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The 10 Most Anticipated Tabletop RPGs of 2021

After thousands of votes, we now have our annual list of most anticipated tabletop RPGs for the coming year. As I do every year, I recently took nominations for the most anticipated tabletop RPGs for the coming year, and then opened the floor to voting. Here are this year's winners - the most anticipated tabletop RPGs of 2021!

Previous winners include 13th Age (2013), Star Wars Force & Destiny (2015), Rifts for Savage Worlds (2016), Trudvang Chronicles (2017), Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition (2018), Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (2019), and Dune: Adventures in the Imperium (2020). Who will join their ranks this year? Read on to find out!

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10. SLA Industries, 2nd Edition (Nightfall Games)
SLA Industries is a role-playing game of urban horror, set in The World of Progress; a vast world of ruin and decay. At the very heart of this world lies Mort City, a false beacon of hope upon an otherwise dystopian planet. Under the skin of this sprawling city are the Operatives of SLA Industries. These agents, investigators and trained soldiers do the company’s dirty work, cleaning the streets of serial killers, cultists and Carrien vermin, whilst being sure to make the right impression for the cameras. The original was published over 25 years ago.


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9. Werewolf: The Apocalypse 5th Edition (Renegade Studios/Paradox)
Werewolf: The Apocalypse takes place in a fictional version of our Earth: the World of Darkness. In the World of Darkness, werewolves, vampires, magicians, and monsters are all living among us. An entire supernatural world hidden in plain sight. You are one of these monsters, pretending to be human but fighting for survival and supremacy among mysteries and conspiracies that threaten the existence of humanity.


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8. Brancalonia - The Spaghetti Fantasy RPG (Acheron Books)
An all-Italian medieval, roguish and picaresque setting for the 5th Edition of the most famous role-playing game of all time. This game will be releases in Italian and English. “Spaghetti Fantasy” is a new fantasy genre: imagine a Spaghetti Western – with swords instead of guns – based on Italian folklore, history and pop culture.


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7. Pathfinder for Savage Worlds (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)
A bombshell announcement in November 2020, the Pathfinder for Savage Worlds core rulebook will include an adaptation of the Savage Worlds game mechanics for players to make and evolve characters, and for game masters to create games of their own design, for play in Pathfinder’s world of Golarion. The Pathfinder for Savage Worlds boxed set—as typical for Pinnacle Entertainment Group—will include the core rulebook as well as other elements of game play for Savage Worlds like Bennies, Action Deck, Templates, Game Master Screen with adventure, Powers Cards, and more. Kickstarter coming this month, with a release in late 2021.


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6. Rivers of London (Chaosium)
At #7 on this list last year, Rivers of London has claimed one place for 2021! Based on the novels by Ben Aaronovitch, and powered by a customized version of the Basic Roleplaying System, the Rivers of London series follows an ordinary constable turned magician’s apprentice, as he solves crimes across London in a sensational blend of inventive urban fantasy, gripping mystery thriller, and hilarious fantasy caper.


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5. Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition (A5E) (EN Publishing)
Ready to level up your 5th Edition game? Welcome to Level Up, the standalone 'advanced 5E' backwards compatible tabletop RPG coming in 2021! A crunchier, more flexible version of the 5E ruleset which you know and love. If you love 5E but would like a little more depth to the ruleset, Level Up is the game for you!


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4. King Arthur Pendragon 6th Edition (Chaosium)
Pendragon was Greg Stafford's masterpiece, and this 6th edition has been a decade in the making. "Pendragon veterans will find that the fundamentals of the game remain the same, with subtle modifications reflecting the culmination of nearly three decades’ refinement of Greg’s vision of Arthurian fantasy." You can can download a free adventure and preview at the link. This is Chaosium's second entry in this year's list.


