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Welcome to 2011! It’s not just a new year, but a new decade. I’m somewhat horrified to admit this will be my fourth decade of playing tabletop games. Not that I feel old; rather, I just thought I’d be higher level than I actually am by now.

What will the years ahead hold for tabletop RPGs? Many pundits grimly predict a future in which the games we love fade into slow oblivion. But these pessimists are the same sorts who advised us to sell our real estate in 2008. Ignore them, and read on, as I share what the future will really hold.

Stagflation Leads to Imagination

With oil prices soaring, inflation sending prices higher, terrorism on the rise, and jobless stagflation gripping America, the 2010s are shaping up to look a lot like the 1970s. While this is cause for alarm for everyday working adults, tabletop gamers should embrace the trend, as the 1970s represented the height of D&D mania.

Laid off thirty-somethings and college students with no hopes for employment will find that they can numb the pain of their bleak existence with the escapism of role-playing games, and for much less than the cost of doing it with beer or dope. As a result, D&D clubs will re-surface throughout the nation. It will once again be impossible to get a seat at Starbucks because of all the damn Magic: The Gathering players. Yahtzee Croshaw will have to begin ranting about tabletop RPGs in order to stay popular. As inflation drives the price of a World of Warcraft subscription up to $49.95 per month, WOW will finally begin to lose subscribers to real RPGs. 70s inspired fashion trends will bring polyhedral bling to the mainstream as D20 earrings and key chains are best sellers at Hot Topic. RPG mania will peak when Stephanie Meyer releases a Twilight live-action RPG that comes with body glitter. Written by Monte Cook, the rulebook will be too complex for actual fans of the series to understand, but they will buy it anyway.

Role-Playing Games Gets Sexy Cool

The role-playing game resurgence will not be confined to young men. Following the trend started by D&D With Pornstars and I Hit It With My Axe, role-playing games will be broadly embraced by strippers, pornstars, and other hot chicks everywhere. Axe star Satine Phoenix will become the most popular pin-up girl on the planet, and will soon star in an animated series based on the exploits of her D&D character. ENWorld will become a subscription site offering exclusive behind-the-scenes of popular RPG babes. Live action role-play books and costumes will be sold in sex stories nationwide, and having a high-level character will finally help get you laid. Furries, however, will still be considered weird.

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Attracted by the sexy cool, heavy metal rock bands will reach out to leading game designers to restore the alliance between gamers and metal-heads that flourished in the 1980s. Role-playing book covers will once again feature naked women prostate on sacrificial altars with Satanic imagery, and gamers will wear even more black clothes than they do now. Dungeons & Dragons will finally become the “very provocative and seductive” game that Chick Publications always warned us about.

5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

Wizards of the Coast will respond to the market resurgence by laying off the entire design staff that created 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and instead announce a contest for the design of a 5th edition rules set. Paizo Publishing will immediately update Pathfinder to clone the 4th edition rules, in order to attract the new old school gamers that Wizards has just lost. In turn, Goblinoid Games will update Labyrinth Lord to clone the 3rd edition rules to attract the audience that Pathfinder just lost. At no point, however, will anyone play the 2nd edition rules.

Meanwhile, Wizard’s contest will attract the best unemployed designers in the game industry. Ron Edwards of The Forge will provide the winning entry with a revolutionary 32-page story game exactly like all other Forge games. In Edward’s version of D&D, players will collaborate to explore the themes of the Hero’s Journey in which young adventurers are called to the threshold of adventure and must go on an epic quest. The game will never see light of day, however, as freedom fighters led by Gabe from Penny Arcade will destroy the entire manufacturing facility before publication. RPG Pundit will later be found to have masterminded the entire affair.

With the shattering of the D&D world, the burgeoning nerdcore movement will be torn apart into competing cultures, with West Coast nerdcore rappers like MC Frontalot and Optimus Rhyme aligned with Wizards of the Coast in Seattle, while East Coast nerdcore such as Schaffer the Darklord turn to White Wolf’s drama-free World of Darkness in Atlanta.

Check for Traps Goes to the Top

And what about yours truly and this humble column? Rest assured, dear readers, that we won’t be left behind! Even as RPGs soar in the coming decade, Check for Traps will reach new heavenly heights. In 2013, after surviving the Mayan Apocalypse, I will release a full-color 400-page coffee table book, The Check for Traps Guide to Gamemastering, that will top the New York Times bestseller lists. As our traffic soars, Perez Hilton will start to be called The Escapist of fashion. Meanwhile, Gawker Media will release a copycat blog called Trapper that cuts-and-pastes my Check for Traps articles. Huffington Post will then link to Trapper and get 50,000,000 page views per day, showing that even in the future, some things never change.

Alexander Macris has been playing tabletop games since 1981. In addition to co-authoring the tabletop games Modern Spearhead and Blaze Across the Sands, his work has appeared in Interface, the Cyberpunk 2020 fanzine, and in RPGA AD&D 2nd Edition tournament modules. In addition to running two weekly campaigns, he is publisher of The Escapist and president and CEO of Themis Media. He sleeps on Sundays.

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