Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Top 5 Fantasy RPGs That Are Better Than D&D

This is a list of some of my favorite role playing games. I chose to limit this list by games that are available right now, and games with a fantasy theme so that they might appeal to players who are specifically looking for a D&D alternative.

5. Quest by Adventure Guild

This is the lightest game on the list. It's a great introductory game, but it will also work for a group who might be experiencing "game crunch" burn out. It's light and breezy with a simple dice mechanism that doesn't change as you play. Instead characters gain special exceptions to the rules that usually surpass the roll of the dice. These exceptions multiply and combine as your character grows. Terms and tropes will be familiar to D&D players and the light mechanisms should be a welcome change to players looking for a less rules-centric experience. Also, the PDF documents for the game are available for free!

4. Blue Rose - The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy

Blue Rose is a game based on Romantic Fantasy. When compared to High Fantasy we are talking about a fairy tale world. One with talking animals and fairy princesses. If you want to recreate the Princess Bride or stories like it, Blue Rose is the perfect place to start. This version uses the AGE system which is a great RPG system that Wil Wheaton featured when he ran his Titansgrave series on YouTube. This one costs money, but you can download a quickstart to sample the game system for free.

3. Warlock!

Warlock! is inspired by old-school British RPGs like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Unlike WFRP, Warlock! uses a d20 for task resolution and is way more accessible than its predecessor. I wrote a review of Warlock! that you can take a look at HERE. It's a favorite.

2. Talisman Adventures

This is based on a board game, but has a surprising amount of lore and an incredible game system to back it up. Talisman Adventures feels decidedly old-school while being super modern. The dice system uses only d6, and the core rulebook is available for free. So, you could play this one even if you've never set foot inside a hobby gaming store. Did I mention that character race options include Fairies and Trolls? It's cool!

1. 13th Age

This is my favorite alternative to D&D and my favorite role playing game full stop. 13th Age has some D&D DNA and is published under the D20 OGL. It was designed by Rob Heinsoo, lead designer of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, and Jonathan Tweet, lead designer of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. You read that right. The lead designers of D&D's two previous editions teamed up and wrote an RPG, and it's my favorite RPG. While I strongly recommend purchasing a copy of the beautiful hardcover core rules book, much of 13th Age is available freely online in the 13th Age SRD

Besides being the best iteration of D&D (Yes, I think that it's better than 5E and Pathfinder.), 13th Age introduces a lot of cool innovations. Players have "icon relationships" that connect them to key figures in the game world. Every player has one unique thing, something that sets them apart from every other person in the world. A special combat bonus called an "escalation die" starts at zero but increases by one after each round of combat. This makes combat more exciting with every round of battle instead of less. Between levels players get an "incremental advance" which is a partial level that makes leveling up your character easier. I also love the 13th Age world. The Dragon Empire is my favorite high fantasy setting. I am also super excited that the second edition of 13th Age is coming to Kickstarter sometime this year!

All This And More ...

I didn't mention Dragonbane because I just did a review for it. (Also, it isn't actually available right now - but hopefully soon!) Aside from Dragonbane, here are some honorable mentions: for players who want an old-school D&D experience, it doesn't get any better than Labyrinth Lord. Or for a similarly old-school experience with more modern mechanics, Dave Zajac's Simplicity is simply excellent. (Both these great RPGs can be downloaded for free!) How about you? What's your favorite fantasy RPG that's not D&D. Leave me a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook Group.

No comments:

Post a Comment