3 More Alternatives to D&D You May Not Have Heard of Yet.

Three more alternatives to D&D you may not have heard of.


I may have mentioned before how much I love Indie games.

Easy rules based on the humble d4.

I want to start with a very special RPG by our friend Titanomachy. It’s called Caltrop Core. (If you’ve ever stepped on a d4 in the dark, you know why we call them “caltrops.”) It runs off of d4’s. Super easy going system. Lots of fun. Adaptable to almost every genre. Available on Itch.io. Find it here. FREE!

I like open, generic alternatives to D&D because you can adapt them to any genre, any campaign, or any concept. You can also convert other games to them. Don’t like Savage Worlds, but still want to play Deadlands? Here you go! Keep as much of the Deadlands text as you want and add Caltrop Core. Easier than eating pancakes.

*Editor’s note: I don’t get any kickbacks for recommending any of these systems/games. These are purely from my collection and experience.

OVA by Wise Turtle Publishing.

The second game I’m going to mention might fall under the obscure and extremely loveable category. It’s called OVA The Anime Roleplaying Game. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a big fan of all things anime, especially RPGs. I’ve only seen it in PDF so far.

OVA stands for Open Versatile Anime. As you may have already guessed, it’s another core rule set that is adaptable to any genre, much like an anime series. Space pirates, martial arts action, mecha, monster trainer and high magic samurai fantasy are all doable under one set of rules, much like Anime Hack and Big Eyes, Small Mouth which I will discuss more elsewhere.

OVA sports some very nice artwork. I feel like art can make or break a game and in this case it really sells the concepts and draws the reader in. It shows that a lot of time and love was put into making this game happen.

You get to raid the family Yahtzee box for this one as it uses d6’s. The system itself was designed to appeal to both anime fans and new players alike. If you can describe your favorite anime character, you can probably emulate it with these rules.

*Editor’s note: None of the games I talk about are necessarily better than D&D or any other game. They’re just alternatives. Look into them. Your mileage may vary.

Bare Bones Fantasy by DwD Studios.

The last one I’ll mention today is a game called Bare Bones Fantasy by DwD Studios. I was actually drawn to this one by another game from DwD called Covert Ops, which I will also discuss elsewhere. Bare Bones is a good fantasy game. It’s rules lite. My favorite thing about the system is that it is so freakin easy to build on!

The system is based on 2d10 (Percentile) but don’t panic. It’s not Rolemaster or Palladium’s system. Bare Bones is rules lite. There are also times when the game calls on you to roll 2d10 added together.

Character creation is probably faster than D&D by a fair amount. If you have a fair idea of what you want your character to do, it’s easy. Character creation takes around 10 minutes if you’ve done it once or twice.

The thing that appeals to me about Bare Bones is the amount of source material I was able to adapt to this game. Within a day or two of getting it, I was able to create a bunch of new character classes, spells, and pull over an entire campaign world for D&D. Some day, I might even go back and create my own monster expansion.

Speaking of expansions for Bare Bones, there is a ton of support material for this game on DwD’s website. I also recommend Flesh & Blood, which adds a ton of new races and a new class for the game. You can also very easily add your own material to this game in a very short amount of time.

Overall, the game has a lot of old school charm. It has the feel of a white box game without a lot of unnecessary baggage that comes with a lot of other fantasy D&D alternatives. It’s worth a look if you want to do fantasy flavor without tons of bells and whistles.

As always, thank you for being here. Take care. Game on!




Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa always looking for more work. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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