d12 Great RPGs For Your GM Bucket List Shelf

My recent piece on Hasbro’s shifting away from pen and paper D&D to a purely online version drew a incredible response. And one common request was for a list of suggestions of other RPGs to try.

These lists are all over the internet, methinks. But for what it’s worth, whether I’ve played, GM’d, or just read the game, in no particular order, here’s a short list of cool RPGs to try out if you ever get a chance.

Each of these games offers a distinct experience, whether you’re looking for deep tactical play, narrative-driven adventures, or something in between. They’re all worthy of exploration for anyone looking to branch out from the mainstream RPG.

d12 RPGs to Try

  • Ars Magica
  • Blades in the Dark
  • FATE
  • Night’s Black Agents
  • Index Card RPG
  • Dungeon World
  • Tiny Dungeon 2E
  • Mythras
  • Mutant Year Zero
  • Champions Now
  • Forbidden Lands
Graphic of section divider


A versatile, d6 pool system that can handle multiple genres, from fantasy to science fiction to modern-day. We’re enjoying using this system in my Basilica bi-weekly game. The verb-noun magic system is open-ended and particularly cool.

Ars Magica

Set in a richly detailed medieval Europe filled with myth and magic, players take on the roles of powerful magi and their companions. It also has a noun-verb open-ended magic system. This game introduced troupe play (rotating GMs) to me. Oozes with flavour.

Blades in the Dark

Neverwhere meets Gangs of New York. Set in a gritty, industrial fantasy world, this game focuses on gangs seeking their fortune in a haunted, Victorian-inspired city. It has neat mechanics like Devil’s Bargain and team-based character sheets for the party’s faction. It’s a minimal prep game, as well.


Known for its flexibility, FATE is more about narrative control than simulating reality. Its core mechanic centers around aspects – phrases that describe significant things about a character or the setting, which can be invoked or compelled to affect the story. I enjoyed the few games I’ve played and hope to GM it in the future.

Night’s Black Agents

MI-5 meets Dracula. Combines spy thriller with supernatural horror, where players are secret agents with world-class skills fighting against a vampire conspiracy. Its standout feature is the Conspyramid, a tool for GMs to create complex, interconnected conspiracies.

Index Card RPG

A cool and light RPG that stands out for its streamlined approach and focus on speedy play. It’s simple mechanics and a unique effort system reduces game master prep time and keeps the game moving fast.

Dungeon World

Another Powered by the Apocalypse game, it takes the essence of classic dungeon crawlers and reimagines it with modern, narrative-focused mechanics. It emphasizes GM procedures, collaborative world-building, and fail-forward style mechanics.

Tiny Dungeon 2E

A minimalist d6 RPG new to me this year that uses a simple and streamlined system for dungeon crawling. It offers quick play and easy introduction to newcomers, especially youngins.


Runequest on steroids? Its detailed skill and combat system has put this game on my GM Bucket List Shelf. Mythras offers a realistic and tactical approach to fantasy RPGs. Its special features include a deep and versatile magic system and extensive options for character customization.

Mutant Year Zero

Deathlands meets The Walking Dead. A post-apocalyptic RPG that blends survival, exploration, and a rich narrative in a world ravaged by disaster and inhabited by mutants. Set in “The Zone,” a hazardous and mysterious area, players take on the roles of mutants with unique abilities, struggling to rebuild and uncover the secrets of the past.

Champions Now

Recommended to me by a Wizard of Adventure, this is a modern revival of the classic Champions RPG, known for its super heroic adventures and deep customization, set in a world of superheroes and supervillains. A d6 system with tactical combat.

I debated between adding this game to my list today or Mutants and Masterminds, another superhero RPG I have not tried but have heard many great things about from Wizards of Adventure and workshop GMs I spoke with this past year.

Forbidden Lands

A fantasy game that focuses on exploration and survival, set in a cursed world emerging from a dark era. Developed by Free League Publishing, it’s a light RPG where the GM need not roll any dice.

New Games Keep You Inspired

I have many games on my GM Bucket List shelf. And many Roleplaying Tips GMs have built their own systems. If you’d be interested in a Part II to this list next year, let me know. I think it would be especially cool to have game designers from our community let us know about their creations.

Have more fun at every game!

P.S. When you are ready, here are +4 vorpal ways I can help you with your campaign:

+1 Take the Free GM Organization Challenge
Stop the confusion and frustration of not having what you need to prep and run games at your finger tips. Become an organized GM in just one week:
Enroll at no charge here and start getting organized.

+2 Use Campaign Logger to Make Prep & GMing Easier
With features like automagic tagging and instant linking, use my web app to make logging sessions and prepping campaign details quick and easy:
Get your unlimited time free trial here.

+3 Get the Demonplague (with 62 5-Star Ratings so far)
A complete level 1-20 campaign D&D 5E adventure path that offers intense roleplay, sandbox and hexcrawl play, cunning combats, and fiendish monsters.
Click here to see more details and to order.

+4 Get More GM Loot
Visit the Roleplaying Tips DriveThruRPG store, or browse books and courses to level up your GMing at the RoleplayingTips.com store.

Join a private community with Johnn