The Big Friendly List of RPG rules with links and stuff...

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The Big Friendly List of RPG rules with links and stuff...

Postby zircher » Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:28 pm

More suggestions always welcome...

3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars: This is a sci-fi story telling system of space troopers and genocide. It is rules light and easy to customize. [If you bought the Drive Thru RPG Haiti bundle, you already own this as a PDF!]

Aces & Eights: Straight up western. Think Deadlands without the steampunk and mosters. Lots of crunch, but also a good amount of alternate history fluff.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st edition): Granddaddy of modern role playing systems. Immense potential, requires a degree in math to understand the combat charts.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd edition): Combat mechanics simplified from original system. Plenty of rules, but loosely organized and worded for that interpreted gaming experience. Not for the casual gamer.

Æon: Modified Storyteller system trilogy built around a common timeline released in reverse historical order (future to past.)
* Trinity: White Wolf's far future Sci-Fi game set in a world where powerful psionics explore the universe and try to keep the peace.
* Aberrant: the White Wolf superhero game. a variant on the storyteller system, and a lot of fun, but out of print. it was republished as a D20 system.
* Adventure: White Wolf's pulp hero game, full of mystery, suspense, and plenty of 2 fisted action.

Agents of SWING: It's a FATE based 60's and 70's Spy RPG by Postmortem Studios. AoS uses slimmed down and sped up version of FATE based on Starblazer Adventures. (FtB affiliate link)

All Flesh Must Be Eaten: Zombies. Lots of zombies. Has many thematic setting books, Dungeons and Zombies, Zombie Smackdown (wrestling?!), Pulp Zombies, Enter the Zombie (kung-fu zombies), etc. Zombies.

Alpha Omega: A fairly robust rules system utilizing all the normal RPG dice. It's a cybernetic/post-apocalyptic setting in which characters are humans and near human variants on earth before it becomes a battleground for angelic aliens. It's a fairly interesting setting, although the rules system is extremely complex.

Alternity: Sci-Fi, medium crunch, by TSR. Core book is themed with the Space Drive setting information as a default, but the actual system is intended to be generic, allowing for play in different "ages" of technology all the way from ancient to far future. A few settings were published, including Star Drive (space faring future sci-fi), Dark Matter (think X-files), and Gamma World (translated and altered to use the Alternity mechanics). The Star Drive and Dark Matter campaigns had a significant amount of supporting material published. is a major fan site for the system.

Amber Diceless Role-Playing: Players start out as essentially demi-gods and try to survive in a multi-dimensional universe full of twisted plots and betrayal. Primary attributes are auctioned off during group character generation. It has a fairly high degree of customization. A placeholder site for now... (a FtB affiliate link)

ANIMA: Beyond Fantasy: Anime-powered fantasy at its core, includes systems for spellcasting, summoning, ki powers (Dragonball Z-esque), and divine magic with a fine balance between crunch and fluff. Tthere is a lot of customization under the surface; even though it does 'require' that you use its very broad archetypes, they are broad enough to allow you to work against archetype as well.

Anima Prime: Another anime themed RPG with a strong story games design. Character and setting design allows for a lot of creative control by the players as well as the GM. Available a commercial PDF, a Book/PDF combo, or as a plain jane Creative Common free version.

Apocalypse Prevention Inc.: API is an action horror RPG with a twist of humor. All basic mechanics essentially use the Attribute + Skill + 1d20 roll mechanic. Medium crunch but easy to customize. Has a good Men in Black or Hellboy vibe.

Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth: a rules-heavy rpg that attempts to derive an epic fantasy system from Joseph Campbell's theory of the monomyth (as in Hero With A Thousand Faces). Has a second rulebook that is the most detailed worldbuilding system I've ever seen. Unofficial site

Ars Magica: Now in its fifth edition, it's a game about being mages in medieval Europe. It focuses upon trying to emulate the erudite requirements of being a magis but also opens up roleplaying either dealing with magical threats or dealing with things like having to deal with being the one magical being surrounded by normal human beings. It also includes options for playing the assistants or apprentices to the mages. One of the forebears for Mage: The Awakening, the rules, while quite crunchy, serve to focus on role-playing and crafting a story rather than tossing spells. 4th Edition (free PDF)

Artesia: Adventures in the Known World: based on a graphic novel series, this award-winning game features amazing artwork and a system partially based on a custom Tarot-style deck of archetypes. It crunchily breaks the mold in a number of ways.

Barbarians Versus: It's barbarians (the PCs) vs alien invaders. Characters have attributes like throw and smash and assign dice to them. Total the roll plus any bonus dice for situation/gear and compare to a target number to succeed. Medium crunch and it looks fairly easy to modify, if you need barbarians versus pirates or dinosaurs, etc.

Big Eyes Small Mouth: based around being an anime roleplaying game. It's whatever you make of it setting and genre wise and one of the most customizable games I've ever played. Not super crunchy, uses two d6's for most rolls. (a FtB affiliate link)

Bliss Stage: Ben Lehman's mind trip into anime/manga role playing. It uses Fudge dice (+/blank/-), but it is not Fudge/Fate based. The rules have almost zero crunch since the main action takes place in the post apocalyptic alien equivalent of Dreamtime. The game mechanics deal with relationships, intimacy, trust, trauma, stress, and terror. (Yes, that's the actual BS url.) :-)

Blood, Sweat, and Steel: A Sword and Sorcery variant of Fate, with heavy Fudge overtones. Uses Aspects, Stunts and Modifiers, and is calibrated for violent amoral characters working off their wits. Main Blog Shiny new dedicated forum for BSS.

