So enters the new decade, beginning with the year 1990. As a side note, I just clicked on RPG.net’s ‘Core Rules’ listing and came back with 2193 results. Looks like I have a job ahead of me. I’ve made it through the top 500 on the list. That does not count other core rules that I have stumbled upon randomly while looking into publishing companies. That being said; this decade starts and maintains through the half-way point. During the later part of the decade, the micropublishers kick in, and the industry begins to expand.
The concept of “Generative” has its roots around this time period. The term ‘Generative’ means: games produced before ‘The Fall’ that occurred in the late 1980’s through the early 2000’s. They may still exist, usually in a (much) older edition.
On the digital front, 1990 would see the release of Crystalis for the NES as well as Golden Axe Warrior for the Sega Master System. These games featured Zelda-like game play blended with genuine RPG elements, such as experience points, statistics-based equipment, and a magic-casting system.
OK. On to the RPG's!!!
Hear that rumbling in the distance? Yep, that’s Wizards of the Coast opening their doors this year for the very first time. More on that later...
Ravenloft gothic horror campaign setting by TSR. This introduces ‘dark power checks’ to a characters unethical actions during the game play. Also released this year is the Hollow World Campaign Set, based upon TSR’s Known World / Mystara campaign world setting.
Hero 4 by Hero Games / ICE. Although the changes were being introduced in the previous year, the core rule set was published in 1990. Lord of the Rings Adventure Game also by ICE using a unique system
Dark Space using I.C.E.’s Rolemaster and Space Master rules. Authored by Monte Cook, this setting combined Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror genres into a space of 20 worlds.
Torg is published by West End Games, creating a cinematic world where the player’s Storm Knights battle invasions of Earth from other-worldly beings from several different dimensional ‘cosmos’. As a side note, the TORG name stands for “The Other Roleplaying Game”, as the creators were unable to find anything better to call it.
Cyberpunk 2020 RPG using the Interlock System and published by R. Talsorian Games.
Blacksand! Using the Advanced Fighting Fantasy system, published by Puffin Books. This is a setting book of the pirate haven of Port Blacksand in Allansia. New magics and skills are introduced.
GURPS Space in using GURPS 3 by SJG.
King Arthur Pendragon by Chaosium. The third of eight editions. Knights Adventurous also by Chaosium expanded the Pendragon RPG.
Cadillac’s & Dinosaurs, by GDW. It is 450 years after the cataclysm of 2020AD. Now the Earth is populated by creatures from ALL the past geological eras, including humanity.
Stormbringer by Chaosium. Elric’s world returns in its fourth edition.
WarpWorld is published by BTRC. Part of the TimeLords and SpaceTime RPGs, this game takes place in 2312, after the nuclear war of 2012.
Boot Hill by TSR. Draw!
Gear Antique is a steampunk RPG published by F.E.A.R. This RPG is an anime inspired pseudo-Earth world set in the 19th century. The game is unique in its ‘life-path charts’ (giving a character’s story from birth to the grave). In this game, there are also magic, monsters, and ancient civilizations to deal with.
Rifts RPG from Palladium Books. Many a game shelf will creak and groan under the sheer tonnage of books that will come from this overpowered d20 game system.
MechWarrior RPG second edition by FASA Corp.
Battlelords of the 23rd Century is published in its 1st and 2nd editions this year. It will undergo yearly edition updates until its 5th edition in 1993. It is published by Optimus Design Systems. It is set in the year 2279 and is something of a space opera with 12 races to choose from.
SSDC, Inc opens its doors in
. Rochester, New York
GMT Games opens its doors in
. It’s catalogue will reach over
500 titles in the next five years. California
Pagan Publishing opens its doors.
Phage Press opens its doors.
The CORPS (Complete Omniversal Role Playing System) is created in 1990, and published by
in 1995. Blacksburg
CCG’s enter the market, with the advent of Peter Adkison’s The Primal Order. To publish this, Adkison created Wizards of the Coast. A suit from Palladium Books resulted in Wizards acquiring Talislanta.