Back in 1998 I stumbled upon Fuzion, an universal roleplaying game which was available for free on the internet. This was – at least for me – something new and unexpected. Back in the day, roleplaying games were mostly available in print and not in digital formats. And giving away games for free wasn’t that common back in the day. In a way, Fuzion was ahead of its time in more than one aspect.
Fuzion was created in collaboration between R. Talsorian Games and Hero Games. It combined elements of the Interlock System and the Hero system, but many people claim that it combined the worst elements of both. I have to admit, I am no expert in either system and I liked a lot what Fuzion had to offer.
Fuzion had support for various genres and power levels. Like in games like GURPS the number of character points used to build character’s stats determined the power level of the campaign. The system was also build in a modular way, so you could easily add rules for vehicles, magic etc. using plugins. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s a lot of people all over the internet wrote plugins or variant rules for Fuzion and shared them freely. I actually expected Fuzion to become the next big thing, but that never happened.
I am not sure if the OGL for D&D in 2000 was to blame, or if it was because of the rather lackluster support of the game system. R. Talsorian Games released a couple of games using the system (mainly licensed anime RPGs), but aside from that the support was pretty limited. But I also think that Fuzion was ahead of its time. The core rules were mainly distributed online in a time when most people haven’t even heard of the internet. In addition to that universal systems always have a hard time.
By the way, if you are interested in checking out what Fuzion has to offer, there’s an illustrated version available for $3 at DriveThruRPG. Free material can be found on Christian Conkle’s Tranzfuzion site.
What are your thoughts on the Fuzion system? Was it ahead of its time? Or did it deserve to die a quick death? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Reports of my unfortunate demise are highly exaggerated. Aside from being pretty tired all the time I am actually quite fine. On Monday I returned to the office after being signed off work for about half a year. For the first two weeks I’ll work only 4 hours a day, but it’s still pretty tiring. I am not used to getting up early anymore and even those four hours feel like an eternity. Getting back into work is definitely more taxing than I anticipated. Luckily my coworkers have and even my superiors are pretty supportive, so hopefully I’ll get back into the routine in no time.
After work I join my mother when she walks her dogs. My physician actually recommended I should start nordic walking or a similar sports, but for the moment going for extended walks is a good start. For a while I was actually thinking about getting a dog for myself, but I guess my cat would not really like the idea. I have to admit that my endurance is pretty bad at the moment, that’s why I feel pretty exhausted and tired in the evenings. This is also the reason why I haven’t been writing much recently. I also noticed that the university I’m working for is offering archery courses for students and employees. If they still offer these next semester, I might actually sign up.
Last weekend I finished running “The Beale of Boregal” for my Numenera group. Alas I hadn’t prepared any further adventures since I didn’t expect the group to finish the adventure that fast. But we used the remaining evening to talk about gaming in general and Numenera in particular. I think I will try to slowly turn the campaign into a sandbox game. I feel that Numenera should support this style pretty well. I am still glad I decided to give this game a try. The setting is just awesome – you can basically do whatever comes to mind – and the rules are extremely easy to learn and use. I even overcame my hesitance to use GM intrusions.
By the way, Verena and I went to the movies recently. We went to see “Guardians of the Galaxy” which a local cinema showed in its original (non-dubbed) version. I have to admit I haven’t read any Guardians comics before but from the teasers and trailers I was pretty sure we would enjoy the movie. And indeed, we both had a blast. The movie was exciting, funny, and the 3D effects were pretty decent. If you haven’t watched it yet, you definitely should do so.
I think this will be the last update on my personal life for a while. Next time we’ll get back to our regular program.
A while ago, ICv2 has released the results of their 2013 hobby survey results. According to them the gamer market has reached around $700 million at retail in the US and Canada. Surprisingly the RPG market makes up only about $15 million. I am not surprised that CCGs, boardgames and cardgames make much more than RPGs but $15 million sounds a bit low to me. But there might be several reasons why their study came up with this number.
From what I understand “retail” means brick-and-mortar stores and doesn’t cover online sales made by publishers directly, venues like DriveThruRPG, Amazon, et cetera (Please correct me, if I am wrong). If that’s the case, $15 million might only be the tip of the iceberg. In my vicinity brick-and-mortar stores selling RPGs have all but vanished over the last years and what I hear from my online friends in the US things are not looking much better over there. So a lot of gamers have to rely on other ways to get their hands on their roleplaying stuff than going to their local gaming store.
In addition to that I know a lot of gamers who don’t buy printed books anymore but solely rely on PDFs which they can display on their tablet PCs or notebooks. And there are huge amounts of RPG products – especially by small-press publishers – which aren’t even available in print, and are probably not counted in ICv2’s survey. Hopefully someone from the industry can tell us more about the sales made in the RPG scene and if $15 millions sounds plausible or not.
The other surprising fact revealed by ICv2 was that D&D didn’t make it on the Top 5 RPGs list this spring. Again you have to take this with a grain of salt, since I believe that they just have a rather limited perspective on the whole market. The most sold game in Spring 2014 was (no surprise there) Pathfinder, followed by Star Wars by FFG, Shadowrun, Evil Hat’s Fate Core and Monte Cook’s Numenera. So D&D sold less than Numenera in Spring 2014.
But is it really so surprising? After some thought I realized that this makes a lot of sense. By then everone knew that D&D 4th Edition was dead. If I am not mistaken no new products have been released in 2014 and D&D 5th Edition was already pretty close, even though the Starter Set hasn’t been out at this point. So there’s not much sense to run into the stores and buy stuff for a game that will not be supported anymore. On the other hand people are still actively playing all the games on the list and – more importantly – talking about them. I’m actually pretty sure that D&D will make a reappearance in the Summer or Fall Top 5 RPGs lists.
So what are your thoughts on ICv2’s surveys? Am I right with my definition of “retail”? Please share your comments below!