Top Three RPGs to Run at a FLGS?

Retreater

Legend
After my attempt over the summer to start Pathfinder Society (2e) at the local game store didn't generate much interest, the owner has come to me to try another system.
He wants me to recommend three systems I would want to run that I think could be more successful.
I think 5e is a definite. But what are the other two I can recommend? Any suggestions?
Something easy to run? With popular appeal? Appropriate for a wide audience?
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I would recommend Scum and Villainy. That's the Star Wars/Firefly Sci-Fi game based on Blades in the Dark. Running it as faux SW (or even actual SW) should generate lots of IP interest, and its an easy system to dive into (as a player). GMing takes a little bit of practice, but not a ton (It's not Burning Wheel or anything...)'. The game is designed to be episodic, so it also supports short run format and a West Marches drop in sort of deal if that's what you think will work.

Another plus is that's it's only one inexpensive book, not $500 worth of hardbacks. :p
 

Mezuka

Hero
I would say:
  • Savage Worlds with a pulp setting. Deadlands. Zombies are in.
  • D&D5e for fantasy
  • The Expanse AGE for sci-fi. It was on Prime not long ago.
 
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payn

Legend
With popular appeal? Appropriate for a wide audience?
This will be tough. If you cant get PF2 to go, im not sure what is more popular (5E obviously, but already mentioned) or suitable for a wider audience?

DCC funnel? Probably not popular or wide enough.

Monster of the week? Can cater to a wide audience; but is it popular enough?

Traveller? Definitely with pregens, at least to start. Though, its probably not what id consider popular.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
With a lot of games it might be the IP as much (or more) than the system that drags people to the table. At least if we're talking about casual RPGers whose main exposure to RPGing is 5E. So MotW by itself? Maybe. Advertised as Supernatural, or X-Files, or Buffy or some other recognizable IP? Probably more butts in seats.
 
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darjr

I crit!
Besides 5e?

For newer players or a fan base that may not be RPG playing yet.

Star Wars. I get asked about running it a lot a lot.

Call of Cthulhu. See above.



For experienced players with a an already built in fan base for organized play.

Shadowrun Missions. Though it’s been a long time since I’ve run any.

Warhammer 40k. Fantasy too but I’ve found more luck with Space Marines one shots.

Oddball
If your store has any free rpg stuff consider running some of it, or if you can talk to the community see what people want run from it. The thing about FreeRPG day is there is a lot of interest and adventures picked up, but fewer game masters. It is an opportunity to run for people hungry to play that cool thing they got.
 

darjr

I crit!
Oh! Run games at local cons.

Find the folks organizing tables, AL or PFS, or one of the others, volunteer as a DM.

At the event let folks know you are running for the FLGS and when.
 

Retreater

Legend
Oh! Run games at local cons.

Find the folks organizing tables, AL or PFS, or one of the others, volunteer as a DM.

At the event let folks know you are running for the FLGS and when.
Sadly, there are no local game conventions - the closest one is over two hours away.
Our tabletop community has been dead since COVID - none of the stores have had regular RPGs and only irregular wargaming. No one is posting in community social media except to sell their game collections.
It's a dark time for the hobby here (and I think that for once that isn't just my pessimism talking).
 


Retreater

Legend
Do you think I could get away with putting HeroQuest as one of the three options? I know it's not an RPG, but maybe it could be a good entry point?
(My wife says this would be misleading and that people who want to play RPGs would be disappointed. My thought is that it would be promoted upfront - so why complain?)
 

payn

Legend
Do you think I could get away with putting HeroQuest as one of the three options? I know it's not an RPG, but maybe it could be a good entry point?
(My wife says this would be misleading and that people who want to play RPGs would be disappointed. My thought is that it would be promoted upfront - so why complain?)
I think it would be a fantastic intro to the hobby and the low commitment and easy to jump into vibe would be perfect.

On the misleading part, if its one of several options, I think it will be fine.
 


hawkeyefan

Legend
I'd suggest:

  • Mothership- the Player's Survival Guide is Pay What You Want on DTRPG- official adventures are all inexpensive and are jam packed with content; you can use this to run anything remotely sci-fi/horror from Alien to Event Horizon or anything in between
  • Blades in the Dark or Scum & Villainy- I prefer Blades myself, but depending on the group makeup and content concerns, as @Fenris-77 suggests S&V would make a good alternative and may appeal to fans of Star Wars or Firefly- the PDFs of the books are inexpensive and there are a lot of online resources for playbooks and the city map for Blades and so on
  • Delta Green- again, content concerns may apply, but this has appeal to fans of X-Files type investigations combined with Cthulhu Mythos lore and makes for a nice mix of investigation and action
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Call of Cthulhu. It's well-supported with a number of sub-genre books (e.g. Pulp Cthulhu, Berlin: The Wicked City, Down Darker Trails, etc.), simple to learn and teach, and playing everyday people is something folks can relate to immediately.

