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).

Here’s the chart showing how games’ relative positions have changed since last time.

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

Thoughts:

  • Don’t take too many of the shifts in rank too seriously this time, because by and large scores were down across the board – for instance, Castles & Crusades and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition went up three ranks this time but actually scored slightly lower.
  • The two games which bucked this trend were Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, which both increased their score substantially, with D&D 5E narrowing the gap with Pathfinder.

Let’s unpack that last part, because I think it speaks to an important point. I can’t remember a time when the future of one game depended so much on the success or failure and the audience reaction to a different game. Pathfinder attained the stature it has because it was able to ride the 4E backlash better than any other game, in part because it was designed as a 3.75E, but mostly because Paizo had earned the support and loyalty of the 3.X fanbase through its custodianship of Dungeon and Dragon magazines, and had developed the contacts and commercial reach and subscription list during that time which allowed them to scoop up a wide swathe of 4E refuseniks, with their reach even extending to that populous but rarely discussed breed of gamer who under normal circumstances would just keep playing the current edition of D&D and not give other games a second look.

At the moment, it looks like 5E won’t look an awful lot like 4E; those who’ve done the playtest seem to agree that it feels like it has more of a connection to the game’s heritage than 4E did mechanically speaking (with some detractors accusing it of being a reversion to something resembling 2E – which would suit me down to the ground, personally). The big question is, will it will back the disaffected gamers who perhaps only went to Pathfinder because they couldn’t stomach 4E? Will Pathfinder be able to retain a viable audience simply by being a currently-supported fork of D&D which isn’t 4E? Can 5E overtake Pathfinder in terms of commercial sales and online buzz? I’m fairly sure it will in the short term, but it’s whether it can put down long-term roots which is the make or break question.

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