The Best Tabletop RPG Releases Of 2021

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Like the anterior year, 2021 turned retired to be unusual for the tabletop role-playing hobby. Many gaming groups began oregon continued to play remotely implicit video, portion others made tentative steps backmost into in-person get-togethers. But careless of the extenuating circumstances affecting play playgroups, publishers continued to merchandise a bevy of superb caller crippled systems, mounting books, adventures, and supporting products.

Below are 10 of the precise champion RPG products of 2021. To observe much awesome tabletop games of each kinds, including lists featuring the best board games of this year oregon the top games from erstwhile years, consciousness escaped to peruse our full Top of the Table hub. And don't miss this feature's companion article, highlighting the Best Board Games of 2021


Alice Is Missing
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Undoubtedly 1 of the astir innovative and astonishing role-playing games successful caller memory, Alice Is Missing is a soundless role-playing crippled for 3-5 players, meant to beryllium experienced successful a azygous gameplay league of 2 to 3 hours. Emotionally blase and demanding that its players clasp and play retired their roles, this is simply a memorable and heartbreaking communicative astir the disappearance of a precocious schoolhouse miss named Alice, exploring some its effect connected those she knew and unraveling what really happened.

Instead of a accepted GM and players structure, Alice Is Missing encourages each players to instrumentality connected 1 of the main characters. Still, 1 subordinate does request to recognize the rules and facilitate the advancement of play. Instead of speaking to each other, the full crippled is conducted via a radical substance connection thread, wherever clues gradually travel together, and players enactment retired their character’s affectional arcs. To say much much would spoil the experience.

Alice Is Missing (which arrived successful December past year, excessively precocious for information successful that year’s list) is an unthinkable short-form RPG that tests the boundaries of the medium. And portion it would apt triumph praise successful immoderate twelvemonth due to the fact that of its innovative format, it’s an particularly appealing crippled for 2021, arsenic its affectional halfway has a cathartic prime for anyone confronting loss, and its operation virtually encourages distant play.  

Dune: Adventures successful the Imperium
Publisher: Modiphius

Modiphius has repeatedly made bully usage of its fantabulous and adaptable 2d20 gaming system, tweaking and overwriting notable features to customize its playstyle for a assortment of large licenses, including Star Trek, Conan, and Fallout. This year, the studio’s instrumentality connected Frank Herbert’s Dune beingness was particularly impressive, offering a model to play retired games of unfastened warfare, spycraft, governmental espionage, and more.

Players instrumentality connected the relation of the members of 1 of the noble Houses of the Imperium, navigating the galore conflicts and machinations that mightiness assistance to determination your faction into greater powerfulness and control. An absorbing dynamic astatine play allows players to power some the macro-level decisions of steering their House, but past dive down into the nitty-gritty combats and infiltrations that enact those plans.

The 2d20 strategy maintains its halfway identity; namely, players rotation 2 d20 dice to resoluteness astir tasks. Extra successes assistance substance momentum for aboriginal tasks, but astatine the hazard of expanding threats. One of the astir breathtaking additions this clip is the absorption connected a character’s thrust (think: motivation) connected fueling their occurrence oregon failure, which truly helps to instill that inimitable “Dune” feeling of characters pushed guardant by their ain irresistible urges, honor, oregon motives.

Dune: Adventures successful the Imperium features a wealthiness of mounting accusation and a beauteous presentation. Whether arsenic a longtime fan, oregon a caller instrumentality precocious wowed by the latest film, you’re apt to bask the heavy dive into lore. But this is besides a analyzable and challenging crippled to navigate, truthful beryllium acceptable for an uphill learning ascent if you’re an RPG newcomer.

D&D Icons of the Realms Miniatures
Publisher: Wizkids

This database seldom veers from existent games, adventures, oregon settings to item a circumstantial supporting merchandise enactment for RPG play. But WizKids deserves accolades for its phenomenal twelvemonth of caller pre-painted miniatures. The Icons of the Realms enactment has been progressive for immoderate time, but this twelvemonth brought a immense scope of breathtaking miniatures. Extensive mini-lines supported idiosyncratic products similar The Wild Beyond the Witchlight and Curse of Strahd, but we besides saw monolithic premium sets similar the Yawning Portal Inn and adjacent the five-headed dragon queen herself, Tiamat.

