Beyond D&D: Exploring Alternative TRPG Systems

Beyond D&D: Exploring Alternative TRPG Systems

You've delved into the deepest dungeons, and defeated a dozen dragons. Faerun and the other realms have been saved countless times in your Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game. But now, you're sick of the d20 and tired of eldritch blast. You’re craving something new, something exciting, something different - is it time for a new role-playing system? 

The world of tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) is vast and varied, with a multitude of systems waiting to be explored. Today, we'll guide you through the process of choosing an alternative TTRPG system that's perfect for your next epic adventure.

  1. Identify Your Preferences

Before diving into the myriad of systems out there, first take some time to identify what genre you and the group are most excited about. Are you and your party drawn to adventuring in a specific genre, like horror, urban fantasy, sci-fi, or historical fiction? Perhaps you want to be a team of post-apocalyptic monster slaying hunters, or mecha pilots saving their planet, or high school kids figuring out love and life? Understanding your preferences will help narrow down your options.

  1. Consider Your Group Dynamics

When choosing a TTRPG system, consider the preferences and playstyles of your gaming group. Are they more interested in combat, role-playing, or exploration? Do they prefer rules-light systems that prioritise storytelling, or do they enjoy crunchier mechanics with tactical depth? Finding a system that aligns with your group's preferences will ensure everyone has a great time at the table.

  1. Explore Different Systems

Once you have narrowed down a genre and playstyle, it’s time start exploring different TTRPG systems beyond D&D. There's a wealth of options to choose from, each offering unique mechanics, settings, and gameplay experiences. If you can think of a genre, there is likely a system made for it, or that can be used to bring it to life. You can chat with friends, search online, and explore to see what is out there on offer. 

  1. Read Reviews and Playtest

Before committing to a TTRPG system, take the time to read reviews and discussions, watch actual play videos, and even playtest the system if possible. This will give you a better sense of how the game plays and whether it's a good fit for your group. Many TTRPG systems offer quickstart guides or free introductory modules on their website. It may be worth trying a small one shot adventure with your group to dip your toes into the system before fully diving in.

  1. Embrace the Adventure

Once you've chosen a TTRPG system, it's time to embark on a new adventure with your gaming group. Embrace the opportunity to explore new worlds, create memorable characters, and weave dramatic stories together. Whether you're delving into the depths of space, uncovering ancient mysteries, or surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the possibilities are endless in the world of tabletop role-playing games.

  1. But where do I start?

If the options seem to daunting and you are after somewhere to start, below are some popular alternative options for anyone looking for a fresh gaming experience:

Pathfinder: If you’ve ever felt limited by D&D and wanted to be able to truly customise your character, Pathfinder might be the system for you. With more customisation options and flexibility, Pathfinder might be the perfect fit. It's known for its expansive ruleset and robust character building. There is also its sci-fi sister Starfinder, for those after a sci-fi tale.

FATE Core: For those who prioritise narrative-driven gameplay and collaborative storytelling, FATE Core is an excellent choice. Its flexible mechanics allow players to shape the story and characters in meaningful ways. 

Powered by the Apocalypse: A rules system that has been adapted into games of all genres, the PbtA games offer a streamlined gaming experience that focuses on relationships and story. Popular games include the original inspiration Apocalypse World - about characters who struggle to live through a post-apocalyptic world. Monsterhearts - inspired by shows like Buffy and True Blood where queer themes and supernatural romance is at the heart. Or World Wide Wrestling - where players can experience the thrills and drama of the pro wrestling scene.

World of Darkness: If you love dark and gritty urban fantasy, the world of darkness games offer a great variety of options. Games in the series allow players to embody characters such as vampires, werewolves, and mages, living in a world of danger and conspiracy. Among the most popular is Vampire: The Masquerade, which inspired a popular cult video game still well beloved by fans to this day.

Call of Cthulhu: If you're a fan of Lovecraftian horror and investigative mysteries, Call of Cthulhu offers a thrilling and atmospheric experience. Its sanity mechanics and emphasis on investigation make it a favourite among horror enthusiasts.

Cyberpunk Red: The TRPG system franchise that inspired CD Project Red’s best selling video game Cyberpunk 2077. Dive into a dystopian future filled with cybernetic enhancements, corporate intrigue, and high-tech heists with Cyberpunk Red. It's perfect for fans of cyberpunk aesthetics and gritty storytelling.

Blades in the Dark: Set in a haunted, industrial city, Blades in the Dark puts players in the roles of daring scoundrels navigating a world of crime and supernatural danger. Its innovative mechanics focus on heists, faction politics, and daring escapes.

Lancer: Ever wanted to become a mecha pilot? Now your dreams can be realised in Lancer, which allows players to pilot giant robots to save the world (or destroy it). The system has a fun and in depth combat system. 

Choosing an alternative TTRPG system to D&D opens up a world of exciting possibilities and new experiences. By identifying your preferences, exploring different systems, considering your group dynamics, and doing your research, you can find the perfect game to ignite your imagination and fuel your passion for storytelling. We hope the tips above have given you a good starting point and process for narrowing down the next game for you. Happy gaming!

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