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Next Gen Games?

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.

Yeah, I know there are a lot. Many more than either of us listed, for sure. My list was limited to not just games that I've read and/or played, but also to ones released in the last 5 years or so, since that's what @MGibster asked about. I was going mostly off memory, so I erred on the side of caution. For instance, Monsterhearts and Dungeon World are two of the biggest examples of PbtA games, but I think both came out in about 2012 or so, so more than 5 years ago.

Not that that diminishes the influence that Apocalypse World has had on gaming. If anything, I think it shows a consistent decade of influence.

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.

Yeah, fictional positioning and success with consequence combine in such a way that the fiction of the game is dynamic but logical, and that's a key element that I think has proven very beneficial to other games. These elements may predate the Bakers' use of them in Apocalypse World, but I think that is one of the games that's really made it clear and pushed it forward as a popular approach.
 

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Campbell

Legend
In the mainstream Pathfinder Second Edition and the Free League games strike me as being strongly influenced by Apocalypse World.

When I read through PF2 almost every rules element is structured like an AW move. The social skill actions feel almost just like Go Agro and Seduce or Manipulate. It also directly calls out where the GM is expected to apply their judgement.

Free League games all list explicit player and GM principles in a manner similar to Apocalypse World. The game also snowballs in a similar way.

Outside the mainstream it has basically become the lingua franca of indie RPG design. It and Blades in the Dark provide the design language utilized by the vast majority of the longer form games in the scene.

There's also a good deal of crossover with more experimental OSR games like the Nightmares Underneath, Necrolautinus, and the Sine Nomine games.
 


I have also found a blog Indie Game Reading Club that has an article entitled "A Few of My Favorite (Trindie) Things," where the author discusses a number of trends that they have seen in the indie gaming scene as well as more traditional games that incorporate indie elements.

That's a really solid summary, I'd say. I only recently discovered that blog, and hadn't seen that entry....but yeah, that sums it up well.
 

Aldarc

Legend
That's a really solid summary, I'd say. I only recently discovered that blog, and hadn't seen that entry....but yeah, that sums it up well.
Yeah, I think that this point gets to the point of why @Campbell finds similarity between PF2 and PbtA, and why 5e leaves him cold:

The Rules Get In The Way​

I’ve used the phrase intentional design before and maybe it’s worth unpacking a bit more. This is the general trend I’m talking about: rules that purposefully create specific play experiences, and not just default to a “players try to beat the GM’s obstacles with a combination of capability and luck” frame. If you’re the sort of GM who prefers to present their story their way, new-school rules feel like they get in the way.

Personally? I love rules that get in the way. Rules can surprise me when I’m facilitating, which is both an exciting creative challenge and alleviates most prep. I’ve never had a good head for prepping with interesting combat or obstacles in mind, so those rules that are “in the way?” I’d rather put my creativity toward things other than balancing fights.

Intentional design shows up all over the place now and for various reasons: genre emulation, or strong emotional response, or enforcing tempo. Redistributing creative responsibilities in surprising ways. Gosh, even just to de-prioritize violence as the main way to get what we want.

But also, this article talks about how there are echoes of Burning Wheel in the Mutant Year Zero Engine of Free League Publishing.
 

Campbell

Legend
For what it is worth I personally do not see too much value in analyzing trends for roleplaying games overall because like board gaming we're not dealing with just one hobby, but a number of hobbies that share the same medium yet pretty much have a fairly independent existence. There's not much evidence to suggest that the waxing and waning of D&D has a meaningful impact on indie games or vice versa. I mean there is definitely cross pollination, but like the thing we do when we play Apocalypse World is not very much like the thing we do when we play an adventure roleplaying game. It happens, but mostly constrained to technical or design language influences.

Basically in the grand scheme things the more mainstream adventure gaming portion of the hobby has changed very little in the last 30 years since the days of Ars Magica, Shadowrun, Vampire, and Planescape. Vampire really was the last time a major disruption occurred. Expecting fundamental change would be like expecting Monopoly to change. Occasionally you get something like Blades in the Dark, Free League's stuff or Cortex Drama/Heroic which really pushes boundaries. Much like Cristopher Nolan's Batman movies they happen once in a blue moon and do not necessarily impact the greater culture in a significant way.
 



