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Next Gen Games?

chaochou

Adventurer
There are a few things I'm looking forward to. Generally speaking, Apocalypse World and Burning Wheel are my benchmarks, which means Lumpley Games and BWHQ are the two publishers I watch most carefully. So I'm excited by Under Hollow Hills, which looks like it uses the AW moves and resolution, but has a more codified structure for the overall game. I'd not got into Torchbearer before and the second edition looks similar - like a tighter and more structured Burning Wheel.

Beyond those I'm intrigued by Wanderhome, which got decent backing on KS, and uses a system called No Dice, No Masters - which I'm not familiar with. The name kinda says what it isn't, so I'm interested to learn how it plays. I've seen the same system being used for other games (such as Orbital), so it's clearly having an influence in some circles.
 

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MGibster

Legend
Predicting what's going to be firmly entrenched in gaming
Which non-D&D TTRPGs published within the past 5 or so years do you think represent the leaders of next generation games and publishers that will (or already are) influence future game design? I would like to leave out D&D of this discussion, because as the 800-pound gorilla industry leader, D&D will always exert an influence on future game design.
That's so difficult to guess. Fifteen years ago or so I would have told you Burning Wheel represented one of leaders of next generation games, at least based on what I was seeing in online forums, but now? I wasn't even sure you could buy a new physical copy until I checked (you can for a very reasonable $30), I rarely see anyone talk about it these days, and I've never seen it played in the wild. And, heck, when I first played Rise of the Runelords I never predicted that Paizo would end up producing a game that rivaled D&D.

I'll echo what some others have said. I was particularly impressed by Free League's Alien rpg. I hadn't planned on purchasing it because I didn't think Alien would provide me much game play, but I was so impressed by the rules I picked it up anyway. The rules are simple and they effectively adapted it to the original movies. (At least I think they have. Covid has prevented me from actually playing the game this year.)

But I don't know how well Free League games will be doing 5 years from now.
 

Predicting what's going to be firmly entrenched in gaming

That's so difficult to guess. Fifteen years ago or so I would have told you Burning Wheel represented one of leaders of next generation games, at least based on what I was seeing in online forums, but now? I wasn't even sure you could buy a new physical copy until I checked (you can for a very reasonable $30), I rarely see anyone talk about it these days, and I've never seen it played in the wild. And, heck, when I first played Rise of the Runelords I never predicted that Paizo would end up producing a game that rivaled D&D.

I'll echo what some others have said. I was particularly impressed by Free League's Alien rpg. I hadn't planned on purchasing it because I didn't think Alien would provide me much game play, but I was so impressed by the rules I picked it up anyway. The rules are simple and they effectively adapted it to the original movies. (At least I think they have. Covid has prevented me from actually playing the game this year.)

But I don't know how well Free League games will be doing 5 years from now.
That’s an interesting point.

What does a game need to achieve to be influential? Mainstream success like D&D? General notoriety of the community? Those things may play a part, but are they necessary?

Apocalypse World, for instance, is a game that has clearly been influential. Yet I don’t think I’d say it’s mainstream. And many people who are RPG enthusiasts remain unaware of it, despite it’s clear impact.

But I do think that in a lot of cases, such impact can only be gaged over time. Will Free League’s presence in and influence on the industry grow? Hard to say at this point, but it certainly seems possible.
 

MGibster

Legend
That’s an interesting point.

What does a game need to achieve to be influential? Mainstream success like D&D? General notoriety of the community? Those things may play a part, but are they necessary?

How do you measure success for a musician? If we used Beyoncé as our standard for what it means to be a successful musician, then we're left with many others who are by definition unsuccessful. She's not a good rubric to measure success with. D&D is our Beyoncé. No other game that has been produced in the history of RPGs has achieved penetration into the mainstream like D&D has. Vampire came pretty close in the 1990s though. I'm with team Aldarc when it comes to leaving D&D out of this discussion. Almost every game we can compare to D&D will show as lacking.

Apocalypse World, for instance, is a game that has clearly been influential. Yet I don’t think I’d say it’s mainstream. And many people who are RPG enthusiasts remain unaware of it, despite it’s clear impact.
That's fair. Flea, bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, can no doubt name many bassist who influenced him that would be unknown to most fans. H.P. Lovecraft influenced author's including Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, but Lovecraft's audience during his lifetime was very small and even today it's a niche one.

