Last time we talked about new game systems and how to get players to try them. But how do you even begin to work out what you want to play?
Well, in total abandonment of my usual article format, please allow me to provide you with a sort of superlist of the most interesting stuff in each genre and some advice about making those choices if you are thinking of making a leap into other games. This is intended as a flyby of stuff you might like to try.
I still want to play fantasy, but D&D is lacking [X]
- There are a ton of fantasy games that might do it for you. If you’re looking for a game that feels completely different and has you invested in a deep world from the get-go, you could try Runequest, which is a more bronze age style fantasy that feels like D&D’s antiverse cousin.
- If it’s a gritty approach you’re after, then the Warhammer Fantasy RPG is a good shout as its even more mechanic heavy cousin Zweihander which is sort of the same ruleset divorced from the Warhammer universe.
- If you’re looking for a more mythic storytelling experience with very few rules, try seeking out Everway, especially as it’s getting Kickstarter re-release. Another rules-light option is to go with a PBTA fantasy game like Dungeon World or Thirsty Sword Lesbians.
- If you want to go the other way and there to be more tactical decisions, building and customisation options, then going with Pathfinder is a pretty good choice.
- If you want a more off the wall game, with a distinctly different, check out Mork Borg or Troika! Depending on if fighting a losing battle or exploring odd worlds are your gig.
- Finally, if you want to play a cute animal warrior, Pugmire is the fantasy game for you.
I’m interested in space settings
- Space settings are often so particular that trying to get a feel of one type of property might require you to play that actual properties game because Star Trek doesn’t feel like Star Wars. So it’s good to note that there are lots of licensed properties in this field.
- The Latest Star Trek Adventures game from Modiphius does a great job of translating that universe, as does Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars game, although unless you have a lot of money to drop on lots of corebooks just to play what you want, you might be better seeking Scum & Villainy and setting it in the star wars universe.
- Another option is the giant of the genre – Traveller, an expansive universe that feels epic and deep but is a very dense game.
- If you are into hard-sci fi universes, then you should check out Eclipse Phase as an exploration of a different transhuman universe where you can’t trust anything or the Alien roleplaying game if you want a rundown universe with little hope.
- Alternatively, if you want to stomp around the star in big robots and blow each other apart, Lancer is worth checking out.
I don’t care about space, I more interested in the horrors that lurk in our soul
- Just find a copy of Vampire: The Masquerade already. Although personally, track down the earlier revised edition from the 90’s/00’s because I feel like the latest edition bought into its own hype.
What about other forms of horror?
- Call Of Cthulhu is the horror standard and has a big community. I think it is worth playing Cthulhu with someone who really gets the mythos. Creepy and a great intro to horror gaming. If you are looking for something a little less cosmic, Chill has been a strong competitor for a long time.
- Weirdly, a lot of the best horror games are also period pieces, with Deadlands (the wild west), LexOccultum (middle age to enlightenment) and Vaesen (Nordic 1800’s) all being worth a look for those with the desire to visit historical horror.
- If you are looking for a game to cover a wide variety of horror, then check out the new game Shiver, which is garnering a lot of attention and is very customisable.
- Also, we can’t really mention the modern horror game without talking about Dread, which utilises a Jenga tower in order to create a sense of tension. This has never, in my experience, failed to bring the fear.
I really want to play a post-apocalyptic game
- This game selection really depends on where you want to go with it; lots of these games offer different experiences.
- If you want a real-world grim survival setting, Twilight 2000 is your jam. Do you want gonzo out there post-apocalyptic fantasy where you might end up playing a sentient outhouse? Gamma World.
- There are lots in the middle of these options too. Mutant: Year Zero offers a series of campaigns where community and exploration are the key to making the world better for you and yours, whereas Apocalypse World is a good rules-light that is character driven and concerned with conflict between ideas.
- If instead want a world that is going to hell but still recognisable as ours, then invest some time in DeGenesis, which will literally eat days of your life as you unpeel its dense setting and deep political play.
I don’t want my world to be in ruins yet! I’m looking for a cyberpunk game
- Well, there is obviously Cyberpunk, which has always been a good game. Most editions are pretty good, although the one with the doll art is a bit off-putting.
- The other big gun in this one is Shadowrun which has a great setting but a lot of people bounce off the ruleset. I’d suggest digging out the third edition, which to me is the optimum version before it got too dense.
- A lighter game with interesting storytelling mechanics is The Sprawl, which really pits your players against the clock and creates tension.
- Also, if you are looking for something a little more light in tone, Corporation has you covered with its tongue in cheek approach.
I love super heroes, what’s good
- I think if you are looking for Marvel-style heroics, Mutants And Masterminds cannot be bettered, except that it takes a lot of grokking. Once you have it, it flies, but there’s a significant system knowledge buy-in, same for Champions as both games.
- Masks is the other end of the spectrum and very enjoyable in just letting the super stuff happen without too many rules to bog you down, but it is very centred on teen drama. Icons is somewhere in the middle and worth checking out.
- If you are looking for a more Watchman vibe, then I recommend Wild Talents because the system feels gritty.
- If you are looking for pulp heroics with little mechanics, then Spirit Of The Century is another great game with the very light fate ruleset with a 1930’s-50’s setting.
Anything else you missed?
Yes, so many. Play Legend Of Five Rings because it’s an amazing game of samurai politics, war and darkness. Play Feng Shui 2 because it’s high Hong Kong action with massive explosions and cyber gorillas. Play Werewolf: The Apocalypse for its spirituality and body horror combo. Play Airship Pirates because you love rum, victoriana and time travel. Play 7th Sea because being a pirate is about swashbuckling, not deep stats. Play Paranoia because the computer told you to. Get out there and play. There’s so much to see.
Until next time, I hope you find something on the list to try and enjoy. Next time, a return to our scheduled programming when I talk about my favourite element of any RPG game – the bad guys.
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