ENWorld’s Hot RPGs – December 2016

Time for another look at at ENWorld’s list of hot RPGs to round off the year. 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				1506
2	Pathfinder RPG				 402
3	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			 290
4	Old School Revival (OSR)		 205
5	D&D 4th Edition				 137
6	World of Darkness			 112
7	Savage Worlds				 101
8	OD&D					  85
9	Call of Cthulhu				  84
10	AD&D 2nd Edition			  77
11	What's OLD is NEW			  76
12	Dungeon Crawl Classics			  67
13	Shadowrun				  65
14	Dread					  63
15	Traveller				  61
16	Exalted					  58
17	RIFTS					  54
18	Dungeon World				  50
19	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	  49
20	GURPS					  45
21	ICONS					  44
22	Gumshoe					  36
23	Apocalypse World			  32
24	Deadlands				  31
25	Warhammer 40K				  30
26	AD&D 1st Edition			  25
27	Stars Without Number			  20
28	Cypher System				  19
28	Earthdawn				  19
30	Castles & Crusades			  18
31	The One Ring				  16
32	Firefly					  15
33	Dragon Age/Fantasy AGE/AGE		  14
34	13th Age				  12
35	Warhammer FRP				  11
35	Iron Kingdoms				  11
37	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	  10
37	Mutant Chronicles			  10
39	CORTEX System				   8
40	BESM					   7
40	d20 Modern				   7
42	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		   6
42	HERO System / Champions			   6
42	True20					   6
42	Fading Suns				   6
42	Eclipse Phase				   6
47	A Song of Ice & Fire			   5
48	Feng Shui				   4
48	Alternity				   4
48	d20 Future				   4
48	Gamma World				   4
52	Star Wars (FFG)				   3
52	DC Heroes				   3
52	Chainmail				   3
55	Hackmaster				   2
55	Other Superhero RPGs			   2
55	Aberrant				   2
58	Ars Magica				   1
58	Ashen Stars				   1
58	Star Trek				   1
58	Colonial Gothic				   1
58	Runequest				   1
58	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			   1
58	TMNT					   1
58	Smallville				   1
66	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			   0
66	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	   0
66	Silver Age Sentinels			   0
66	Brave New World				   0
66	Golden Heroes / Squadron UK		   0
66	Star Wars (d6)				   0
66	Villains & Vigilantes			   0
66	FATE					   0
66	Marvel Super Heroes			   0
66	Marvel SAGA				   0
66	Paranoia				   0
66	Rotted Capes				   0
66	Hobomancer				   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			  =
4	Old School Revival (OSR)		  =
5	D&D 4th Edition				  =
6	World of Darkness			  =
7	Savage Worlds				 +2
8	OD&D					 -1
9	Call of Cthulhu				 -1
10	AD&D 2nd Edition			+10
11	What's OLD is NEW			 -1
12	Dungeon Crawl Classics			 -1
13	Shadowrun				  =
14	Dread					 -3
15	Traveller				 -1
16	Exalted					 -1
17	RIFTS					 +3
18	Dungeon World				 -1
19	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	 -3
20	GURPS					 -1
21	ICONS					 -3
22	Gumshoe					  =
23	Apocalypse World			 -1
24	Deadlands				  =
25	Warhammer 40K				 +2
26	AD&D 1st Edition			 -2
27	Stars Without Number			 -1
28	Cypher System				 +2
28	Earthdawn				 -1
30	Castles & Crusades			 -1
31	The One Ring				 +6
32	Firefly					  =
33	Dragon Age/Fantasy AGE/AGE		 -1
34	13th Age				 -2
35	Warhammer FRP				 -5
35	Iron Kingdoms				  =
37	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	 +1
37	Mutant Chronicles			 -2
39	CORTEX System				 +1
40	BESM					  =
40	d20 Modern				 +3
42	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		 +1
42	HERO System / Champions			 -2
42	True20					 +5
42	Fading Suns				 +1
42	Eclipse Phase				 -3
47	A Song of Ice & Fire			 +3
48	Feng Shui				 +2
48	Alternity				 -1
48	d20 Future				 -1
48	Gamma World				 -5
52	Star Wars (FFG)				 -2
52	DC Heroes				 -1
52	Chainmail				 +3
55	Hackmaster				  =
55	Other Superhero RPGs			 -2
55	Aberrant				  =
58	Ars Magica				 -3
58	Ashen Stars				 -3
58	Star Trek				 -3
58	Colonial Gothic				 -3
58	Runequest				 -3
58	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			 -3
58	TMNT					 -3
58	Smallville				 -3
66	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			 +1
66	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	-11
66	Silver Age Sentinels			 +1
66	Brave New World				 +1
66	Golden Heroes / Squadron UK		 +1
66	Star Wars (d6)				 +1
66	Villains & Vigilantes			 +1
66	FATE					 +1
66	Marvel Super Heroes			 +1
66	Marvel SAGA				 +1
66	Paranoia				 +1
66	Rotted Capes				 +1
66	Hobomancer				 +1
--	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				+334
2	Pathfinder RPG				 +77
3	D&D 3rd Edition/3.5			 +60
4	Old School Revival (OSR)		 +42
5	D&D 4th Edition				 +15
6	World of Darkness			 +23
7	Savage Worlds				 +33
8	OD&D					 +13
9	Call of Cthulhu				 +14
10	AD&D 2nd Edition			 +40
11	What's OLD is NEW			 +15
12	Dungeon Crawl Classics			 +10
13	Shadowrun				 +10
14	Dread					  +6
15	Traveller				  +8
16	Exalted					  +8
17	RIFTS					 +17
18	Dungeon World				  +7
19	Mutants & Masterminds/DC Adventures	  +5
20	GURPS					  +6
21	ICONS					  +4
22	Gumshoe					  +6
23	Apocalypse World			  +2
24	Deadlands				  +7
25	Warhammer 40K				 +13
26	AD&D 1st Edition			  +1
27	Stars Without Number			  +1
28	Cypher System				  +5
28	Earthdawn				  +2
30	Castles & Crusades			  +3
31	The One Ring				  +6
32	Firefly					  +3
33	Dragon Age/Fantasy AGE/AGE		  +2
34	13th Age				   =
35	Warhammer FRP				  -3
35	Iron Kingdoms				   =
37	Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space	  +1
37	Mutant Chronicles			  -1
39	CORTEX System				  +1
40	BESM					   =
40	d20 Modern				  +2
42	Marvel Heroic Roleplaying		  +1
42	HERO System / Champions			  -1
42	True20					  +2
42	Fading Suns				  +1
42	Eclipse Phase				  -2
47	A Song of Ice & Fire			  +2
48	Feng Shui				  +1
48	Alternity				   =
48	d20 Future				   =
48	Gamma World				  -1
52	Star Wars (FFG)				   =
52	DC Heroes				  +1
52	Chainmail				  +2
55	Hackmaster				  +1
55	Other Superhero RPGs			   =
55	Aberrant				  +1
58	Ars Magica				   =
58	Ashen Stars				   =
58	Star Trek				   =
58	Colonial Gothic				   =
58	Runequest				   =
58	All Flesh Must Be Eaten			   =
58	TMNT					   =
58	Smallville				   =
66	Star Wars (SAGA/d20)			   =
66	Godlike / Wild Talents / NEMESIS	  -1
66	Silver Age Sentinels			   =
66	Brave New World				   =
66	Golden Heroes / Squadron UK		   =
66	Star Wars (d6)				   =
66	Villains & Vigilantes			   =
66	FATE					   =
66	Marvel Super Heroes			   =
66	Marvel SAGA				   =
66	Paranoia				   =
66	Rotted Capes				   =
66	Hobomancer				   =
--	Stage					 DNC
*DNC = Did Not Chart

