Top Ten RPG Game Systems of All Time

0
239

570_GRPull the blinds and turn off the phone, it’s time to head to the Game Room and lock in on some hardcore meta-gaming action.  In the Game Room we will explore the world of gaming in all its many incarnations, while lingering over that corner of the meta-verse where games and literature converge.  Bust out your opinion and your favorite snack, it’s game time.

Pen and paper roleplaying games began an exponential rise in popularity during the late 1970s.  Gamers all across the globe huddle around the kitchen table with pen, paper, and dice exploring dungeons, flying spaceships, and fighting over treasure.  The cerebral method of entertainment stimulates creativity and promotes working as a team.  Roleplaying games remain open to anyone willing to purchase the required rulebooks and dice, but many never experience their first adventure because of the patience it requires to assimilate the rules.  While fifteen page board game rules may intimidate some, hardcore gamers claw their way to the summit of four hundred page tomes.  Game mechanics are like mousetraps – none are created equally.  Inside the Game Room our compulsive nature requires us to rank our favorite game systems in order.

A few house rules for inclusion:

  • The game shall be a traditional pen and paper type roleplaying game.
  • The game shall require the use of dice. (Sorry storytelling games.  The Game Room is addicted to dice.)
  • The game system shall be evaluated based on the mechanics of play and not on the setting.  Many of the best systems have multiple settings that are used with them.

 

Now that we’ve established the rules, let’s get on with the ranking.  Remember that all the games on the list have their own merits.  Ranks are subjective and open for debate, but rank them we must.  Let me know which games were left out?

 

Top Ten RPG Game Systems of All Time

  1.    Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
  • Publisher: TSR/WOTC
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Status: Reprint Available

 

The game that built the industry, AD&D was not the first iteration of Dungeons and Dragons, but it was the system that started RPGs trending amongst gamers.  The game uses a twenty-sided die, affectionately referred to as a D20, for the majority of rolls.  Other dice (D4, D6, D8, D10, D12) are also used to provide the game group with a wide array of randomness.  Players are allowed to choose from fantastic races taken from the pages of their favorite fantasy books and then pair the selection with a class that provides abilities with which to explore the fantasy world and fight evil.  Characters are measured by ability scores and levels.  The dice and mechanics allow for an impartial method to judge success.  The Game Room considers AD&D the Grand Master of Game Systems.

 

2.    Pathfinder/d20/OGL

  • Publisher: Paizo/WOTC
  • Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
  • Status: Available

 

Of the currently active game systems, Pathfinder maintains the largest footprint.  Sales of the system attest to its wide popularity as well as its masterful construction.  The system started as a third edition of Dungeons and Dragons.  TSR/WOTC created the game as a replacement to previous generations of game systems.  Modernized rules allow the players to select skills and feats that provide more customization and individuality for the players.  Additional game mechanics were created to allow more combat related maneuvers and an increased depth of game play.  A unique license was created for the game system that allowed other publishers to adapt material to the game system.  At the height of popularity, WOTC discontinued the game system, but through the OGL, Paizo Publishing was able to take up the system and make it their own.  Today Paizo continues to refine and improve the original game system, providing players a familiar and satisfying game system with which to continue their adventures.

 

 

3.    Savage Worlds

  • Publisher: Pinnacle Entertainment Group
  • Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror
  • Status: Available

 

SavageFollowing the concept of the Open Gaming License, PEG created the Savage Worlds game system.  The system had origins with the Deadlands game, but those rules were simplified for Savage Worlds.  Character selections are dependent on setting, but the core game mechanics remain within each game.  Players rank traits by assigning them die types (D4, D6, D8, D10, D12) that are rolled at the appropriate time to overcome the challenges of the game.  The game system uses a standard deck of playing cards rather than rolling dice to see who will take the first action in combat.  The game boasts dozens of game worlds that allow the system to be used to explore dungeons, fight aliens, hunt werewolves, or create your own superhero. Savage Worlds provides endless campaign options.

 

 

4.    Traveller

  • Publisher: Mongoose Publishing
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Status: Available

 

One of the forefathers of the gaming industry, Traveller continues to maintain a strong following.  Mongoose Publishing has updated Classic Traveller with tricks learned across five decades of gaming.  The game system boasts the single most entertaining character generation system in the industry.  Characters set out at the ripe age of 18 to pursue careers within the futuristic galaxy.  Your character can be a space pirate, a merchant, a scout, a naval officer, or any of the other many options.  Unlike most game systems, Traveller then lets you age your character by adding experience.  Each character continues through four year terms, mixing and matching career choices, until they decide to begin their adventuring life.  Along the character generation path, the player must roll dice to determine success and failure.  The risks of character survival match pace with the potential rewards.  By the time the character generation is completed, a rich history has already been created for your character. The game primarily uses six-sided dice to determine results and boasts expansive ship construction rules that will test the most detail-oriented gamer.  Traveller represents the benchmark in science fiction game systems.  Every Game Room should have a copy.

 

5.    Legends of the Five Rings

  • Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Status: Available

 

Boasting its fourth edition, L5R remains a Game Room favorite.  Built for an oriental fantasy world, the system can be customized to work well across a wide variety of campaign settings.  The Game Room has seen it adapted for Star Wars, Dune, cowboys, and traditional fantasy.  The game system uses multiple ten-sided dice to determine results.  Characters are a combination of their rings, traits, and skills.  In the traditional system, players choose a clan and school as part of character generation.  The system boasts both a detailed honor and glory system.  Most traditional role-players find the concept of honor challenging.  The precise rules for dueling provide an elegant method for facing off against your arch nemesis.  The simple battle system provides the most satisfying mass combat rules the Game Room has experienced.  L5R will forever remain a constant participant in the Game Room rotation.

 

6.    Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

  • Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Status: Available

 

WFRP has been around for a long time in one form or another.  The current format for the system uses sets of custom dice that replace numbers with symbols.  These dice are used to determine everything from character generation to outcomes during games.  Players select a career during creation that represents a stepping stone to greater things.  Through the course of the game they progress towards more advanced career paths that provide increasing power.  WFRP is a refreshing change of pace from more traditional game systems.

 

7.  Rune Quest II

  • Publisher: Mongoose Publishing
  • Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
  • Status: Available

 

RQII is another system cut from the mold of the OGL.  The system has been developed in a way that allows it to drop into nearly any setting.  The system of percentage dice and skills brings a feel of realism to the game that is lacking in most other systems.  The Game Room recommends every gamer test their luck with RQII.

 

8.  Song of Ice and Fire

  • Publisher: Green Ronin Publishing
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Status: Available

 

The game system uses the six-sided die to determine all outcomes.  The rules provide detailed mechanics for domain management that add a layer to game play absent in most other games.  The unique combat system presents tactical options that make fighting your enemies one part chess match and one part brute force.

 

 

9.    Hero System

  • Publisher: Hero Games
  • Genre: Science Fiction/Superhero/Fantasy
  • Status: Available

 

The Hero System uses the six-sided die as its driving force.  The game system equips each character with characteristics, combat maneuvers, skills, perks, talents, and powers to overcome the game’s challenges.  Many different campaign settings allow the rules to fit into any type of campaign, although the superheroes make up the core setting.

 

10.     Shadowrun

  • Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Status: Available

 

Shadowrun has reached its fourth edition.  The game system uses six-sided dice to determine the success of your actions.  Unique characteristics and skills that combine science fiction and fantasy make Shadowrun a must play for any gaming group.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.