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Author Topic: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?  (Read 3036 times)

weirdguy564

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What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« on: June 26, 2022, 08:47:02 PM »
I know some may say that Pathfinder is that game, but Pathfinder is D&D.  If your game is six ability scores, and armor class, you’re just D&D.  Even RPG Pundit’s own Lion and Dragon, or Star Adventurer are still D&D derived rules.

I’m talking about a game that has rules different enough to be its own thing. 

To me the Palladium series of RPGs was that game.  It was my system growing up, and I still love it.  My brother and I still have all our books, which is a stack that’s a few feet tall.  Rifts alone fills two milk crates. 

But, maybe now it’s Savage Worlds?   
« Last Edit: June 26, 2022, 11:59:23 PM by weirdguy564 »
Saying D&D is the best RPG is like saying Bud Lite is the best beer.  Maybe we shouldn't equate "popular" with "good"?

David Johansen

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2022, 10:30:44 PM »
If we're talking about being able to overtake D&D in the modern marketplace or out compete it as a traditional fantasy rpg.  I suppose Modiphius has something 2d20 flavoured that might fit the bill.  Cubicle 7's The One Ring certainly has some popularity and production values.

Looking for the number one spot in the market without being fantasy specifically, Star Wars usually does well as long as FFG can iron out their production issues.  Warhammer 40k is always there and maybe the Age of Sigmar rpg.

Historically I'd say Rolemaster in the eighties had a pretty strong license in Middle Earth and a much better system than Palladium.  (okay that's naked trolling, I'll admit it) Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay certainly go a boost from the bland and acceptable to people who don't buy our products D&D 2e.

In the nineties White Wolf was hitting it pretty hard and Ars Magica or Vampire Dark Ages might have been a candidate.  Of course, in the nineties, Magic The Gathering was the real and literal D&D killer.

In the naughties, I think there was a huge opportunity when fourth edition D&D crashed and burned.  Pathfinder managed to capitalize on it by being the previous edition of D&D but I think something like GURPS Dungeon Fantasy might have done very well both when 4e came out and when WotC ditched it as even the scraps of D&D are huge for other companies.
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HappyDaze

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2022, 11:48:26 PM »
Star Wars usually does well as long as FFG can iron out their production issues.
FFG doesn't do RPGs anymore. Star Wars is now in the hands of Edge. They might evetually put something new out, but for now, they are just churning out reprints. To be fair, that's better than FFG could handle towards the end.

Shawn Driscoll

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2022, 12:08:34 AM »
Maybe if World of Warcraft came out with a coffee table RPG book that didn't use D&D rules?

Neoplatonist1

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2022, 12:12:51 AM »
In Japan, it's already there.

Quote
In Japan, [Call of Cthulhu] is immensely popular - so much so that whereas 'roleplaying game' is synonymous with Dungeons and Dragons in many other countries, in Japan roleplaying = Call of Cthulhu,” Chaosium tweeted in July 2019.

weirdguy564

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2022, 12:38:13 AM »
5E D&D may be the 500lb gorilla, and always has been, but I’m probably the odd man out around here.

You see, I’ve never played D&D.  I’m 46.  I started gaming when I was 13.  My gateway game was BattleTech, then we bought the Palladium RoboTech RPG because they shared artwork.  The next step was to actually play RoboTech, which replaced BattleTech.  Then I knew the game rules and branched out to the other Palladium games, mainly Rifts, Palladium Fantasy, and Heroes Unlimited.  I own so many Palladium books it’s crazy. 

After a long hiatus, I’m back into RPGs again, but now I’m in love with something new.  I crave rules lite games with tight and clever rules.  Any little RPG that can do more with less is where it’s at for me. 

Pocket Fantasy, Dungeons and Delvers Dice Pool Edition, Tiny D6 series, Mini-6 Bare Bones Edition, and Star Adventurer.  I’ll give a bit about each. 

1.  Pocket Fantasy.  It’s free, and it’s as rules lite as you can go.  One-page RPGs don’t work.  PF does work. 
2.  Dungeons and Delvers Dice Pool Edition.  It’s like Savage Worlds, but fixed. Attributes and skills are dice, starting at D4 going up to D12.  Roll your attribute, your skill, and any additional power dice, but then you pick the best two dice to add together.  Fighters and other classes are just as kitted out with abilities as any other mage class.  Just don’t mix it up with Dungeons and Delvers Red, which is more like other OSR games that use the D20.
3.  Tiny D6 is easy to play.  It’s also a very fleshed out series that has lot of genre specific games.  Like Palladium, you learn one game, but can then play most genres.  It even has my favorite.  Mecha. 
4.   Mini-6 Bare Bones Edition.  This was the game I thought was great, but now I know to temper my expectations.  It needs house rules to fix some things, but thankfully I believe I’ve got that all figure out.  I may make a thread just about that.
5.  Star Adventurer.  I want to play Star Wars.  I tried D6, and mini-6, but as I said, they need work.  Remember when I said I’ve never played D&D games?  Star Adventurer might be my ticket.  It doesn’t use Vancian magic, which I detest, and it may not emphasize hit points as you level up.  We shall see, but I like what I see.  Maybe I found a D&D game worth playing?

