15 Best Tabletop RPGs Loved by Millions Worldwide

Best Tabletop RPGs
The feeling of a story coming to life out of dice and miniatures spread out on your kitchen table can be quite the rush.


Are you trying to get into tabletop roleplaying games?

If you're looking to earn your first-ever nerd badge, then tabletop RPGs (or TTRPGs) are a good place to start. There's nothing quite like sitting around a table (or, these days, on video chat) with your friends, rolling dice and having incredible adventures that you build as you go. Some of my fondest memories are beating a hard boss or getting into trouble with my D&D party. 

With the new renaissance that TTRPGs are enjoying thanks to viral shows like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone, there are a ton of new systems to try out and explore. Everything from traditional medieval fantasy to futuristic cyber worlds can be found on your table now. Here are the 15 most popular tabletop RPG systems that are loved by millions worldwide.

Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition)

The cover of the Basic Rules sourcebook for D&D - most, if not all players, will start their journey here.

When you think of a TTRPG, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably Dungeons and Dragons. That's because this tabletop system is by far the oldest - it was created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974. Since then, the game has undergone major overhauls in both mechanics and gameplay style. 5th edition is the latest iteration, and by far the easiest to play. 

5th edition Dungeons and Dragons is built for newcomers, with simplified rules and a wide range of customizable options to make a character that perfectly fits your style of play. 

Are you intimidated by spellcasting? You can opt for martial classes like the Fighter or Barbarian, or opt for a half-caster like a Ranger. Do you prefer to be in the back of the fight, casting Fireball from afar? Give Wizard or Sorcerer a try! And the wide range of subclasses and race options ensures that you can make a unique character every time.

As for atmosphere, Dungeons and Dragons can be modified to fit nearly any aesthetic or plot. Wizards of the Coast has published a huge number of pre-written adventures for every mood and player level, so if you're new to being a Game Master (GM), they have your back. If you're writing your own adventure, then Dungeons and Dragons offers thousands of different monsters for any situation. The base world, Faerun, is mainly a medieval fantasy setting similar to Lord of the Rings, but you can always include elements that are unique and surprising.

Call of Cthulhu (7th edition)

The Starter Set for Call of Cthulhu is a great kit for anyone who wants to start playing this creepy, atmospheric TTRPG. 

Any fan of cosmic horror will adore this creepy, atmospheric TTRPG published by Chaosium Inc. The most interesting thing about this game versus others of its kind is that buy and large, the characters are completely ordinary people. Often, TTRPGs place players into the hero role, with supernatural abilities and strengths that make them more effective at handling danger than a "normal" NPC. Characters in Call of Cthulhu follow the design of characters from the original Lovecraftian mythos - normal people faced with the unfathomable, thrown into these situations whether or not they're prepared for them.

Call of Cthulhu is very easy to learn - its simplistic gameplay system leaves room for roleplaying to take the forefront. It's based mostly on percentile dice that determine successes or failures, making it ideal for people who have never played a tabletop RPG before. You only need an adventure, a character sheet, and a handful of dice to begin playing. 

The setting of Call of Cthulhu varies - typically, it's set in the Victorian era, though there is a lot of room for different settings and experimental realms if you so choose.e

Blades in the Dark

The characters in Blades in the Dark are devious criminals - what crimes will carry you to fame, or be your downfall?

Looking for a more modern setting for your tabletop adventures? Look no further than Evil Hat Productions' Blades in the Dark. This game takes advantage of a modern industrial fantasy setting to create unique adventures for players. Players who are used to being heroes will love the opportunity to become daring criminals seeking fame and fortune in a haunted city.

This TTRPG features unique criminal character archetypes that can suit any play style, as well as rules for creating a party, also known as a "crew." The core mechanics take your character's state into account - are they desperate or carefully controlled in their actions? They've also implemented a faster system for planning out your criminal activities to save time at the table.

And don't worry - playing a modernized TTRPG doesn't mean that you're missing out on any of the magic or mystery of other systems. Blades in the Dark includes rules for everything from alchemy to gadgets to magical powers granted by dark entities, so you never have to worry that things will get boring.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

Warhammer's reputation for detail doesn't mean it's just a soulless war game - there's still a lot of mischief to get into in the Old World.

