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State of the Pen and Paper Industry 153

Syberghost writes "Kenneth Hite's annual 'State of the Industry' report has been released in his online column Out of the Box for gamer news site http://www.gamingreport.com. Among other interesting bits; Margaret Weis Productions is the sixth-largest RPG maker, on the sales of their sole RPG product line, the Serenity RPG. Sales overall were down, again; the RPG industry as a whole isn't doing well." Sad but not surprising.
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State of the Pen and Paper Industry

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  • Gurps (Score:2, Interesting)

    by temojen ( 678985 )
    I'm a big fan of the GURPS game system, but everyone around here just wants to play D&D. I bought two new basic set biooks, but they just sit there.
    • BETA vs. VHS: Quality doesn't necessarily impart popularity.
      • I dunno, I find GURPS to be top-heavy and cumbersome compared to D20. I'm not sure if it's just bad GURPS GMs or if it's that I don't like Steve Jackson. I never really seem to have any fun playing a Steve Jackson game.
        • Car Wars, Ogre, Frag.

          Surely you must like at least one of those...
          • Well, I'll play Car Wars, but I won't like it. It's definately his best work design-wise, but I still really enjoy playing the game. It just feels more like a waste of time rather than a pastime.

            I'll admit that makes me a little odd. It just seems, well, repetitive and dull.

        • I'll grant that D20 possibly better than GURPS. I find it somewhat cumbersome, what with all the modifications that apply at particular points in gameplay (+1 Dodge bonus to AC if you're in waist high grass on a savannah at noon). It's been years since I've played GURPS, though, and at the time, I liked it way better than the AD&D rules. I still don't like the class-based system that D20 uses, but, as the OP says, it's what people play.
          • Re:Gurps (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:04PM (#15053351)
            I think it ends up being the same problem everyone has. A good GM tells the story and lets you play the game. You don't worry about the rules so much has trying to roll big numbers and have fun. A good GM does all the number mods in the background.

            My GURPS GM ran with all kinds of mods, and you had to remember to ask about every little bonus or mention that you did something in a certain way or you'd always fail. So the game was dumb. My D&D GM's just ran the stupid game to make sure the players had fun. Ultimately, the rules should never interfere with your ability to have fun.

            • Re:Gurps (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Kriticism ( 225999 )
              "A good GM tells the story and lets you play the game."

              I highly suggest checking out the state-of-the-art in RPG design, games like Dogs in the Vineyard, Weapons of the Gods, and the Burning Wheel.

              All of these get away from the fairly antiquated idea of 'The GM tells the story and we play the main characters'.

              Rather, by PLAYING the main characters, the players CREATE the story, and the GM's task is more supporting than guiding. These new games handle this in several ways.

              The Burning Wheel is built with the
        • Try the following Steve Jackson game:
          Frag - Doom 2 as a board game
          Hacker - Uplink as a card/board game
          Munchkin - Kill the monsters, Steal the treasure, Stab your buddy. distilled Essence Of RPG as a card game
          Ogre - great introduction to tile based wargaming. simple mechanics, simple units
          • I have played Munchkin, and that was a great game. I moved recently, but once I find a new FLGS I'll probably buy that. Ogre looks cool, too, but haven't played it yet.
        • Honestly, everytime I played GURPS, I was struck with the over abundance of optional rules. I often stated, half seriously:
          In order to play GURPS, you cut all of the sidebars off the main book and put them in a stack. Pick up the remaining book in one hand and the stack of sidebars in the other. Throw one way, which one doesn't matter.
          Actually, a well run GURPS game, which doesn't get bogged down in the optional rule minutiae is a lot of fun. This is pretty much true of any system though. If you hav
          • I've heard a GM or two claim a preference to Gurps Lite [sjgames.com] over GURPS basic. Free, (perhaps with registration), and lacking in minutiae. Haven't tried it myself.
    • It means learning a set of new rules, and a lot of people don't want to do that even if they can be transferred to so many other types of games. I would suggest drawing them into the system with an easy to play one-shot game. Try to keep things as simple as possible and show off the best parts of the system and how it compares and contrasts with D&D.
  • by StingRay02 ( 640085 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:07PM (#15052004)
    I would imagine part of the decline of the industry is due to the expense of books. RPG books simply cost too damn much. I can't stand it when WotC releases a 100 page book and wants $35 for it. Not only do they overprice everything, but it seems like they set the price for the rest of the books out there. Considering how many books get released and put on the shelves, I think the price range should be $10-$30 not $30-$50.
    • ROI is the reason (Score:4, Informative)

