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The Best Tabletop RPGs of All Time

You’ve probably seen articles that feature top RPGs for PC and other video game platforms, but if you’re like me, you haven’t seen too many that talk about great tabletop RPGs.

This is a problem – and I’m solving it today – because by and large, the entire video game RPG industry is inspired by tabletop RPGs. Not to mention (as many hardcore video game fans have come to realize), there are many truly enjoyable tabletop games that get overlooked by the broader gaming community.

If you’re into RPG video gaming, chances are high you’ll find a tabletop RPG system you’ll downright love. I’m here to help you find that RPG.

This is simply a task I set myself upon to make a great reference guide for people who love TTRPGs, and for those who want to explore TTRPGs more. Enjoy the guide!

tabletop-rpg-reviews
There are hundreds of tabletop RPGs. There are only few, however, that can be considered amongst the absolute best.

Top 14 Tabletop RPGs of All Time

Originally, I had planned to create one post that contained reviews for all of these games. However, the post simply became too long. Please use the table below for reference, and click on each link you’re interested in to read the full review.

  1. Dungeons and Dragons (95 / 100)
  2. Numenera & Cypher System (93 / 100)
  3. Pathfinder/ Starfinder (90 / 100)
  4. Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game (89 / 100)
  5. Shadowrun (81 / 100)
  6. Savage Worlds (80 / 100)
  7. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (79 / 100)
  8. Star Wars (78 / 100)
  9. Call of Cthulhu (77 / 100)
  10. Zweihander (76 / 100)
  11. Vampire: The Masquerade (75 / 100)
  12. Legend of the Five Rings (68 / 100)
  13. Dungeon World (61 / 100)
  14. Ars Magica (57 / 100)

best-tabletop-RPGs
Enter the game…

Why this List was Created

If you haven’t played a lot of tabletop RPGs, you’re not alone. Whereas you can pick up a video game RPG and play for a couple hours to see if you enjoy the game enough to continue, tabletop RPGs require an often much higher time investment to start.

Some TTRPG rulebooks are 500+ pages, which can feel intimidating. Even for experienced tabletop gamers. That’s why it’s also not uncommon for someone to find a single tabletop RPG they really like (such as Dungeons and Dragons) and simply stick with that.

However, there is a wide world of tabletop RPGs available. Some are new, some old, but all of them with their own unique gaming experiences.

My hope is that this list gives you one or two ideas for games you’d like to check out and try for yourself. Before buying and reading entire rulebooks though, I recommend asking your local gaming shops for their opinions on these games, and talk to your friends to see if they’re interested in playing with you. Keep your exploration simple and you’ll have more success trying out new tabletop RPGs.

My Credibility for Reviewing

Since reviewing all the best tabletop RPGs of all time is really a massive undertaking, I feel it’s important you understand a bit of who I am within the gaming world, and who I am not.

First off, I am not a professional game designer and I do not work a full-time position within tabletop gaming. I do, however, have over 25 years experience as a tabletop RPG enthusiast, and indie RPG developer and publisher.

I am certainly not the world’s foremost expert on tabletop RPGs. I simply have an immense passion for the genre.

Review Bias

It’s also worth noting that I do have a preference for certain game types and systems over others. That being said, I did my best to grade each game according to what the game itself tries to do, and the audience it tries to reach – not just according to my preferences.

You can be the judge if I succeeded in that task, or not.

Also, I do not make money by recommending any of these games, at this time. Therefore, commission or payment of any kind did not factor in as an influencing factor for why certain games ranked higher than others.

criteria-for-rpg-reviews
There are many aspects that go into making a great tabletop RPG.

Criteria Used to Review

You may also be interested in the grading criteria I used to determine scores for each game. Not all aspects of my grading are based on the game system, itself. Some are based on the general look and feel of the game, aesthetics, etc.

There are ten categories of game review that each give a possible score of 10, for a total possible score of 100.

