Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Gaming Year in Review Part III: The More Things Change...

This was an interesting year for some of the most venerable role playing game publishers out there as they were handed over to the winds of fate, changing hands in ownership rather unexpectedly.

HIGH: Chaosium returns to classic form

Chaosium was returned to Petersen and Stafford early this year, which seemed like a fascinating turn of events, especially after it was revealed how close the company was to folding as a result of the debt it accrued due to the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Kickstarter (or rather, the lack of money to afford fulfillment). Most of the year was spent paring down Chaosium's focus, making it leaner and tighter, all while focusing on fulfillment. Late in the game Runequest became a major focus as well, as BRP fell to the wayside and the company at least on the surface seems to be repurposing itself to old fans of Runequest 2 and those tolerant fans hanging on patiently for CoC 7.

LOW: Chaosium's return to classic form fragments the BRP crowd

The downside of all this is that all of the established licensed products and support are now a thing of the past. The Design Mechanism's Runequest won't be the "official Runequest" which seems odd to all the people who've come to identify Pete and Loz as the life-bringers of the setting. A generic edition will no longer be a thing as Glorantha returns to the fore, much to the delight of the Gloranthaphiles but also to the detriment of the fans of the system but not the setting.

2016 will definitely be the year we see how this all affects the niche corner of gamer fans who love their BRP gaming.

HIGH: Paradox Entertainment Buys White Wolf

Paradox, a computer game company known for non-AAA budget games that usually are pretty good, bought White Wolf, saving it from a slow death at the hands of CCP, the copany behind EVE Online. Suddenly it looks like we'll have a new 4th edition Vampire: The Masquerade, continued support for the Old World of Darkness (now just plain old World of Darkness), Onyx Studios support for Chronicles of Darkness (what used to be the "New" WoD), and promises of a computer game, possibly an RPG.

Onyx had done a great job reviving and keeping World of Darkness alive, but only if you knew where to look. This new direction from Paradox is a good sign.

HIGH: Design Mechanism does get to continue supporting its own system

On the plus side, Chaosium is fine with Pete and Loz continuing to provide support for the system formerly known as Runequest 6. Fans of the system got a taste of how versatile it can be in the Luther Arkwright expansion, and now maybe in 2016 for many of us we won't need to stress too much about Chaosium's future because Design Mechanism has a perfectly viable Glorantha-free alternative out there.

Predictions: if Chaosium stays solvent, meets its Kickstarter obligations, and produces a great edition of Runequest that everyone can get behind then they will see some smooth sailing by close of year. If too many of these goals are not met then the future will look grim. Meanwhile I predict White Wolf will have a lot going on and will at last get exposure on a retail level again, possibly growing its fanbase, and it will hopefully do well under Paradox. Meanwhile I expect Pete and Loz to produce at least 2-3 high quality books powered by the Design Mechanism House Engine before Chaosium gets Runequest 4 out.

Next: OSR!


  1. I won't hold my breath on Chaosium returning to 'classic form'... I think it's going to be a while till something discernable emerges out of that fog.
    My hopes for D100 stuff feel more safely placed on DM and Openquest.

    1. I predict no CoC 7 until november. And no RQ4 until 2017

  2. I just feel that Greg Stafford manages to turn anything he touches to shit. I hate to say that about a "living legend", but is my honest feeling.

    1. I'm worried about that too. I don't recall his old days at Chaosium as being great--quite the opposite. Chaosium has a rocky road ahead. TDM may be the real future of D109 gaming.