Saturday, December 28, 2019

Year in Review: Tabletop RPGs of 2019

I've written a bit less than I have in prior years in 2019, so if you follow the blog you can probably guess where my energy and interest remains focused, more or less. So don't be too surprised by the  RPG products which I have found to be sufficiently compelling in 2019 that they have soaked up a nontrivial level of time and/or interest, a massive feat these days....rather than rehash how much I love Pathfinder 2nd edition, Cypher System and "other," I'll just point out some trends in the hobby I noticed this year:

The Year of Old Favorites Getting Facelifts

This was the big mark for 2019 as far as I was concerned. Savage Worlds got a facelift to a new, reorganized edition which didn't change much but helped consolidate the game into a cleaner edition. So far we only have a few books out for it, but Savage Worlds Adventure Edition looks like it will work a a good "one book standalone" for most people's needs.

Meanwhile, the Cypher System Revised which started as part of the "Your Best Game Ever" Kickstarter from Monte Cook popped out on time with --you guessed it-- a heavily revamped book with few to no rule changes but a ton of organizational changes and additional content.

Finally (well, for my focus in the hobby) we had the formal release of Pathfinder 2nd Edition, a clever revamp that feels more like a new system spun out of the D20 family more than a regular old 2nd edition of its predecessor. Pathfinder 2E quickly seems to have become my groups' favorite system, and as a result it has been almost entirely the only system we've been playing on Saturdays and Wednesdays since August.

There are old favorites out there which have yet to see their time in the sun (GURPS and Hero System both deserve a "modern day" treatment, if only to see what that looks like) but it's good to see that many systems can get a revamp without critical changes to their core mechanics (okay, well 2/3rds of such systems, anyway!)

The OSR Shifted a Bit from the OD&D Core

This year saw the release of The Fantasy Trip in print for the first time since it's death in the early eighties, as well as a slew of new content. It witnessed a return of Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes in a slick new reprint with additional material to bring the game into the 21st century without changing any of the original game. It has brought a range of interesting Swedish fantasy games in the OSR vein with a keen ability to handle hardcore old school dungeonering and hexcrawling without being distinctly D&D in the form of the Fantasy! RPG and the impressive Forbidden Lands boxed set (which I finally got a copy of).

It's not that classic-D&D focused content is gone, but more that there seems to be a branching of interest in what the OSR can offer, and that's a good thing.

The Bloggosphere Contraction

It's fairly evident when you look around: many blogs of old are now gone, or on life support. The old era of dedicated gaming blogs has dimmed a bit, probably due to the pervasive rise of vlogging through Youtube. 2019 was the year I first really noticed it, to be honest, but even I find more and more RPG vlogs creeping into my Youtube feed, which is where I'm finding most Pathfinder and Starfinder content these days, for example. Still, there remains a hardcore crowd that I believe is mostly made up of other bloggers keeping it all alive. Tragically, we old guard probably without much exception would find it hard to transition to a vlog environment....I have zero interest in putting my face or voice out there; the blog for me has always been a deliberate exercise in writing, not visual presentation.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, blogging for me is forcing myself to share thoughts and creations with others, but I don't watch much YouTube. I think it's a leftover of the early days of the internet where bandwidth was at a premium. I'm basically, a cromagnon.