System Inventory

Basic Role-Playing

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Thanks to a special request – “what could we play?” here’s a quick survey of the games currently on my shelves. There are probably a few more buried in boxes and things, and there are quite a lot more on PDF – but it’s hard to hand a PDF to someone at the table and let them leaf through it, so I prefer to run games I actually have a physical copy of if possible.

Obviously enough, this is going to be a giant list: sorry about that, but there’s just no other way. Note that this does NOT include sub-games, supplements, and d20 stuff in general except to note the presence of the d20 category. That would boost the length of this list many times over.

  1. 2300 AD
  2. 7’th Sea
  3. Aberrant
  4. Ace Supers
  5. Ace Agents
  6. AD&D (first and second editions, with innumerable settings and supplements)
  7. Adventure (the White Wolf version).
  8. Adventures in Fantasy
  9. After Wars
  10. Aftermath (a game with the most complex combat flowchart around).
  11. Agone
  12. Alternity
  13. Amazing Engine (with an assortment of worldbooks).
  14. Amber (still one of the few systems out there that gets along without a randomizer).
  15. Apocalypse
  16. Arcanum
  17. Arduin
  18. Aria (a game where characters, clans, and societies use pretty much the same rules).
  19. Army Ants (literally; you play militarized insects battling it out in the back yard).
  20. Ars Magica (one of the few RPG’s that embraces troupe play).
  21. Asylum (where hallucinogens from the sky have made the entire human race psychotic).
  22. Attack of the Humans
  23. Baba Yaga (designed for a WWII game with a bit of mysticism, but a universal system).
  24. Basic Role-Playing System (the base for Runequest, Nephelim, Call of Cthulhu, and many more).
  25. Basic D&D (and assorted expansions)
  26. Bastet (an Old World of Darkness race).
  27. Batman (a stripped-down version of DC Heroes).
  28. Battlelords
  29. Beyond the Supernatural
  30. Big Eyes Small Mouth (the original Tri-Stat system).
  31. Birthright (Included as separate from normal AD&D thanks to the boardgame aspect).
  32. Blood Dawn
  33. Blood of Heroes
  34. Bloodshadows
  35. Boot Hill
  36. Brave New World (a world where your superpowers are usually less effective than buying a gun – and the upgraded version of the game never came out).
  37. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  38. Bullwinkle and Rocky (OK, this one is for kids – but it’s still a role-playing game that includes hand puppets to help you show what your character is doing).
  39. Bureau 13 (if someone wants Ghostbusters, this is a good contender).
  40. Bushido (one of the classics when it comes to oriental role playing games).
  41. Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (this would doubtless have attracted me more if I’d ever read the original comic).
  42. Call of Cthulhu (not the d20 version, that’s under general d20. Still a classic).
  43. Castle Falkenstein
  44. Chainmail (again, not exactly a RPG, but ancestral).
  45. Champions / Hero System (1’st through 5’th edition).
  46. Changeling, The Dreaming
  47. Children of the Sun
  48. Chill
  49. Chivalry and Sorcery
  50. Chosen
  51. Continuum
  52. Continuum II (one of my personal rules sets).
  53. Corax (another Old World of Darkness were-race).
  54. CORPS
  55. Cosmic Enforcers
  56. Creature Feature (technically an expansion for Chill, but turning it around to play the monsters is pretty much a whole new game).
  57. Critter Commandos (for kids, but where else can all your soldiers be represented by stuffed animals?)
  58. Cybergeneration (amusing, if unlikely – and featuring nanotech that might as well be magic).
  59. Cyberpunk
  60. Cyberspace (a Rolemaster supplement, but one that really rewrites the world).
  61. Cyborg Commando (not one of Gygax’s better efforts unfortunately).
  62. d20 (3.0, 3.5, Future, and far too many variants to list)
  63. d20 Eclipse Point Buy
  64. d6 (Fantasy and assortment)
  65. Danger Quest
  66. Dangerous Journeys (another one of Gygax’s, and with potential – if a bit turgid in spots).
  67. Dark Conspiracy
  68. DC Heroes
  69. Deadlands (original and d20. A nicely original system and an evocative world. If you want to try it, go for the original).
  70. Demon City Shinjuku
  71. Demons
  72. Dominion Tank Police
  73. Don’t Look Back
  74. Dragon Quest (complete with that wonderful list of summonable demons).
  75. Dragon Hordes (more of a war game really, but some RPG aspects).
