Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Count 'Em

Somebody has counted the number of games of each RPG booked in to be played at Gen Con this year.

Normally I couldn't give a flea-sized shit about what goes on at Gen Con, and we should be wary of sample bias - people who go to Gen Con are by definition among the strangest and silliest people on earth - but I found some of these results interesting. For instance:

  • AD&D (1st edition) is the second most popular variant of D&D after 4E, with 3.5 and 2nd edition some way behind. 2nd edition is the least popular by a considerable distance - which is not altogether surprising, if regrettable in my eyes. Of the other games, HERO seems quite popular, along with Savage Worlds (depressingly).
  • Indie RPGs are even less popular than I would have expected, with only 20 games being played in total, as opposed to 97 of Shadowrun and 98 of Call of Cthulu alone. Given the prevalence of one-shot-based games within the 'Indie' community, I find this especially surprising: you would have thought such throwaway systems would be perfect for convention play.
  • Rolemaster is now so unfashionable that there appears to be no sign of it at the convention at all. Thankfully, it seems White Wolf games are seeing a long-awaited decline in popularity, though this is off-set by a strong LARP showing. (There will be nearly 8000 people LARPing at Gen Con, a figure which staggers me from numerous directions. How do these people even tie their own shoelaces, let along get it together enough to make their way to Indianapolis?)
  • There is a bit of a showing for the OSR, but not much.

Gen Con is not a representative sample, but food for thought, nonetheless.


  1. I believe the Indie games will be seeing lots of play at Games on Demand (

  2. I'm intrigued now. Why the dislike for Savage Worlds?

  3. More of an informal thing?

  4. Scarecrow: Nothing philosophical. I just find it incredibly bland. It's a problem with most generic systems, I know, but for some reason I've never been able to forgive it in Savage Worlds.

  5. Fair enough. I'm only asking because I can't make my mind up about it and I'm always interested when I come across the (seemingly) rare person that doesn't like it.
    To my mind it's essentially the WEG D6 system with the 40K combat system nailed inelegantly on top and then sprinkled with a millionty houserules. It feels like someone's cludgy, ham-fisted homebrew system - but in spite of all this, it still seems to work quite well.

  6. come play on G+ with us. please please please

  7. Scarecrow: Some games just 'feel' wrong to me. It's the same with d20 modern. There's nothing I can put my finger on. They just don't engage me. So I recognise it's entirely a matter of personal preference!

    Zak S: What's going on on G+?

  8. @noisms

    last week we started playing games via G+ free multiperson videochat. People like it.

    Endless details:

  9. Why is it that Zak pops up on the few blogs I enjoy?

    He is a very pretty small boy, with tattoos and dangerous hair, determined to splatter DnD about the place with hip techno schemes and random breasted whatnots. Hip hip hurray for LA and Zak who is an artist don't you know? i won't hear a bad word said about him. Zak is amazing and I admire him to bits.

  10. Pathfinder: 251. The original post included it - why didn't you?

    The vast majority of 1st ed. games are Tower of Gygax slots. It's a nostalgia/charity event, but fun is fun, right?

    And as for LARPing...those are potential participants. Very few of those events will come anywhere close to their official capacity.

    I'd be very surprised if Gen Con LLC released a breakdown of who really did what after the fact - too much potential embarrassment for various companies.

  11. Matthew: Is Pathfinder D&D? I lost track.

  12. Pathfinder is Paizo's continuation of 3.5 via the OGL, so i guess you can think of it as 3.5.4. (They're on their 4th printing - it's pretty popular.) They even have their own version of the RPGA - the Pathfinder Society.

  13. You can also do this with Obsidian Portal (I think), which is a kind of wiki software for GMs. You can see the number of each type of rule system being run on it. Again, not representative, but interesting.

    Even though I enjoyed playing it when I was much younger, I can't say I shed many tears at the demise of Rolemaster. It's beautiful, but an abomination nonetheless.