Another month where the total number of points available seems to have gone up, suggesting a big increase in online discussion in general as the winter months come in. As is often the case, there’s some interesting features in which games have benefitted more than others from the boost in discussion. Savage Worlds seems to have enjoyed an increase in discussion, possibly as a result of the release of recent supplements, and AD&D 2E seems to have had a sudden surge thanks to Wizards of the Coast making some 2E-era supplements available via print-on-demand on DriveThruRPG.

The big winner is D&D 5E, of course, which continues its reign as the dominant entity in the field and has further increased its massive lead over Pathfinder. This is probably as a result of two major 5E releases in the last month; there’s Volo’s Guide to Monsters, a significant official supplement release from Wizards, and on the third-party front Cubicle 7 put out the player’s book for Adventures In Middle-Earth, their bid to apply the Middle-Earth setting and some system innovations of The One Ring to the 5E system. The boost in the score of The One Ring may well be the result of discussions comparing it to Adventures In Middle-Earth; whilst there is no guarantee that this will lead to any boost in sales of The One Ring products, this does suggest that Adventures In Middle-Earth has at least succeeded in raising the profile of the other game.

I’m particularly interested in the divergent fates of Warhammer 40,000 and WFRP discussion; there’s apparently been a spike in discussion of the former whilst the latter is stagnating. This might come down to February 2017 hoving into view, after which Fantasy Flight’s licence with Games Workshop ends. Whilst they have put out more 40K RPG lines than Warhammer Fantasy RPG lines, at the same time I’d have expected there to be even more of a flurry of people trying to get word of where to get WFRP 3E supplements with the coming end of the line, given the way that game made a big deal out of its various fiddly components and how those components are going to be far more difficult to acquire in a useful format once the licence ends. (To address the elephant in the room: pirate PDFs of the rulebooks are, let’s face it, always going to be trivially available, but nice boardgame components are much harder to pirate – indeed, I seem to remember speculation that this was part of the design thinking behind the changes to WFRP3.) It feels like a huge shame that what could be the death of WFRP outright (since there’s no guarantee Games Workshop will ever issue the licence again) doesn’t seem to be being marked by anything.

Meanwhile, for a second month in a row Paranoia fails to score entirely, which given that the Kickstarted new edition is right on the verge of release feels like a really bad sign.

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2 thoughts on “ENWorld’s Hot RPGs – December 2016

  1. Do you have any idea how The Black Hack fits into this list? I don’t think it’t on the list of included OSR games, and I don’t recall seeing it make the charts, which is surprising considering how much press it got this past year. Maybe I just hang around an insular portion of the blogosphere…?

    1. If the Black Hack isn’t on the list of included games then it probably doesn’t factor into the score at all.

      It is entirely possible that the OSR score is a little lower than it should be, considering all the OSR games out there… or maybe not. As they explain it, a “0” score doesn’t mean there was no discussion of a game at all during the measurement period, just not enough to rise above the background noise and score a point.

      Given that there is now a baffling number of OSR games out there, each slicing the onion a little thinner, I would not be surprised if the majority of them simply would have a zero score if measured separately. (I mean, seriously, it’s getting to the point where every participant in the OSR has published their own White Box variant.)

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