I just want games that are popular and easy to learn.  So, that’s why I’m asking this question.  What are the games or game systems that are so good they could rival the top dog?
« Last Edit: June 27, 2022, 01:10:46 AM by weirdguy564 »
Saying D&D is the best RPG is like saying Bud Lite is the best beer.  Maybe we shouldn't equate "popular" with "good"?

oggsmash

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2022, 01:00:43 AM »
  I like Savage Worlds.  I think they are actually pulling off things I never thought I would see (Savage Rifts, and now the team up with Pathfinder)but....  I think a lot of their momentum has come from kick starter and the funding that provides to launch things with minimal risk.   Pathfinder might have been the "killer" for a few years while 4e was around, but 5e seems to have permanently killed PF as any real contestant.  Now...should the PF + SW fusion really take off...no, still not going to come close to the shelf space, sales, and general participation of D&D 5e.

   Now that said, it is looking as if Wizards is pushing towards a 6e....I do not know where the minds  are on development or what that is going to look like, but these are the people who decided 4e was a good idea, so they can screw up.   I think at this point the only killer for D&D is the next edition.  5e is a winner, big time for them.  They could screw the pooch with 6e, but the only way they step off the top spot will be from a self inflicted wound. 

Pat

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2022, 02:09:36 AM »
Historically, the closest was Vampire: The Masquerade. It captured the zeitgeist of the 90s, and created an entirely new audience -- goths (including girls) not just geeks.

Steven Mitchell

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2022, 08:09:31 AM »
The closest thing to a D&D killer has always been the owner of the D&D IP.  It's happened twice already (tail of 2E and the 3.5 through 4E cycle) with two different owners.  If early indications are accurate, and the game matches what has happened to cable companies and the wicked mouse of the west, WotC may slowly drive off half their audience with 6E.  My guess is that it will take almost the entire cycle of 6E to see the outcome. 

Now, that doesn't really "kill" D&D.  History shows that when the owner has their collective heads up their asses, that frees up about half the remaining market (not counting casual drop-ins for the D&D "experience" that will just as easily drop right back out).  But that other half won't likely be one company.  Instead, you are more likely to see several decent games grab closer to 5% than the sub 1% they have now.  One or two of them might take off enough to go over 10%, and will seem like D&D killers just from the hype. 

I might be underestimating WotC though. They might commit corporate suicide.

David Johansen

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2022, 09:25:52 AM »
I just want games that are popular and easy to learn.  So, that’s why I’m asking this question.  What are the games or game systems that are so good they could rival the top dog?

Ah!  Now there's a clear question!

Okay so games that are so good they could rival the top dog?

GURPS could, Dungeon Fantasy is too complex for the job but GURPS can be dialed way down from there.

The Fantasy Trip could but it's awfully similar to dialed down GURPS for some reason. ;)

Advance Heroquest could.  GW's done some new Warhammer Quest games but they lack the scope.

The Arcane Confabulation could but the author's a dithering nitwit.
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tenbones

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2022, 10:17:47 AM »
  I like Savage Worlds.  I think they are actually pulling off things I never thought I would see (Savage Rifts, and now the team up with Pathfinder)but....  I think a lot of their momentum has come from kick starter and the funding that provides to launch things with minimal risk.   Pathfinder might have been the "killer" for a few years while 4e was around, but 5e seems to have permanently killed PF as any real contestant.  Now...should the PF + SW fusion really take off...no, still not going to come close to the shelf space, sales, and general participation of D&D 5e.

   Now that said, it is looking as if Wizards is pushing towards a 6e....I do not know where the minds  are on development or what that is going to look like, but these are the people who decided 4e was a good idea, so they can screw up.   I think at this point the only killer for D&D is the next edition.  5e is a winner, big time for them.  They could screw the pooch with 6e, but the only way they step off the top spot will be from a self inflicted wound.

Stipulated - there is no D&D-killer except WotC themselves. And 5e will not die, even after 6e drops. Too many people glommed onto 5e that will become the 5e Nerdzerkers that kick off the new Edition Wars that will find some hair to pick with 6e and so the cycle will continue.

