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General Gaming  » Best pen and paper RPGs

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69 posts found

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/06/10
Posts: 43

2/13/13 9:23:53 AM#21

+1 GURPS with the right GM ....could do anything build any charature


my cyberpunk 2013 had this great backstory system was really cool to role up a toon



Novice Member

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 1811

2/13/13 9:25:38 AM#22

For realistic playing, GURPS or BRP (the system behind Cthulhu and Runequest).

For cinematic playing, FATE.

For your basic fantasy adventuring campaign, Pathfinder.



Novice Member

Joined: 8/30/08
Posts: 4889

2/13/13 9:29:24 AM#23
Originally posted by ignore_me
I think Pathfinder is pretty hard to beat. The best of the 3.5 D&D rules.

I agree, the direction D&D went turned a lot of pen and paper fans away. Pathfinder kind of took over from there. Another I really like is White Wolfs World of Darkness and more specifically Vampire the Masquerade 3rd edition, I even loved the book series :P. 


Advanced Member

Joined: 5/27/05
Posts: 82

2/13/13 9:32:27 AM#24

Champions by Hero games as a big comic book fan growing up I really liked making my own super hero and putting the hurt on super villians. The system allowed you to take disadvantages that really helped flesh out your character as well as helping the game master to tailor game sessions for your group. Also there were no preplaned classes only archtypes which really allowed you to make a more personalized character.


Iron Corwn Enterprises with their Rolemaster system and later MERPS. They had a critical hit system that was really in depth and could lead to some really disfigured and mangaled characters or blown to little pieces. I also liked that the system had power points instead of memorized spells allowing you to cast any spell as long as you had the points and ability to do so.


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Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/09/08
Posts: 3298

MMORPGs are no longer about the mass multi-user

2/13/13 9:34:14 AM#25
PLayed AD&D 2e for years (decades) and thought it to be good. D&D 3 and up just sucks (Excel RPG game). But my favorite RPG system is Alternity. Comes from TSR as well and has sadly been dicthed in favor of Star Wars d20 setting :-(

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Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/28/11
Posts: 672

OP  2/13/13 9:37:07 AM#26
Originally posted by Thane
Originally posted by PWN_FACE

What are the best pen and paper RPGs available or of all time? I don't care if they are in or out of print. I don't care about the genre. If you mention D&D or AD&D, please specify which edition.


If you suggest a game, please say why with as much detail as possible. Also, you might talk about your experience with the game, for example, whether as a player or a GM.

if you are looking for rulesets, try rolemaster.

if you are lookingfor background story and so on, try MERP :)


the best PnP RPGs are always those you specify for your needs.



also traveler is quite fun, if you are looking for a decent space RPG

Good point, Thane. 


What I'm most interested in is world and cosmos creation, shifting realities, extra-dimensional/transdimensional possibilities. I am interested in Shadowrun ( I got the 20th anniversary pdf  for $15 because the book is out of print and like $200+ on amazon, ebay, etc.). I'm also looking into Alternity (for SF). How about older editions of Rifts? So much great stuff.


Any genre is fine, though. I'm just learning a  lot now and I find gaming and game extremely interesting these days. I was kind of at the point a lot of people get to when we start criticizing games and saying they're boring or whatever; and I started asking myself, what is fun? What is game? What makes games fun for me? Even if I don't have the financial resources to make my own mmorpg, I can make my own pnp game with the amazing resources that are available to us. Even if it's just for me and a couple of friends. 


By the way, I just ordered Traveller today. I will be studying all these games and looking at rulesets like OSRIC (free pdf) and GURPS and whatever else people are mentioning (Rolemaster). And Pathfinder, because I want to be up to date on how fantasy rpg has changed since I first started with it in the late 70s.


Thanks everyone for your input. I've got some great ideas from your answers and I'm still finding out new stuff to look into. 


Novice Member

Joined: 1/03/08
Posts: 17

2/13/13 9:38:30 AM#27
I am currently enjoying Iron Kingdoms! I like it a lot.

Elite Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 2666

2/13/13 9:50:13 AM#28

I played the most, maybe AD&D 2nd.

I loved the most, definitely Amber (though I love Zelazny's writing too, so I'm maybe biased a bit). The diceless system was a great novelty, and with a good GM it had the most boundless freedom I've experienced during my p'n'p era :)


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/09/06
Posts: 8156

“No path is darker then when your eyes are shut.” -Flemeth

2/13/13 8:39:27 PM#29

The Dark Eye, a German PnP game, in old days also known as "Realms of Arcania" and the CRPG series "Northland Trilogy". German "Das Schwarze Auge". I love it, because unlike D&D it is much less based on combat. In D&D you move from combat to combat, in the Dark Eye, combat is rather the exception, and it is mostly about a story you experience and act in.

Second place would go to Traveller. I REALLY would love to see the Traveller Universe in a MMO. It was such a cool setting, especially the Third Empire era.

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Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/11/04
Posts: 1090

Hey Devs, just so you know. The more you give us to play with, the more we play.

2/13/13 9:38:49 PM#30

For me some of the most fun and my fondest times have been been playing AD&D 1st ed. I disliked almost everything about D&D 2nd ed., hell it barely had anything worth cherry picking that I thought was good enough for my own campaign. As a matter of fact we had more or less dropped AD&D from our gaming rotation. That is until D&D 3.0.

D&D 3.0 and 3.5 really hooked me. I had been using feat in my own campaign, but it was unrefined. 3.0 & 3.5 just cleaned everything up and made it work. 

And then we got 4.0, which I despise. No, which I fucking despise. Its literally WoW style rules in PnP. And it sucks, D&D has lost its soul. Thats when I found Pathfinder (the PnP game).

Pathfinder is the spirtal successor to the souless turd that D&D 4.0 has become.


Now about the same time I was falling in love with AD&D I found another TSR game which I came to love, Star Frontiers. That game holds a special place for me. I loved the space expansion Knight Hawks. I spent many many hours of game play just freighting around cargo and passengers and dodging pirates and Sathar. Sometimes playing the bounty hunter and sometimes the smuggler.

This game took a whole lot more effort than any AD&D campaign. It was intentionally left very bare so that the game master could custom build their own game.


Then my next big thing was actually a WWIII game called Twilight 2000. No fantasy no sci-fi. Just a great post apocalyptic military game. Great complicated ruleset that was easy to understand and use. Lots of fun hours playing that.


But my next passion ended up being Mechwarrior and all the supplements. Talk about dropping some cash when I really couldnt afford it. This game Ihave as much love as I do for 1st ed AD&D and 3.5 D&D. For me this is/was kind of like Star Frontiers X 100. It took it to a whole 'nother level.

In many was I like the lore of this game even better than I like Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms.


Even though I never really got to play Shadow Run; the game , the lore, the setting, the time period has been like a splinter in my mind. I want to play this..bad. I want to find a good group and if I did I'd trade my  MMO playing time to play Shadow Run.


Best PnP experiences, see above.


So in order of best PnP that Ive played. With great lore, easy to use but detailed rules, play style variation I'd have to say-

1- Mechwarrior

2- Pathfinder (core rule books, not setting)

3- D&D 3.5 (3.0)

4- AD&D 1st ed

5- Twilight 2000

6- Star Frontiers

? - Shadow Run (from the little I seen, I'd say it deserves 4th)


I havent had a lot of game time with Pathfinder but I think it could be 1st place, but Mechwarrior had/has more depth.



"I understand that if I hear any more words come pouring out of your **** mouth, Ill have to eat every fucking chicken in this room."


Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/11/04
Posts: 1090

Hey Devs, just so you know. The more you give us to play with, the more we play.

2/14/13 12:22:07 AM#31
Originally posted by PWN_FACE
Yeah, I played Gamma World back in the day. I had all the TSR games. By 1st Ed. D&D, do you mean Advanced Dungeons and Dragons? I have the old Gary Gygax DM guide published in 1979 with the big red demon with a sword holding a princess in his hand one. Is that the same?

Im not sure how much Garret if familier with the D&D and AD&D brand but I think he must be talking AD&D.

Although for those of you who dont know. There were two versions of Dungeons and Dragons.

There was AD&D - Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, a more complex ruleset.

And there was D&D- Dungeons and Dragons,kind of like a prestep to AD&D. This had the classic Red Box (Basic) D&D, Blue Box (Expert) D&D.

Although TSR did publish a campaign world that used these ruleset. Isle of Dread is really all I remember from it, although I have a really nice hardbound 2nd ed book set in there, packed away somewhere.


D&D 3.0 and 3.5 really cleaned up the rules. Most DM's were using heavly modified AD&D rules by the late 80's. D&D 3.0 and 3.5 really cleaned up the game. So instead of just having a Magic User, you could specialize. Illuisionist isnt a seperate class anymore. Its now a Specialist Mage.

Or remember how a MU couldnt use a sword or wear armor? Now the can, they just have penalties. Or they can spend a "feat" point and use that sword or wear that armor with out penalties (or woth reduced penalties) but thats at the expense of boosting their magic with magic feats.


Pazios Pathfinder has refined and added to the 3.5 ruleset even further. and it is an even better RPG than it ever was. Look into this, trust me.

I myself am a huge fan of Greyhawk. But Pazio has won me over. And you can still use their rules in a Greyhawk setting.

While WoC (Wizards of the Coast) has turned D&D 4.0 into...more or less a video game in PnP form. Its now all about combat, the encounter, the loot, thats it. There really is no reason to RP in that game anymore. As a matter of fact there is no reason to play D&D 4.0 when you can quite literally just log into WoW and have the same experience except in a 3D world.


