Zombie Murder Mystery

Top 5 RPG projects of the new millenium

Written by Expy - Published on October 16, 2008

#5 – Open Design

Kobolds are sexy!Wolfgang Baur runs this patron-commissioned project.  Patrons pay a small fee to have a professional writer and game designer develop a project.  The cool thing is that the patrons get a say in what’s being developped.  I foresee a bright future for this kind of work – it’s collaborative, it’s customized, it’s useful, and it’s affordable.

Learn more about and participate in Open Design:

Kobold Quarterly Forums (for the discussions on the next project)

The Free City (Wolfgang’s site)

#4 – Treasure Tables

TT is the pioneer of Game Mastering websites.  Martin Ralya – now of Gnome Stew fame – launched the site and wrote over 800 articles in a few years.  Colossal, and very useful work.

Go to Treasure Tables and spend the rest of the day reading now!

My Treasure Tables Favorites:

#3 – Obsidian Portal

I write about Obsidian Portal so often you’d think they pay me!  They don’t, I swear.  Actually I’m the one sending money their way – their campaign wiki service is free, but I chose to subscribe to their premium service.

In my opinion a wiki – especially one built for RPG campaigns – is the best way to keep DM game notes organized and share an adventure log.

Campaign Wikis from Obsidian Portal – http://www.obsidianportal.com

#2 – AvatarArt

You will not find a better character sketch and drawing service.  Even better, you will not find a cheaper price either.

AvatarArt has delivered again and again for me.  Here is some art they worked on for me:

Eladrin FighterExpy Ennies Winner

Commission your own artwork – starting at $25 or less I believe

#1 – D&D Insider

D&D Insider is the home of Dungeon Magazine, Dragon Magazine, and all the online tools built by WOTC for Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition.  D&D Insider was free while Wizards put the finishing touches on their online projects, but it has recently become available only through a monthly subsription.

Why does D&D Insider make the top 5?  Because I was given a private tour of the character builder, character vizualiser, and the virtual game table – I think they are going to be great tools that will appeal to a lot of RPG entusiasts.

What do you think?

Which RPG project is the most fun or ground-breaking to you?


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Written by Expy

Meet Expy The Red Dragon

Expy is the mascot for DungeonMastering.com and the real mastermind behind Expy Games. He likes to hoard treasure, terrorize neighbors, burn down villages, and tell white dragon jokes..

No matter how fearful the legends claim dragons are, they always end up being defeated in 5 rounds by adventuring parties they encounter. That’s what dragons are – experience points for the heroes in your Dungeons & Dragon party. And this mascot is no different, hence the name Expy.

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12 Responses to “Top 5 RPG projects of the new millenium”

Zombie Murder Mystery
  1. Tommi Says:

    Levi Kornelsen’s Amagi games. It is not even a contest, really.

  2. kaeosdad Says:

    hm, didn’t that guy (levi kornelson) have a game design forum awhile back? Anyways, it’s a pretty rad site! I’m definitely looking forward to the Dungeons and Dragons Insider tools. Mainly for the character builders and visualizer. Plus I’ve been enjoying the pdf mags they’ve been coming out with, lots of useful stuff.

  3. Jonathan Says:

    #5 and #1 should switch places if we are considering them “groundbreaking”. Wolfgang Baur’s Open Design concept simple blows away the rest of the others.

  4. Bartoneus Says:

    Doesn’t DDI’s character visualizer greatly infringe on AvatarArt’s market?

  5. Lomerell Says:

    It’s great that you got to tour DDI tools, but as a potential paying customer, what I see so far is:

    You can’t buy software EVER for eternal use, you have to pay a monthly subscription, AND they are already charging said subscription even though the FIRST tool isn’t ready for use.

    And that first tool is not the most innovative or groundbreaking — such as the game table — NOR the most inspiring way of bringing characters to life for those who love RP but can’t draw stick figures…

    No, the tool we anxiously await the release of (some subscribers already paying, so far for articles of two magazines you can’t get print copies of, unless you absorb the print costs yourself) is the single most redudant: The character builder. The one thing ANYONE who plays D&D 4E can already do.

    …and it’s still not ready yet.

    Early in DDI’s promotions I would have agreed it was innovative and could change the way the game is played, but tons of delays accompanied by hidden if not outright misinformation have soured me on the project a great deal.