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3. The One Ring 2nd Edition (Free League)
Taking over the franchise from Cubicle 7, Free League will be updating both The One Ring and Adventures in Middle Earth, as well as producing Moria: The Long Dark. This is second edition and continuation of the game published by Cubicle 7, combined with the open-world elements found in their Forbidden Lands roleplaying game.

And now, for the first time ever, we have a joint winner! The following two games got exactly the same number of votes - which, with thousands of votes being cast, is as improbable as it is true! Congratulations to them both on being 2021's most anticipated tabletop RPG. Even if one of them is on the list for the third year in a row!

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1 (joint). Dune Adventures in The Imperium (Modiphius Entertainment)
Last year's winner, and the third year running it has appeared in the Top 10, Dune: Adventures in the Imperium is 2021's joint most anticipated tabletop RPG!

The Dune: Adventures in the Imperium roleplaying game takes you into a far future where fear is the mind killer so be sure to keep your wits about you. The Imperium is a place of deadly duels, feudal politics and mysterious abilities in a universe where a blade can change the fortunes of millions. Build your House, carve your place in the universe or rebuild an ancient lineage and fight for the Imperial throne.


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1 (joint). Twilight 2000 (Free League)
The top two entries in this list were neck and neck. Free League's second entry on the list the year gets the joint top spot as the coming year's most anticipated tabletop roleplaying game! Another few minutes of voting, and who knows what would have happened? But as it is, both got the same number of votes.

Just like the original game, the new edition of Twilight: 2000 is set in a Poland devastated by war, but the game also offers an alternative Swedish setting, as well as tools for placing the game anywhere in the world.




Congratulations to everybody! Especially to Chaosium and Free League, who both managed to get two games into the top 10 this year.

PREVIOUS WINNERS OF THE ANNUAL EN WORLD MOST ANTICIPATED TABLETOP RPG OF THE YEAR

#2013201520162017201820192020
113th AgeStar Wars Force & DestinyRifts for Savage WorldsTrudvang ChroniclesVampire: The Masquerade 5th EditionSavage Worlds Adventure EditionDune: Adventures in the Imperium
2NumeneraDeluxe Exalted 3rd EditionMutant Crawl ClassicsTales from the LoopWarhammer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth EditionPathfinder 2nd EditionVaesen - Nordic Horror Roleplaying
3Star Wars Edge of the EmpireUnified Rolemaster7th Sea 2nd EditionKult: Divinity LostKult: Divinity LostLex ArcanaCyberpunk Red
4Shadowrun 5th EditionConan Adventures In An Age Undreamed OfConan Adventures In An Age Undreamed OfStar Trek AdventuresForbidden Lands: Retro Open-World Survival Fantasy RPGThe ExpanseFallout: Wasteland Warfare
5Call of Cthulhu 7th EditionDeluxe Tunnels & TrollsDCC LankhmarConan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed OfRuneQuest: Role-playing in GloranthaEclipse Phase 2nd EditionWarhammer: Age of Sigmar
6FireflyBarbarians of Lemuria: Mythic EditionRuneQuest 4StarfinderThe Witcher Roleplaying GameDune RPGSwords of the Serpentine
7Fate CoreFeng Shui 2Torg: EternityThe Witcher Roleplaying GameWarhammer 40,000 Wrath & GloryJohn Carter of MarsRivers of London
8HillfolkFantasy AGEBlue Rose AGECoriolisThe ExpanseChangeling the Lost 2nd EditionStargate Roleplaying Game
9TorchbearerParanoiaParanoiaDelta Green Roleplaying GameLegend of the Five Rings 5th EditionThings from the FloodFading Suns 4th Edition
10-Shadows of the Demon LordDelta GreenAstonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2ENumenera 2: Discovery & DestinyJudge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000ADCortex Prime
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Ulfgeir

Adventurer
Was the number of nominees and votes comparable to previous years? And has there ever been an entry that did not get any votes?
 

