View Full Version : Simple and Accessible RPG Systems

2013-09-13, 09:45 PM
A friend of mine recently compiled a list of free, open, and simple RPG systems in order to try to get friends into table-top RPGs. Most of these games have rulesets that are only a single page, to allow for easy accessibility and reference. He said I could repost it here for other's use, and he is also looking for input. If you know of other simple, open, and free systems that you think could be included in this list, feel free to post it.


D&D6-Lite (http://www.korpg.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=58): A very simple settingless system with a stat mechanic. While nice for a one-shot campaign, players looking for a sense of character progression should choose another system.

digital_shades (http://simpleroleplaying.wordpress.com/downloads/): A relatively simple cyberpunk themed system. Game feel is open; it can be used for serious or light sessions the same. Good sense of character growth, detailed skill system.

Electric Katana (http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Electric_Katana): A "robot samurai"-themed system that focuses on intense battles and the connection between man and machine. Fun, well explained character building and combat; not much character progression.

MACE (http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/mace-a-one-page-rpg): A decent Dungeons & Dragons-esque one-pager. No setting; technically you could use this for modern or sci-fi, but that's not recommended. Good for medieval/dark fantasy, though.

Risus (http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/risus.htm): An any-setting RPG-lite that focuses on fun. Good for quick/humorous sessions, but not deep or serious enough to carry longer campaigns.

Searchers of the Unknown (http://www.retroroleplaying.com/content/searchers-unknown-rpg-collection): A D&D-lite system that captures all of the core notes of D&D while remaining very accessibile to new players. Solid but brick-simple character creation and advancement, relatively detailed combat, lightweight setting that can be modified easily. Of the compilation seen here, the most notable for typical D&D play are SotU D20 Style, Spellcasters of the Unknown, Demihumans of the Unknown and Monsters of the Unknown. With those four modules, you can run a full-fledged D&D campaign. The rest of the modules are interesting, but I don't think they're quite up to the quality or solid feel of the original.

Simple d6 (http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Simple_D6_-_Second_Edition): The most absolutely stripped-down, simple, pick-up-and-play style system with no setting. Even people who have never rolled dice in their life can pick this up in ten minutes. As with D&D6-Lite, however, the character progression is lacking. For one-shots or just-fun sessions, it's very powerful.

Super Generic One Page RPG: Just what the name says. Decent character creation and advancement, though you might want to write a couple of extra rules to balance it (especially magic users). Overall, very fun-looking and modifiable.

Witches of N'kai (http://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?mainid=13463): A simple one-pager with a very dark Lovecraftian fantasy theme. This system has character creation and advancement on par with SotU, with the interesting mechanic of rituals. Overall, a very interesting system.

CRAM (http://onepagerpg.com): My absolute favorite system. A high-quality one-pager that's simple enough for beginners and those concerned with heavy RP to pick up and complex enough to run combat and adventure that feels satisfying. Feels like a Storyteller-lite system, but sacrifices very little in exchange for simplicity. Great character diversity and growth. I highly recommend this.

GHOST/ECHO (http://www.onesevendesign.com/ghostecho/)Another interesting system. Very awesome setting and game feel; the mechanics are quick and very RP-supportive. While it doesn't support much character growth, the setting seems like more than enough to keep things interesting.

Cthulhu Dark (http://catchyourhare.com/files/Cthulhu%20Dark.pdf): A Lovecraftian RPG that focuses heavily on roleplaying and investigation. Very solid mechanics, and the developer is adept at capturing the setting.

A compilation of these systems can be found here (http://www.mediafire.com/download/awfx4j294x2cc9j/Tabletop+Systems.rar). I hope this helps you spark interest in tabletop gaming in your friends, and again feel free to add more systems to the list.

EDIT: Added GHOST/ECHO and Cthulhu Dark to the list.

Mark Hall
2013-09-14, 09:47 AM
ODE: The One Deck Engine. (http://rpgcrank.blogspot.com/2013/08/ode-one-deck-engine.html)

Written at GenCon! Conceived in the shower!

2013-09-14, 10:24 AM
What I'm working on at the moment is slightly bigger (you can get by with three pages, for basic rules and character generation) and has a lot of optional modules if you like even more detail, but it's free, open, and developed here in the Playground, so I'll just suggest it anyway. Link is in my Sig or here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=14002368).

2013-09-14, 10:27 AM
Not quite a one-pager, but
All the Little Things (http://tailsteak.com/000473/All%20the%20Little%20Things.pdf)
It's a free, open RPG system that reminds me of playing a Toy Story game. I did 2 runs with it, and both times were a blast. It is pretty simple and easy to learn.

2013-09-14, 10:52 AM
All these look interesting, we'll definitely look into them. Don't worry about them not being exactly 1 page, the list was more geared towards something that's easy enough to read and understand in 5-10 minutes, rather than having to read a book (or three) to get started. The different sets of mechanics between these different systems are always intriguing, always fun to find new ways to play RPGs, whether using dice, cards, coin flips, or Jenga towers.

Thanks again everyone for the responses. I'll pass these suggestions along, we'll look over them, and we may even include them in the list.

2013-09-14, 12:49 PM
I think that FAE is worth a look as well:


2013-09-14, 01:27 PM
Are we suggesting homebrew? Because if so, I'll put forward STaRS, from my signature. I've taken new players-- RPG veterans and newbies alike-- and been playing in 20 minutes. That's including rules explanations and character creation.

2013-09-14, 02:27 PM
Due to suggestions from various sources, the package has added Edge of Space, Awesomesauce, WYRED, Fu, The Pool RPG, and Mutants & Machine-guns. A short description and links for each of these will be added shortly, and we will continue to review those suggestions made here. Thanks again everyone, and enjoy!

2013-09-16, 04:09 PM
How light are we talking about? Because A Wanderer's Romance (http://www.stargazergames.eu/games/a-wanderers-romance/) is a 45 page PDF, but the "character sheet" only takes up four variables, two styles, and two specialities. The majority of the document is describing how to apply the four variables/elements, and the different combat styles a character can take.

2013-09-16, 04:22 PM
Dogs in the Vineyard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogs_in_the_Vineyard)
I played it at a Con after hearing about it at Fear the Boot, and, well, it sounds awesome. Despite its unusual flavour (pseudo-Mormon paladins in the Old West), it could easily be adapted to a Mafia setting where the players play enforcers of some kind. Basically, it can work anywhere where players have quite a bit of power and must make life changing decisions.