Breaking the Ice: A game about love, for two players, who create characters that are in some way a reversal of themselves --gender, culture, sexual orientation--and then go on three dates!

Broken Gears has been called a d12 animistic steampunk RPG. I like post-apocalyptic WW2 steampunk. Task resolution is involves rolling below skill+stat for various degrees of success. Free

Burning Empires: Collaborative world-building sci-fi game where the players stave off an invasion of the worm, the terror, the Vaylen! Evolution of the Burning Wheel system set in the Iron Empires (of comic book fame).

Burning Wheel: Fantasy game where the players blaze a path through the world, acting on their most deeply held Beliefs. fantasy, medium crunch, variable feel
--The Blossoms Are Falling: Burning Wheel variant set in Heian Era Japan.
--Under a Serpent Sun: Burning Wheel variant set in a dystopian future where suicide is an act of rebellion.
--Burning Sands: Jihad: Burning Wheel variant set in a suspiciously Dune-like universe.

Call of Cthulhu: A horror game based on the stories of HP Lovecraft using the BPS system. The game is infamous for being lethal; few PCs will survive any given story. Some players will be eliminated for going insane, some will be shredded by squiggly, trans-dimensional critters, most will suffer both unpleasant ends and not necessarily in that order. Fair warning: whatever it is, guns probably won't kill it. Quick Start Rules

Capes: GMless superhero game where players compete for narration rights.

Castles & Crusades: A trip back to AD&D, except the AC finally makes sense as a target number rather than an axis on a chart

Chronica Feudalis: a recent release, uses a step-die system (d4 to d6 to d8 etc.) for roleplaying in historical medieval Europe. The text is presented as a recovered manuscript from a game that medieval monks would play to while away the hours.

Classroom Deathmatch: “The goal with Classroom Deathmatch is to offer a really visceral role-playing experience. Abducted by their government and forced into a life or death struggle where only one student will survive, players are forced to make really nasty decisions." The rules are fairly light, not sure customizable they would be unless you were going for Boardroom Deathmatch or Politician/Celebrity Deathmatch. Rules are available as a free PDF or a book [to show support for the author.]

Cold City: Supernatural investigators in Cold War Berlin.

Corporation - Originally published in the UK by Brutal Games, it has been brought to the US by Mongoose. Set in a 26th century post-cyberpunk distopia, players take on the role of an Agent for one of the world's five main superpowers, each a corporate conglomerate. As a street level executive, PCs do the jobs that can't be done behind a desk. Crunch moderate and setting heavy. The setting is more like Demolition Man than Blade Runner. System uses all RPG dice. Success is determined by rolling lower than a set threshold determined by PC Stat + Skill. On a 2d10, rolling double 0 (ten) is a critical failure and rolling double 1 is a critical success.

Cortex System: generic system, using multiple die types; bigger dice are better. Used in the Serenity RPG; stated purpose per core rulebook is ease of getting on with the action.

Cosmic Patrol: "Rockets, Robots and Rayguns! Cosmic Patrol is a pen & paper roleplaying game set in the retro-future of the 1940s-50s. ... [it] is a narrative, cinematic game that’s easy to learn and can be played with little preparation. Players not only control their characters, but build the plot and fill in the details as they go." This is Catalyst Game Labs round-robin GM-Less game of rocket pulp adventure. The PDF is only $5 and they're taking pre-orders for the dead tree version.

Cthulhutech: Mid-apocalyptic game combining elements of anime, Lovecraft, and sci-fi. Based on the Framewerk system. d10 dice pool system with a twist. You "play poker" with the dice to make a good combination and increase your total result. World combines bad aliens, good aliens, eldritch gods, and ancient monsters. Also has psychic abilities, a powerful ritualistic magic system, and advanced technology. Offers multiple styles of gameplay; street level campaign, the military game, the heavy mech game, or the tager game, where you are a "good" symbiont trying to take down evil symbionts.

Cursed Life: A free rules lite system where you play a cursed character trying to get along in the modern day. Very easy to modify, noted for the extensive life path system that is part of character generation. The base die mechanic is 1d10 + skill + mods vs target number or opposed roll. Free download

Cybergeneration: Revolution 2: by R. Talsorian Games. "My parents became cyberpunks and all they left me was this Dark Future..." You play the children of the cyberpunk generation. Based in the year 2027, the Cyberpunk movement has been crushed by the Incorporated States of America, now it's time for the true revolution. Uses the Saturday Night Scuffle rules system. Firestorm Ink appears to hold the license at this time.

Cyberpunk 2020: by R. Talsorian Games. A gritty cyberpunk RPG set in a future that was considered high tech for the 80's. Introduced the Interlock system (1d10 + stat + skill vs. target number or opposed roll.) It is fairly easy to modify.

Cyberpunk (version 3): by R. Talsorian Games. Actually a post-cyberpunk RPG set after the 4th Corporate War in the Cyberpunk 2020 universe, Talsorian switched to the Fuzion gaming mechanics (a hybrid of Interlock and the Hero system.) Considered a little more difficult to customize that the Interlock system.

Damnation Decade: A True 20 based RPG set in the post apocalyptic world of the 70's. Everyone, do the zombie hustle...