      by trazom28 ( 134909 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:14PM (#15052066)
      Volume sales of those books are much lower than say.. the latest from a NY Times best seller. They're priced higher to get a return on investment for the printer, etc. Not saying I like it or agree with it.. it is what it is.
      • by StingRay02 ( 640085 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:27PM (#15052647)
        Then they really should reconsider how they package these books. Take the Complete series (Complete Adventurer, Complete Arcane, etc) for instance. I'd seriously consider paying $50 to $60 for a single book that held all five of the Complete series of books. I'm sure there's quite a bit of filler that they could remove from each in order to reduce the page count to the 300-350 range and still get in all the interesting bits.

        In contrast, I pick up and look at Complete Warrior, see that it costs $35, and put it right back down. There's not even any consideration. I don't just play fighters, or wizards, or clerics, so I would want all of the books, and at $175, there's no chance in hell, so why bother with even one?

    • The reason is simply that you RPG-Books rarely make it to the bestseller shelf. It's not the paper that costs, it's the people around it. It's the one(s) writing it, the artist(s) painting, the guy who puzzles the layout together and so on. The paper itself is a few cents of the final price.

      Sure, Harry Potter has about 10 times the pages and costs about a tenth. Harry Potter also sells about a million times more copies.

      It's akin to the price problem with computer books. It simply isn't easy reading stuff.
      • I know this argument from video game pricing discussions I've had too. I know, and admit, that gaming is not as popular as other leisure time activities like reading and watching movies. However, I'm not certain how much of that is due to it being a niche pproduct, and how much is due to the fact that the industry prices itself into a niche.

        Granted, the video game industry is far more likely to gain major popular support than RPGs, and thus isn't a great comparison, but I know 10-20 people who really en

        • Well, the market for P&P RPG is way smaller than for computer based RPGs, for some very simple reasons. It starts with the "lack" of graphics (and the need to replace with your imagination) and doesn't even start to end with the bookkeeping and calculating yourself instead of letting the computer do the menial tasks.

          I doubt that making the books cheaper would change that. Every remotely large town has some kind of RPG club where you could easily and cheaply get a hold of some books. Still I see the numb
    • Download the PDFs of the books instead...they're out there if you know where to look.
      • Nobody above said it, but maybe they're doing bad exactly because of the idea the parent posted. Compare a $35 book to a free one in PDF format WHICH you can search...
      • why bother with a pdf? wizards. [wizards.com] puts it out there for you already...

        as an aside, only one person in my group buys a book, we then pass it around.

    • There's more to it. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Stachybotris ( 936861 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:24PM (#15052144)
      It's not just the price or the time needed to play. It's also the fact that it's really hard to convince most gamers that they need to continue buying supplements. I'll admit that I have a lot of 3e/3.5e books, and I'll also admit that 3.5 was basically a cash-grab by WotC. Having said that, however, the truth is that most of the more recent supplements aren't things that I feel the need to buy. It's either stuff that I'd come up with on my own already, or it's material that is kind of cool, but not interesting enough to warrant purchasing. Hell, I don't even use half of the material in half of the supplements that I have now. Why would I need to buy more?

      Also, there is the fact that the industry moves in cicles. If you recall, there was a significant drop-off in the market during the late 80's and 90's, which would correspond to the time between the initial frenzy over 2nd edition and the release of 3rd. I think that the same thing is happening here, and that when 4th edition comes out, we'll see a big boom in the market again (at least for a few years).

      Another factor this time is the sheer glut of 3rd edition materials that were released. Everyone and their brother jumped all over the open-source nature of the d20 system, so there's even more dross to sort through and more competition in the market than ever before.
      • By its very nature, the RPG business cannibalizes its own downstream sales. Unlike the classic example of Gilette (sell the razor cheap and make money on the blades), RPG's have an initial upfront component (the game, analagous to the razor) which is intentionally open-ended, thus not requiring the use of the publisher's campaign material or supplements (the blades). I haven't gamed in 10+ years, but the best campaigns always used the sourcebooks as jumpoff material, with customizations managed by the GM,
      • Publishing 3.5 as a new full-price edition may have been a cash grab, but to be honest, the changes they made were significant improvements upon 3.0. Anytime I look something up in the 3.5 SRD, I find myself wishing that our campaign was using the 3.5 books instead of 3.0. In fact, the only rule change I dislike is the "monsters are always square" rule.

