If you asked me a year ago what my Favorite Fantasy RPG was, the answer would have been completely different.
My two favorite ones were published by Green Ronin: Dragon Age and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. “If I were to play a fantasy RPG,” I had said a few times over the past few years, “it would probably be Dragon Age.” But I’d want to strip out Bioware’s setting and have my own generic game based on that. So did Green Ronin: They’ve been talking about making the Adventure Game Engine that powered Dragon Age into their own system since I first played it in 2010. It’s almost everything I want in a fantasy game, too! Dragon Age let you do some crazy heroic stuff with the stunt system, and it plays quickly. ((Especially compared to D&D 4th Edition and Pathfinder.)) Fantasy AGE finally came out at Gen Con 2015–personally, I think that having that be used as the game system on the Geek & Sundry RPG show, Titansgrave, spurred production on the new game.
However, 2015 was too late for me.
Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition, had come out the year before.
I had been turned off from fantasy RPGs and D&D in particular, as the rules wound up growing massiver and more unweildy. The sheer amount of product, year after year, from publishers using the Open Gaming License of D&D’s third edition and from Wizards of the Coast themselves, not only made it difficult to keep up with the lore and the rules and the options, but it also overwhelmed the hobby games market and community. It (D&D 3, D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, and D&D 4.0) were everywhere. I was burned out on fantasy settings. There were so many other indie games to try out, and games in other settings.
So, I was done.
Until I picked up the D&D 5th Edition Starter Set. Local store sells stuff at way under MSRP and lets you rack up points, which brings the price down even more, and I heard that D&D Next was supposed to be good, despite my initial misgivings with the overly-long crowdsourced playtest. The final product wasn’t as massive and unwieldy as anticipated. In fact… It played a lot like AD&D2, my D&D flavor of choice. But still: faster, smoother.
You know? It’s actually pretty good. It’s prettyâ€¦darn good. Surprisingly, after saying I was done with fantasy, I’m playing another fantasy game.
And it’s Dungeons & Dragons, of all things.