The last year has been good to older gamers and for the games they’ve played, while also being good to new gamers who are interested in these games but can’t find them.
John Wick Presents brought us 7th Sea Second Edition with a record-breaking Kickstarter, and has successfully funded Khitai as an expansion to the setting.
Onyx Path has been steadily rolling out Scion: Second Edition, starting with a successful Kickstarter.
Cam Banks successfully funded Cortex Prime after getting the rights to it, and backers were presented with an SRD almost out of the gate.
Toy Vault is bringing back Fudge with The Princess Bride (Kickstarter TDB).
Ulisses Spiele launched the new edition of The Dark Eye (Germany’s Das Schwarze Auge), and will be bringing us Torg Eternity, a new Fading Suns, and recently got the rights to a new Warhammer 40,000 RPG.
WizKids has recently teamed up with Games Workshop to produce games using the Warhammer 40,000 franchise.
Cubicle 7 will be bringing us a new Warhammer Fantasy RPG, including Age of Sigmar.
Modiphius brought us the first Star Trek game in over a decade. They and Fantasy Flight Games have also brought us the first official Fallout tabletop board games after years of fans making their own homebrew rules for RPGs and tactical wargames.
Speaking of Fantasy Flight Games, they have acquired the rights to the game Legend of the Five Rings, and will be releasing a new RPG in the near future. We haven’t seen a new edition of L5R since 2010, and it is a rather curious thing to see.
Monte Cook will be bringing us a new Numenera after the years of publications of the first game since 2013 (and a then-record breaking Kickstarter campaign in 2012).
White Wolf is serving up a new batch of gothic horror with Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition, and began with a Quickstart that is now available on DriveThruRPG.
2016 and 2017 have been great for older gamers, and it looks like this will continue on into 2018. If you haven’t been following any of these, you may be wondering “What Gives?”
Don’t worry, I’ve got your covered about why these matter, and how this is important to the tabletop gaming scene. Do note that I’m not omniscient (no, it is not synonymous with “librarian” not matter how hard I try), and I may be missing a few new editions of games, so if you feel like there’s something I’m overlooking, tell me!
==7th Sea Second Edition==
I’ve been both ranting and raving about 7th Sea Second Edition since the official word went out announcing the resurgence of the game. I’ve written about analyzing the differences between the two editions, wrote detailed reviews for every official publication from the new game line, and even went so far as to back the Khitai Kickstarter (after reviewing the Khitai Quickstart) just to continue seeing where this goes.
If you haven’t been paying attention, 7th Sea has been a bit of big news for gamers lately. The game went dormant in the early 2000s when AEG began to offer the dual-stat approach with books (they were moving to d20 over d10 but wanted to keep a foot in with the classic crowd), and then they just stopped everything without any real announcement on their websites. It just kind of vanished.
Jump to the end of 2015, and John Wick’s announcement that he got the rights to the game and will be making a Second Edition. Fans have been tinkering with the original mechanic and the setting for years, and once that announcement was made, the floodgates were opened and we all came out of the woodwork in support.
Now, in 2017, Wick has succeeded (but not as epically) at another 7th Sea-themed Kickstarter to fill out the rest of the map of the world, and now fans are sitting and waiting to see what is going to happen with this familiar-but-new world.
==Scion Second Edition==
Scion is a bit of an oddity on this list in some ways. The first round of the game came out in 2007 with Scion: Hero, with the final print release of the game line in 2009 (with later PDF releases as supplements). The game told the tale of half-divine heros born of a deity and a mortal that rises to their power over the course of various adventures.
The game is an oddity for a number of reasons, namely it is jokingly noted as a game of “White Wolf Does Percy Jackson” while also being “Modern Day Exalted.” It used mechanics and themes borrowed from both the World of Darkness and Exalted, and was a modified Storyteller system. It was an interesting game that had it’s faults, but still had a cult following.
Jump to 2016, and Onyx Path launches a rather successful Kickstarter to bring us a new edition of this game with a brand new “Storypath” mechanic (which you can find a sneak peek of in my review). We’ve been getting various snippets of the new rules and some of the setting information here and there from the Kickstarter page, and we fans are waiting with bated breath for the final draft to be released (hopefully) in 2018.