        As far as the bazillion D&D source books available now, at least those are guaranteed to be optional. In the MMOG sphere, SOE is releasing an average
    • I think the price range should be $10-$30 not $30-$50.

      Did you try ebooks?
      Almost all books on DriveThruRPG.com are in the 0-30$ range. (30$ for core books (and I prefer my core books in paper anyway), most add-ons are in the 5-20$ range). And most books are watermarked pdfs with no additional DRM.

      Well, ok, not for WotC, from which there are only 7 products, all around 30$.
      But other publishers are well presented, including Fanpro (Shadowrun) & White Wolf (World of Darkness).

    • by hagbard23 ( 51894 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:38PM (#15053132) Homepage
      The problem with lowering the cost of RPG books is the quantities and profit margins involved. If you compare RPG books with, say, coffee-table books or academic works like textbooks ($100+ for 2-400 pages!), you'll find a similar price to pagecount ratio. The reason for this is low-number print runs. Unless you're D&D, the 800-pound gorilla of RPGs, a large print run for RPG publishers is 1000-5000 copies. Once you consider paying the artists, writers, license holders (if any), shippers, distributors, and retailers, it's not really all that unreasonable to pay $40 for a glossy full color 3-400 page hardcover book.

      Now, it's an entirely different argument whether full color artwork, hardcovers, and glossy paper are really necessary for enjoyment of RPGs. Some people have come to expect them, but some see them as unecessary window dressing. I think the relative success of the RPG PDF industry (http://www.rpgnow.com/ [rpgnow.com] http://www.drivethrurpg.com/ [drivethrurpg.com] http://e23.sjgames.com/ [sjgames.com] etc.) is an indicator of that. By cutting out the cost of printing and distributing hard copy, you can get a searchable, cut and pasteable copy for usually half the cost of a hardcopy (even from Amazon). This isn't a perfect model--there's a lot of complaints about piracy, and most people don't game with a computer at the table. And some of the larger publishers are intentionally sandbagging PDF sales by pricing them at nearly the same cost as the hard copy (Fantasy Flight Games, I'm looking at you).

      But as far as the small-press hobby publishers are concerned, I think PDFs are going to be the wave of the future (Add in the rise of very low print run Print on Demand services, and you can get a decent hard copy (softcover, black and white, perfect bound) for much less than you used to).

      Much like my friends in electronic music production, technology is seriously lowering the bar for entry into RPG production. There's no equivalent of GarageBand (I guess you could call MS Word an entry-level RPG production toolkit, but it's certainly not RPG-specific), but there's a lot of innovation out there.
    • It takes a fairly large investment of resources to create a book, especially working out the various interactions between subsystems. Furthermore, publishers often only sell one copy per gaming group. As with software (or any other book) the marginal cost per copy is small, but the resource cost (in skilled labor) of that first copy is immense. At this point, most of the developers are in the business because of their love of it, not to get rich. Anyone who isn't partly driven by a love of gaming generally
    • Consider my three major hobbies.

      1.) Video Games. New computer every two or three years. Say 400 dollars a year. New console every three years. Another hundred. 'Bargain' games, 20 each, say one a month. 200 bucks a year. New releases, say, three times a year. 150. Makes about 850 a year. True, I also surf the web, pretend to get some work done, and pay some bills / do banking online. But I'm probably underestimating what I spend on the new computer, anyway, and I'm not including interne

      • by StingRay02 ( 640085 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @04:47AM (#15056244)
        I keep seeing the "I don't have time" or "I don't have friends" posts, but I just don't buy 'em. You make the time and the acquaintances for the things you truly want to do. A lot of my GMing experience has been with large groups, five to seven people, and I'll never do that again, if I can avoid it. I'm running a game right now with three people. It started with two. It's the most enjoyable game I've ever run. I just can't believe that it's somehow impossible to find two or three people to play a game with.

        As far as time constraints, how much time do you spend playing video games? How much time do you spend watching TV, surfing the internet, reading a book, twiddling your thumbs, whatever? My friends and I play once a week, from 8-Midnight. Four hours is enough time to get in some good role-playing, do some exploring, find a few clues and get into a fight. It's a nice, well-rounded, enjoyable session, one that I can almost always end on a cliffhanger, and keep everyone's interest for the duration.

