Monday, June 10, 2013

Top RPG’s that changed the industry

Top RPG’s that changed the industry

1) Dungeons and Dragons (TSR). Original Digest version. This is the granddaddy of all RPGs every game out there owes a debt of gratitude to this game. It directly spawned Empire of the Petal Throne (first non-Tolkien Fantasy world), Metamorphosis Alpha (one of the first SciFi RPGs), Gamma World (an offshoot of Metamorphosis Alpha)

2) Traveller (GDW) This was one of the first RPGs not from TSR. It also was the first game that did away with Classes and had professions. It was the first game that gave the characters a life before the Game started. Also, pushed the idea of Skills based role playing.

3) Basic Roleplaying (Chaosium). The first generic core system. Also some of the first real licensed worlds turned into a RPG. Runequest, Stormbringer, Superworld, Worlds of Wonder (First multi Genre/multi dimension game) and Call of Cthulhu were games started by and from BRP.

4) Champions (Hero Games). The first 100% point based character generation system. Got it’s start from ideas contained within Chaosium’s Superworld. Started as a Superheroic Genre game that was designed to model Marvel Comics style characters. Later other genres were published (ie Fantasy Hero, Espionage!, Justice Inc. etc) using the same core rules. Eventually the rules became a truly generic rules system months after GURPS shipped.

5)Ars Magica (Lion Rampant Games). Was the first of a new breed of game that was highly collaborative between GM and Players. Turned the focus intensely in Role Playing with the Ideas of the Players being a “Troupe” and the GM a Storyteller. One of the Co Authors left the company and produced Vampire the Masquerade.
6) Vampire the Masquerade: Thanks to the popularity of Ann Rice’s Vampires this game spawned a whole new group of Roleplayers. People from both genders (esp women) who were previously turned off by the rules heavy and/or wargame heavy rules and groups of the previous generation of games. Shortly after VtM caught on Gaming conventions became more gender integrated with many more women taking up the hobby. VtM spawned other subgenre games (ie Werewolf, Mage, Faeries and Wrath)
7)Dungeons and Dragons 3.0: Prior to the the card game Magic the Gathering being published the whole industry was in a creative lull. Mostly caused by the many lawsuits that crisscrossed the industry (ie TSR vs RoleAids/Mayfair, Palladium vs Wizards of the Coast etc). In 1993 Wizards of the Coast released a new kind of card game with little fanfare or advertizing. This card game took the gaming world by storm and nearly destroyed the RPG hobby. For years gaming conventions were dominated with the easy to play, easy to transport card game. Many Gaming groups became obsessed with the new card game and stopped playing RPGs.  Eventually, Wizards of the Coast took the profits from MtG and bought TSR games which had become more of a patent troll than a game publishing company. WoTC rewrote and consolidated the moribund Dungeons and Dragon which had become split into 4 or 5 different versions. They rewrote and rebuilt the rules from their experiences working for other companies taking some of the best aspects of those other games and adding them to a new version. They also introduced the Open Game License(OGL) which allowed third parties to use the core D&D rules and other IP in their own games and Supplements. Between the new game and OGL they reignited the whole RPG market. Before this the only news was how many older companies were going out of business. Now many of those older companies were making a comeback. Not only that but dozens of new companies were creating supplements for this new edition of the game.

8) Pathfinder: TSR released D&D 4th edition to a resounding thud of players who hated the new edition. WotC had been bought up by Hasbro. They then created a very Limited OGL for 4.0 which nearly every third party publisher rejected as being too restrictive.
Paizo who had been the publisher of Dragon and Dungeon magazine found themselves with no magazine to publish and a new OGL that wasn’t very conducive to creating products for D&D 4. They looked at the large pool of people who hated and weren’t buying 4th edition and decided to write their own version of D&D based on 3.5 which fixed many of the problems with that edition, but stayed familiar to players. They posted a free PDF version of the rules on their website and took player suggestions about how to fix issues in the rules. They took half the initial print run to GenCon and expected it to be a brisk seller, but steady for the con. They ended up selling out on the first day of the convention with huge long lines from fans awaiting their chance to own the rules fans wished WotC had printed.

9) Indie Games etc: Small simple games that tend to do away with a strong GM and replace them with group dynamics. FATE is one system that allows players direct power to change encounters or even the story.

10) Old School Renaissance (OSR). Many older players facing less time and having fond memories of days long past have been attracted to the Original versions of D&D. This has spawned an industry of games that are clones of different editions of D&D. Kenser and Company’s Hackmaster is probably the first retro clone published. Hackmaster is a clone of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition.  Once people figured out that it wasn’t just a joke system it gained a ton of converts. Others companies and hobbyists have joined in and we now have clones of every edition of D&D ever published. The OSR segment of the RPG world is one of the fastest expanding section of the Industry IMHO. It's also fracturing fans into many different rules sets, which is probably bad for the OSR segment of the hobby.

disclaimer, The above represents my opinion based on my memories of the systems mentioned and how they influenced the gaming groups that I participated in and observed. 

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