Since 2007, Free RPG Day has been partnering with RPG publishers and friendly local game stores (FLGS) to bring new quickstart rules and exclusive modules to gamers around the world. Providing of course, you have an FLGS in your area. Previous free RPG loot included in the celebration T-shirts, dice, Munchkin add-ons, Pathfinder modules, and dozens of new game quick start rules. This years Free RPG Day loot includes the new Runequest quickstart rules, a Pathfinder Bestiary, and I’m personally excited about the Modiphius Entertainment “Robert E. Howard’s CONAN” RPG quickstart rules.
But alas, I won’t be waiting for the ghost of Gary Gygax to leave RPG goodies for me under the game table this year either.
Despair not! The Free RPG Day festivities are available to everyone, everywhere, to some degree. See, free quick start rules are a common practice among new RPG publishers to help recruit new customers. Sometimes these rules are an edited version of the full game with less player options, or sometimes they offer a simplified game mechanics version to help reel in new customers who might be off put by the idea of investing $50+ on a 350+ page hardcover rulebook of a game they might not even like. So the publishers create these free quickstart guides and release them on line as downloadable pdfs. The best place to find these is RPGNow.
This being a Free RPG Day post, I think I should list a few specific freebies everyone should go download right away. My personal picks for new (ish) quickstart rules downloads, in no particular order.
1) The Terrasque in the room. Dungeons and Dragons 5e quickstart from Wizards of the Coast. Released in 2014, my relationship with this game has been a rollercoaster of emotional torment (referenced here, here, and here). But after spending 100’s of hours over the past year playing 5th edition D&D, I can’t recommend it highly enough. This game is as good as any previous edition, easy to learn and fun to play. I truly believe they redeemed themselves with this version and have finally made Gary Gygax proud.
2) Delta Green from Arc Dream publishing. Originally launched in 1997 as a licensed setting supplent for Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu, Arc Dream have launched the new stand alone version of the game and so far it looks amazing. Set in the modern times, players make characters of federal agents who work for a shadowy government agency who works to protect the population from Things Man Was Not Meant to Know ™. This new version released last year, is fully compatible to the old game as well as the older Call of Cthulhu supplements.
3) Green Ronin games, winners of multiple Ennies and Origins awards, originally released as part of Free RPG Day way back in 2008, A Song of Ice and Fire, the Game of Thrones RPG, takes characters and noble houses through the Seven Kingdoms, Westeros and Kings Landing.
4) Also from Green Ronin, Mutants and Masterminds 3e quick start rules released in 2011, is the D20 based Super Hero RPG in the you’ve been waiting for.
“That’s all well and good, but where’s my THACO?”
I hear you. And this wouldn’t be a Lamentations of the Grognard post if we didn’t include some old school gaming.
So, here are a few of my favorites in the old school category.
1) Labyrinth Lord and Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition from Goblinoid Games. Labyrinth Lord is a free retroclone of classic B/X D&D with all the flavor of playing around that basement card table back in the early 80’s. the Advanced Edition Companion offers everything you need to graduate up to the classic crunchiness of 1st edition AD&D.
2) FASERIP by Gurbintroll Games is the classic Marvel Super Heroes RPG throwback. Complete with color coded chart on the back cover. This 135 page full color pdf is complete with great art and tons of options for all your four color adventures.
3) For the Sword and Sorcery crowd, Hyborian hijinks abound with Zeb’s Fantasy Roleplaying System, or ZeFRS. Based on the same system that brought you Marvel Super Heroes, Gamma World and Star Frontiers this adaptation of the original rules system and game mechanics created in the 80’s by Dave “Zeb” Cook. The ZeFRS rulebook offers a trademark free version of classic, gritty, Conan roleplaying.
Enjoy your Free RPG Day. Either at your FLGS or at the game table with your group. Just remember…
“The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don’t need any rules.”
– Gary Gygax