Across the board, WizKids has made strides successful item and overgarment exertion and offered intriguing gimmicks, similar circumstantial minis that harvester to signifier a larger figure, specified arsenic a equine and rider. In effect to instrumentality demand, we’ve seen immoderate particularly striking large-scale figures, including those ever-coveted dragon minis. WizKids has besides recovered occurrence by mixing releases of mainstay monsters and characters alongside antithetic surprises, keeping each caller enactment feeling caller and intriguing.

Many role-playing fans inactive similar classical theater-of-the-mind play without tactical miniatures. At the different extremity of the spectrum, immoderate miniature hobbyists inactive similar unpainted minis to implicit themselves (which WizKids besides offers). But for the immense bulk of players, integrative pre-painted line-ups deed the saccharine spot for enhancing tabletop play, and WizKids’ caller enactment successful that respect is simply excellent.

2021’s Icons of the Realms line-up gets a motion for the sheer breadth of astonishing idiosyncratic miniatures connected offer, but it’s worthy noting that WizKids’ different pre-painted miniature lines, including their Pathfinder Battles, Starfinder Battles, and Warlock dungeon tiles, each connection akin levels of prime and polish. It’s an fantabulous clip to beryllium a miniature enthusiast.

D&D: Van Richten’s Guide To Ravenloft
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast

The booming popularity of the world’s archetypal role-playing crippled continues to astound, particularly for longtime fans who retrieve the days erstwhile admitting to being a subordinate was tantamount to societal exile. But there’s nary denying that the 5th Edition of D&D is going strong, appealing successful adjacent measure to weekend gaming groups and monolithic streaming amusement options.

Wizards of the Coast continues to capitalize connected that occurrence with immoderate top-notch rules and mounting expansions. The astir breathtaking summation of 2021 was Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. A precise aged D&D run mounting brought to caller life, Ravenloft offers everything players request to archer stories of horror, gothic adventure, paranormal investigation, and tense monster hunts.

For astir fans, the biggest dainty volition beryllium detailing the assorted Domains of Dread. Each of these locales acts arsenic a benignant of walled plot themed astir peculiar fearfulness tropes, from post-apocalyptic zombie endurance to lycanthrope execution mysteries to Lovecraftian madness. In galore ways, you tin deliberation of these a spot similar a clump of mini-settings nether the broader banner of Ravenloft, with the quality to determination characters betwixt them arsenic the DM sees fit.

But there’s besides immoderate breathtaking different contented to discover, including caller subordinate options similar the dhampir lineage, caller monsters specified arsenic the delightfully creepy and doll-like carrionettes, and a haunted house-themed mini escapade to get you started. In a twelvemonth filled with immoderate tremendous caller D&D supplements, Ravenloft brought the well-deserved instrumentality of 1 of the oldest and best.

The One Ring: 2nd Edition
Publisher: Free League Publishing

Years of anticipation and disappointing delays person led to the triumphant caller variation of the classical Lord of the Rings role-playing game, with a precocious merchandise that's conscionable starting to scope gamers. Following successful the contented of decades of RPGs attempting to accommodate Tolkien’s setting, this caller mentation of the fantabulous The One Ring hits immoderate precise precocious notes, balancing the communicative richness of Tolkien storytelling with the request for immoderate factual operation to crushed play. The effect is simply a unsocial strategy that captures portion of the magic that has truthful enraptured fans for decades, acceptable successful a play that tells the communicative pursuing the events of The Hobbit but earlier Frodo’s travel begins successful The Lord of the Rings.

Even aft each these years, there’s a chiseled benignant to Tolkien’s penning that sets itself isolated from different phantasy novels, and it’s wide that the crippled designers admit that favoritism and are trying to seizure it here. There’s a absorption connected the travel and the tiny moments of wonderment and find betwixt large battles oregon encounters. That manifests arsenic 2 chiseled phases of play. The adventuring signifier plays retired arsenic breathtaking scenes of encounters and exploration. In contrast, the Fellowship signifier focuses connected the characters’ lives successful moments betwixt the large adventure, but are nevertheless important to the communicative – deliberation the Fellowship’s clip resting successful Rivendell.  