  76. Dream Park (a game where your playing a player of a character who can adapt to the game system. Best if you’ve read the books and know what you’re getting into).
  77. Dreamtime
  78. Duel
  79. Dying Earth (the original “Vancian” setting).
  80. Earthdawn
  81. El-Hazard (a Tri-Stat production, but essentially a separate game).
  82. Elfquest
  83. Elric
  84. Empire of the Petal Throne (Tekumal, and a seriously old-style classic).
  85. Enforcers
  86. Everlasting
  87. Everway
  88. Exalted (a nigh-unplayable rules set with errata that – at more than 160 pages – is longer than many games, but with White Wolf’s usual highly-readable fluff).
  89. Expendables
  90. Extreme Vengeance
  91. Fading Suns
  92. Fantasy Wargaming
  93. Fantasy Earth
  94. Feng Shui
  95. Fifth Cycle
  96. Forge out of Chaos
  97. Forgotten Futures
  98. Fringeworthy
  99. Furry Pirates
  100. Fusion
  101. Galactic Underground
  102. Gamma World (in both original and updated styles).
  103. Gangbusters
  104. Gatecrasher
  105. Gemini
  106. Geriatric Wars
  107. Ghostbusters (honestly, I’d use Bureau 13; it’s a lot more flexible).
  108. Giant Psychic Insects from Outer Space (OK, technically this goes with Don’t Look Back – but how could I pass up including this title?)
  109. Godlike (a one roll engine game, with a bunch of sample characters on this site under the “other games” tab at the top of the page).
  110. Godsend Agenda
  111. Greeping Death
  112. Gurahl (another Old World of Darkness subrace, but of some interest).
  113. GURPS (Cyberpunk, Discworld, Horror, Ice Age, Illuminati U, Lensman, Martial Arts, (The) Prisoner, Riverworld, Space, Special Ops, Supers, Swashbuckling, Time, Wild Cards, etcetera).
  114. Gypsy (Old World of Darkness)
  115. Hahlmabria (a very generic, and extremely forgettable, D&D clone).
  116. Harnmaster
  117. Heavy Metal
  118. Hengeyokai (Old World of Darkness East)
  119. Hero Wars (Glorantha)
  120. Heroes Unlimited
  121. Heroes Forever
  122. Heroes and Heroines
  123. High Colonies
  124. Hunter (Old World of Darkness).
  125. Imagine
  126. Immortal (very atmospheric, and with lovely art, but rather difficult to play).
  127. In Nomine (where both the angels and the demons are friggin’ nuts (TM))
  128. Indiana Jones (where your heroes are close to unkillable).
  129. Infinite Domains
  130. Insectia
  131. Iron Wind
  132. Ironclaw
  133. It Came from the Late Late Late Show (this one is a lot of fun; you’re an actor in a BAD movie).
  134. Jadeclaw
  135. James Bond OO7
  136. Justifiers (the system is hopelessly creaky, but the background is nice. I’d use Baba Yaga for this).
  137. Kindred of the East (Old World of Darkness again).
  138. Kult
  139. Land of the Rising Sun (a Chivalry and Sorcery spin-of, and as hard to play as that ever was).
  140. Legacy: War of Ages
  141. Legantia
  142. Legend Quest
  143. Legend of the Five Rings (we usually use a point-buy adaption that allows for building your own schools)
  144. Legendary Lives
  145. Lexicon Atlantis
  146. Little Fears (a game about being a child with horrible things after you. Not… pleasant).
  147. Lords of Creation
  148. Lost Souls
  149. Macho Women with Guns (once a joke, later a game – but where are the motorcycle aztec wrestling nuns? And how badly does even remembering that joke date me? Even more than the rest of this list?).
  150. Maelstrom
  151. Mage, The Ascension
  152. Man, Myth, and Magic
  153. Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP system. A lot of fun really, and character generation is a game in itself. There’s some stuff for this under the Other Games tab)
  154. Marvel Super Heroes (Current card-based system)
  155. Masterbook (the TORG successor).
  156. Masters of the Mind
  157. Mechanical Dream
  158. Mechwarrior
  159. Mega
  160. Megatraveler (an “updated” version of Traveler that more or less came and went).
  161. Mekton II
  162. Men in Black
  163. MERP / Middle Earth Role Playing
  164. Metabarons (what happened when West End lost the Star Wars license).
  165. Metamorphosis Alpha
  166. Midnight at the Well of Souls
  167. Millenniums End
  168. Mokole (Another race from the Old World of Darkness)
  169. Multiverser
  170. Mummy (Old World of Darkness)
  171. Murphy’s World (Monty Python meets AD&D meets the Apocalypse).
  172. Musketeers
  173. Mutants and Masterminds (d20, but sufficiently different to get it’s own listing).
  174. Mutazoids
  175. Nephelim (Original secretive-entities from ages past version).
  176. Nexus
  177. Nightbane (notable for creating REALLY random characters…)
  178. Nightlife