De Profundis: A Diana Jones Award Nominated game of psychological horror. De Profundis is a correspondence-based story-telling game that can be played from the point of view of participants from a variety of eras. Now in it's second edition.

Dead Weight: What happens when Le Parkour meets the Living Dead? This narrative system feels like it is part RPG and part boardgame. The success and survival of your character and tribe are interwoven. The base mechanic involves a shared dice pool of successes, failures, and partial successes. Game play is divided into descriptive scenes. Rules as Google Doc.

Deadlands: A game set in the Wild West except way more awesome because there's steampunk gizmos, magic, and zombies. The game uses an innovative system incorporating aspects of poker which won it a few awards. Deadlands was the basis for the wargame The Great Rail War, which was the basis for Savage Worlds, which later took up Deadlands as a system, coming full circle.

Deadlands Hell on Earth: Pinnacle's post apoc game about heroes kicking in monsters teeth to weaken the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse so they can be beaten when they show back up. Features monsters, muties, and misfits as well as a LOT of walkin' dead.

Deadlands Reloaded: classic weird west setting updated for use with Savage Worlds ruleset.

Deleria: uses a playing-card system to resolve tasks and actions - basically a low-powered, brighter version of Changeling the Dreaming that is a very similar kind of modern fantasy game.

Delta Green: Same thing as CoC, except mixed with X-Files (note: it was written before X-Files first aired). Players are (usually) FBI agents, part of an illegal conspiracy to protect the America from Lovecraftian evil and its friends within the U.S. government.

Diaspora: Ennie award winning hard sci-fi game based on the Fate rules system. Medium Crunch and very customizable, the players and GM build their own star cluster at the table.

Dinosaur Planet: Broncosaurus Rex is a science fiction world setting. The basic premise is that the Civil War did not end as we know it, but resulted in separate Federal and Confederate nations. In the year 2202, an alien planet full of dinosaurs was discovered... Uses the d20 system.

Dogs in the Vineyard: Players are God's Watchdogs in 19th Century Utah. A Western where you're sent out with a Bible and a Gun and asked to solve the problems of the people.

Don't Rest Your Head: A twisted horror show wherein players balance insanity, insomnia and exhaustion to bend reality and deal with the problems keeping them awake. Questionnaire-based character generation, dice pool mechanics.

Dragon Star: dungeons & dragons in SPACE!!!

The Dresden Files A FATE 3.0 game set in the modern urban fantasy world of author Jim Butcher's eponymous series, featuring Harry Dresden, Consulting Magician. Players take the roles of various supernatural (or not) persons. Fate is a simple rules system that uses open-ended descriptive traits.

Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd/3.5 edition: Highly popular high-magic heroic fantasy. Extensive source material. Moderate to high customization.

Dungeons and Dragons, 4th edition: Highly popular high-magic heroic fantasy. Extensive tactical combat rules. Limited non-combat rules. Exceptional game balance but reduced customization in comparison to 3.5.

Duty and Honour: Inspired by the adventures of Richard Sharpe and Matthew Hervey, Duty & Honour is a roleplaying game where you take the role of soldiers and officers in Wellington’s army. The game features a unique Mission system, which embeds the feeling of a military game whilst ensuring that everyone - commanding officer to private soldier - gets the same time in the spotlight.

Earthdawn: Post-apocalyptic, fantasy, horror, typical races + a few others, interesting magic system, not overly rules crunchy. RedBrick is the current license holder.

Eclipse Phase: Transhumanity in space and among the stars. The rules are fairly heavy (400+ pages.)

Engel: English translation of a d20 German post-apocalyptic setting where angels have been sent to restore faith and save humanity, but something's not quite right...

Everway: A dimension-hopping diceless fantasy-dream game where art cards are used to influence the resolution set by the GM.

Everyone is John is a one page comedic RPG when the players are voices in the head John. Not really suitable for campaigns, good as a one shot with reasonable replayable potential. Free

Exalted: A completely unique setting for the storyteller system. Players are demi-gods so epic and badass that no mere mortal could ever be their peer. Players can jump over mountains, single-handedly slay entire armies, and challenge the power of the gods themselves. Think Dynasty Warriors meets Crouching Tiger meets DBZ.

Fading Suns: A fudalistic dark future game that takes place in a universe where humanity has dicovered jumpgates left over by a previous stellar race. It is an interesting mix of medieval beliefs/society and advanced tech.

Fate: An evolved version of the FUDGE system in which characters have descriptive "aspects" in addition to standard roll-and-add skills. Players spend Fate Points to gain narrative or numerical bonuses from Aspects, but only gain more Fate Points when their aspects cause narrative or numerical penalties. This pays the players to complicate their characters' lives, producing personalized plots and obstacles.

Feng Shui: Hong Kong cinema martial arts game with time travel and cyber punk elements. Rules are moderately crunchy.

FFRPG system:free system inspired by the Final Fantasy games, drawing ideas from them all into a Massively Multiplayer Crossover system.

Fortune's Fool: Set in a fantasy version of Renaissance Europe where orcs, elves, goblins and the like have developed as part of civilization. FF also makes use of a tarot deck for skill tests, players can further manipulate the deck using twists and their fate pool.

Fringeworthy: The Star Gate RPG that pre-dates the Star Gate movie. Several editions exist, the current one is based on d20 Modern. It has its own podcast.

FUDGE: A system for designing your own system, with a minimalist core mechanic around which players can tailor the rules to fit their campaign/setting/feel/genre.