This is the genius of Savage Worlds - it has no direct ties to DnD regardless of the edition in play. I predicted this years ago when I first got into Savage Worlds (I'm latercomer and got in during Deluxe edition), but 2-minutes into my first Deadlands game it struck me that mechanically this system would make for some high-octane DnD fantasy. While their original Fantasy Companion was mediocre - they certainly had settings that really took ownership of the fantasy genre. Beasts and Barbarians is *stellar* (so is Hellfrost). But the issue was neither of these settings were "traditional DnD fantasy". And as such Savage Worlds was going to be hard sell to DnD players (new system? new setting? pass!).

But when Savage Rifts happened that was a shocker. It showcased what the Savage Worlds system could really do without effectively changing itself - it brought established systems (and their fanbases) to Savage Worlds. Then of course Savage Pathfinder... I can tell it's been a sea-change for Savage Worlds. MOST of the Discord and forums are flooded with DnD players new to Savage Worlds because finally they had a good excuse to check out Savage Worlds with a setting they were familiar with.

And we all know the truth - if you can run Pathfinder... you're effectively squarely running DnD. I just wrapped up my first year-long Savage Forgotten Realms game, and it was a highly modified 5e AP (Storm King's Thunder - mixed with End Times from WHFRP heh), and it ran beautifully.

Will it kill DnD? Absolutely not. But what it will do is continue to grow. The reception has been rock-solid and positive. At this rate the entire catalog of 1e Pathfinder is on the table, and Rifts books galore are all there for the printing. This will fund the continued growth of the system and new settings (as well as 3rd party products) that will solidify Savage Worlds and see them become a larger player in the TTRPG world.

6e will only help them. But kill DnD? Nah.

« Last Edit: June 28, 2022, 11:27:59 AM by tenbones »

bromides

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2022, 02:00:25 PM »
DnD will always be the monster, as said. I couldn't stand it after 3e/3.5e, which turned me off so badly that I can't possibly look at DnD again without nausea. There's a reason why people LOVE DnD, but I can't stand the new stuff to the point it hurts to look at it. It's like an intense feeling of betrayal, it's so visceral. I can't fucking stand it, but that's on me. DnD is, and always will be, the ultimate gateway drug into the universe of tabletop RPGs.

Popular and Easy to Learn...

FREE LEAGUE has been hitting it out of the park with their Year Zero engine, IMO, adapting it to old school (Twilight 2000 4e) and newer games alike. Is it overly complex? No, although Twilight 2k is very crunchy due to its old school/wargame lineage.

IMO, the ALIEN RPG is maybe one of the finest adaptations of a license, and even with the Cepheus/Hostile (Traveler 2d6 system) being great at the same head space, ALIEN is such a tight experience that it's a shame not to recommend that one. It's not going to be uber popular compared to the likes of DnD, but everyone knows FREE LEAGUE is quality stuff and will have at least heard of what's going on. Their boxed starter sets are borderline perfection when it comes to starters, and the books are beautiful. They're just amongst the best in the business right now in terms of quality - both in terms of production and game content.

ALIEN is just plain tight. Twilight 2000 has a lot of shit to track, while ALIEN is so much more refined. I can't wait for the Space Truckers book & the Colonists book to flesh out those modes of play (like the Colonial Marines Ops manual), and the next cinematic scenario should be very good at a minimum. (I find both Chariot of the Gods & Destroyer of Worlds to be quite good, though not perfect.)

(FREE LEAGUE's The One Ring, which is an adaptation/update of the 1e TOR rules, is also one of the finest licensed products you will ever read. It's the perfect distillation of the Tolkien experience this side of the Burning Wheel, which is indecipherable to many people... so you'd have to look at The One Ring for a Tolkien-style game that you can pick up and play, but it's a much more niche audience than DnD.)

Modiphius & 2d20 is also up there, but I find their books to be a little difficult to read. Star Trek was really difficult, anyway, and that should have been a home run due to the license. The DUNE RPG is incredibly easier to read, but the lack of practical examples of the structure of play really hurts this one... and boils it all down to the usual/traditional, "Go to Arrakis, do dumb stuff, kill things & take their stuff" DUNE campaign. I think they have a winning system, but it's hampered by their inability to get out of their own way with it. Too much woke, too many conflicting ideas, not enough clarity in what I've seen.

Apocalypse engine/PbtA is pretty popular as well, although it is a minefield of wokeness. Games like "Masks" and "Dungeon World" are really high up there. The KULT 4e reboot is not as woke by far... it's horror/strangeness, almost like a TOOL album in game format, I think. The system is not very hard, but KULT is a harder interpretation of PbtA to hang onto unless you are disciplined about what goes onto the character sheets (so you don't have to flip through the book). You really need to master the flow of it and have a high trust environment with the players to deliver the "TOOL album in game format", however. PbtA games are a high wire act at the best of times, and at the worst of times? Can be aimless and insipid.

