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* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'':
** Hans appeared [[http://sales.starcitygames.com/cardsearch.php?singlesearch=Lhurgoyf exactly once]] on a single card, and never anywhere else, but the flavor text - "'Ach Hans, run! It's the lhurgoyf!' ''Saffi Eriksdotter, last words''" - was popular enough that he [[http://sales.starcitygames.com/carddisplay.php?product=34962 got]] [[http://sales.starcitygames.com//carddisplay.php?product=9228 multiple]] [[http://sales.starcitygames.com//carddisplay.php?product=42675 references]] later on including a short story in the anthology ''Monsters of Magic'' (called, naturally, "Ach! Hans, Run!").
** Norin the Wary similarly qualifies, having been elevated from the voice of cowardice on a handful of cards' flavor text to eventually receiving his own (also cowardly) creature card.
** Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician and, more famously, Jaya Ballard, Task Mage. Jaya Ballard's card has been known to win "best flavour text" votes on fan sites despite the card not actually having any flavour text (she supplies a solid number of fan favourite flavour text quotes on other cards).
** Fblthp. Featured solely in the flavour text and art of a bad common card. People are already calling for him to get his own card - in many cases, a ''planeswalker'' (the most powerful beings in the Magic universe).
* In the ''TabletopGame/LegendOfTheFiveRings'' CCG, Toku was originally an unaligned, free card with no abilities and no use other than being fed to demons. Fans enjoyed the idea of Toku so much that they started the "Toku for Emperor" movement, attempting to influence the game's interactive storyline. As a result, Toku became a major player in the game's storyline, going from a peasant who stole a dead samurai's sword to a real samurai, friend of the Emperor, Captain of the Imperial Guard, founder of a Clan, and (posthumously) a minor deity.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** Always popular, but exploding into popularity after the success of [[DefectorFromDecadence Drizzt]], [[OurElvesAreBetter drow]] are a perennial favorite as PlayerCharacters despite the race originally being AlwaysChaoticEvil. Future splatbooks expanded greatly on drow culture and options for drow players. They're even included as a PC race in the Fourth Edition ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'' setting.
*** This is lampooned in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', where Nale's "Linear Guild" includes a Drow whose presence prompts the heroes to question, "Aren't Dark Elves evil?" Nale "explains" that that was before they were a player-character race. [[spoiler: Amusingly, Zz'dri [[DoubleSubverted is actually evil]].]]
-->"The race now consists of nothing but Chaotic Good rebels struggling to throw off the reputation of their Evil brethren."
-->"I thought you said they were all Chaotic Good?"
** Another surprisingly popular race is ''kobolds'', of all things. Despite their status as first-level CannonFodder (though their affinity for traps can make them [[NotSoHarmlessVillain more dangerous than you'd think]]), they've gotten a great deal of expansion in various splatbooks, including the 3.5 Edition ''Races Of The Dragon''. One of the more infamous GameBreaker builds for the edition, "Pun-Pun", is a kobold.
*** It's kind of helped that the kobolds have been the setting's {{Butt Monkey}}s for so long that they've pretty much run all the way around on the opposite end of the sympathy scale to become [[TheWoobie woobies]] in their own right. Plus, nothing feels more satisfying than bringing down the BBEG with a small, scrawny lizard normally considered a CR of 1/6.
*** There is also a sort of UglyCute factor playing.
*** Which leads to then becoming utter badass [[http://commissarkinyaf.deviantart.com/art/Kobold-Kommando-2-77994119 Commandos]].
*** Possibly based on this [[http://groups.google.nl/group/rec.games.frp.dnd/msg/86f9780c6a3adbb8 utterly brilliant session report]].
** The ''Tome of Magic'' Binder class is surprisingly popular considering the other 2/3s of ''Tome of Magic'' are the mechanically unplayable Truenamer and the mechanically odd Shadowcaster.