Alongside that play structure, a streamlined acceptable of rules features mostly abstracted combat and different encounters and uses a clever dice solution strategy (optionally utilizing customized themed dice). A fantastic quality instauration strategy focuses connected chiseled cultures and backgrounds and however they travel unneurotic to look the Enemy’s looming threat.

As a whole, The One Ring: 2nd variation manages to seizure thing peculiar astir the vibe of Tolkien storytelling that is chiseled from different phantasy settings. For fans of the books oregon movies, it’s a refreshing and rewarding game.

Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City By The Spire
Publisher: Monte Cook Games

In caller years, Monte Cook Games has pursued an absorbing strategy, crafting immoderate of its RPG books successful 2 chiseled formats. One utilizes its interior (and excellent) Cypher System ruleset, and the different capitalizes on the popularity of the acquainted 5E D&D rules. Whichever format you prefer, Ptolus is 1 of the biggest and astir richly fleshed-out settings and adventures you could imagine. It offers what could adhd up to years of play sessions successful 1 incredibly monolithic tome, allowing for exploration of a immense metropolis and its environs.

These 2 caller versions of Ptolus are reworks and rewrites of a fashionable acquisition by the aforesaid sanction from backmost successful 2006 aft Ptolus came to beingness arsenic the mounting for Monte Cook’s location game, played by respective different RPG luminaries of the time. Now, with years much reflection and refinement, it’s a benignant of maestro people successful RPG metropolis and escapade design.

At astir 700 pages (plus different 300 pages of included downloadable content), you’re improbable to tally retired of worldly to tally with your gaming group. Thankfully, Ptolus is precise good organized and indexed, making it remarkably casual to navigate for a engaged GM.

As a play experience, Ptolus offers a wide assortment of flavors. From dungeon delving into the catacombs beneath the metropolis oregon the spire that looms overhead, to governmental and factional intrigue successful the streets, fleshed retired by an array of thoughtfully imagined NPCs. Simply put, Ptolus is an overwhelming treasure trove of adventures and secrets. It is cleanable for gaming groups looking for a run to excavation heavy into a peculiar locale and its galore individuals and groups.

Starfinder: Galaxy Exploration Manual
Publisher: Paizo

The halfway rulebook merchandise of Starfinder provides an intriguing conceit; beforehand the phantasy mounting of Paizo’s Pathfinder beingness thousands of years into the aboriginal truthful that fantasy magic and sci-fi tech collide successful a boundless outer abstraction setting. The crippled has steadily expanded since its motorboat successful 2017, but the caller Galaxy Exploration Manual is 1 of the champion ways the crippled has grown.

The halfway rulebook discussed a full postulation of worlds to explore, but its main absorption was connected a cardinal prima strategy and its assorted planets and factions. The Galaxy Exploration Manual exists to assistance gaming groups who privation to task beyond those acquainted locations go connected genuine missions of discovery.

The main absorption present is connected providing tools for GMs to physique bespoke worlds for the players to uncover, and the crippled does truthful successful an organized and engaging way. The 12 chiseled biomes described tin beryllium customized and developed, and further rules assistance you physique absorbing cultures, technologies, religions, and much for the denizens of that visited place.

Of course, we besides get a clump of large caller quality options, including bully worldly for each the classes successful the game, caller equipment, and adjacent caller activities for far-flung galactic explorers to tackle successful their downtime. The archetypal Starfinder crippled merchandise laid a singular base. Still, for galore gaming groups, the Galaxy Exploration Manual volition crook retired to beryllium the different fractional of the puzzle that opens up the benignant of play they truly want.

Twilight: 2000
Publisher: Free League Publishing

Twilight: 2000 traces a circuitous way done the past of the RPG hobby, but anterior editions ever offered a satisfying departure from the modular phantasy fare that dominates truthful galore gaming tables. This latest variation borrows heavy from Free League’s existing expertise, successful particular, borrowing the halfway Year Zero ruleset that has served that publisher’s games truthful well. But adjacent with the caller attack to rules, the developers person maintained a absorption connected halfway themes and consciousness of play that has ever defined this game.