Cortex Prime is the first Cortex game we’ve seen since Firefly was launched in 2014. Unlike the previous versions of the game (all of which were based on a specific show or franchise, like Firefly, Marvel Comics, Supernatural, etc), this is more of a setting-neutral approach that gives you all the tools you need to make your own game or to run one of the settings that were funded with the successful Kickstarter.
In my sneak peek review of the Cortex Prime SRD, I’ve gone over some of the changes and cleanup that has been done with this game since it’s inception in 2005, and I have to say that I am excited to see what comes from this!
==The Princess Bride==
This is a bit of an outlier, but I have to say, it’s an interesting one.
The Princess Bride has never seen an official RPG release. Sure, we’ve seen a bunch of board games, card games, and games that have been reskinned for it, and we’ve also seen people remake it within other games, but we’ve never seen an official release.
Toy Vault, a company that usually makes board games, is taking their first foray into RPGs by releasing an officially licensed RPG for The Princess Bride.
Instead of making their own system, they tapped Steffan O’Sullivan, the creator of the Fudge RPG (which is the game that inspired Fate), to write up a version of Fudge with The Princess Bride in mind.
This may not sound like much, but you have to remember that we haven’t seen an RPG from O’Sullivan since the early 2000s, and it’s been about as long for a new Fudge game to be released (again, outside of Fate). Considering that Fudge has been in publication since 1992, and I believe the final version was published in 2004, this is really big news.
This is a real blast from the past, and I’m curious how this will turn out. We are still awaiting news about the Kickstarter at this time, and we’ve seen a few delays (October was the original ETA, shoved to November, with the newest update hoping for the end of the year; no dice yet), but I am hoping we’ll see something new soon.
This one is just easier to talk about as a company-based note, because there’s just so much coming from Ulisses Spiel that breaking it down game by game may be a bit too much.
As I have explained in a previous review, The Dark Eye had an English release of the 5th edition, the newest version of the RPG (and the first since FanPro released the 4th edition, the first one in English, in 2003; you can find my thoughts on the game here). They already have other Aventuria-based products in the pipe (even a card game!), so we will hopefully be seeing a continuation of the franchise, and I do hope that it will continue to get better.
Another franchise they are putting back on the market is Torg Eternity. Torg was originally published by West End Games in 1990 and covered the topic of infinite universes and a multiversal war. This new version will be bringing the game up to the modern age with new mechanics and new setting information, but details are a bit murky as the product hasn’t been released yet (but was successfully funded on Kickstarter).
Sadly, it’s a game I never got the chance to get into, so if I can get my hands on an old edition before this launches, you’ll see an analysis of the two.
Fading Suns is a game we haven’t seen in years either, which makes its announcement another outlier. Fading Suns was originally released in 1996, with the final publication being a revised edition of the GM guide in 2013 (and prior to that, a revised 2nd Edition in 2007). The game is a space opera with medieval themes and pulls inspiration from sources such as Dune, Hyperion, and even the Cthulhu Mythos. I regretfully never had a chance to try it in the past, but I am curious what this new edition will bring when Ulisses releases it.
Finally, they’ve also gotten the rights to release a new Warhammer 40,000 RPG, which they are calling Wrath and Glory.
There are two big bits of news with the Warhammer 40,000 franchise.
As previously mentioned, Ulisses Spiele will be releasing a new RPG called Wrath and Glory, in which you are playing on the other side of the Cicatrix Maledictum and fighting forces of Chaos. It looks like an interesting crossover idea, allowing multiple character types to work together (like Space Marines alongside Eldar or Tau) for the greater good. At least, that’s the theory behind things, so we may be way off the mark about what we’ll actually be playing when it comes out.
Information is still sparse (and limited to updates on their site/newsletter), but I am curious what will happen with it. From the design journals released so far, we’ll be seeing a relatively simple d6 mechanic that we’ve seen crop up frequently (stat+skill dice pool, 4-5 is a success, 6 is a critical/two successes) instead of the d% mechanic we saw with Warhammer Fantasy (prior to FFG’s acquisition of it) and previous Warhammer 40,000 games (including FFG’s line through 2012’s Only War). They are also implementing a “Tier” system to determine the general power scale involved (i.e. Inquisitors and Ork Boyz are Tier 1, while Space Marines and Eldar Warlocks are Tier 3).
FFG lost the rights to the game line and had to pull everything from their catalogues in February 2017, so while this is a rather fast turnaround, it is still an interesting one.
