If you haven't been paying attention to the TTRPG space, it seems Hasbro are forcing the end of an era. Their recently leaked OGL 1.1 not just puts greater restrictions on people wanting to create third-party content for Dungeons & Dragons, it revokes a version of the open game license that's been in effect since 2000. Their recent passive-aggressive apology and walkback wasn't received much better either. Because of this massive loss of goodwill and trust, the D&D community is moving on to other systems. Thankfully, there are D&D alternatives out there. Whether you like dynamic combat, rewarding roleplaying, or crunchy numbers and systems, this list will have at least one thing that should appeal to you.
Top D&D Alternatives – Variety and Complexity
10. The 2d20 System by Modiphius Entertainment
Modiphius Entertainment's 2d20 system has a lot going for it. While the core gameplay, roll 2d20s and hope for a low result, takes some getting used to, its robust RPG system has helped fuel tons of interesting experiences, be it the pulpy sword fights of Conan The Barbarian, the pulp sci-fi of Infinity, or the galactic politics of the world of Dune.
9. The Cypher System by Monte Cook Games
This award-winning RPG system is extremely flexible, allowing for multiple genres as well as settings. It uses familiar types of dice like d20s as well as a robust and accessible challenge rating system, making things easy for GMs. Admittedly, the core rulebook is basically a giant handful of tools, which means you will need to put some legwork to make your own setting and campaign. But as far as foundations go, this is great.
8. FATE Core by Evil Hat Productions
If the players at your table are much more interested in roleplaying complex characters than intricate systems, then the FATE system is worth a look. While there is some stat management, the building blocks of a character are determined by Aspects, small phrases that encompass the characters' key personality traits. It's a system that actively encourages three-dimensional character development due to how its core systems work, which is great for avid roleplayers.
7. Cortex Prime by Fandom Tabletop
If your tables are into more cinematic, theatre-of-the-mind style sessions, then Cortex Prime should appeal to you. The game encourages conflicts that can be resolved in a single session, has plenty of depth when it comes to dice rolls, traits, and mods. Finally, the GM can easily reward players or add complications thanks to hitches and Plot Points. Furthermore, the system has its own accessible content platform, making rules references a few simple clicks away.
6. Powered By The Apocalypse
If you prefer more shared authority and even less rules complexity in your roleplaying experiences, then keep an eye out for games that run on this system. With just 2d6s and some imagination, you can go on fantastical adventures, both licensed such as Root and Avatar: The Last Airbender, as well as original works like Monster of the Week, Dungeon World, and Masks: A New Generation.
Top 10 D&D Alternatives – Dynamic Gameplay
5. Mork Borg by Free League Publishing
Have the tastes of your gaming table leaned more towards the dark and apocalyptic? Are they really into extremely difficult encounters by fantastical monsters in a dying world? Then this OSR (Old School Revival) TTRPG has just what they need. Not only does the Mork Borg rulebook provide tools to convert these challenges to different systems. It's a game packed with style and guaranteed to scratch a table's very specific itch.
4. 7th Sea by Chaosium
If your players are more interested in thrilling setpieces and dangerous antics, then the swashbuckling adventures of 7th Sea are worth a look. There is a bit of complex worldbuilding that is in the game's setting, but once your crew are on the high seas, it is nothing but sword fights and ship battles. Also, you have to enjoy a system that encourages you mechanically to pull off daring or dangerous acts for stat bonuses.
3. 13th Age by Pelgrane Press
If you and your players are of an older persuasion, one that fondly remembers dungeon crawls but laments the complexities of AD&D, then 13th Age might just be for you. Not only does the game have familiar fantasy archetypes and tropes, they're all tweaked to have a solid storytelling focus. Plus, it does away with grid-based combat for a simple three tier system of Engaged, Nearby, and Far Away.
2. Forged In The Dark by Evil Hat Productions
Have you ever wanted to pull off elaborate dangerous heists at your table? Did you not want the whole thing to devolve into a logistical nightmare regarding planning, scouting, and casing? Did you want the whole thing to not play out like a tedious exercise of optimal moves undone by bad rolls? Then check out Forged in the Dark, which manages to bring all of that excitement with easily understandable rules and streamlined elements. Plus, the system's original setting, Blades in the Dark, is a masterclass in industrial gothic worldbuilding, a must read for fans of the Thief or Dishonored series.
1. Fantasy AGE/ Modern AGE by Green Ronin Publishing
Have you ever felt too restrained by character options in an RPG? Do you enjoy encounters where your successes can cascade into impressive acts? Have you always wanted martial classes to feel as cool as magic-users? Enter Green Ronin's AGE system. Roll 3d6s for everything. If you roll pairs, you gain stunt points, which can be used for additional actions during a scene. That is exciting by itself, until you remember that enemies get stunts as well. It's a system that encourages you to get into the fray and take risks, leading to the kind of stories you will remember for years to come.