I found this list and it got me to thinking a) how much do I agree and b) how many have I tried...
So I'm going to do an editorial on it and have it up here for comment. For me they do not imply rank I'd certainly position them differently if that was the case. Just take them as must plays in the category
100 Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games You Should Play Before You Die
Pen and paper roleplaying games are now a small-ish hobby. But if you’re a fan of this type of recreation, there are a few pen and paper roleplaying games which might be considered essential. Here’s escribió's check off the ones you’ve played, then give the rest a try.
Fantasy Roleplaying Games
All pen and paper roleplaying games are “fantasy roleplaying games”, but this particular subcategory refers to “fantasy” in terms of the more traditional sense of “sword & sorcery” type fantasy.
1. Dungeons & Dragons – The original game that started the pen and paper roleplaying hobby. Play any and every version of it that you can. Dungeons and Dragons is fun.
<<edit; This is the big one although I think now I'd point ppl to Labyrinth Lord or Swords and Wizardry as opposed to any version of the game with the D&D logo on the box>> [Check]
2. Runequest – My favorite edition was the 2nd edition, but a lot of people really love Runequest 3. Mongoose’s latest version of Runequest is the least compelling edition.
<<edit; Agree here and I'll mention that the 'Goose RQII is a very fine game indeed and well worth a look. If you want the game which is essentially Runequest 2nd ed then I recommend Openquest and its free so go get it >> [Check]
3. Tunnels & Trolls – A rules system that is so brilliantly narrativist that a lot of people still don’t get it. And it’s tons of fun. [Check]
4. Pendragon – One of the most detailed settings and most appropriate rules sets ever made. Greg Stafford is best known for “discovering” Glorantha, but Pendragon is his best game. (It’s set in the days of King Arthur.) [Check]
<< edit: A lot of gaming groups come to this game as they would to a FRPG. Its not really an FRPG in the sense D&D or RQ is. Its a mythic rpg. Dont look at the players as all playing fighters; they are not. They will all play Lords. Yes nobles. A really fun part of the game is traveling around Salisbury wooing a wife and her farther. Really. Thats not saying thats the only fun or even a jest. It is actually a lot of fun. But so are the battles the quests the politics the magic. One of the biggest things that is hard to get used to is the healing rate. Get past that and your in for one hell of a good campaign>>
5. Iron Heroes – This is ever-so-loosely based on the d20 system, but it’s so much cooler. It’s an “alternative” Players Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 with an emphasis on high-octane action in a low-magic setting. Well worth a try. [Check - much to my chagrin]
<< edit: Really STRONGLY disagree with this entry and in its place I'd recommend the really fun Dragon Warriors [Check]or if you want to keep the Sword adn Sorcery vibe look up and equally compelling Barbarians of Lemuria or Ron Edwards Sorcerer supplement "Sorcerer & Sword" [Check] >>
6. Amber Diceless – This was the original diceless roleplaying game, and when people talk about “diceless”, they’re usually talking about Amber Diceless. [Check]
7. Middle Earth Roleplaying – ICE published a game called Rolemaster back in the day, but the simplified version that was set in Tolkien’s fantasy universe was a better game in almost every way. This is still the best RPG set in Middle-Earth. [Check]
8. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – This one is set in the same universe as the Warhammer miniatures game, which is a rich setting. The rules are excellent, and the game has an unusually large number of scenarios available. [Check]
9. Donjon – This is the best indie roleplaying game I’ve ever played. Donjon a traditional dungeon-crawling setting with a terrific set of rules that give the players a LOT more control over the setting and adventure than they could ever have in any other game.
