Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gaming In 1991: Top RPGs

One of the things I enjoy most in the 1991 RPG history and encyclopedia Heroic Worlds (see here for my original article) are the top game recommendations author Lawrence Schick gave for a wide selection of RPG genres. Here are a few of the lists from that book--take a look and see if you think his picks have stood up over time. There are definitely some, well, interesting picks:

Top 5 Comic-Book Superheroes Systems:
1. Champions
2. DC Heroes
3. Marvel Super Heroes
4. GURPS Wild Cards
5. Superheroes

Top 5 Espionage Systems
1. James Bond 007
2. Top Secret/S.I.
3. Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes
4. Danger International
5. GURPS: The Prisoner

Top Arthurian Fantasy
1. Pendragon

Top Sword & Sorcery Fantasy
1. AD&D 2e
2. RuneQuest
3. Ars Magica
4. Dungeons & Dragons
5. Stormbringer
6. Middle-earth Role Playing
7. Warhammer Fantasy
8. Fantasy HERO
9. Harnmaster
10. Talislanta

Top Ten Fantasy Worlds
1. Glorantha
2. Middle-earth
3. Tekumel
4. Forgotten Realms
5. Harn
6. Known World/Hollow World
7. Talislanta
8. The Old World (Warhammer)
9. The Hyborian World
10. Greyhawk

Top Ten Fantasy Cities
1. Lankhmar
2. Sanctuary
3. Waterdeep
4. Minas Tirith
5. Middenheim
6. Pavis
7. Carse
8. City of Greyhawk
9. Free City of Haven
10. City-State of the Invincible Overlord

Top Horror System
1. Call of Cthulhu

Top Five Humor Systems
1. Paranoia
2. Toon
3. Ghostbusters
4. Bullwinkle and Rocky
5. Teenagers from Outer Space

(One top Horror system and 5 top Humor ones? Really?)

Top Five Science Fantasy Systems
1. Shadowrun
2. Torg
3. SkyRealms of Jorune
4. Space: 1889
5. Hawkmoon

Top Five Science Fiction: Space Adventure System
1. Traveller (MegaTraveller)
2. Star Wars
3. 2300 AD
4. GURPS Space
5. Space Master

Top Mystery/Crime System
1. Gangbusters

Top Three Universal Systems
2. HERO System
3. Basic RolePlaying

There are plenty of more rankings for a number of other genres and sub-genres, but those are some of the lists that stuck out. And yeah, there were some I didn't know, either.


Hammer said...

Wait, wait, wait...there is a GURPS book for the Prisoner?
That excites me far too much.

I'm not sure the list has stood up to time well. I've never heard of about a quarter of the titles and only heard some of them spoken about with reverence, having been out of print for years.

Surprised Greyhawk was so far down the list of worlds, but I suppose it was probably getting pretty old for people by 91 (or maybe I just like it too much).

Samuel Van Der Wall said...

Talislanta and TORG! Two great games that are a blast from the past. Nice list. I had a great time thinking about some of the older games that I used to play long ago.

thanuir said...

Ars Magica as sword and sorcery fantasy? A strange classification, I must admit.

jerm said...

I belatedly nominate FUDGE for top universal systems.

Zachary The First said...

@Hammer: I tend to agree. I was glad to see Greyhawk make the cut, meaningless as it is.

@thanuir: No doubt, there are some odd classifications. That’s one I wanted to comment on, but waited for someone else to do it. They lump an awful lot under Sword n’ Sorcery.

@Samuel: Talislanta and Torg both have a dedicated fanbase still, though it is much, much diminished, I suppose.

@jerm: Maybe if they ever make an updated Heroic Worlds? :)

Jeff Rients said...

Wait, wait, wait...there is a GURPS book for the Prisoner?
That excites me far too much

I have it and I friggin' love it.

Mark said...

Very interesting. I'm surprised that Chill is not listed in the "Horror" category, and that Star Frontiers is not mentioned under any of the sci-fi categories. Or was that already out of print by 1991?

stu said...

no cp2020 or even cp2013?? :( me sad

thanuir said...


The sword & sorcery seems to stand for fairly generic fantasy.

Personally my inclination would be to look at Pendragon and Ars Magica in the same context; fairly historical fantasy.

Zachary The First said...

thanuir: I'd agree with you on both those games.

Scott said...

I've played 22 of those and recommend 12 of them...

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