ENWorld’s Hot RPGs – November 2016

Time for another look at at ENWorld’s list of hot RPGs. So it’s been a good long while since we did this, mostly because as of the last time the chart seemed to have become very same-y, but let’s see if anything substantial has changed in the last 9 months or so.

Usual reminder applies: RPGs are scored on the chart based on what’s being actively discussed on as wide a pool of internet fora and blogs as ENWorld can find RSS feeds for. It 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). What I present here are the scores assigned to each game, not the percentages (which can tend to obscure whether there’s been a recent explosion of RPG discussion – for example, as associated with the D&D 5E release – or whether things are comparatively quiet on the RPG talkosphere).

First up, let’s get the rankings and absolute scores:

RANK	GAME					SCORE
1	D&D 5th Edition				1172
2	Pathfinder RPG				 325
3	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			 230
4	Old School Revival (OSR)		 163
5	D&D 4th Edition				 122
6	World of Darkness			  89
7	OD&D					  72
8	Call of Cthulhu				  70
9	Savage Worlds				  68
10	What's OLD is NEW			  61
11	Dread					  57
11	Dungeon Crawl Classics			  57
13	Shadowrun				  55
14	Traveller				  53
15	Exalted					  50
16	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	  44
17	Dungeon World				  43
18	ICONS					  40
19	GURPS					  39
20	AD&D 2nd Edition			  37
20	RIFTS					  37
22	Apocalypse World			  30
22	Gumshoe					  30
24	AD&D 1st Edition			  24
24	Deadlands				  24
26	Stars Without Number			  19
27	Earthdawn				  17
27	Warhammer 40K				  17
29	Castles & Crusades			  15
30	Warhammer FRP				  14
30	Cypher System				  14
32	Firefly					  12
32	13th Age				  12
32	Dragon Age/Fantasy AGE/AGE		  12
35	Iron Kingdoms				  11
35	Mutant Chronicles			  11
37	The One Ring				  10
38	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	   9
39	Eclipse Phase				   8
40	HERO System / Champions			   7
40	CORTEX System				   7
40	BESM					   7
43	d20 Modern				   5
43	Fading Suns				   5
43	Gamma World				   5
43	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		   5
47	True20					   4
47	Alternity				   4
47	d20 Future				   4
50	Feng Shui				   3
50	A Song of Ice & Fire			   3
50	Star Wars (FFG)				   3
53	Other Superhero RPGs			   2
53	DC Heroes				   2
55	Chainmail				   1
55	Star Trek				   1
55	Colonial Gothic				   1
55	Hackmaster				   1
55	Ars Magica				   1
55	Ashen Stars				   1
55	Runequest				   1
55	Aberrant				   1
55	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			   1
55	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	   1
55	Smallville				   1
55	TMNT					   1
67	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			   0
67	Marvel SAGA				   0
67	Star Wars (d6)				   0
67	FATE					   0
67	Rotted Capes				   0
67	Villains & Vigilantes			   0
67	Hobomancer				   0
67	Brave New World				   0
67	Marvel Super Heroes			   0
67	Paranoia				   0
67	Silver Age Sentinels			   0
67	Golden Heroes / Squadron UK		   0
--	Stage					 DNC
*DNC = Did Not Chart

Here’s the chart of the shifts in rank (probably more significant for higher-scoring games):

RANK	GAME					CHANGE
1	D&D 5th Edition				  =
2	Pathfinder RPG				  =
3	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			 +1
4	Old School Revival (OSR)		 +2
5	D&D 4th Edition				 +2
6	World of Darkness			 -3
7	OD&D					+14
8	Call of Cthulhu				 +3
9	Savage Worlds				 -1
10	What's OLD is NEW			 -1
11	Dread					+33
11	Dungeon Crawl Classics			+30
13	Shadowrun				  =
14	Traveller				 +4
15	Exalted					-10
16	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	 -2
17	Dungeon World				 -1
18	ICONS					 +6
19	GURPS					 -9
20	AD&D 2nd Edition			+13
20	RIFTS					 +4
22	Apocalypse World			+11
22	Gumshoe					-11
24	AD&D 1st Edition			+20
24	Deadlands				+17
26	Stars Without Number			 +2
27	Earthdawn				+17
27	Warhammer 40K				-13
29	Castles & Crusades			+15
30	Warhammer FRP				 -2
30	Cypher System				 -2
32	Firefly					 +1
32	13th Age				-12
32	Dragon Age/Fantasy AGE/AGE		-16
35	Iron Kingdoms				+15
35	Mutant Chronicles			 -7
37	The One Ring				-16
38	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	-14
39	Eclipse Phase				-11
40	HERO System / Champions			+10
40	CORTEX System				-19
40	BESM					+16
43	d20 Modern				-19
43	Fading Suns				+22
43	Gamma World				 -2
43	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		-10
47	True20					 +9
47	Alternity				-10
47	d20 Future				+18
50	Feng Shui				-31
50	A Song of Ice & Fire			 -6
50	Star Wars (FFG)				-13
53	Other Superhero RPGs			 +3
53	DC Heroes				 -9
55	Chainmail				 -5
55	Star Trek				+10
55	Colonial Gothic				 -5
55	Hackmaster				+10
55	Ars Magica				-18
55	Ashen Stars				+10
55	Runequest				 +1
55	Aberrant				+10
55	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			 +1
55	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	-18
55	Smallville				 -5
55	TMNT					+10
67	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			-23
67	Marvel SAGA				-17
67	Star Wars (d6)				-11
67	FATE					-11
67	Rotted Capes				-11
67	Villains & Vigilantes			 -2
67	Hobomancer				 -2
67	Brave New World				 -2
67	Marvel Super Heroes			 -2
67	Paranoia				 -2
67	Silver Age Sentinels			 -2
67	Golden Heroes / Squadron UK		 -2
--	Stage					 DNC
*DNC = Did Not Chart

