Best RPGs of 2019

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Best RPGs of 2019

Postby Luke » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:48 pm

So each year I put up a post to get a feel from Wellingtonians what RPGs published that year have been their favourite. Though this thread is aimed at RPGs published in 2019 only, please feel free to mention supplements or any other RPG you encountered this year that stood out.

Last year's thread is here:

2019 was a solid year. However, compared to the previous 2 years, it felt more like it was cruising and less of a steep climb or a peak. This is probably the result of the strong performers continuing to perform strongly combined with my own personal situation and tastes not changing too much.

Of my two mainstays - PbtA and 5e - 5e has started to wane. Its still a good system that I would be happy to play and likely to be my favourite edition of D&D forever, but like in the 3e era, the promise of expansions, settings, and variants often don't pay out. For example, Carbon 2185 was a solid cyberpunk variant for 5e, but it wasn't good enough to make my top 5 list.

PbtA continues to be a strong contender for my RPG dollars, as do anything that Fria Ligan publish and that shows in my picks for this year (and likely next as well).

My top five for 2019 are:

1. Alien: Fria Ligan don't get much wrong in my experience, and they have shown that again even when taking on the difficult IP of the Alien Universe. I found the book to be pitch perfect and the mechanical adaptation to be enjoyable and fitting for the overall mood of the setting. Other than Kult, this may now be my favourite horror RPG and its only made stronger by the fact that it handles much more than just horror.

2. Liminal: The small publisher RPG is probably the surprise of the year. In one small and beautiful book, Liminal captures everything I wanted from World of Darkness with the nice twist of having a UK focus. I am a fan of the PC Grant series and drawing on those books gives this RPG life as well as a very playable starting point for any Liminal scenario.

3. Impulse Drive: My one guilty pleasure this year was this small publisher PbtA RPG. I have struggled to find a good PbtA RPG for sci fi and space opera and this RPG covers both. It also adds a nice focus (a bunch of outcasts sharing a ship) that helps shape the game and utilise the PbtA approach, whilst also being broad enough to cover a range of genres.

4. Zombie World: This is the standout PbtA RPG of the year for me (leaving aside my guilty pleasure) and another great offering for Magpie Games (my #2 favourite RPG company). Not only does this knock the zombie survival horror out of the park, it leverages the well known genre and the PbtA mechanics to make it a great one off experience. The use of cards double downs on this, giving it a format that very few other RPGs share, and making it a great option to pull out at a con.

5. Elysium/Things from the Flood: I cheated by putting two choices here. However, though both of these are independent RPGs, they are effectively sister RPGs of existing RPGs, so don't feel like they need to fill an entire slot. Not much to say on these other than what has already been said in previous years on similar Fria Ligan RPGs. They are excellent additions to their respective lines.

A notable mention goes to Far Away Land OSR. I have a real soft spot for Far Away Land. So I was unsure why it needed an OSR rule set. However, despite my doubts, the result is quite charming and probably my favourite OSR ruleset (of so so many). The ruleset is recognisably OSR, yet there are a number of tweaks to give it an OSR flavour. A number of these tweaks are of the type that you would not expect to see in an OSR ruleset, either as they derive from FAL's humour or from modern concepts such as computer games. All in all its OSR with FAL flavour, which is exactly what it promised.

My 2018 choices: Legacy: Life Among the Ruins 2e, Esper Genesis, Kult: Divinity Lost, Forbidden Lands, The Sword, the Crown, and the Unspeakable Power.

My 2017 choices: Tales from the Loop, Masks, Conan, The Watch, Blue Rose (AGE).

My 2016 choices: Godbound, Coriolis, Adventures in Middle-Earth, Amethyst, Genlab Alpha.

My 2015 choices: Shadow of the Demon Lord, Urban Shadows, Mutant Year Zero, Star Wars: Force and Destiny, Exalted 3e.

My 2014 choices: Far Away Land, D&D 5e, Ryuutama, Icons: Assembled Edition, Book of Cairn.

My 2013 choices: Atlantis: The Second Age, Double Cross, Warbirds, Golden Sky Stories, Lords of Gossamer and Shadow.

My 2012 choices: Tenra Bansho Zero, Shadows of Esteren, Marvel Heroic , Hellas 2nd Ed., Legends of the Wulin.

My 2011 choices: One Ring, Mistborn, Fabled Lands, Vampire the Masquerade 20th Ann. Ed., Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2e.

My 2010 choices: Eclipse Phase, Gamma World D&D4e, Dresden Files, Eoris, Icons.

My 2009 choices: D&D4e, Mouse Guard, Summerland, Anima, WFRP3e.

My 2008 choices: CthulhuTech, Dragon Warriors, D&D4e, Dark Heresy, Grimm.

My 2007 choices: CthulhuTech, Star Wars Saga Ed., Monte Cook's World of Darkness, Solomon Kane, BlissStage.

My 2006 choices: A Game of Thrones OGL, Spirit of the Century, Qin, Burning Empires, Agon.
Playing: Star Wars Saga Ed
Running: Genlab Alpha
Planning: Vaesen
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