[Top 5] Best Indie Tabletop RPGs

Two warriors clash swords in the mud in the middle of a bright sunny day.
Two warriors fight valiantly to pick the next game for board game night.

With the popularity of games like Dungeons & Dragons on the rise, many people are wanting to dip their toes into the deep ocean that are Tabletop RPGs. Whether you’re a veteran from 3rd edition, or a newcomer not ready for the financial investment of 5th edition, you might be wondering what other games are out there. Here are some of the best tabletop games for people new to the hobby or those just wanting to try out something new and exciting, all from independent publishers that won’t break the bank.


5. Fabula Ultima

Fabula Ultima doesn't limit itself to only one style, each class is unique and can be combined with other classes to create your own unique character.

If you’ve ever found yourself spending hours grinding stats in a Japanese roleplaying game, trying to build the perfect character, then you’ll love Fabula Ultima. It is a love letter to the games that came before it like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Build the landscape with your fellow players and adventure off into a world of turn-based combat, stat-boosting items, and of course, random encounters!

In Fabula Ultima, you will build your character using the in-depth job system, mixing and matching each ability to suit your style, and go on quests to get better and stronger gear. All of this in an attempt to stop the villain who you’ll find working in the background of every misdeed you come across. You can spend Fabula points to go further beyond your capabilities, but be careful, the Gamemaster can spend their Ultima points to allow their villains to do the same.


4. Kids on Bikes

Kids on Bikes Cover Picture

The kids and of course, their bikes, an essential mode of transport for anyone without a license.

There is something about small American towns that seem to invite the strangest mysteries. Kids on Bikes invites you to explore these suburban sprawls from the eyes of a young child. Perfect for lovers of The Goonies or Stranger Things, this system offers grand adventures on a small scale, all of them only a bike ride away.

In Kids on Bikes, your group of young kids will explore their town, uncovering mysterious elements, all for some large quest, whether that be hidden treasure, a town-wide conspiracy, or even looking for the thickest milkshake in town. The rules are easy to learn and fun to master, you and your friends will be hitting the streets within thirty minutes, try to make it home before it gets dark.


3. Stars Without Number

Science Fiction Space War

Stars Without Number features rules for engaging in ship-to-ship combat that ensures everyone is participating, as long as they aren't busy repelling alien invaders.

Stars Without Number is a Sci-Fi RPG where you create the entire galaxy in which you play. The system offers a robust creator to make different solar systems and the planets therein. From nearly earth-like planets stuck in the feudal age, all the way to gas giants with cities in the clouds, the universe is up to you and offers no end of places to explore.

Exploration is an important part of SWN, players will travel to new planets and meet their inhabitants, coming face-to-face with aliens and humans of new societies. What they do is up to them, whether they are smugglers trying to make the Kessel run, or space marines fighting off an alien menace. The rules are flexible to allow for any kind of Sci-fi story, great for die-hard Star Trek fans, or for people looking to step out of the Fantasy comfort zone.


2. Monster of the Week

Monster of the Week Rulebook Cover

All types of characters fit into the Monster of the Week format, from psychily powered kids to former soldiers with years of military experience. Oh, and a guy with a sword, can't forget him.

Monster of the Week, by Michael Sands, is inspired by shows like Supernatural or The X-Files. You play as a group of monster hunters that solve the mysteries the police would never understand. Each session is designed to be a single mystery revolving around a monster or phenomena with evil plans, and the ability to turn these monsters into recurring arcs and threats.

Your team of  hunters will solve strange cases and earn a reputation for yourself in the wonderful Urban Fantasy of the MOTW world. Live long enough and eventually your character can retire, make too many mistakes and you’ll be a juicy treat for a werewolf.

Monster of the Week uses Powered by the Apocalypse, a set of rules that, once you learn, allows you to play a plethora of games, like Dungeon World or Masks: A New Generation, it is a lightweight set of rules used in many indie TTRPGs.


1. Blades in the Dark

Blades in the Dark Rulebook Cover

The world of the Shattered Isles is a place where only the strongest, the smartest, and the best shot can survive.

Blades in the Dark, by John Harper, is a game where you take control of Scoundrels in a haunted city, trying to pull off bigger and more daring heists before the police find you–or the ghosts of your past come to take you down. You’ll explore Doskvol, a sunless city of thieves fenced in by walls of lightning, powered by the blood of demons; the perfect vacation destination.

In the game, you’ll put together a crew, from thieves to assassins to cultists, and make a name for yourself in the city. You’ll perform dangerous missions called Scores to earn Coin while avoiding the criminal underground and long arm of the law. Earn reputation with other factions to advance, and earn enough money to retire safely with as few scars as possible.

What makes Blades in the Dark the number one choice? There is no other game that plays into the high-stakes, high-reward style that Blades offers. Every action has consequences, there is no simple pass or fail, make choices, make sacrifices, and make money.


You may also be interested in:

The 13 Best Dungeons & Dragons Games (PC)

10 Reasons Why Tabletop Games Are Good For Kids

[Top 10] Best D&D YouTube Channels That Are Fun To Watch

Chris is a gamer who’s had a controller in his hands since he could use his thumbs. It started with Mario and Zelda, then he moved on to making games, and finally on to writing for and about them.
Gamer Since: 2008
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: League of Legends
Top 3 Favorite Games:League of Legends, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Baldur's Gate

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