In a similar vein, WizKids has recently announced their partnership with Games Workshop to release a series of Warhammer 40,000 products. While a part of me is wary due to the hit-or-miss quality of WizKid games, there is a part of me that is rather excited at the possibility of seeing affordable options to minis for tabletop games. Not going to lie, the idea of seeing Battlefleet Gothic return, even if it’s in Attack Wing format, is appealing, and finding unique~ish minis I can use for a game without needing to buy an entire squad for $40+ (and then still need paints) feels like a godsend.
Ah, Warhammer Fantasy. This game has been making the rounds since the miniatures game took off in 1983, and the first RPG was released in 1986. The RPG is where I hold my interest, so we’ll focus on that.
The game has a bit of a rollercoaster going for it when you think about it. The first two editions of the game used a % system with a class system that many fans claim would be excellent to adapt for Final Fantasy Tactics, and the game fleshed out different parts of the setting over time.
Jump to the 3rd Edition from Fantasy Flight, who did a complete rewrite of the rules and even changed the setting to be a year before the Storm of Chaos instead of being after the storm as it was in previous editions. This game was also one of the (if not the) first RPG from FFG using their range of proprietary dice. There were some interesting elements like party sheets and shared resources, but most hardcore fans don’t like talking about this version of the game.
Then there was Zweihander, a crowd-funded spiritual successor to the Warhammer franchise that uses a new setting but combined the best elements of the previous editions of the game (even the third, from what I hear) into a new game. Zweihander is still a relatively new release, with the print copies only being released to the public (i.e. non-backers) this year. Thankfully, if you want to take a look at it and don’t want to pull the trigger on the $10 PDF, consider their Early Access PDF to take a glance and help make the decision (I’m still reading the official PDF, but my friends say “buy it” in any version needed).
Recently, Cubicle 7 and Games Workshop have announced a partnership in which Cubicle 7 will be releasing a new Warhammer Fantasy RPG, and will even be making an Age of Sigmar RPG as well.
There is nothing concrete about what mechanics will be used, but rumor has it that they will be pulling heavily from the 2nd edition of the game for this. I am hoping to find some answers to this somehow, and hope to finish reading the PDFs acquired via Humble Bundle in the near future so I am prepared for this so that I can give you all better details and comparisons.
When these were announced earlier this year, we were told the game was to be released this year. Sadly, the year is coming to an end and nothing is on their website regarding an official release date outside of “mid-2018.” Hopefully we’ll see something official (and in hand) in 2018!
I’ve written a bit about Star Trek a few times this year, including a complete review, but I feel it is still fitting to bring this up again.
Star Trek Adventures is the first Star Trek RPG we’ve seen in over a decade, the last being published by Decipher (with a final PDF publication in 2005). The first Star Trek RPG was technically Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier in 1978, but most RPG fans don’t talk about Star Trek RPGs until FASA released an official RPG in 1982. The franchise changed hands multiple times and inspired many spin-off RPGs with various mechanics (Prime Directive had multiple GURPS and d20 versions, for example).
Now, Modiphius brings us a new Star Trek game using their 2d20 mechanic, and I am not alone in saying that it is probably the best Star Trek RPG we have seen to date. I am hoping that we’ll see more adventures, splatbooks, and expansions to the game, as it is a worthwhile addition to any gamer’s shelf, especially after so many years of silence and so many different versions of the game.
Of all the games on this list, I think Fallout may be the weirdest one to try to quantify here. For those of you who are familiar with the history/rumors, the first Fallout game was originally supposed to be running GURPS behind the scenes as a way to handle random number generation and character stats, but it didn’t happen due to licensing issues. That is how the SPECIAL system was born.
Sadly, over the years, we’ve never seen an official Fallout RPG. We’ve seen a number of post-apocalyptic games that are clearly inspired by it (like Deadlands: Hell On Earth), we almost had an officially licensed game (which is why we have Exodus), and we’ve also seen a number of homebrew games for Fallout as players tried to reverse-engineer the mechanics seen in Fallout and, more specifically, Fallout Tactics.
This year, we’re not seeing an RPG, but we are seeing two games released that are not reskins of other games (like the Fallout Chess Set).
FFG is releasing a Fallout board game that is rather reminiscent of their board game Descent: players explore a board, advance their characters, and try to complete objectives. The big differences are the “no two games are alike” due to decks of cards for random elements as well as the lack of a “GM” to run the game. While it’s not an RPG, it looks like it’ll scratch that itch…or give you some minis for a game.