<<OK this one I've not done so I'll be hunting it down for a look>>
10. Empire of the Petal Throne – A pulp fantasy setting that is one of the most original and earliest fantasy settings in rpg history. Everyone should experience Tekumel at least once before they die. [Check]
<<this is unfortunately plagued with two attributes which will always make it a niche game a) its got jagon pouring from every page - part of its flavor and appeal but its some what of a hurdle to getting into the game very much like "Jorune" [Check] and b) ETPT magic is not very magical feeling and very much not my taste - its all like D&D's x number of uses per day/week type. YMMV>>
11. Heroquest – This is the 2nd roleplaying game set in Glorantha (after Runequest). Heroquest focuses on high-magic, high-power action on a world-changing scale, as contrasted with the low-magic, gritty action of Runequest. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worth a try, especially if you like the Glorantha setting. [Check]
<< I really want to like this game more than I actually do. Its good it just some what unsatisfying on some level I cant put my finger on. Do give it a go. Its a great idea and good. Its surprisingly a rules lite but system heavy game>>
12. Stormbringer – This is sorta-Runequest set in the Young Kingdoms of Michael Moorcock’s Elric novels. It’s a damn cool system, and the rules feature remarkably subtle changes that radically change the flavor of play. (I’m talking about the Chaosium version of the game, btw, not the new Mongoose pretender.) [Check]
13. The Fantasy Trip - A prototype of GURPS, but with a really cool system that’s still relevant and playable. [Check]
<<Edit: OK. this is an ok game and that's about the limit of it. >>
14. Dragonquest - Pure kitschy retro RPG fun. It’s a shame this game went out of print, because it was fun and cool. I loved the artwork and design. [Check]
<<Edit: this game had a big following in Melbourne and its still thought of fondly. I like it the game had its own unique flavor. The magic especially. It had a bias towards miniatures which we largely ignored.>>
Horror Roleplaying Games
15. Call of Cthulhu – This is the original horror roleplaying game, and it’s still the best. There are 20+ years of supplement and scenarios available for Call of Cthulhu. [Check]
<< Edit: I prefer my COC parsed by Trail of Cthulhu. I just have more fun with it then straight CoC now but both are outstandingly good.>>
16. Unknown Armies - From Atlas Games, a great setting and super mechanics. As elegant a set of horror rpg rules as I’ve seen. [Check]
<< Edit: Pulp Fiction meets Hellraiser is the best tag line for this game EVER. A great game. I'm pressed to recommend this and not also recommend Over the Edge. A game on Al Amarja is, I think more of a RPG playing milestone then a trip through the occult underground and a Mak Attax bugger. YMMV. So I subbed in OTE down low and took out Chill see below which is very pedestrian in everything it does.> >>
17. Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium - I know I said that Call of Cthulhu is still the best horror roleplaying game available, but after reading the rules for Rafael Chandler’s brilliant self-published game, I’m having second thoughts.
<<edit: One I'm yet to try. I'm not sure its my type of horror so instead I'd sub in Dread, not to be confused with Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium above. Dread is the jenga tower game and its really really good for fostering the tension of horror [Check].>>
18. All Flesh Must Be Eaten – I don’t know why or how, but the dead…they walk among us. And they’re hungry! [Check]
19. Chill – When Call of Cthulhu first came out, a company called Pacesetter Games published a horror roleplaying game with more traditional foes like vampires and werewolves. That game was Chill, and it’s apparently the RPG that wouldn’t die, because it’s still available. (In a newer edition, of course.) [Check]
<< Edit: Chill is an OK game but on a list of RPG's you want to have played before you die .... If you never played Chill you havnt missed anything - honestly. However if you don't get to experience the greatness which is Over the Edge [Check] well that would be nigh criminal.>>
20. Delta Green – It’s unfair to list this here, as it’s not really a standalone game. Delta Green is the most detailed and best-written Call of Cthulhu alternate setting. Imagine The X-Files combined with Lovecraft, and throw in a dash of Tarantino, and you get an idea of what Delta Green is like. [Check]
