Categories: Entertainment

5 Great Tabletop Role-Playing Games That Aren’t D&D

It’s no secret that tabletop games, particularly TTRPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, have exploded in mainstream popularity. However, given the recent legal kerfuffle regarding D&D, I thought I might introduce you to 5 alternatives in a variety of genres. 

1. Pathfinder Second Edition.

The first tabletop game on the list is the second edition of D&D’s main competitor in the fantasy TTRPG sphere, Pathfinder. Pathfinder 2e is made by Paizo, a company with a long history with TTRPGs and one of the most respected names in the industry. It’s one of the best TTRPGs to get into if you’re new to the space or have only played D&D, as many of its features are very similar. One of the great things about Pathfinder 2e is the fact that you can gain access to everything you need to play the game, every supplement, and every add-on from every adventure pack absolutely for free. Other notable features include wider class options, such as Summoner, Oracle, and Gunslinger, as well as a far greater build variety thanks to the way feats and character progression work. This game also has a spell called Mad Monkeys, which is just incredible. It’s a great game, made by a great company, and it’s pretty easy to get into. 

2. Starfinder.

Our second tabletop game is another of Paizo’s creations, Starfinder. Rather than being focused on high fantasy adventures, Starfinder’s genre is more accurately described as “Science Fantasy.” Set in a far future with many alien races, Starfinder shares many of Pathfinder’s benefits, such as free access to all player-facing content and a level of familiarity for those who have experience with systems such as D&D or Pathfinder. However, I find Starfinder is at its best when you focus on the things that set it apart from those games. For example, the playable alien races are amazing, ranging from the proud and reptilian Vesk, to the one-legged frog-like Jububnans, to just straight up space goblins and hyper-intelligent uplifted bears. This game is built for space adventures, with high-tech weapons, cybernetics, and even a whole set of rules for building giant robots. Another great facet of the game is how it blends the futuristic high technology with magical and fantastical elements of its setting. All-in-all Starfinder is a bit more niche, but if you want a system that blends futuristic and fantastical in a seamless and well-designed package, look no further. 


Tabletop Game number three is a newer one, and one I’ve had a lot of fun playing for myself. Lancer is a game about piloting giant robots, or mechs into battle to carry out various missions in a massive, post-scarcity galaxy. The lore of the game itself could be a whole article, given how interesting and detailed it is. Another great thing about lancer is accessibility. All player-facing content is available for free, and they have a well-maintained character-building app known as COMP/CON. However, I highly recommend that if you do get interested in this game that you purchase the PDFs to support the creators and community. The gameplay itself is quite fun, especially character building and combat, as it features some of the best-realized mech combat in a tabletop game. There is a massive variety of mechs to pilot, and each one is fully customizable with various weapons and systems. The community is highly active and very welcoming, and they even have a spin-off game about space battleship combat. Another great aspect of this game is that it only needs two kinds of dice, a 6-sided and 20-sided, to play, making it very accessible. A great game you should absolutely try if you can. 

4. Call of Cthulhu

This eldritch-horror themed tabletop game is an absolute classic, and for good reason. However, you can also think of it as something of the “Dark Souls of TTRPGs” because anything and everything can and will kill/drive your character insane. The grim, less fantastical nature of the game is what attracts some people to it, even if they don’t feel strongly about the works of Lovecraft. I’ve only played it a few times, but I enjoyed it. I will say that it isn’t exactly for everyone, and if you go into it thinking it’s just like D&D you will be in for a nasty shock. Another thing to be aware of is that the world of Call of Cthulhu is based on our own, so magic is rare and highly dangerous. It’s a very different experience to more fantastical and hopeful games like the ones higher up on this list. It’s a great system with tons of potential, but it’s not exactly easy. But if you want a darker, more modern experience about average humans trying to survive and uncover the eldritch truth, the Call of Cthulhu is the game for you. 

See Also

5. Cyberpunk RED

The final tabletop game I’ll be talking about is one of the most recent. Created to capitalize on the popularity of Cyberpunk 2077, RED is the newest iteration of the classic TTRPG Cyberpunk. Unlike 2077, RED is set in the not-too-distant future of the 2040s, and has noticeably fewer bugs. If you want to be a cybernetic lowlife in a high-tech world, hacking peoples brains and dealing with a world overrun by terminal late-stage capitalism, RED is the system for you. Recently the creators of Cyberpunk RED released a starter pack for new players, so now is a perfect time to get into it. One of the hallmarks of the original Cyberpunk TTRPG was how very eighties it was, and RED continues this trend. If you enjoyed the original TTRPG, 2077, or the genre of Cyberpunk as a whole, you should give this game a try. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of dystopian settings, as the overwhelming bleakness makes it a little hard for me to get invested, but my tastes are subjective and I understand why others do enjoy it. Setting aside. If you want to be a crazy body-hacker with giant blades hidden in your arms, then Cyberpunk RED has you covered. 

Did we miss any TTRPGs that you love? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know!

Featured Image Source:
Edward Zukoski

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