Fungeon: A simplistic dungeon crawl game that stresses a lightweight set of rules for characters and dungeon creation. Free

Gamma World: TSR's first trip to post-apocalyptic gaming, and percentile-based system. There is also a d20 version that will be available in October 2010.

Ghost/Echo: An interesting two page concept RPG with a list driven minimalist world. The mechanics involve phrasing a scene, rolling dice for goals and risks, and then describing what happens. This makes it a storytelling game system similar to The Black Spot. Low crunch, can be played GM-less and probably solo with a minimum of effort. Free download

Godlike: WWII with superheroes seen through the lens of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy.

Gumshoe System: A game built to solve common problems in mystery stories. Like many new school games, it doesn't attempt to simulate reality. Skills are pools of points spent on adding bonuses to 1d6 rolls. That's pretty much it. The mechanic adds tension for players, having to watch their strength wither as the danger only increases. The simplicity means it almost never requires rules-lookups, avoiding any breaks in the drama.
--Trail of Cthulhu: Call of Cthulhu using the Gumshoe system

GURPS: universal, high-crunch, gritty.

GxB: Girl x Boy is a dating sim role playing game with pre-generated characters all trying to win the affection of Momoko. Ultra light in rules, basically a ten step story telling frame work.

Hackmaster: It did for AD&D what Pathfinder did for 3.X D&D, updated and expanded. Fantasy, high crunch with a humorous bent. Followed by Hackmaster Basic, with new ruleset, slightly less crunch. 4th edition Basic

Harn Master: low-medium magic fantasy game. Very detailed setting. Hefty crunch to the rules & character creation, but a great RP experience, if you have a GM that knows what they're doing. Original Publisher Gold Edition

HARP High Adventure Roleplaying, by Iron Crown, the creators of Rolemaster. HARP is not Rolemaster-Lite, as MERP was, although it is clearly a related game. An SF variant has recently been published as well.


Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone - "Hellas is an exciting fusion of high drama, action-adventure, romance, mythology-infused space opera and science fiction..." It's a space fantasy setting based on Greek Mythology. Hellas is available on Drivethru RPG and well worth it! Uses the same basic Omni System as Talislanta.

Hero: universal, bullet-stoppingly crunchy, can have whatever feel you want.

Hierarchy: A game where players play japanese nobles of different ranks, those at the bottom must follow the orders of those at the top. The players must work together to stop outside threats while trying to topple each other and take power for themselves. Great political intrigue.

Hollow Earth Expedition: pulp with Nazis, low crunch, unsurprisingly pulpy.

Hollowpoint: Bad people, doing bad things for bad reasons. Great game for simulating movies like Priest or Heat or any other movie where you've got a group of highly talented and motivated people going after an objective.

Hot War - London. Winter. 1963. It is a year since the Cold War went hot. And this was not just a nuclear war. Far more sinister, darker weapons were deployed from the shadows.

Houses of the Blooded: The "Anti-D&D". Characters are landed nobles with a history, a family, and a dangerous political society to navigate. Includes an intriguing world building section revolving around seasons.

How We Came to Live Here: another recent release; loosely based on the stone age cultures of the American Southwest, the system uses two GMs and is far and away the best (deepest, most compelling) presentation of a non-European culture in a roleplaying game.

Icons: Fudge/Fate inspired super hero role playing. Lots of random character development tables, great if you want the Villains and Vigilantes feel but in a more lite/modern game system.

In a Wicked Age: Sword and Sorcery and Sandals. Oracle system makes random character, setting, and situation generation happen at the table.

In Nomine: Steve Jackson's "d666" game where you play angels and demons living on earthand vying with each other on behalf of your supernal and infernal masters.

InSpectres: Mashup of Ghostbusters and business franchising. Help your customers get rid of that pesky, embarrasing Vampire infestation!

Instant Game: is a free meta RPG product that is used to create 'instant worlds' with random plot hooks and complications. It can be easily used for one shot adventures or campaign seeds. While rules agnostic, the included Stories System is the default rules set for Instant Game.

Kagematsu: Danielle Lewon's award winning game of social conflict in ancient japan. Players assume the role of Kagematsu the wandering ronin with a past or the towns folk that deserately need his protection.

Kicking Historical Asses: A roleplaying game of wacky time traveling action-horror. A rules lite rpg modeled on the universe of World of Darkness.

Kill Puppies for Satan: What it sounds like. Characters are scumbags, throwing kittens in blenders to gain the attention of Satan in order to get power to further the goals of their miserable, crusty lives.

Kult: very dark and mature game where the world we live in is basically a mask over Hell

Lacuna Part1 (Second Attempt), The Creation of the Mystery and the Girl from Blue City. Explore the collective subconscious world of humanity, find patients tainted with evil, and cure them by sending their hostile personalities into the rift. Light rules, a fragmented and paranoid setting, anonymous Mystery Agents (the PCs). Called the Rorschach test of RPGs.

Lady Blackbird: ENnie award winning steam punk adventure for 2-6 people. It contains a starting situation, setting, characters, and quick-play rules perfect for a no-prep game. Free, low crunch, easy to customize.

The Laundry: A BRP variant that lets players play in the word of Charles Stross's Atrocity Archive novels. Modern day tech workers fighting both the horrors from beyond, but also the bureaucracy inherent in modern IT cubicle work. Think Dilbert meets Cthulhu.

