Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has long been hailed as the pinnacle of tabletop role-playing games, captivating the imaginations of countless players worldwide. However, as the realm of gaming continues to expand, so does the variety of options available to adventurers seeking new domains to explore.
In this post, we will delve into 24 games that offer captivating experiences similar to D&D, both in the tabletop and video game realms. These alternatives may not be as widely known, but they have garnered a dedicated following of their own, offering unique gameplay mechanics and immersive storytelling.
Whether you're a seasoned D&D player or a novice seeking your first role-playing adventure, these games will ignite your imagination and then some.
Tabletop games are a form of entertainment that typically involve players gathered around a table, engaging in strategic or social gameplay using physical components such as boards, cards, dice, miniatures, or tokens. Unlike video games, tabletop games are played offline, fostering face-to-face interaction and encouraging social bonding among players.
Tabletop games encompass a wide range of genres and styles, including board games, card games, role-playing games (RPGs), and miniature wargames. They can be competitive or cooperative and often require players to use their critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills to achieve their objectives.
Pathfinder, designed by former D&D writers, offers an intricate ruleset and a rich fantasy world filled with countless adventures to embark upon. It provides a similar gameplay experience to D&D but with its unique mechanics and a focus on character development.
The game emphasizes player agency, allowing them to shape the story through their choices and actions. With an expansive range of character options, a robust magic system, and a thriving community of players and creators, Pathfinder is a fantastic alternative for those seeking a deep, immersive tabletop role-playing experience.
Merging cyberpunk with fantasy elements, Shadowrun immerses players in a dystopian future where magic and technology collide. It presents a unique setting where megacorporations reign supreme, and characters are caught in a world of corporate espionage, criminal underworld dealings, and fantastical creatures.
Shadowrun‘s gameplay combines high-stakes heists, intense combat encounters, and intricate investigations, offering a balanced mix of action, strategy, and role-playing. With its distinct blend of genres and focus on gritty storytelling, Shadowrun is a captivating alternative for players looking for a darker, more technologically advanced world.
3. Call of Cthulhu
Based on H.P. Lovecraft's mythos, Call of Cthulhu transports players to a world of cosmic horror and investigation. This game challenges players to uncover otherworldly mysteries and confront the sanity-shattering truths beneath the surface.
Call of Cthulhu emphasizes investigative gameplay, with players piecing together clues, solving puzzles, and navigating treacherous encounters. The horror elements are prominent, as characters face unimaginable creatures and unearth ancient secrets. With its atmospheric storytelling and psychological tension, Call of Cthulhu provides a unique and chilling tabletop experience.
4. Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play
Set in the grim and dark world of Warhammer, this game delivers gritty and perilous adventures where survival is never guaranteed. Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play focuses on the lives of ordinary people in a world beset by chaos and danger.
The game emphasizes a low-fantasy setting, where characters struggle against oppressive forces, navigate political intrigues, and confront monstrous foes. With its emphasis on the darker aspects of fantasy, Warhammer Fantasy Role-play offers a distinctive role-playing experience that explores themes of survival, morality, and the struggle against overwhelming odds.
5. Savage Worlds
Known for its fast-paced gameplay and customizable rules, Savage Worlds accommodates a wide range of genres, from high fantasy to pulp adventures. It offers a streamlined ruleset that encourages cinematic action and dynamic storytelling.
Savage Worlds allows players to create diverse characters and engage in exciting combat encounters without getting bogged down in complex mechanics. The game's flexibility makes it easy to adapt to various settings and play styles, providing players with endless possibilities for their role-playing adventures.
6. Mouse Guard
Set in a world full of anthropomorphic mice, Mouse Guard invites players to protect their territories and undertake dangerous quests, emphasizing teamwork and resourcefulness. This game, inspired by the graphic novels of David Petersen, offers a charming and unique tabletop experience.
Players assume the roles of courageous mice, navigating a world filled with natural hazards and treacherous predators. Mouse Guard‘s mechanics focus on character traits and teamwork, rewarding players for collaborative problem-solving and strategic decision-making. With its beautiful artwork and captivating storytelling, Mouse Guard is a delightful alternative for those seeking a lighter yet engaging role-playing experience.
7. Star Wars Role-Playing Game
Transporting players to a galaxy far, far away, the Star Wars Role-Playing Game captures the epic storytelling and thrilling adventures of the iconic Star Wars universe. Published by Fantasy Flight Games, this tabletop RPG allows players to create their own characters and embark on quests across the Star Wars galaxy.
Whether choosing to be Jedi Knights, smugglers, bounty hunters, or members of the Rebellion, players can explore the vast Star Wars lore, engage in intense lightsaber battles, pilot iconic starships, and make crucial decisions that shape the fate of the galaxy. With its rich lore, iconic characters, and dynamic gameplay, the Star Wars Role-Playing Game provides a truly immersive and exciting experience for fans of the franchise.
