Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition or D&D5e has long been the gold standard for tabletop role-playing games or TTRPG, but there’s a vast world of captivating game systems out there waiting to be explored that are not D&D related. For those seeking fresh worlds, mechanics, and stories, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular TTRPG systems that are NOT D&D5e. Prepare to embark on new adventures and create unforgettable memories with these exciting alternatives.
While Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has long been a beloved and popular tabletop role-playing game, there are several reasons why players might consider switching to or trying out another game system. The elephant in the room is the current controversy surrounding Wizards of the Coast desire to rein in their longstanding Open Game Licensing (OGL), the upcoming system update titled One D&D (coming in 2024) and the use of Pinkerton agents to recover unreleased Magic the Gathering (MTG) cards from a YouTuber named, Dan “Oldschoolmtg” Cannon. We won’t dive into these topics except to acknowledge that they exist and are leaving a dark mark on D&D as well as Wizards of the Coast.
Why Try a TTRPG that is not D&D5e
Whichever side of the controversy fence you find yourself on it is always good to stretch your legs and see what other game options are out there. Here are some other, less divisive, reasons you may want to explore other TTRPG options that are not D&D5e.
Each TTRPG system has its own rules and mechanics that can cater to different playstyles. For example, some systems emphasize narrative-driven gameplay and character development, while others focus on combat tactics or political intrigue. Exploring other systems can help players find the mechanics that best suit their preferences.
Switching to another game system often requires learning new rules, which can be a stimulating challenge for experienced players. Mastering a new system can help players develop new strategies, tactics, and problem-solving skills, which can ultimately make them more versatile and adaptable gamers.
Some players might be interested in experiencing different genres beyond high fantasy, such as horror, cyberpunk, or historical fiction. Trying out different TTRPG systems can allow players to immerse themselves in diverse worlds and explore the full spectrum of role-playing possibilities.
Diversifying play experiences
Playing multiple TTRPG systems can enrich a player’s overall gaming experience by exposing them to new ideas, themes, and perspectives. Additionally, participating in various systems can help players better understand the nuances and strengths of each game, which may inspire them to create unique homebrew campaigns or adapt elements from one system into another.
A gaming group might be interested in trying a new system to accommodate the preferences and interests of its members. Switching systems can help keep players engaged, encourage collaborative storytelling, and reinvigorate a group’s enthusiasm for TTRPGs.
The Top 10 TTRPG systems we love that are not D&D5e
Ultimately, the decision to switch from Dungeons and Dragons to another game system comes down to personal preferences and a desire for new experiences. With a wealth of TTRPG systems available, there’s always something fresh and exciting to discover, offering countless opportunities for memorable adventures and character growth. Change can be hard but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You might just discover your next favorite game. Here are a few amazing and game tested systems that Nerd Night News recommends!
Often referred to as D&D’s closest cousin, Pathfinder is a highly popular TTRPG system published by Paizo. It builds upon the foundation of D&D’s 3.5 edition, offering a deep and customizable rule system. Players can choose from an extensive range of races, classes, and archetypes to create their ideal character. With a rich, established world in Golarion, Pathfinder presents a unique setting for epic adventures and countless hours of exploration. Find out more HERE!
Call of Cthulhu
Delve into the world of cosmic horror with Call of Cthulhu, a TTRPG based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Published by Chaosium, this game puts players in the shoes of investigators trying to uncover the dark secrets of the Cthulhu Mythos. Featuring a sanity mechanic and an emphasis on investigation, Call of Cthulhu provides a unique experience that tests both the minds and the mettle of its players. Can you uncover the truth without losing your sanity? Find out more HERE!
Vampire: The Masquerade
Step into the shadows and join the secret world of the undead in Vampire: The Masquerade. This is a TTRPG published by White Wolf Publishing. In this game, players become vampires navigating the complex world of undead politics, ancient conspiracies, and the ever-present threat of the Beast. With its dark and mature themes, Vampire: The Masquerade presents a captivating, immersive experience. It’s selling point is the exploration of the nature of morality, power, and personal identity. Find out more HERE!
Blades in the Dark
Embrace your inner scoundrel with Blades in the Dark, a TTRPG by John Harper and published by Evil Hat Productions. Set in the gritty, industrial city of Doskvol, players take on the roles of criminals looking to make a name for themselves in the city’s underworld. With its innovative, narrative-driven mechanics and focus on heist-style gameplay, Blades in the Dark offers a unique, cinematic experience that’s perfect for fans of crime dramas and dark fantasy. Find out more HERE!
From the creators of Pathfinder, Paizo presents Starfinder, a science-fantasy TTRPG that takes players to the far reaches of space. Combining elements of both science fiction and fantasy, Starfinder offers a diverse array of species, classes, and worlds for players to explore. Whether you’re a daring space pirate or a wise mystic, the galaxy is full of opportunity and danger in equal measure. This makes Starfinder a thrilling journey through the stars. Find out more HERE!
Venture into a post-apocalyptic wasteland with Apocalypse World, a TTRPG designed by D. Vincent Baker and Meguey Baker. Focusing on the struggle for survival and power, players inhabit a world ravaged by scarcity, danger, and the ever-looming threat of violence. Apocalypse World’s rules-light, narrative-driven system emphasizes player agency and collaboration, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a more freeform role-playing experience. Find out more HERE!
Cyberpunk meets urban fantasy in the thrilling world of Shadowrun, a TTRPG published by Catalyst Game Labs. Set in a dystopian future, players assume the roles of mercenaries called “shadowrunners,” who navigate the dangerous world of mega-corporations, powerful magic, and advanced technology. With its unique blend of genres and innovative rules system, Shadowrun offers endless possibilities for creative storytelling and high-stakes action. Find out more HERE!
Explore a world of ancient mysteries and strange technology in Numenera, a science-fantasy TTRPG by Monte Cook. Set in the far future, players discover the remnants of past civilizations – the titular numenera – scattered throughout the world. With a focus on exploration, discovery, and the unknown, Numenera offers a unique and evocative setting that encourages players to think creatively and embrace the weird. Find out more HERE!
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Step into the grim, perilous world of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP), a TTRPG set in Games Workshop’s renowned Warhammer Fantasy universe. Published by Cubicle 7, WFRP emphasizes dark humor, gritty realism, and brutal combat. Players navigate a world beset by chaos and corruption. Creating heroes that defy the odds to survive and thrive in this unforgiving setting is just half of the fun. If you’re a fan of the Warhammer universe or simply enjoy a good, dark story, WFRP is a must-try. Find out more HERE!
Unleash your inner Coen Brothers with Fiasco, a GM-less TTRPG by Jason Morningstar and published by Bully Pulpit Games. Fiasco Focuses on stories of ambition, incompetence, and bad decisions. It allows players to create their own darkly comedic tales of crime and chaos. With its easy-to-learn rules, emphasis on collaborative storytelling, and endless replayability, Fiasco is perfect for a fun, one-shot game night or a break from more traditional campaigns. Find out more HERE!
Dungeons and Dragons is the flagship, but you should try a TTRPG that is not D&D5e
There’s a world of incredible systems beyond Dungeons & Dragons. These games provide unique opportunities for storytelling, character development, and exploration. They allow players to immerse themselves in new worlds and create lasting memories with friends. Gather your dice, grab a rulebook, and embark on an unforgettable adventure with a TTRPG that is not D&D5e.
What other TTRPG options would YOU recommend? What other topics would you like to see Nerd Night News cover? Tell us in the comment section below!
And while you’re here try out some of our other Nerd Articles… LIKE THIS ONE! The Best D&D Streams (That Aren’t Critical Role).