Warhammer is known as one of the most detailed TTRPG systems around, making it perfect for people who want a realistic and well-fleshed-out game. It takes place in a medieval dark fantasy realm referred to as the Old World. This world is rich in lore and mysteries, with unique locations and factions that any GM can use to make their adventures pop. 

Warhammer's combat system is what makes it unique amongst its peers - the inclusion of specific hit locations and particular injuries makes the combat much more detailed than pretty much and other TTRPG system. Despite this amazing detail, combat is mechanically pretty simple, with a single dice roll determining whether you hit your target and how much damage you inflict. 

Warhammer has also optimized the Skill Check system, using a basic percentile roll to determine a pass or fail. Magic casters can enjoy the added challenge of Miscasting; casting a spell has the potential to go terribly awry, adding a sense of risk and reward to every encounter.


If you've ever fantasized about being a Wild West monster hunter whose partner casts spells from a poker deck, then you're in the right place.

Looking for a Western-style TTRPG to pass the time? Look no further than Deadlands, a captivating blend of horror and Western themes set in a realm called the "Weird West." Deadlands takes place in the United States during an altered timeline where mysterious Reckoners have released magical powers and terrifying monsters into the world.

Players can step into the role of gunslingers, card-casting hucksters, and a variety of other Western-style characters to fight against the forces of evil in the Weird West. Character creation is completely unique - Traits are determined by drawing cards from a standard poker deck, giving the process a certain sense of randomness that makes things even more interesting. You'll also be using standard polyhedral dice sets (d4-d20) and poker chips, referred to as "Fate Chips." The game's mechanics echo dice and card games that would have been played in old Western saloons, adding to the game's atmosphere. 

As a bonus, Deadlands has a wide variety of spinoff games that take place in multiple different periods in history, allowing players to choose which flavour of alt-history they'd like to partake in. Pick between post-apocalyptic worlds, colonies on planets in deep space, or a noir spinoff set in 1930s New Orleans.


Paranoia is entirely based on betraying your friends, your AI employer, and pretty much everyone else that crosses your path.

Science fiction fans will love this dystopian, competitive TTRPG. Unique amongst its peers for its emphasis on betraying other players to further your interests, it's perfect for groups of players that might not always want to cooperate. 

The game is set in a futuristic cityscape controlled by an AI called "Friend Computer." Player characters start as enforcers for this entity, responsible for tracking threats to its authority and eliminating them. For added tension, players are also participants in secret underground movements that give them secret objectives, including stealing from, manipulating, and even murdering other players. 

On top of this unique premise, the game has an interesting standpoint related to its rules - the game world runs on a series of color-coded security clearances that dictates what players are allowed to know and interfere with; the game's rules are included in this, and demonstrating any knowledge of the rules outside of one's clearance can lead to trouble for players. Imaginative GMs can use this fact to their advantage to increase tension or put players into even more interesting situations.

The player characters are all the same class, referred to as Troubleshooters (later supplements do provide details for other roles, but many of the adventures assume that all players are in this specific role). The game completely lacks a health system and most wounds are fatal, but players are provided with six clones, or effectively, six extra lives to continue gameplay. This mechanic allows for moves and comedy that wouldn't be possible in other systems. 

Shadow of the Demon Lord

The world is falling to pieces and overrun with demons - will you fall into despair, or fight back?

Horror fans who enjoy settings that take cues from Dante's Inferno will love this TTRPG. The world is on the edge of an apocalypse caused by a terrifying entity known as the Demon Lord. The Demon Lord is imprisoned outside of our Material Plane, but he won't be for very long, and every catastrophe that befalls our world on his behalf brings him closer. 

Mechanically, Shadow of the Demon Lord is delightfully simple. It only uses two types of dice: d6s and d20s, and a system of "banes" and "boons" to determine the difficulty of various tasks. Banes and boons cancel each other out and affect the dice rolls during attempts of the task. This simplistic system makes this TTRPG very easy to learn and excellent for beginning players and GMs alike.

Player characters are built in ways that are similar to character creation schemes from many other TTRPGs, though it is simplified for easier progression. Advancement is achieved via Paths, similar to classes in other RPGs, but that advance in a manner more akin to skill trees in video games. This path system makes a character's progression more natural and intuitive, increasing the level of customization that players can put into their characters. 

