Once again, some very interesting options for today’s entry, but Welcome seem like the most relevant and interesting to me.
Tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) are my passion and, as such, it’s one of those things that invariably comes up in conversations with people who haven’t played them or even heard of them.
If we add to that the popularity of Critical Role and Stranger Things, a lot of people—more than ever, it seems—have shown an interest in playing TTRPGs.
And that’s where this entry becomes so pertinent: now, more than ever, I’m always on the lookout for TTRPG supplements that help onboarding people in the easiest, simplest way possible.
And we seem to be short on those at the moment.
So I’ll dedicate this entry to discuss the best supplements, in my opinion, to start playing TTRPGs.
If You Have No Preference When It Comes to Theme, This Is Your Best Bet
Short, simple, easily expandable and, best of all, free: go and get Fate Condensed. It’ll take you probably 1-2 hours to read it, and from then on you can gather some friends—in the flesh or online, depending on the circumstances–and you can guide them as they create their characters in a setting of your choosing.
Do you like Middle-earth? You can certainly play there. Star Wars or Star Trek? Easy-peasy. Perhaps you’d prefer some horror? You can do that too. Some Marvel or DC superheroes? That’s certainly an option.
This is possible because the system is almost infinitely flexible, as everything—from protagonists to locations to antagonists—can be represented in game terms through something called Aspects. An Aspect is a phrase that describes a fact in the shared fiction. For example: Last Scion of Krypton. That describes the character and can be used, in game, to benefit or harm the character, depending on the situation.
All in all, this is probably the best TTRPG I can recommend for someone who’s starting in the hobby and just wants to play. The only thing you’re missing is probably a good adventure, but that’s much easier once you get an idea of what setting or theme you want to play with your friends—and really easy to improvise with the Fate Condensed rules.
However, most people don’t come to TTRPGs with no previous ideas of what they want. For them, here are some further recommendations.
Cosmic Horror, Cthulhu, and Tentacles
Even if you’ve never read anything by H.P. Lovecraft and other related writers, you probably have been exposed to Lovecraft’s oeuvre through secondary or tertiary sources. Stephen King’s The Mist? Full-on Lovecraft homage/cover/tribute. Hellboy‘s monsters? Mostly Lovecraft & co.-inspired. Godzilla and other kaijus? Definitely Cthulhu-adjacent.
In this case, if you want to play a specific game about investigation and horror, the Call of Cthulhu (7th Edition) Quickstart is the perfect starting point.
The rules are concise and well-explained and, best of all, it includes an adventure with lots of advice for a new Keeper (the name Call of Cthulhu uses for the Game Master [GM]), so it should be really easy for someone to have at least one adventure with this game.
Dungeons & Dragons
Being the most popular TTRPG, there are some products available for free if you want to start playing. There are the Basic Rules on Wizards of the Coast’s website, which includes both character creation rules and rules of play. And, best of all, it’s free!
The only thing you’d probably need is an adventure to go with all this material. In this case, I recommend the adventure “Temple of the Dragonknights”, as it is simple enough to read and run and, once again, free of charge.
All considered, this is all that you should need to start playing D&D.
Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, Etc.
If you want to play urban fantasy, I have great news for you: Urban Shadows (2nd Edition) Quickstart is freely available, and it contains all the rules that you may need to play wonderful adventures centered around the comings and goings of supernatural creatures in a city of your choice.
I recommend that you go and use the city you know the best, and have your friends create characters depending on their preference. After that, you’ll probably have enough information about the setting of the game to start playing.
If you want to play science fiction and want a specific game, I can’t recommend Kevin Crawford’s Stars Without Number enough. It’s a superb game, filled with great writing and tools to have great campaigns while using it. Want to know the best part of it? There’s a free version of Stars Without Number that basically contains the whole game except some non-essential content.
So, go and get it and have some amazing adventures… In space! With your friends.
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