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The Gamemaster’s Top Ten Role-Playing Games

Oct 16, 13 The Gamemaster’s Top Ten Role-Playing Games

I have been asked for this several times, and so here it is: my top ten favorite role-playing games.

Number Ten: GURPS by Steve Jackson Games. The only generic system to make it on this list, I have always adored the focus on realism and characterization of Generic Universal Role-Playing System. While the game, due to its very nature, lacks my oh-so beloved Fluff, its crunch has always been amazingly solid and well thought out without being bogged down by needless complexity, with the notable exception of their vehicles. It should not take me ten hours to design a stupid sail-boat.

Number Nine: Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition by Wizards of the Coast. Always a favorite, and holding more nostalgia to me than all of the Saturday morning cartoons of my childhood combined, D&D Third Edition is an eternal class in my eyes and will always be a game I can look back on and smile.

Number Eight: Rifts by Palladium Books. Speaking of nostalgia, no game holds more nostalgia for me than the one that lead me to take up the dice for the very first time. Sure, the game has its problems, but that does not stop it from being a lot of fun and a great joy to introduce new players to. Having opened its pages for the first time in years just recently, playing this game once again has reminded me of just why I adore this hobby so much.

Number Seven: Scion by White Wolf Publishing. I do not know many gamers who are not fascinated by old-world mythology and legend, and Scion allows us not only to bring those old tales to life, but to create new ones that exist alongside the old. In Scion you play as the children of the gods themselves, born of mortals, who live in our modern day. The concept alone is enough to excite, and the game itself is incredible, albeit with a house-rules used to help the game flow more smoothly.

Number Six: Pathfinder by Paizo. A classic reborn, Pathfinder is the spiritual successor of D&D Third Edition and D&D 3.5, and it does the game proud. I rate it higher on this list than the original because of its improved game-play and continued publication.

Number Five: The Dresden Files RPG by Evil Hat Productions. A game that has redefined the difference between “roll” playing and “role” playing for me and many of my players, the Dresden Files RPG is an incredible game that unifies crunch and fluff in ways I had never seen before.

Number Four: the Dragon Age Table-top RPG by Green Ronin Publishing. A throwback to role-playing games of old with its simple system, open class-based play, and ease of learning, the Dragon Age RPG is, the greatest classic fantasy table-top game I have ever played, and this is not even taking into consideration that it is based on one of my favorite video-games of all time, either.

Number Three: Vampire the Masquerade by White Wolf Publishing. A close tie with its successor, Requiem, which I feel has more solid crunch, Vampire the Masquerade won out because I prefer its fluff. The iconic vampire game, Vampire the Masquerade is a game that gives its players an unexpected look at what it is to be a monster.

Number Two: Shadowrun by Catalyst Game Labs. One of the most incredible games I have ever played, Shadowrun is a near perfect blend of fantasy and cyber-punk. Technology and magic blended together in a dystopian future, this game was nearly in my number one spot. However, despite all of my adoration for Shadowrun, there is still one game that I find I like more.

Number One: And finally, my favorite role-playing game of all time – which should come as little surprise to most – Anima: Beyond Fantasy by Anima Project Studio and Fantasy Flight Games. What can I say about this game that I have not already said countless times before? I adore it, and while no game is perfect, Anima has something in it that always manages to draw me back into it. Fantastic setting, dynamic rules, and endless storytelling opportunities, Anima: Beyond Fantasy holds the title of my favorite game of all time.

I hope all of you have enjoyed my top ten list. What are some of your favorite role-playing games?

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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About 

Joshua is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist, and avid table-top gamer who has been in love with the hobby ever since it was first introduced to him by a friend in 1996. Currently he acts as the Gamemaster in three separate games and is also a player in a fourth. When he is not busy rolling dice to save the world or destroying the hopes and dreams of his players, he is usually found either with his nose in a book or working on his own. He has degrees in English, Creative Writing, and Economics.

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  • Lucas

    Tried Anima once.. fucking complicated, but i suppose that is a very complete system :P