The best role-playing games and tabletop props (non-D&D)


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Over the past two years, I’ve seen more people talk about role-playing games (RPGs) than ever before – people inside and outside of my personal gaming sphere come together to play RPGs on the table, like Dungeons & Dragons, on Zoom and Google Meetings. Beyond that, people are interested in tarot and making things with their hands including embroidery, fine art, and letter writing. Thinking about all the ways to play RPGs and all the forms they take, I found many exciting options and wanted to share the best role-playing games and tabletop props that (for the most part) don’t. are not D&D.

I had an unusual introduction to RPGs. Unlike many of my peers, I didn’t start with Dungeons & Dragons. I knew people who were playing, but I wasn’t invited. Technically, I’m guessing my introduction to role-playing in general came through the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a group devoted to re-enacting aspects of the Middle Ages while insisting that it doesn’t. This is not a LARP (live role-playing game), which they absolutely are.

My first above the table RPG was Pinnacle’s Deadlands, a weird western game I started playing in 1998. The original system was complicated and awkward (it has since been updated), and the game world had several racist or sexist elements in it. their attempt not to be racist or sexist, but we’ve simply ignored those elements and made the game our own with in-house add-ons and rule changes. Since then, we have played many other games on many gaming systems and have always made our own tweaks to personalize the experience for ourselves and, more recently, for our kids.

But there are so many options now! Games that can allow you to slow down and focus on your thoughts, your work or your teammates. Here are some games you can play alone or with your loved ones, regardless of the distance. Here are a few of them.

Souvenirs and board games

A mending

Shing Yin Khor is a comic and installation artist and the creator of several memory games, which are games in which you create a finished item that you can keep. This one takes you on a trip to visit a friend, embroider and / or draw your way on a pre-made map, and draw maps to determine what happens along the way.

Shing Yin Khor is also the author of the graphic novels The American Dream ?, on Route 66 across America, and The Legend of Auntie Po, a historical fiction set in the Sierra Nevada; they also designed my favorite t-shirt. Their next game will be Remember August, a souvenir letter writing game.

Coffin land

coffin land art

Creator Marie Enger describes Casket Land as “a dark occult Western role-playing game focused on making tough decisions as a group.” The basic rules are free, but the physical edition is worth it.

Marie Enger also writes and draws comics and has the best URL I have ever seen.

Our travel home

art from our travel house

This game describes itself as inspired by Studio Ghibli, and above all Howl’s moving castle. NEED TO SAY MORE? Alright, what about this? It’s strange and focused on the family found. This is a group game for four or more players and does not designate a game master (GM), but uses co-op to achieve group goals.

Infernal Negocios

Coming soon to Kickstarter, this promising cooperative game without GM, without dice, from authors CSE Cooney (Desdemona and the Deep) and Carlos Hernandez (Sal and Gabi Break the Universe).

Tarot based games

A light in the mist

art for A light in the mist

This game is technically not available yet, but it started successfully and I had to tell you about it. This game comes in the form of a functional tarot deck that… here I let the creators explain: “When the mysterious disappearance of your friend leads to the discovery of an unusual object, you suddenly find yourself embarking on a journey through time. Experience a character-driven story told through the memories of a missing friend, using an item that serves as a tarot deck, puzzle game, and work of art. Packed with a variety of puzzles and choose your own path style non-linear gameplay, The Light in the Mist can be played solo or small group co-op. “

Upstream downstream

Upstream, Downstream art

This project just finished its Kickstarter, so hopefully there will be more information soon! From their description: “All you got never known is the Great River. Thunderstorms break out on the banks of the river and treasures are buried in the silt. Fish swim in abundance through the Silver Pits, and the rice becomes thick and succulent on the glass road. No one has ever found the Source of the River, from where all magic is said to spring. No one has ever returned after crossing the sea horizon. Yes you travel upstream at the Source, you will be seen like a madman in search of fairy gold. If you travel downstream you will be seen as already lost, drowned in the ravenous sea. But you and your crew has has taken a magical oath, and you must reach your destination – or give up your souls and your boat in the water.”This is a four to 12 session game using tarot cards.


querent art

To play this game you use your own tarot deck which is a good thing for people who already have a favorite game and an opportunity for those looking to get started in tarot. There are several ways to play described in the guide. More information on the game website.

RPG Accessories

Field Notes 5E Journals

Field Notes 5E Journal Characters

If you play D&D and are looking for a simpler but still analog approach to tracking your campaigns, the Field Notes character and dungeon master logs are perfect. They come preloaded with character sheets, charts, and tables, so players can keep track of things like gear, and DMs can keep track of all those pesky NPCs.

Campaign notebook

campaign notebook with caster cover

Not in D&D, or do you have more specific needs? This neutral gaming notebook has optional expansions to add D&D or Pathfinder character sheets, GM-specific pages, and other customizations. Several other cover images are available including a wyvern, kraken, runes and more!

Metagame pencils

meta gaming pencils

If you prefer an all-analog experience, you’re probably wondering where all your # 2 pencils have gone. These are funny and appropriate!

Looking for more RPG items? Check out this old list of gaming accessories. Or maybe you’d like to learn more about role-playing games based on books, or exploring fantastic worlds that would make excellent RPG settings.


About Johanna Gooding

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