Focused on collaborative storytelling, FATE empowers players to shape the narrative by incorporating aspects and fate points, ensuring a dynamic and engaging gameplay experience. FATE‘s mechanics prioritize character development and storytelling over complex rules, allowing players to fully embrace their characters' motivations, strengths, and weaknesses.
The game encourages improvisation and creative problem-solving, with the outcomes determined by narrative choices rather than rigid mechanics. FATE‘s flexibility and emphasis on player agency make it an excellent choice for those who prefer a more narrative-driven and character-centric tabletop experience.
Blending science fiction and fantasy, Numenera takes players to the Ninth World, a world filled with mysterious relics of advanced technology from fallen civilizations. Numenera‘s setting is both strange and awe-inspiring, allowing players to discover and unravel the secrets of the past while facing unique challenges and encountering bizarre creatures.
The game's ruleset prioritizes storytelling and exploration, with a focus on discovery and the unknown. Numenera's rich lore and imaginative world-building provide a captivating and thought-provoking tabletop experience.
10. Pokémon Tabletop Adventures
For those who grew up loving the world of Pokémon, Pokémon Tabletop Adventures offers a unique opportunity to become a Pokémon Trainer and embark on a journey to capture and train these beloved creatures. This tabletop RPG allows players to create their own Trainer characters, explore a vibrant world, and encounter a wide variety of Pokémon.
With its ruleset inspired by D&D, Pokémon Tabletop Adventures provides a nostalgic and immersive experience for fans of the franchise. Players can engage in thrilling battles, solve mysteries, and form deep bonds with their Pokémon partners, mirroring the core themes of friendship and adventure that have made Pokémon so popular.
11. Tales from the Loop
Inspired by the artwork of Simon Stålenhag, this game transports players to an alternate 1980s, where they unravel strange phenomena in their hometowns. Tales from the Loop blends nostalgic themes with futuristic technology, creating a captivating and evocative setting.
Players assume the roles of kids or teenagers, navigating a world where robots, strange artifacts, and unexplained occurrences are woven into everyday life. The game focuses on character-driven narratives, exploration, and mystery-solving, offering a unique and emotionally resonant tabletop experience.
The Generic Universal RolePlaying System (GURPS) allows players to create characters and adventures spanning any genre, offering unparalleled flexibility and customization. GURPS provides a comprehensive ruleset that can be adapted to various settings, whether it be high fantasy, science fiction, historical, or even a combination of genres.
The system's emphasis on realism and detail allows for intricate character creation and tactical combat. With its vast range of sourcebooks and supplements, GURPS provides players with endless possibilities and the freedom to craft their own unique role-playing experiences.
RPG (Role-Playing Game) video games are a genre of electronic games that allow players to assume the roles of characters within a virtual world. In these games, players embark on immersive adventures, making decisions, progressing through a story, and developing their characters' abilities and skills.
RPG video games typically feature-rich narratives, intricate gameplay mechanics, and character progression systems. Players often have the freedom to explore vast virtual landscapes, interact with non-player characters (NPCs), and undertake quests or missions to advance the main storyline or engage in side activities.
RPG video games have garnered a large and dedicated fanbase, with players spending countless hours delving into epic adventures, forging their own paths, and becoming immersed in the captivating narratives and gameplay experiences they offer.
Without further ado, here are 12 video games with an essence of D&D that you can enjoy:
13. Baldur's Gate Series
These iconic RPGs capture the essence of D&D, featuring immersive storytelling, memorable characters, and strategic combat. The Baldur's Gate series takes players on epic quests within the Forgotten Realms, a richly detailed fantasy world.
With its top-down perspective, engaging dialogue, and complex character interactions, these games emulate the tabletop experience, allowing players to make impactful choices and shape their characters' destinies.
14. The Witcher Series
Based on the novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher games offer a richly detailed world, morally complex choices, and epic quests. Players assume the role of Geralt of Rivia, a skilled monster hunter navigating a war-torn continent.
The Witcher series explores mature themes, intricate politics, and morally gray decision-making, providing a deep and immersive role-playing experience. The game's branching narratives and multiple endings ensure that player choices have far-reaching consequences, making each playthrough a unique journey.
15. Pillars of Eternity Series
Drawing inspiration from classic CRPGs, the Pillars of Eternity series offers deep lore, challenging combat, and impactful decision-making. These games transport players to the fantasy world of Eora, where they uncover ancient secrets and face formidable adversaries. Pillars of Eternity emphasizes a rich narrative, complex characters, and strategic combat mechanics reminiscent of tabletop games.
The games' attention to detail, engrossing world-building, and moral dilemmas make them compelling for fans of story-driven role-playing experiences.
16. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Set thousands of years before the events of the Star Wars films, Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) takes players on an epic journey through the Star Wars universe. Players assume the role of a Jedi or Sith as they navigate a galaxy in turmoil, making choices that determine the fate of the Jedi Order or the Sith Empire.
