Openness, Independence, and Roleplaying Games

Just to round up the last few months in tabletop roleplaying games:

  1. Critically acclaimed narrativist RPG Dungeon World got a warm reception. So indie that it has a Cheapass Games-esque packet of folded up pamphlets that function as character sheets! It’s a great game, easy to pick up, and the main rules are a free download on the website. Dungeon World also has an Adventurer’s Guild, so that players can share their content, give feedback, and otherwise talk about the game. While not 100% libre, Dungeon World takes several fantastic steps for commercial game companies – listening to players, going low on production value and high on originality, cultivating community.
  2. Pathfinder seems to still be a product that most gamers agree with, and is expanding its product range, though in a more traditional format – selling miniatures with which to play the game. This is in some circles seen as printing money, but Paizo has decided to package and sell miniatures randomly, which doesn’t sit well with a number of their customers.
  3. WOTC has announced that D&D 5.0 is in development. Wired nails it:
    “For the past few years, starting with the very announcement of 4E and the Virtual Tabletop debacle, Wizards has been very poor at communicating honestly and openly with its fan base and has put out a string of very sub-par or poorly supported products, many of which saw errata almost immediately after their release.” There’s no way anyone could have said it better.

I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s starting to look a lot like the old model is out, and the only way to succeed is to involve your users.

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