I've only played one campaign of Apocalypse World and that was many years ago. Like those people who are fans of Flea, I'm not quiet sure if or how AW has influenced gaming in the last few years. I'm not sure what influence AW has had on games released since 2010. Like Burning Wheel, AW is one of those games that people talked a ton about when it was released but these days I don't see anyone talking about it.

But I do think that in a lot of cases, such impact can only be gaged over time. Will Free League’s presence in and influence on the industry grow? Hard to say at this point, but it certainly seems possible.

It's a solid design. I wish more games would create rules with a specific mind to reflect what they want to see in the setting.
 

How do you measure success for a musician? If we used Beyoncé as our standard for what it means to be a successful musician, then we're left with many others who are by definition unsuccessful. She's not a good rubric to measure success with. D&D is our Beyoncé. No other game that has been produced in the history of RPGs has achieved penetration into the mainstream like D&D has. Vampire came pretty close in the 1990s though. I'm with team Aldarc when it comes to leaving D&D out of this discussion. Almost every game we can compare to D&D will show as lacking.

Yeah, that’s my point. I don’t want to mistake success for influence.

It’s like that old joke about how Velvet Underground’s first album sold very few copies....but everyone who got one started their own band.

So beyond the notoriety and longevity of D&D, how else are we measuring influence?
 

That's fair. Flea, bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, can no doubt name many bassist who influenced him that would be unknown to most fans. H.P. Lovecraft influenced author's including Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, but Lovecraft's audience during his lifetime was very small and even today it's a niche one.

I've only played one campaign of Apocalypse World and that was many years ago. Like those people who are fans of Flea, I'm not quiet sure if or how AW has influenced gaming in the last few years. I'm not sure what influence AW has had on games released since 2010. Like Burning Wheel, AW is one of those games that people talked a ton about when it was released but these days I don't see anyone talking about it.

Well, its system has been used as the basis for dozens of Powered By The Apocalypse games. People are still coming up with versions of the system to this day. I’d argue it’s one of the most influential games ever, especially if we discount the 800 pound gorilla.

And even beyond the direct impact of PbtA games as a category, many of the principles, design elements, and goals of play of Apocalypse World have been picked up by a lot of designers and implemented in new ways.
 

It's a solid design. I wish more games would create rules with a specific mind to reflect what they want to see in the setting.

I agree. It seems like a pretty strong foundation. And it seems easily tweaked to deliver specific experiences based on genre and so on.

Also, sorry for replying separately. Whatever recent change there was makes multi-quoting on a phone nearly impossible.
 

MGibster

Legend
And even beyond the direct impact of PbtA games as a category, many of the principles, design elements, and goals of play of Apocalypse World have been picked up by a lot of designers and implemented in new ways.

What games released in the last five years have been influenced by AW? And in what way were they influenced? I'm not being contentious here, I genuinely have no idea.
 


pemerton

Legend
What games released in the last five years have been influenced by AW? And in what way were they influenced? I'm not being contentious here, I genuinely have no idea.
To add to @Ovinomancer's reply: the No Dice, No Masters that @chaochou mentioned seems to draw pretty heavily from AW - at least, that's my conjecture based on the material presented so far as part of the Orbital Kickstarter.

There are a few things I'm looking forward to. Generally speaking, Apocalypse World and Burning Wheel are my benchmarks, which means Lumpley Games and BWHQ are the two publishers I watch most carefully.
I watch BWHQ more closely than Lumpley, but I agree with your judgement about benchmarking!

I'd not got into Torchbearer before and the second edition looks similar - like a tighter and more structured Burning Wheel.

Beyond those I'm intrigued by Wanderhome, which got decent backing on KS, and uses a system called No Dice, No Masters - which I'm not familiar with. The name kinda says what it isn't, so I'm interested to learn how it plays. I've seen the same system being used for other games (such as Orbital), so it's clearly having an influence in some circles.
I've backed both the Torchbearer and Orbital Kickstarters. I'm not sure I'll ever play Torchbearer, but I really admire Luke Crane's design instincts and want to see what he's come up with.

Orbital I hope to play with my group. It looks like it could be the first space-oriented sci-fi game since Traveller that I'm interested in. (Maybe I could also be interested in Alien, but I'm not sure I'm interested enough to spend on it and try and fit it into my group's schedule.)

To bring this back to @Aldarc's OP: I'm not sure that Torchbearer is a "next gen" game, except that - like BW and AW - it continues to model tight, thoughtful design.

