This is Audio EXP for the 19th of December 2020, and the title of this episode is ‘RPG stats from 2020’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #75]
We started last week’s Audio EXP with two stats Geek Native had got from D&D Beyond.
We discovered that the most popular character name was Bob but that Cleric and Monk also made the top five.
We also found out that the most popular D&D race to play was Human, followed by Half-Elf and Dragonborn.
There. That’s the recap.
There are three more sets of D&D Beyond stats to go through and then six bestseller charts from DriveThruRPG. We will do that first and then touch on the week’s news.
Let’s talk about character classes. Now, perhaps we have a spoiler situation given that Cleric and Monk are in the five most popular names.
We’ll find out as I go through the five most popular character classes in D&D Beyond in reverse order.
In fifth place; Paladin.
Makes sense; a bit of fight, a bit of heal.
In forth place; Wizard.
You know; fireballs.
In third place; Barbarian.
In second place: Rogue.
In the first place; Fighter.
That’s right; neither Cleric nor Monk make the top five.
It also means the most stereotypical D&D character we can generate from stats is a human fighter called Bob.
We can go a bit deeper and get into subclasses as well. Once again, here’s the top five and in reverse order.
In fifth place: The Hexblade.
In fourth place: Champion.
In third place: Life Domain.
In second place: The Fiend.
And in the first place: Draconic Bloodline.
Interesting, isn’t it? The most popular subclasses in D&D Beyond don’t map nicely onto the most popular classes. There’s an overlap but it’s not a huge one.
I imagine this means that some classes are not as popular because, in part, some of their subclasses arent’ very tempting. That reduces the number of people who might play them while concentrating those who do on fewer subclasses.
Now, there’s one more slice of data from D&D Beyond that might help illuminate some of this growing mystery. I also asked what the most common D&D party composition was.
The most common party in D&D Beyond is made up of three players. So, matching that, the stats I have are for three-player parties. Here’s the top five and, once again, in reverse order.
In fifth place are parties made up of a druid, a paladin and a rogue.
In fourth place are groups with a fighter, a paladin and a rogue.
In third place are groups made up of a barbarian, a cleric and a rogue.
In second place are parties with a cleric, a fighter and a wizard.
What do you think the winning combination is?
In first place are groups with a cleric, a fighter and a rogue.
Lots of fighters, which our previous stats agree with, rogues, barbarians, wizards and paladins. However, we see cleric all over the place. So perhaps party composition is a factor too. Once they have a cleric; groups are more likely to add fighters or wizards, rather than another cleric.
That extra fighter is probably a human called Bob, too.
What do you think of that theory? Let me know if you’ve got an idea.
The next stat drop comes from another powerhouse of the hobby; DriveThruRPG. It’s not all about D&D, in fact, we start off by looking at fantasy RPGs that aren’t D&D.
The full top tens are on the site, you can find the link in the show notes to the transcript or hit up Google for Geek Native.
In fifth place; The Halls of Arden Vul Complete by Expeditious Retreat Press.
In fourth place; Flying Circus by Newstand Press.
In third place; Legend of the Five Rings: Path of Waves by Edge Studio.
At the start of the year, Fantasy Flight Games was publishing Legend of the Five Rings as a tabletop RPG, but by the end of the year, it was Edge. Why? Fantasy Flight has been trimmed by owner Asmodee who moved roleplaying games to a different studio.
In the second place; Ironsworn: Delve by Shawn Tomkin.
So, although I said this wasn’t a D&D list…
In the first place: Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e by Arcanist Press.
That’s a supplement that proposes an alternative way to handle D&D races. It upset some people who feared the RPG police might take their old books away. Nonsense, of course, and while it’s not perfect; I do think the rules offered by Ancestry & Culture are more flexible than core 5e and can help make more interesting characters.
The next genre we’re going to look at is horror. Buckle up!
In fifth place is Blaster Volume 1 by Blaster.
Now, this is anthology collection and some of the adventures reasonably qualify as horror.
In fourth place; Dissident Whispers by Tuesday Knight Games.