Or maybe to put it another way Pathfinder is closer to the AD&D you know than even the WoC 4th edition of D&D is, by a long shot.

"I understand that if I hear any more words come pouring out of your **** mouth, Ill have to eat every fucking chicken in this room."


Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/13/08
Posts: 665

2/14/13 12:41:14 AM#32

I grew up on the thaco. Loved D&D. Robotech was the game my friends and I played the most. However, Marvel was a blast.

Currently playing Iron Kingdoms and Call of Cthulhu.

My Favs:

Call of Cthulhu (just purchased the dvd of the original movie). So much potential. All of us are backstabbing each other, its like paranoia except no cheese. I even created my own secret society. Od how nobody has asked why a univercity professor is a expert with handguns (99%).

Robotech, for the memories, not the system. Palladium system is was to easy break.

Aces & Eights. Love the system and the whole shot clock. Wild west themed is way under appreciated.

D&D 3.5, fun at times. I hate the min maxing that goes on though. I had to make a monk just to shut up all the damm overpowered casters. Cant cast when grappled on your back.

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  User Deleted
2/14/13 1:04:45 AM#33
Myself some of my favorites are AD&D (second edition) with the settings i preferd being forgotten realms, ddark sun, ravenloft, and Birthright. White wolf's world of darkness setting with vampires the masqurade being my all time favorite of the five r so main group books. Shadowrun was another good one i liked to play as well. I have played other games like rifts, warhammer, afew of the asian anime-based rpg games too (like demon city).  Though right now i am making a setting/rule-set that is my own from the ground up, although it takes many ques from all the games i played in the past, with both a free-form class system an template classes. profeinces, and such in it to allow for alot of options. 

Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 17646

2/14/13 1:22:15 AM#34

I wont be making an exact list but I will recommend you a few favorites:


Pathfinder is based on D&D but a lot better. It have a high level of customization (but you really need the advancad players book besides the rulebook) so while it have classes you can customize your character to be very different from others of the same class while the game still have pretty good balance (better than any D&D edition).

This game is perfect if you want to play in a D&D campaignworld like Forgotten realms, Dragonlance or Ravenloft and as a GM you need to do few changes from any D&D 3rd edition sourcebook even if there are plenty of differences in the system.

Well made, fun and the best levelbased system I played. A must if you want a fantasy game (or steampunk) close to D&D.


Shadowrun is a rather odd mix of fantasy and cyberpunk with a unique leveless system (I think it would work fine in a MMO BTW). The best thing about it is the world in itself which is set 60 or so years in the future, most of the world is controlled by corps, some controlled by dragons and there are elves, dwarfs and orcs around as well. It sounds rather silly but the game pulls it off fine.

Call of Cthulhu (Chaosiums version, not the D20 which suck):

CoC is usually set between the world wars. The players are usually investigators who are investigating weird cases and this is a game for people who likes handouts and puzzles. Of course it is best for shorter stuff since people tend to spend a lot of time in insane asylums or dying and have to be replaced. The world is based on Lovecrafts Mythos and full of tentacles, evil old gods and insane cultists.

CoC is the most fun horror RPG ever made (in my opinion). It also have a version called "Delta green" where players are special forces soldiers who face the same world, it is also fun. 

Star wars: Edge of the empire:

This game is not even out yet, but the beginners box and beta rulebook is out. It is the first of 3 parts of Fantasy flights SW RPG and based on the scum of the empire, like smugglers, bounty hunters and similar people. This game uses some weird dices (even for P&P) and that had me a bit worried but the game is actually really fun, fast to play and captures the movies way better than the D20 and D6 versions.

There is some balance things still but from what I read on the beta forum most if not all of them are fixed. Sadly it is not a game for you if you want to play jedi, at least until the third rulebook which is jedi focused comes out but it will be at lest a year from now.


These games are my current favorites and RPGs I like to play right now. There are plenty of older games that have been great but these ones are the ones I recommend right now. And yes, only Pathfinder is D20 based but I feel that levelbased P&P games tends to get really unbalanced and somewhat silly when the players have gotten a few levels. I do play in a SW D20 revised campaign right now and anyone who didnt made a Jedi guardian are more or less useless in combat at lvl 8, even my Mandalorian bountyhunter are nowhere close to the Jedis and there really are no point in making more than one class of character. They also lack a lot of logic and realism. Pathfinder though is really good even if it is D20 based and that is why I recommend it, in our campaigns have all classes actually been useful when we play. 


Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 17646

2/14/13 1:30:14 AM#35
Originally posted by pharmenza


1. Warhammer (Death on the reik, is the best Campaign i ever played)


The campaign was called "The enemy within", Death on the reik is just the first part but I have to agree with you there. It was fun and well written even if the campaign lost a little in the 2 last parts.