*** In a similar vein, "Complete Psionic" is [[InternetBackdraft widely panned]] as [[FanonDisContinuity the worst of the "Completes"]] line released for 3.5, and was particularly disappointing to many people who felt that 3.5 was the first edition to have done psionics right. However, one class in the book (the Ardent) is acclaimed for its balanced play, appealing flavor and unique approach to psionics. The Ardent would eventually be adapted to 4th Edition as a psionic class.
** ''TabletopGame/{{Eberron}}'' gave D&D one of the more popular new races - The Warforged. Basically, they're {{Magitek}} MechanicalLifeforms, and they've been generally well received by the D&D community. Even on [[Website/FourChan /tg/]], Warforged are generally quite popular. It's probably because, well, [[RuleOfCool robots are just plain]] [[http://1d4chan.org/images/c/c7/Warforged_Bard.png cool]]. As a matter of fact, Creator/WizardsOfTheCoast put up a [[http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/dragon/364/364_Warforged.pdf free supplement]] for 4E Warforged, making them {{Canon Immigrant}}s.
*** The [[LittleBitBeastly Shifters]] were popular enough to make it into the fourth edition, as well.
** When it was introduced in the late 80s, the ''TabletopGame/{{Planescape}}'' setting brought with it exactly three new player races; the [[OurCentaursAreDifferent Bariaur]] -- a usually ChaoticGood centaur-like race who were hairy humans from the waist up and large mountain sheep from the waist down, the Githzerai -- the benevolent counterpart to the Githyanki, and the Tieflings -- the several-generations-later result of crossbreeding between humans and fiends. Tieflings became one of the iconic races of Planescape, getting almost as many official Non Player Characters as humans, were massively popular with the fanbase, and even went on to get "kindred" species, such as the Tanar'rukks and Feyri (the orcish and elvish equivalents of tieflings). This culminated in tieflings being one of the first races to be playable in 4th edition. In comparison, githzerai are obscure and rarely seen, whilst only die-hard fans remember the existence of the bariaur.
** 4e had its own EnsembleDarkhorse race in the Pixies, who were made into a PC race in Heroes of the Feywild and seem to have become surprisingly popular, likely due to the novelty inherent in them being the only naturally flying/tiny PC race and the comedy inherent in playing a goddamned pixie.
* If it's possible for a single game in a gameline to be an Ensemble Darkhorse, ''TabletopGame/ChangelingTheLost'' from the TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness probably grabs the title.
** To elaborate, Changeling was one of the limited series NWOD games Creator/WhiteWolf released, only meant to have the main source book and five supplements. From the get go the game was at a disadvantage; not only was it contending with TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem, which was undisputedly the most popular NWOD game at the time, but it also was the revamped version of TabletopGame/ChangelingTheDreaming, one of the least fondly remembered games of the [[TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness OWOD]]. Combine that with the fact its subject matter (Fairies) lacked the universal appeal that, say, vampires and werewolves had, and it didn't bode well. However, when it came out sales peaked and the Internet was filled with adoration and acclaim for the game and its setting. Sooon the Changeling fanbase was one of the biggest in the community and rivaled Vampire on fans and players. This huge influx of interest got the series three extra books and several more [=PDFs=] added to the line, making it one of the stand out titles of the NWOD.
* In a similarly unusual turn of events, a ''piece of prose'' from the core rulebook of the TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness, "Voice of the Angel," has merited a stunning number of references throughout the line, up to and including the finale of a sample story in ''[[TabletopGame/PrometheanTheCreated Saturnine Night]]'' and a new [[{{Splat}} covenant]] in ''[[TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem Danse Macabre]]''.
** And then came an entire supplement (''The God-Machine Chronicle'') dedicated to exploring the possibilities of the concept, as well as a collection of short stories written as a companion piece to the supplement.