KOTOR is renowned for its engaging story, memorable characters, and player-driven narrative. The game's deep moral choices and twist-filled storyline make it a beloved classic for Star Wars and RPG fans alike.
17. Divinity: Original Sin 2
This critically acclaimed game provides players with a vast world to explore, a deep and engaging storyline, and unique cooperative multiplayer features. Divinity: Original Sin 2 allows players to create their characters and embark on a challenging journey filled with diverse quests, interactive environments, and tactical turn-based combat.
The game's cooperative multiplayer option allows friends to join forces, each controlling a unique character, and work together to overcome challenges and uncover the secrets of the world.
Set in a world where evil has triumphed, Tyranny places players in the role of a powerful Fatebinder, making difficult choices that shape the fate of nations. This game explores the consequences of moral ambiguity as players navigate a world under the control of an oppressive overlord.
Tyranny‘s branching storyline, compelling writing, and intricate reputation system provide players with a morally complex and thought-provoking role-playing experience.
19. Dragon Age Series
BioWare's Dragon Age series offers rich world-building, complex characters, and a captivating narrative that reacts to players' choices. Set in the land of Thedas, these games immerse players in a dark fantasy world filled with political intrigue, epic battles, and personal quests.
The Dragon Age series strongly emphasizes character relationships, allowing players to form deep connections with their companions and shape the world through their actions. Dragon Age provides a memorable role-playing experience with its immersive storytelling and meaningful choices.
20. Kingdom Come: Deliverance
This realistic medieval RPG offers a historically accurate setting, immersive gameplay, and a deep focus on role-playing. Kingdom Come: Deliverance places players in the shoes of a commoner thrust into a war-torn and politically volatile medieval Bohemia.
The game features realistic combat, complex quests, and an open-world environment encouraging exploration and immersion. With its attention to detail and emphasis on historical accuracy, Kingdom Come: Deliverance provides a unique and challenging role-playing experience for those seeking a realistic medieval setting.
21. Pokémon Series
No list of RPGs would be complete without mentioning the beloved Pokémon series. These iconic games allow players to become Pokémon Trainers, capturing, training, and battling a wide variety of creatures. With each new installment, the Pokémon series introduces new regions, Pokémon species, and captivating stories to explore.
Whether playing the classic titles or the more recent entries like Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, players can immerse themselves in a world teeming with adventure, friendship, and the joy of discovery. The Pokémon series offers a unique and accessible RPG experience for players of all ages.
22. Legend of Grimrock Series
Inspired by classic dungeon crawlers, the Legend of Grimrock series challenges players to overcome devious puzzles and deadly creatures from the first-person perspective. These games offer a modern take on the grid-based dungeon exploration genre, featuring atmospheric environments, strategic combat, and mind-bending puzzles.
The Legend of Grimrock series pays homage to the classic RPGs of the past while incorporating modern mechanics and visuals, providing an engaging and nostalgic role-playing experience.
23. Pathfinder: Kingmaker
Based on the Pathfinder tabletop game, Kingmaker combines kingdom-building mechanics with intricate quests and strategic combat. Players assume the role of a brave adventurers tasked with exploring the Stolen Lands and establishing their own kingdom. Pathfinder: Kingmaker offers a vast and dynamic world where choices made by the player shape the development of their kingdom and determine the outcome of the story.
With its deep customization options, rich lore, and strategic gameplay, Pathfinder: Kingmaker provides a satisfying role-playing experience.
24. Disco Elysium
This unconventional RPG places players in the role of a detective, exploring a unique setting and confronting inner demons through complex dialogues and choices. Disco Elysium focuses on character development and narrative-driven gameplay as players unravel a murder mystery while grappling with their own psychological struggles.
The game's branching paths, immersive storytelling, and richly detailed world make it a captivating alternative for those seeking a thought-provoking and reflective role-playing experience.
While Dungeons & Dragons remains a beloved classic in the realm of role-playing games, exploring lesser-known alternatives can open doors to new and captivating experiences. The games mentioned here, whether tabletop or video games, provide diverse options for adventurers seeking immersive storytelling, engaging gameplay mechanics, and the opportunity to forge their own path.
From tabletop RPGs like Pathfinder and Shadowrun to video game epics like Baldur's Gate and The Witcher series, these games offer intricate worlds, memorable characters, and the chance to embark on unforgettable adventures. So, gather your friends, prepare your character sheets, or dive into the digital realms—the alternatives to D&D await, ready to ignite your imagination and transport you to fantastical realms of role-playing bliss.
Ananyaa Bhowmik is a neurodivergent and queer pop-culture journalist with the Wealth of Geeks. She has previously worked with brands like Sterling Holidays, Myntra, Bajaj, and the Loud Interactive. She is an independent scholar, cat parent, and performance poet. Her areas of research and interest focus on and around digital marketing, Canadian indigenous history, queerness in media, and pop-culture and fandom studies.