<<For me Delta Green ripped off Conspiracy-X. Ok OK I know it isnt but I prefer ConX over DG>>
21. Witchcraft - The setting is similar to The Dresden Files. It’s a well-written rulebook with tons of scenario ideas and seeds, and the Unisystem rocks. Witchcraft is available as a free download. [Check]
<<Edit: For me this game is just Meh' nice ideas great art not much game. The Apocalypse game is better if very gonzo. That said I'd still sub in the Dresden Files RPG [Check]at this slot.>>
22. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The execution of a licensed roleplaying game makes or breaks the game. The execution on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer game couldn’t have been done any better. It’s a great game, and the authors obviously loved the show as much as I did. [Check]
<<Edit: honestly nothing about Buffy makes it belong in the Horror category IMHO. I was never spooked by a single episode. Its more a comedy. YMMV. HOWEVER - the cinematic Unisystem is pure gold. For a more horror themed option you really must play "Kult" [Check] which is even more Pulp Fiction meets Hellraiser then UA. Has to be on the must plays>>
23. Kill Puppies for Satan – The actual game is even more bizarre than the title would lead you to believe. It’s an essential inclusion on any list of “shock” roleplaying games. Pathos makes for great roleplaying sessions. [Check]
<< Edit: KPFS is just too Indie for its own good IMHO. YMMV. So I'm subing in Dead of Night 2 [Check] here which is such a good game you will kick yourself for not knowing about it>>
24. Vampire the Masquerade - Did you ever want to play an ancient vampire involved in political power struggles? Did you ever want to spend hours being pensive and angry at your fate? Here’s your chance. [Check]
<< Edit: Cliched and formulaic now, this is still - even in the Requiem [Check] edition - a great game with a lot to recommend it. For drama and politics you cant beat this game. Its less about "getting your kill on" and much more about how the other half lives - where the other half are the blood suckers.>>
<<Edit: Honorable mention to;- Dark Conspiracy which I have a real soft spot for [Check]>>
Superhero Roleplaying Games
25. Villains and Vigilantes - There were a couple of superhero roleplaying games before this, but Villains and Vigilantes was the first fleshed-out superhero roleplaying game. If you want to see where the whole superhero roleplaying game concept began, then this is the game to start with. [Check]
<< Edit: Lots to love here. Its so beautifully old school too. Get this game play it and enjoy it. Lots of modules to support it if you cant be bothers to make your own adventures. Solid if Quirky in that old school way.>>
26. Champions - If Villains and Vigilantes invented the superhero RPG, then Champions showed the world what a superhero roleplaying game could become. The game has been around forever, and the MMORPG version should blow City of Heroes out of the sky. You should give the pen and paper version a try.
<< Edit: I dislike this game for supers - it once was an option ...now ... go there if you dig complexity. a far better option for a really great supers game is the Smallville rpg. [Check] Its gold and really a great option for a good supers game featuring drama and personal conflict.
Ohh and BTW the Champions MMORPG was a massive flop and the City of Heroes franchise seem to be going from strength to strength. If you dig MMO"s it looks like Sony's DCU game is also good. Which is a nice segue to ...>>
27. Mutants & Masterminds - They asked Steve Kenson to create a d20 OGL based superhero roleplaying game. He did, and he simultaneously reinvented superhero roleplaying games. He did this by eliminating hit points and replacing them with damage saving throws. Mutants & Masterminds combines the flexibility of Champions with the playability of a modern RPG. This is my current superhero RPG game of choice, but be warned: it’s really Silver Age inspired. [Check]
28. DC Heroes - This is an out of print roleplaying game that still has a huge following online. The rules system is that good. If you can’t find a used copy of the original game, look for Blood of Heroes, which uses the same mechanics, but without the DC universe setting. (The Watchmen supplements for DC Heroes were two of the most well-done superhero adventures I’ve ever played in.)
29. Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game – A diceless superhero roleplaying game with remarkable production values. The supplements were high-quality too. It’s a shame the game didn’t last, but it’s still worth playing at least once, just to see what it’s like. The rules are more suitable for smaller numbers of players though. [Check]
<<Edit: A very light rpg with a strange bidding mechanic with lots of little rules around the bidding. Its not a bad game and it deserves more attention then it got. Its one flaw is its rules focus more on the smack down then the rest of the rpging but hey that is and easy fix>>
30. Marvel Heroes – In 1984, roleplaying games were still a new hobby. TSR published an innovative and clever RPG set in the Marvel Universe, and the game still has a lot of devoted followers. You can probably find the rules summarized online if you look hard enough. [Check]
<< Edit: a really overlooked gem of a game system and game option for Supers. I cant recommend this game highly enough. You can get this for free out on the web so go grab it up while you can and launch a game on your group. Btw all the modules are massively out of date re Marvel continuity and that will limit the use you can get from them>>
31. DC Universe Roleplaying Game – This one is notable for bringing the d6 system (which powered the original Star Wars roleplaying game) into the superhero universe. It’s still a great rule system, but it’s sadly out of print. d6 Powers is probably pretty similar. [Check]
<<EDIT clearly not played by the author of the original list. The d6 rules used are the Legend - formerly D6 Double Prime - i.e. depending on your ability score, you are given a number of 6-sided dice to roll. Each die can achieve a success "3-6" or failure "1-2". You are also given a difficulty number from 1 to 10. After rolling, if you accumulate enough successes to hit or rise above the difficulty number, you succeed. One of the 6-siders is WILD and as a result, it is theoretically "open ended" and can be rerolled each time it rolls a 6. If it rolls a 1 on its initial roll, the Wild Die takes away a success. On rerolls, the wild die succeeds on 2-5 and fails normally on 1. Ohh and its was not a solid game; you needed all the supplements for it to be average and even then its not that great. So I'll sub in "Icons" [Check] here which is much more solid >>
32. Wild Talents – A sequel to the WWII superhero RPG, Godlike, from publisher Arc Dream. Wild Talents uses a system called the “One Roll Engine”. It’s fun, and a different approach to superhero rules. [Check]
33. Capes – An indie superhero roleplaying game that is played with no gamemaster. I love games which give a lot of responsibility to the player, and a game with no gamemaster is the quintessential example of this kind of game. [Check]
<<Edit: I'm not sold on capes; I'm not sure I like the way it works in play. Therefore I will recommend Mutant City Blues [Check] in this slot.>>
34. With Great Power… – A unique indie superhero game that uses playing cards instead of dice and encourages players to focus on what benefits the story rather than their characters. [Check]
Old West Roleplaying Games <<Edit: I think this category is overstocked and should probably be only five games Aces & Eights, Deadlands, Dust Devils, Dogs in the Vineyard, Wild West Cinema - Shady Gulch is more of a town supplement which you could use in any of these with the exception of DitV and maybe Dust Devils>>
35. Aces & Eights: Shattered Frontier – This is one of the most beautiful roleplaying games I’ve ever touched. The book is leather-bound and full of beautiful full-color artwork. The rules are detailed and unique, and multiple “minigames” add flavor and options. The game is set in an alternate history designed to maximize roleplaying possibilities. [Check]
36. Deadlands – If you play no other game set in the old West, you must play Deadlands at least once in your life. This is the original genre-mixing RPG, mixing horror with the wild West in an irresistibly detailed and justifiably popular setting. [Check]
37. Dust Devils – A “story-based” old West roleplaying game, Dust Devils uses poker mechanics to resolve in-game actions. Each character struggles with an “inner demon”. [Check]
38. Boot Hill – This was the original old West roleplaying game from TSR, and it’s actually one of the earliest roleplaying games published after Dungeons & Dragons. If you like to kick it old school and get nostalgic, give this one a shot. [Check]
39. Dogs in the Vineyard – This isn’t exactly set in the old West, but it’s close enough to include here. Dogs in the Vineyard is another indie RPG that focuses a lot on character and story, mechanics-wise. You play God’s watchdogs in an old West that never really existed, and it’s your job to go into a town and solve its problems. You decide which sinners get mercy and which are judged. [Check]
40. Burros and Bandidos - If you want to play in the old West but NOT in the old West, you could play this game set in Mexico between 1840 and 1920.
