Most everyone who comes here loves a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, but sometimes it’s fun to try something a little different. We’ve rounded up a short list of well-loved alternatives to the typical fantasy fare found in D&D and Pathfinder, including one that will allow you to play without a GM.
Featuring a variety of settings and mechanics that even include one to play without a GM, here’s a quick overview of the current top five systems on DriveThruRPG.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
1. Ditch the GM with Mythic Game Master Emulator (2nd Edition)
Did you know you can now play any role-playing game solo, even without a Game Master? Thanks to Mythic’s oracle-style question resolution system, solo role-playing has supposedly been completely revolutionized.
The Second Edition of the Mythic Game Master Emulator has tons of new features compared to first edition, including customization options and mechanics improvements. It’s a pretty great tool to enhance your solo RPG adventures.
You can use the Mythic Game Master Emulator Second Edition with any TTRPG system to replace the Game Master, or you can even play it on its own without any other game.
As a Forever GM myself, this is not something that I want to use, but I realize many of you may have a hard time finding someone you like to run your games. This could be a great solution.
Since it’s currently the best seller on DriveThruRPG, it seems like a pretty common problem.
I have to say it here, though: if you’re excited to run a game and you’re just nervous, check out our resources on getting started. We want more people running games. We believe it makes the world a better place.
2. Cyberpunk RED
It’s called Cyberpunk RED, and it’s got everything you need to dive into the post-War world of the Time of the Red. If you’re into post-apocalyptic cyber punk territory, this is for you.
The premise? Megacorporations led the world into a full-scale war and devastated the planet. Now, you’ve got to fend for yourself.
First up, the game offers tons of fun lore on the history and geography of Night City and the wider Cyberpunk world, so you can really get immersed in the Time of the Red. And with ten unique Roles to play, including everything from charismatic Rockerboys to hard-hitting Medias, you’ll have plenty of options for creating your character. It’s an exciting change if you’re tired of high fantasy tropes.
Cyberpunk RED also features a collection of powerful weapons, protective armor, and super interesting, cutting-edge cyberware to help you dominate the Street. And with three premade “Screamsheet” adventures and pre-generated opponents, you’ll have what you need to start playing right away.
If you’re not sure about it, you can try out the Cyberpunk RED Jumpstart Kit for a taste of the universe. Or if you’re feeling nostalgic, you can always go back to the popular previous edition of the game, Cyberpunk 2020.
3. The Order of Prometheus for Traveller
How about a weird science experiment in a backwater planet cluster?
For the intensely popular Traveller Sci-fi TTRPG ruleset, this is an adventure about a covert society that’s stolen a cosmic secret.
In the setting, The Order of Prometheus is using this pilfered knowledge to tamper with nature for their own ends, creating a chain of events in a sci-fi mystery the players must unravel in a variety of interesting locations.
It is also one of the most popular adventures available for Traveller right now.
4. Worlds without Number
Worlds Without Number is a fantasy role-playing game set in the fathomless future of the Latter Earth. You’ll need steel and sorcery to overcome ancient alien rulers and ruthless lords, and discover the treasures that await in the subterranean Deeps.
It’s not just a game of sword and sorcery. It’s also packed with system-neutral GM tools and world-building support, which is great if you already have familiarity with or penchant for a particular system and don’t want to learn new rules.
The free edition includes OSR-compatible rules, world-building tools, adventure creation tools, faction rules, and more. And if you upgrade to the deluxe version, you’ll get heroic characters, legates, bonus character classes, and even more GM tools.
This is different from a standard Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder game in the setting; it’s much more gritty and “realistic” than what you’ll find in the fluffy, higher fantasy versions of games.
It reminds me of a harder version of LOTR lore. Maybe if LOTR had a baby with Conan the Barbarian, but less baked-in misogyny.
5. Fabula Ultima TTJRPG
FABULA ULTIMA is a TTRPG that takes inspiration from Japanese-style console RPGs, or JRPGs. In this game, you and your friends can create epic stories of heroes and villains set in fantasy worlds filled with magic, incredible locations, and unique monsters.
If you can’t get enough IF (interactive fiction) and you want to bring that to your gaming table, this would be a good fit for you.
You can make your own world by taking reference from three different styles provided. The ruleset is simple and intuitive, designed to create gameplay and an atmosphere similar to your favorite JRPGs. It also encourages players to set goals and shape the story.
You’ll face many challenges from the included Bestiary with fifteen different Classes to mix and match for unique heroes. The Game Master has everything they need to set the scene and guide the group through memorable adventures. The book contains advice, guidelines, and all the tools required to run the game successfully.
Will you be switching to one of these popular options? Perhaps trying a new system out in a one shot?
I’d love to read about your choices and adventures in the comments below.
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