  179. Ninjas and Superspies
  180. Nobilis
  181. Noir
  182. Of Gods and Men
  183. One Roll Engine (the system for Monsters and Other Childish Things and assorted other games).
  184. Oriental Adventures (Not the d20 version, worth noting as being essentially AD&D 1.5)
  185. Ork
  186. Over the Edge (if this got much more “Rules-Lite” it would evaporate entirely).
  187. Palladium Fantasy Role Playing
  188. Pandemonium
  189. Paranoia (in various editions).
  190. Pelicar
  191. Pendragon (perhaps THE game of arthurian romance).
  192. Powers and Perils
  193. Price of Freedom
  194. Prime Directive
  195. Prince Valiant
  196. Project Twilight
  197. Providence
  198. Ravenstar
  199. Realm of the Gateway
  200. Recon (sneak-sneak-sneak-BLAM-you’re dead… the game is better than actually doing it, but it’s still rather less fun than you might think).
  201. RIFTS (and far too many supplements and worldbooks).
  202. Robin Hood
  203. Robotech
  204. Rolemaster (the closest any game has yet come to a complete list of everything).
  205. Rune (viking slaughterhouse. Need I say more?)
  206. Runequest
  207. S.LA Industries
  208. Saurions (a long-forgotten derivative of Chivalry and Sorcery).
  209. Sengoku
  210. Senzar
  211. Shadowrun (still one of the best, at least if you stick to editions 1-3).
  212. Shalkith Last Kin
  213. Shatterzone
  214. Ship of Fools
  215. Skyrealms of Jorune (for those who want a really exotic background).
  216. Sorcerer (White Wolf, in assorted versions)
  217. Space Master (Rolemaster version).
  218. Space 1889
  219. Spacemaster (yes, this is entirely separate from the Rolemaster version).
  220. Spacetime
  221. Spookshow (ever wonder why intelligence agents are called “spooks”? Now you’ll know).
  222. Star Wars (d6, the d20 version is included in the general d20 listing)
  223. Star Frontiers
  224. Star Trek RPG
  225. Stormbringer
  226. Sun and Storm
  227. Suzerain
  228. System Failure
  229. Tales of Gargenthar
  230. Tales from the Floating Vagabond
  231. Talislanta (a simple system but a nicely detailed world and background).
  232. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  233. Teenagers from Outer Space (have you seen my popcorn grenade? Oh wait! It’s under your seat!)
  234. Tenchi Muyo (another Tri-Stat production).
  235. The Fantasy Trip (Melee, Wizard, and Into the Labyrinth)
  236. The Blood
  237. The Primal Order
  238. Thieves World (a nice system if you want to focus on stealth and illegal operations).
  239. Throwing Stones
  240. Time Master
  241. Timelords (a Dr Who system)
  242. Timelords (A couple more by the same title, but unrelated to Dr Who or to each other).
  243. Tome of Neverworld
  244. Toon (you might as well not bother with a system here, but it’s fun).
  245. Top Secret (along with a bunch of other Hero System genre productions – sci-fi, fantasy, giant robots, and more. The Hero System does best with pulp heroes to superheroes though).
  246. TORG (the war for the multiverse!)
  247. Tractics (ok, it’s not really a RPG, but it was an ancestor of theirs).
  248. Traveler Classic
  249. Traveler, the New Era
  250. Tribe 8
  251. Trinity (psychics versus mutant monstrosities returned from beyond the stars!)
  252. Tunnels and Trolls
  253. Twilight 2000 (this is what you get for picking a near-future date for your game…)
  254. Underground
  255. Universe
  256. Unknown Armies
  257. Unsanctioned
  258. Usagi Yojimbo (yes, it is indeed cartoon rabbit samurai epics).
  259. Vampire, The Middle Ages
  260. Villains and Vigilantes
  261. W.H.A.T. (a generic system – with an acronym standing for nothing that I can recall…)
  262. War Gods (Turned out to be more of a miniatures war game, but usable)
  263. Warhammer Fantasy Role Play
  264. Warlock
  265. Warp World
  266. Waste World
  267. Wasted West
  268. Web of Stars
  269. Web of Heroes
  270. Web of  Horror
  271. Werewolf Wild West
  272. Werewolf the Apocalypse
  273. Whispering Vault (where you get to be horrors from beyond come to save reality).
  274. Witchcraft
  275. Wizard’s World
  276. Wizards (yes, a RPG taken from that old animated film)
  277. World Tree (an extremely well-written and highly recommended game)
  278. World of Darkess (New, and point-buy adaption)
  279. World of Synnibar (Yes, yes, I know, Boo Hiss)
  280. Worlds of Wonder (including psiworld, spaceworld, and superworld as I recall).
  281. Wraith, The Oblivion (a remarkably gray setting with very little in the way of actual goals).
  282. Ysgarth (a game with the most elaborate skills system I have ever seen).

