Last quarter, Roll20 hit a remarkable landmark–we crossed 8 million users, a number that we couldn’t even imagine when the site originally launched.
It’s an achievement for us as a site and a testament to our team’s hard work, but more than anything else, it’s an honor to have you here with us.
But we’d be lying if we said that landmark wasn’t bittersweet in some ways. Truthfully, we struggled with how we could talk about hitting this all-time high in the context of the world we’re living in now.
We know that many have been forced to cancel their in-person games due to the pandemic, and we know that many have turned to Roll20 as an alternative. Similarly, we know that many have turned to RPGs for the first time just to try to ease some of the tension that has boiled over.
So, when writing this quarter’s Orr Report, the question kept cropping up: How do we talk about this growth in the context of the world?
We kept arriving back at the same answer: Focus on what brought us here–the games.
So we have a different format than usual for this quarter’s Orr Report. Below, you’ll find the usual list of big winners in terms of growth and the same overall takeaways.
Below that, however, we’ve opted for something a little different; in addition to the big winners for growth this quarter, our team has hand-picked a few titles to highlight that we think deserve surfacing. This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, but we do want to at least open up a conversation about some of these titles. With so many new subscribers, we know many of you are just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible in tabletop RPGs.
There are so many great games being played on Roll20 every day, and we hope that this brief look provides at least a few that might pique your interest.
Roll20 Q4 2020, By The Numbers
Compared to last quarter, we saw a growth in the total number of games played of just over 5 percent. That might not sound like a lot, but in the context of the total growth we saw over the course of the last year, it’s significant.
In Q3 of 2020, more than 100 million hours were played across Roll20. In Q4, we saw that number increase by more than 6%. Again, it’s only in the context of 2020’s growth that that number starts to seem so big.
How did our users spend those hours? Let’s dive in and take a look.
The Orr Report At-A-Glance
Systems With Biggest Campaign Growth
The account and campaign percentages are fairly consistent with what we saw last quarter, but there are some unexpected titles on that campaign growth chart! We’ll get into them below–anything on this chart will have an italicized title.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the data.
The big dog stays firmly on the top. D&D 5E accounted for 52.90% of all campaigns on Roll20 this quarter, enjoying a massive lead on the rest of the competition. In terms of Marketplace content, we just released an update on the most popular introduction to 5th Edition, Lost Mine of Phandelver, featuring modern updates to bring it in line with our standards for the Marketplace today. If you’ve already got Lost Mine in your collection, never fear–you’ve already been gifted 2.0.
Call of Cthulhu
Eldritch horrors abound! According to Dicebreaker, Call of Cthulhu has overtaken Dungeons & Dragons’ popularity in Japan, where it has found an audience of younger players fresh to the hobby. Publisher Chaosium just released a pack of roadside-themed adventures titled Dead Light and Other Dark Turns, so if ever there was a great time to get into battling eldritch gods, it’s now!
Pathfinder Second Edition
Paizo’s flagship fantasy roleplaying title got, in our professional opinion, an extremely rad introduction box last quarter, a fantastic entry point into the long-running game. The Roll20 sheet features robust drag-and-drop support as well as options to fine-tune damage rolls and more.
We’ve grouped all varieties of Warhammer together for the sake of the Orr Report, but we want to emphasize the different experiences that are available; Warhammer: Fantasy Roleplay provides scoundrel-fueled romps through the Old World, while Wrath & Glory lets you and your players explore the grimdark war-torn future of the 41st Millennium. There’s a wide swath of Warhammer experiences out there to explore!
World of Darkness
World of Darkness is an RPG series with a shared setting and a devoted audience–its two most popular titles being Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Our friends at Renegade Game studios are gearing up to launch a Vampire: The Masquerade card game, and a sequel to the cult classic PC game Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines is in the works from publisher Paradox Interactive. Expect to see more from World of Darkness moving forward.
Some of you just really like good grapple rules, apparently.
What’s leading to an upward trend in 3.5’s popularity? It’s hard to say, but its growth is just under 6 percent this quarter, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s not too terribly much. Still, a return to gaming for some long-lapsed players might explain why 3.5 has made something of a comeback. Plus, you know. Grappling.
Star Wars (Any Edition)
Sure, Star Wars is a multi-billion dollar entertainment franchise and one of the biggest properties in the world, but we like to attribute its growth to a group of desperate gamblers.
The fast and fun Savage Worlds system has more settings options than you can count–if you’re looking to get a quick, pulpy campaign up and running, it just might be the game for you. Check out Savage Worlds Adventure Edition if you need a place to start.
We’ll get to another famous cyberpunk setting in just a bit here, but Shadowrun’s growth indicates that there’s something of a general shift towards that tone and setting across the hobby. Of course, Shadowrun’s about more than just giant corporations battling for control of neon-tinged cities; the fantasy elements give Shadowrun a feeling unlike anything else. 2019’s Sixth Edition from Catalyst Labs is the most recent version of the game.
Das Schwarze Auge
Germany’s favorite roleplaying title (in English, “The Dark Eye”) took the number 4 slot in Campaign growth in Q4, speaking to the growth of Roll20 in that particular region/market. An English version of the Fifth edition was released back in 2016.
