Essential early 90s RPGs (non WOD)

Teyrnon

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2017
Messages
291
Reaction score
367
Now that I think about it, AD&D's Planescape was very much a setting that has 1990s all over it and with its emphasis on factions was definitely a reaction to early WoD.
 

Jerry

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
45
Wow, the 90s were a whirlwind of great games.
I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton of them. I marked some with an asterisk denoting that those got a ton of play
  • Brave New World
  • Cybergeneration
  • Cyberpunk 2020*
  • Dark Champion
  • Darksun*
  • DC Heroes*
  • Elric!*
  • Fading Suns
  • Fantasy Hero
  • Feng Shui
  • Gamma World 4ed
  • GURPS 3ed
  • In Nomine*
  • Mekton
  • Pendragon
  • Star Wars Revised and Expanded*
  • Street Fighter
  • Talsilanta*
  • Waste World
 

Trippy

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
1,231
Reaction score
1,785
Bill Bridges is working on a new edition. Man I loved that setting, but the rules set was awful.

I think Bill Bridges (Werewolf developer) was one of the original writers, along with another WW developer, Andrew Greenburg (Vampire developer). The WW influence is palpable, as is the WH40K setting to a degree. I have a theory that it was written about the same time White Wolf were generally looking at developing a sci-fi setting. Mark Rein Hagen was writing Exile, but they eventually released Aeon/Trinity. My feeling is that Fading Suns was possibly also mooted as a scifi idea for White Wolf by the two developers, but they went with other options. Could be wrong though.
 

3rik

invidus es nostris quoniam tu talia nescis
Joined
May 13, 2017
Messages
868
Reaction score
906
I also recall Alternity being on shelves in game stores, but that was already the second half of the 90s.
 

Atelerix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
87
Reaction score
136
The stuff I played at the time was Cyberpunk 2020, Traveller TNE, Pendragon 3rd and Vampire.

Also Runequest - at least in the UK, it was the time of the Runequest Glorantha revival.
 

Trippy

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
1,231
Reaction score
1,785
Also Runequest - at least in the UK, it was the time of the Runequest Glorantha revival.
Really? I was in the UK at the time, and for my circles it was very much the case that RuneQuest was something of a forgotten game in the 1990s. There was still the 3rd edition that could be found in some game shops, but it largely had no new edition during the decade, and the style of the book was a bit dry compared to other games (like the WoD books, for example) at the time. Moreover, in a decade that saw the rise of a lot of urban fantasies and dark roleplaying games, some of the older games were sidelined a bit. Elric was still about though.
 

Toadmaster

Legendary Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
534
Reaction score
765
GURPS and HERO 4E (the first generic system version). GURPS came out in the mid 1980s but a huge amount of stuff was published in the 90s. HERO 4E came out in 1989-90, and had quite a resurgence in the early 90s.

GDW introduced their new house system with Twilight 2000 V2.0 in 1990, Dark Conspiracy, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Traveller TNE and T2000 V2.2 followed over the next couple of years before GDW went away in the mid 90s.

Millenniums End came along in 1991, one of several near future not quite Cyberpunk, not quite post-apocalypse games and the only one that really stands out in my memory as being halfway decent.


Cyberpunk 2020 was late 80s, but quite visible in the early-mid 90s.



RQ3 was quite visible in the mid-late 80s, but my recollection is the same as Trippy's, I don't recall seeing much RQ between '90 and whenever (2000-something) Mongoose brought out their version.



WOD was completely outside of my interest, to this day I don't think I've so much as held a copy of the core or is supplements.
 

Atelerix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
87
Reaction score
136
Really? I was in the UK at the time, and for my circles it was very much the case that RuneQuest was something of a forgotten game in the 1990s. There was still the 3rd edition that could be found in some game shops, but it largely had no new edition during the decade, and the style of the book was a bit dry compared to other games (like the WoD books, for example) at the time. Moreover, in a decade that saw the rise of a lot of urban fantasies and dark roleplaying games, some of the older games were sidelined a bit. Elric was still about though.

Yeah, really - but you had to look after GW moved from RPGs in the late '80s. I had to order my copy of Sun County from the States, but I picked up everything else - Dorastor, River of Cradles, Lords of Terror from Virgin, back when they still stocked RPGs too.

Elder Secrets was ?1989

Although I did pick up a ton of stuff in the Dublin Virgin RPG sell-off in 1995, and the Avalon Hill licence got weird not long after that
 

Stevethulhu

Lord of the Pies
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
1,465
Reaction score
1,781
Yeah, really - but you had to look after GW moved from RPGs in the late '80s. I had to order my copy of Sun County from the States, but I picked up everything else - Dorastor, River of Cradles, Lords of Terror from Virgin, back when they still stocked RPGs too.

Elder Secrets was ?1989

Although I did pick up a ton of stuff in the Dublin Virgin RPG sell-off in 1995, and the Avalon Hill licence got weird not long after that
I picked up tons of Cyberpunk and GURPS books from the Virgin store in Chester. They used to have a fantastic RPG section back in the 90s.
 

Jerry

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
45
Cyberpunk 2020 was late 80s, but quite visible in the early-mid 90s.
I don’t have my copy handy at the moment, but I’m pretty sure Cyberpunk2020 came out in 1990. You may be thinking of Cyberpunk 2013, its progenitor.
 

Jan Paparazzi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2017
Messages
114
Reaction score
138
I believe Shadowrun came out in '89, but it still seems like a typical '90s game. Metaplot heavy, grimdark and having a lot of the same themes as WoD or 40K.
 

