Perhaps you’ve heard some recent controversy around Wizards of the Coast and Dungeons & Dragons. Perhaps you haven’t. Either way, it’s a great time to look at some alternatives to Dungeons & Dragons.

Note: I’m going to limit the list to games that are fantasy, adventuring, and flexible-setting, otherwise this list would be much longer. If you want recommendations that ignore one of those factors, I’m happy to share some other options.

I’m going to use tags because those are a fun RPG thing.

  • compatible: it shares enough in common with D&D-like games that it should be easier to use published adversaries or adventures
  • credited: you’ll find my name in the credits
  • light: it’s a rules-light system
  • played: I’ve tried it

Here are the games, in alphabetical order:

  • Beyond the Wall: compatible, has some extra focus on group-building, and a bit more setting & vibe built-in
  • Cornerstone Fantasy: light, the first of three Sigil Stone games on the list, but one that appears will not be getting ongoing support and development
  • Dichotomy (backup link): a super-indie game with an interesting angle akin to Lasers & Feelings or Arcanum
  • Dominion Rules: played, a highly-underrated game with several great ideas and tons of potential
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics: compatible, recommended if you want big time “old-school” vibes
  • Five Torches Deep: compatible, light, essentially a pared-down 5th edition
  • Forbidden Lands: strong on open-world play, also with some built-in vibes
  • Into the Odd: compatible, light, arguably not strictly-fantasy enough, but usable for lots of play with some table-tweaking
  • Knave: compatible, light, played, top recommendation if you just want to get going with quick play
  • Maze Rats: light, played, top recommendation for a pickup game with no compatibility needed
  • Mythic D6: descendant of the West End Games D6 system (like classic Star Wars)
  • Pathfinder: compatible, played, recommended if you liked 3rd edition
  • Torchbearer: credited, played, descendant of Burning Wheel, recommended for those emphasizing the hard life of adventurers
  • Vagabonds of Dyfed: light, played, an interesting mashup of D&D and PbtA roots, which shouldn’t really work but kinda does
  • Warrior Rogue Mage: light, answers “what if the core archetypes were the stats?”
  • Whitehack: compatible, played, top recommendation if you want to run a compatible-but-flexible game that lasts many sessions (e.g. campaign-mode)
  • Worlds Without Number: compatible, recommended for the worldbuilding and adventure-creation tools

Anything I should add to the list? Anything you’d particularly recommend? Leave a reply.

Disclaimer: I’ve used DriveThruRPG affiliate links, where relevant. I could get a small credit if you make a purchase there.