Legend of the Five Rings

Legend of the Five Rings is based on feudal Japan, and the myths they use are mostly from Eastern and Asian cultures, providing a welcome change of pace from medieval fantasy. 

Bored with lore based on European mythology? Legend of the Five Rings is set in the fantastical world of Rokugan, which is based on feudal Japan with influences from other East Asian cultures and myth. Rokugan runs on a clan system , with seven Great Clans and several other smaller clans.

Players will create their characters using an attribute point system - they receive a certain number of points that can be used to purchase skills and Advantages that determine your character's abilities. If you so choose, you can also opt to take Disadvantages, which give you more Character Points to spend on skills but impose penalties on your character during play. 

The most striking thing about Legend of the Five Rings' combat system is its lethality. Combat is brutal, and players that charge into battle without thinking things over could find themselves dead before the first session ends. Roleplay is encouraged to prevent combat from occurring, but characters do have certain skills that could allow them to survive encounters should they find themselves in a sticky situation.

Masks: A New Generation

Playing teenage superheroes might seem like a drag, but trust me - getting out all of that need for drama that you had in high school can be really cathartic.

Anyone who has ever dreamed of being a superhero will love this angsty TTRPG. Players take on the roles of young superheroes that must balance difficulties in their personal lives with being the new generation of heroes responsible for keeping their city safe. 

Character creation comes to the forefront in this game - rather than having set stats like many other TTRPG characters, Masks: A New Generation uses a system of labels that are used to denote how a character views themselves and give bonuses on dice rolls. As such, these labels change constantly, giving roleplay a fluid, natural feel. 

The system is focused on roleplay and character interaction, with more emphasis on a character's relationships and internal struggles than on combat and adventuring, though a good GM could mix in a healthy portion of both.


If you're looking for a wholesome time, then Bubblegumshoe is the system for you. No murder-hobos, just cute sleuths and a stolen bike.

Fans of Nancy Drew and Scooby-Doo will thrive in this unique, charming TTRPG. Players create high school students who solve seemingly mundane mysteries in their small hometown. Anything from a stolen bike to vicious rumours can be investigated by your team of intrepid teen sleuths. 

This system is known for being incredily streamlined and is based entirely on d6s. Characters are created via skill points that are used to purchase abilities. Notably, the base game does not include any sort of supernatural creatures or abilities, making the game surprisingly down-to-earth amongst its peers. A creative GM could probably insert supernatural elements if they saw fit, though.


This TTRPG is probably the closest you're ever going to get to living your Star Trek dreams.

Sci-fi/fantasy fans adore this relatively new game system that's based on the beloved Pathfinder system. Players familiar with Pathfinder will know the basics about the game's mechanics, but the setting has changed dramatically to include space-faring and planetary exploration. Magic and monsters are still present in this world, but function in new niches in space after the disappearance of Golarion, the planet where Pathfinder is set. 

Players can choose to make characters that are true to basic fantasy tropes or opt for Starfinder's more non-traditional race and class options. Mixing the two can bring old characters to life or help players find new niches and play styles to enjoy. The addition of different classes, skills, and body modifications makes Starfinder fresh and interesting without straying too far from Pathfinder's original system.


In Shadowrun, it's better to ask forgiveness than permission - y'know, considering that you probably don't even have permission to live at this point.

Players that enjoy putting intense detail into their characters will love Shadowrun. The game takes place in a near-future dystopia where cyberpunk elements mix seamlessly with fantasy in a vast, urban setting. Players step into the role of shadowrunners - shady characters responsible for performing acts of corporate espionage, data theft, and many other crimes for various corporations that constantly wage war against one another.

Shadowrun's character creation is by far the most detailed out of the systems on this list - creation begins with selecting a race and archetype, much like any other TTRPG. However, the skill system is incredibly detailed and encompasses everything from using firearms to repairing drones to biohacking. Characters have access to a wide range of cybernetic implants, bioware, and various other enhancements that can affect their character's abilities.

Fantasy lovers don't have to feel left out - magic is also fully integrated into Shadowrun's world, with classes and races capable of performing incredible feats of magical prowess, or mixing magic and technology to make themselves even stronger.

