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Best tabletop RPGs 2024 (that aren’t Dungeons & Dragons 5E)

Explore worlds beyond the Forgotten Realms.

Image credit: Need Games

There’s nothing better than losing yourself in a story, especially your own, and the best tabletop RPGs can do that. Tabletop RPGs – or roleplaying games – are pen-and-paper experiences that are driven by players’ imaginations. The majority of tabletop RPGs have one player taking the role of games master, the person who narratives the story and places characters not controlled by the others, with the rest of the players taking charge of their own individual characters. Players then decide what their characters do in the story and use tools like dice to determine the outcome of events.

The most well-known and popular tabletop roleplaying game in the west is easily Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy RPG that has appeared in the likes of Stranger Things, is part of the same universe as Baldur’s Gate 3 and even had its own movie last year called Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Despite D&D’s success and renown, there are many other tabletop RPGs available. Some share similarities with D&D – such as gameplay mechanics and setting - whereas others are very different.

Best tabletop RPGs 2024

We’ve curated a list of the best tabletop RPGs that aren’t Dungeons & Dragons to provide people, such as yourself, who might be new to roleplaying games or haven’t tried anything outside D&D before, some great alternatives. Whether you’re after something more accessible or a rich RPG to sink your teeth into, or if a different setting – such as science fiction or horror – is what you’re looking for, you’re bound to find what you want in one of the 11 best tabletop RPGs you can play now.

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1. Perils & Princesses

Break free of the constraints of traditional fairytales as a band of courageous princesses

A promo image for Perils & Princesses.
Every princess has their own special ability granted to them by their fairy godmother. | Image credit: Outrider Creative

Inspired by the traditional fairytales of Brothers’ Grimm and classic animated children’s films, Perils & Princesses is a fantasy roleplaying game in which the players become damsels who save themselves from distress. The entire group creates characters who have once found themselves helpless – whether from an evil stepparent or hungry wolf – but now want to take charge of their own destinies.

These princesses aren’t traditional in many ways, including their gender and their attitudes towards being forced to wait for help. Players will enable their princesses to rewrite their stories through empathy and courage, as well as the gifts given to them by their respective fairy godmothers. Along the way, players can form friendships with each other as well as various people and creatures they meet. As in the many stories that inspire it, Princesses & Perils features a world haunted by evil and greed that the player characters can try to escape or even save.

The gameplay of Perils & Princesses is the right amount of accessible to allow younger and/or less experienced players to get their heads around it. As their characters grow, learn lessons and make new friends, their abilities will improve – giving them the power they need to overcome the dangers they face. Play Perils & Princesses for a light, family-friendly tabletop roleplaying game that turns traditional fairytale tropes on their heads.

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2. Coyote & Crow

This sci-fi RPG written by indigenous writers imagines a North America free of colonialism

Explore a frozen landscape plagued by harsh winters but blessed with natural beauty. | Image credit: Coyote & Crow

At first glance, Coyote & Crow treads familiar ground. The tabletop RPG's setting presents a future vision of Earth, transformed in the wake of a global climate crisis, for players to explore. Both on and off the table, however, Coyote & Crow represents something new. Created by an Indigenous-led team, headed up by Cherokee designer Connor Alexander, the RPG imagines a world where colonisation never occurred, breaking free of the Eurocentric influences and philosophies established by the likes of Dungeons & Dragons.

Coyote & Crow’s setting of Makasing is an alternate North America that was never colonised by European settlers. Hundreds of years after a meteor collision almost wiped out humanity and plunged the world into inhospitable winters during a period known as Awis, players control inhabitants of the world’s five Indigenous-inspired nations as they use advanced technology and a force known as Adanadi to thrive in the post-apocalyptic landscape.

The RPG’s gameplay uses 12-sided dice in a system akin to Shadowrun or World of Darkness games such as Vampire: The Masquerade, with a focus on solving encounters creatively without immediately resorting to violence. While the rules have plenty of depth, Coyote & Crow also puts an importance on weaving meaningful narratives and character development, drawing inspiration from Native American storytelling. (The rulebook provides advice to non-Indigenous players on respectfully portraying characters and stories without veering into cultural appropriation.)

Between its engrossing setting and gameplay, Coyote & Crow is a literal world away from some of the aspects of “classic” roleplaying that are better left in the past. As the winner of the Tabletop Award for Best Roleplaying Game – alongside its creators being awarded Best Publisher - it paints a bright future for tabletop storytelling.

Buy Coyote & Crow on the game's website.

3. Delta Green

Solve otherworldly mysteries in this X-Files inspired horror roleplaying game

Delta Green RPG artwork
Players can expect to encounter all sorts of strange and disturbing phenomena in Delta Green. | Image credit: Arc Dream Publishing

A tabletop roleplaying game inspired by cult classic sci-fi TV series The X-Files, Delta Green sees players joining a secret organisation that investigates strange goings-on across the world. As Delta Green operatives, players will be tasked with solving supernatural or extra-terrestrial-related crimes around their usual day jobs. Being members of Delta Green not only means regularly putting yourself in peril, but the player characters are also forbidden from telling anyone else about it.

