Whats Hot in Indie TTRPGs 2021 - Trends

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the trend im most excited about is the continued  growth of the fkr movement now this is a school of design that draws inspiration from free creek  spiel which is sort of a precursor to the first rpgs aside from anything else its really great to  see a movement drawing inspiration from early rpg design without clinging to a specific system or  genre expectation it has a lot of familiar design touchstones such as rulings not rules and fiction  first but the more interesting to me is the idea of play worlds not rules which acts as a bit of  a wake-up call to those of us who sometimes get more fixated on specific rule sets rather than  making an interesting world to explore i know ive been there and the movement still feels very  new but im really excited to see where it goes i really like the fact that more and more games  are taking you know existing engines and twisting them and departing from them rather radically so  um brindlewood bay uses powered by the apocalypse but really goes far um out in the left field using  that um to to to you know make the meaning that it wants to make because i really believe that you  know game systems are a way to communicate meaning and so by doing that kind of thing by by making  your own system by by twisting into some distance a lot youre making something unique and  interesting i think this year the space has been dominated by three often intertwining trends  these being imagine nostalgia hauntology and hope more games while being set in fictional places  work to invoke a nostalgic feeling for both the space and the items within it even if that isnt a  space the reader could have could have experienced from pastoral adventures to digital spaces  so many games are building off nostalgia for places that didnt exist but feel like  they could almost like theyre pulled from daydreams evoking the never true present and  forgotten futures often found in hauntology however while these things are nostalgic theyre  not perfect in fact most of these settings focus on the bad things in these spaces and ask the  player to overcome them something thats different to most wantology which heavily romanticizes these  forgotten futures a trend of tabletop role-playing games ive noticed this year is supplements and  how theyre handled by the original games creators several games ive noticed this year have  released several licenses that allow people to explore and create their own supplements for  the game and importantly profit off of them some of these licenses are extremely formal  like the beam saber supply drops or your recent licenses released for lasers and feelings while  others are more informal such as riley ruthels encouragement of designers to create their  own playbooks for galactic second edition you can see this is enough of a trend that it  is creating some controversy itself as bully pulpit released a fiasco license for creating  playbooks but importantly neglected the ability for creators to profit from those playbooks after  some pushback theyve since modified their license so as far as trends go its been fascinating  seeing the development of the online play space with this weve already seen things like carrot  keepers but this time seeing demos of games delivered entirely via carrot keepers such as  mikey hams slug blaster turbo which was amazing and all delivered through the character keeper  so i was able to direct my players tab by tab through everything they needed to see um  as well as that we also have uh will jobs games which feel like they could only be done  online uh without im talking open world which uses a street view and online jukebox to  take everyone on a road trip which was a really lovely time with people that i  couldnt be physically in the same space as um even games like alices missing which uses roll  20 um one of the older online vtts by nav thats um that was a really fascinating emotional  experience all delivered via a phone and roll 20 for the decks so id be interested to see even  if people are meeting up more in person these days how that develops and how it changes game design  a trend ive noticed this year is an upswell of emergent mystery games these are very much my cup  of tea like my own game lovecraft desk they create a mystery organically without anyone knowing  where its going unlike lovecraftdesk they use a gm examples that ive gmd include brindlewood bay  by jason cordova where you play grannies solving murders and apocalypse keys by jamila arnajardi  where you play monsters trying to avert armageddon jamming a mystery where you have no idea of  the solution takes a little getting used to but it is a lot of fun and crucially for me it  enables me to do it with no prep at all both games come with lots of scenarios that supply pity  clues you can drop in making it even easier to run them right now in pbta i think were seeing two  major trends the first is adaptations of pieces of media for example movies or tv shows that capture  the imagination of a specific games designer this is an ongoing trend and reflective of the media  popular in pop culture at any given point in time the second trend that were currently seeing in  pbta is games touching on themes of identity and self-exploration and that seems to be like a trend  overall that ive seen this year with indie rpgs you know its they excel when theyre trying to  do the very specific emulation of certain things i think of like you said spencer campbells  nova eric jensens lumber lands which is like a pacific northwest lumberjack fantasy version  of d d or any osr game or you have star fan scribbles uh see this game takes place entirely  at a mega mall parking lot or my girlfriend has turned into a car we have to escape this city  theyre very very specific very hyper focused and the rules can be made to support the exact  kind of story the authors trying to tell and thats where indie rpgs who dont have a big  studio behind them can be that flexible and driven and uh focused i think more than a big  company would have to be because these things are passion projects and thats where  this hobby and this industry really really shines hi im logan hear him pronounce im a queer aussie  trans tabletop game designer and one trend ive noticed in the indie tabletop space in 2021 is a  continuation of cooperative marketing so that is coordinated efforts to spread the word about indie  tabletop games that other people have written and theres two examples that i can think of  off the top of my head the first is hype swap so hype swap was started by john east and myself and  hypeswap was a modestly successful twitter hashtag for which two indie tabletop game designers would  swap their games and then write a twitter thread each hyping up the game that theyd read  so they didnt have to play it necessarily um but just read it and share their thoughts it  began with john and myself stopping our games but soon many other folks joined in which was really  awesome the hype swappers had the choice of buying each others games taking a community copy or  swapping download keys and whatever each designer needed was provided with no questions asked and it  was a real focus around positivity um and sharing things that we liked rather than critique um just  to get the the word out that the indie games exist and that theyre really great and it was a joy to  see um indie tabletop games getting spread more um and getting more visibility and showing in all  their diversity and strength uh a second example is sidequest so sidequest is