        Now, I'm not trying to make this personal or anything, but it's just irritating to hear "I don't have time. I don't have friends that want to play. Other people must be the same way. That's what's wrong with the industry." You've got time, you've got friends, you just don't have the interest. Loss of interest is a real problem. Loss of interest is something that might be addressed, something that can be changed.

        Sorry about that. I will agree, though, that P&PRPG companies have an uphill climb ahead of them, no matter how you slice it. It's a hobby that requires that one person either be able to pull stories out of thin air, or have a lot of time and patience for prep. It requires imagination and an attention span not often found in the age of TV. It requires a hefty entrance fee, when you take into consideration the fact that an RPG book has no other reasonable use except as an RPG book, whereas a gaming PC has many many other uses. Hell, even wargame miniatures can look cool on a shelf. The PHB is worthless if you're not actually playing D&D.

        It doesn't surprise me that the P&P industry is in decline. I just think that, unlike player attention span, time constraints and storytelling ability, price is one of the factors that can be changed, and might make a difference if it was.

        • It doesn't surprise me that the P&P industry is in decline. I just think that, unlike player attention span, time constraints and storytelling ability, price is one of the factors that can be changed, and might make a difference if it was.

          See, if you'd just put that, I probably wouldn't be so annoyed right now. It's great that you enjoy small games - I've tried it a few times, one GM and two or three players, and, personally, it sucks. I really enjoy playing with a larger group - when I go home to

  • why it's dying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:07PM (#15052005) Homepage Journal
    So I checked out the site and the simple truth is that I can not get enough people together long enough to play this game.
    Same holds for D&D and all the others. Hell we have trouble getting three hours together for a poker game, much less a game of Risk or Conquest of the Roman Empire. RPGs are just out.
    -nB
    • Re:why it's dying (Score:2, Insightful)

      by keithoc ( 916498 )
      I'm not sure that it's the available time is the problem (although no doubt it is for some), but rather the recent explosion of MMORPGs that have caused the corresponding decline in pen and paper games. In my (admittedly brief) days of D&D, it was the social aspect that made it the most fun. Sure, there were also computer-based RPGs like Bard's Tale that sucked me in for hours upon end. Despite the rickety graphics and unfriendly interface, it was the imagination of it all that made it thrilling, how I
      • While I don't think it's good news that MMORPGs are the downfall of paper RPGs, I do think it's valid that they are one of the causes.

        What would be nice would be some sort of computer toolset where one person can DM and a lot of players can then compete/interact using the computer. I know I've seen projects for this type of management before, but I don't believe there's a computer, client interface.

        With the increasing popularity of online games, it's probably easier to get a group of ten people if you inclu
    • the other aspect that ties into your point is that the game is persistent. Your group doesn't change, and you need to schedule the time for everyone. A good group is going to be more than 4 people, and if someone can't make it, the entire thing is put on hold. Let alone account for people being late or having to leave early.

      Long board games don't have that problem -- you finish one game, and the next time, it's all new. So you can play it at an entirely different party with different people and you do

      • I'm with you on that. I haven't played a RPG for about 15 years. I got to a point where I knew that I wouldn't have a lot of time and playing is a HUGE time killer. I loved playing with my old group but we're stretched all across the country and joining a new group would kind of feel like cheating on my wife and not even getting a cheap thrill out of it. Board games are about all I can get into these days.

        On the topic of board games, although the set up does take a little while, I recommend Heroscape.
    • So I checked out the site and the simple truth is that I can not get enough people together long enough to play this game.

      In that case the obvious solution is a program that allows playing online, and preferably a matching service as well.

      I've always wanted to try D&D (or GURPS or whatever), but I just don't know any people IRL who might be interested. And even if I did, I'd really not care much for hack'n-slash - I can get that from the computer easy enough. No, I'd like to play an ancient lich p

      • D&D is a framework. If you want Hack and Slash, you get Hack and Slash. In all honesty, my best games of D&D rarely referred to any rulebooks, and had very few die rolls.
    • I don't think the numbers they mentioned reflect the amount of role playing that goes on. They reflect the amount of sales. Now, I'm a fairly heavy role-player, but I'm afraid I don't do much to support the industry from which I derrive so much pleasure. The reason is that they don't offer me anything I need to play my games. The rulebooks I use are the AD&D first edition, supplemented a bit with some ideas from Hackmaster. So yeah, I did spend $60+ on those inspirational Hackmaster books, but that has
    • Unfortunately you need an attention span to play such games.

      A quality not found in many people today.