I know there have been systems prior to No Dice, No Masters that don't use a GM as such and instead distribute scene-framing responsibilities. But I don't have experience with those systems, and so am looking forward to seeing exactly how Orbital handles it. I don't think GM-less is going to be "next gen", given the dominance in RPGing of the "GM as stortyteller" model, but I think Orbital - a bit like BitD, maybe - might continue to show what varied stuff can be done by adapting basic ideas from AW.
 

What games released in the last five years have been influenced by AW? And in what way were they influenced? I'm not being contentious here, I genuinely have no idea.
Yeah, in addition to Blades in the Dark and all of its Forged in the Dark alternates, there have been some straight up solid PbtA games in the last few years.

Masks the Next Generation
City of Mist
Worlds in Peril
Urban Shadows
Legacy- Life Among the Ruins
The Sprawl
The Sword, The Crown, The Unspeakable Power

And those are just the ones I’m familiar with, having read each and played a few. There are probably many more that I’m not recalling or am entirely unaware of.

I’d also throw Spire, The City Must fall into the category as well, even though it is neither a straight PbtA nor FitD game. It shares a lot of DNA with that branch of games.

I think Apocalypse World and the PbtA rules continue to be a strong influence on game design. It certainly isn’t “next gen” in the sense of the OP of the thread, though.

What’s the next PbtA? Year Zero is pretty solid and flexible. Forged in the Dark seems to have captured a lot of attention. I feel like they’re the two big ones now....but I admit to total bias because they’re the two systems I’ve played the most in recent months.

Someone mentioned Swords of the Serpentine earlier in the thread, which I’ve read a good chunk of, and it seems like it has potential. It’s based on the Gumshoe system....so that one likely deserves a mention, although it’s been around a few years.
 

MGibster

Legend
Okay, you guys have listed some games. But where do you see the DNA of Apocalypse World in those games? I don't need anyone to write a dissertation or anything, but I'm curious as to where you guys see the connection.
 

Okay, you guys have listed some games. But where do you see the DNA of Apocalypse World in those games? I don't need anyone to write a dissertation or anything, but I'm curious as to where you guys see the connection.
Well many of the examples I gave use the core mechanics. And even the games that change the core mechanic in some way....like Blades or Spire...they still follow the same patter of result. Roll high enough and you fully succeed, roll low and you fail, roll some middle amount and you succeed with consequence.

Beyond that I think the rest is more about the principles of play. Constraint on the GM, limiting when and how the GM can act. Granting more narrative authority to the players. Building the fiction together. Playing to find out what happens rather than having predetermined outcomes.
 

Predicting what's going to be firmly entrenched in gaming

That's so difficult to guess. Fifteen years ago or so I would have told you Burning Wheel represented one of leaders of next generation games, at least based on what I was seeing in online forums, but now? I wasn't even sure you could buy a new physical copy until I checked (you can for a very reasonable $30), I rarely see anyone talk about it these days, and I've never seen it played in the wild. And, heck, when I first played Rise of the Runelords I never predicted that Paizo would end up producing a game that rivaled D&D.

Well said!

I thought Burning Wheel was going to be huge, but it didn't live up to its promise.
 

pemerton

Legend
Okay, you guys have listed some games. But where do you see the DNA of Apocalypse World in those games? I don't need anyone to write a dissertation or anything, but I'm curious as to where you guys see the connection.
In the case of Orbital, based on the playbook that was published on Kickstarter:
  • A playbook that supports both PC gen and PC play;
  • A list of names you choose from;
  • A list of things to choose from that people notice about you - this and the previous point are AW through-and-through;
  • A list of moves;
  • The moves are normal, strong and weak - which correspond roughly, in a diceless system, to AW's 7-9, 10+ and 6- (though the consequences of weak moves are all "soft", not "hard", consequences - I suspect the system will have some other way of bringing hard consequences to bear, probably based on how it allocates GM responsibilities, and I'm looking forward to seeing exactly how that works).

Looking at it it screams AW, just as much as Dungeon World does.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Predicting what's going to be firmly entrenched in gaming

That's so difficult to guess. Fifteen years ago or so I would have told you Burning Wheel represented one of leaders of next generation games, at least based on what I was seeing in online forums, but now? I wasn't even sure you could buy a new physical copy until I checked (you can for a very reasonable $30), I rarely see anyone talk about it these days, and I've never seen it played in the wild. And, heck, when I first played Rise of the Runelords I never predicted that Paizo would end up producing a game that rivaled D&D.