You hear about this Cyberpunk thing? Has Cyberpunk been in the news?
Joking aside, you might look at Cyberpunk Red’s meteoric rise as a one-off anomaly syncing up with the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, but looking back at the rest of 2020 we actually see its growth was fairly consistent. Basically, it looks like a solid upward trend rather than a quick rise and plateau. This leads us to believe that Cyberpunk Red will most likely continue to grow well into 2021. Don’t miss the awesome Cyberpunk Red actual play from Rollvember with series creator Mike Pondsmith in the GM seat.
Year Zero Engine
Year Zero Engine games, named after the origin point for the system, Mutant: Year Zero, run on a unique dice system that encourage players to push themselves for high-risk, high-reward results. It’s no surprise, then, that the cinematic sci-fi horror of Alien was right at home in the Engine. That game’s popularity is largely responsible for Year Zero’s growth on Roll20 in Q4 2020, and if you’re interested in trying it out yourself, check out the intro set on the Marketplace.
The classic flavor of Cyberpunk was just as alive as its younger sibling in 2020, ironic given the year in the title. We felt that it was worth breaking Cyberpunk 2020 into its own category to track the popularity of the older version along with Red.
Stars without Number
This sci-fi system harkens back to RPGs of the ‘70s and ‘80s to help facilitate a sandbox-style space opera focused on player freedom and choice. If old-school style sci-fi is your speed, check it out.
With a growth of 43.75%, Chroniques Oubilees took the second slot on our biggest growth list this quarter. Available only in French, Chroniques Oubilees is compatible with most fantasy D20 systems.
If the sound of crunchy, detailed oriented spacefaring is appealing, sci-fi classic Traveller might be just what you’re looking for. Casting off XP in favor of a lifepath-system, Traveller’s unique appeal lies in the way it lets players decide what sorts of stories they want to take part in.
Monster of the Week
*Throws a file on your desk* Ever heard of the TTRPG monster, Scully?
Evil Hat Productions sort of specializes in building tabletop titles that let you live out a genre fantasy, and Monster of the Week calls back to serialized supernatural properties like Buffy or X-Files. Based on Apocalypse World (or Powered By the Apocalypse, as games of this ilk are known), Monster of the Week is easy to pick up and understand.
Speaking of agents exploring paranormal and alien threats, Delta Green takes the classic Call of Cthulhu setting and injects a healthy dosage of conspiracy-fueled fiction to it. The 2016 edition introduced mechanics built specifically to match the setting.
The award-winning Mothership is a sci-fi horror RPG about surviving in space. Powerful and flexible, Mothership supports a variety of narratives that live in that setting. Check out our Actual Play from Roll20Con to learn more.
Critical darling MORK BORG is part heavy metal artbook, part rules-light OSR. You’ve got to see this one to believe it.
Scum and Villainy
Remember how we said Evil Hat were experts at building genre-focused systems? Scum and Villainy takes their Forged in the Dark engine (built from Blades in the Dark) and transposes it on to a setting of Galactic Empires and lovable space-rogues.
Another Evil Hat title, John Harper and Sean Nittner’s Agon casts players as epic heroes facing trials handed down from the gods.
Lasers and Feelings
Lasers and Feelings is a one-page Space Opera RPG, also from John Harper. Simple but surprisingly deep, Lasers and Feelings has a free ruleset available on Harper’s website! It’s a great way to have fun with friends who might be new to RPGs (but it’s pretty great with friends, too). It’s easy to hack for other settings, too!
That’s right! You can play board games on Roll20. Would you like to see board games on the Marketplace? Let us know.
Troika’s got fans in the Roll20 staff, and the Marketing team in particular had a particularly fun Troika-powered romp last December. Troika’s flexible, fun, and deep yet still accessible.
Robin Laws’ simple ruleset is tailor-made to replicate ancient myths of heroism.
Another John Harper hit, Lady Blackbird is a free and easy-to-play RPG that features pre built characters and story. It’s an excellent game and a fascinating look at how to boil an RPG down to its most basic components.
Five Torches Deep
When 4 torches aren’t enough and 6 torches are too many! 5 Torches Deep combines 5E and OSR to create a modern, streamlined dungeon-delving experience.
The Quiet Year
The Quiet Year is a meditative collaborative map making game from Avery Alder. Not only is The Quiet Year a great game on its own, it also works as a great way to build a world to support an adventure played in another system.
Tenra Bansho Zero
Tenra Bansho Zero is a Japanese TTRPG taking place in the distant future. The publisher calls it “Hyper Asian Fantasy,” featuring elements of anime-adjacent sci-fi as well as aspects of feudal Japan.
Dungeons on a Dime
Our friends over at Dungeons on a Dime have created a system devoted to making roleplaying more accessible, open-ended, and inclusive. Their core rulebook is free here on Roll20–check it out!
Our 8 million users play so many incredible games on Roll20, every day. If you’re one of our recent subscribers: Welcome! We hope you find something to love in this hobby, the same way so many of us on the Roll20 team have.
And as always: Thanks for playing with us.
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