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Hurin88

Adventurer
Nope, sorry. Like with the podcasts poll I don’t feel comfortable sharing negative or discouraging stuff for no discernible benefit. Let’s just congratulate the top 10 on doing so well and assume everybody else is in 11th place by a whisker. :)
Ok, it's your website, and you call the shots. For the record though, I was not trying to discourage anyone; I was just wanting to see some lesser known games (like my own favorite, Rolemaster) get a shout out.
 



Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
Only one of my votes made the list, which is Werewolf. I am surprised Worlds Without Number didn't make it considering how huge the Kickstarter was and it's looking to be his biggest selling game to date (and it's fully compatible with Stars Without Number).
 


opacitizen

Explorer
Ok so. DriveThruRPG is American. Nightfall Games is Scottish. NFG added the SLA 2nd Ed PDF to DT at 00:01 GMT on the 1st Jan 2021. America is something like 6hrs behind GMT. Therefore 00:01 GMT has registered on the American site as 31st Dec.

we deliberately held release to Jan 1st because of SLAs nomination on this contest, so I am fully, 100% aware of when the product was released.

hope that helps?

Yes, it does, thanks, especially the bit where you explain that you held back the release, and that this contest had, in fact, a release date restriction.

See, I'm also from Europe. In fact, I'm an hour ahead of Scotland. I simply thought the makers of this list/contest weren't aware of SLA2 having been released. I also thought the producers of SLA2 weren't aware of this contest. (Don't ask me why I thought that possible. I was probably damn tired or something. I still am.) Finally, as I've said, I didn't even consider a late December release date could somehow disqualify a game. I simply thought it a strange and happy coincidence that a long-awaited game on this list got released just a few days prior to the publication of this list, and is already available.

It's never been my intent to work against SLA2. I'm glad it's been released, and I'm rather glad it's on this list now.

That's why I didn't understand why you said "Nice try!", and why I didn't understand why my initial comment seemed... I don't know... antagonistic?

So: sorry about the misunderstanding, congrats, and good luck with your release!
 


Stormonu

Legend
Savage Pathfinder? Who put chocolate in my peanut butter?!? I was not aware of this, but I now want it.

And Free League to do Twilight 2000?!? More chocolate in my peanut butter! Although, 2E Twilight 2000 has long been the game I've wanted to play (ever since I saw the library RPG group playing it), but could never get anyone to try it.
 

See, I'm also from Europe. In fact, I'm an hour ahead of Scotland. I simply thought the makers of this list/contest weren't aware of SLA2 having been released. I also thought the producers of SLA2 weren't aware of this contest. (Don't ask me why I thought that possible. I was probably damn tired or something. I still am.) Finally, as I've said, I didn't even consider a late December release date could somehow disqualify a game. I simply thought it a strange and happy coincidence that a long-awaited game on this list got released just a few days prior to the publication of this list, and is already available.

The owner of this site is also in the UK, so I think he knows about the time zone stuff. Right @Morrus ? ;)
 

MarkR

Villager
Yes, it does, thanks, especially the bit where you explain that you held back the release, and that this contest had, in fact, a release date restriction.

See, I'm also from Europe. In fact, I'm an hour ahead of Scotland. I simply thought the makers of this list/contest weren't aware of SLA2 having been released. I also thought the producers of SLA2 weren't aware of this contest. (Don't ask me why I thought that possible. I was probably damn tired or something. I still am.) Finally, as I've said, I didn't even consider a late December release date could somehow disqualify a game. I simply thought it a strange and happy coincidence that a long-awaited game on this list got released just a few days prior to the publication of this list, and is already available.

It's never been my intent to work against SLA2. I'm glad it's been released, and I'm rather glad it's on this list now.

That's why I didn't understand why you said "Nice try!", and why I didn't understand why my initial comment seemed... I don't know... antagonistic?

So: sorry about the misunderstanding, congrats, and good luck with your release!
Thanks for explaining. It did seem like you were trying to derail us, and that was sad and took a bit of the joy from making this list.

we are well aware of this comp, having discovered it last year. I’m a big fan of Judge Dredd so know EN well.