Hm. There seems to be a distinct shortage of RPG’s in my print collection that begin with a “Q”, “X”, and “Z”. I must see if I can fix that. I think there are a few “Xeno-something” games in existence out there.

This also doesn’t include a selection of minigames and one-page things. Those are usually too thin to support an extended campaign.

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5 Responses

  1. That’s an impressive list of games! Have you actually run at least one session or more with all of these?

    Also, given that you take requests for your daily articles (something I quite enjoy), are all of these game systems viable choices to request things for? Or do you keep it limited to the systems in the tabs on the main page?

    • Hm. I think I’ll take those in reverse order, because the first one is pretty long…

      Yes, all of those games are valid targets for article requests. For that matter, pretty much anything to do with games is a valid topic for requests; I just can’t guarantee that I’ll have anything to say on some of them.

      Now as far as actually running all those games goes, sadly they fall into at least five major categories:

      1) Games that are more or less hopeless from the start. They often have some good ideas to borrow, but their systems are so crippled, or over-complex, that no one wants to play for long (at least not now that there are newer, easier, games out in some cases). Aftermath, Brave New World, Chivalry and Sorcery, Cyborg Commando, Justifiers, World of Synnibar, and many more fall into this category. Ysgarth does too, which is a pity; it has LOTS of good ideas, but character generation is so complex that no one I know has ever managed to complete a character. For yet another example, Prince Valiant allows you to be a fighter, and only a basic fighter, and not even a very good one. No one wants to play for long.

      Now, I’ve run many of those – especially early on – but none of them for long before we either switched systems (usually to Continuum II) or rewrote them.