From terrifying cryptids to galactic visitors, players will be forced to face all sorts of weird and dangerous beings throughout their missions. Despite being trained operatives, the player characters do not have any superhuman abilities themselves and must instead attempt to survive through the horrors they face. However, more important than the safety of their own lives is the will of the United States government, whose orders may lead to players having to make difficult decisions that will impact their characters and other, possibly innocent, people.

Delta Green uses the same gameplay system as the horror RPG Call of Cthulhu, with players rolling a percentile die and attempting to get a lower result than the skill they’re using. As in Call of Cthulhu, the characters in Delta Green can struggle to overcome certain challenges – especially ones they’re not adept at – and therefore present a significant challenge. In Delta Green, it’s not necessarily about winning but more about fulfilling the mission goals, at whatever cost: unless players want to go against the US government’s wishes.

If you love The X-Files, science fiction and horror, then Delta Green is most definitely a tabletop roleplaying game you should play.

Buy Delta Green from DriveThruRPG.

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4. Blades in the Dark

Ocean’s Eleven in a dark steampunk world

Blades in the Dark RPG artwork
Duskvol is a harsh and oppressive city controlled by the wealthy. | Image credit: John Harper/Evil Hat Productions

The city of Duskvol is a dangerous place. Its streets are filled with gangs, guards and even ghosts. It’s also the setting for the steampunk fantasy roleplaying game Blades in the Dark. Created by John Harper, Blades in the Dark is an RPG about crawling your way out of the darkest holes of society using wits, connections and instinct.

Players in Blades in the Dark are members of a crew who dream of making a steady life for themselves through the less-than-steady career of thievery. Duskvol is a city of extreme wealth and poverty, where rich noble families live in luxury over the sewers and hovels of the poor - which is why there’s nothing wrong with you and your fellow crewmates taking a little of that luxury for yourselves.

Each session of Blades in the Dark is shaped around a job, which can be as simple as stealing a valuable item from a wealthy resident or as complicated as pulling off a full-blown bank heist. However, unlike many other heist stories, this one won’t have you devising your plan beforehand. Instead, the players are able to pause in the middle of the action to describe a flashback sequence that will somehow explain how their character was prepared for a sudden obstacle or setback. This gameplay system allows the pacing of each session to flow smoothly, rather than having one very long section at the beginning where the players make their plan. It also adds an element of improvisation and chaos to the experience, echoing the characters’ own feelings of potentially feeling in over their heads.

If the players manage to complete their jobs without getting locked up by the authorities or taken out by a rival gang, then they’ll go onto accept more and more ambitious work. Luckily enough, their experiences will also enable them to gain new skills and acquire some impressive equipment from their contacts. We haven’t even touched on the supernatural element of Blades in the Dark! (Some players are able to communicate with the dead.) Safe to say, there are many reasons to play this particular tabletop RPG.

Buy Blades in the Dark on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5. Starfinder

Science-fiction thrills rooted in classic fantasy and roleplaying

Starfinder RPG artwork
There are several interesting and unusual species for players to choose from when creating characters. | Image credit: Paizo

Starfinder spawned out of fantasy RPG Pathfinder, which itself span out of Dungeons & Dragons’ third edition. The traditional roots of the sci-fi RPG mean that Starfinder offers a crunchy gameplay experience with a solid foundation in classic roleplaying, while also bringing in the unique flavour of its universe and the Pathfinder system.

Those roots also run through Starfinder’s setting, which blends together sci-fi evolutions of familiar fantasy species - from goblins to elves - and magic with futuristic technology such as starships and weapons. You can even bring elements from Pathfinder to Starfinder if you wish, as the game takes place in the far-flung future of Pathfinder’s world.

If you’re a Dungeons & Dragons veteran after a sci-fi experience that goes deeper than the ‘D&D in space’ feel of Spelljammer, Starfinder is the tabletop RPG for you. You’ll still be rolling a d20, using familiar skills and encountering species not a million lightyears from those you know and love, but Starfinder successfully puts its own mark on sci-fi roleplaying with deep gameplay - including space combat aboard your crew’s ship - and epic storytelling.

A second edition of Starfinder is currently in the works, with a playtest due to launch in 2024. In the meantime, though, the first edition of Starfinder is still an excellent RPG by itself, and has no end of adventures and supplements available for those looking to explore every possible corner of the galaxy.