It’s good to see Dissident Whispers here. It’s another anthology, and it was a charity effort. Tuesday Knight Games publish the horror sci-fi Mothership.
In third place; The Chicago Folios for Vampire: the Masquerade 5th edition by Onyx Path Publishing.
In the second place; Geist: The Sin-Easters 2nd edition by Onyx Path Publishing.
And in the first place; Chicago by Night for Vampire: the Masquerade by Onyx Path Publishing.
In fact, Onyx Path Publishing gets three more titles into the top ten.
After horror we went to modern RPGs. By modern, I mean a contemporary setting. If the game is set in a world that looks like ours except vampires are real, then it’s a modern game.
That’s a fateful definition, I know, so let’s find out whether we’re in for a repeat of the horror charts.
In fifth place, we have Kamigakari: God Hunters by Serpent Sea Games.
That’s not an Onyx Path horror, already a change. God Hunters is an anime-inspired tabletop RPG.
In fourth place: The Chicago Folios by Onyx Path Publishing.
In third place: Geist: The Sin-Eaters by Onyx Path Publishing.
In the second place, we have Chicago by Night by Onyx Path Publishing.
Yep, that means a non-horror took the top spot.
In the first place, we have Ultramodern5 REDUX by Dias Ex Machine Games.
Great to see an indie and Geek Native RPG Publisher Spotlight winner do so well.
After modern, we moved on to a genre a bit easier to define, and that was sci-fi.
Usual story; we’ll do the top five and in reverse order.
In fifth place, it’s the Klingon Core Rulebook for Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius.
In fourth place, it’s Dissident Whispers by Tuesday Knight Games.
In third place, it’s Secrets of the Crucible by Edge.
That’s the KeyForge RPG that uses the Genesys system developed by Fantasy Flight.
In second place; Ultramodern5 REDUX by Dias Ex Machine Games.
It’s looking increasingly possible that we can jigsaw these league tables together and work out the overall bestseller, but I haven’t done that, and DriveThruRPG didn’t provide that data.
I’m sure you’ve guessed what the most popular sci-fi RPG of the year was.
In first place; it’s Cyberpunk RED by R. Talsorian Games.
Would you have predicted that Cyberpunk RED has had better critical acclaim than Cyberpunk 2077?
The news this week is that Sony is refunding PlayStation 4 orders on Cyberpunk 2077 as the game isn’t really playable and CD Projekt RED’s founders have lost a billion dollars.
I’m playing, just a little bit, on the Stadia and the game is fine. I’m about two hours in and without a single glitch although I’ve crashed the car about ten times.
There are two more DriveThruRPG bestseller charts to cover, so let’s tackle those before we return to the news.
After sci-fi, Geek Native wrote up the best-selling historical RPGs. Once again there’s some definition wriggle on this but as a starting point if the game is set on Earth, even if monsters are real, and in the past then it’s a historical game. A game set in the 20th century is historical too.
That gives us a top five that looks like this;
In fifth place; Kids on Brooms by Hunters Entertainment.
In fourth place; Deadlands: The Weird West by Pinnacle Entertainment.
In third place: Aquelarre by Nocturnal Media.
I hope that, therefore, is a case of better late than never for the games’ patient Kickstarter. Sadly, Stewart Wieck passed away before he could fulfil this RPG, but friends and family stepped into the breach.
In second place: Vaesen – Nordic Horror from Free League Publishing.
I suspect Vaesen or Deadlands would have been people’s picks for first place. As you can hear, though, that’s not the case. So the two likely contenders are One Seven and Evil Hat’s Agon or the alternative Roman empire of Lex Arcana.
As it happens, in the first place is Wolves of God: Adventures in Dark Ages England by Sine Nomine Publishing.
Agon and Lex Arcana both make the top ten, just not the top 5.
Lastly, DriveThruRPG and Geek Native looked at family games.
In this instance, the word family is used to mean “suitable for kids but hopefully interesting to adults too”. Something is unsettling me with that shorthand, but this probably isn’t the place to unpick that.
In fifth place; Harper’s Tale: A Forest Adventure Path for 5e by Saturday Morning Scenarios.
