Suggest to me a rules lite(ish) modern fantasy/horror RPG


I am the GM of a long running Ravenloft/Curse of Strahd campaign currently playing 5E D&D.

The players in my group have expressed a desire to run a few short side adventures using "modern day, alternate universe" versions of their existing characters, and I am totally open to fulfilling this wish. However, I have mostly played D&D (all editions) in my gaming life, with a few side treks into other systems in the fairly distant past. So, I am not exactly sure what the best game system to use for this would be.

I'd like something fairly rules-light (no crunchier than 5E, and even slightly less crunchy would be great) that has the ability to handle reasonably broad character concepts (D&D is a kitchen sink and the group has made some pretty diverse character choices).

What suggestions do you folks have for system to accommodate this?

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B/X Known World
Call of Cthulhu 7E is the newest and best edition of CoC. It's lighter than 5E. Various time periods, including modern. Generally for human investigators poking their noses into the Cthulhu Mythos.

Delta Green 2E is lighter than D&D 5E. Modern day. Human government agents poking their noses into the Cthulhu Mythos.

Acthung! Cthulhu is mostly a WW2 game of soldiers and spies poking their noses into the Cthulhu Mythos. Various editions including 2d20, Savage Worlds, and Fate.

Cthulhu Dark 2E is a proper rules light game in the vein of Call of Cthulhu.

Fate of Cthulhu is a near-future apocalypse-preventing game. Runs on the Fate engine. The characters are mostly human but are agents of the Great Old One that will soon destroy the world. They've switched sides and decided to try to prevent this...using the weird powers and mutations the Great Old One gave them to hasten the end of the world.

Honorable mentions. Monster of the Week, Unknown Armies, Kult: Divinity Lost, Hellboy, and Dread.


Depending on what you want the game to feel like, @ko6ux, I would suggest Savage Worlds as an option. The current edition (Savage Worlds Adventure Edition, commonly referred to as “SWADE”) has you covered for modern horror and some fantasy, too, just from the core book.

There are also Companions which can help refine things a bit more to your tastes with optional rules to change the emphasis in your game, for example making combat grittier or more cinematic. The first couple of these are out in PDF, and another is currently available on pre-release through crowd funding. Hard copies have been held up a little by supply issues but are coming in the next few months.

Going back to my point about the ‘feel’ of Savage Worlds - it is a game with pulp sensibilities baked-in to the core. So the fantasy is pulp-fantasy by default (closer to Lankmar than Faerun etc.) and the horror is also a bit more cinematic than literary. You can tweak it up or down, and the Companions do a great job of helping with this, as does the core book with a whole stack of optional Setting Rules which can be added in to a specific game).

The great things about a good generic system is how easy it makes it to do one-shots with different foci without needing to find and learn a new system every time.


Staff member
I played a little bit of Monster of the Week and thought it was pretty decent. It’s fairly rules light, and the characters in our group covered a relatively broad range of types. I was a completely normal EMT assigned as a medic to a team that had one definitely supernatural being. When we got attacked, I relied on my best weapon: the portable defibrillator I was toting.😁

I would also suggest Cypher System/The Strange. Haven’t gotten to play it, though.

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