And here’s the chart of shifts in absolute score (which I believe to be more significant for lower-scoring games):

RANK	GAME					CHANGE
1	D&D 5th Edition				 -21
2	Pathfinder RPG				+230
3	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			+164
4	Old School Revival (OSR)		+107
5	D&D 4th Edition				 +72
6	World of Darkness			 +16
7	OD&D					 +63
8	Call of Cthulhu				 +49
9	Savage Worlds				 +22
10	What's OLD is NEW			 +31
11	Dread					 +54 
11	Dungeon Crawl Classics			 +53
13	Shadowrun				 +35
14	Traveller				 +37
15	Exalted					 -15
16	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	 +26
17	Dungeon World				 +26
18	ICONS					 +32
19	GURPS					 +12
20	AD&D 2nd Edition			 +31
20	RIFTS					 +29
22	Apocalypse World			 +24
22	Gumshoe					  +9
24	AD&D 1st Edition			 +21
24	Deadlands				 +20
26	Stars Without Number			 +12
27	Earthdawn				 +14
27	Warhammer 40K				  -1
29	Castles & Crusades			 +12
30	Warhammer FRP				  +7
30	Cypher System				  +7
32	Firefly					  +6
32	13th Age				  +2
32	Dragon Age/Fantasy AGE/AGE		  +5
35	Iron Kingdoms				  +9
35	Mutant Chronicles			  +4
37	The One Ring				  +1
38	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	  +1
39	Eclipse Phase				  +1
40	HERO System / Champions			  +5
40	CORTEX System				  -2
40	BESM					  +6
43	d20 Modern				  -3
43	Fading Suns				  +5
43	Gamma World				  +1
43	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		  -1
47	True20					  +3
47	Alternity				  -1
47	d20 Future				  +4
50	Feng Shui				  -8
50	A Song of Ice & Fire			  +2
50	Star Wars (FFG)				  -2
53	Other Superhero RPGs			  +1
53	DC Heroes				  -1
55	Chainmail				  -1
55	Star Trek				  +1
55	Colonial Gothic				  -1
55	Hackmaster				  +1
55	Ars Magica				  -4
55	Ashen Stars				  +1
55	Runequest				   =
55	Aberrant				  +1
55	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			   =
55	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	  -4
55	Smallville				  -1
55	TMNT					  +1
67	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			  -3
67	Marvel SAGA				  -2
67	Star Wars (d6)				  -1
67	FATE					  -1
67	Rotted Capes				  -1
67	Villains & Vigilantes			   =
67	Hobomancer				   =
67	Brave New World				   =
67	Marvel Super Heroes			   =
67	Paranoia				   =
67	Silver Age Sentinels			   =
67	Golden Heroes / Squadron UK		   =
--	Stage					 DNC
*DNC = Did Not Chart

Evidently there has been a major shakeup, though because of the long break the causes aren’t clear. D&D 5E remains king of the pack by a large margin, with its 21-point drop in its score being a mere drop in the ocean when you consider the sheer size of its lead. In general, it seems like there are a great many more points in the system this time – whether this reflects a tweak in the chart’s methodology, or the chart being better at picking up discussions of other games, or whatever is an open question.

One possibility is that we are looking at the long-term results of Wizards of the Coast closing their forums. Whilst ENWorld stopped tracking their own forums as of the last charts, recognising that as a result of a mass migration of the Wizards forum community to their own page they had become a quasi-official D&D forum, I’m not sure that all the former forum-goers will have necessarily stayed there – with a broader diaspora to other forums spreading around the D&D discussion. Certainly, D&D editions and similar games seem to have done well out of the increase of points in the ecosystem, though the general order of them seems to be much the same – Pathfinder and 3E representing a major bloc, the OSR being very healthy, and 4E seeming like the runt of the litter. (It does, of course, score higher than OD&D and both editions of AD&D, but then again those are games which are very much in the OSR spirit, and if they were included in the OSR score then the OSR game family would rank above 3E.)

Outside of the D&D realm, other games seem to have varied in how much they have benefitted from the greater number of points. World of Darkness has seen its score go up a chunk, for instance, but not enough to preserve its place in the rankings, and part of me wonders whether this reflects the name change for the new World of Darkness line to Chronicles of Darkness not yet being reflected in the chart – an update to make it clear whether the World of Darkness score includes Chronicles of Darkness would be very helpful. Conversely, Exalted has seen its score go down, in marked contrast to more or less every other game in the top third of the chart (setting aside the mild drop in 5E‘s score), which I feel may be a bad omen for the future of Exalted 3E; certainly, anecdotally speaking I have not seen much enthusiasm for it outside of the hardcore Exalted fanbase, who I suspect don’t account for enough numbers these days to make Exalted the sort of major second-rank fantasy RPG it used to be back in its prime.

Speaking of products which had Kickstarters, Call of Cthulhu seems to have pulled ahead quite nicely, 7th Edition’s hard copies finally having been delivered. (The Gumshoe system, conversely, seems to be flagging, which suggests that Pelgrane may be struggling to retain the attention of fans of investigative RPGs.) Other Kickstarted RPGs seem to have had mixed results; Feng Shui seems to be barely discussed, despite the successful delivery of the 2nd Edition Kickstarter, whereas discussion of Paranoia has pretty much died back to background noise, which I don’t think is a place Mongoose want it to be considering that the PDFs of the new edition are out and the hard copies are on their way.

Lastly, Dread seems to have suddenly shot up in popularity, and I have no idea why that would be. Anyone know of any recent major news surrounding it?

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