Shardstone

Adventurer
Swords of the Serpentine. I think it's the first game to really combine all the different ideas that have been coming out over the last decade or more (since the end of the D20 glut and the rise of various innovative new concepts). SotS has combined a number of ideas that have appeared elsewhere and made a quite excellent game out of them, and there's going to be a lot of people imitating the style of the game. There are one or two other games which have done some of that, but none seem to me to have done it quite so well.
Wish I could just buy the PDF without pre-ordering...
 

Aldarc

Legend
For what it is worth I personally do not see too much value in analyzing trends for roleplaying games overall because like board gaming we're not dealing with just one hobby, but a number of hobbies that share the same medium yet pretty much have a fairly independent existence. There's not much evidence to suggest that the waxing and waning of D&D has a meaningful impact on indie games or vice versa. I mean there is definitely cross pollination, but like the thing we do when we play Apocalypse World is not very much like the thing we do when we play an adventure roleplaying game. It happens, but mostly constrained to technical or design language influences.

Basically in the grand scheme things the more mainstream adventure gaming portion of the hobby has changed very little in the last 30 years since the days of Ars Magica, Shadowrun, Vampire, and Planescape. Vampire really was the last time a major disruption occurred. Expecting fundamental change would be like expecting Monopoly to change. Occasionally you get something like Blades in the Dark, Free League's stuff or Cortex Drama/Heroic which really pushes boundaries. Much like Cristopher Nolan's Batman movies they happen once in a blue moon and do not necessarily impact the greater culture in a significant way.
Going back to this point, I suppose that I am not necessarily interested in "next gen games" as they exist in relation to the waxing and waning of D&D, because honestly not much innovation happens on the D&D side of things, much as you allude to in the bold. In some regards, I have already discussed the current generation of D&D-inspired games already in my d2010 thread, where I looked at some post-4E games that seemed to be dancing around a similar design space.

My discussion here is not necessarily about what "disrupts" D&D either. It's more about speculating on the indie games that are defining a generation and inform us about the next generation of games. Much as you say, this thread is about the games like Blades in the Dark, Free League, or Cortex/Fate which push the boundaries of the hobby/hobbies.
 

pemerton

Legend
A little bit off-topic but related: there are some games which seem like they should have had a big impact/influence but seem not to have.

One from the late 80s is Prince Valiant. One from the late 90s is Maelstrom Storytelling.

These make me think of two questions:

(1) Why does the impact not happen that seems like it should have done;

(2) What are the current games that aren't having the impact/influence that they should? (This one is a bit harder of course from our current vantage point!)
 

A little bit off-topic but related: there are some games which seem like they should have had a big impact/influence but seem not to have.

One from the late 80s is Prince Valiant. One from the late 90s is Maelstrom Storytelling.

These make me think of two questions:

(1) Why does the impact not happen that seems like it should have done;

(2) What are the current games that aren't having the impact/influence that they should? (This one is a bit harder of course from our current vantage point!)

How would you answer question 1 for the two examples you’ve given?

I admit to only being passingly familiar with Prince Valiant, and only many years after its release, and I don’t recall Maelstrom Storytelling at all. That would indicate that a game’s reach is a factor, but I expect there must be other reasons.
 

pemerton

Legend
How would you answer question 1 for the two examples you’ve given?
Not really sure!

I think Prince Valiant may have been hampered by tying an amazing mediaeval/low-fantasy resolution framework to a property that was not very popular among RPGers. Thematically it lives in a similar space to Pendragon, which has had much more impact but in my view is the weaker of the two systems - Pendragon's extra fiddliness doesn't (to my mind) really contribute to its ability to support Arthurian romance.

(I know the above paragraph is heretical, and rates the two games differently from how Greg Stafford himself did. But I call it how I see it!)

Maelstrom Storytelling has an attached setting that may also have limited impact, but you can get a version of the rules framework for free as Story Bones: Story Bones Plus PDF - Precis Intermedia | Story Engine | Dungeon Masters Guild.

I've never run it - I learned of it from the Forge and picked up a copy second hand when I saw it on sale at my local RPG shop. It has a scene-resolution system based on a single roll of a dice pool (I think it's evens-as-successes) against a target number of successes, with the pool built out of PC descriptors and rules for "burning" descriptors (ie using them up for the session) to manipulate the pool or to manage consequences and fall-out. I drew on its approach quite a bit for my 4e GMing, especially of skill challenges.

It predates HeroWars/Quest, and Fate, but whereas the former is moderately known about (maybe due to Robin Laws's profile) and the latter is widely known about, I think Maelstrom Storytelling remains pretty obscure.
 