<<Edit: I'll sub in Wild West Cinema [Check]by the inventive Dave Bezio also of X-Plorers Fame as a better option>>
41. Coyote Trail – A cool and easy-to-learn roleplaying game set in the old West from the incomparably cool Politically Incorrect Games. [Check]
42. The Fifth Wheel – A combination of six-guns and fantasy published by Better Mousetrap Games.
43. Werewolf Wild West – An old West roleplaying game with werewolves, from the same people who published Vampire the Masquerade. [Check]
<< Defiantly not a game you need to play before you die. Instead try Shady Gulch Revisited: Roleplaying in the Old West [Check]. A really great rpg in a really great western rpg town.
44. Gunslingers & Gamblers – A relatively new indie old West RPG available as a pdf. This is a “rules-light” game with a cinematic feel.
Comedy Roleplaying Games <<Edit: I think this category is over stocked and should probably be only the games Toon, Paranoia, Teenagers from Outer Space, Ghostbusters, >>
45. Toon – A cartoon themed roleplaying game where you can play Bugs Bunny type characters. Your character never gets killed, just knocked down. [Check]
46. Hackmaster - A hugely popular parody of old-school Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
47. Paranoia – A science fiction comedy roleplaying game where player characters in a dystopian future work for an insane computer. [Check]
48. Ghostbusters – Based on the film franchise, the Ghostbusters system was the precursor to the d6 system later used in the excellent Star Wars roleplaying game from West End. It was as fun as it sounds. [Check]
49. TWERPS – Billed as the “world’s easiest roleplaying game”. Your character only has one attribute, Strength. Great fun. [Check]
<< Meh not really in and of it self very funny IMHO. I'll sub in Teenagers from outer space [Check]>>
50. Men in Black - Another d6 game from West End, based on the movie of the same name. The game doesn’t have a real following anymore, but it’s still good for a one-shot if you can find a used copy of the game somewhere cheap.
51. Kobolds Ate My Baby - A beer and pretzels RPG that parodies other fantasy roleplaying games, especially Dungeons & Dragons.
52. Munchkin – The roleplaying game version of the card game that parodies the entire roleplaying game hobby, but especially Dungeons and Dragons.
53. Tales from the Floating Vagabond - A science fiction spoof roleplaying game where every adventure begins in an outer space tavern called “The Floating Vagabond”.
54. Macho Women with Guns – A parody of action movies, roleplaying games, and science fiction.
Pulp Roleplaying Games
Pulp roleplaying games are what I consider recreations of the old pulp fiction magazines of the 1930’s in roleplaying format, but I’ve also included a couple of games which use a “pulpy” modern day setting for their background:
55. Two Fisted Tales – A fast and easy pulp roleplaying game that’s easy to learn and easy to GM. [Check]
56. Hollow Earth Expedition – Nominated for 4 Ennie awards, including Best Writing and Best Game. Stunning cover art. [Check]
57. Spirit of the Century – A FUDGE based roleplaying game in the pulp genre with a backstory that’s perfect for getting heroes together for pulp adventures. [Check]
<<Edit: Not some much FUDGE as FATE>>
58. Adventure! – White Wolf’s entry into the pulp genre, the Storytelling system works remarkably well for pulp action. [Check]
59. Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes – This one is loosely based on the Tunnels and Trolls system, but it includes a skills mechanic. [Check]
60. Daredevils – From the makers of Villains and Vigilantes, Fantasy Games Unlimited. The game has actually nothing to do with V&V though, mechanically. FGU published several adventures for the game. [Check]
<<EDIT: the adventures are really good pulp fair>>
61. Justice Inc. – This was the Hero system’s original pulp fiction game. It’s been replaced and made obsolete by Pulp Hero, but it’s historically important.
