Dungeons & Dragons have spawned a multitude of campaign worlds since it began, including the Forgotten Realms, Mystara, Eberron, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, and many others.
I often look beyond these D&D staples to see what other RPG realms are available to play in, because I want to play them all. Allow me to share with you five tabletop RPGs currently at the top of my must play list, all from indie creators and publishers. I hope you’ll check them out here and see why they deserve our gaming attention.
Numenera is a world that reaches beyond traditional fantasy, mixing a roughly medieval setting with bio-engineered creatures and nanotechnology into a fantastic science fantasy RPG located in the Ninth World. A uniquely simplified character creation process allows players to choose to be a Glaive (warrior), Jack (jack-of-all-trades), or a Nano (wizard). The Numenera setting and classes sound most intriguing to me, certainly due in large part to the fact that the outstanding Numenera creation team includes Monte Cook, Bruce Cordell, Charles Ryan, Tammie Ryan, and Sean Reynolds, who are all former D&D and Wizards of the Coast members.
The Monte Cook Games site is where you buy the Numenera Starter Set, along with guidebooks, minis, dice, and other GM and player items. The Numenera site has superb artwork showing more about the Ninth World. There’s also “The Signal”, a Numenera podcast done in character by Vaux Jack, who shares detailed facts and thoughts about the Ninth World to all who’ll listen.
Bonus Action: How To Play Numenera
Calidar is a world inspired by Mystara and the Princess Ark stories published in the Dragon Magazine of old. Much like Numenera, Calidar is a realm of science fantasy, where humans, elves, dwarves, and other fantasy races have progressed to interplanetary travel through space. Landing on the planet of Calidar, these races established colonies and began to flourish, and soon discovered they were not the only sentient creatures to exist, including the very planet of Calidar itself.
Calidar is non-game specific, meaning that is can be adapted for use with most RPG systems currently in production. For a more detailed history and description of Calidar, read the “What is Calidar?” post on Bruce Heard’s blog. Check out Calidar Publishing on DriveThruRPG to buy the World of Calidar published products. You may also want to visit and join the World of Calidar (Google+) and World of Calidar (Facebook) communities.
Bonus Action: Bruce Heard @Ambreville on Twitter
World of Myrr
The World of Myrr is a classic fantasy RPG setting complete with elves, barbarians, dragons, knights, and other forces of good and evil, all vying for control of the once peaceful continent of Myrr. There’s isn’t a lot of other info about Myrr online, but it sounds to me as if the entire land is one huge powder keg, with nearly every sentient being attempting their own plays for power. That makes me imagine a land where nothing and no one can be trusted. That’s an RPG I’d love to get into.
World of Myrr was created with a focus on 5th edition D&D, but is adaptable for use with other RPG systems. Click over to Cawood Publishing on DriveThruRPG to buy the World of Myrr Campaign Setting and Game Master’s guides. And keep an eye on the official World of Myrr website for the latest news and info on upcoming content.
Bonus Action: Cawood Publishing on Instagram
Dungeon World is another classic fantasy RPG, but one set apart from the others by its simplicity. In my mind, if the popular minimalist art/life style were to be applied to D&D, Dungeon World would be the result.
For example, with Dungeon World, the only dice used are two d6s. Those dice are only used by the players; the GM isn’t ever required to roll dice. The crux of gameplay is built around story narration, fluid gameplay, and the consequences of the players’ actions, instead of having players face constant die-rolling tests. Dungeon World also encourages minimal pre-game content creation in lieu of cooperative GM/player created scenarios.
Go to the Dungeon World website to read much more about the game, and to find and purchase print and digital versions. There’s also a Downloads section with handy GM and player supplements, and an excellent Dungeon World Guide, which is what sold me on wanting to play the game.
Bonus Action: Dungeon World – How to Play and Set Up (DawnforgedCast)
Dragongrin is one of two fantasy RPG campaign settings from Absolute Tabletop. In the realm of Dragongrin, evil is the currently reigning champion, in the form of the Dismembered Lord. Long ago, “a series of catastrophic events” happened that nearly wiped out all the forces of good. This event is now known as Lightfall. Since then, heroes have been viewed as unwelcome, and are mostly shunned, or worse. There is hope, however, in places such as the Copper Sun, and in small pockets of resistance fighters, including the Copper Jackals, the Peacemakers, and the Undying Light.
The Absolute Tabletop website is where you can find gameplay material for Dragongrin, as well as for Erenoth. Absolute Tabletop is a collaboration between Tabletop Terrors, Be A Better Game Master, and a Fistful of Dice, and you can visit (and subscribe) to those YouTube channels for a tarrasque amount of D&D and fantasy RPG gaming info.
Bonus Action: Absolute Tabletop is Us
So, the next time you’re looking for a new campaign world to get into, whether you’re a GM or player, give these quality independent RPGs a try.
Are you already a GM or player in one of these campaign worlds? Are you deeply involved in another indie RPG? Tell us about your favorites in the Comments below!
Header Image Credit: Monte Cook Games
Blog Image Credits: Monte Cook Games, Calidar Publishing, Cawood Publishing, Sage Kobold, Absolute Tabletop