  1. Uniqueness of the Game
  2. Ease of Learning the Game
  3. Presentation
  4. Lore
  5. Combat
  6. Game Flow
  7. Artwork
  8. Ease of Purchase
  9. Price & How Many Books Do You Need to Play?
  10. Fame & Availability of Supplemental Material

Uniqueness of the Game

Does the game stand up as a truly unique experience, even among all the other great tabletop RPGs available on the market, today? Do the unique elements contribute to the game’s functionality, heightening, not hindering, the gaming experience?

Ease of Learning the Game

Games that are easier to learn make it easier to get new players involved in your regular gaming group. Since gaming groups often have players come in and out of the story, in my opinion, it’s very important for the game to be accessible.

Presentation

How does the rulebook look and feel, overall? Is the rulebook clear and concise in its instructions for how to play? Are things labelled well and easy to find?

No one likes hunting through massive rulebooks for obscure, hard-to-find minutiae.

Lore

Does the game provide a world of lore in which players can explore? For games that provide more of a framework in which to play, but no specific lore, is the framework sufficient to inspire enough creativity among the gaming group that substantial RPG campaigns can still be produced?

Combat

Is combat engaging, dramatic, and fun? Does it proceed quickly (it is combat, after all), allowing both strategy and tactics into the fray? Do players have many options, too few options, or too many options?

Does combat produce a story that enhances the overall campaign?

Game “Flow”

Does the game have enough rules to provide structure so that everyone at the gaming table has similar expectations? Does the game have so many rules that too much time gets spent referencing the rulebook?

Can players get into the “flow state” while gaming, whisked away to a fantasy world of their own creation, where they roleplay their desired character? Or does the rulebook demand that they break from that fantasy on a regular basis?

Artwork

How good is the game’s artwork, and how well does it contribute to the game’s overall appeal? Does the game have artwork in every chapter? Does the art style match consistently throughout the entire rulebook?

Is the rulebook itself a work of art?

Ease of Purchase

How easy is it to purchase the game? Can it be found on Amazon (a major hub), and is the publisher’s website navigable and simple enough to easily buy the game? This is a game we’re talking about after all, to be played for fun, so low marks in this category really spells trouble.

Price & How Many Books Do You Need to Play

Tabletop RPGs range widely in price. Does the game require you to buy multiple rulebooks to play the core game? How much do all of those books cost? Is the game something that any average high school or college student could still afford to purchase?

Fame & Availability of Supplemental Material

Games that are more famous stand a better chance of attracting new groups of tabletop gamers. If you want to start a new group, for example, is it easier to start a group for Dungeons and Dragons, for Marvel Multiverse, or for Vampire: The Masquerade?

Additionally, does the game have supplemental material and adventures which can help you extend the life of your RPG campaign?

Tabletop-RPG-honorable-mentions
There are many TTRPGs that deserve more attention than they get.

Tabletop RPG Honorable Mentions

There are hundreds of TTRPGs available for play, today. Even though I did not have enough time or space to fully review every game, there are still a lot of other great TTRPGs out there.

If you still want some additional tabletop RPG options, besides the “top-tier” list, you may look into one or more of the following:

  • 7th Sea
  • A Game of Thrones
  • Aces and Eights
  • Avatar: the Last Airbender
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Blades in the Dark
  • Cyberpunk Red
  • DC Heroes
  • Deadlands
  • Doctor Who
  • Dogs in the Vineyard
  • Downfall
  • Final Fantasy d20
  • Firefly
  • Golden Sky Stories
  • GURPS
  • Mage: The Ascension
  • Malifaux RPG
  • Microscope
  • Mini Six
  • Mouse Guard
  • Ninja Turtles
  • Outbreak: Undead
  • Paranoia
  • Shadow of the Demon Lord
  • Smallville
  • Star Trek
  • Starcraft D6
  • Starship Troopers
  • The D6 System: The Customizable Roleplaying Game
  • The Dresden Files
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • The Witcher
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse
  • World of Warcraft (Tabletop RPG)

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