15 Best Tabletop RPGs Loved By Millions Worldwide

A List of the Best Tabletop RPGs
The power of imagination is strong

An Escape into Your Own World

For almost fifty years, geeks have battled ogres, stolen dragons’ treasure, and hijacked spaceships to mars all with a pen and their imagination. Tabletop RPGs are many peoples’ escape into their own fantasies. It lets the player fully take control of their character, which is not bound by a controller or keyboard. Since the very first publication of Dungeons & Dragons was released in 1974, many new takes on the genre have found a place in the hearts of nerds forever.

 

15. Feng Shui 2

Create your own Action-Packed, Kung Fu Film

Feng Shui 2 is a fast-paced action RPG based on the classic Hong Kong action films. The game is designed to let you put yourself in those cheesy kung-fu movies. With classes that go out of the norm, such as the “Karate Cop” or the “Two-Fisted Archaeologist”, and an easy to learn rulebook, you’ll never find a dull moment when you’re saving the world one epic flying kick at a time.

The setting itself is a spectacle on its own. Time portals have popped up, sending the characters to four different key points in history. 690 AD during the Tang Dynasty, 1850 AD where the Opium Wars raged on, contemporary Hong Kong, and 2074 AD which has become a dystopian world much like the world of Mad Max, but full of cyber-apes.

If you’re a fan of cheesy kung-fu characters and crazy action scenes, then I highly recommend you pick yourself up a copy of this Tabletop Classic.

Feng Shui 2 Gameplay

 

14. Genesys

The Roleplaying Game for All Settings

Perfect for any setting, Genesys was designed to be the most versatile when it comes to campaign design. From sprawling steampunk cities to magical fantasy land, Genesys covers them all. 

The system itself has its own unique set of narrative dice. Instead of using regular, numbered die, there are six different kinds of dice in Genesys. Each new dice is packed with six different symbols on all of them that give successes or failures based on the symbols the dice land on.

With no set campaign setting and a new spin to dice, Genesys makes a fun and fresh experience for new and veteran tabletop gamers alike. 

Genesys gameplay

 

13. Fate Core System


Build your own game all the way down to the core mechanics

For those who want to customize their campaign to the very core (no pun intended), they may want to get their hands on Fate Core System. Using the Fudge system, a freeform game engine with no set rules, Fate allows the Game Master and Players to determine their own way to play.

Much like Genesys, Fate Core System can be used in any setting you can imagine. It is a good option for those who like tabletop RPGs, but don’t want a ton of rules to remember.

Fate Core System gameplay

 

12. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay


Everything you wanted in a Warhammer RPG

Many know the Warhammer series as the army-building strategy game, however, it also has a pen and paper counterpart. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay takes the focus from a large scale army to a single character, while remaining in the same dark fantasy setting loosely based around the Old World and the Holy Roman Empire. 

Much like the tabletop RPG’s setting, the game engine is also based on it’s preceding wargame. The lethal combat allows many foes to die in one or two hits, which seems great... aside from the fact this means so do you. 

For those who prefer a dark fantasy setting with quick and lethal combat, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay does not disappoint.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay gameplay

 

11. Masks: A New Generation


Save the world but make sure your homeworks done!

Masks: A New Generation is a game full of angsty, superpowered teens, where you’ll be less worried about your life, and more about how you look while saving the day. A tabletop RPG where your character’s emotions affect their performance, Masks takes the superhero genre of tabletop RPG in a whole new direction.

For those looking to play a game full of high school drama, capes, and hidden identities, look no further. Masks: A New Generation has everything you need to be a teenage crime-fighting team like the Teen Titans.

Masks: A New Generation gameplay

 

10. The D20 System


The setting is only restrained by your own imagination!

A system with many settings, the D20 System was published by the creators of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast. Several rulebooks have been written to cover many different settings such as D20 Modern, D20 Future, or even D20 Apocalypse.

The system derives from the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons but allows players to be more creative when designing their own campaigns, as it is no longer limited to strictly fantasy.

It’s designed For those who are fans of the classic D&D, but want a fresh approach to the setting. The D20 system gives Game Masters and Players the right tools to create interesting lands and characters outside of the magical world of Dungeons & Dragons.

D20 Modern gameplay

 

9. The Expanse


Live in the world of your favorite TV characters!

Putting players into the world of Steve Kenson’s novel, the Expanse RPG’s core campaign takes place in the 18-month gap between the first and second books. The game’s setting is a familiar solar system full of spaceships and planetary colonies.

Using a modified version of the AGE system, players will have an easy time learning the mechanics as it only uses three six-sided die for any action. The Expanse differs from other installments in the AGE system by removing hit points for fortune, adding conditions, interludes, spaceships, and a fun new mechanic called the Churn for Game Masters to keep things suspenseful!

With a great, in-depth world behind the system, the Expanse is a good sci-fi tabletop RPG for anyone looking to explore the world of the novel and tv show, or even just looking for a futuristic pen and paper that uses the AGE system.

 

8. Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Roleplaying Game


If you're not an anti-hero or a villain, you're playing it wrong

Star Wars has touched just about every other form of entertainment, and Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is a fantastic addition to both tabletop RPGs and the franchise itself. In Star Wars Edge of the Empire, you’re taken to the Outer Rim, where morality is questionable and only the grittiest survive. 

