I talk a lot about Dungeons & Dragons on here. That’s the place my brain lives when it comes to RPGs, despite how often I venture away from it. No matter what, the root of my thinking lies in that realm. The result is I don’t talk about other games I love quite as much. Unless you count the reviews I do, but those tend to be more small publisher stuff. If not less well known, less talked about. So today I have some alternate games for you to try with your group. No they’re not indie games. In fact, you have almost assuredly heard of them before, but these are a few of my favorite games worth playing.
How could I not talk about Shadowrun as an alternative table-top RPG? I love Shadowrun. It wasn’t my first exposure to the concept of cyberpunk, there have been other instances of the genre or aspects of the genre that I had seen before. It was, however, my first introduction to it. It was also the first universe that was both futuristic and fantasy that I experienced. Some may find their loves in games like Planescape or Spelljammer. But these are classic Dungeons & Dragons and there is not so much technology as there are crazy magical contraptions. You won’t find cyberspace and walkie-talkies sitting alongside spell there. Shadowrun is the game you want to play when magic isn’t necessarily easy, when you want technology at your fingertips. It seems to have it all: elves, magic, dragons, cyberspace, hacking, swords, undead, cell phones. There is much you could do to recreate the feel of Shadowrun or cyberpunk in general, but there is nothing like having a fully realized world with history, slang, and ideas that are in their essence Shadowrun. It is unique and it is amazing!
Okay, so I might as well get this one out of the way as well. Why? Because as much as I have moved away from playing any Pathfinder, I have come to appreciate what it is more and more. So much so, that I am hoping to run it again sometime with specific purpose in mind. For those who have gone the route of ignoring anything that is not Dungeons & Dragons, or if you are new, Pathfinder is Paizo’s answer to Wizards moving from 3rd Edition into something completely different in 4th. It takes a lot of what made 3rd Edition so popular and codifies it in ways WotC failed to do. Like that edition, it suffers from the great glut of content. Some people love this, pouring over hundreds of feats and dozens of spells, picking and choosing the best way to build a character. They managed to take disparate rules for things like grappling and turn them into one system. On top of all this there are optional rule books, a great number of archetypes within classes to better define what you’re doing, and some absolutely great material out there. The world of Golarian is amazing and Pathfinder excels at ideas and concepts. If you want fantasy and you really want crunch and options in your rules, than this is definitely worth checking out!
I have to wrap up today’s set by including something that comes from a system I only found about a year ago: Powered by the Apocalypse. This is a universal system that works from a basic framework and is easily molded to fit different game types, universes, and genres. Masks is just one of the games that runs off that system and it is an amazing supers RPG. While there are a few out there, Masks is the game you want to play to really drive home the narrative base from which comics are really developed. This is especially true if you fell in love with the Teen Titans or Young Justice. In this world you are not old, experienced heroes. Nor are you the first of your kind. You are just a young generation and you are stuck being influenced by your ideals, your peers, and the adults around you. The result is that Magpie Games has managed to build into the stat system ways for your stats to change based on how others see you. It is so much fun and perfectly addresses the different super archetypes you would expect to find. If you want a supers game, do yourself a favor and check it out!