Buy Starfinder Enhanced from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

6. Mörk Borg

Delve into a dark fantasy world where the best you can hope for is redemption

The cover of Mork Borg: Bare Bones Edition shows the gaping maw of a demon scratched in stark, jagged lines.
The world of Mörk Borg is marching towards destruction when player characters enter it. | Image credit: Johan Nohr/Stockholm Kartell

Most fantasy roleplaying games, such as Dungeons & Dragons, want to offer their players a world where they can wield powerful magic, gleaming swords and fiery axes in order to save people. Mörk Borg takes a slightly different approach by presenting a gloomy world where characters must struggle to survive and people may not deserve to be saved. An apocalyptic RPG, Mörk Borg isn’t about being a hero - it’s about finding something worthwhile to cling onto as the last vestiges of humanity turn to ashes.

Player characters in Mörk Borg are people seeking resolution, redemption or recompense for their otherwise miserable lives. Taking place on the eve of destruction, the dark fantasy TRPG features a doomsday clock gameplay mechanic that gradually makes the world a more dangerous place to live in. There are also plenty of opportunities for player characters to make crucial mistakes, whether that be a miscast spell or a misplaced sword-swing, with the consequences often being severe. All of this – plus the roster of bloodthirsty assailants players can encounter – makes for a pretty mean RPG that we wouldn’t recommend to new roleplayers or anyone who isn’t up for having a depressing time.

What Mörk Borg can offer players is an exploration of finding comfort and catharsis in the end. Rather than reveling in power fantasy and spectacle, Mörk Borg provides players with a safe space to tell stories about depression, guilt, fear and all those other difficult emotions that humanity struggles with. The end might be very dark in Mörk Borg, but there are plenty of opportunities to create light before it all goes dark - which is why curious players should check it out

Buy Mörk Borg on the Free League Games store and Zatu.

7. City of Mist

Superheroes meet myths, fairytales and noir in this approachable, atmospheric RPG

As superheroes, players can craft their own crime-fighters from a variety of different powers.

Finding the right tabletop RPG for your group can be tricky. Some players might be after classic fantasy with magic and myth, while others prefer modern-day settings and technology. City of Mist is a game that should please just about everyone you play it with, deftly weaving together a smorgasbord of influences and genres into an atmospheric, approachable adventure.

City of Mist builds on the Powered by the Apocalypse system seen in many other popular RPGs, while adding to its familiar, beginner-friendly rules with some new ideas. Among those is the use of tags that help define a character and their abilities, with the player drawing on their characters’ applicable tags to help boost their chance of success when resolving tests.

Those characters are superheroes whose powers are rooted in classic myth, legend, fairy tales and folklore - whether that’s Biblical legends or the mythology of cultures from around the world and across history. Those powers will come in handy as the players navigate both the conflicts of both their everyday life and secret alter-ego, and the demands of being a hero tasked with protecting the city and its inhabitants against all manner of otherworldly monsters and threats.

With its adventures blending noir mystery, superhero action and everyday drama, City of Mist is a tabletop RPG with plenty to offer no matter what your group is after. Its approachable rules and potential for colourful stories drawn from comic books, graphic novels, traditional tales and more besides can help make it whatever you want it to be - but what’s already in the box is a heck of an offering as it is.

Buy City of Mist from the RPG's website.

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8. Lancer

A mech RPG inspired by the likes of Evangelion and Gundam

Lancer RPG artwork
Fans of the mech genre should definitely try Lancer. | Image credit: Massif Press

Who doesn’t want to control a massive robot in space? Sci-fi RPG Lancer draws on classic mech anime such as Gundam and Evangelion to bring to life its vision of a far-flung future much more upbeat than the grimdark likes of Warhammer 40,000.

Players control pilots working on behalf of various factions, who hop into their powerful mechs to solve whatever problem is required of them. The RPG mixes deep narrative storytelling with a tactical edge in its mech-based combat, with the ability for players to highly customise their machine and deploy onto hex-based grids for battles.

Lancer’s futuristic setting mixes crunchy combat with more fantastical elements, while players progress the story and development of their characters both in and out of the mech. While the game’s universe isn’t quite a utopia – someone still needs to employ the players’ pilots to solve problems, after all – it's a much more hopeful and bright look at sci-fi than the recent trend towards dark, dystopian horror.

Lancer finds a thematic sweet spot between the flashy cinematic scope of Saturday morning cartoons and a serious commentary on human society, wrapped up in a complex, visionary take on an ever-popular genre: big robots fighting. One of the most original RPG settings of recent years accompanied by rewarding gameplay, it already looks set to become a modern classic.

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9. Fabula Ultima

The best tabletop RPG for video game fans

Classic JRPG series like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger and Dragonquest are huge inspirations for this tabletop RPG. | Image credit: Need Games

Fabula Ultima’s wink-wink name (Latin for ‘The Last Story’) tells you almost everything you need to know about this colourful, beginner-friendly tabletop RPG; it’s a love letter to Final Fantasy and other Japanese RPGs that proudly wears its inspirations on its sleeve.

