5 Fantasy Roleplaying Alternatives to D&D

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So in our previous article we looked at seven of our personal favourite roleplaying alternatives to D&D – and I have to say that the response was amazing in terms of website visits and comments both on here and via our social networking. So genuine thanks for the responses – even the ‘I can’t believe you haven’t included…….’ ones!

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I do want to start this follow up piece by emphasising again that this is not intended as a pile-on against the beleaguered D&D community after the ongoing clusterfuck of a PR campaign from Wizards of the Coast. The plain fact is that my roleplaying first love back in the 1980’s was D&D, and while I may not play it much these days after becoming obsessed with other games (yes Call of Cthulhu, I’m talking to you), I do intend to play D&D again at some point as it still holds a dear place in my heart. So no, my issue isn’t with the game or the community – but more so with the individuals in charge currently in charge.

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So the intention is to provide another list of alternatives to D&D – and once again, the intention is not to provide a statement of what we think are the five best games, unknown games, or superior games – but simply a list of fantasy games that we have come in contact with that offer something special in a particular way. This may include rather ‘obvious’ choices too (as in number 1) that use the same 5e mechanics as D&D. For the sake of avoiding repetition, I’m also not including the two fantasy games, RuneQuest & Dragonbane, that were included in the previous article.

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And yes, I know that 5 isn’t a large number and that there’s a huge number of fantasy TTRPG choices that could make any list, so the fact that many of your personal favourites may not be included isn’t meant as a slight on your favourite game. In fact I’m more than happy for you to mention in the comments below any suggestions for a future list, as well as suggestions for our next feature, ‘5 Horror TTRPG alternatives‘.

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Pathfinder
(From Paizo)

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The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game puts you in the role of a brave adventurer fighting to survive in a world beset by magic and evil. Will you cut your way through monster-filled ruins and cities rife with political intrigue to emerge as a famous hero laden with fabulous treasure, or will you fall victim to treacherous traps and fiendish monsters in a forgotten dungeon? Your fate is yours to decide with this giant Core Rule Book provides everything a player needs to set out on a life of adventure and excitement!

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This imaginative tabletop game built upon more than 10 years of system development and an open play test involving more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into the new millennium.

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The comprehensive 640-page guide to the Pathfinder roleplaying game provides everything you need to set out into a world of limitless fantasy adventure! Choose from ancestries like elf, human, and goblin and classes like alchemist, fighter, and sorcerer to create a hero of your own design, destined to become a legend! The new Pathfinder rules are easier to learn and faster to play, and they offer deeper customization than ever before!

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The Pathfinder Core Rulebook includes:

More than 600 pages of game rules, advice, character options, treasure, and more for players and Game Masters!

Six heroic player character ancestries, including elf, dwarf, gnome, goblin, halfling, and human, with variant heritages for half-elf and half-orc!

More than 30 backgrounds like bartender, soldier, or apprentice to further immerse yourself in your hero’s backstory!

Twelve character classes, including the alchemist, barbarian, bard, champion, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, and wizard!

Hundreds and hundreds of spells, class feats, and other exciting abilities to help you customize your character to become the hero YOU envision her to be!

Streamlined and revised rules to help ease new players into the game while providing the depth of character options and tactical interest that have defined Pathfinder from the beginning!

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Pathfinder content can be purchased in PDF format here at DriveThru RPG

For more information check out the Paizo website RIGHT HERE

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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
(From Cubicle 7)

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Can’t put it down, can you? You know what’s in here. You’ve seen them. The twisted ones, the arrogant ones, the lost ones. Oh, you’d like to walk away and life be all cake and daisies, but you know you’re going here instead. You’ll try to convince yourself it’s because you’re greedy for the loot, or can’t resist a fight, but we all know the truth. So ready your sword, clean your pistol, and watch out for that dog – he might be small but he’s unreasonably vicious.

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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay takes you back to the Old World. Get the gang together, create your (anti)heroes, and set off to make your way through the vile corruption, scheming plotters and terrifying creatures intent on destruction. Prepare yourself for the struggle of the gutter, to fight for your survival, and to face corruption on all sides. Prepare yourself for danger, as lethal threats are everywhere, and you can’t face them alone. And, most of all, prepare yourself for the grim and perilous adventure of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay!

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Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay can be purchased as a PDF here at DriveThru RPG

The Cubicle 7 website can be found RIGHT HERE

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The One Ring
(From Free League Publishing)

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The new edition of The One Ring™ roleplaying game, set in the world of The Lord of the Rings™by J.R.R. Tolkien and designed by Francesco Nepitello, became the most successful tabletop RPG core game ever on Kickstarter when it ended March 4th 2021, raising over $2 million.