Like many of the other installments of the Star Wars: Roleplaying Game series, the system uses specialized die that uses symbols instead of numbers. It is a bit of a learning curve at first, but this system actually plays very well. It makes for exciting situations once you’ve learned the rules.

For fans of Han Solo or any of Jabba’s bounty hunters, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire will have you living out your fantasies as one of the morally ambiguous characters found in the Outer Rim.

 

7. Deadlands


Grab some saspirilla and put in your cowboy boots for this one

A mix of cowboys and supernatural monsters is what makes up Deadland’s Weird West. You read that right. The Wild West as we know is called the Weird West in this alternate history of the end of the 19th century where ghouls roam the lands of the cowboys.

History played out exactly the same as ours until 1863 when Native Americans performed a ritual to drive out the European settlers. Not going how they hoped, it unleashed creatures from a spirit realm called “Reckoners”, and created literal Hell on Earth. The dead began to rise, especially on the battlefields of the Civil War which only fueled the horrors overcoming the West. 

Staying true to the theme, the system uses a deck of playing cards in addition to dice to perform various tasks and even create your character.

If you’re a fan of the western or horror genre, the mix of the two makes for a unique and fun experience in Deadlands.

 

6. Cyberpunk Red


If you don't like your body, build yourself a new one!

Cyberpunk Red is the latest edition of Cyberpunk. Taking place in the same world as the upcoming video game Cyberpunk 2077, Cyberpunk Red is a prequel to the video game, set in 2045 Night City. 

The full game itself is not out yet, as they are currently waiting for the release of Cyberpunk 2077, however, they did release a jumpstart kit that has fans of the dark futuristic series running through Night City as the cybernetic characters taking refuge in the troubled city.

If you enjoy altering your body with powerful cybernetics and running through a chaotic, war-torn city, pick up the jumpstart kit while we all wait for the release of this epic, dystopian RPG.

 

5. Shadow Run 5.0


Dive into a seriously messed up alternate reality in Shadowrun

Shadowrun takes the classical fantasy trope full of orcs, dwarves, elves, and magic, and throws it into a dark future with cybernetics and future tech in this science-fantasy RPG. The world of Shadowrun was originally a world much like ours, until 2011, the “Year of Chaos”. Magic was reintroduced to the world after being gone for so long, which caused chaos to consume the lands. Fantasy races were born to humans, and many people were “Awakened” and given the ability to cast spells.

The game’s title is based on the main premise, shadowrunning. A Shadowrun is a form of industrial espionage used by corporate rivals and underworld figures. In a world full of futuristic fantasy and espionage, making memorable and exciting missions will be a breeze for any game master looking to use this system.

 

4. Call of Cthulhu 7E


Just don't play it right before bed

The Lovecraft novels have inspired hundreds of movies, shows, games, and Call of Cthulhu is no exception. The setting takes place in a Lovecraftian 1920’s full of horrors incomprehensible to the human mind. Of course, this setting makes perfect sense for the RPG to have a sanity system implemented. The further your character delves into the realm of monsters, the higher risk they have of going insane.

For players who like to be kept at the edge of their seat, paranoid about what will happen next, Call of Cthulhu is the best horror tabletop RPG to keep you up at night.

 

3. Blades in the Dark

Go from Rags to Riches by stealing the Riches!

Blades in the Dark is a game about low life scum fighting their way to the top of the criminal underground in the city Duskvol after the sun went lights out. The world was left in eternal darkness.

The game adds a unique and creative mechanic called flashbacks. These allow players to plan out their missions in real-time. At any moment in the game, a player can ask for a flashback where they go back in time to bribe a crooked cop, or tape a pistol under that desk in the corner. 

Blades in the Dark will take the players on a journey like no other, where they have to kill and steal their way to the top. Only the grittiest and brutalist crooks will survive.

 

2. Pathfinder


Sometimes the classics are the best

Somewhat of a sequel to D&D 3.5e, Pathfinder improves upon the system, making the base classes of 3.5e much better. Over time, the game allowed players to customize their playing experience all the way down to the rules implemented into the game, giving a unique experience every time.

The game is truly an open design RPG, allowing players to create their worlds and campaigns with an endless supply of options. Pathfinder is a fantasy RPG based off of the famous tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons, giving players an incomprehensive amount of customization to choose from.

Pathfinder gameplay

 

1. Dungeons & Dragons 5E


Make it extra fun with a little Homebrew!

It should come to no surprise Dungeons & Dragons 5e claims the number one spot on this list. Being the first tabletop RPG has given it the most time to evolve and grow into its best form. With hundreds of books written and millions of active players, Wizards of the Coast have created the best system to get your fix for everything fantasy.

With easy to learn rules, but a high skill cap, Dungeons & Dragons is perfect for those who have never played a tabletop RPG in their life, while still keeping veterans of pen and paper coming back for another epic, magic-filled adventure.

 

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Forged in the Steel City of Pittsburgh, Austin has begun a journey only sought by the bravest men; to explore the realm of ink.
Gamer Since: 1999
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Dark Souls Remastered
Top 3 Favorite Games:Batman: Arkham Origins, Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine
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