Don’t dismiss Fabula Ultima as just popping a disposable set of rules in eye-catching pixel-art and retro references, though. This is a lovingly-made, highly polished experience that’s just as suitable for complete tabletop RPG beginners as it is for those seeking out a Final Fantasy-like experience on the tabletop.

A major part of that success is capturing the spirit of Final Fantasy and other video games like it, rather than just copying their homework with a few letters switched around. While combat plays a part in Fabula Ultima, just as important are the relationships between players’ characters, manifested in their bonds with other members of the party that can be drawn upon to help with dice tests. Those bonds don’t always have to involve being the best of friends, either, with the potential to create complicated relationships and explore memorable character development over the course of a campaign.

Still, combat is still here, powered by an original system that sees players combining two core traits - out of dexterity, insight, might and willpower - and rolling different dice based on their respective levels. (Or the same die, if you use the same trait twice!) Battles move quickly thanks to the straightforward but satisfying rules, with players and enemies taking alternating turns like in a video game for that added comfortable feel - and less downtime. Status effects and the power to spend limited fabula points for re-rolls and roll bonuses provide plenty to think over and enjoy without being as complicated as many crunchier RPGs.

Wrapped up in a gorgeous book that allows players to take their characters to whatever kind of fantasy world they like - from classic high fantasy to something more natural or futuristic - Fabula Ultima works as the perfect stepping stone for video gamers looking to explore a new yet familiar roleplaying game with friends. It’s a true crowdpleaser - no wonder it was awarded People’s Choice at the 2023 Tabletop Awards!

Buy Fabula Ultima from DriveThruRPG.

10. Brindlewood Bay

Play as a group of grannies investigating Eldritch terrors in a sleepy town

Brindlewood Bay features a delicate balance between dark horror and wholesomeness.

Iconic television show Murder, She Wrote and the Cthulhu Mythos don’t initially seem to be the most compatible match-up, at least at first. However, rules-light TRPG Brindlewood Bay somehow makes the unusual combination work very well. Taking place in a sleepy and picturesque New England Town, Brindlewood Bay is a roleplaying game in which players become a group of elderly ladies who pass the time with book club readings and investigations into the occult.

Though Brindlewood Bay certainly has elements of horror – which will intensify as the game progresses – it balances them out with softer and slower aspects. Every player character will have their own cozy activity that they can perform to decompress and look after themselves: such as baking, stamp collecting, figure painting and more. The player characters are encouraged to support one another, regardless of whether their potentially disparate personalities gel.

Every session of Brindlewood Bay is presented as an episode of a TV show, with the games master narrating the beginning of the ‘episode’ as the player characters enjoy their cozy activities. However, the tone can darken quite a lot as the plot thickens and the Eldritch horrors threatening the town make their move. The players will need to take in account that they’re controlling older characters who aren’t used to dealing with such great dangers, meaning that they’ll have to tread especially carefully – thereby upping the fear factor.

Brindlewood Bay is an interesting mix of horror and wholesomeness that will be unlike anything you’ve played before.

Buy Brindlewood Bay from DriveThruRPG.

11. Fiasco

A chaotic and fast-paced RPG inspired by the films of the Coen Brothers

An image of the components for Fiasco: Second Edition.
Schemes in Fiasco never work out well for its characters.

Pulling off a perfect plan without a hitch is satisfying, but sometimes the most memorable moments come from everything going south. Dropping players into the botched setups of foolish criminals, Fiasco is the best tabletop RPG where nothing goes your way.

Fiasco leans into its cinematic debt to crime capers like Fargo and Burn After Reading – along with basically all of the Coen brothers’ movies – by breaking gameplay into a number of scenes. Players create characters that have relationships with each other, but who are mostly out for their own benefit – with tragic and comedic (sometimes at the same time) consequences.

There’s no game master, with players taking it in turns to describe what happens during each scene. A handful of six-sided dice in two colours – representing positive and negative aspects of the story - are used, which players pick during scenes to influence the flow of the plot.

Fiasco’s simple movie-like structure allows it to translate to a number of different genres and settings, from classic neo-noir crime films to westerns, sci-fi and fantasy. At the end of each of the game’s two acts, there will be a tilt – where things suddenly go sideways – and, finally, the aftermath, where players describe what happened to their characters. Normally it’s not good news for the characters, but it’s a lot of fun for the players.

Its uniquely cinematic format, potential for tragicomic stories in any number of settings and GM-less, rules-light gameplay make Fiasco one of the best RPGs for new players looking for something original when it comes to roleplaying. The RPG’s original rulebook has since been replaced by an even more beginner-friendly boxed set that swaps dice for cards, allowing newcomers to jump straight in and let the chaos play out.

Buy Fiasco on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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