Any way we have over 1200 backers now with the PDF and have just won the Copper award on Drivethru and just overtaken WHFB on the bestselling list, so all is gravy!

cheers
Mark
 


TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I wonder if people will actually play Dune. They will definitely buy it, but I wonder how many will actually play it regularly.
Well, I have played/ran the playtest/intro scenario.

I think our group might play a modified version of the game in time, but we do have a Call of Cthulhu campaign to finish, a Vampire game in the offing and also a Traveller game planned.

So many games, so little time.
 

Well, I have played/ran the playtest/intro scenario.

I think our group might play a modified version of the game in time, but we do have a Call of Cthulhu campaign to finish, a Vampire game in the offing and also a Traveller game planned.

So many games, so little time.
I bought and have the intro PDF, but feel pretty overwhelmed at actually running it. Would love an overview / examples of combat, and advice on running it. I'd love to listen/watch and actual play, as at this point...this might stay on the shelf.
 


TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I bought and have the intro PDF, but feel pretty overwhelmed at actually running it. Would love an overview / examples of combat, and advice on running it. I'd love to listen/watch and actual play, as at this point...this might stay on the shelf.
Ok. Our group played it as is, but we felt it got a bit complicated with the meta currencies. There are three of them:
  • Momentum - the player group pool, which starts at zero and has a maximum of 6.
  • Threat - the GM/NPC pool, which starts at two per player.
  • Determination - An individual score, which starts at one, and is replenished by challenging the Drives.
So, if you want to strip the game down to a simpler engine, as baby steps, my advice is to pull the GM pool, Threat, and just have the single Determination point replenished every session. The Momentum pool is the only one you need to keep, in my view. If you get confident in using Momentum, then you can add Threat and Determination rules later.

Each Character is defined by their Drives (Duty, Faith, Justice, Power, Truth) and Skills (Battle, Communicate, Discipline, Move, Understand). Each of these can have specializations - Statements and Focuses respectively - which customizes them. They are all rated from 4 to 8, and you add a Drive and Skill number together to get a Target Number (from 8-16).

When a player rolls their D20 pool (which is a default of 2D20), they gain a success whenever they roll under their Target Number. This is compared to a Difficulty which is the required number of successes to carry out an action. The default average Difficulty is 1, but it can be lower (a really unchallenging 0) or higher (up to 5 which is ‘Epic’). When you roll dice, you can convert any excess successes to the Momentum Pool (up to a maximum of 6).

You earn a Critical Success whenever a die rolls a 1, or when the task lies within your Skill speciality in which case the Critical Range is equal to the Skill Score. A Critical Success is worth two successes. You also get a Complication whenever a die rolls a 20, which is sort of like a fumble except it doesn’t mean that the Task can’t be completed from other dice rolled.

Any player can make use of the Momentum Pool, and the simplest way of using them is to simply allow players to dip into it to get more D20s to roll in their pool, when it is their turn. Players can work in teams, to set up Momentum for other characters to get an advantage on their turn. Momentum points can also be used to buy off Complications or possibly adjust the scene or create some other narrative advantage (like Fate). If you want to keep it simple, ignore the narrative uses.

Determination points, of which players can just have one to spend per session, allow players to re-roll a pool if they like.

In a Conflict, (duels or skirmishing particularly), the Action order is, by default, a nominated player first. A GM can use Threat to take the initiative, but if we aren’t using it, it doesn’t matter. The first player can keep the initiative by spending 2 points of Momentum and either go again one more time, or nominate another player to act. If they don’t spend Momentum, it alternates to a GM controlled character. This continues to alternate unless somebody spends Momentum (or Threat).

Each attack is a contested roll, where the defender rolls their dice to set the Difficulty for the attacker to overcome. If they hit a mook, then the book is out of combat. If they hit a named character, then it becomes an extended task to reduce the appropriate skill score (Battle in the case of a physical conflict) to zero by increments equal to the number of Success in each attack.

