Want To Get Into Tabletop RPGs? Here Are 6 Games To Get You Ready

Want To Get Into Tabletop RPGs? Here Are 6 Games To Get You Ready

Plenty of our readers are already obsessed with role-playing games; to you guys, we say take five. It’s the rest of you that we’re talking to, those who might be looking to get into the hobby but are a bit daunted by the rules and the guidelines and the sheer number of games available. Don’t worry! We know exactly how you can safely (and enjoyably) enter the world RPGs.

If you’re worried that everyone plays better than you do, like that nightmare where you’re taking a test only you forgot to study for, it’s best to get a few warm-up rounds in first. That’s why we’ve made this list of some games that can help inexperienced players dip their toe into different aspects of role-playing games. These include improvisation, dice and card-play, and character building — everything you’ll need to begin your role-playing journey.

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1) Fiasco: A Game of Powerful Ambition & Poor Impulse Control

Players: 3-5

Description: Fiasco is a role-playing game where players create and enact stupid, disastrous crime capers through the roll of a dice. Players take turns establishing their character relationships, conflicts and responses. Usually, things end up going from bad to worse.

Why it’s good RPG practise: It’s a great way to establish and practise improvisation, which is a key element in role-playing games. There’s no Gamemaster (GM), so all the players rely on each other to establish the scenes and move the story forward. Every player becomes part of a support network, and it sets up a level of comfort and safety to practise character acting. There are plenty of expansions, including free versions from eager fans.

Game you could take on next: Polaris

2) Android: Netrunner

Players: 2

Description: Android: Netrunner is a card version of the video games Mirror’s Edge or Remember Me, where two players play opposing sides in a cyberpunk war of information. One player takes on the role of the “netrunner”, a rebel trying to steal secret agendas from the other person, who plays the nasty corporation.

Why it’s good RPG practise: There’s a rules bell curve. This game has a lot of rules to memorise, so it can be intimidating. But since you’re only having to learn them with one other person, you’re less likely to worry about embarrassment if you get confused. Plus, it’s perfect for anyone wanting to learn how to explore card deck-focused games. Netrunner is always growing, including its first narrative campaign expansion, Terminal Detective, which comes out soon.

Game you could take on next: Call of Cthulhu

3) Mysterium

Players: 2-7 (best with 5 or 6)

Description: A ghost tries to communicate with a group of mediums in order to have them solve his murder. The mediums work together, using silent clues from the ghost (in the form of illustrated “vision” cards) in order to uncover the person, place and weapon, and give the spirit closure. Mysterium is basically Dixit and Clue‘s love child.

Why it’s good RPG practise: This game is all about expression and collaboration, with the added twist of non-verbal communication. One player takes on the role of the silent spirit, giving abstract visions to the other players in the form of cards, and it’s up to the other players to interpret what the ghost was trying to tell them. That especially makes it a great choice for any players wanting to start a regular RPG group together.

Game you could take on next: Pandemic

4) One Night: Ultimate Werewolf

Players: 3-10

Description: One Night: Ultimate Werewolf is a fast 10-minute bluffing game where everyone is secretly given a role as a villager or a werewolf, and it’s a race against the clock to see if any of the werewolves can be discovered and lynched.

Why it’s good RPG practise: It’s a great way to become familiar with playing in larger groups, since that can be one of the most overwhelming aspects of role-playing. Since the game is easy to learn and has a lot of repeat playability, it’s a way to prepare for interacting with a lot of different players — handy for anyone wanting to experiment with dinner party murder mysteries or even LARPing. For anyone wanting to take it a step further, there’s the longer version, simply called Ultimate Werewolf, which accommodates up to 75(!) players.

Game you could take on next: The Resistance

5) Risus: The Anything RPG

Players: Varied, 4+GM is recommended 

Description: Risus is an “anything goes” game that was designed in the early ’90s to cope with Dungeons & Dragons burnout — it’s an easy pen-and-paper RPG for single-night gameplay. There are few rules and even fewer restrictions; players simply get together and do whatever the hell they want.

Why it’s good RPG practise: It’s an excellent introduction to character building, which is one of those things I still have trouble getting with RPGs. Each new game can let you build a new character without feeling “behind” the other players who have more experience. There are few limitations on your character’s abilities, called Clichés, so long as other players are cool with it. Plus, the best part is it’s free, and anyone who has trouble coming up with their own storylines can use the dozens of fan group resources to get the ball rolling.

Game you could take on next: Mouse Guard (see below)

6) Mouse Guard

Players: 3+ (can play solo or 2 players)

Description: Mouse Guard is the gold standard in practice RPGs. Based on the comic book and graphic novel series by David Peterson, this pen-and-paper RPG has players take on the role of the Guard, forming patrols, heading up missions and defeating enemies.

Why it’s good RPG practise: There are a lot of RPG-lite games involving mice: Mouse Guard, Redwall, Mice & Mystics. But there’s a reason, and that’s because they’re really fun and effective. This game takes players step-by-step into how to engage in a tabletop RPG, preparing anyone interested in taking on something more complex. It’s a perfect intermediary.

Game you could take on next: Dungeons & Dragons

Originally posted on Gizmodo.


  • My first RPG was Middle-Earth Role Playing by ICE (now out of print).

    My second RPG was Rolemaster.

    My third RPG was D&D 3.5 Ed.

    My current RPG is Pathfinder.

    I’d love to go back and play some more MERP modules. So awesome.

    • Have you tried The One Ring RPG at all? I’ve heard lots of good things about it and how it nails the atmosphere of playing in Middle Earth.

  • I was given Mice and Mystics as a gift last year. Haven’t played it yet. Is it any good for just my wife and i? Or should i get a bigger group?

    • I haven’t played it myself but I hosted a massive games day where are about 17 friends showed up and we played several games over several tables. A table of 5 tried playing MnM but gave up half way into the first chapter. They were not having fun at all. Part of the problem was that they were learning as they were going. I suggest you know how to play the game before hosting with more than your wife because everyone from that table came away with a bad impression of the game. Too many rules that need knowing.

  • While Mouse Guard is a good game, I would not recommend it for beginners. It is surprisingly complex in its mechanics and can easily become overwhelming if you try and use everything at once.

    My recommendation for a good first RPG still has to be D&D. It’s the classic game that’s easy for players to understand what they need to do (kill monsters, raid dungeons, get treasure) and there is a tonne of material available for players to get assistance on how to play. Plus there are many, many D&D shows that people can watch to familiarise themselves with how D&D plays.

  • Fiasco is just, one of my favourite things.

    You need to be able to improvise, sure, and that’s a bit of a learned skill, but no other game lets you enjoy your friends playing their WORST selves as much. It rewards playing characters that are dumb, and venal, and make poor life choices, and take it out on other people, and that is an absolute riot.

    Highly, highly recommend. Grab the book, grab some dice, grab some index cards, and go nuts.

    BTW, we’ve found 4 is the best number.

  • My group went in with zero TT experience (but RPG experience from video games). We picked Iron Kingdoms and it was a great choice. The system is surprisingly straightforward and the steampunk aesthetics leaves a lot of room for imagination. Guns, magic, blades and monsters. We’ve been on hiaitus because people got busy with work but we’re hoping to start up again in the coming months.

    If you want to get into TT games and haven’t picked a system, highly recommend IK. Very easy to get into with more than enough sophistication to keep your interest for a long time.

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