I have been on an epic quest these last few months tirelessly searching for what could be considered the very best table top pen and paper role playing game out there. My fingers surfed the keyboard of my MacBook Pro all over the Internets asking search engines the question, “What is the very best table top RPG out there?” I have read forum posts, blog posts, e-mails and chats with friends. Sadly, I was unable to get a clear and concise answer.
I took my quest to the next level. I pored through just about every single RPG book and PDF I have collected in the last three years since I got into table top RPGs. It’s a shockingly large amount of material I have collected. I focusing my time on reading how each different RPG handles character creation and game mechanics as those are the areas I have issues with in the RPGs I have played.
The truth is, I didn’t know what to look for, but I will know it when I see it. I wanted simple character creation with lots of choices for races and classes. Something that would fit on one piece of notebook paper old school style. You should not need several sheets of paper and index cards to build your character and track all of their powers. To me that is no longer a pen and paper RPG. It’s something else that I don’t think the hobby has developed a name for.
I also want simple gaming mechanics. When I first started playing RPGs with my friends it was, for me and everyone else at the table, all about rolling dice. We all eagerly awaited our turn to roll dice. Now that our dice addiction has subsided we have all learned that the story is the most important part of any RPG. I would like to find a game where the conflict resolution, from jumping over a pit to slaying a dragon, to intimidating a Non Player Character (NPC), is solved quickly by a dice roll. Where I don’t have to memorize or keep large tables of numbers.
As I near the end of my quest. As I finish up reading through the last few RPGs left on my book shelf, I have resolved to the fact that I will not find this perfect game. I don’t think it exists.
I don’t view my quest for the perfect RPG as a total failure either. With each RPG I read through I gain knowledge about RPGs in general. I learned that even though not one RPG fit 100% into what I was looking for I did find a handful or so that appear to be very close. Of these books I am going to go back and dig deeper into them before settling on one that will be my gaming groups next RPG.
The games I found to be top contenders for my group are:
- Old School Reference and Index Compilation (OSRIC) [FREE]
- The red and blue box original Dungeons & Dragons.
- Castles & Crusades
My game plan is to stick with a medieval fantasy game (OSRIC, Dungeons & Dragons, or Castles & Crusades) as my group’s main game while tossing in the occasional one-off of something like ‘Serenity’or ‘Ghostbusters’ to just give me as game master a change of pace and a chance to recharge.
I wrote this post to not only share my experience with you, but to hopefully start some good conversation in the comments section. I would love to hear what anyone has to say about finding the best RPG out there.