    • . . . [T]he simple truth is that I can not get enough people together long enough to play this game. Same holds for D&D and all the others. Hell we have trouble getting three hours together for a poker game . . .

      And yet golf is still very popular, which requires (generally) getting you and three of your friends / colleagues / business prospects / etc. out on the fairways for 5-6 hours, plus lunch, plus beer, plus time on the driving range, plus... :)

      (Yes, I'm a geek, read /., and play golf. The

      • For that to compare well with RPGs, golf would have to be something that after 4 hours (or however long your group takes to do 18 holes) you still wouldn't be finished. You'd have to get to a point where you're saying "I'd love to go another 54 holes, but I've got to go to." Or after playing a round you'd have to have the feeling that if you don't play again soon with the same group regularly then something is very wrong. I know regular golf groups might be like that, but it still isn't the same. If the
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:08PM (#15052020) Homepage Journal
    I'm surprised to find out there even is a 6th largest RPG company...

    I thought after the first few it was pretty much guys self-publishing their home game campaigns, unlike the good old 80's when variety [aol.com] thrived [judgesguild.com].
  • Burning Wheel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Schezar ( 249629 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:27PM (#15052167) Homepage Journal
    The new hotness is Burning Wheel [burningwheel.org]. Independent games written and published by creative individuals beat the hell out of the book-spam WotC has been promoting these days.

    Of course, WotC also has the problem of selling a durable good: these books don't just wear out. Once they're sold, they're on the market forever. No gamer will ever buy more than one. They've tried to mitigate this with tricks like "3.5th edition," but few gamers ever bothered updating. Throw in the rampant piracy of the books and rules themselves, and there's really no way WotC can continue with D&D as it is.

    (I prefered AD&D 2nd Edition anyway ^_~)
    • Frankly, WotC have only themselves to blame for the piracy.

      I have a set of 3E hardbacks, but they're very heavy to carry to a game. I wanted to buy searchable PDF copies of 3.5E.

      Guess what? WotC won't sell the 3E rules as e-books. Not for any price. So I was forced to seek out unauthorized copies, or make do with the SRD.
    • *sigh*

      Yes, because WotC didn't figure out a way to attach a collectible addicting sidecar that ties into the "core" D&D market, providing a reliable income cash cow for the D&D division, and allowing it to remain a profitable concern until they really do want to do a fourth edition.

      Yes, D&D Miniatures are the saving grace of D&D.

      New hotness... well, y'see...

      Let's use a metap^H^H^H^H^Hsimile...

      The original D&D was like the Apple II.
      AD&D was like original Macintoshes.
      AD&D 2e, like
      • What about the Open Game license? I was under the impression that while all the interesting flare and history (things good for a DM or setting up a campaign) were all owned content, the /rules/ themselves (That is, the things a searchable DB would be good for) were, as the name implies, "Open".
        That is, while I can't give away detailed descriptions of the cities in Ebberon, it's perfectly okay for me to use one of any number of free [wizards.com], searchable [d20srd.org] online databases.

        please correct me. I assume I'm missing somethi
  • by Cy Sperling ( 960158 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:50PM (#15052366)
    Pen and Paper RPGs have always been more niche than industry. This is a business that cannot survive on terms of growth, only in servicing the niche. TSR collapsed under the weight of their attempts to grow outside of the confines of the niche. They were producing far too many boxed games built on expensive liscences (Indiana Jones RPG?) and simple name shufflings of the D&D rulesets (Star Frontiers, Gamma World). Rather than focus on a fixed set of products that would be profitable, they kept spending to try and grab more marketshare where there wasn't any. Hasbro/WOC were smart- they realized that the real power in D&D is the liscening, not the game itself. All of the startups and ex-TSR company people are at a huge disadvantage by not having a compelling IP to go along with the pen&paper products. Even White Wolf, arguably the most successful RPG system outside of D&D has only a sliver of the name recognition that D&D has.

    •   Pen and Paper RPGs have always been more niche than industry.

      Wow. I guess the age before collecting card games is prehistory, now.
      • Actually, before Magic:The Gathering and it's clones, the Pen & Paper "industry" was collapsing in on itself. The post E.T. interest in Dungeons & Dragons was long since on the wane; TSR was pretty much bankrupt due to gross mismanagement; the market was over-saturated with too many games and gaming systems and not enough real consumers to keep any of the companies afloat.

