From White Wolf to FATE: 4 More Classic Non-D&D Roleplaying Systems

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Roleplaying has been a big part of my life for years now. As I mentioned in one of my previous articles about game systems, I fell in love with Dungeons & Dragons, but my first few games were not run in that system. I wasn’t able to cover all the systems I had played over the years, so here are a few more.

White Wolf

In most roleplaying games you play the human/elf/alien/etc… fighting against the monsters to save the day. In White Wolf’s World of Darkness (WOD) things are a little different. You’ll take on the roles of the monsters; breathing life/undeath into their gothic tales. I was first introduced to the system by the collectible card game, based off of WOD, called Jyhad (renamed Vampire: The Masquerade). I loved it. I hadn’t heard of Magic: the Gathering at that point, so it was my first real card game. I was a big enough geek about it that I actually have a tattoo of the Jyhad knot that graces the back of the cards. It was some years later before I would play in my first White Wolf game.

The system is based in gothic horror. Characters can be anything from humans to vampires, ghosts, werewolves, fairies, and other supernatural beings. The game is great for roleplayers looking to play something a bit darker, but not quite a true horror game.

Little Fears

If, instead, your friends want to delve straight into horror, let me suggest Little Fears. The game makes you play children hunted by twisted beings from Closetland. Yeah, it may sound corny at first, but imagine you’re a 6 year old kid and the monster under you bed IS real. The only thing you have to protect you is your Belief, a special force that powers kid magic. With belief, you can do things like bring your stuffed animals to life, but it can also work against you; making your belief in bad luck and curses real.

The game reminds me of Five Nights at Freddy’s 4, where you play as a kid armed with nothing more than a flashlight. That game is terrifying and if you want to recreate the feeling, then Little Fears might be the right system for you.


I can’t help but compare Pathfinder with D&D, because it is so similar. My game master always calls Pathfinder “a love letter to my D&D houserules”. When I got into D&D, I face-planted trying to learn version 2, stumbled through 3, and finally found my footing in 3.5. While it wasn’t perfect, I enjoyed it well enough and most times our GM would ignore things like attacks of opportunity, grappling rules, and anything else that slowed down the action.

Pathfinder is like D&D 3.5 lite (or at least lite-ier). It uses a lot of the same basics, but adds some quality-of-life changes. For example in the D&D I was familiar with, if you were not proficient in a skill, you were penalize when using it, whereas Pathfinder gave bonuses to those with proficiency. It may seem a minor change, but it felt more fun. They also did away with experience penalties for multi-classing, simplified combat maneuvers, balanced class levels, and generally made characters more powerful. In general, it is a fun system, but it can get pretty dense at the higher levels. I haven’t had a chance to play in the more recent versions of D&D , so I can’t say how Pathfinder stacks up against it now.


Fate is based on FUDGE (a gaming system with which I have no experience) and sadly I seem to be cursed when it comes to Fate games. If you’ve seen Wil Wheaton roll on TableTop, then you understand my kind of luck with Fate dice, which are specific to the system. Thankfully, Fate focuses more on storytelling than dice rolling. The core system is also theme-less, so you can use it for any style game. I was introduced to the system as I am a big fan of the Dresden Files and the official Dresden Files roleplaying game uses Fate as the base. Since the game can work for most any world, you can create games for your favorite fandoms with it.

Once again, I know I can not cover all the roleplaying systems I want to, but I hope you enjoy this quick introduction to four more systems I have enjoyed over the years.

What other systems should I explore? Have one that you absolutely love? Let me know in the comments below!

Image credits:  White Wolf PublishingLittle FearsPaizoEvil Hat Productions

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