Some Free Indie RPGs

I recently looked around on the internet for interesting tabletop roleplaying systems that I could read and try out for free. I’ve yet to play any of the ones that caught my eye for the first time, but I thought that I should share the highlights of my search.

In the descriptions, you might see the terms “simulationist” and “narrativist.” I’m using those words to describe how the game approaches the details of its rules. A simulationist game, in my way of seeing it, is one which offers a realistic and internally consistent world model which provides specific rules for a wide range of things. A narrativist game, on the other hand, is vague on details; generally, the players and game master can go along with the story, with the rules providing much broader strokes.

Here are the games that jumped out at me, in no particular order:

  • JAGS: A very detailed, points-based, simulationist generic system with some cool setting books. Note that the Wonderland sourcebook link is 404 not found, at least for me. If you change the “PDF” extension to “pdf,” Firefox gets less confused.
  • Classroom Deathmatch: Fifty Japanese students are taken to a special location, implanted with bombs, given weapons, and told to kill each other. Players work their way through the group, picking a new student when the current one dies.
  • MonkeyWrench: A bunch of monkeys are held captive on a space station and must escape. Very short rules. Players get a sort of action points for making other players laugh.
  • The Pool: A very narrativist, collaborative system using ridiculous numbers of six-sided dice.
  • Risus: A quick, sloppy, and funny system where characters are defined by cliches.
  • Enoch: One thousand years ago, the world ended. Now, you are a rebel from human society, fighting to keep mankind from succumbing to its old ways in a world full of immortal creatures and technological demons from beneath the earth.
  • Formless Collaborative Roleplaying: Roleplaying in its truest form: a civilized game of “Let’s Pretend.”
  • Nicotine Girls: “A roleplaying game of teenage, lower-income girls looking for happiness.” Dark, vicious, and hopeful.
  • Active Exploits: A diceless system that still has a definite conflict resolution mechanic, for when freeform is a bit too much.