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It is the year 2965 of the Third Age and the Shadow is returning. Twenty-four years ago, an alliance of Elves, Men, and Dwarves defeated a horde of Orcs and Wild Wolves, under a sky darkened by Giant Bats, inaugurating a new era of prosperity for the Free Peoples. But twenty years is a long time for peace to last, and in many dark corners of the earth a shadow is lengthening once again. Rumours of strange things happening outside the borders of civilised lands are spreading with increasing regularity and, while they are dismissed by most as fireside-tales and children’s stories, they sometimes reach the ears of individuals who recognise the sinister truth they hide.

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These are restless warriors, curious scholars and wanderers, always eager to seek what was lost or explore what was forgotten. Ordinary people call them adventurers and, when they prevail,
they hail them as heroes. But if they fail, no one will even remember their names.

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This is The One Ring, a roleplaying game based on The Hobbit™ and The Lord of the Rings™, two extraordinary works of fiction by the beloved author and respected academic, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. With these books, Tolkien introduced readers to his greatest creation, the world of Middle-earth, a mythic land from a remote past. With The One Ring, Middle-earth is yours to explore — you will travel the land searching for clues about the return of the Shadow, and have the chance to play a part in the struggle against the Enemy…

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Now in its second edition, The One Ring™ comes with updated and revised rules, a new visual style, and a focus on the land of Eriador — the lone-lands west of the Misty Mountains. Among its key features are:

Rules for travelling across the land (Journey), facing frightening foes (Combat), and meeting the personalities of Middle-earth (Council).

Thorough advice for the Loremaster on how to bring Middle-earth to life, including rules for magical treasure, the Shadow, and the Eye of Mordor.

In-depth information on six Patrons — individuals sponsoring the adventures of the Player-heroes — including Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey.

A bestiary containing a spread of adversaries, from lowly Orc Soldiers and Highway-robbers, to monstrous Cave-Trolls and Barrow-Wights.

Rules to create your very own Nameless Things — unknowable beings from the dark corners of the world.

A complete Landmark adventure, The Star of the Mist, with extra support for new Loremasters, in the form of tutorial advice throughout.

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The One Ring can be purchased as a PDF here at DriveThru RPG

The Free League website can be visited RIGHT HERE

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Dungeon Crawl classics
(from Goodman Games)

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DCC RPG is a fast-paced, open-feeling rules set allowing for epic game experiences without unnecessary tethers. It uses modern game-play while paying homage to the origins of role-playing and the fun that it inspired.

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Goodman Games supports DCC RPG with adventures, settings, yearbooks, and sourcebooks based on Appendix N authors. Goodman Games has released over 40 adventures for DCC RPG, and more are in the pipeline.

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Beyond the core rulebook, there are settings that expand your experience with DCC RPG. These settings include DCC Lankhmar (licensed from the estate of Fritz Lieber), The Shudder Mountains (inspired by the works of Manly Wade Wellman), Mutant Crawl Classics (a stand-alone, post-apocalyptic, science-fantasy setting), Empire of the East, and the upcoming Xcrawl Classics and DCC Dying Earth. All supplements use the Dungeon Crawl Classics core rules.

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Dungeon Crawl Classics can also be purchased as a PDF here at DriveThru RPG

For more information check out the Goodman Games. website RIGHT HERE

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Pendragon
(From Chaosium)

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Pendragon is Greg Stafford’s award-winning Arthurian roleplaying game. As players you take on the role of knights following the chivalric code. It introduced traits and passions that reward players acting as virtuous knights as they compete for glory. Known for its innovative game design, King Arthur Pendragon integrates seasonal adventures where players are able to experience running not only a knight, but later, their children in long epic campaigns.

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Relive the grandeur, romance and adventure of the greatest of all legends — the story of King Arthur. Assume the role of a knight starting his career in the time of Uther Pendragon, undertaking quests and perilous adventures for your lord, for your lady-love, for the Church, or for your own glory. Win great renown with your laudable deeds and feats of arms, perhaps even winning the right to carve your name into the Round Table itself as the story of Arthur and Camelot unfolds around you.

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With its innovative rules, including the distinctive traits and passions system designed to help you in determining your character’s behavior under any circumstances, King Arthur Pendragon provides a unique roleplaying experience laid out against the richest tapestry in Western literature.

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New for 2023 – Pendragon 6th Edition!

In early 2023 the Pendragon Starter Set for 6th Edition will be released, followed closely by several more title as Chaosium relaunches this historic RPG line.

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It is an age of chivalry, an age of adventure & fantasy—it is the age of Pendragon! The Adventure of the Sword Tournamentis a complete scenario and special preview of the rules for Pendragon 6th Edition. Within, you’ll find:

A ready-to-play scenario, allowing you and your players to partake in the epic moment when an unknown, back-country squire draws the sword from the stone.

A rules overview covering Traits, Passions, Skills, and combat.

Five pregenerated Player-knights.

A primer on the city of Londinium: the setting for the scenario.

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Pendragon can also be purchased as a PDF here at DriveThru RPG

For more information check out the Chaosium inc. website RIGHT HERE

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