It is really something I recommend for any people who enjoy dark humor and a long fun campaign.

But you should play it with the original Games Workshop rules, not with Fantasy flights lousy system. It was not on my list since it hasnt aged perfectly but it is still a acceptable system with a lot of good sourcematerial.


Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6496

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

2/14/13 1:30:25 AM#36
Originally posted by garrett
1st edition D&D, RIFT, Gamma World.


+ GURPS, Champions, several lesser beasts (Paranoia, Cthulu, various Steve Jackson games--we were big on Assassin in the dorms, briefly)

But 2nd ed. D&D (+beer) is the one that consumed must of my college grades.

Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/14/10
Posts: 23

2/14/13 1:36:51 AM#37
D&D3.5, Shadowrun, Marvel

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/05/08
Posts: 559

2/14/13 12:20:36 PM#38

Easy for me.  There are two games that are great, but one is better than them all.




Fast paced, violent, dangerous, fun, and no magic.


The second best to me is...


Twighlight 2000.   

Come on who doesnt want to play a soldier stranded in Europe after WWIII?!

So much crap, so little quality.


Elite Member

Joined: 11/29/05
Posts: 424

2/14/13 4:48:24 PM#39

I'm big on freeform, open world style play.  Although I enjoyed D&D (all versions) and Shadowrun, at the end of the day both games were heavily walled in with absurd rules.

Seriously, I just found this +5 Two Handed Axe of "I'm gonna splode your intestines all over the walls", but because it says right here that the only weapons I'm allowed to use are a staff and daggers, then my only choice is to sell it?  Seriously?  Those kinds of things always took a sledgehammer to the immersion factor for me.

I remember being weened on AD&D and Shadowrun 1-2nd edition and thinking all RPG's were this way.  Then I met this guy, and he says "Hey we're gonna run this "Prison Break" campaign at my house starting next week."  I ask, "What's prison break?, I've never heard of that RPG".  Then he proceeds to explain to me that he's running it from a system called GURPS, and we're allowed to make pretty much any character we want, within the points limit he's established, and we all start off as prisoners on this prison planet.  The goal of the campaign is to escape from prison.

I was stunned.  I didn't even know where to go from there at first.  I'm asking him things like "So I can be Elvis, who really was abducted by aliens, and then somehow ended up in a galactic prison" 


"What If I want to be a 1965 Marine M60 gunner in Vietnam that got sucked into a dimensional vortex during a battle one day and then ended up in prison after assassinating an alien ambassador?"

"Go for it"

"Jedi padawan?"

"You won't have a lightsaber, but sure"

I was sold, and I still am.  It's the most open gaming system I've ever played.  Creating a character with GURPS is one of the most liberating experiences a pen and paper RPG'er will ever have after having their dick repeatedly stomped on with "NO YOU CAN'T DO THAT" in the walled in, class based RPG's.

Now I get to swing that brand spanking new +5 Two Handed Axe of "I'm gonna splode your intestines all over the walls", whenever I feel like it and no one's gonna tell me I can't.  Doesn't mean I'll hit anything with it, but that just adds to the fun. :)


Novice Member

Joined: 8/31/11
Posts: 355

Darkness is Death's ignorance, and the Devil's time

2/14/13 5:26:18 PM#40

Oh lord, where to begin...

I loved D&D in all it's incarnations right up 'til 4.0, then it just went to shit.

I loved the worlds of Shadowrun and Earthdawn, but thought their systems needed help, so we used Gurps with those backdrops, worked out well.

I played a few games of Traveler with my cousins, it was set in the "Aliens" mythos, thought that was kinda cool.

The Morrow Project was an interesting idea, as was Twilight 2k, we used it for some interesting post alien invasion of earth campaigns.

Space Opera was pretty cool, my first "Star Wars"-esq type rpg.

Tried the West End version of Star Wars, didn't much care for it, I enjoyed the D20 system.

I have a soft spot for Rifts and all things Palladium (robotech, fantasy, etc) Aside from Gurps I thought it was a great generic system, that much like Gurps, with a little tweeking here and there can accommodate just about every genre you would want to play in.

White Wolf games came out with a very rich vampire and werewolf mythos, the system wasn't too bad, but I have to say I did enjoy it a bit more through Gurps.

Rollmaster was a fun experience, somehow I ended up with a non-undead monastic lich...I still can't figure that one....

The list goes on, I have played many games out there a time or two, ran a few long campaigns myself, some I liked more than others. I guess the real thing is find yourself a solid group of friends, find a genre that you enjoy and just mess around with it. There is no game out there that can take the place of the table top as far as creativity, story and scope, graphics are limited by the descriptions given by the dm, and your imagination :)

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