Games to play before you die

I’m in the middle of writing one of those too-long blogposts that really ought to be split into pieces, so in the meantime I’m going to ask a simple question: What are the games to play before you die?

What are those role-playing games which we, game addicts that we are, should be legally mandated to play at least once in our lives? I’m looking for the games which change the way we think about the rpg experience, the ones which just have to be played to fully appreciate – and the ones which are so downright fun that it’s a crime to miss ’em out of the list.

Here’s a few of my own, in no particular order.

  • 3:16
  • Traveller
  • Toon
  • Ars Magica
  • Paranoia
  • The Call of Cthulhu
  • Rolemaster
  • Marvel RPG
  • Moldvay D&D
  • Rules Cyclopedia D&D

Over to you, gentle reader. Over to you.

16 Comments on “Games to play before you die”

  1. I’ll stick to 10.

    1. Traveller in all its D6 forms
    2. 3:16 Can’t fault it. Fantastic game.
    3. MERP Rolemaster Lite with Hobbits
    4. WFRP 1st or 2nd Eds. Can’t comment on 3rd
    5. Twilight 2000.
    6. Pendragon
    7. Call of Cthulhu
    8. Space 1889
    9. Harnmaster
    10. GURPS

  2. Core books you should read (but don’t have to play) before you die:

    * Any recent edition of the HERO system. (For good or ill, the game really does try to make everything mechanically possible.)

    * All Flesh Must Be Eaten (The system is nice, but focus on the chapters about building custom zombies; you can apply that sort of logic to any sort of monster in any sort of system.)

    * Rifts (Although not the most lauded system, its setting manages to do kitchen sink correctly.)

    * Unknown Armies (It has its own special blend of urban weirdness. By the way, its modules are excellent and can be run with any rules system that does modern-day settings.)

    * The Burning Wheel (It asks you to think differently about aspects of the game most of us veterans take for granted.)

    * The Morrow Project (It has a “medically accurate” damage system. Great information for critical hits.)

  3. Here’s my list.

    1. Hero System (5e or 6e)
    2. WFRP (2e and 3e)
    3. Mouse Guard
    4. Savage Worlds
    5. Runequest II
    6. HARP
    7. Traveller (any edition)
    8. Call of Cthulu
    9. L5R (4e when it comes out)
    10. Paranoia

  4. My List

    1) Biff! Bam! Pow! ( – Superhero game with random creation, a respect to physics, and a system Old Schoolers will love.
    2) Teenagers from Outer Space – Silly Fun!
    3) Ironclaw – Best character creation system for any Roleplaying Game, hands down. Too bad the dice mechanics just suck, but the character generation needs to be adopted for a mainstream game.
    4) Jadeclaw (I need to pad the list a little)
    5) Albedo – On the other end of the scale, this is how not to do a combat system. Needs a Math Degree to figure out, and even with a spreadsheet, it typically comes down to One Bullet, One Kill, but maybe Fight While Dead kinda realism. It’s OMG complex.
    6) Dreampark – Simple, Multigenre, and ultra-flexiable. Don’t worry about if your adventure makes sense, their characters aren’t static, anyway.
    6) TORG – Multigenre done amazing well. A bit dated (As any Sci-Fi piece tends to get), but an amazing fun setting.
    7) Houses of the Blooded – Just simply brilliant
    8) Space Dracula – Hey, you gotta dance some time!
    9) Deadlands – Just Odd Ball Enough where it deserves a short run.
    10) Star Wars D6 – The Older the Better!

  5. Okay, you guys got a lot of them but I just want to add a few or agree:

    -Marvel Saga RPG: It got a lot of flak, but it felt the most like a comic book ever. I remeber people saying ‘We use Cards?’ but it really worked. It’s so quick a brilliant that I’ve self-written over 6 companion roster books for it containing around a thousand characters and used it to stat a heroes & Judge dredd universe for further play.
    -Got to agree with Toon. Madness
    – And savage worlds. I’d played for years and even played old deadlands before I got it. It boils it all down to a roleplaying game.
    -Torg. Just for it’s weirdness. And no I think about it, it’s ahead-of-it’s-time ideas. Players can affect the stroyline by playing certain cards even brining pain to themselves? Brilliant.
    -Vampire: The masquerade: I’d just played D&D before this. It Blew. Me. Away. It was like roleplaying on crack. It’s old hat now but the impact it had when it was out was amazing. I still run it to this day and it’s attracted more people to the hobby than any other game.