      2) Games that are so derivative that no one wants to bother with them – especially when they’re already familiar with the originals. Those usually just get folded into the games they resemble or mined for background for those games. Thus Adventures in Fantasy and Arcanum are both basically first-edition AD&D (with a lot less content), and so became sourcebooks for the AD&D game. CORPS isn’t bad, but GURPS and the Hero System both cover everything it does and more – so it became a sourcebook. Why bother with Aberrant or DC Heroes when everyone is already familiar with Champions? Nightlife? A crippled World of Darkness. Rune? If I just want to hack my way through something as a viking warrior, I can do that with D&D, and I won’t have to teach everyone a new system. That’s hard: I can’t even talk anyone else into reading through Dangerous Journeys. Thus Nightlife got mined for the World of Darkness, Rune got used to provide dungeon ideas, and Dangerous Journeys never got used much – in fact, someone who had bought more than the first book gave them to me, since I was the only one who wanted them.

      Those games have all seen use, but mostly as a part of other games.

      3) Games that are so weird or uncomfortable that no one wants to play. Some of the games in this group include Asylum (your character is automatically mad and hallucinating), Underground (brain replacements that don’t change your personality anyone?), Little Fears (oh yes, EVERYONE wants to play a tormented child in a fairly hopeless world), Wraith (No one could think of much of anything they wanted to do in the game), and Ship of Fools (another one where you’re constantly hallucinating), and Whispering Vault all fall into this group.

      We’ve tried most of those, but they weren’t much fun (at least for my groups) – and we have a lot of games that ARE fun available. Ergo, they’re gathering dust on the shelves waiting for the time when one of them just seems appropriate – or when I want to turn their background into a plot arc for something else.

      4) Games that are fine – but don’t have a lot to recommend them over a familiar game system. Of Gods and Men runs a lot like… AD&D. Waste World is a lot like RIFTS. Tome of Neverworld plays a lot like AD&D again. Worlds of Wonder? A lot like GURPS, albeit with far less material available. Nephelim kind of fits here too; it has a fascinating setting, and some very interesting character ideas, and more – but there’s little or no reason for the characters to stick their noses out of their libraries. We found reasons for awhile – but it soon got to be more work than it was worth, and we went on to try Exalted for a bit. That’s why I put up the Ancient One template for Eclipse; the character idea is similar, but the Ancient One has a reason to do something.

      Now, that leaves the games that have playable rules, interesting backgrounds, and don’t repel the players. Most of those have gotten played in their own right, at least to try them out. Twenty or thirty are popular enough to get revisited every so often.

      So almost all of them have been used. About half of them have had an experimental session or two over the last thirty years. Maybe twenty or thirty have actually proved to be worth revisiting regularly.

  2. Wow, that’s a pretty good collection. I’m going to have to get on the ball, you’ve got me beat by about 95 games. Now if you count supplements (print & PDF) I more than likely surpass 281, but for actual systems you win.

    • I’m afraid this is just physical system books, since the list is for the players who want to know what they could ask to try.

      The physical supplements are not listed since quite a few of those systems have dozens (like RIFTS), or even separate sub-games, like Deadlands (which has both an assortment of supplements and the Wasted West future version with it’s own assortment of supplements – which, come to think of it, I should probably add), the forty-odd books that go with three editions of Shadowrun (I don’t collect the fourth physically; the PDF’s are sufficient there), all the stuff for first and second edition AD&D, then several shelves full of d20 stuff.

      Modules and magazines… there are decades worth of those. As last I checked, the games collection takes up somewhere between eighty and ninety linear feet of shelf space. Keep up a hobby for more than thirty years, and the collection can get rather large.

      PDF’s are another topic altogether. There are a lot more of those then there are of physical books.

  3. I can personally attest that Thoth isn’t exaggerating at all here. In fact, if anything he’s minimizing. I can add a few odds and ends he doesn’t possess, but nothing of note. There’s Anima and White Wolf’s Trinity (an expansion/sequel to Aberrant).

    Speaking of which, I may have to post some day about why Aberrant, though interesting on its own, really was a bad idea from the beginning. I also think I might create an article on why Brave New World also sucked. Sadly, Superheroic RPGs are easy to start, but hard to do right. There’s a lot you can do wrong and a lot more variance in what the gamers like to accomplish, and trying to thread a needle between those problems is hell.

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