20 May 2010

Free RPGs

After hearing Chris Pramas talk about Green Ronin’s Dragon Age (tabletop) RPG on The Game’s the Thing, I was sold...


I’ve got some really great RPGs that are free.

(“Free” can mean a lot of things. In this instance, I mainly mean that anyone with Internet access can download the game legally at no monetary cost beyond what they’re paying for Internet service.)

  1. Labyrinth Lord
  2. GORE
  3. The (3.5) d20 SRD

Just to name three. There are many, many more.

Is Dragon Age really worth choosing over all of them? It’s “stunt system” looks worthy of consideration and possibly emulation. Other than that, though... It does look like the kind of introductory system we haven’t had since Frank Mentzer’s Basic/Expert/Companion/Master sets. Worth gifting perhaps.

I even come up against the same question with games I already own. I really like Dragon Warriors, but it’s really not so different than Labyrinth Lord.

With Labyrinth Lord...

  1. I have a print version
  2. I can print more hardcopies myself or go to a print shop and have hardcopies printed and bound
  3. I can put it on my iPad and iPhone and whatever device I have a decade hence
  4. I can search it
  5. I can copy & paste the rules to make up my own customized version
  6. My players would have free access to the rules and could do all those things as well
  7. If I wanted to publish something for the game (either for free or at a price), I could legally do so without having to pay for the right
  8. I can do all of this forever

With Dragon Warriors or Dragon Age...

  1. I have a print version (DW) or could buy a print version (DA)
  2. I could buy a PDF version for an additional cost

What’s more, Labyrinth Lord is based on my favorite edition of D&D. It has an expansion that makes it easy to import as much or as little AD&D flavor as I wish. It has a similar expansion for the flavor of original D&D. There’s a compatible post-apocalyptic game, Mutant Future. There will soon be a compatible version of Starships & Spacemen.

As you can tell, I’m a big fan of what Goblinoid Games is doing, but there are a lot of other really good free RPGs out there too.

Is any non-free system better enough than the free systems to bother with?

Even if they were, I don’t think I want a system that is that different.


Todd the Viking King said...

I agree that the 3 you've mentioned can do just about everything I could imagine or dream of accomplishing. Just love that Old Skool flavor (even with the OGL).

I've been reading Robin Law's HeroQuest and finding no similarities with any rpg's I've read before. A lot of great ideas that could be implemented with Old Skool, but it's changing my rpg expectations in a good way...

Robert Fisher said...

Thanks for the comment!

I was tempted to list many more games. There are so many good, free games now.

I have a lot of respect for Mr. Laws, but sometimes I think he’s part of a completely different hobby than my own.