Signal Amplification: noisms Knows Where It’s At

I’ve long held the opinion that the RPG industry needs the hobby more than the hobby needs the industry, but noisms has provided a really nice argument as to why that is the case, as well as providing interesting links to a PAX East discussion in which figures like Mike Mearls and Ryan Dancey ponder how they can keep this buggy whip thing going long enough for them to retire.

For my money, Mearls seems to be the most sensible pair of hands to handle the D&D brand in a long time, in the sense that he realises that if it is to survive it’s got to be as a brand in which the tabletop RPG is just one facet of the whole deal rather than being the core activity everything else has to kowtow to, and if you want someone to be super big into the brand you need to find ways to engage them on other fronts rather than expecting them to spend their downtime between sessions thinking a lot about D&D and working towards the next session. I suspect, in fact, that a lot of Games Workshop’s recent woes surrounding sales might arise from this sort of thing – people might still be happy to spend hours playing Warhammer 40,000, but I for one don’t really have the motivation to do that and spend further hours building and painting my armies when there’s so many other things I can invest my time in, so in practice my armies have been gathering dust for years ever since I stopped living conveniently close to friends who’d regularly hold painting sessions.

I would probably be much less involved in tabletop RPGs if I hadn’t crafted a very high-improvisation, low-prep style of refereeing.

Referee’s Bookshelf : Skyrealms of Jorune

Settings reputed to be too weird to effectively run are about as old as RPGs themselves; Empire of the Petal Throne was, when it originally came out, reputed to be unplayably dense and weird, though I suspect a lot of that stems from it taking more inspiration from South Asian and Mesoamerican cultures than it did from European history. In the 1980s, the crown of “wackiest setting” belonged to Skyrealms of Jorune, famed for running a series of adverts in Dragon magazine like this one:

And to be honest, right there you can see both what people found appealing about Jorune and what people found off-putting. The artwork is impressively weird, and combined with the dialogue it takes on a whimsical, almost Vancian quality. At the same time, the actual dialogue is full of fantasy gibberish words and suggests a fussy, overprecise setting with lots of fiddly details.

Continue reading

ENWorld’s Hot Roleplaying Games – April 2014

I’ve been keeping track here of ENWorld’s chart of the “hottest RPGs” – hotness, in this case, being based on what’s being actively discussed on as wide a pool of internet fora and blogs as they can find RSS feeds for. Remember: this isn’t tracking sales, and it isn’t even tracking popularity (because conceivably a game could get onto the chart if there were a sufficiently virulent negative reaction to it). Note that I’m presenting here the scores assigned to each game, not the percentages.

RANK	GAME					SCORE
1	Pathfinder RPG				271
2	D&D Next (5E)				237
3	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			151
4	D&D 4th Edition				 74
5	FATE					 55
6	Savage Worlds				 34
7	13th Age				 32
8	Old School Revival (OSR)		 31
9	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	 27
10	AD&D 2nd Edition			 22
11	Shadowrun				 20
11	OD&D					 20
13	World of Darkness			 17
14	Dungeon Crawl Classics			 16
15	Call of Cthulhu				 15
15	Numenera				 15
17	Castles & Crusades			 11
17	AD&D 1st Edition			 11
19	GURPS					  9
20	Warhammer 40K				  8
21	Earthdawn				  7
21	The One Ring				  7
23	Dungeon World				  6
23	Star Trek				  6
23	Mutant Chronicles			  6
23	Chainmail				  6
27	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			  5
27	Dragon Age				  5
29	Traveller				  4
29	HERO System / Champions			  4
29	d20 Modern				  4
29	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		  4
29	RIFTS					  4
29	Gumshoe					  4
35	Deadlands				  3
35	Dread					  3
35	The Strange				  3
35	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	  3
35	Exalted					  3
35	Star Wars: Edge of the Empire		  3
35	ICONS					  3
42	Ars Magica				  2
42	Hobomancer				  2
42	Warhammer FRP				  2
42	Colonial Gothic				  2
42	Firefly					  2
42	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			  2
42	Apocalypse World			  2
49	A Song of Ice & Fire			  1
49	Other Superhero RPGs			  1
49	CORTEX System				  1
49	Hackmaster				  1
49	BESM					  1
49	d20 Future				  1
49	Runequest				  1
49	True20					  1
49	Fading Suns				  1
49	Eclipse Phase				  1
59	Alternity				  0
59	Marvel SAGA				  0
59	Rotted Capes				  0
59	Paranoia				  0
59	Smallville				  0
59	Aberrant				  0
59	Star Wars (d6)				  0
59	Stars Without Number			  0
59	Brave New World				  0
59	DC Heroes				  0
59	Feng Shui				  0
59	Iron Kingdoms				  0
59	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	  0
59	Gamma World				  0
--	Dnd/Pathfinder				DNC
--	Stage					DNC
*DNC = Did Not Chart

Note that according to the chart page a 0 score doesn’t mean nobody’s mentioned a particular game –  a statistically significant sample has shown up but no more than that. For sanity’s sake I’m only tracking zero-scores which previously scored. Games which did not chart presumably either failed to even yield a statistically significant sample or have had their categories retired from the chart (as appears to be the case with the redundant Dnd/Pathfinder category).

Continue reading