Aldarc

Legend
A little bit off-topic but related: there are some games which seem like they should have had a big impact/influence but seem not to have.

One from the late 80s is Prince Valiant. One from the late 90s is Maelstrom Storytelling.

These make me think of two questions:

(1) Why does the impact not happen that seems like it should have done;

(2) What are the current games that aren't having the impact/influence that they should? (This one is a bit harder of course from our current vantage point!)
I don't have much of answer for either of these, as they lie outside of my hobby experiences.

You are right, because it is difficult to say why some games achieved influence and some games didn't or maybe even not as great as anticipated. As a general preface, I'm not sure that a game's influence can be reduced to whether a designer made a good game or not, because sometimes mediocre games have a strong influence and sometimes well-designed/novel games have minimal influence. So it may be helpful to answer your question by looking at what games in our hobby achieved influence and why/how they did, though maybe apart from the 800 lb. gorilla with market inertia.

Jonathan Tweet's Over the Edge (1992) never really achieved mainstream success the way that his associate Mark Rein-Hagen's Vampire the Masquerade (1991) did, but it was highly instrumental for the indie TTRPG scene, influencing Ron Edwards's Sorcerer (2001), Evil Hat Production's Fate (2003), and Margaret Weis Production's Cortex (2004). Its use of freeform fiction-based traits was highly influential, but it only really became obvious with some hindsight. And while many today think of traits/aspects as Fate/Cortex-like mechanics, a number of the designers have flat out pointed to Over the Edge's direct influence. But that took roughly a decade to get to the first iterations in the early '00s, and then another ~10 years past that (at least for Cortex & Fate) to really get to their present shape.
 
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I had never been aware of most games beyond D&D early on in my gaming life. The TSR slate was popular with my group, especially Marvel, but also Gamma World and Star Frontiers and so on. Beyond that, a little MERP, DC Heroes, and Star Wars. A brief bit with Vampire when it came out, but it was quickly abandoned, and a pretty long stretch with Rifts despite its abysmal system.

There were so many games that my group simply was not aware of in those days.

Over the Edge is one of them. I picked up the recent second edition, and it’s easy to imagine how the first edition would have influenced many people who’d played it.

I wish I had known about Over the Edge back then.
 

pemerton

Legend
Jonathan Tweet's Over the Edge (1992) never really achieved mainstream success the way that his associate Mark Rein-Hagen's Vampire the Masquerade (1991) did, but it was highly instrumental for the indie TTRPG scene, influencing Ron Edwards's Sorcerer (2001), Evil Hat Production's Fate (2003), and Margaret Weis Production's Cortex (2004). Its use of freeform fiction-based traits was highly influential, but it only really became obvious with some hindsight. And while many today think of traits/aspects as Fate/Cortex-like mechanics, a number of the designers have flat out pointed to Over the Edge's direct influence. But that took roughly a decade to get to the first iterations in the early '00s, and then another ~10 years past that (at least for Cortex & Fate) to really get to their present shape.
Like @hawkeyefan, I didn't know this system (other than maybe as a name heard mentioned at the University club) until ten years after it came out, when I read Edwards's analysis/critique of it on the Forge. I picked up a 20th anniversary edition.

To some extent it has the same "problem" as Prince Valiant and even moresoe Maelstrom Storytelling - a very heavily-embedded setting.

I think its PC build is clearly its strength. Compared to those other two systems, its actual action resolution is less impressive.
 

Campbell

Legend
Often great games are unfortunately mostly influential in superficial rather than substantive ways. People often look at games like early D&D, Apocalypse World and Blades in the Dark and transcribe their superficial structures instead of looking critically at why the games were structured the way they were. A lot of things that were accidents of design or have a very specific purpose are carried over thoughtlessly.

  • Mainstream games carrying over turn by turn initiative, movement rates, hit points, highly detailed inventory lists, and managing resources over a daily time period without regard if it serves their game while ignoring things like having tightly tuned reward systems and features like wandering monsters, reaction rolls, and other exploration rules that made decision making consequential.
  • Powered By The Apocalypse games that design moves in too general a fashion or without a coherent view of how they should fit together. What makes Apocalypse World a great game is that it is constantly forcing players to make decisions about escalating force versus backing down for social cohesion. It's designed in a particular way because of the experience it is trying to provide or sometimes due to things that are mostly an accident of design.
  • Forged in the Dark games are often painfully locked to the specific structure of Blades in the Dark when they are not heist/caper fiction or particularly tied to a group structure. They also tend to not have a strong understanding of the interlocking currencies and consequences that make Blades such a compelling game. Many lack consistent pressure as a result.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Like @hawkeyefan, I didn't know this system (other than maybe as a name heard mentioned at the University club) until ten years after it came out, when I read Edwards's analysis/critique of it on the Forge. I picked up a 20th anniversary edition.