<<Edit: Not a must play >>
62. The Savage World of Solomon Kane - This is a Savage Worlds setting, and it’s well done. Most people think of pulp fiction in terms of Doc Savage and The Shadow, but Solomon Kane is cooler than both, and just as “pulp”.
63. Gangbusters – TSR’s early attempt at 1920’s and 1930’s roleplaying game focuses on fighting crime. If you want to play an RPG version of The Untouchables, this would be a good system for that.
64. Godlike – I’m stretching the definition of pulp to include World War II here, with superheroes, but the game still “feels” pulpish. It’s an excellent game with a unique new mechanic called the “One Roll Engine”.
<<Edit: Humm I'd sub in Slipstream, MARS or Daring Tales of Adventure for Savage worlds as better options then Godlike for Pulp goodness. If I had to pick just one DToA wins>>.
65. Pulp Hero – One of the most voluminous reference works I’ve ever seen in an RPG. The chronology of the time period alone makes this game worthy of a spot in your collection.
Science Fiction Roleplaying Games
66. Traveller – Traveller is to science fiction roleplaying games what Dungeons and Dragsons is to fantasy roleplaying games, and what Call of Cthulhu is to horror games. The setting is just as compelling now as it was in the 1980’s when it first came along.
<<Edit: the thing is the setting was not really there in the beginings. It really got there later and as actively promoted by the MegaTraveller version of the game. Traveller can be a damn fine game with out the Imperium as its setting and just as a generic space rpg it does a great job>>
67. Star Wars d6 – Accept no other Star Wars game. This is the one, true Star Wars roleplaying game. The cinematic nature of the d6 system captures the feel of the movies SO much better than the newer d20 version.
68. Serenity – The setting is the real kicker for this one. Firefly fans are nearly fanatical, and here’s your chance to play around in that universe.
<< This is actually a very good game which improves over the course of its supplements and I'd recommend it. I'd particularly recommend it if you're out to do a Firefly rpg i.e. thats my round about way of saying itd a good system adn setting for generic sci-fi and 'Verse only games >>
69. Warhammer 40000 RPG's – More than just a science fiction game, Warhammer 40000 Dark Heresy is set in the far-flung future of the same universe of Warhammer Roleplay. So you can fight orcs in space.
<<Edit: of the set I think Rogue Trader is the best of the bunch for a more open campaign. Dark Heresy is good for more human level procedural drama. >>
70. Battlestar Galactica – Your chance to become part of the rag-tag fleet.
<< Editi: Another odd option for an RPG - its not much more then a framework to do games set in the rag tag fleet. It doesn't give ways to make the game more "BSG" then using any other rule set to doing the same game. The Smalville rpg without powers (maybe some for the cylons???) would do this game more justice. So for that reason I'll sub in Eclipse Phase at this spot. Equally you should have Transhuman Space use together for added goodness>>
71. Babylon 5 – The tv show was popular and well conceived. The roleplaying game shouldn’t disappoint.
<<Edit: But the rpg really did disappoint. It was a very oh-hum implementation of the OGL. However the source material and season books are gold if you are a fan of the show. So for that reason I'll sub in "Diaspora" as a game with a hard sci-fi feel and a good system. Or if FATE is too "out there" for your tastes then Alternity+StarDrive for which all the setting material is very good get the spot>>
72. Starship Troopers – If you want military action in space, then give Starship Troopers a try. If you’re looking for anything more elaborate, you probably won’t find it here though.
<<Edit: This game is not a pinch on how 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars handles Sci-Fi Military games. Go get 3:16>>
73. Ringworld – Long out of print and hard to find, but worth it when you find it. Ringworld is a Chaosium Basic Roleplaying game, and the setting is derived from the novels of the same name.
