D&D Envy: The Overcrowded Fantasy Tabletop RPG Market

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Whenever I go to Games and Stuff, a hobby game store in Glen Burnie that I’ve been going to for years for their incredible selection and friendly customer service, I have come to the sobering realization that there’s a problematic impulse amongst RPG writers and publishers that I call “D&D envy”.

Given the massive success of Dungeons & Dragons, especially 5th edition, a lot of publishers are looking to get a piece of the fantasy RPG pie. As a result, there’s a flood of fantasy RPGs on the market, too many for anyone to really fully invest in. Continue reading

How to Play Tabletop Without Breaking the Bank

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I was inspired to write this by Suze, who left an interesting comment about the cost of tabletop RPGs in my Genesys first impressions post. In many ways, I agree with her. Tabletop gaming is an expensive hobby, as the many times that I’ve come away from my Friendly Local Game Store, FLGS in gaming parlance, having spent over $50.

I’m a college student, I’m not swimming in money. In the FLGS I go to I can easily identify dozens, if not hundreds, of game systems. There’s no way I can afford to buy all of them, let alone sit down with my players and run them through a new system every time I pick them up. So what do you do with that dilemma?

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A First Impression of Genesys

 

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Genesys Core Rulebook and One Set of Dice. Photo by Dylan Greene

 

When I heard the news about Fantasy Flight Games’ decision to genericize the Star Wars RPG with Genesys, I was definitely interested.

While my experience with the Star Wars RPG was poor, I also took the time to read reviews and I know that playing with a knowledgeable group is key. It seemed like if I understood the dice system that I would probably have plenty of fun. I also didn’t feel like investing in a system that was only going to work inside the Star Wars universe, as expansive as that universe is.

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Victoriana: A Game Unplayed

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When it comes to tabletop RPGs, I didn’t always have the criteria I outlined in my previous post, but I actually gained this insight by picking up a game and then…well I never got to play it.

I frequently test the waters and do world-building by playing tabletop RPGs, and when I began my journey into Cloudrunner I didn’t originally intend on using Fate Core. I went out and bought a copy of Victoriana, as that seemed like the best fit at the time for steampunk.

Ultimately, both my players and I passed on the game, and I instead ran it in Fate Core, and that was a decision I’m glad about. But why did I veto this game?

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 These Aren’t the RPGs You’re Looking For…

 

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Photo by ClaudioT at Morguefile.com

In my experience as a Dungeonmaster, I have desired to expand my horizons. I have had a good experience with the diceless horror RPG, Dread. Although I prefer telling longform campaigns, Dread is a good one-shot horror RPG. I had a moderately successful run with my campaign that took place in the Silent Hill universe. I am retooling that for a D20 Modern campaign.

 

We also played Maid RPG, which quickly went off the rails. We had a good time playing it, but we weren’t drawn to it like Dungeons & Dragons. I wanted something meaty that I could sink my teeth into. Something that provided a rich backdrop upon which to build a larger than life story. If any universe fits that criterion, it was Star Wars. Indeed, the universe is very conducive to RPG storytelling.

If you look around at other properties, there are RPGs for a good lot of them. There are RPGs for Firefly, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek (which is upcoming), and probably any other piece of pop culture that is moderately familiar has a tabletop RPG.

Star Wars does indeed have an RPG, though perhaps more accurately you could say that it has three. In my attempts to broaden the RPG palette, I purchased the beginner games to each.

$90 and twenty minutes later, we reached a conclusive verdict: we were not adding it to our RPG lineup anytime soon.

So what happened? Why did it bomb so hard?

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