I am arranging a small convention that will be open to the public in the small town where I live. More details will be coming about that in future articles, but the purpose of the convention is to introduce new people to RPGs. For this reason I am building the convention around the theme of using open source systems and materials, because a free sample never hurts when you are trying to gain new customers.
Free RPGs are a wonderful way for GMs to expand their styles and abilities without making costly upfront investments. Here are three of my favorite free RPG systems.
As many readers already know I am a huge fan of Fudge and its derivatives. One of those derivatives is FATE, and a wonderful derivative of Fate is Free FATE. I find this version of the FATE rules to be the most concise and well-written version, especially for people new to FATE.
The MicroLite20 RPG Collection
Another derivative work, this one of the OGL System Reference Document for the d20 system, the MicroLite20 RPG Collection is not only a great barebones game system but a wonderful assortment of settings. You do not need to download the whole collection, as many of the individual games are available on their own web sites (such as Where No Man Has Gone Before 2.0 which is what I will be running for my next campaign).
There is something about this 661 page PDF that reminds me of how much fun I had as a kid when I first started playing RPGs. Maybe it is the seemingly endless possibilities, or is it simply because I adapted D&D to be used for every setting I wanted to play back then? Who cares? This is good stuff!
Download the MicroLite20 RPG Collection.
Many a fan of Star Wars RPGs knows about the West End Games version that used the D6 system as its core engine. Well that system is open, and not only that but you can download four PDFs for the system: the core book, the fantasy supplement, the space supplement, and the adventure supplement. Not to bad of a start if you want to experiment with a different set of rules as well as build your own setting for your next game.
Download all four D6 System PDFs from this site.
What’s Your Favorite Free RPG?
Those are my top three favorites, at least for now they are as there are more and more great RPGs being released by fans for free it seems. What are some of yours? Share your favorite free RPGs with the rest of us by leaving a comment below.
Free games can afford to be very targeted. My favorites do one thing well:
Lady Blackbird – High-flying fantasy adventure, great for newbies
GHOST/ECHO – Easy GMing, different every time
Monsters and Other Childish Things – My monster ate my homeworkâ€”and my family
A Penny For My Thoughts – Memory reconstruction/deconstruction
I’d be a bad Savage, if I didn’t say:
Savage Worlds Test Drive!
Plus a slew of FREE stuff for SW:
Also, the full PDF of Atomic Highway just went to “free” mode.
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of WitchCraft over the last decade. http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=692&it=1
@obgoblin – Lady Blackbird and GHOST/ECHO are both good examples of free RPG products, but aren’t M&OCT and APFMT both games that need to be purchased? I was not aware of a complete free version for either one.
@NoFairFights – I thought about including the SW Test Drive, but decided against it because it was not the complete system. It is an excellent sample/demo product though, and it certainly is all that you need to introduce people to SW. The rest of the free SW stuff is aces too!
Atomic Highway on the other hand is a great find for a free RPG! Thanks for sharing that. I’m downloading it now.
@Walt Ciechanowski – Another free game which I am now downloading. I may never buy another RPG aga… oh, who am I fooling? 😉
My favorite is definitely Dominion Rules:
The Pathfinder system reference document is also pretty complete and incorporates the rules from most of the rulebooks.
Even if you have the game, using this with a laptop beats the heck out of lugging around the paperweights that are the PF rulebooks 🙂
My two personal favorites are:
the [url=http://perilplanet.com/fu/]Free Universal RPG[/url].
and [url=http://www.stargazergames.eu/games/warrior-rogue-mage/]Warrior, Rogue, & Mage[/url].
My two favorites are:
The Free Universal RPG
Warrior, Rogue & Mage
@gyakusetsu – And another one that I am downloading as of right now. 🙂
@Walt Ciechanowski – I thought about Pathfinder too, but I figured it was so popular that it didn’t need to be mentioned. There are some great conversions of the SRD into PDFs if you take the time to look for them, such as: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/extras/downloads
@shadowacid – FU is good, and WR&M is definitely some top notch stuff! Good calls on both!
There’s also GURPS Lite, which is a complete game if limited to “mundane” adventures.
I’m (intermittently) working on an open-source homebrew game at http://sabo.wikia.com (shameless plug, woo!). Aside from that, I’ll have to check out all of these free games; I never knew so many existed!
@Walt Ciechanowski – GURPS is a system that just does not get the respect that it deserves. People should check out the lite version and play a few games of it IMO.
@Inumo – This is just the tip of the iceberg! Thanks for sharing your own contribution.
@Patrick Benson – You’re absolutely right, my mistake. I somehow jumped from listing free games to ones that do one thing well.
I haven’t actually tried it yet, but The Pool (http://www.randomordercreations.com/rpg.html) contains some interesting ideas.
Every System, Every Genre, Every Thing you can imagine is here…
I’ve downloaded and read so many free RPG’s from this site that I can’t keep them straight anymore… If a link ends up being dead, make sure you use the Wayback Machine. Archive.org is your friend!!!!
@obgoblin – Speaking of games that do one thing well, here is one of my favorites that also happens to be free:
@GiacomoArt – Another new game to check out! 🙂
@wothbora – I am a big fan of that site as well, but it is not as complete as I wish it were. This is not to say that the site isn’t great, but there are so many free RPGs out there that no one site has the definitive collection of links! What a wonderful time to be a gamer!
I haven’t had a chance to try it but Dead Simple RPG looks good.
@offtehcuff – I think I’m getting a bigger kick out of this article than the Stew’s readers are! That is another game that I just downloaded. I try to at least skim over games when I grab them, but today I admit that I am overwhelmed.
What I really like about that Dead Simple RPG is that every download was a single page!
Kirin Robinson’s Old School Hack
Good question! I normally answer that my favourite is whichever the last one is that I’ve read. At the moment, it’s Resolute, Adventurer & Genius http://www.stargazergames.eu/games/resolute-adventurer-genius/
You can find many more reviewed on my blog http://www.thefreerpgblog.com
I would be remiss as a Keeper if I did not point out the Call of Cthulhu Quick Start download –
… which is a complete scenario and enough materials to run it.
Chaosium also have a BRP Quick Start download, which I have not looked at because I like Call of Cthulhu too much.
In the perpetual spirit of self-promotion…
http://www.gregstolze.com/inSpaaace.zip for …in Spaaace!, the game of silly sods in starships (now the engine for the non-free game Dinosaurs… in Spaaace! at http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=95309&affiliate_id=296418 — see how that works?)
http://www.gregstolze.com/ExecutiveDecision.zip is the link to Executive Decision, a sort of West Wing LARP party game. Then there’s…
http://www.gregstolze.com/MBM.pdf …for Meatbot Massacre, a minis skirmish game that started this whole idea of getting free stuff by paying for it. If you’re interested in other free stuff that’s been paid for, http://www.gregstolze.com/downloads.html has what can, I think, be accurately described as a shit-ton of it.
Open D6 has been mentioned. I’ll give a shout out for Mini Six, a rules-light derivative of Open D6. Articles like this are very bad for me to read, since I like to know a little about all RPG systems. Now I’ve got to go out and try GURPS Lite.
WUSHU is my favorite free game. Nothing quite like a pick up and play at any time game like this.
Also, Risus is my number two free game. Generic and simple.
Old school hack is amazingly cool. Nothing like some good old hack and slash that rewards you for taking risks.