Legend of the Burning Sands: A roleplaying game based in the same world as Legend of the Five rings. This game covers the rest of the continent that contains Rokugan. It also utilizes Roll and Keep, as well as the level/xp expenditure system. This game covers various cultures from Indian (Asian, not American), Arabic, Roman, Gypsy, and a few others.

Legend of the Five Rings: A game about roleplaying samurai class warriors, priests and courtiers in a quasi-Japanese/Eastern setting. Based off the L5R CCG and uses a roll and keep d10 system. Extremely deadly to PCs (one hit kills galore), can be used for deep story, high combat or political intrigue storytelling. I'd describe it as simple mechanic, moderately complex rules.

Legends of Anglerre Is a FATE-based fantasy rpg developed from Starblazer Adventures. Legends of Anglerre is rules-light system that uses open-ended descriptive traits and aspects.

Leverage: A game of capers based on the popular show of the same name. Another variant of the Cortex+ system. Characters are stated out based on their abilities and role within the group. The system makes extensive use of unique abilities (talents) and flashbacks to emulate the TV show.

Little Fears: In this game, you play the role of 5-12 year-old kids and the monsters in the closet, under the bed and in the wood behind your house are real - as is the magic and rituals you believe will ward them off (such as pulling the covers over your head and making sure you always sleep with your stuffed animal). It's a pretty simple/rules-light game with a great texture and a great setting.

Maid the Role Playing Game: a light hearted anime RPG where the players assume the role of maids trying please their master. Of course, in typical anime fashion, your maid might be a cyborg warrior, princess, ninja, singing idol on the lam, etc. This fun title from Japan (in English) offers a lot of randomness in character generation and is best suited for one shots and short campaigns.

Marvel Universe: Dice-less resource allocation based highly narrative supers system. Initiative and time system attempts to emulate the panels and pages of a comic book. Default setting is the Marvel Comics Universe (obviously). Medium crunch.

Mekton/Mekton II: by R. Talsorian Games. A light weight sci-fi anime inspired RPG that uses the Interlock system. While setting specific (Algol), it is fairly easy to modify.

Mekton Zeta: by R. Talsorian Games. Another Interlock game system but intentionally left more open ended. MZ has a much more flexible mecha design system than the original. Easy system, but vehicle design is a litte number crunchy.

MektonZeta Plus: MZ+ is an expansion to MZ and its mecha design system is OMGWTFBBQ more number crunchy. But, it's also infinitely more customizable. Includes FTB 9000 compliant campaign style sheets.

Microscope: is a game on an epic stage. You create an entire history, from the epochs down to individual scenes. Creative control is absolute in the broad sweep; scenes are the only level at which collaboration is allowed. Role-playing is very much pass-the-stick, character-focused. It's very suitable for one-shots and pickup play, as all you need is the (tiny) book, a stack of index cards, something to write with, and a table to lay it out on. States 2-5 players, best with 3-4. No GM, rotating spotlight.

MonkeyDome: A schizophrenic game of shifting tones and harsh lessons in the apocalyptic future. More of a story telling game than a traditional RPG. Actions are ruled by Grim Violence or Zany Action, and either may strike at any moment. FREE

Monsters and Other Childish Things: uses the one-roll engine; you play children who have horrifying friends from beyond time and space that occasionally battle each other and level a neighborhood - but the game is actually all about the relationships in your life...which your monster friend eats as food.

Mortal Coil: a diceless fantasy rpg where you collectively create the setting as part of the game session itself, meaning there is no preparation needed at all. There are also ways to change or add facts to the setting after you begin play. Very rules-light and versatile, but requires players who are willing to put effort into the game up front.

Mouse Guard: An evolution of the Burning Wheel system for use in the Mouse Guard setting. Or, "Mice with Swords."

Mutants & Masterminds: superhero game using the OGL, with lots of customization options

My Life with Master: An rpg of villany, self-loathing and unrequited love.

Mythic GME (GM Emulator): A random event generator at its most generic, workable both as a system in and of itself and as a plot maker. Theoretically able to replace a GM with a little effort from the players. Can be used with any system.

Mythic Role Playing: The role playing companion to the Mythic GME.

Mythus: what Gary Gygax did after Dungeons & Dragons; an incredibly detailed mythic version of historical Earth spanning the bronze and iron ages, approximately, with a fantastically complicated character creation system. Far crunchier than any version of D&D with much stronger connections to real-world beliefs, practices and history.

Nemesis: A horror game based around the ORE system, notable for its multifaceted psychological trauma system. Free Download

Nicotine Girls: You're a blue collar girl who can use one of three stats to get what she needs from the world: Sex, Cry, or Money. Yeah, brutal.

Nobilis: You are the embodiment of a concept (basically a god), diceless, sometimes confusing, beautiful artwork.

Ocean: "An abandoned underwater research station. A nightmarish creature from the depths of the ocean. A trapped group of amnesiac survivors. These are the clues. Solve the mystery." An ultra light RPG that makes a great one shot for a con game or gaming night. Down in the comments you can even find a link to a actual play of the game.

Og: You are a caveman. There are dinosaurs and sabre-toothed tigers trying to eat you. You have a maximum vocabulary of 18 words, and a depressingly high chance of forgetting how to do something in the middle of doing it. Slapstick comedy, LARPing is almost mandatory.