Combat also has range Zones and Assets (weapons) to consider, but I’ll just leave it at this for the moment. It’s worth noting that there is no difference, rules wise between physical conflict or mental or social conflict rules.
 
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Ok. Our group played it as is, but we felt it got a bit complicated with the meta currencies. There are three of them:
  • Momentum - the player group pool, which starts at zero and has a maximum of 6.
  • Threat - the GM/NPC pool, which starts at two per player.
  • Determination - An individual score, which starts at one, and is replenished by challenging the Drives.
So, if you want to strip the game down to a simpler engine, as baby steps, my advice is to pull the GM pool, Threat, and just have the single Determination point replenished every session. The Momentum pool is the only one you need to keep, in my view. If you get confident in using Momentum, then you can add Threat and Determination rules later.

Each Character is defined by their Drives (Duty, Faith, Justice, Power, Truth) and Skills (Battle, Communicate, Discipline, Move, Understand). Each of these can have specializations - Statements and Focuses respectively - which customizes them. They are all rated from 4 to 8, and you add a Drive and Skill number together to get a Target Number.

When a player rolls their D20 pool (which is a default of 2D20), they gain a success whenever they roll under their Target Number. This is compared to a Difficulty which is the required number of successes to carry out an action. The default average Difficulty is 1, but it can be lower (a really unchallenging 0) or higher (up to 5 which is ‘Epic’). When you roll dice, you can convert any excess successes to the Momentum Pool (up to a maximum of 6).

You earn a Critical Success whenever a die rolls a 1, or when the task lies within your Skill speciality in which case the Critical Range is equal to the Skill Score. You also get a Complication whenever a die rolls a 20, which is sort of like a fumble except it doesn’t mean that the Task can’t be completed from other dice rolled.

Any player can make use of the Momentum Pool, and the simplest way of using them is to simply allow players to dip into it to get more D20s to roll in their pool, when it is their turn. Players can work in teams, to set up Momentum for other characters to get an advantage on their turn. Momentum points can also be used to buy off Complications or possibly adjust the scene or create some other narrative advantage (like Fate). If you want to keep it simple, ignore the narrative uses.

Determination points, of which players can just have one to spend per session, allow players to re-roll a pool if they like.

In a Conflict, (duels or skirmishing particularly), the Action order is, by default, a nominated player first. A GM can use Threat to take the initiative, but if we aren’t using it, it doesn’t matter. The first player can keep the initiative by spending 2 points of Momentum and either go again one more time, or nominate another player to act. If they don’t spend Momentum, it alternates to a GM controlled character. This continues to alternate unless somebody spends Momentum (or Threat).

Each attack is a contested roll, where the defender rolls their dice to set the Difficulty for the attacker to overcome. If they hit a mook, then the book is out of combat. If they hit a named character, then it becomes an extended task to reduce the appropriate skill score (Battle in the case of a physical conflict) to zero by increments equal to the number of Success in each attack.

Combat also has range Zones and Assets (weapons) to consider, but I’ll just leave it at this for the moment. It’s also worth noting that there is no difference, rules wise between physical conflict or mental or social conflict rules.
That is a pretty neat one page summary of the Dune RPG. So why was Modiphus charging exorbitant prices for the pre-orders?
 
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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Ok. Our group played it as is, but we felt it got a bit complicated with the meta currencies. There are three of them:
  • Momentum - the player group pool, which starts at zero and has a maximum of 6.
  • Threat - the GM/NPC pool, which starts at two per player.
  • Determination - An individual score, which starts at one, and is replenished by challenging the Drives.
So, if you want to strip the game down to a simpler engine, as baby steps, my advice is to pull the GM pool, Threat, and just have the single Determination point replenished every session. The Momentum pool is the only one you need to keep, in my view. If you get confident in using Momentum, then you can add Threat and Determination rules later.