Set successful an alternate past of the twelvemonth 2000, players instrumentality connected the relation of soldiers oregon civilians trapped successful a country of Europe aft the Cold War (which ne'er ended) resulted successful a atomic speech betwixt America and the Soviet Union. In the aftermath, survivors look a bleak and tense scenery of exploration and endurance successful the acheronian days of World War III.

Following successful the footsteps of the fantabulous fantasy-themed Forbidden Lands RPG from Free League, Twilight: 2000 plays arsenic a sandbox role-playing experience. Players research a immense representation and gradually uncover a scenery of adventure, adjacent portion cautiously trying to stitchery capable ammo and supplies to enactment live for different day. When the large-scale representation exploration leads to inevitable conflict, the crippled turns to a satisfying tactical operation that leverages the nuanced but understandable rules strategy to large effect.

Twilight: 2000 manages that uncommon feat of being nostalgic, yet besides caller and exciting. For a gritty departure from modular role-playing experiences, it’s good worthy a look.  

Wanderhome
Publisher: Possum Creek Games

If you’ve had capable of unit and sidesplitting successful your crippled nights, possibly you’d bask a heartwarming escapade astir anthropomorphic animals gathering communities and helping each other? That’s the gully of the beauteous Wanderhome, a diceless and GM-less role-playing crippled each astir crafting a shared communicative successful a quiescent and pastoral setting.

Players instrumentality connected the relation of animals with chiseled goals and natures. You could telephone them classes, but these “playbooks” are acold much freeform than that, casting you arsenic the “exile,” “caretaker,” oregon “poet,” arsenic they determination done chiseled seasons of the year, weaving unneurotic a communicative that links the characters unneurotic and helps specify the surrounding community.

Without a GM guiding the action, the strategy uses tokens to fto you steer the action, gaining them for enriching the communicative successful a amusive mode and spending them to resoluteness thing successful the mode you’d similar to spot it addressed.  

Wanderhome isn’t without imaginable danger, and interpersonal struggle surely plays into the experience. Still, arsenic a rule, the crippled is overmuch much funny successful friends telling a structured communicative unneurotic alternatively than getting your bosom pumping with an extended combat scene. We could each usage a small quality and idyllic earthy settings successful our lives, and adorable talking animals person a beauteous cosmopolitan appeal. If that simplicity and absorption connected joyousness and quality sounds particularly bully close now, way down a transcript of Wanderhome close away.

What Next?
Publisher: Big Potato

We’re utilized to reasoning of role-playing games arsenic big, analyzable systems that enactment imaginative communicative play and breathtaking encounters, but role-playing experiences tin beryllium each sorts of things – including a enactment game. At least, that’s the explicit extremity of What Next?, a charming merchandise that ably walks the enactment betwixt RPG, committee game, and enactment experience, each rooted successful storytelling.

Players marque their mode done 1 of 3 replayable stories, each structured astir similar choose-your-own-adventure tales. Players statement and see the way guardant done the communicative arsenic they marque their mode done these (often silly) narratives. As you brushwood problems successful the story, you’re asked to undertake a multitude of challenges, which travel unneurotic done a assortment of unusual components included with the game. These are usually immoderate saltation of dexterity challenges, similar stacking pieces oregon flicking a woody disc to a circumstantial location. Players cheer each different on, enactment their mode done the escapade astatine hand, and yet laughter astir however it each resolves earlier starting implicit again with a antithetic (or the same) script to spot however it plays retired this time.

What Next? is the other of the epic and rules-heavy role-playing systems that qualify the hobby, and it’s a crippled that tin easy beryllium tackled piecemeal erstwhile you person escaped time. It’s adjacent a family-friendly game. And portion the included scenarios volition yet tally their course, there’s capable laughter and amusive astatine manus that you won’t caput replaying them.


We’ve got dozens of tabletop gaming recommendations to observe successful our Top of the Table hub, including everything from asymmetric strategy committee games to household crippled nighttime options. If you’re struggling to determine the close role-playing, board, card, oregon miniature crippled to bring to your adjacent crippled night, don’t hesitate to driblet maine a line, and I’ll bash my champion to connection immoderate individualized recommendations!

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