organized by mark  strux and is the indie answer to zen quest held throughout november similar to zenquest sidewest  is a month of indie zines of all shapes and sizes anything from adventures and supplements to  zine anthologies and full table top systems unlike scene quest sidequest allows creators to  crowdfund on any site so it could be kickstarter but it could also be edge.io or anything  else and another difference is in the support so for zenquest it can kind of be like the draw  as to which project kickstarter decides to make one of their favorites and to advertise more  widely and that can leave some projects to go unseen for sidequests though all the creators  kept in in contact and we agreed to spread the word of everyones projects altogether uh using  the the idea that a rising tide floats all ships and it was really wonderful to see  to feel that support of the group and at the time of this video ninety percent of  submitted cycle side quest projects have been funded and were really close to hitting 100 as  well and within that statistic the funded projects have reached anywhere from 101 just getting funded  to a thousand percent funded so thats pretty wild and both of these initiatives really show that  there is positive positivity and support in the indie scene then we can spread it around if  we make organized decisions to do so so thank you everyone for participating uh in the indie  scene and sharing the love and along with indy hello my name is nem ginty i am a games  designer and project manager at sandy pug games 2021 has seen a rapid shift in how many are  viewing the fundamental relationship creators have with their labor and especially the  fruits of that labor weve seen a rise in co-ops this year a business model where the  creators share ownership of the ips they create as well as the profits they make as well as  sharing the profits from sales more and more people are founding their working relationships  with an eye toward community and toward developing deeper connections to the artists around them  and their co-workers and colleagues in the scene you see groups like far horizon possum creek  cardboard revolutions and my own sandipog games proving ourselves time and time again against  even more established traditional publishers more and more people are examining how they make  games and how they sell that labor and asking what exactly these larger publishers  have to offer them that they cant find together in solidarity you have heaps of people  like michael lombardi creating support structures like funding alternatives and tools to better  facilitate these models its only really thanks to this shift in how we view labor and how we view  our community the projects like our shawls and latin breakout can come together where youre  seeing international mutual aid and community kicking down barriers that have denied huge  swaps of the world the resources they deserve and the spotlight they need to create incredible  works of art and get paid fairly for it not to mention the promotional value in having  their work on somewhere like kickstarter all this without the usual exploitation one  expects from antiquated top-down working models and the most exciting thing is this isnt  something purely resigned to the indie space you can see shifts of this influence  in some of this years biggest news with paizos union bringing these issues right to  manstreams doorstep and carrying with it a huge win for labor rights in our art form i think a lot  of this is down to the material conditions that we face as times are getting harder and things are  getting tighter youre seeing more and more people pull together and support one each other lift  each other up and continue to find ways to create incredible and innovative new things new art  you see these memes floating around about how much work the average artist has to do  for their work to be a viable source of income they have to be their own social media manager  editor web designer marketer financial manager writer tax accountant designer their own art  studio their own publishing liaison their own printing expert its unsustainable and weve  known it for years especially now though in a time when all of us are already hustling as hard  as we can with a co-op you share that lord and you have each others backs i think thats beautiful  im excited to see what comes next for houston i know this is just the start of something great  im looking forward to that future where are fairer less exploitative less cruel and more  accountable system of doing things is the norm hello friends and enemies as no doubt youve  learned by now my name is sean smith and thats he and him and i am a magician a games designer  plus author uh particularly you might know me from my work such as xuvier um or smithia sacrilege  quarrel and fable etc basically if it makes you unsettled and it looks remarkably familiar  to books that were released before i was born i may have been behind it so today im here to  talk to you about my favorite thing in india rpgs this year and that thing is the fkr or  the free creed spiel revolution or revival or role playing or that same innate manner of  nobody know really knowing what the r means in any three-letter acronym and essentially im going  to tell you three things about it first thing about it is like what it is secondly is like how  it works and third years like why its exciting and what it means that you can do so essentially  in the absolute basic sense fkr is like extreme gm fiat so you have a table that really trusts the  situation thats going on and rather than having very specific mechanics for things the gm the  referee whoever is actually running the game tends to essentially run the plot in their head and  understand almost the entirety of how it really would work within the world within the fiction  that youre kind of discussing and exploring and so you almost you can either like do this  very much as a like as a strong immersive thing where people just explain what it is theyre  doing or you can kind of do it as very much as an open statement of this is likely to  be the result of this heres whats going on theres theres a subset called like matrix  games that are very much about this sort of um back and forth this discussion between them  so essentially rather than having a stat for how good you are jumping at the beginning  youve explained the sort of character you are and then the referee can consider your experiences  and your expertise and your preparation to whether or not you can make this jump or something so  thats what it is now its history the name kind of goes back to creekville which is a very  specific type of war gaming and essentially back in the day in order to train their military  officers the prussian army would set up big war games now as any war gamers amongst you will  realize the more complexity you add the wider the rule books get and like a lot of people today the  russian officers just didnt really want to read the rule books so essentially what they settled  upon was just having a more experienced general in the environment like acting as an umpire  and declaring what the actual outcome would be and essentially its taking that same  concept the free crease will play and applying it to roleplay now why is it fun any  single book any single film any text that you love you now have enough of that in your head  to actually be able to run an entire world and an entire game with and i find that so  exciting which is why i absolutely love it

The RPG Pipeline: Whats Hot in Indie TTRPGs 2021 - Trends - Game Development