Each Character is defined by their Drives (Duty, Faith, Justice, Power, Truth) and Skills (Battle, Communicate, Discipline, Move, Understand). Each of these can have specializations - Statements and Focuses respectively - which customizes them. They are all rated from 4 to 8, and you add a Drive and Skill number together to get a Target Number (from 8-16).

When a player rolls their D20 pool (which is a default of 2D20), they gain a success whenever they roll under their Target Number. This is compared to a Difficulty which is the required number of successes to carry out an action. The default average Difficulty is 1, but it can be lower (a really unchallenging 0) or higher (up to 5 which is ‘Epic’). When you roll dice, you can convert any excess successes to the Momentum Pool (up to a maximum of 6).

You earn a Critical Success whenever a die rolls a 1, or when the task lies within your Skill speciality in which case the Critical Range is equal to the Skill Score. A Critical Success is worth two successes. You also get a Complication whenever a die rolls a 20, which is sort of like a fumble except it doesn’t mean that the Task can’t be completed from other dice rolled.

Any player can make use of the Momentum Pool, and the simplest way of using them is to simply allow players to dip into it to get more D20s to roll in their pool, when it is their turn. Players can work in teams, to set up Momentum for other characters to get an advantage on their turn. Momentum points can also be used to buy off Complications or possibly adjust the scene or create some other narrative advantage (like Fate). If you want to keep it simple, ignore the narrative uses.

Determination points, of which players can just have one to spend per session, allow players to re-roll a pool if they like.

In a Conflict, (duels or skirmishing particularly), the Action order is, by default, a nominated player first. A GM can use Threat to take the initiative, but if we aren’t using it, it doesn’t matter. The first player can keep the initiative by spending 2 points of Momentum and either go again one more time, or nominate another player to act. If they don’t spend Momentum, it alternates to a GM controlled character. This continues to alternate unless somebody spends Momentum (or Threat).

Each attack is a contested roll, where the defender rolls their dice to set the Difficulty for the attacker to overcome. If they hit a mook, then the book is out of combat. If they hit a named character, then it becomes an extended task to reduce the appropriate skill score (Battle in the case of a physical conflict) to zero by increments equal to the number of Success in each attack.

Combat also has range Zones and Assets (weapons) to consider, but I’ll just leave it at this for the moment. It’s worth noting that there is no difference, rules wise between physical conflict or mental or social conflict rules.
What are you supposed to do? In what way do these rules encourage that type of play?

Again, I don't see Dune as being an adventure game, where you go with your band of Fremen and capture spice ships. I mean I guess it could be? But that's not really what caught my fancy with Dune back in the day.

I've ordered the book (Dune the novel) at the library, so maybe after I read it again I'll have a clearer picture of the core loops available in the game.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
What are you supposed to do? In what way do these rules encourage that type of play?

Again, I don't see Dune as being an adventure game, where you go with your band of Fremen and capture spice ships. I mean I guess it could be? But that's not really what caught my fancy with Dune back in the day.

I've ordered the book (Dune the novel) at the library, so maybe after I read it again I'll have a clearer picture of the core loops available in the game.
The Dune game is more about intrigue than out and out adventure. Your characters are either Architects (strategists) or Agents of a particular House. You can play both simultaneously, potentially, in a scenario set up that way (with alternating scenes). The players can collectively design a House together if they want. The use of Drives rather than Ability scores as in D&D means that your stories can alternate between different scales of conflict. The game play is based upon high level tactical maneuvering between Houses (Architect) down to carrying out low level missions (Agents).

As I say, all conflicts essentially work with the same sort of system, using Momentum and Threat and so on at different levels (Dueling, Skirmish, Warfare, Espionage, Intrigue), but utilizing different maneuvers and assets respectively. It doesn’t play like Traveller or Star Wars, and not really like Star Trek either.
 

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