  6. Personal experience only:
    Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

    I’m familiar with many that people have listed, I hope to play some someday.

  7. A few off my list:
    -Swords & Wizardry Whitebox
    -Warriors & Warlocks
    -Hounds of G.O.D.
    -Tunnels & Trolls (never played it, but I think I really should, at least once)
    -Rolemaster (again at least once)
    -d6 Fantasy
    -D&D 4E (haven’t played yet, but I think I should give it a fair chance)
    -Pathfinder (played a couple individual scenarios with my family group when it was still in beta, and I liked what they did with it)
    .-= Jay Beardsley´s last blog ..Amendment, Rituals =-.

  8. I wouldn’t say the following are my absolute top 10, but I’ll add a few that haven’t yet been mentioned:

    1. Sorcerer
    2. Continuum
    3. Dying Earth
    4. In a Wicked Age
    5. InSpectres
    6. Nobilis
    7. Dead Inside
    8. Whispering Vault
    9. Feng Shui
    10. Some homebrew thing that mashes up your three favourite systems even though they’re totally incompatible

  9. Just reading your question, the first one that popped into my head was Paranoia. The best RPG ever developed for hurting players for the GM’s amusement.

  10. Paranoia – For being really wacky and fun
    Star Wars D6 – For defining “cinematic gameplay”
    Rules Cyclopedia D&D – For defining “fantasy”
    Deadlands – For really capturing a “Western” feel
    Risus – For being so simple and yet so awesome
    Call of Cthulhu – For defining “horror”
    GURPS – For being “that one system” that everybody plays, but you can never seem to find players for (at least in my experience)

  11. My Life with Master — It sounds good.
    Bachanalia — RP a night dedicated to Bacchus.
    BLUE PLANET — This is probably the best Sci-Fi RPG made.
    Kaiju RPG.
    LUG Star Trek — Better than what has come before and after.
    Chicks with Guns — I think that’s the title of it (help??)
    PIMP: The Slaptastic.
    Munchkin — Technically not an RPG, but it parodies RPGs.
    .-= EltonJ´s last blog ..Ultionis and Vanyamore =-.

  12. 01) 3:16
    02) a BRP game, esp. Call of Cthulhu, Pendragon or Runequest; if you can find it -> Prince Valiant above all else
    03) Dying Earth RPG
    04) Faery’s Tale
    05) Panty Explosion + Classroom Deathmatch for more gear; barring that Maid as a P.G. Wodehouse meets Emma (manga) mashup
    06) Risus
    07) some flavor of Rolemaster (this includes MERP and HARP)
    08) Tekumel (the game system used doesn’t matter, whatever works for your group)
    09) Traveller
    10) WFRP

    Where there are multiple editions or settings, whatever works for your group.
    I’m assuming that any roleplayer will either have played D&D already or never will.

    Hrm, all but WFRP have very playable free versions.

  13. 1. Dungeons & Dragons (from Whitebox through AD&D 1e and including any of the modern retro clones… no gaming career can be complete with playing D&D)
    2. Gurps (was my “anti-D&D” in the 80’s and 90’s… the latest version is still a great example of a certain style of play)
    3. RISUS (to how much you can do with so little)
    4. Warhammer FRP 1e (for a very different approach to traditional fantasy roleplaying)
    5. Traveller (I still have never played this with other people… but I own all the original black books)
    6. James Bond RPG (best super-spy game ever)
    7. FATE (in any of its incarnations, most notably Spirit of the Century)
    8. Vampire: The Masquerade (one of those games that changed EVERYTHING)
    9. Amber (because you gotta try diceless at least once)
    10. D&D 3e/D20 (the basis for *so* many games out there)

    Honorable Mentions: D&D 4e, Mutants & Masterminds, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, FUDGE, Castle Falkenstein, Savage Worlds, PDQ

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