<<Edit: Really NOT that great of a great game. There is nothing here not done much better by some other sci-fi game. The ring world info is nothing you cant get from other sources. Nothing to see here moving along. I'll substitute Blue Planet for its sandbox completeness and good sci-fi feel as a must play>>
74. Shadowrun – Did someone say cyberpunk?
<< Edit: While I think Shadowrun 4th ed actually is a very playable and fun game I'd have to point people to the classic Cyberpunk 2020 first, then to Shadowrun (SR is a genre blend of fantasy races and magic with cyberpunkness)>>
75. Doctor Who – The game came out long before the latest 2 or 3 Doctors, but you can update the setting with little difficulty.
<<Edit: I'm going to tweek this into a recommendation for Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space which is a great game and a god way to get non roleplayers playing>>.
76. Prime Directive – Star Trek roleplaying games are easy enough to find, but this variation is different enough from the original setting to have a few surprises while being familiar enough to reduce the learning curve.
<< I'm sorry but again I have to differ to another property - Namely the Icon versions of trek with TOS being my personal pick and Next Gen being not to far behind. The Decipher versions are also good and the FASA game has wonderful adventures even though the combat system in it was woefully complex and boardgame driven. >>
77. 2300 AD – This was originally called Traveller 2300, but people got really confused, because it had nothing to do with the Traveller universe.
<<Edit: this is really one of my favorite RPG's of all time. Having said that it really is just Traveller meets Starship Trooper via Twilight 2000. This game works best as a survivor horror game. If you play it as straight mil-sci-fi then I'd pick up Carnage Amongst the Stars as a better vehicle for that type of play.
As Ive already nominated "CAtS" I'm going to Substitute the wonderful Stars Without Number and X-Plorers as good simple games for great sci-fi (on the nostalgia kick Star Frontiers also gets a nod) in this slot>>
78. Transhuman Space – I don’t consider most GURPS games as standalone games, but the setting for this scifi game is so elaborate and well-thought-out that it warrants inclusion here. It’s the future, and everyone wants to become “transhuman”. What does that imply?
<<Edit: As I have said this is great and a worthwhile game. I prefer Eclipse Phase. YMMV. As I placed these higher in the order, I'm going to use this spot to add the awesome Star-blade Battalion Mekton Zeta combo. The makings of a truly great Mecha sci-fi game. If you cant get that then go to Cthulhutech - the name really lets this game down IMHO. Its a great milieu and worth a game and has a AppleSeed, Guyver, Evangelion feel without taking the Anime/Mecha thing too far.
Generic Roleplaying Games << Edit: I don't think system alone makes a game so I'm going to ignore this whole category other then saying yes they exist and yes they are useful>>.
GURPS started a trend in roleplaying games to come up with one set of rules followed my multiple settings sourcebooks. Here are some of the most notable generic roleplaying game systems:
79. GURPS – A lot of people are convinced that GURPS is the ultimate roleplaying system, and I’m not convinced they’re wrong. There are plenty of reasons to play other games, but I can see how a game system as robust as GURPS could be considered the last roleplaying game you’ll ever need.
80. Basic Roleplaying – Chaosium finally published the Basic Roleplaying system as a standalone game, and what do you know? It’s terrific. The notes for how to adapt the system to various campaigns and genres are nothing short of inspired. Most people could do the work of converting Runequest or Call of Cthulhu to another genre, but this book makes it even easier.
81. FUDGE -As generic roleplaying game systems go, I like FUDGE even better than GURPS. The major difference is that the volume of material for GURPS is so much larger than for FUDGE. But FUDGE is so elegantly simple that translating any of the GURPS sourcebooks shouldn’t take much time at all.
82. Savage Worlds – Fast, furious and fun. This is a generic game system that delivers exactly what it promises. I love the way Savage Worlds makes use of the different dice.
83. Active Exploits – A newer diceless generic roleplaying game system. I’m always willing to try something new and different, and any kind of advance in “diceless” roleplaying is worth a look.
