“The Nerdies” are the end-of-year awards from Nerds on Earth. They are only awarded to the most excellent of things, and are selected by Nerds on Earth writers and editors, with input from readers via our social media.
Our category today is “Best RPG MOMENT,” which is an odd little category, we admit. What defines a “moment” and how do you measure the significance of it? Well, it’s slippery but RPGs are too much fun not to try. Besides, the popularity of old school pen and paper RPGs are exploding through the roof, driven in part by new school delivery technologies. So, we narrowed it down to four before opening the vote to determine the winner of the Best RPG Moment of 2018.
2018 Nerdie Award for Best RPG Moment
The Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica opens a whole new world for Dungeons and Dragons players by offering fresh and exciting choices straight from the Multiverse! By bridging the gap between two of their most prominent intellectual properties, Wizards of the Coast is marrying a pair of cultures that go together like clerics and healing. Like barbarians and rage. Like wizards and coasts.
Not only does the Ravica sourcebook expose D&D to the sprawling expanse of planes in Magic lore, but it also signals the commitment to continue investing and growing both hobbies. – Abram
2 Starfinder’s Success
There is a business school phrase that is too often overlooked in the world of roleplaying games and that’s a “network effect.” Basically, this is the principle that says the more attention something gets the more support it can be given which in turn drives more attention. It’s a virtuous cycle that rarely works in gaming, being that getting a bunch of schedules to coincide requires a 9th level Wish spell. (That’s why if an Indy RPG is even mentioned at all, it is typically not in terms of actually playing it, but in terms of borrowing ideas from it.)
But that’s why the release of Starfinder was such a good moment. Paizo is so wonderful at bringing products to market with full organized play support, ready-to-play adventures, and accessories that drive a network effect that gets gamers excited. Mechanically, Starfinder is pretty gritty and unpolished. But it has a fantastic and evocative setting that draws in players that are just itching to adventure there. Basically, by creating an ecosystem around Starfinder, Paizo was able to establish a space-based RPG that held high and steady on the sales charts, which was great for gamers in 2018. – Clave
3 Matt Colville’s Kickstarter
This year has had some incredible moments for the RPG community. Critical Role developed a new season, more and more shows launched (and some died) on Twitch but this is also the year that it is nearly impossible to ignore the impact of Kickstarter on gaming.
To me, the biggest case of that can be shown in the Kickstarter that Matt Colville did. Colville had slowly been building an audience with free content that he was giving away on his YouTube channel. As Colville discussed D&D and running campaigns, that audience grew and grew to the point where he announced that he was going to do a Kickstarter around the idea of strongholds and followers, it did pretty well. To the tune of over $2 million.
Ever since, watching Kickstarter gives you a glimpse into the future of gaming, as companies use it as a platform to do R&D budgets, independent creators launch new things and the gap between creator and consumer gets lessened. – Jaws
But the Nerdie Award winner for the BEST RPG MOMENT of 2018 is…
The Pathfinder Playtest
Paizo Publishing released the Pathfinder roleplaying game in 2008. It was an evolution of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, with Paizo taking the beloved 3.5 system and improving it to create their own new game. Now, ten years later, they have released the Playtest for the second edition of Pathfinder, with the goal of reinventing their system as they once did with D&D 3.5.
To facilitate this test Paizo released the Pathfinder Playtest Core Rulebook free to the public. It contained a new system designed to streamline character creation and combat while increasing options for both players and game masters. All of the classic Pathfinder elements are still there, including
race ancestry options, various class features, archetypes, and more.
The playtest started in August 2018 and runs through the end of the year. It has involved the participation of tens of thousands in the Pathfinder community who have filled out survey after survey to thoroughly test every element of the next evolution of Pathfinder by playing a seven-part adventure called Doomsday Dawn, a decade spanning story that allowed players to revisit locations from previous Pathfinder adventures while stress-testing the new rules.
After ten years, a new edition of Pathfinder has indeed been a huge and overdue moment for the RPG community. For this reason, the Pathfinder Playtest wins the 2018 Nerdie Award for Best RPG Moment. – Rick