If you want something that feels a bit like D&D but is looser with the rules, I can't recommend Luke Gearing's in-progress hexcrawl, Wolves Upon the Coast Grand Campaign, enough. I bought in when it was $20 and have been delighted with every subsequent update (if you buy in now at a lower price, you get access to all future updates).
 

darjr

I crit!
Sadly, there are no local game conventions - the closest one is over two hours away.
Our tabletop community has been dead since COVID - none of the stores have had regular RPGs and only irregular wargaming. No one is posting in community social media except to sell their game collections.
It's a dark time for the hobby here (and I think that for once that isn't just my pessimism talking).
I think this is the real problem.

If it were me I’d stick with 5e and camp out at the same table, at the same time, at the same day. Probably Wednesday. And post to those groups anyway. Post that you are there.

Maybe even see if the store would have an employee or two to sit down with you for an hour.

The biggest hurdle to public play is convincing people you mean to be regular like clockwork and consistent and not flake out. Especially in a place that has zero traction to begin with.

People gotta see for a while that your are there consistently.

I’ve done this at several stores now, and restarted one after Covid. It can take a while.

Good luck.
 

TheSword

Legend
WFRP would be my suggestion. Group advantage has fixed the combat problem and Winds of Magic has fixed wizards. Plus you already have the rules.

They have got so many one shot adventures that could be done in a single session - Ubersreik Adventures I, 2 & 3, Rough nights and hard days, about five stand alone PDFs. You’ve got 20 single shot adventures there.
 

aramis erak

Legend
After my attempt over the summer to start Pathfinder Society (2e) at the local game store didn't generate much interest, the owner has come to me to try another system.
He wants me to recommend three systems I would want to run that I think could be more successful.
I think 5e is a definite. But what are the other two I can recommend? Any suggestions?
Something easy to run? With popular appeal? Appropriate for a wide audience?
Traveller - the mongoose edition - lots of resources, reasonable mechanics. Lots of adventures available (all the CT ones can be converted on the fly).
Cepheus Engine is also Traveller, but without the name. Anything for CE is usable with MGT at "easily convert on the fly what little needs conversions"

I've had good luck with both Star Trek Adventures and FFG Star Wars... currently running the latter. Start with beginner sets - they're as much a GM learning tool as a player one. Unlike the 5E ones.

Alien was a tough sell at first... but once it got going, I had a full table and intense play.

Quite likely, if you go 5E's new Spelljammer, you'll get some uptake - the box ain't cheap, so players are going to want to be trying before buying. Unfortunately, the box doesn't ship for another week...

Edit to add: Only reason I don't suggest Savage Worlds is that I've neither run nor played it.
 
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thullgrim

Adventurer
Savage Worlds. You can teach the basics in 10 minutes. Lean into its strengths. Like mentioned up thread Deadlands or anything Zombies. It gives you an easy pickup/con style option.

For something more in depth so think i’d lean into either FFG Star Wars or Numenera. I’d let the settings sell those games.
 

Emirikol

Adventurer
Ive run a lot of convention and store games over 40 years.
Getting games going requires the same as a regular group: persistence and a couple always -show-up players.

If your city size is decent, then tap the Warhammer people as well. That may include the rpg then.

Creating community takes some work, but keep at it.

Regarding conventions: although your closest is 2hrs away, I STRONGLY encourage you to go. Get around other DMs who do and want to do what you do.

5e will bring players for certain. It also brings trouble.

Nobody wants to hear this, but you aren't a public school. You don't need to and SHOULDN'T accept everyone. Certain players are toxic and drive off good people. Learn how to deal with that right away.

Different systems bring different players.

Want Stranger Things crowd, advertise you're running that boxed set (for starters).

Serious gamers come in with Cthulhu.

Want idiot screw arounds? Advertise the Rick and morty adventure.

Big commitments to a long campaign are usually a no no, but organized play is a good draw.

Keep advertising. Keep pushing it. Keep excited. As the 'rona winds down people come out to play.
 


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