The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild: a Lord of the Rings RPG by Cubicle 7.
This puts the "low" back in Low Fantasy. Set in the region around Mirkwood in the period after The Hobbit, characters are Dalemen, Beornings, Sylvan Elves, Dwarves from the Lonely Mountain, and maybe the occasional Halfling wanderer. The map of the region plays a big part of the game, and "wizards & clerics" really aren't player character options. It uses a unique small die-pool mechanic, with a specially marked d12 and d6s.

Orkworld: Heroes of fantasy games are homicidal, psychotic maniacs and the universe is just out to get the poor Orks. Play an Ork with an actual culture, family, and motivations. Not just XP fodder anymore!

Over The Edge: A surreal game of secrets and conspiracies. A surprisingly large number of splatbooks exist for its built in "Al Amarja" setting. One of the earliest games to use a dice pool mechanic, and likewise one of the earliest to use a small number of free-form player-defined 'traits' instead of static attributes or skills. Atlas Games released the rules system under the OGL as the WaRP (Wanton Role-Playing) system in 2012 for Over The Edge's 20th anniversary.

Panty Explosion Perfect: What happens when you combine story games, Scooby Do mystery solving, Japanese school girls, psychic powers, and demons? Rules lite and low on crunch, PEP has a round robin feel to it as the players around the table act as your best friend and rival characters describing your success and failures.

Paranoia: sci-fi, ultra-low crunch, stupid and potentially hilarious.

Pathfinder: by Paizo, a reworked version of the D&D 3.5 rule set made to expand and concentrate more upon the core classes and "smooth over a number of the rough spots in the 3.5 rules set".

PDQ (Prose Descriptive Qualities) - Low-Crunch, Players have a series of 'Qualities' which double as both skills/traits and hit points, a system that allows you to “Punch Spiderman in the Girlfriend.”

Pendragon: The Arthurian Myth RPG, Pendragon follows varying characters over decades as the events of the Arthurian Myths unfurl in the background. A variant of the BRP System, the rules do not focus on dungeon crawls but chivalric deeds and what happens during the 'down time' between them.

A Penny For My Thoughts: You're an amnesiac trying to recover her memory. Diceless. Uses improvisational theater techniques to resolve what happens in the game.

Pokémon Tabletop Adventures: A pretty through treatment of the Pokémon setting that uses an interesting version of d20 for it's core mechanics. Medium crunch (with a very hefty list of pocket monsters), not intended for any customization. Build 1.28 (free)

Polaris: Chivalric Tragedy at Utmost North. You are a Knight of the Stars, fighting the Mistaken, creatures born of the terrible, burning Dawn. This is the story of your fall.

Primetime Adventures: A low crunch story game that uses the production of a television show to tell a wide variety of stories. It uses a playing cards for randomization and has genre specific elements such as spotlight time and fan mail as game mechanics. The second edition is currently out of print, but it is available as a PDF from IPR (Indie Press Revolution.) A third edition is in development.

The Prince's Kingdom: an adaptation of Dogs in the Vineyard that has a very different message. You play children of the King, and it is your job to travel from island to island solving problems to prove you are ready to be King yourself. Aimed at children, published with proceeds donated to the American Friends Service Committee.

Prophecy: fantasy in a huge world, lots of great setting info, very clunky system

QAGS (Quick Ass Game System): An easily adaptable system that uses six stats as well as Yum Yums, edible hero/fate/karma points that players can use to modify or avoid die rolls or to take control of aspects of the story. Yum Yums are accrued by promoting the game and the gaming experience.

Qin: The Warring States Originally published in France (and in French) Qin is a fantasy game set in ancient China. Martial arts and weapons and daoist magic are used in a game with a mild wuxia style of play.

Reign: Fantasy game using the One Roll Engine. Includes system for creating and using Companies, which are any organization with a goal (cults, nations, conspiracies, etc.) Company success depends largely on actions of player characters. Setting in the book is unique, with a very interesting magic system, but the author tries (albeit not always successfully) to make the game portable to other settings.

Risus: A free and simple rules lite game that uses the idea of clichés.

Rolemaster: by Iron Crown Entertainment. A skill/stat heavy game with more charts than you can shake a stick at. Its very gritty and can be rules heavy with some optional stuff explored in many of the books. Level disparities have a lot less meaning in most situations and death comes easily.

Savage Worlds is a pulp adventure system not based on a single die type. Is classless, and lacking hit points. Focuses on "fast, furious, fun" combat where fights go quickly and dramatically. Has several genre handbooks designed for creating games in those genres with the core rules. Also has numerous sub types all following the same rules.

Scion: play the children of gods in the modern world

Serenity: sail the black in the setting of Joss Whedon's Firefly, uses the Cortex System.

Shadowrun: Futuristic cyberpunk with the addition of traditional fantasy races and magic

Shadows of Yesterday: An indie game, it's a fairly well developed fantasy world. Mechanically, it has two things going for it: bring on the pain, which means that all sorts of "conflict" rolls (combat, social, etc) are opposed rolls and can be invoked any time, even between players. It also has a system, called the keys, which granulate and reward your for following your motivations, or giving up that motivation and picking another one.

Shooting the Moon: A GMless game of romantic rivalry for two or three players, where two rival players compete for the affections of a third. The "sequel" to Breaking the Ice.

Skies of Glass: post-apoc, low-crunch version released with medium and high-crunch planned, brutally gritty.

Smallville: A game of superhero soap opera drama based on one variant of the Cortex+ system. Characters are defined by their beliefs, relationships, and powers. Character creation is done via an almost minigame like collaborative building of a relationship map combined with the use of lifepaths. Conflict is a roll/keep system.

