These are the perfect tabletop RPGs of 2020

These are the best tabletop RPGs of 2020

Many folks consider tabletop role-playing video games as a monolith, an area occupied solely by heavyweights like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and a handful of different AAA titles. Of course, that’s the identical as saying that the one two video video games are Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto Online. In fact there’s a superb spectrum of contemporary tabletop RPGs, crammed with novel video games ranging in dimension from self-published micro-games to full-fledged make-believe worlds.

One of my favourite methods to maintain monitor of the perfect tabletop RPGs is the annual Ennie Awards, handed out annually since 2001 on the annual Gen Con tabletop gaming conference. Gen Con is transferring on-line this yr, and so are the Ennies. This week, organizers introduced the nominations for Product of the Year. We’ve included all of the nominees in our roundup beneath.

The Ennies are distinctive amongst gaming awards. Judges are volunteers, who comply with a strict set of ethical guidelines. Chief amongst them is the vow to not have any skilled relationship with any RPG writer within the lead as much as the awards. They assist make sure that the Ennies aren’t only a recognition contest by winnowing down the handfuls upon dozens of submissions to solely the easiest. Once the brief checklist has been created, voting on the ultimate winners is open to all.

This yr the voting interval runs from July 3 by July 12. You can discover the entire checklist of nominees for each class at the Ennie Awards website.

BFF! — Best Friends Forever

Created by the mom and son crew of Terri Cohlene and Ross Cowman, BFF! — Best Friends Forever is a gorgeous role-playing sport that celebrates “girlhood, friendship, and adventure.” Players choose from 17 completely different standees to symbolize themselves on the desk, each delightfully illustrated by cartoonist Taylor Dow. Then they head off on an journey by way of a lavish map, hand-painted by Veta Bahktina. Gameplay is heavy on improvisation, with scenes set in main college and center college.

The Deck of Many Things

The Deck of Many Things isn’t an RPG in any respect, however a complement for the fifth version of Dungeons & Dragons. They are reference playing cards, with data on all the spells within the Player’s Handbook — together with cantrips — up by stage 5. The high-quality, lenticular playing cards have an eight-frame animation that exhibits the impact of the spell in query in a Tarot-sized format.

An entire set — which features a bonus deck of Animated Things, primarily based on the wondrous item from D&D lore — runs for $300.00, and is presently on sale for $249.00. The crew at Hit Point Press additionally presents a digital version.

Mörk Borg Artpunk RPG

A skeleton, rendered in black ink, on a yellow background.

Image: Free League Publishing

From Free League Publishing — the identical crew behind the award-winning Tales From The Loop-themed RPG — comes a hardcore sport referred to as Mörk Borg Artpunk RPG. Described as a “pitch-black apocalyptic fantasy RPG,” it’s firmly entrenched within the old-school revival (OSR) style, which celebrates the unique tabletop video games of the 1970s. Anyone who misses the devilish themes of first-edition D&D or who revels within the Dark Souls universe will get an actual kick out of it. Otherwise, it additionally serves as a superb espresso desk ebook.

Mörk Borg Artpunk RPG is on sale proper now by July 6 at 50% off on the Free League on-line storefront. It’s additionally out there on Amazon.


Quest represents a profound rethinking of the RPG style, one which has been custom-made for people who find themselves new to those kinds of video games. The core ebook itself is described as extra of a information than a reference handbook, and character creation is achieved by way of Mad Libs-style fill-in-the-blank character sheets. The sport was created by T.C. Sottek, managing editor at our sister website The Verge, and edited by Polygon’s editor-in-chief Chris Plante. The beautiful artwork is the work of Celia Lowenthal.

You can buy the sport on the official website, the place there’s a bunch of free downloadable materials — together with a starting adventure.

[Disclosure: Chris Plante has no direct affect over Polygon’s tabletop gaming protection.]

Royal Blood

An out-of-focus stained glass rose.

