actually feel generic and don't have that kind of flavor or special quirks that setting-specific systems do.

    Also, just because you don't know anyone who don't play Ars Magica anymore doesn't mean that no one plays it anymore.
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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    See, for you that might be a problem.

    Others, like myself, like to have unique mechanics tied to a setting. It's something that enhances the experience of that setting and gamestyle, custom-made to fit specifically for that kind of storytelling. I love FFG's Star Wars for playing Star Wars, I think it works great for that kind of style that SW often goes for. I hated the similar-but-not-quite-same-system they made for their 5e of Legend of the Five Rings, and felt that the previous system worked much better for L5R's theme. Same goes for Ars Magica. It's a system that's not like anything else, and it works perfectly for that game.

    For me, I am usually not a fan of the generic systems. I feel that most of them actually feel generic and don't have that kind of flavor or special quirks that setting-specific systems do.
    A generic game can still have setting specific mechanics. Are you arguing that you prefer the whole system being tied to a setting? I won't disagree with that. I just notice that those kind of games die out faster regardless of how good they are.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    I think one problem is that you are identifying the same phenomenon, but calling it two different things. In "generic settings," they publish a good ruleset and then every few years go through a cycle of publishing a setting. I have a collection of Fate and Savage Worlds sourcebooks at home. Some of them are a series 2-6 books long, but nothing is ever going to be published again. If I don't like the new settings, or want to incorporate new material, I have to find things from a different setting and Frankenstein it back into my game.
    In a "setting specific" rpg, you get a new edition every couple of years.
    Either way, a new infusion of ideas breathes life into an old system. I think its a little disingenuous to say Fate & Savage Worlds are "successful," but d20 isn't.

    On the other hand, a game like Margret Weis's Marvel Civil War or Firefly had extremely short flashes in the pan. The games depended on specific settings, worked for a finite amount of material, and haven't really been come back to.

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    Default Re: Generic RPGs last longer

    I'm not using the word "successful". I'm only talking about longevity which only implies a bare minimum level of success over a length.

    I don't particular care if a setting has longevity because I'm unlikely to ever revisit a setting after a campaign, but it's a good observation that without some sort of renewal, RPG product lines have a limited life.

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