A Song of Ice and Fire RPG: A game developed around the Song of Ice and Fire novel series written by George R.R. Martin. Based in the Seven Kingdoms, it has rules for varying character creation and a house creation system. Uses d6 pool to hit Target Number. Published by Green Ronin.

Sorcerer: Players are modern-day sorcerers who call and bind demons for their own purposes. How far will you go to get what you want?
--Dictionary of Mu: Sorcerer setting where demons are dead, discarded, and forgotten things. Conan, Barsoom, and the Bible mixed into one.

Spirit of the Century: The original Fate 3 game built for pulp adventures. Features a long and fairly detailed skill list, sub rules of fires and explosions, and introduces aspects as a complete replacement for modifiers. It also marks the beginning of the stunt system, featuring a list of specific stunts.

Spookybeans: is the Gothic Comics RPG. Rules-light, the system is fast and loose, allows you to use any kind of dice you want, and is designed to keep all players engaged in the story, even when it's not their turn.
Spookybeans PDF available, print in development

Spycraft - Quick Espionage Action and Adventure, d20 compatible, awesome setting (Shadowforce Archer)

Star Wars Saga Edition: A d20 based game with many mechanics that would become part of 4th edition D&D. Many source books available and supports all era of the SW saga. There is limited customization of the rules.

Starblazer Adventures A FATE 3.0 game, Starblazers is a Space Opera style rpg focusing on high adventure in space. Starbalzer Adventures is rules-light system that uses open-ended descriptive traits and aspects.

Stars Without Number: Retro space opera RPG with that Traveller feel. Fairly crunchy, but that's what would expect from a retro title that is 'D&D in Spaaaaace.' (the PDF is free)

Statecraft: A strategic role playing game where characters assume the role of sovereigns running countries. Currently in public beta, download it here...

Steal Away Jordan: Characters are African-American slaves in the Antebellum south. A game engine designed to produce neo-slave narratives like Toni Morrison's Beloved and Octavia Butler's Kindred.

Stories System: is a free light weight set of rules for narrative gaming that uses a 3d6 with modifiers for graded success. The Stories System is intended to be very free form and is the default system used by Instant Game.

Stormbringer: (aka Elric!) is fantasy game that puts the players in the world of the Young Kingdoms, based on the Elric of Melniboné books by Michael Moorcock. The game uses the Basic Role-Playing game system, a percentile-dice-based system. Medium crunch.

Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies: uses the PDQ# system; you are swashbucklers on skyships having adventures in a very evocative and original setting.

Synapse: Universal system, d6 success-based mechanics. Emphasis on extraordinary character depth, modeling of the personality, and psychology of the character. High level of detail in character creation, medium crunch on actual resolution at the table. (Beta, Free)

Tales From the Floating Vagabond: A comedy RPG using a semi-universal character creation system letting you create a character from anytime or anywhen. The system involves adding stat + skill and trying to roll under the total with a die size based on the difficulty. The action centers around the Floating Vagabond, a bar in the center of the Universe where time and dimensional travel are common and physics can be wonky.

Talislanta: simple system, flexible magic in a wholly unique fantasy setting - no elves "Where every single book ever published for Tal (and some that weren't) is available for free download."

Technoir: A cyberpunk RPG that fully embraces the film noir and crime thriller roots of the sub-genre rather than crossing it with fantasy or post-apocalyptic tropes. The game mechanics resolve actions through three sets of D6 - one determined by a PC's talent and learned skill, one pulled from a limited pool that determines extra effort, and one from a pool determined by the character's wounds/injuries (these cancel out the first two pools). Players utilize nine Verbs as well as a set number of Adjectives, Objects, Training Programs and Connections to determine their Stats. The system itself is very setting light but Transmissions, charts consisting of connections, events, factions, locations, objects and threats, are provided for specific city sprawls that are used by a GM to create a story.

Top Secret/Top Secret SI: TSR's old fashion spy RPG

Torg: multi-genre game with several different realities invading Earth

Toypocalypse: A RPG Geek 24 Hour RPG Competition entry by Trevor Christensen, Toypocalypse is the mutant child of Toy Story, Small Soldiers, 9, and Lord of the Flies. The humans of the world have vanished, and all of the toys they left behind have become sentient and created their own societies in an abandoned world.

Traveller: High sci-fi/space opera game with a long character creation system and lots of little, tiny books. Infamously known for a character generation system can can kill your character before you start playing.

The Trouble with Rose: Rules lite with a heavy focus on narrative control being handed to the players. GM-less and designed to be customized with play sets or can be played 'on the fly' with an improv world building phase at the beginning. The game has been described as a character driven version of Fiasco. Dominoes and playing cards are required for play. (free rules and play sets)

True20: is an open ended rules lite sytem that uses a d20 for target numbers and opposed skill checks. Easy to modify, several source books are available. The rules were inspired by the Blue Rose romantic fantasy RPG.

Tunnels & Trolls: fantasy, low-crunch, doesn't take itself seriously.

Twilight: 2013 - Third edition update of the original Twilight: 2000 property originally developed by GDW. Set in an updated post-nuclear conventional war Twilight: 2013 simplifies the original wargame-level complicated rules set of the 1st and 2nd edition. Rules now utilize what is called a Reflex System which allows for White Wolf-style storytelling up to more crunch-heavy tactical combat. The setting itself has been completely revised and has moved away from the original Cold War motif to deteriorated Sino-American relations. It's also more a survival game than a military ops simulator. As of December 2010, the publisher, 93 Games, has gone out of business but the rule book is still available on many store shelves and in PDF format.