84. Fuzion – A hybrid system that combines the Interlock System with the Hero System and comes out with something new in flavor. Notable for being a good ruleset for anime games.
85. Hero System – This is the generic version of the Champions rules, and they’re completely modular. Like GURPS, Champions allows you to set up exactly the kind of character you want to play. You just need to understand the nuts and bolts of the system first, and they’re not as hard as you think.
86. True20 – Based on the modifications and tweaks that Steve Kenson made to the rules with the OGL, True20 can best be described as the d20 system boiled down to its essence. It’s stripped down, lean, and well-suited for any genre you like.
87. Risus – This almost landed in the comedy games section, but a lot of people use Risus for serious gaming too. It’s a stripped down version of the d6 system, and it’s available for free. The Risus Companion is well worth the money though, so consider picking it up too.
88. d6 -My favorite generic system is the d6 system, which originated with Ghostbusters, matured with Star Wars, and eventually became a popular generic roleplaying game in its own right. Most of the books are available as pdf’s.
Post Apocalyptic Roleplaying Games
89. The Morrow Project -American industrialists predict a nuclear war and cryogenically freeze volunteers to rebuild after the apocalypse. You’re a volunteer for the Morrow Project, and you just woke up to a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Time to rebuild the world.
90. Aftermath – A Fantasy Games Unlimited game set after the apocalypse. From the same people who published Villains and Vigilantes.
91. Twilight 2000 – A realistic post apocalyptic adventure set after a limited nuclear exchange that left the world in disarray. You play soldiers stranded in Europe looking for a way to make it back home.
92. Deadlands: Hell on Earth – Advance the classic weird west setting of Deadlands a couple hundred years, and you wind up with a weird, wonderful, Mad Max type setting that’s way cooler than you could possibly imagine.
93. Low Life: Rise of the Lowly – A Savage Worlds game that’s not anything like any other post-apocalyptic game you’ve ever played. The apocalypse has come and gone, and the lowly cockroaches and other lower forms of life have evolved. You’re one of them. Insanely different.
<<Edit: I'm going to substitute Lesser Shades of Evil here as a better must play option then Low life. Low life makes for a fun read as does Hol although I question playability.>>
94. Gamma World – The mechanics are similar to Dungeons & Dragons, but the game itself is set 500 years in the future, after a nuclear war. You fight mutants instead of orcs.
<<See also Mutant Future for a OSR version of the same>>
95. Rifts – Not really a post-apocalyptic game in the usual sense, <snip> Rifts is the ultimate Palladium RPG, and it spans multiple genres and power-levels.
Contemporary Roleplaying Games
Contemporary roleplaying games are set during the current time period, but they’re not necessarily limited to the “real world”. These games usually have more in common with the “reality” of action movies.
96. James Bond 007 – One of the earliest roleplaying games that played significantly differently from Dungeons and Dragons. More movie-based than book-based.
97. Spycraft – Probably the most popular spy/espionage roleplaying game in existence.
98. Conspiracy X – An Eden Studios game set in modern America, but one with UFO’s and conspiracies galore. Almost qualifies as horror and/or scifi, but since it’s set in the 21st century as we know it, I’ve included it here.
99. d20 Modern – Dungeons and Dragons set in modern-day America.
<<Edit: You dont need to rush out and play this game its D&D in the modern day - not that thats not good the games really solid - its just not high on my list of must plays>>
100. Feng Shui – Action movie and Hong Kong cinema inspired, with a really simple rules system that rewards flashy stunts.
<< Edit: The hidden secret in this game is great and worth the entry fee. This is sort of - now that I think about it - a proto-FATE game, and now running this with FATE would be a solid option>>
I have to also add a few other must plays from my own experiance
The Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor - You really do have to tack this one down its great
Dont rest your head
Barbarians of Lemuria
I'm sure there is more and I'm likely to come back and edit this to put a few more clearly up as games you really want to get to try