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2020: The Year That Wasn't

2020 has been a weird year that has had some unexpected results for tabletop gaming. Here’s a look back.

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Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.

For those paying attention to the origins of many series, role-playing games lurked behind just about every major geek pastime as an influence, be it virtual reality gaming (Battletech), Firefly (Traveller), He-Man (D&D), Onward (D&D), Star Control (Star Frontiers), or The Witcher (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons).

All these role-playing influences are descendants of or directly influenced by Dungeons & Dragons, and as the venerable game entered its sixth year, questions arose about when the next edition would arrive. For good reason: using past editions as a guide, we're fast approaching the age when D&D shifts to a new edition, so at this point we're in the bonus rounds. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything offered a glimpse of just how far Fifth Edition can stretch and what it could potentially become.

As D&D’s arc continued to soar, tabletop gaming increased along with it. Kickstarters, Patreon, and other crowdfunding options offer the tantalizing possibility of making a living off of game design … even if retiring from the industry is still out of reach.

Then the pandemic struck. It was a surprising boon for virtual gaming platforms and D&D in general. Tabletop gaming is uniquely flexible in that it can be played virtually at any time thanks to the aforementioned virtual platforms or huddled together in-person with those in your pandemic bubble. It’s also good for our emotional and mental health, a boost we could all use in trying times.

On a more personal note, I lost one of my long-time players this year. Gaming helped me work through his loss, but I’ll never really get over someone several years younger than me passing away so soon. I had hopes of offering my players a deluxe boxed set of the fantasy novels their characters inspired … instead, those novels are now a eulogy to my friend Joe.

The end of the year is an opportunity to count our blessings, and I am certainly blessed to work with so many talented writers who write for the EN World Columnist program. If you haven’t read their work, I encourage you to check them out: Beth’s review of Wizards of the Coast products; Charles’ print roundups, reviews, and interviews; Corone’s game design master classes; Egg’s crowdfunding roundups and interviews; Lew’s opinion articles about the history of gaming and what the future holds; LongGoneWriter’s Paizo reviews and roundups; and M.T. Black’s Dragon reflections, along with many others who have contributed throughout the year. Please consider following them and if you like their work, chipping in on Patreon.

As we wrap up this year, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Sadly, the bar is low enough that if you’re reading this, congratulations: you made it! We made it! Here’s to a 2021 where we can see our friends in-person again, roll some dice, have some laughs, and share a toast with those still with us to those we lost.

Stay safe, and we’ll see you in 2021!
 
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca


And with the Modiphius Entertainment 2d20 system, which is roll under stats and always defaults to a roll of 2 dice for skill checks, any final result of 20 and 20 is two Complications, so a very epic fail indeed. Almost prescient of the year 2020 you may say.
 

univoxs

That's my dog, Walter
Supporter
While our hobbie found its way to thrive online, I feel for the brick and mortor and the Wargaming community. I think I bought more games this year than any other.
 


TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I think any major revision of the D&D5 rules in the foreseeable future would be an error. What is needed is some limited edition, commemorative editions c.2024....
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
This year I didn't spend less and made a conscious effort to help my FLGS and buy rpg books from companies I wanted to help. I didn't splurge on various random game offerings like I used to do.

I actually played more rpg games (vtt) this year than any previous years since as far as I can remember, except high school. Playing solitary rpg games was also a good way to stay safe and entertained.

My wargaming and board gaming took a severe hit. Only 2 games during the summer, outside, while it was allowed. But I did buy extensions of games I already have.

Everyone I know stayed safe.

May the vaccine be with you soon!
 
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univoxs

That's my dog, Walter
Supporter
This year I didn't spend less and made a conscious effort to help my FLGS and buy rpg books from companies I wanted to help. I didn't splurge on various random game offerings like I used to do.

I actually played more rpg games (vtt) this year than any previous years since as far as I can remember, except high school. Playing solitary rpg games was also a good way to stay safe and entertained.

My wargaming and board gaming took a severe hit. Only 2 games during the summer, outside, while it was allowed. But I did buy extensions of games I already have.

Everyone I know stayed safe.

May the vaccine be with you soon!

My birthday was just passed and I intended to have a small group over for board games. Unfortunately I got covid (cleared back for work as of today). This knocked out my birthday, my SOs birthday and christmas. As a consolation prize we played Terraforming Mars on steam with friends. The Burrows & Badgers campaign however, permanent hiatus.
 

On a personal level, 2020 was the same as any other year; my weekly F2F game continued without major scheduling issues.

The growing economic uncertainty, however, has stressed some of my players. We're lucky to live in a state where government closures has been muted and brief, but it still had an impact.
 


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