MORE RPGs You'll Love
We ran an article earlier this month about how Dungeons and Dragons is king of Tabletop RPGs. But there are LOTS of other systems, many flying beneath the radar, that deserve your attention for their innovating approaches to storytelling! If you haven't heard of these games before, consider them before starting your next campaign!
All RPG systems limit your control in one aspect or another. And that’s okay! You are given freedom within the confines of the system or the rules. That’s what makes the game a GAME, and puts the “G” in “RPG”. But few systems give you more freedom than the Fate Core System.
In D&D, for example, you need to pick one of the dozen or so classes. Pretty much everything you can do in the game is determined by that class: proficiencies, attacks, spells, etc. But Fate does away with classes to let you create *exactly* the character you want to. You needn’t even choose from a predetermined list of skills and feats, because Fate lets you rewrite those too!
The system put a greater emphasis on your character as an individual than any other I’ve come across. What makes them unique? What talents and troubles do they possess? What features separate them from others with similar abilities? Then the Game Master or fellow players are welcome to use these aspects to compel those around them to behave in advantageous or disadvantageous ways. To do so, a player must spend a Fate Point, a special currency in the game that ebbs and flows during play between the GM and the players.
Through Challenges, Contests, and Conflicts, the emphasis of Fate is progressing the story, and how choices and circumstances impact the players. As such, there are no DCs or difficult to comprehend variables: only failure and success. These are determined by rolling a pool of special “fudge dice”, marked with “+”, “-”, and blanks. If you’d rather use dice you already own, treat rolls of 1s and 2s as a “-”, 3s and 4s as blanks, and any result of 5 or 6 as a “+”. You add the result of your roll to your bonus to a certain skill, and if the result is positive, you succeed! Simple!
Because Fate puts so few constraints on the imagination, it is entirely setting agnostic. It can as easily be used to run a science fiction story, a fantasy adventure, or a trek through the weird west! If you’ve ever been playing a system and wished the rules would get out of your way, Fate is the game for you! The pdf for this game is available for free or pay-what-you-want here!
If you’ve been looking to play a horror game but bemoaning the fact that it’s difficult to raise the tension for your players when everyone is comfortably sitting around a well-lit room rolling dice, Dread may be the answer to your prayers!
Terror can be difficult to instill in your players when the game doesn’t back you up. D&D, for instance, encourages players to make badasses whose first reaction to seeing an unknowable horror is to cast fireball or charge at it, sword in hand! Dread solves that problem by making every action from the very start of the game fraught with life-threatening peril by implementing an alternative to dice for resolving difficult or dangerous actions… the Jenga tower.
Also a setting agnostic game, Dread begins with everyone sitting around a table in the center of which is a tower of wooden blocks. The GM sets the scene and begins to take the characters through the scenario. Every time a player takes a risky action (whether or not they know it is risky), they must take a block from the tower. Every action makes future endeavors more likely to fail as the tower becomes less and less stable. Soon characters and players alike will be paralyzed with fear, because when that tower falls… someone dies.
Players will try to stop themselves from fidgeting, lest they bump the table and cause things to fall! Any wrong move, in or out of the game, could be the end of a character. When, not if, the tower tumbles, it is reset, and several blocks are removed in advance so that the tension stays high! No rest for the weary.
Games of Dread usually have a high body count, and their stories are typically brief by nature. Unless there is a revolving cast of characters, games don’t tend to last more than a session or two. Horror is harder to preserve over long periods of time, and Dread is a dish best served in a quick but devastating course.
If you haven’t played Jenga in a while, and are ready to have a memorable night of fright, then pick up the free PDF for Dread here!
And MANY more...
We can only cover so many other RPG systems, but there are SO many to choose from! Why not tell us about your favorites? Tweet or message us so we make sure your personal picks make it into our next article!