** This culminates in the concept becoming the foundation of an entire game, courtesy of some set-up from ''The God-Machine Chronicle'' - ''TabletopGame/DemonTheDescent''.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' :
** Kharn the Betrayer has been embraced by the fandom, [[MemeticMutation declaring him to be]] a pretty fun guy to be around and focusing on him to the exclusion of all other Chaos characters. It helps that he has a [[MemeticMutation highly exploitable]] battle cry: "[[AC:Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!]]"
** A {{Downplayed}} version is the [[BloodKnight Khornate]] [[EldritchAbomination Daemon]] [[AscendedToAHigherPlaneOfExistence Prince]] named [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Doombreed]]. He has a surprising number of references in the background of the game (approximately four, compared to the number of one-shot characters given a single paragraph), and he has become something of a MauveShirt in the background and on [[Website/FourChan /tg/]]. It's speculated that he was UsefulNotes/GenghisKhan before, and that everything from his daemonic mount to his [[BeardOfEvil fu manchu mustache]] is ''[[IncendiaryExponent on fire]]''. Other theories include that he was actually UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler, UsefulNotes/JosefStalin, UsefulNotes/MaoZedong, or UsefulNotes/AlexanderTheGreat.
** The [[CargoCult Adeptus]] [[TechnoWizard Mechanicus]] and their military wing, the Skitarii, enjoy quite a lot of popularity, more than their relatively small role in the grand scheme of things and their few appearances would suggest.
** [[ThePoliticalOfficer Imperial Commissars]] have a huge role in the ExpandedUniverse, to the point where it is practically mandatory that an Literature/ImperialGuard novel feature one. This is despite their fairly minor role in-game (usually, an Imperial Guard army will have at most three, and their only power is a slightly boosted statline, a Leadership buff and the occasional ability to engage in field executions). Interestingly, Commissars are ''always'' portrayed as at worst a JerkWithAHeartOfGold (which is partly because the two most prominent commissars in the Expanded Universe are [[Literature/GauntsGhosts Ibram Gaunt]] and Literature/CiaphasCain[[note]][[TheSoCalledCoward HERO]] [[LovableCoward OF]] [[BewareTheSillyOnes THE]] [[FakeUltimateHero IMPERIUM!!!]][[/note]]), and never as the trigger-happy ModernMajorGeneral types the Codex portrays them as, executing Guardsmen for uniform violations or losing their buttons in combat.
** Malice/Malal, Chaos God of Screwing Up The Plans Of The Chaos Gods. They (or their followers) have only appeared a handful of times in canon, and Games Workshop may or may not be able to use the character due to copyright issues. But you'd never know that from reading fan material.
** The Imperial Fists and the Salamanders get a buttload more fan love than their limited fluff would suggest. For the Imperial Fists, it comes down to being one of the most important chapters in the Imperium despite being OutOfFocus: they don't win enough to be badass and they don't lose enough to be TheWoobie, and they're only really notable for recruiting from Terra itself. For the Salamanders, a lot of it comes down to being ProHumanTranshuman {{Gentle Giant}}s. The Lamenters also get quite a bit of this, largely for being the ultimate [[IronWoobie Iron Woobies]] of the setting. Among the Chaos Marines, the standout for popularity is the Iron Warriors for their IndustrializedEvil motif and lack of StupidEvil characterisation which plagues the other traitor legions.
* Leonardo de Montreal is the most fan-beloved ''TabletopGame/ChuubosMarvelousWishGrantingEngine'' character. Hands down. It's probably due to some mixture of his JerkassWoobie status, his [[MadScientist mad science]], and his [[LargeHam great buckets of ham]]. On a cultural level, the swashbuckling, adventurous Rats of Fortitude are also extremely popular.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}}'', the NPC Laori Vaus from the "Curse of the Crimson Throne" adventure path is extremely popular. She's a near-perpetually upbeat cleric who [[AffablyEvil tries to ally with the party]], and who just happens to serve [[LawfulEvil Zon-Kuthon, God of Torture]]; her text mentions that she is capable of retaining the same chirpiness when discussing what it's like to [[FlayingAlive flay a man alive]] as she is when [[WickedCultured talking about art]].