Looking for a new TTRPG
With the recently leaked revisions to the OGL, so many are considering other TTRPG systems to replace D&D. It’s not just content creators either. The vast majority of consumers felt betrayed by the unethical language found within OGL 1.1. For years, Wizards of the Coast openly expressed their values. A desire for inclusivity and social justice to be interwoven within their game’s rules, lore, and culture seemed to be a consistent theme in their public statements and press releases. The leaked document demonstrated a hypocritical abandonment of their principles. It left their fan base feeling lied to.
This controversy couldn’t have come at a worse time for WotC. The community was already preparing to leave 5th edition in favor of the new One D&D rules set. Dungeons & Dragons isn’t a difficult game to play, but it does possess a barrier to entry. To get started, a DM needs to purchase and read 3 rulebooks. Even players need to pick up what amounts to a textbook of rules. For the last year, WotC sunk money and energy into priming its core audience to do this all over again. Then they betrayed that audience’s trust.
D&D enthusiasts are ready to take the plunge into a new system, purchase new books, and invest considerable time into learning new rules. However, they now find themselves disgusted with the company and brand they invested their energy into. Since they already felt ready to make a change, they now look to other tabletop role-playing games for alternatives.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of solid, entertaining, and engaging games. Tabletop gamers want a publisher that respects the fan base and content creators, and quality games written by people that understand the hobby. I’ve compiled a list of quality core rule systems that provide a fun time come game night.
The publishers of these games also stand by their own Open Gaming License and encourage community adaptation and content creation.
Homebrewers should check out these games.
Created by Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Savage World is known for its fast-paced, action-packed gameplay. It’s also earned a reputation by employing a unique mechanic called “wild die”. The system is also designed to be flexible and adaptable, allowing players to create their own settings and campaigns. Alternatively, GMs can make use of published settings like Deadlands or the sci-fi expansion, Rifts. The game also features a simple, skill-based character creation system, allowing players to quickly create characters that fit their desired play style.
GURPS (Generic Universal Role Playing System) is one of the better-known tabletop role playing games systems out there. Created by Steve Jackson Games, GURPS is known for its high level of flexibility and adaptability, allowing players to create characters and settings in any genre. From medieval fantasy, modern day urban environments, to far-out sci-fi .
One of the unique features of GURPS is its point-based character creation. This mechanic allows players to spend points on abilities, skills, and attributes. Steve Jackson Games also provides a multitude of sourcebooks and supplements. Which provides players with a wealth of information and options to customize their game.
These sourcebooks are exceptionally useful because of GURPS’ malleable design. You can do a lot with this system. The publisher providing this extra guidance really goes a long way. GURPS uses a simplified mechanics set that focuses on a 3d6 system aimed at under or on-target scoring. This allows for a more in-depth simulation of various scenarios. This one provides a lot of value for highly creative tables.
You know what else it has? An OGL!
In FATE we see a tabletop role playing game system that emphasizes player agency and a narrative-driven style of play. You 5e folks will like that. It was first introduced as part of the role-playing game “FUDGE”, and has since been developed and expanded. It’s the embodiment of game evolution.
The system uses a mechanic called “Aspects”. Which are phrases that describe a character or a scene. This informs the actions of the PCs and defines the boundaries of the gameplay. Players leverage “Aspects” for bonuses, to invoke advantages in a skill roll, or to create complications for opponents.
The system also features a unique set of mechanics called Fate Points, which players can spend to invoke Aspects, power special abilities, or to resist negative effects. The mechanics employ custom dice called “Fate Dice”. Which are d6s with two faces marked with a +, two with a -, and two with a blank face.
Fate will be the subject of a deep dive review soon, but I will attest that it is a very fun game. I personally intend to find a FATE table to play at once time permits.
Interested in trying out a new game?
Check out my reviews!
Created by Monte Cook Games, Cipher System focuses on flexibility and adaptability. It allows for a wide range of settings and genres. From science fiction and fantasy to modern-day and historical settings, you can take this game just about anywhere.
The core mechanics are based on a 2d6 roll plus a modifier. Which are opposed by a Difficulty Number or another character’s roll. We also get a unique character creation system. It uses “descriptors” and “foci” to define characters. Descriptors are broad, genre-appropriate terms such as “clever,” “strong,” or “mysterious”. While “foci” provide more specific information such as “expert swordsman” or “hacker”. The system also includes a set of “cyphers”, which are unique, one-use items that can be used to give characters powerful abilities or bonuses.
Additionally, Cypher System employs a “Cypher Level of Mystery”. Players and GMs don’t always have all the information about a location, so characters must explore and experiment to make discoveries. This creates a feeling of adventure and mystery and sets the game apart from other systems.
Some of the popular settings of Cypher system are Numenera, The Strange, and Predation.
Castles & Crusades
Published by Troll Lord Games, C&C (Castles & Crusades) is designed to emulate the “Old School” feel of classic fantasy tabletop role playing games like the original edition of Dungeons & Dragons. This game employs straightforward, D-20 mechanics designed for easy assimilation. GMs and players can focus on story and role-playing rather than complex rule systems. We also get a familiar class and race-based character creation model. Players get their choice of fighters, clerics, magic users, and thieves, and their abilities vary depending on their class.
The setting of Castles & Crusades is a classic fantasy world with dragons, elves, dwarves, and the like. Troll Lord Games also provides a variety of adventures and modules that take players through dangerous dungeons, ancient ruins, and fantastic cities.
We get something a little extra with this system. C&C includes a set of detailed rules for building and running a castle or keep. Players can manage and defend their own territories. Which adds a layer of strategic gameplay to the game. If you’re looking to transition away from Dungeons & Dragons, this is a system worth looking into. You’ll get the classic D&D flavor and it comes with a cherry on top.
Time to move on…
These games are an excellent place to start expanding your tabletop experience. Wizards of the Coast often cite D&D as, “The greatest TTRPG in the world.” They’re wrong. It’s an excellent TTRPG, it’s the most popular TTRPG, but it’s not the best. There is no such thing as “the best”. It’s subjective, and the world is full of variety. D&D may be the best game for you, but, then again, maybe it’s not. The only way to know for sure is by trying out other systems.
The OGL scandal may be the best thing that has ever happened to the TTRPG industry. DMs and players disgusted by WotC’s behavior have a good excuse to try something new, and this debacle couldn’t have come at a better time. The D&D community was already beginning to move towards a transition. They were expecting to learn new rules, make new characters, and write new adventures, and they still can. They can do it with one of the above systems. The community’s primed for something new. Maybe, instead of a new edition, they will switch to a whole new system.
Wizard Respite Regulars
Zachariah Van Sluyters from Old Man Gaming and Ash Alder from the Wizard’s Respite live-streamed a playthrough of the The Last Tea Shop.