Image: Rowan, Rook and Decard

Royal Blood is the most recent rules-light RPG from the crew at Rowan, Rook and Decard. Perhaps finest identified for Honey Heist, a comedic single-page RPG about bears stealing honey, this time round they’ve gone a barely extra conventional route.

To play the sport, all gamers want is the principles booklet, a deck of Tarot playing cards, and some cash. Players tackle the position of the human characters within the deck, and are up towards the decks’ extra ephemeral characters. From the official description:

YOU are a Royal – half-magic, half-human. You’re one of many courtroom playing cards from the tarot deck – the impetuous Princess of Wands, the calculating Knight of Pentacles, the empire-building Queen of Wands, and so forth. You use magic like a brick by the window of the world.

THEY are the Arcane – Death, The Hanged Man, The Devil, The Lovers, The Star. They are reality-bending monsters that put on human pores and skin like a swimsuit.

TONIGHT, earlier than daybreak, you will nook certainly one of them and take their energy in your personal in a heist the likes of which the worlds have by no means seen. The metropolis goes to burn. It’s going to be lovely.

You can discover the sport — which is out there as a softcover and as a digital model — on the official website.

The Excellents: Excellent Princess Roleplaying

A brightly colored character sheet with room to draw your character and their party.

A personality sheet from The Excellents
Image: 9thlevel Games

Fans of high-fantasy, femme-forward adventuring ought to try The Excellents by Adriel Wilson and Chris O’Neil. The RPG runs on the Polymorph system, created by the crew at 9thlevel Games, and solely requires a single die for every participant on the desk. To run an journey, gamers should fill out a Princess Diary, kind a band, after which comply with the lead of the Game Mistress. Stats embody Crown, Heart, Sword, Shoes, Books, and Beast. You can decide up a replica on the official website.

Thousand Year Old Vampire: A Roleplaying Game

Tim Hutchings’ Thousand Year Old Vampire has been getting plenty of consideration since its Kickstarter marketing campaign was funded in 2018. It’s a solo sport — though it can be performed with teams — that depends on written prompts. Players tackle the position of an immortal, and should cope with the implications of their immoral acts as single-sentence experiences. That sentence then turns into a reminiscence. Players are restricted to solely 5 reminiscences total, and should make the tough resolution on what to neglect and what to maintain with them as they transfer on of their journey.

A downloadable model is out there now on

Trilemma Adventures Compendium Volume I

Trilemma Adventures Compendium Volume I by Michael Prescott is a celebration of old-school RPG illustration, and a implausible assortment of brief dungeons and adventures in addition. It’s absolutely suitable with fifth version Dungeons & Dragons and loads of different methods, and would make a great gift in your favourite Dungeon Master. Available as a hardcover ebook for $66, it consists of an illustrated bestiary, distinctive magical objects, and many bonus materials like journey hooks and in-fiction handouts. It additionally comes with a free PDF model of the ebook. It’s additionally out there on DriveThruRPG.

Witch + Craft

Witch + Craft is an add-on complement for fifth version Dungeons & Dragons impressed by Studio Ghibli’s Kiki’s Delivery Service. It provides a brand new talent set often known as “domestic magic” to the sport, including to the colour and texture of fantasy worlds. It lets you construct a fighter who can also be a carpenter, a wizard who occurs to be an award-winning chef, and extra. The ebook additionally comes with an all-new journey setting referred to as Cape Verdigris, a land crammed with expert craftspeople and a enjoyable journey to discover. It’s out there in a print and a digital version for $35 and $10 respectively.

Zombie World

Zombie World is a card-based RPG that must be simply the factor for followers of The Walking Dead or Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. Players start by creating their enclave of survivors, after which make their means out right into a harmful world crammed with the undead. The sport boils down extra complicated ideas into bodily methods which are simply managed on the desk. The full package features a slim, 36-page rulebook, play mats for the Game Master and as much as eight gamers, over 100 playing cards, and a dry erase marker. Copies vary from $24.99 to $59.99.

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