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The RPG phenomenon started in Italy during the middle eighties. In 1985 Dungeon & Dragons was the first RPG translated and distributed by a big publisher, although some semi-professional products were available, published by Italian authors and based on original rules and settings. The most successful one was “Katakumbas”, an RPG based on Italian middle age history and tradition. However, it’s with D&D that RPGs spread across the whole country. Its success was such that it’s still one of the most played RPG in Italy. Following the success of D&D, other RPG were translated: the most important were the German RPG “Das Schwarze Auge” (1986), Call of Cthulhu (1990), Middle Earth RPG (1990), Cyberpunk 2020 (1990, first successful sci-fi RPG in Italy).
The first half of the nineties has been the “golden age” of RPG in Italy. Along with translations of other international products (i.e. “Stormbringer”, ”Star Wars”, “Kult”, “GURPS”), new domestic products were published with good overall results, even if not comparable with mainstream blockbusters such as AD&D, which replaced D&D as the most played system in the country, and the emerging “Vampire the masquerade”, which together with other World of Darkness products became almost as popular as AD&D itself.
Among the Italian production of this year (1993) we can list “Lex Arcana”, an RPG based on Roman Empire and “Druid”, an RPG based on a fictional Celtic world.
In the second half of the nineties the Italian RPG market began its slow decline. New potential gamers were first attracted and then distracted by collectible card games (“Magic the gathering” above the others) and then by the growing videogame market. It is a concrete possibiity that the so-called “manga invasion” played a part in the decline process. Publishers released new games such as “Ars Magica”, “Muthant Chronicles” but the number of players didn’t increase and many small publishers were forced to close. While the original, pionieering batch of players were getting older, there wasn’t a new generation of younger players coming up, so the groups began to disband or seclude themselves from the scene.
The new century began with a slight upswing of the market due to the third edition of D&D, which was able to attract a sensible number of new players. Its success continued with the 3.5 edition, which can be defined as the most successful edition in Italy to date. The fourth edition didn’t saw the same success and the players found more interesting to dedicate their time to the new D&D incarnation: Pathfinder. Recently Pathfinder overtook D&D as the most played and sold system in Italy. The second most played system, “Vampire – the masquerade” was not able to widen its audience even by lowering the average target’s age in the same way as D&D did. The new edition “Vampire – the requiem” was not as successful as the previous one as players preferred to keep playing the first edition.
Even if D&D has kept RPGs alive in Italy during the last years, there have been also other good examples of near-successful RPGs: “Exalted” won the “best of show award” in 2006 while the Italian “Sine Requie”, a post-holocaust horror RPG, can be defined the best Italian RPG at the moment, considering its circulation.
Table of Contents
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