Gaming on the cheap – 2013 Edition (Part 2/2)

Last time I wrote about some highly recommended free games, this time I want to focus on inexpensive commercial games. All of the games listed below are available as PDF document for $10 or less. Of course you can’t beat the price of free, but if you are willing to invest a few bucks into your hobby, the games below are definitely worth the investment.

Legend

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Legend is a 242-paged fantasy RPG based on the well-known Runequest system. It uses percentile dice for all task resolutions and is – aside from combat – pretty rules light.

Legend doesn’t come with any setting, but can basically be used for all kinds of fantasy backgrounds. What really makes Legend an interesting alternative to other games is its incredibly low price. You get the complete core rules in PDF format for just $1!
Especially with that in mind there’s no reason not to pick it up.

   

The Weird West Roleplaying Game is a real treat. It’s a complete roleplaying game which is set into a weird western world of cowboys, kung-fu, and magic.
What it sets apart from similar games it that it comes on just 8 pages. Yes, you read that correctly! There’s even a pocketmod version, you can print out, fold and carry around in your pocket.
If you don’t mind the simple rules, you should give it a look. It’s available for just $1 on RPGNow.

Weird West Roleplaying Game
 

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BASH! Sci-Fi Edition
 

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BASH! Sci-Fi Edition is the Sci-Fi variant of the BASH! superhero roleplaying game. It’s a 138-paged PDF containing all the rules needed to run a game in basically every SF subgenre.

The task resolution method is quite unique, probably because it was designed to help kids learn math. Everytime you perform a skill check, you roll 2d6 and multiply the roll results with the relevant stat.

Overall the rules are pretty light and easy to learn. Since the rules are derived from a superhero game, creating unique heroes is pretty easy in this game.

The PDF sets you back $9.99.

   

The Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game is a game I have mixed feelings about. It’s a great looking 232-paged superhero roleplaying game set in the Marvel universe using the Cortex+ system.

A lot of people are enjoying this game tremendously and from a production quality standpoint $9.99 for the PDF are a steal, but for some reason I can’t wrap my head around the rules.

If you have played games with the Cortex+ rules before or if you are a fan of the Marvel universe, you definitely should give this game a look anyway.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
 
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Barbarians of Lemuria (Legendary Edition)
 
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Barbarians of Lemuria is a 110-paged sword & sorcery roleplaying game inspired by pulp fantasy from Robert E. Howard’s Conan to Michael Moorcock’s Elric.

If you are looking for a rules-light game that allows you to experience adventures inspired by your favorite sword & sorcery tales, look no further.

The PDF copy is $7.50 at RPGNow.

   

This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one of the GUMSHOE games on it. Fear Itself is one of the lesser known games using Robin Laws’ system, but it’s definitely worth your attention.

In most other horror games you are some kind of investigator fighting against the evil and the unknown. In Fear Itself the player characters are just ordinary people confronted with a disturbing world of madness and violence.

The 90-paged PDF contains all the rules needed to run the game and even an introductory adventure. It sets you back $8.95.

Fear Itself

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BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game

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Last but not least I want to mention the BareBones Fantasy Role Playing Game. In my opinion it’s one of the best fantasy RPGs released in recent times. It just feels right, has a set of light but solid rules and is clearly a labor of love.

The 84-paged PDF contains all the rules necessary to run the game, an extensive bestiary and even a setting. While it has a certain old-school charm to it, it’s a modern game with a really well-designed percentile dice system.

The game sets you back $9.99 for the PDF, but you can get the softcover + PDF bundle for just four additional dollars! If I had to name my fantasy RPG of the year, it would be BBF!

   

As with part one of the series, this list is far from extensive. There are a lot of very good and inexpensive games out there, especially if you are willing to get the PDF version. If you already have a set of polyhedral dice, pencils, scrap paper and about $10, you can start playing. The times where you had to invest $60 and more just to start with gaming are luckily long gone.

What do you guys think about my picks? Is there anything I should have mentioned? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Gaming on the cheap – 2013 Edition (Part 2/2)”

  1. Great picks! I am also very fond of BareBones but my players find it not crunchy enough :-/ We will see if I can´t convert them. Legend and BoL are also a steal at the price and well worth the money! I am not a fan of MHR though, I find it too complicated to understand. This is a real bag of awesome gaming.

    1. Thanks for your kind words! Even though I agree with your assessment of MHR, I just had to include it on this list. It’s definitely a great game for the price, even though not everyone “gets” it.
      I think the crunch level of BBF is perfect for me, but I am usually more interested in characters, stories, etc. then rules anyway.

  2. A couple I think should be in your list:

    – Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition and Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition are both at 9.99$ at DrivethruRPG.

    – FATE Core and FATE Accelerated Edition will both be available in a couple of months in a “Pay What You Like” mode in .pdf format.

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