Unknown Armies: dark and gritty modern game with a multitude of supernatural secrets in the occult underground

Urchin: Play the magical homeless in Scum City underneath Manhattan. Survive, get addicted to the Blessing, or lead your followers to Agartha, the paradise in the center of the earth.

Victoriana: Steampunk Shadowrun set in alternate history Victorian Europe. Has Swedish gnomes. Based on the Fuzion system.

Warhammer 40k RPG System is a d10 percentile system where you roll under a certain number to succeed. How low you roll determines how good you do. Classes are the career system, where you use your XP to buy talents and skills as you reach new brackets. High character mortality rate.
--Dark Heresy: Incredibly dark, far future game where players are given absolute authority to carry out the God Emperor's will. Are acolytes in the Inquisition, and travel throughout the Calixis Sector where they do missions on numerous planets.
--Rogue Trader: Same system as Dark Heresy but characters are not affiliated with the Inquisition. New careers, new sector of space and new gameplay ideology. Has been described, perhaps not too accurately, as a dark "space pirate" game. Still set in the 40k universe with the God Emperor.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Gritty, Dark, Fantasy. Career system.

Warrior, Rogue, & Mage: A free role playing game which uses the Warrior, Rogue, and Mage archetypes as attributes. It is styled after early D&D in spirit, but uses largely modern mechanics, centered around a roll and add system with an exploding d6.

Wild Talents: Flexible superhero system based on the One Role Engine (ORE). It has numerous settings including Godlike (WW2), The Favored Land (Civil War), ECollapse (Not-quite post-cyberpunk) and a few more traditional modern-era settings.
ArcDream (publisher):

Witch Hunter: The Invisible World: A historical swashbuckling horror game, set in the colonial era, in which you play a Hunter, chosen by God, to put down all the things that go bump in the night. Witch Hunter uses a d10 dice-pool system.

World of Darkness. A meta-system for modern horror role-play; in most of the sub-systems, you take the role of a specific type of 'monster' from classic myth, in a modern, urbanized setting. The WoD line uses a d10 dice-pool system.

Wushu Open: Another free and rules lite system where the number of dice you roll is based on how much creative description you give of your actions. Author's site

XXXXtreme STREET Luge: Be a hardcore luger (how much you are or aren't like Vin Diesel directly correlates to your stats), then go drink beer at a party and recount how awesome your luge race went. There's also other bullshit, like becoming manager at the Taco Bell or getting into community college. And shit.


Some common terms...

Crunchy refers to rule sets. If it's crunchy that means it is rules heavy.

Gritty is sorta like going back to detective series or maybe Cyberpunk genre. Things are very rough and tumble. It's very easy for someone to get hurt and taken out of a fight. A game where a single bullet can generally put you down and there's a high risk of death to a character.

Pulpy refers to the genre of pulp fiction. Old detective type stories and stuff like the John Carter on Mars series. They were generally straight forward with square-jawed heroes and cackling villains, expect a lot of over the top action.
Last edited by zircher on Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:41 pm, edited 70 times in total.

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Re: Popular RPG Systems 2

Postby zircher » Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:28 pm

FYI, the above post contains all the original entries plus those that were suggested since the last update. This post is more or less a place holder in case I need to split the listing in the future as it grows.
Last edited by zircher on Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Popular RPG Systems 2

Postby zircher » Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:28 pm

Added a dozen or so links.

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Re: Popular RPG Systems 2

Postby zircher » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:28 pm

Added Lady Blackbird.

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Re: Popular RPG Systems 2

Postby Marty » Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:57 am

I'd move/copy your post to the sticky thread directly. No sense in starting a separate thread.

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Re: Popular RPG Systems 2

Postby Aaron Stack » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:09 pm

Nah, he and Chad are cooking something up with it. No worries mate ;)
Triggerhappy938 wrote:You must be careful, Aaron's is the d4 that will pierce the heavens!

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Re: Popular RPG Systems 2

Postby zircher » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:07 pm

Aye, by owning the post, I can update it more frequently. Having to poke a moderator every time someone suggests an entry was not effective, it also resulted in a lot of long delays between updates.

I also try to make it a value added thing by including publisher/author URLs when I can find them.

What do you all think of the affiliate links, too much or a nice tip of the hat to send a few coins towards site maintenance?

Of course, as time permits, I'm going to look for more URLs and I want to add more RPGs from the Haiti bundle as I read/review them. [And added a couple dozen more links...]

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Re: Popular RPG Systems

Postby Ryoken » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:24 pm

Can you throw my game up there, Zircher?

Link in my sig. Thanks!
Creator of Synapse, Errant, Statecraft, Oceans, and Cascade Failure
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Re: Popular RPG Systems

Postby zircher » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:37 pm

Downloaded, but I have not had the time to read it yet. Got a few words to describe the setting, main dice mechanics, and level of crunch?

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Re: Popular RPG Systems

Postby Ryoken » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:44 pm


Universal system, d6 success-based mechanics. Emphasis on extraordinary character depth, modeling of the personality, and psychology of the character. High level of detail in character creation, medium crunch on actual resolution at the table.
Creator of Synapse, Errant, Statecraft, Oceans, and Cascade Failure
Download my any of my five free RPGs from my blog
Full color! Revolutionary designs!

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