I'll echo what some others have said. I was particularly impressed by Free League's Alien rpg. I hadn't planned on purchasing it because I didn't think Alien would provide me much game play, but I was so impressed by the rules I picked it up anyway. The rules are simple and they effectively adapted it to the original movies. (At least I think they have. Covid has prevented me from actually playing the game this year.)

But I don't know how well Free League games will be doing 5 years from now.
I do think that Burning Wheel has been influential for many indie designers, as it's still a game system that gets a lot of praise from current-gen designers.

I've only played one campaign of Apocalypse World and that was many years ago. Like those people who are fans of Flea, I'm not quiet sure if or how AW has influenced gaming in the last few years. I'm not sure what influence AW has had on games released since 2010. Like Burning Wheel, AW is one of those games that people talked a ton about when it was released but these days I don't see anyone talking about it.
Okay, you guys have listed some games. But where do you see the DNA of Apocalypse World in those games? I don't need anyone to write a dissertation or anything, but I'm curious as to where you guys see the connection.
In the case of some of the games that @hawkeyefan listed, they are straight-up run with the Powered by the Apocalypse engine (e.g., Masks, Urban Shadows, etc.).

I would likewise point to the Forged in the Dark games, as Blades in the Dark was built on a highly modified PbtA engine that exchanges 2d6 + stat for a d6 die pool with possible variable effect and position while also removing triggered moves in favor of PC actions.

Likewise so is the solo RPG Ironsworn. Ironsworn forgoes playbooks for "build-a-bear" PC customization. And it uses a d6+stat against 2d10 but it's engine is AW adjacent, as rolling is done via triggered moves to generate failure, complicated success, and success resolution. The creator even said that he designed Ironsworn because PbtA was not quite working right for his goals of creating a solo RPG.

You can even see the influence of AW, especially the use of playbooks, outside of its family of games: e.g., Fate developed playbook-like Mantles (e.g., Dresden Files Accelerated) and so did the OSR game Beyond the Wall & Other Adventures.
 
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chaochou

Adventurer
Masks the Next Generation
City of Mist
Worlds in Peril
Urban Shadows
Legacy- Life Among the Ruins
The Sprawl
The Sword, The Crown, The Unspeakable Power

And also:
The Veil
Bootleggers
Dungeon World
Monster of the Week
Monsterhearts
Night Witches
Sagas of the Icelanders
Spirit of '77
The Warren

and those are the ones I own or have seen for sale in my games store. There are dozens more.
 

pemerton

Legend
Well many of the examples I gave use the core mechanics. And even the games that change the core mechanic in some way....like Blades or Spire...they still follow the same patter of result. Roll high enough and you fully succeed, roll low and you fail, roll some middle amount and you succeed with consequence.

Beyond that I think the rest is more about the principles of play. Constraint on the GM, limiting when and how the GM can act. Granting more narrative authority to the players. Building the fiction together. Playing to find out what happens rather than having predetermined outcomes.
To add to this: for me, a significant aspect of AW seems to be that fictional positioning doesn't generate intricate modifiers, but rather is a factor (i) in players making moves, and (ii) the GM establishing consequences.

I think the way the system approaches this strikes me as a very clever way (of course it's clever: Vincent Baker is a game design genius!) of making the fiction matter but not "shutting down" options through impossible modifiers. 4e tried to come close to this with its skill challenge framework, but it's not articulated as clearly as AW and there are some features of 4e that can get in the way of this style of resolution.
 

MGibster

Legend
I do think that Burning Wheel has been influential for many indie designers, as it's still a game system that gets a lot of praise from current-gen designers.
This is so outside of my gaming experience that I am ill equipped to make any judgment one way or the other. Most of the games I run/play are more mainstream, with some of them having roots back to the Reagan administration. Savage Worlds is one of my upstart games and it's going to be old enough to vote next year. I'm like that fan of Flea who hasn't heard of the people who influenced his favorite bassist.
 

Aldarc

Legend
This is so outside of my gaming experience that I am ill equipped to make any judgment one way or the other. Most of the games I run/play are more mainstream, with some of them having roots back to the Reagan administration. Savage Worlds is one of my upstart games and it's going to be old enough to vote next year. I'm like that fan of Flea who hasn't heard of the people who influenced his favorite bassist.
That's fair. I do know that Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel (Dungeon World) are massive fans of Burning Wheel. Within the past year, John Harper (Blades in the Dark) has cited Burning Wheel and Apocalypse World as tied for his favorite TTRPGs.
 

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