Jerry

Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Messages
18
Reaction score
45
Yes, you are correct. The first edition Cyberpunk 2013 was published in 1988

Referenced from the wiki
"Cyberpunk, mainly known by its second edition title Cyberpunk 2020, is a cyberpunk role-playing game written by Mike Pondsmith and published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988. Because of the release in 1990 of the second edition, set in a fictional 2020, the first edition is often now referred to as Cyberpunk 2013, following the year, 2013, in which the game was set when it was first released in 1988. The third edition, published by R. Talsorian Games in 2005, is referred to as Cyberpunk V3.0 and is set further along the same fictional timeline as the former editions, during the 2030s"
 

Trippy

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
1,231
Reaction score
1,785
Yes, you are correct. The first edition Cyberpunk 2013 was published in 1988

Referenced from the wiki
"Cyberpunk, mainly known by its second edition title Cyberpunk 2020, is a cyberpunk role-playing game written by Mike Pondsmith and published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988. Because of the release in 1990 of the second edition, set in a fictional 2020, the first edition is often now referred to as Cyberpunk 2013, following the year, 2013, in which the game was set when it was first released in 1988. The third edition, published by R. Talsorian Games in 2005, is referred to as Cyberpunk V3.0 and is set further along the same fictional timeline as the former editions, during the 2030s"
An important distinction because it allows R. Talsorian to claim that it was the first Cyberpunk game ahead of Shadowrun (1989). It wasn't however, as I regard the Judge Dredd RPG by Games Workshop to be a cyberpunk game too, and it came out in 1985...
 

Stevethulhu

Lord of the Pies
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
1,465
Reaction score
1,781
An important distinction because it allows R. Talsorian to claim that it was the first Cyberpunk game ahead of Shadowrun (1989). It wasn't however, as I regard the Judge Dredd RPG by Games Workshop to be a cyberpunk game too, and it came out in 1985...
I call Dredd proto-Cyberpunk. Some of the same elements are present in each game, but Mega-City 1 is a very different beast from your typical cyberpunk sprawl.

One of these days I'll get round to finishing my GURPS Dredd thing...
 

Caesar Slaad

Legendary Member
Joined
May 15, 2017
Messages
210
Reaction score
299
T4 came out in 1996. For early 90s you'd be talking about Traveller: The New Era which came out in '93.
In the early 90s I was playing MegaTraveller (pub 87, and I waved off TNE).

My friends were playing a bit of Shadowrun around that time as well.
 

Toadmaster

Legendary Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
534
Reaction score
765
An important distinction because it allows R. Talsorian to claim that it was the first Cyberpunk game ahead of Shadowrun (1989). It wasn't however, as I regard the Judge Dredd RPG by Games Workshop to be a cyberpunk game too, and it came out in 1985...
GW Judge Dredd is the game I specifically credit for swaying me away from the one set of rules to rule them all theory. I had a blast playing that game, it may not have been the best set of rules out there but it fit the setting well and our games resembled the JD comics we were reading at the time. I'm sure HERO could have done it, but don't think it would have been as much fun.
Sadly I no longer have a copy of the game.

Agree with Stevethulhu in that JD shares a lot in common with cyberpunk, and was definitely an influence on the genre, but kind of its own thing, and shares as much with post apocalypse as it does cyberpunk.

Personally I'd set Shadowrun aside as well, as it is not pure cyberpunk, more urban fantasy with cyberpunk trimmings. In my experience anyway it has the cyberpunk look, but it lacks the hard edge of most of the founding cyberpunk fiction.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
7,276
Reaction score
12,953
I don't know how SR has changed, but the one I'm familiar with is more cyberpunk with fantasy trimmings than the other way around, and the setting was incredibly dark |(Bug City anyone?)
 

Toadmaster

Legendary Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
534
Reaction score
765
I don't know how SR has changed, but the one I'm familiar with is more cyberpunk with fantasy trimmings than the other way around, and the setting was incredibly dark |(Bug City anyone?)
Maybe if you get deeper into it? My impression was the world was described in somewhat bleak terms, but then that didn't carry over into the game play, feeling more like a dungeon crawl with guns and cyberlimbs. Very different feel from Cyberpunk 2020 or the classic CP fiction.

I bought the core early on (probably 1st, but maybe 2nd) and have only played it a couple of times. I liked the concept but hated the execution, so my impressions are from a couple of play sessions nearly 30 years ago.
 

Trippy

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Messages
1,231
Reaction score
1,785
GW Judge Dredd is the game I specifically credit for swaying me away from the one set of rules to rule them all theory. I had a blast playing that game, it may not have been the best set of rules out there but it fit the setting well and our games resembled the JD comics we were reading at the time. I'm sure HERO could have done it, but don't think it would have been as much fun.
Sadly I no longer have a copy of the game.

Agree with Stevethulhu in that JD shares a lot in common with cyberpunk, and was definitely an influence on the genre, but kind of its own thing, and shares as much with post apocalypse as it does cyberpunk.

Personally I'd set Shadowrun aside as well, as it is not pure cyberpunk, more urban fantasy with cyberpunk trimmings. In my experience anyway it has the cyberpunk look, but it lacks the hard edge of most of the founding cyberpunk fiction.
I think this is true but I'd give at least a caveat that one of the best cyberpunk movies of recent years has been Dredd - and it is definitively part of that genre by any measure.

I'd also argue that the actual 'punk' spirit evident in the 2000AD comics from the late 70s onwards actually predate the coined term for the cyberpunk genre. Indeed, to me, it's actually more 'punk' in attitude than a lot of the media (including RPGs) that self label themselves as such.
 
Top