Ten Influential RPGs (for me)

Note: This post has content disclaimers.

The meme going around was “Ten Influential Role Playing Game (RPG 📖) that Influenced Me”. Try as I might, I don’t want a passive voice title.

Star Frontiers: in 1987, my Dralasite threw a tangler grenade and thus opened the gateway into the larger role-playing game cosmos. I had the rules, but I’m fairly certain I never played by the rules.

Middle Earth Role Playing Game: my proxy for Dungeons & Dragons during the Satanic Panic.

In a laboratory a grey haired wizard looks surprised at the materializing demon
My mother insisted that Dungeons & Dragons was evil and abhorent. Yet in my house I had a displayed copy of Rolemaster Compaion III that I would take to Sunday School class.

2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons: the game that I snuck into my house, and from which I ran a long-ranging campaign with fellow high-schoolers. This is the game that cemented numerous friendships that I carry forward to this day. And declaring actions before rolling initiative is still my favorite thing.

Rolemaster: in 2000, I wrote my first RPG article for the Guildcompanion, highlighting a critical aspect of RPGs—the rules are there for you to hack and extend.

3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons: a flexible system with lots of player facing technology. More important, an open source rulesset that allowed everyone access and rights to the many layers of the system.

Burning Wheel Gold (BWG 📖): a masterfully constructed fantasy RPG that puts the rewards and advancement squarely in the hands of the players. The Range & Cover and Fight system exemplify the idea that combat should be unpredictable and ambiguous for its participants.

Dungeon World (DW 📖): a game iterated on via Github. I committed changes to what would be the final release. I also wrote up . And last, the breakdown of Principles and Agendas provides a framework for articulating how you approach an RPG system.

Diaspora: I fell in-love with the mini-games, and having played a few space battles using a one dimensional map, I must say that is all I need. Providing a system where out maneuvering a ship is just as viable as disabling the opposition. Diaspora does a fantastic job of highlighting that you need not have a unified set of systems for all elements of your game.

Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC 📖): re-iterated that it can be a howling good time to problem solve with a cadre of fragile characters with nominal resources.

Whitehack: elegant, minimalist without relying on an understanding of the meta-context that is fantasy RPGs. I’ve been working on a modification and clarification of Whitehack that incorporates some Dungeons and Dragons: Basic/Expert (B/X 📖) and Lamentations.