In fourth place; Tiny Taverns by Gallant Knight Games.
In third place; Pirates of Pugmire by Onyx Path Publishing.
In the second place; Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: The Adventure Game by River Horse.
That means, in the first place, is Kids on Brooms by Hunters Entertainment.
How many of those bestsellers do you have?
I think it’s fair to note that there other places other than DriveThruRPG where you can buy RPGs. My PDF copy of Ultra Violet Grasslands was bought from Exalted Funeral who this week celebrated 20,000 orders. Itch.io had a great year.
Kickstarter, of course, is where creators like Philip Reed and Morrus’ EN Publishing do most of their business.
However, I still think these charts have their purpose as they help show which games picked up word of mouth recommendations and either captured the attention of browsers or were sought out for purchase after the drama of a Kickstarter campaign.
Of course, Geek Native’s 2020 RPG stats didn’t dominate the RPG news this week. There are other stories outside those and even outside Cyberpunk.
Star Trek and Wonder Woman actor Chris Pine is believed to have signed on to do the D&D movie.
As a reminder, that movie is being directed by the Spider-man Homecoming writers and being made, in part, by eOne the company Hasbro spent millions on.
I cite the arrival of a D&D movie as a reason why D&D 6 might not be around the corner.
What the D&D movie could do is introduce a character like Vecna, treat him a bit like Thanos – collecting parts of the lich god rather than Infinity Gems – and get people hyped for Vecna campaigns for years to come.
I’m not sure they will.
John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein seem determined to do something different with D&D. They’ve used the word “subversive” to describe it.
I’m concerned, but maybe they’re right. Look at the money, care and attention spent on the Warcraft movie. That wasn’t a knock-out success, was it?
While Cyberpunk’s struggles and Chris Pine got plenty of attention. In an email, River Horse quietly announced they would follow on the Labyrinth Adventure Game with a Dark Crystal Adventure Game.
It’s going to be written by Jack Caeser, of River Horse, and Janet Forbes who co-founded World Anvil. It’ll follow a similar model to Labyrinth in that it’ll look great and they’re even talking about transparent pages. It’ll have its own light-weight system and then a large adventure that you can use the book’s rules, or any RPG you like, for.
The Labyrinth Adventure Game, we now know, was DriveThruRPG’s second most popular family RPG of the year.
Also popular this year was anime. Netflix announced that in 2020 Americans watched twice as much anime than ever before.
Disney’s noticed as included in their legion of new Star Wars shows is Star Wars: Visions which will be a collection of anime.
Disney is planning a lot over the next few years, and it’s perhaps tempting to be cynical about it; they’re really milking a winning formula at the risk of burn out. I’ll take it as a plus, though. I’m old enough to remember when geeky content was super rare. I won’t grumble that that’s changed.
What I did grumble about was the structure of the RPG categories in the re-arranged Origins Awards. Well, it turns out I wasn’t the only one. Publishers raised concerns too, and to GAMA’s credit, they had a rethink.
The RPG parts of the Origins Awards have been redone and make a lot more sense.
They’ve dropped genre entirely. Now the categories are;
- Role Playing Games – Core Rule Set
- Role Playing Games – Supplement
- Role Playing Games – Adventures
Two things to cover before we close up. Firstly, Humble Bundle has a Discover Image Comics deal. If you’re looking at a lonely holiday season, or lots of travel and free time, due to the lockdown, then I think it’s especially tempting.
There’s nearly $1,500 worth of downloads available, and the top tier is £18.74. Please note, I just mixed currencies there, but that’s the Humble Bundle experience if you’re in the UK. I think £18.74 is about $25.
Lastly, Thought Police Interactive feature in the RPG Publisher Spotlight this month.
What a friendly company. We talked about Gobble, Gobble, Gobble a game about uplifted Turkeys, other weird games, that time a police helicopter was sent out in response to them and their fundrasier to help a developer out.
Worth checking out if you have time and are feeling generous.
And let’s wrap it there, keep safe, stay out of melee range and see you next week.
Thoughts? Can you contribute to this article? Share your insight in the comments below.