Mishihari

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2022, 06:08:08 PM »
Historically, the closest was Vampire: The Masquerade. It captured the zeitgeist of the 90s, and created an entirely new audience -- goths (including girls) not just geeks.

Yeah, this.  You beat me to it.  Probably a lesson to be learned here.  If you want a shot at surpassing D&D, choose a genre and market that's newly popular and not well served by current RPGs and hit that.  Maybe an Avatar/Pandora game launched when the next movie comes out...
« Last Edit: June 27, 2022, 06:12:38 PM by Mishihari »

Omega

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2022, 06:17:10 PM »
Short answer is...

There is no such thing.

One persons "Better than D&D!!!!!" is someone elses "Worse than Dirt!"

For some gurps is that game. For others its Tunnels & Trolls, for others its Cyberpunk2020, Or Shadowrun, or Iron Claw, or freaking Fatal. And sor the next player any or all are dirt.

Also which D&D? Because for example I prefer BX and AD&D over 2e, and was blase about 3e and just baffled by 4e. 5e I like but its got issues.
Same for me with Gamma World. I prefer 2e, was unimpressed with 3 &4e, Alternity GW was baffling and 4eD&D GW is mess. But at least does 4e as an actual RPG more than a board game.


Jaeger

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Re: What game is closest to being a “D&D killer”?
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2022, 06:49:37 PM »
...
Stipulated - there is no D&D-killer except WotC themselves. And 5e will not die, even after 6e drops. Too many people glommed onto 5e that will become the 5e Nerdzerkers that kick off the new Edition Wars that will find some hair to pick with 6e and so the cycle will continue.
...

The closest thing to a D&D killer has always been the owner of the D&D IP.  It's happened twice already (tail of 2E and the 3.5 through 4E cycle) with two different owners.  If early indications are accurate, and the game matches what has happened to cable companies and the wicked mouse of the west, WotC may slowly drive off half their audience with 6E.  My guess is that it will take almost the entire cycle of 6E to see the outcome. 


^These^

WotC has to kill D&D. The network advantage D&D has is too massive now for a game to overtake it without some serious own-goals.

Being an objectively better game doesn't matter at this point. You need to stay profitable enough, long enough, and WotC acting incompetent enough, long enough, for your games network effect to build to the point that it would be worth the miniscule effort it would take for a D&D player to look at your game system.

Nothing short of WotC pulling a Marvel/DC Comics style self-immolation will do for any other game to have a prayer.

Brand loyalty in RPG land is just that strong.


Historically, the closest was Vampire: The Masquerade. It captured the zeitgeist of the 90s, and created an entirely new audience -- goths (including girls) not just geeks.

It's hard to fault this at first glance. But in 20/20 hindsight, it was doomed to fall short because in my opinion WW didn't really understand their market. i.e. Lots of different RPG player besides emo goth kids bought and played Vampire/WoD...

WW nuked themselves with their own metaplot nonsense (along with other issues). And failed to leverage a sufficient amount of their player base to continue building on their initial player network effect on with new editions.

They failed to understand the underlying reasons why Vampire/WoD was so successful, and have been confused ever since why they cannot even come close to that success in subsequent editions.

They rejected the trenchcoat and katana casual players to their complete detriment....


That being said for any game to truly "beat" D&D; it would have to be a medieval fantasy game.


I know some may say that Pathfinder is that game, but Pathfinder is D&D.  If your game is six ability scores, and armor class, you’re just D&D.  Even RPG Pundit’s own Lion and Dragon, or Star Adventurer are still D&D derived rules.


Any game that takes on D&D will have to be sufficiently close to D&D's core mode of play that system differences will largely be a matter of six of one, a half dozen of the other. The differences will have to be mostly thematic.

The key is building upon D&D's traditional mode of play, and consistently delivering a quality adventure game to players looking for an acceptable alternative while WotC is in the middle of screwing the pooch with their current edition of D&D.

It is worth noting though that until WotC literally created their own competition with Pathfinder - no other game company made anything resembling a serious attempt to compete with D&D in the fantasy RPG market.

Until the rise of the clone, every other fantasy RPG was outright deficient in system, setting, or support; oftentimes all three. Never putting themselves in a position to gather up a sufficient amount of D&D castoff's to build up a meaningful network effect if TSR/Wotc ever screwed the pooch...

D&D is not only big due to its first mover status (which is #1 huge), but it was also helped along by having no real competition of any kind since its inception. (until the whole 4e fiasco)...
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