To some extent it has the same "problem" as Prince Valiant and even moresoe Maelstrom Storytelling - a very heavily-embedded setting.

I think its PC build is clearly its strength. Compared to those other two systems, its actual action resolution is less impressive.
Often great games are unfortunately mostly influential in superficial rather than substantive ways. People often look at games like early D&D, Apocalypse World and Blades in the Dark and transcribe their superficial structures instead of looking critically at why the games were structured the way they were. A lot of things that were accidents of design or have a very specific purpose are carried over thoughtlessly.
I'm not necessarily saying that Over the Edge should have been more popular or that it's a great game, but, rather, that some games can be quiet burners that take awhile for their influence to really hit its stride. In the case of Over the Edge, a big part of that influence was through its use of self-written, interpretative traits. Over the Edge's fictional tags made it useful for more open-ended toolkit game systems: e.g., Fate, Cortex, Risus. So while Risus, Fate, and Cortex all have different resolution systems, the reliance on fictional tags puts these games into a common family, though the first iteration of Risus actually predates OtE.

As to why Prince Valiant hasn't had the influence you believe it deserves, I'm not sure as I am not terribly familiar with the mechanics of the game. Also, sometimes it is difficult to imagine why/how a particular game should influence other games, but sometimes it's pretty easy. With Apocalypse World or Blades in the Dark - even if the influence is superficial much as @Campbell says - it's often a shift of genre: "It would be fun to run AW/BitD but with this other backdrop/aesthetic instead." Even if the influence is, again, mostly superficial, we can see how the games inspire other games, even if other games don't necessarily fully understand the design intent, purpose, or how the system matters for the play experience.

Edit: Finished an incomplete sentence that I thought I had written. I don't know why it seems that happens.
 
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The last couple of posts seem really relevant to me right now because my group is playing a Forged in the Dark superhero game, Galaxies in Peril. It’s a retooling of the game Worlds in Peril, which was a PbtA game.

In some ways, the FitD system lends itself well to the genre. The more narrative approach to powers and abilities seems very suitable, and the Stress mechanic and Pushing and other game elements seem to fit the idea of supers well.

But the Faction elements seem to be lacking a bit. Not so much the Team, but things like Heat and Entanglements seem to lose some bite. Also, the setting details don’t really push things the way those of Doskvol do. In Blades proper, you can’t really leave town to avoid fallout, it’s a big deal to kill, and so on....these concepts are designed to create mounting pressure on the Crew. These setting elements aren’t present under Galaxies as presented (at least not in the advance playtest material) and they may nit even matter to a Team of superheroes anyway.

I’m dealing with this by crafting my own setting elements and kind of refiguring the Faction and Claim area of the game. But I agree that sometimes the influence a game can have can be....incomplete? As if the new game hasn’t fully considered the one its drawing inspiration from.
 

Aldarc

Legend
This is likely why Band of Blades re-writes BitD to (1) have pressure on the characters in the form of an army retreating from a vastly superior army back to your stronghold, which (2) creates a win/loss condition for the game.

I’m dealing with this by crafting my own setting elements and kind of refiguring the Faction and Claim area of the game. But I agree that sometimes the influence a game can have can be....incomplete? As if the new game hasn’t fully considered the one its drawing inspiration from.
It's much as Campbell says, BitD was written to cultivate a particular style of play. Simply changing what the game is about without considering how the game is built to cultivate that purpose does not always work without first making additional adjustments. That's why some of the best games for systems like AW, FitD, D&D, etc. are those that retool the game for what they intended to do or strongly pick up on the original beat of the game. This does not mean taking, for example, BitD's resolution system is an inherently flawed enterprise - as I do think that it's combination of a dice pool and AW complication system is quite elegantly brilliant - but yeah it helps to know the purpose behind the architecture.

From what you tell me (and what little I've read), it sounds like Free League does this for their own games as well.
 

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