But the most unique thing about characters in Shadowrun is that the game forces players to think about how they actually exist within the fabric of the world. Often, TTRPG player characters suffer from a certain disconnect from the world around them - they have few connections and seem to function outside of normal society. In Shadowrun, players are encouraged to create or reference NPCs that they are connected to, as well as interacting with real-world problems such as paying rent and thinking about the status of their (often illegal) citizenship. They are fully immersed in the game world, allowing for more realistic gameplay. 

Mechanically, Shadowrun is based entirely on d6s. To perform ability checks, players roll a pool of dice that is determined by their level in a particular skill, attempting to hit a target number. This system makes setting the difficulty of actions incredibly flexible, allowing for realistic gameplay and a wider variety of outcomes than a pass/fail system.


It's time for shenanigans. Brace yourself, and bring your most mischevious machinations to life.

If no one in your group wants to be the GM (or your normal GM is just plain tired of it) then Fiasco might be for you. The game is specifically designed to run without a GM or any significant planning in advance. In terms of style, it's meant to echo a subgenre of film referred to as the "caper-gone-wrong" that incorporates slapstick comedy, black humour, and terrible impulse control. 

Fiasco lacks a unified setting - rather, each game can be played within a "Playset", which consists of a basic setting description, character relationships, needs that are shared by characters, notable objects, and notable locations. These elements are divided amongst players randomly with the help of d6s. After the elements are settled, players work together to determine characters' personalities, appearances, and how they relate to each element. 

The rest of the game is essentially an exercise in cooperative storytelling - players take turns adding on to the caper, setting up scenes and resolving them. Players have a lot of freedom in this sense, but there's still an element of randomness provided by dice rolling, just as there is in almost every other TTRPG. 

The best thing about Fiasco is that it has the potential to create a different result every time it's played, even if you use the same Playset. For TTRPG fans that are feeling constricted by the rules of other systems or who are just bored with traditional setups, Fiasco might be the perfect new game to try. 

Apocalypse World

Who doesn't love the apocalypse aesthetic, though? Armor made from garbage, an abundance of weapons, and not a corporate Christmas party in sight.

Fans of Mad Max and other post-apocalyptic settings will love this one. Apocalypse World functions within an implied setting that is developed cooperatively by the players and GM during the first session. It's a very streamlined system that only requires 2d6 to play. 

Players can choose from a wide variety of unique class archetypes that include such apocalyptic characters as Gunluggers, Drivers, gang leaders, cult leaders, mechanics, and more. The stats are also unique - players have scores for Cool, Hard, Hot, Sharp, and Weird, rather than the standard Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma of most other TTRPGs. 

Apocalypse World is notoriously gritty and NSFW - there is a sex move included in the base game that has been criticized by reviewers. However, players who are game to be immersed in an apocalyptic landscape will love the game's unique style.

Vampire: The Masquerade

If your friends are dramatic, backstabbing, and a little bit goth, then this is the game for them.

Move over, Edward - there are new vampires in town. Vampire: The Masquerade lets players step into the role of immortal vampires, known as Kindred, that must battle their inner bestial nature, various vampire hunter antagonists, and occasionally, other vampires. The setting is a moody, gothic urban fantasy world inspired by 80s vampire films and TTRPGs like Call of Cthulhu and Ravenloft

While the play is mostly narratively driven rather than combat driven, player characters do have access to a wide range of supernatural abilities, called disciplines - superhuman strength, mind control, and mystical senses give vampires a more "superhero" feel. 

Mechanically, the game is very similar to Shadowrun, with a pool of d6s determined by skill levels used to perform skill checks. However, the dice results are compared to a fixed value rather than totalled. Emphasis on storytelling rather than numbers makes the game easy for newbies to pick up. 

In all, Vampire: The Masquerade is perfect for players who are more concerned about weaving a story than they are about killing monsters and gaining loot. The themes of personal horror, depravity, and morals will appeal to old-school horror fans and TTRPG nerds alike.

Also be sure to check out: 

I divide my time between playing games at unholy hours of the night and writing about them; occasionally I allot moments for sleep and refueling.
Gamer Since: 2008
Favorite Genre: FPS
Currently Playing: Kholat, Prey, Graveyard Keeper, Stardew Valley
Top 3 Favorite Games:BioShock 2, Civilization IV, Plague Inc: Evolved

More Top Stories