Thursday, December 29, 2016
Predictions for RPGs in 2017
I'll venture forth to make a few predictions for the coming year.....maybe wishes or suggestions are more of what these are? Here we go.....
1. Green Ronin needs to produce a Companion Book to Fantasy AGE
My players have one complaint with Fantasy AGE which has blocked my ability to get buy-in on playing the game: it's too skimpy. The core rules give you three classes and twelve archetypes, but it really doesn't give you enough to simulate nearly as many characters as they would like. It's not that my players are that special....but it's that they are used to more robust systems with a range of options, and Fantasy AGE's basic rules are indeed very....basic. They need to release a follow-up book with more archetypes/subclasses, more spells, and more stuff.
2. Wizards of the Coast needs to release at least 1 new rules tome this year, and it better be for players
We've had D&D 5E for three years now, give or take, and the closest we've gotten to a player's companion is in the back of the Sword Coast book. What they need is a formal sequel to the Player's Handbook. I think they are expecting the need for this, as Unearthed Arcana articles have ramped up to a weekly(ish) status with a focus on player options. The latest tome....Volo's Guide to Monsters....was a great book and if I had my way they'd release one of those every year (but I'd be happy with one every other year), but the game is past due for more player content. Same problem as with #1 above, and the longer WotC goes without fulfilling this need, the more likely it is I'll hear quiet dissent and suggestions that there's always Pathfinder to play....and no, I do not want to go back to Pathfinder. Must....resist....
3. Starfinder really needs some straight SF options when it releases
Okay, it may have these planned, but I will wait for the final product before believing it. Right now all information released on this book suggests it's "Golarion....IN...SPAAAACE" but maybe with Golarion missing or something. It sounds cool for what it intends to do, but there's a viable market of SF gamers who are like me: they want a OGL sci fi RPG which is robust and supported, and do not want to mix their fantasy with their SF (and if we do, it's gonna be appropriately gonzo like Spelljammer). Fingers crossed that even if Paizo doesn't do it, some 3PP will take advantage of the hype to do a streamlined "fantasy free" edition.
4. Swords & Wizardry goes mainstream
Between all the different iterations of Swords & Wizardry one could argue this is already a game that's dragged itself out of the niche corner of the OSR and into the "mainstream" of gaming, at least insofar as I bet there are a lot more people playing S&W now than, say, most FATE based games (not all FATE collectively, but any single FATE title is probably carrying a fanbase smaller than S&W does). With Erik Tenkar's S&W Lite, the new 3rd edition Swords & Wizardry Complete and it's art revamp, and a variety of other independent projects like White Box going on....I suspect S&W's gone mainstream and 2017 will show off just how much.
5. GURPS "Returns"
Stave Jackson Games had a very successful Kickstarter for the new Dungeon Fantasy boxed set, which will be a stand-alone product that you can purchase and play without ever needing the other GURPS books. It's a great proof-of-concept for SJG and especially fans (like me) who've been saying that GURPS would be perfectly viable if they could do a streamlined version that is genre-specific, books which aren't so formidable in their scope that players are either scared away or crippled with decision paralysis. I've just recently started running GURPS again with the After the End sourcebooks as the basis, and my group is rapidly learning how great GURPS is, but the thought that I'll have an accessible rendiiton of Dungeon Fantasy next year is quite exciting. Once SJG has that out, we need a boxed set for GURPS SF Adventures next....a version which walks the line between the hardcore hyper-realism of GURPS Space and the more accessible "roll up some cool planets to explore" of other RPGs like White Star and Traveller. Then GURPS Action Heroes Boxed Set, GURPS Monster Hunters boxed set......sky's the limit!
6. Pathfinder 2.0 Should Start Development
My guess: Starfinder will include some bold and new innovations in game design (by 3rd edition D&D OGL standards) as a way of testing the waters for change. If they fly, Paizo may announce a 2.0 edition of Pathfinder to go in to development and playtesting before the year's end. This could be a good thing, if only because I think Pathfinder's core conceit (a complex, robust mechanically intense system for playing not-D&D) can remain intact while still fixing key issues (which of course is the problem: namely, no one can quite agree on what the key issues are). But they probably can tweak a few specific areas of the system and then clean it up for a very nice revised edition that looks similar to the formatting seen in books such as the Strategy Guide and the Beginner's Boxed Set. Sometimes even just a "cooler, newer look" is enough to make a game stand out.....and as Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition proves, you can make just a few tweaks and that will feel like a lot of change to many people, but a measured improvement in the look, feel and accessibility of a new edition can be accomplished through smart graphic design as well. Pathfinder is a surprisingly robust book as it stands.....but I think it could benefit (greatly) from a revision that improves accessibility and adds in some rules for non-miniatures-based combat, which will at least get it in to the design ethos of the 2010's.