    That said I still plan to subscribe, but I don’t see me getting much out of it for awhile to come. So the first months I’m sure will be a waste of money.

  6. steve Says:

    I go with #5 , moving to #1

    I know that Chatty Stuidio (The Chatty DM) and my own company have already adopted this because its just that cool.

    As for #1 WotC should have bought Fantasy Grounds, they are already doing this and doin it better and have been doing it longer! Heck thier in house design has been using it for mock ups, and then thier brilliant marketing department used it as an add (the C&D followed quickly).

    Don’t even get me started on Canceling two profitable print magazine because A. hasbro told all thier companies they need a stronger web presence, and B. Paizo was now being precieved as competition.

    So Put Fanatsy Grounds at #5 and Open Design at #1

  7. Yax Says:


    I don’t think the character vizualizer will ever get the same results as custom artwork. I would be surprized if AvatarArt lost clients because of the character vizualizer.


    I knew I’d stir up some controversy by putting D&DI first! :P But I’ll stick by my gun. Maybe the groundbreakingedness (new word) is that the digital game table will become mainstream for the first time, even though other tools like it already exist.

  8. Bartoneus Says:

    I have to stand by Yax, I may not have put DDI as #1 but we saw the same (or a very similar) preview of all the tools at GenCon and we were extremely impressed. Both Dave and I went in with negative expectations but what we saw was extremely positive, and the tools look like they can accomplish a lot of what players will be looking for in the tools.

  9. Levi Kornelsen Says:

    I’d agree that Wolfgang Bauer deserves a much better rating on that list. He’s taken the concept of patronage to entirely new heights.

    (I also appreciate the comment-love, but I’m not worried about Amagi hitting anyone’s “Top Anything”; Amagi is too weird and fluid to be pinned down into a clean enough category for listing.)

  10. Micah Says:

    Only #3? Obsidian Portal has altered the RPG cyber-landscape for all eternity!!!

    No, just kidding. We’re quite happy to be anywhere in the top 1000. There is so much great RPG stuff going on right now, both online and offline, that to even be noticed is quite an honor.

    Here’s to hoping that all the energy and enthusiasm out there will be enough to draw the younger generation away from their railroady MMORPGs and back to the gaming table where we all belong!

    Again, thanks for the mention!

  11. AvatarArt Says:

    Only #2 ?! Actually, we’re a bit embarrassed to be listed ahead of so many great projects. Everyone knows lists are subjective, & Yax ranked this one partly to create some discussion, but I’d have been happy just being on the list itself. Ranking-wise, we’ve been as high as #36 on the RPG Gateway Top 100 (currently #45) for example. Regarding the other projects:

    We’ve done work for Wolfgang Baur before (Lyeflesh Zombie) & know how ingenious he is.
    I go to Treasure Tables all the time. Its absolutely indispensable.
    OP is a genuine staple if you’re running a campaign or great if playing in an OP-hosted one.

    And the DDI? Bartoneus is right to the extent that when I first heard about DDI, I got really, really nervous. After seeing it, I’m actually happy, as I hope it will open more players to the benefit of having a character portrait. The difference between us being that DDI pieces are fast food, while a custom character commission is a gourmet meal. They’ll both fill your belly, but ours is one you’ll talk about & be truly happy having experienced.

    AvatarArt started out with myself & 1 artist yet have grown to add a web designer (the ever caffeinated Justin Mason) plus several other soon-to-be-included staff, some of which aren’t even artists. We have various Levels of detail for your piece, provide Character Insurance, & do further portraits at 50% off. If that wasn’t enough, us drawing your imagination can help support both DungeonMastering.com or Obsidian Portal. So that’s us in a blurb.

  12. Michael Harrison Says:

    I’m glad to see Obsidian Portal on this list. We use it for our game and I couldn’t imagine keeping my game world in order without its easy-to-use campaign wiki.

    As for DDI, I’m also a little skeptical. I really wish Wizards would’ve waited until the software was a little more fully-featured before charging for the whole thing. I mean, you get digital subscriptions to both Dragon and Dungeon, which is a really good deal for the price, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the “I” in DDI. I’ll probably buy a membership anyway, but I’m hoping the extra cashflow will fan the flames under their developers butts and get that stuff released, even in beta, sooner.

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