The hobby of tabletop RPGs can be an expensive one; between multiple hardcovers, miniatures, and gaming aids, it can all add up quickly. Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic, free RPGs available for download. Beware, for it can be difficult to determine which ones are worth looking into.
The process of finding a good RPG becomes even more difficult if you’re wanting to delve into the realm of fantasy, as there are many heartbreakers in a saturated market. If you’re like me, you enjoy trying new fantasy themed games, and occasionally want a break from the world’s most popular roleplaying game. Below is a list of five of my personal favorite fantasy RPGs that you can download and play free of charge.
1) Dungeon Slayers
This little gem is rules-lite, with each character having a core set of three attributes and six traits. These statistics ultimately determine the combat values of the characters. This simple formula results in quick character creation so you can get to slaying those dungeons. The game has been released into the creative commons, is in its fourth edition, and has plenty of fan material. The core rulebook is only ten pages long, making the other 162 pages of content icing on the cake.
This game has been around for a long time and has seen a total of five different editions. The world itself is strictly in the realm of fantasy and offers a slew of interesting races that aren’t your typical elves and dwarves. The world of Talislanta is vast, and each culture is established, though there's plenty of room for tinkering. Its broad nature makes it perfect for sandbox style games. Even if you’re not a fan of the system itself, this is a free mine of ideas worth digging into.
3) Basic Fantasy
There are many retro-clones on the market, a ton of which can be obtained for free, yet few of them have as much support from the community as Basic Fantasy. This fantastic game is often compared to the old basic and expert D&D books with a few modern changes, such as ascending Armor Class. Even though the core book is all you need to play, there are many adventure modules, an extra bestiary, and expanded classes to be had. The PDF is free of course, but If you enjoy hard copies of your RPGs, Basic Fantasy is sold on Amazon for cheap.
4) Heroes Against Darkness
One word springs to mind when I think of this game: flexible. Heroes Against Darkness is a wonderful d20 fantasy system with eleven classes and eight races to choose from. The game offers a nice break from the typical Vancian magic found in many D20 games. The point based magic system makes casters spend Anima Points to cast spells. Players will find a plethora of options here, and GMs will be thrilled with the step-by-step method of monster creation. Not only is this system free, but it is under creative commons and may be freely distributed as long as you don’t alter the work or claim it as your own.
5) Mazes and Minotaurs
Like old school game mechanics and Greek mythology? Then I have just the game for you! The revised edition of Mazes and Minotaurs was released in 1987 and features three core books: The Player’s Manual, Maze Master’s Guide, and Creature Compendium. The game feels and plays much like a classic OSR game but oozes Greek mythos. Classes include Amazons, Barbarians, Centaurs, Nymphs, and many more. There are also several other books that support the system, and all of them are free as well.
Whatever your game of choice may be, it can be nice to have a change of pace from time to time. With the impressive amount of generous creators in our hobby, you’re never too far away from a great game, at a fantastic price.
Nathan Carmen is the founder and head writer of the Indie RPG company Tricky Troll Games. Nathan loves building worlds and improving his craft when he’s not busy parenting. Reach Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the TTG website at https://nathanccarmen.wixsite.com/trickytrollgames
Picture Reference: http://mazesandminotaurs.free.fr/revised.html
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.