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July 12, 2014

Fantasy RPGs went Shareware

In the last year or two, just about all the top fantasy RPGs became free. With a five dollar set of dice, a pencil, and some paper you can try them all.  I included Fate, Savage Worlds, and GURPS.  Despite being generic systems, they are very often used for fantasy games.

There are a few notable exceptions:  The One Ring RPG is not free, for instance.  And there are a few popular fantasy RPGs that offer limited free rules (OpenQuest, D&D Basic) or a quickstart that doesn't include character creation rules (Savage Worlds, 4th edition D&D).

Without further ado, here are your free fantasy RPGs!

The full game and most of the best supplements for Pathfinder are entirely free.  I find it astounding that Paizo continues to release their main line books into their SRD.  Ultimate Campaign was added to the SRD recently, five years after the original Pathfinder rules went into an SRD.  Even more amazing is that Pathfinder's fans keep buying these books!  That's dedication.  Hat tip to the Pathfinder community! (Disclaimer: I play Pathfinder, so there's a little bias there).

Pathfinder 2nd edition's playtest is free

3.5 edition D&D is entirely free.

13th Age is entirely free.

Dungeon World is entirely free.

Fate is entirely free.  The first link is to the full Fate Core PDF, which is "Pay What You Want" (which can be free if you're broke).

ICON from Abbadon Press (makers of Lancer) is currently entirely free:

There are a ton of other free and PWYW fantasy RPGs on, as well.  Check it out!

OSRIC is entirely free.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess is entirely free (with no art).

I cut my teeth on Rules Cyclopedia D&D, so the fact that Dark Dungeons is free makes me happy!

Indie RPG Unsung is free (any setting, as long as it involves unethical behavior)

West End Games' d6 system is free.  The fantasy book is free, as is the space book.  You may recall this is the old Star Wars RPG's system.

Mythender is free.

Ars Magica 4th edition is free (now that 5th is out).

Brutal RPG is entirely free.

Dungeonslayers is free.

Donjon is free.

Rule of Cool's Legend RPG is free (this is not the RuneQuest fork that used to be called Legends, but a great 3.5 fork you should at least read).

CJ Carella's Witchcraft is free.

Talislanta is also free.  All of it!

Labyrinth Lord?  Free.

Swords and Wizardry?  $50.  Just kidding.  Totally free.

Warrior, Rogue & Mage is free.

Something Went Wrong is a fantasy RPG about adventurers failing their quest dramatically.  It has a free version:

Basic Fantasy, another OSR game (but without OSR rules) is free.

Heroes Against Darkness, a D&D 4e "heartbreaker" -- or perhaps an indie 4.5e -- is free, too.

These games are free, in a limited form.  
There are character creation rules and monsters, so you can run a whole campaign with the limited rules, so I consider them free.

5th edition D&D Basic is free.  It's stripped down, but free.

Hackmaster Basic (up to level 5) is free.

GURPS Lite is free.  It's a stripped down ruleset, but free!

HARP Lite is free.  Like D&D Basic, it's a simpler version.

Runequest is... free?  
The history of this game's ownership and development is sad, but on the plus side, it did result in several current free versions!

Runequest 6th Edition Essentials is "Pay What You Want."  So it can be free, if you're broke.
Runequest 4th Edition SRD is free, but not ideal.
OpenQuest 2 Basic PDF is free.  (Stripped down rules for RuneQuest sounds like a good idea anyway)
Ray Turney's Fire & Sword, another RuneQuest "fork" version is also free.
Renaissance Black Powder d100 RPG is also free.
The Age of Shadow is also free.  How many free RuneQuest heirs are there?

So go try them all!

By the way, as some of these games are played on a 1" grid...  printable 1" grid paper is ALSO free.

These popular games are sort of free.
There aren't enough rules to run a full campaign, but you can use the free rules to run a short adventure.  I don't really consider these to be "free" since they're too limited to be a full game, but since 4e D&D is now out of date and Savage Worlds is not primarily a fantasy RPG, I can still say most of the popular fantasy RPGs in print today are free.

4th edition D&D is not entirely free. The Quickstart rules are free but do not have character creation rules.  You can also pick up Keep on the Shadowfell for free, but personally I don't recommend that module.  Go get something from the fourthcore google drive and run it with the starter set pregens instead!

Savage Worlds Test Drive is free, but like the 4e quickstart, it doesn't have everything you need to play a full campaign.  I believe it has pregens instead of character creation rules and options.

Here are some other resources on the web to direct you to free RPG lists. 

My list is specifically free fantasy RPGs.  These lists should help you find more, if you're looking for SF or modern fantasy, or anything else!


  1. CJ Carella's Witchcraft

  2. Don't forget there are numerous free OSR games.

  3. Hackmaster Basic is also free!

  4. You all rock! Thanks. I'll add these tomorrow, along with any others that I come across.

  5. So far this is what's getting added tomorrow:

    Runequest is... free?

    Runequest 6th Edition Essentials - Pay What You Want

    Runequest 4th Edition SRD


    OpenQuest 2 Basic PDF - stripped down rules for an SRD based

    runequest "fork"


    Ray Turney's Fire & Sword - another runequest fork, made by one of

    the original designers

    Brutal RPG

    Legend of the Five Rings

    Savage Worlds Test Drive Rules - a quickstart guide but pretty


    HARP Lite - most of the game is there, but some options and

    complexity has been left off

    OSRIC full game

    Fate Core PDF

    Dungeonslayers full game


    Donjon - an indie narrative fantasy RPG that supports DM vs. Players

    style old school play while also being a narrative RPG

    Lamentations of the Flame Princess full game (no art)

    Legend RPG full game

    CJ Carella's Witchcraft full game


    Hackmaster Basic (up to level 5)

  6. Also, I have learned that RuneQuest is a MESS. I'm not an RQ player, so I missed this... What the hell happened?!?!?!

  7. WEGd6 system is also free, and open:

  8. Warrior Rogue and Mage:

  9. Mazes and Minotaurs: a Free, Rules Light RPG which arose from the "What If..." scenario of what D&D would have looked like if it was inspired by Greek Mythology instead of Tolkien, Moorcook and Howard: