Tabletop RPGs have been around for decades now. Whether you were turned on to them by an older family member or friend or stumbled upon them yourself, they’re a great way to kill some time with like-minded people.
However you came across them, there are more that you may not have discovered. Some are classics that transcend time. These games are so classic that they still have die-hard fans, making it hard to keep copies on the shelf. Here are the best classic games that made TTRPGs what they are today.
A widely known genre now due to the video game and subsequent TV series, the Cyberpunk genre started early in the TTRPG world.
If you’re a fan of the aforementioned game or show, this is probably right up your alley. Body enhancements, futuristic weapons and a world of hacking are here for you to play out as you wish. It might not be the easiest thing to dive into, being so far into a genre that isn’t often discussed, but you’ll have a lot of fun doing it.
An old contender, for sure. While this game has fallen out of play in many circles for more modern fantasy alternatives like D&D, Runequest is where many older tabletop gamers got their start. A fantasy world set in the equivalent of our own Bronze Age, in Runequest you will find many of the building blocks of what made so many modern fantasy games what they are today.
It’s definitely one of those games that’s a classic for a reason. Maybe it will return to popularity at some point.
A unique TTRPG for its tone and style. Paranoia is set in the future, where technology has run amok and now a sentient machine controls society. A bleak world for sure, but the developers took the time to make sure the game was actually quite humorous.
It’s nice to see a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even below that, the game has a solid set of rules and ends up pitting players against each other, making for some pretty entertaining, if short-lived, adventures.
The only Western entry on this list, and for good reason. Deadlands stands out above the rest in almost every facet. Although it is heavily Western, there are also elements that add some horror and even steampunk attributes to the game, making it a great option for many different types of TTRPG players.
There’s a good amount of pre-made content and short adventures available, as well as the freedom to make your own as historically accurate or inaccurate as you like. You can play almost any wild west archetype or create your own while walking around with a six-shooter on your hip.
Traveler, a science fiction game from the 70s, did a lot to cement the genre in the tabletop fandom, evidenced by how much it has grown since then. Traveler is not a game you have to hunt around to find an old copy of; there is still a great deal available and new things are still being added to the game.
There are many possibilities in the realm of what you can do in this game system. There are just enough guidelines to keep the GM from getting stumped, but not so much as to be bogged down by rules; it’s the best of both worlds. Once you figure out what you want to play, many add-on books cover player classes, weapons, adventures, and even vehicles to further modify your game.
5/10 Shadow run
A tech-heavy science fiction game infused with genre elements of cyberpunk, Shadowrun may have been more popular in previous decades, but it still has its die-hards. Nor should it be overlooked for flashier modern games.
There’s a reason it keeps spawning video game spinoffs. It’s just such a compelling world to dive into. A great mix of fantasy racing with science fiction classes and settings makes a name for fun and multi-faceted experiences.
4/10 Vampire: The Masquerade
Everyone has wanted to be a vampire at some point in their life, right? Well, in Vampire: The Masquerade you can do that and more. Find which clan you want to run with, then build your own bloodthirsty monster from there. It’s not often that you get to play as the bad guy from the start, but Vampire does it so well.
Whether you’re fighting vampire hunters, rival houses of your own kind, or just trying to survive the sunlight, there’s a wealth of thrills and excitement in this dark and brooding game.
Whether it’s an old-school fantasy setting or the grimdark future of 40k, Warhammer has plenty to draw in players of all ages.
There is a lot of background learning, no matter which setting you choose to drive with, which allows for creative expression and freedom. In addition, there are many ready-made adventures and rules if you want a more guided experience. Regardless, Warhammer is a great game to explore a more combat-heavy TTRPG system.
2/10 Call Of Cthulhu
The pinnacle of cosmic horror TTRPGs. Fight cultists, face dark gods and try to get out with your sanity intact. But your character will always change regardless.
With many spinoffs and games running on similar premises, there’s a reason why CoC hasn’t been overtaken by its competitors. It refines the genre to its basic points and allows you to create your own world full of horrors and trials that you just can’t find anywhere else. Character creation, skill sets, and an open world to terrorize said characters are all strong points of this classic horror game.
1/10 Dungeons and dragons
A household name in fantasy and TTRPGs, and for good reason. Taking the best of the fantasy genre and cutting out the worst over the years. D&D has had generations of players either running pre-built scenarios or creating their own campaigns. The diversity of your skills and abilities, along with the extensive degrees of potential advancement, cements its place as the most well-known TTRPG system out there.
Best of all, you can make it pretty much your own with its easy-to-use homebrew mechanics. Everything is there so that you can go as hard or as easy as you want.
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