Following in Ken Hite’s footsteps, my list of what I consider the ‘best’ RPGs, currently.

R. Sean Borgstrom, Nobilis, 2nd Ed.
Greg Stolze and John Tynes, Unknown Armies, 2nd Ed.
Nigh incontrovertible:
Greg Costikyan, Star Wars RPG, 1st Ed.
Open to intelligent disputation:
Amber DRPG
Sandy Petersen and Lynn Willis, Ghostbusters
Jonathan Tweet, Over the Edge
Mark C. McKinnon, BESM
Steffan O’Sullivan, FUDGE, Expanded Ed.
Marc Miller, Traveller
Educate me through experience
Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein*Hagen, Ars Magica
Ron Edwards, Sorcerer
Sandy Petersen, Call of Cthulhu
Robin Laws, Feng Shui
Mike Pondsmith, Castle Falkenstein
Robin Laws and Greg Stafford, HeroQuest


  1. Since I don’t want to be that succinct… ever, here’s a bit more info:
    Nobilis, 2nd Ed. — just too beautiful for words… and I’m talking about the words, not the book.
    Unknown Armies, 2nd Ed. — A flexible, elegant game mechanic that (most importantly, to me) can be easily taken into other genres besides the intended.
    Star Wars RPG, 1st Ed. — the d6 system was simply was of the cinematic games ever designed. Period.
    Amber DRPG — Inspiring, yet deeply flawed.
    Ghostbusters — See my d6 comment above.
    Over the Edge — I would dearly like to replace the copy of this that I lost.
    BESM — Were it not for the counterintuitive dice mechanic, this would be higher.
    Traveller — say what you will, the 2d6 system was elegant.
    Ars Magica — I think this would be a cool game to play in… I wouldn’t want to run it.
    Sorcerer — I’d just like to get into a con game of this.
    Call of Cthulhu — Again… me play please.
    Feng Shui — How could I not want to do more with this?
    Castle Falkenstein — very cool, but unfortunately unplayed anywhere near me.
    HeroQuest — I hear many good things about this.

  2. Umm… I can’t remember? Seems like it was a link on someone’s blog to a post on some RPG forum that I never normally read (cuz I don’t read any of the forum sites), so I didn’t remember it’s name. Much of his list is on my list, except in a different order and more succinct. I believe Nobilis and UA where in the ‘nearly perfect’ and his perfect was… Call of Cthulu? Maybe? Something like that.

  3. FWIW, I’d like to throw in a kind word for D20. It’s turned from the idiosyncratic system that everyone loves to hate to a decent platform for a variety of genres, straightforward enough that it can be extended reasonably, and playable enough that it encourages folks to play it in a different setting. It’s not without flaws, but, sort of like GURPS, it’s a Swiss Army Knife system that does what it does pretty well.

  4. True enough, but range of influence does not, in itself, mean it’s ‘great’. Microsoft has lots of influence… doesn’t mean it’s a great OS.
    Dunno — I was going to mention a recent snarky comment I’d read about d20 regarding combat, but it’s not as though fights in Nobilis run any faster (and hour for three rounds of combat… egads.
    Then again, that’s three rounds of combat involving six bad guys of quite notable power and no less than ten ‘good guys’, NOT counting anchors on the scene… not sure any system would have gone faster before a solid conclusion.

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