Monday, 27 May 2024

5 Fantasy RPGs That Offer a Fresh Experience for Fans of D&D

Ask any tabletop role-playing enthusiast, and they’ll tell you that we’re currently living in a golden age for the hobby. The world of role-playing games has expanded and evolved, thanks to factors like livestreamed shows, remote play options, crowdfunded projects, and innovative game design. While Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) remains a driving force behind the hobby’s success, there are a plethora of other games that offer unique experiences within the fantasy genre.

In this article, we’ll explore five fantasy role-playing games that are worth trying if you’re a fan of D&D. These games provide exciting mechanics and playstyles that can reinvigorate your gaming group’s enthusiasm, and you may even discover new ideas to bring back to your D&D campaigns.

Pathfinder: 2nd Edition – Publisher: Paizo

If you enjoy the structure of D&D but crave more options and a playstyle reminiscent of the venerated 3rd edition, consider diving into Pathfinder. Developed by Paizo, Pathfinder began as an outgrowth of the D&D 3.5 edition ruleset and has since evolved into a fully realized experience of its own. Pathfinder 2nd Edition offers increased complexity and customization, making it the ideal choice for gaming groups looking to try something new. The game features familiar mechanics, such as d20 rolls and the general flow of play, but also introduces meaningful distinctions like a tactical action system and expanded character customization. With well-written rulebooks and stunning design, Pathfinder is a game that can seamlessly complement your D&D adventures.

Also Consider: Starfinder

Vaesen – Publisher: Free League Publishing

For a departure from conventional fantasy settings, Vaesen offers a captivating experience steeped in 19th-century Scandinavian folklore and atmospheric horror. Inspired by the art of Swedish illustrator/author Johan Egerkrans, Vaesen immerses players in a world where invisible creatures like trolls, fairies, and ghosts manipulate and interact with humans. As investigators gifted with “The Sight,” players assume different archetypes and embark on quests to resolve conflicts between the natural and modern worlds. Vaesen, with its emphasis on mystery, atmosphere, and character relationships, provides a unique storytelling experience, moving away from constant combat and uncovering the gothic horrors hidden within nature.

Also Consider: Tales From The Loop, Forbidden Lands

Conan: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of – Publisher: Modiphius

The world of Conan the Barbarian, created by Robert E. Howard, serves as the backdrop for this savage and action-packed fantasy RPG. Modiphius’ Conan: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of captures the essence of sword-and-sorcery adventures, featuring deadly encounters and evil magic. The game’s 2d20 system provides a dynamic push-and-pull mechanic between player and Game Master, adding excitement and tension to the gameplay. If you crave thrilling battles, party cohesion, and an immersive experience in the world of Conan, this game is an excellent choice.

Also Consider: John Carter of Mars, Star Trek Adventures

Zweihänder: Grim & Perilous RPG – Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

If you prefer a darker and grittier take on fantasy, Zweihänder embraces the grim and perilous aspects of the genre. This rules-light RPG focuses on a world where adventurers struggle against impossible odds, often meeting gruesome fates along the way. With its percentile-based rules system and extensive character options, Zweihänder allows players to take on a wide array of professions and skills. This game is a departure from colorful and whimsical fantasy, drawing inspiration from dark fantasy works like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) and Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series. Embrace the challenge, survive the unfair world, and revel in the bloody battles that await.

Also Consider: Mythras, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: 4th Edition

Numenera – Publisher: Monte Cook Games

If you’re seeking a fantasy game with a unique and imaginative universe, Numenera offers a refreshing departure from traditional western European settings. Set on Earth in a distant future, Numenera presents a world where civilizations have risen and fallen, leaving behind indistinguishable technology and remnants of past eras. As explorers and builders, players unravel the mysteries of this awe-inspiring world, repurposing ancient artifacts to fuel a new age of discovery. Numenera’s rules-light system emphasizes narrative flexibility and player participation, making it the perfect game for inventive storytelling and imaginative character creation.

Also Consider: The Strange, Invisible Sun


While D&D remains a fantastic entry point into the world of tabletop RPGs, there is a vast array of other games that offer unique experiences within the fantasy genre. From the depth and customization of Pathfinder to the atmospheric horror of Vaesen, each game brings something special to the table. Conan: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of offers action-packed adventures, while Zweihänder delves into the darker side of fantasy. Meanwhile, Numenera introduces players to a lavishly imagined universe unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. So, if you’re a dedicated role-playing gamer, don’t hesitate to explore these other fantastic game systems and uncover a wealth of fun waiting to be discovered.


Q: Which game is the most beginner-friendly?
A: For newcomers, Pathfinder’s 2nd Edition is an excellent choice due to its familiarity with D&D mechanics. The well-written rulebooks provide a smooth learning curve, making it easier to jump into the game.

Q: Are any of these games suitable for one-on-one play?
A: Yes, all of these games can be adapted for one-on-one sessions. However, some may require more adjustments and customization to cater to a solo player experience.

Q: Can I incorporate elements from these games into my D&D campaigns?
A: Absolutely! Many ideas, mechanics, and concepts from these games can enrich your D&D campaigns. Feel free to draw inspiration and adapt them to fit your D&D adventures.

Q: Where can I purchase these games?
A: You can find these games at various online retailers, local game stores, or directly from the publishers’ websites. Visit the publishers’ websites for more information on purchasing options.

Q: How can I learn more about other tabletop games?
A: If you’re interested in exploring more tabletop games, feel free to reach out to us via email. We’re more than happy to provide further recommendations tailored to your specific interests and preferences. Additionally, you can explore our Top of the Table articles for a selection of great tabletop games to enjoy with friends and family.