Find Tabletop Roleplaying Games to Play

Just as there really are no best books or movies, there are no best tabletop roleplaying games, or even best in a particular category. But if you’re looking to find interesting new games to play, this selection should help.

These were selected to cover a wide spectrum of game mechanics, settings, and play styles. Some are well known, others relatively obscure. Some are licensed from video games, movies, TV shows, or books. Some are free for download, and several provide free quickstart PDFs. Even if you primarily play one kind of game, exploring new games is a great way to find new bits to level up your play.

Each of these links will take you to a full writeup about that game, including overview information, three of the things that make the game stand out out, purchasing information, and links to reviews and community sites.

Games by Category

Fantasy

  • 13th Age – d20 fantasy from two of the designers behind 3rd and 4th edition D&D.
  • 7th Sea – Swashbuckling tales of blades and magic in a fantasy version of Europe.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire — The official adaptation of the Game of Thrones books incorporate lots of social combat and maneuvering between royal houses.
  • Atlantis: The Second Age — Swords & Sandals Bronze Age fantasy.
  • Beyond the Wall — Old school fantasy with an emphasis on easy gamemaster prep.
  • Blades in the Dark — Industrial-fantasy heists using heavily-modified Powered by the Apocalypse mechanics.
  • Burning Wheel — High-crunch fantasy with unpredictable magic, deadly combat, and belief-driven character advancement.
  • Dragon Age — Dark fantasy based on the video game franchise of the same name.
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics — An emphasis on OSR principles, with several unique mechanical twists.
  • Dungeon World — A lower crunch system that strives to evoke the feel of early D&D.
  • Dungeons & Dragons — The original and most popular roleplaying game of all time.
  • Ehdrigohr — A truly unique fantasy setting in which characters work to heal a damaged world.
  • Hero Kids — For adults looking to provide kids an easy introduction to RPGs.
  • Iron Kingdoms — Magic and gunpowder collide in a grimy, dangerous setting.
  • Michtim — Small critters work together to avoid catastrophe in this kid-oriented game.
  • Mythras — d100 fantasy with deadly combat and several types of magic.
  • Pathfinder — High-crunch d20 fantasy with a well-defined setting and loads of supplements and sourcebooks.
  • Pendragon — Players control noble families across generations in this highly-influential game of Arthurian fantasy.
  • RuneQuest: Adventures in Glorantha — Gritty combat, lots of magic, and possibly the most detailed setting in fantasy roleplaying.
  • Shadow of the Demon Lord — Grimdark fantasy built for rapid character advancement and campaigns of 10-20 sessions.
  • Shadowrun — Spells meet cyberpunk in a future earth where orks and elves collide with corporate warfare.
  • Spears of the Dawn — Old school fantasy in an African-inspired setting.
  • Swords & Wizardry — A retro-clone of the original three-booklet D&D rules.
  • Symbaroum — Dark fantasy in a land where adventurers seek to unearth old treasures while avoiding the taint of magical corruption.
  • The One Ring — A faithful representation of Middle Earth, with mechanics tightly tailored to the setting.

Generic/Universal

  • Basic Roleplaying — The same percentile (d100) mechanics that form the basis for Mythras, RuneQuest, and many other games.
  • Fate Core — These mechanics, which emphasize the flow of story and competent, action-oriented characters, have been used in many other games.
  • GURPS — A toolkit for creating custom settings with tailored crunch, GURPS is supported by dozens of sourcebooks.
  • Hillfolk — This game comes with several settings for use with its DramaSystem narrative mechanics.
  • Microscope — With this game you can create a history for your custom setting that goes as broad and as deep as you like.
  • Mini Six — An adaptation of the mechanics used by West End Games back in the day, these simple, quick mechanics favor pulp action settings.
  • Risus: The Anything RPG — A two-page game with a tongue-in-cheek style, this game is suited to pick-up games and campaigns alike.
  • Savage Worlds — These fast prep, quick action- resolution mechanics work favor pulp action, and are supported by many supplements.

