Anyone who has seen me peaking over a GM screen can tell you: I really like obscure RPGs. There’s just something satisfying about pretentiously asking someone, “Oh, really? You haven’t heard of _______? How could you have never heard of _______?” Whether you’ve been looking for something new to play or you just want to lose friends, this list will help you out! Although you won’t be able to find some of these games anymore, you will still look like a god among geeks when you drop the name of one of these games.
Enjoy this list of ten awesome tabletop RPG’s that you’ve never heard of!
Disclaimer: You may have heard of some of these. Don’t freak out, okay?
No. 1 | Don't Rest Your Head
I've had never really played a tabletop RPG that was actually scary until I picked up Don't Rest Your Head. It's a game where you play as someone who cannot sleep to such a point where reality starts to break apart. The rules really lend themselves to the kind of scary that actually works in a tabletop RPG. Not the kind of scary where something jumps out at you or even the kind of scary where you really don't know what will happen next. DRYH is scary because you can constantly feel yourself slipping, ever so slightly, into a void where you REALLY don't want to be. Don't Rest Your Head on RPG.net Buy Don't Rest Your Head on DriveThruRPG!
No. 2 | Tunnels and Trolls
An oldie, but a goodie! Written by Ken St. Andre and first released in 1975, Tunnels and Trolls, or T&T, was designed to be a more accesible alternative to Gary Gygax's Dungeons & Dragons. It was simple, it was fun, and it was pretty much a blatant ripoff. Tunnels and Trolls on RPG.net
No. 3 | Cascade Failure
This is a great little sci-fi game, given to us by independent developer Greg Christopher (AKA Cubby Funster). The game is set after an intergalactic apocalypse wipes out most of society. A very well-designed game and a great change of pace to the traditional sci-fi setting. Plus, it's FREE! Cascade Failure reviews on RPGnow.com Get Cascade Failure from DriveThruRPG.com for FREE!
No. 4 | Paranoia
Now, this one you may have heard of; it has been around for quite some time. It was first published by West End Games in 1984 (Which is appropriate, considering Paranoia's pseudo-Orwellian setting). The most recent edition, Paranoia 7, was released by Mongoose Publishing in 2009. It combines a totalitarian dystopia with a whacky sense of humor. How? We don't know. We just know it's brilliant! West End's Paranoia 1st Edition on RPG.net Mongoose Publishing's Paranoia 25th Anniversary Edition on DriveThruRPG.com
No. 5 | USR: Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying
This game is not so much an RPG as a set of rules you can use in any setting. It was designed by Scott Malthouse, published on DriveThruRPG.com, and I can't get enough of it! I am a huge fan of this system. It is simple, elegant, and FREE! Get USR from DiveThruRPG.com for FREE!
No. 6 | RuneQuest
RuneQuest is a fantasy game with quite an interesting history since its release by Chaosium in 1978. It has changed publisher's hands a number of times, it has countless updated editions and spin-offs, and no one has heard of the damn thing! The ruleset developed in RuneQuest, first edition, has shown up in many more recent RPGs. RuneQuest on RPG.net
No. 7 | Pokémon: Tabletop Adventures
I can't lie to you, when I saw that this game existed, I peed myself a little. My very own Pokémon legend was about to unfold! I got a group together to play it the very next day. The game is still in beta, so the rules can be a little wonky at times, but it's POKÉMON! OMG! POKÉMON! Here's an article about the game with links to download the Beta version
No. 8 | Revised RECON
Revised RECON is very unique. Not the "unique" that means one-of-a-kind; the kind of "unique" my mom used to tell me I was when I was in grade school. The game is set in "not quite Vietnam" where the players control "not quite American" soldiers in the "not quite Sixties." It was released by Palladium books and was based on a 1981 war game by the same name. There were a few wince moments when I was reading the Corebook and it was tiptoeing around controversy by not calling the U.S. or Vietnam by their real names, which can get a little tiring. All-in-all, however, it is a game with a challenging yet elegant rule system, and a very immersive style. RECON on RPG.net
No. 9 | Microscope
Microscope is a game that is not easy to describe in just a few sentences. Whenever I try to get people to play it, they lose interest before I can even finish the pitch. The point of the game is to create history. The players go in a circle, adding pieces to a timeline and seeing how things turn out as they go. There are no dice to roll, stats to remember, or character sheets to keep track of. Although it may sound a little off, you are gonna have to trust me on this: Microscope is a truly awesome game. I have rarely had more fun with a game than I have had with Microscope. Microscope on RPG.net Buy Microscope on DriveThruRPG.com!
No. 10 | Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game
Wait! This isn't the RPG you're looking for! That is, if you were looking for this one. No no! This RPG is much older and, according to a lot of people, a lot better. This game is usually referred to as "Star Wars d6" because it runs on what is called the "d6 System," which uses six-sided dice. See a pattern here? It was just more "Star Warsy" than Wizard's Saga Edition. There is the point that d6 was pre-Jar Jar. Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game on RPG.net
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