With August now over, it’s time for the last catch-up for RPGaDAY!
I think RPGs as a field are evolving, in quick spurts followed by slower growth. Every so often, something comes along that shifts perceptions of what RPGs are, should or could be. And while not every change fills me with excitement, I’m pretty sure someone, somewhere, is getting all fired up about it.
The first shift that I saw (consciously) was the OGL: Wizards of the Coast basically open-sourcing the basic rules of the 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons. Suddenly, everyone could make an RPG or even a smaller ‘plug-in’ for a very large body of existing work. And a lot of people did — not all of the resulting ‘glut’ was good, but it did enable a few experiments and launched quite a few game lines.
And now it’s an accepted practice to describe the design of your ruleset and to make that available to anyone who wants to use it in their own game. It’s not like game rules are copyrightable anyway, but having this as an accepted practice makes it possible to try out new RPGs without having to learn new rulesets. If you know how the playbook construction of Apocalypse World works, then you can play any ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’ game without too many troubles.
I think that has also made it a lot easier to experiment with all kinds of games: the rigorous testing of the rulesets has already been done, so the designer can concentrate on genre and tone. For pretty much every genre, there is a PbtA game — maybe not quite to your taste, but you can easily mix and match because the underlying rules are similar!
And this variety means people who do not like fantasy or the way D&D does it, can try out a few things and find the game that’s right for them. And who knows, maybe they will design their own game at a point in the future, meaning an even more richer landscape of RPGs!
Playing RPGs has allowed me to make some of the strongest connections as an adult.
It’s hard to make new friends as an adult: it’s almost impossible to just ‘hang out’, since everyone is under the obligations of work and family. But finding a group that ‘clicks’ allows for a rapid accumulation of shared experiences (even if those experiences are in-game). I’ve had some bad experiences gaming with people I don’t know, so I’m hesitant to just jump into any game with anybody. But if you sort-of know some people that you think are cool, then gaming is certainly a good way to get to know each other better.
read: Robotech: A Macross Saga RPG. It wasn’t good, unfortunately.
purchase: Fate Accessibility Toolkit. Making gaming more accessible to everyone who is not an able-bodied cisgendered heterosexual white man is the most important push for RPGs into the future.
session: Blades in the Dark. Our crew of drugdealers have transformed into a crew of strong-arm thieves — but the ill-advised plans remain!