Top 10 Tabletop RPGs Every Gamer Should Experience

April 18, 2023

Tabletop roleplaying games, often simply referred to as RPGs, have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, thanks in no small part to the internet and to live-streamed RPG shows. With so many choices available, it can be tough to know where to start, especially if you're looking to get into tabletop gaming for the first time or return after a hiatus. In this article, we'll discuss the top 10 tabletop RPGs every gamer should experience, offering an overview of each game and why it's worth your time.

Introduction to Tabletop RPGs

The Basics of Tabletop RPGs

Tabletop RPGs are a form of collaborative storytelling, combining elements of improvisation, strategy, and chance. Players assume the roles of characters within the game's storyline, reacting to events and making decisions based on their characters' abilities and motivations. The progress of the game is typically overseen by a single player known as the Game Master (GM) or Dungeon Master (DM), who designs the game world, populates it with non-player characters (NPCs), and presents challenges for the players to overcome.

The Benefits of Playing Tabletop RPGs

Tabletop RPGs offer a unique experience that can't easily be replicated by video games or other forms of entertainment. Some benefits include:

  • Teamwork: Players must work together to achieve common goals and overcome obstacles, fostering cooperation and camaraderie.
  • Creativity: Between designing characters, world-building, and improvising during gameplay, tabletop RPGs encourage creativity and critical thinking.
  • Enhancing social skills: RPGs require regular interaction with others, helping players develop communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills.
  • Escapism: Tabletop RPGs allow players to immerse themselves in a different world and experience exciting adventures, providing a welcome break from everyday stresses.

Top 10 Tabletop RPGs Every Gamer Should Experience

1. Dungeons and Dragons

Often considered the gold standard of tabletop RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) has been captivating gamers since its creation in the early 1970s. Set in a high-fantasy world filled with magic, monsters, and heroic quests, D&D offers a vast array of character customization and diverse gameplay options, making it appealing to players of all experience levels.

2. Pathfinder

Pathfinder is a popular fantasy RPG based on an older version of D&D. It offers a longer and more complex rule system, which some players find provides greater depth and customization options. With detailed world-building and an intricate, cohesive storyline, Pathfinder is an excellent choice for players looking for a rich gaming experience.

3. Call of Cthulhu

Based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu is a horror-themed RPG that plunges players into a world of ancient, malevolent forces, cosmic terrors, and unspeakable secrets. The game emphasizes mystery, investigation, and atmosphere, with a focus on roleplaying and storytelling over combat.

4. Shadowrun

Blending elements of cyberpunk and urban fantasy, Shadowrun is set in a dystopian future where magical creatures and high-tech hackers coexist. Players often take on the roles of corporate mercenaries navigating a world of corporate espionage, political intrigue, and dangerous secrets.

5. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

Borne from the miniature wargaming franchise, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay features a grim fantasy world beset by war, political strife, and dark forces. With its distinct setting and detailed rules for character development, it offers a unique, gritty tabletop experience.

6. Cyberpunk 2020 / Cyberpunk Red

Cyberpunk 2020 and its sequel Cyberpunk Red are both RPGs based in a dystopian, technology-driven future. Players face moral dilemmas and dangerous adversaries as they navigate a corrupt world dominated by mega-corporations. With its focus on atmosphere, roleplaying, and futuristic technology, Cyberpunk is a fascinating exploration of societal and ethical issues.

7. Starfinder

From the creators of Pathfinder comes Starfinder, a science fantasy RPG set in space. Combining the excitement of galaxy exploration with the intricacies of magic and technology, this game offers a unique setting and an engaging, fast-paced gameplay experience.

8. Vampire: The Masquerade

In Vampire: The Masquerade, players assume the roles of vampires navigating a shadowy world of intrigue and supernatural politics. With a focus on personal horror and the struggle between humanity and the beast within, this game provides a dark, intense roleplaying experience.

9. Savage Worlds

Designed to be fast-paced and easy to learn, Savage Worlds is a genre-neutral RPG that can be adapted to a wide variety of settings and play styles. Its flexibility and streamlined rules make it an excellent choice for players looking for a more casual gaming experience or for those wanting to try something new.

10. GURPS (Generic Universal Roleplaying System)

GURPS is a highly customizable RPG system that allows players to create campaigns in virtually any setting, from historical to fantastical. Its extensive sourcebooks provide detailed rules for specific genres, making it an ideal choice for players looking to explore a wide variety of different worlds and game styles.

In conclusion, these top 10 tabletop RPGs represent a diverse array of settings, genres, and game mechanics. Each one offers a unique gaming experience that can enrich a player's understanding of the medium and help them develop a lifelong passion for the tabletop RPG hobby. Happy adventuring!


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