Horror

  • All Flesh Must Be Eaten — As recent TV history indicates, a world overrun by zombies provides lots of excitement.
  • Apocalypse World — The mechanics from this influential post-apocalyptic game of interpersonal struggle gave rise to a multitude of Powered by the Apocalypse games.
  • Call of Cthulhu — Arguably the most popular horror RPG of all time, this game is supported by a vast library of published adventures and supplements.
  • Dread — If you’ve ever played Jenga, you can imagine how scary a game that uses it as the core mechanic for a horror game could be.
  • Ehdrigohr — In a fantasy world recovering from an apocalypse, horror must be faced at every turn.
  • Monster of the Week — Investigators take on horrors of all kinds, keeping the world safe for the blissfully unaware.
  • Night’s Black Agents — Like chocolate and peanut butter, Jason Bourne-style spies taking down vampire conspiracies actually works.
  • Shadow of the Demon Lord — Grimdark fantasy heroes fight to reclaim their world from the horrors of the Demon Lord.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade — The original game of gothic horror returns.

Licensed from Books & Movies

  • A Song of Ice and Fire — The official adaptation of the Game of Thrones books incorporate lots of social combat and maneuvering between royal houses.
  • Atomic Robo — Fate Core-powered comic book Nazi-punching action scientists.
  • Call of Cthulhu — Arguably the most popular horror RPG of all time, this game is supported by a vast library of published adventures and supplements.
  • Doctor Who — The licensed game of everyone’s favorite Time Lord and colleagues.
  • Dragon Age — Dark fantasy based on the video game franchise of the same name.
  • Firefly — Take to the stars, do a little smuggling, and find lots of trouble in this licensed game.
  • Star Wars — Three different games in one galaxy mean you can focus on the seedy underbelly, the Rebellion, or the Force, or mix and match.
  • The One Ring — A faithful representation of Middle Earth, with mechanics tightly tailored to the setting.
  • Valiant Universe — With story-driven mechanics of this game and premade heroes from the Valiant Universe, this game is aimed at newcomers.

Post-Apocalypse

  • All Flesh Must Be Eaten — As recent TV history indicates, a world overrun by zombies provides lots of excitement.
  • Apocalypse World — While many post-apocalypse games focus on hunger and hardware, this game puts human interaction front and center.
  • Atomic Highway — If you’ve ever wanted to create your own Mad Max-style adventures, have a look.
  • Flatpack — What if after the apocalypse there was a way to rebuild, and there were people trained and ready to do it?
  • Degenesis: Rebirth — 500 years ago a meteor strike nearly wiped out humanity; now the Primer it carried may finish the job.
  • Mutant: Year Zero — Take your band of mutated adventurers out of the Ark into the dangers of  irradiated ruins in this low-prep game.
  • Paranoia — Everything is fine because The Computer says so in this darkly humorous AI-ruled dystopia.
  • Wreck Age — Work to rebuild civilization in the aftermath of a long cataclysm, sustain your community, and fight to save what’s yours.

Science Fiction

  • 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars – d20 space opera with lots of GM prep tools.
  • Doctor Who — The licensed game of everyone’s favorite Time Lord and colleagues.
  • Eclipse Phase — A super-detailed trans humanist sci-fi future in which death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to characters.
  • Firefly — Take to the stars, do a little smuggling, and find lots of trouble in this licensed game.
  • Lady Blackbird — Download it, read it, play it all in one night.
  • Mindjammer — Fate Core-powered far future transhuman sci-fi.
  • Numenera — Humanity has adapted, lived through a million years of history, and now lives on an earth where ancient technology is like magic.
  • Shadowrun — Spells meet cyberpunk in a future earth where orks and elves collide with corporate warfare.
  • Star Wars — Three different games in one galaxy mean you can focus on the seedy underbelly, the Rebellion, or the Force, or mix and match.
  • Tales from the Loop — In an alternate 1980s reality, teenagers uncover strange goings-on in a world of robots and mysterious secrets.
  • Traveller — Travel the galaxy in the original hard SF RPG.

Superhero

  • Atomic Robo — Fate Core-powered comic book Nazi-punching action scientists.
  • Godlike — WWII superheroes are deadly effective in the battles they’re thrown into, but they can also be killed in this gritty, unique superhero game.
  • Icons — This is a low prep, fast onramp to superhero gaming.
  • Mutants & Masterminds — Arguably the most popular current superhero RPG, M&M uses moderately crunchy d20 mechanics.
  • Valiant Universe — With story-driven mechanics of this game and premade heroes from the Valiant Universe, this game is aimed at newcomers.