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The Tech Deck

Fantasy RPG suggestions

Nothing angers an adventurer more, than burning down their village (Jon & Janelle Roster / Andrew Smith)
Nothing angers an adventurer more, than burning down their village (Jon & Janelle Roster / Andrew Smith)

Most RPGs can fit into a couple broad genres, in these upcoming weeks I’ll be discussing these different genres. The four main ones I am looking at are Fantasy, Modern, Sci-Fi and Generic. In addition, I’ll be providing a list of RPGs that fall into that particular genre. These lists will be good for veterans that might be looking for something new or someone looking to get into the hobby.

We’re kicking off this series in the times of yore where monsters roam the seas and lands and valiant heroes are all the hold back the darkness. We’re talking fantasy! Popularized by Dungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings, most people I talk to first think of this genre of game when they think tabletop roleplaying.

Blasted dragon...and perspective!
Blasted dragon...and perspective!

Speaking of Dungeons and Dragons; have you played Pathfinder? You haven’t!? Perfect.

Born from the glorious awesomeness that is D&D 3.5 edition SRD (System Reference Documentation). Pathfinder’s system takes the simple and generally well known rules of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and turns it up to 11. There are so many options! Classes have been expanded, subclasses are common, racial classes, subraces, racial customization. If you just wished Dungeons and Dragons had more, Pathfinder is your game.

It runs off the d20 system. Where you roll a 20 sided dice add your bonuses and subtract penalties. If you roll over the target number you succeed. It is a great starting system when you’re learning the mechanics. Still, it has enough variety and depth to keep you interested.

Paizo, the creators of Pathfinder, also host the rules free online here! They also sell their books in store, but better yet they sell tons of premade adventures. If you want a good solid combat fantasy RPG, check it out.


On the other hand, if you are looking for a bit more creatively open I’ve been looking into a game called Dungeon World. Instead of playing in a preset world (e.g. Faerun, Eberron or Earth) the players and DM spend the first session or two building the world/universe and the conflicts within it. Since everyone is working together to help build the story, everyone has a stack in it. It doesn’t stop at world building the mechanics themselves rely on creativity.

In combat or social situations you describe what you do and the DM will tell you what move that would be. If you roll poorly your character gains experience (learning from mistakes), but suffer a negative (such as being hit). You level up relatively often and when you do you get extra moves.

Some Barbarians have strange appetites
Some Barbarians have strange appetites

Some of these moves are mostly for roleplay such as the Barbarians move “Still Hungry.” In which the Barbarian gains an additional appetite. What that means is up to the players and DM. Can the barbarian now eat people, can he eat metal, etc…? This game is for those that don’t like to be tied down by rules and just let the story takeover.



The Fantasy genre is not always about dragons and monsters. There are many that are a lot more grounded in reality. For that fix I suggest Burning Wheel. It has this really interesting dice mechanic where you roll a number of 6 sided dice some sides have ‘+’, some have ‘-’ and some are blank. You add them all up and depending on how positive or negative you are depends upon how well or poorly you performed. It keeps the game fast, fun and simple.

Best of all, character creation is even more interesting then the dice mechanics. When you’re coming up with a new character you think of a profession you want your character to be. Such as a lumberjack or soldier, from there the book will walk you through the life of your character. Each step of the way changing your stats slightly to reflect particular events, such as being raised by hunters, etc… In the base mechanics you learn your characters life from the beginning. It’s inspiring to see the life your character has led.

Burning Wheel also does not take place in the traditional magical world’s common to this genre. At least in the game I played, it was very down to Earth. There was no magic, no monsters, just people and it was fun. It’s a very different game and so if you want to try something new you should take a spin on the Burning Wheel.


Before I go I do want to mention a few other RPGs really quickly…

First off, Dragonage the tabletop RPG based off the video game. I’ll be honest; this game caught me by surprise. I didn’t see a point in playing a tabletop version of a video game I enjoy. Yet if you like the game’s world and tabletop RPGs than you’ll probably like this game. The tabletop RPG gives the players the ability to explore and see the rich world that Dragonage takes place in. It all starts with Character Creation, were you combine a class with one of numerous backgrounds. Combining these two options means a group can have two dwarven fighters that are still very different from each other as well as showing the diversity in the world. If you’ve been on the fence about this game, you should pick it up.


Game of Thrones fans rejoice, “A Song of Ice and Fire” I hear is a really good game, I have not played it personally. Though, I have built a house. As in a clan, not the structure. Each house has its own stats, such as resources, land and influence. With these stats you can purchase land, town and people. On top of that, the history of the house is randomly generated and manipulated by the player’s choices. It’s very slick and gives each house a unique history and feel. Combat is very brutal and quick, unlike most RPGs. Characters can die at the drop of a hat, so best to avoid combat if possible. If you want a much more serious fantasy tabletop RPG, “A Song of Ice and Fire” is likely the game you’ve been looking for.


Werewolf: Dark Ages” is White Wolf’s fantasy setting for their World of Darkness series. The setting, though is medieval, rather than the high fantasy of D&D. Still with superstition and mysticism common place in the world, Werewolves can be more active in the world at large without drawing as much attention. Without the internet and media, a pack of Werewolves have little fear of being exposed. For that matter, Werewolves have very little fear of anything and that can make for a unique roleplaying experience.


Before you take your vorpal blade in hand, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook page! See you for the next blog. In the meantime, have fun adventuring!

Awesome Village Image by Dragoroth-stock - Thank you

Thank you Jon & Janelle Roster for helping me with the photography!


You always hear about how terrifying a charging troll is…but until you’ve got a 2 ton brute bearing down on you, you don’t understand.

Andrew Smith is one of The Spokesman-Review's IT gurus and resident dungeon master.