        Sure, there was a decade or so of some success, but it wasn't sustainable. At least, it wasn't sustainable from a growth standp
        • I grossly disagree with the comment that it was collapsing in on itself; there were a number of firms and a small, and not particularly high growth market. Nobody was truly thriving, but SJG, GDW, TSR, White Wolf were all hanging out and producing stuff and paying their people's salaries. Not all these companies were profitable, but most were, and there was no serious threat of an industry implosion.

          MTG arrives and bang, there goes the neighborhood. Wave of companies folding.

          I wasn't a major player by an
    • By that point of view, theatrical release movies are a niche, not a movie. Most don't make money, unless you include cable TV, and rental markets.

      Similarly, if you want to look at RPGs, you have to INCLUDE all the fiction books, online tie-ins, and other related marketing stuff that is derived from the paper-and-pencil games.

      Once you do that, you have a viable industry, not a niche.

  • Oh man (Score:3, Funny)

    by nb caffeine ( 448698 ) <nbcaffeine@g m a i l .com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:08PM (#15052520) Homepage Journal
    I can't wait for the My Little Ponies RPG from WotC. It would be a huge boon for the industry in general.
    • I can't wait for the My Little Ponies RPG from WotC.

      That would probably be White Wolf. Something like "OMG: the Ponies".

      However, it might possibly end up like this [somethingpositive.net]... No, you can't be Skullfucker Bear.

  • Meh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hortensia Patel ( 101296 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:07PM (#15052887)
    The big, glossy, expensive games may not be doing so well. And if you're taking total revenue as a measure of health then maybe the paper&pencil gaming scene isn't doing so well. As the subject says, meh. A drop in Britney Spears sales does not indicate a crisis in music.

    What TFA mostly failed to mention was the extraordinary progress in indie RPG design over the last few years. The indies may not be raking in money hand over fist, but that hasn't stopped them creating some very good games (Vincent Baker's Dogs in the Vineyard [lumpley.com] and Matt Wilson's Primetime Adventures [dog-eared-designs.com], f'rinstance) and, more importantly, getting a solid theoretical handle on what RPGs are about and how they work. What Lajos Egri did for playwriting and Robert McKee did for screenwriting, these guys are doing for RPGs. I've been following the industry since the early 1980s, and the last few years have been a real eyeopener. No, the GM is not God. Yes, system does matter. No, throwing together a huge heap of rules and expecting fun to magically fall out is not going to cut it.
  • I'm a huge fan of the Firelfy/Serenity mileau and I think it's a wonderful setting for a role-playing game. In fact, I though Firefly had in it more role-playing dynamics than anything that ever appeared on television. In fact, I always tell people who haven't played D&D that it's just like Firefly except with magical swords and monsters.

    I think it's no accident that the Firefly party consists of three fighters (each with a different specialization), a healer, a priest, an empath, a mechanic and an "a

    • Firefly is the first time such a thing was on television
      Not quite the first time, I don't think. The main crew in Farscape was pretty much a classic AD&D party - at least, during the first couple seasons.
    • I think it's no accident that the Firefly party consists of three fighters (each with a different specialization), a healer, a priest, an empath, a mechanic and an "ambassador".

      It's a good party, but... a bit crowded, unless you've got a lot of meatspace geek friends.

      If you're doing the space cowboy thing with a lower headcount, you might reconfigure that to two fighters (one quite a brawler, the other all about finesse), one hacker, one femme fatale...

  • I like Hero Games [herogames.com]. Champions is just on of the best point based RPGs out today and the have 1/2 price book sales monthly.

  • by GMFTatsujin ( 239569 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:05PM (#15053759) Homepage
    It might just mean that there's little impetus to go out and buy a role playing manual. Or even to purchase the PDF. No sale, no statistic.

    One factor might be supply and demand. There are a million and one zero cost systems out there, not to mention the wealth of OGL suppliments and modifications. Why spend $90 on the Core Three Books when you can get what you need for a third of the cost or less with a similar, lesser known system?

    Another factor might be the shift toward more collaborative storytelling with less mechanics, like FUDGE, FATE, or RISUS. These games are *fun* and involve significantly less algebra to play than any D&D edition I can think of. They're also much faster to learn, in part because they require a creative--rather than encyclopedic--understanding of how the game works.

    <plug>
    Anyone interested in pen and paper role playing might also enjoy my podcast, Dice Make Bonk.
    </plug>

Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, and a dark side, and it holds the universe together ... -- Carl Zwanzig

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