Modiphius is taking a slightly different approach with a minis-based game that plays more like a tactical game, but from the product pages, it looks like they will be offering campaigns and adventures to play through with the current rules/wargame. Various expansions are available to allow people to purchase specific figures of their choosing, but they get expensive very quickly, keeping me from doing a pre-order on it. (Sorry for anyone that wanted me to review it!)
Again, while not RPGs, there are some elements here that make it close to an RPG, and with the ever increasing love of the Fallout franchise, I can say that it’s about time.
==Legend of the Five Rings==
I have a bit of history with L5R. I was introduced to it in 2003 when a friend gifted a copy of the first edition to me due to my knowledge and interest in Japanese history and culture. I ran the game a few times and played on a few rare occasions, but never really pursued it beyond that. It was an interesting game, but it was known for it’s lethality which kept my interest a bit muted.
We have seen four editions of L5R over the years, with the first being released in 1997 and the most recent in 2010.
In 2015, Fantasy Flight Games got the rights to L5R, and is currently doing an open beta for the new, 5th Edition of the RPG (as well as relaunching the card game). I’ve done a quick writeup regarding the open beta rulebook last week, but it looks as though the mechanics will be taking some major leaps away from the previous versions (all d10 dice pools) by using what is becoming FFG’s trademark with proprietary dice while still using a Roll-and-Keep mechanic.
Still, I am curious how this will pan out, and wonder what changes will occur within the world. I will be watching and waiting for more news, but I’m debating on purchasing a copy on release.
Numenera has been a hot name for a few years now. In 2012, it broke all of the records for a tabletop RPG on Kickstarter (beaten by 7th Sea 2nd Edition). Monte Cook released a game set a billion years in the future after many societies have risen, fallen, and/or visited the planet. There’s magic, technology, and plenty of mysteries abound.
The game was the first Cypher System RPG, and because of its success, spawned other games using the mechanic as well as a Cypher System rulebook.
Monte Cook has recently completed another Kickstarter to fund Numenera 2, offering cleaner and clearer rules as well as expanded setting information over the first edition.
I have only recently gotten a copy of Cypher so I can understand Numenera’s core mechanic, but with all of the years of hearing about it (and a friend offering to run a one-shot so I can actually try it), I’m honestly looking forward to seeing what happens here.
==Vampire: The Masquerade==
Vampire: The Masquerade has been a forerunner of modern gothic horror since 1991 and has seen many changes over the years. These changes run from adding new offshoots (Werewolf, Mage, Changeling, etc), an End of the World (the “Time of Judgement” line), and then a whole reboot with Vampire: The Requiem with the New World of Darkness line (now Chronicles of Darkness).
Many fans exploded (or rather, entered into Frenzy) in the early 2000s when the game line ended and the new Requiem line was released. The rules changed a bit (not horribly drastically, but enough to be different and cause growing pains), but the biggest gripe was in the setting. All of the metaplot for the previous line was gone, left with a mystery as to the creation of vampires, new clans, and an overall much different feel than what the fans from the 90s were used to.
The game got a 20th Anniversary Edition (as well as the other major White Wolf game lines), which went back to the old mechanics and settings with some new updates (accounting for technology changes, no Time of Judgement, and new rules changes).
Recently, White Wolf announced that they were going to produce a new, fifth edition of Vampire: The Masquerade, by going back to their roots in many ways. The current Alpha Playtest document has been an interesting read, as mechanically the game heavily pulls from Masquerade for mechanics with a few nods to Requiem (Virtues/Vices), and some new elements tossed in: a more structured combat mechanic, new melee combat rules, entirely new health/healing rules, a “succeed at cost” mechanic, new bonus/penalty mechanics, and a random element to replace the old Blood Pool.
While the setting isn’t fully detailed yet, I am really curious how the game will fit in with the old editions, both with mechanics (which combine editions and add elements from newer games) and setting (what is kept, and what’s being replaced).
As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a plethora of games coming out (or are continuing to be produced) that pay homage to older games; this list is just a few of the bigger ones on my own radar. Some of these are bringing back old mechanics, some are going back to the basics, and others are taking bold steps away from the old and bringing back franchises that are well loved.
Will all of these succeed or surpass their previous versions? Only time will tell, but I will do my best to get these titles and do comparisons so you can find the game (and edition!) that works for you!
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