So I like to follow r/RPG, and occasionally comment there as well. Someone made a post asking about your top 5 RPGs and why. So I replied, but figured I’d share that here as well. You can also see the original post here.
In no particular order:
13th Age – This is my go to “modern” D&D. You get the best of 3e and 4e in one game, (no surprise given it has the two lead designers,) and a lot of story driven mechanics tossed in. Combat is faster and easier to prep for and manage than either game, doesn’t use mechanics that make you wish you had a grid if you don’t want one, and is in general pretty fast and fun. The One Unique Thing mechanic encourages the players to tweak the world slightly, while giving you a great deal of insight as a GM into what they wanna see as a player. The rules strongly favor improv which suits my GM style quite well, even the baked in setting flows in that direction smoothly. Reading it I kinda felt like this was written for me, so even though I said no particular order, this might be my current #1 given all my gushing.
Castle & Crusades – This on the other hand, is my go to “classic” D&D. It has a lot of modern sensibilities tied to the mechanics, but style wise resembles AD&D 1e pretty closely. AC ascends, enemies are easily defined by their level and follow simpler stat blocks than PCs. It’s also easy to adapt a lot of D&D material from pretty much any edition through 3.5e without much effort. So you have lots of material you can pull from, and it’s also easier to run. Both great things in my book.
New World of Darkness – My favorite horror game line. The rules and mechanics are pretty straight forward. If you’re playing as a mortal the rules are simple enough that this has long been my go to system for one shots with new players as I feel like the core mechanics are really easy to convey. On top of that, plenty of supernatural sub-lines to it that are great. Promethean the Created is possibly the most beatiful (and depressing) game ever. Innocents is a fantastic take on playing as kids. Not to mention the system is pretty easy to hack and adapt, they even have a book to help guide you there. (Mirrors)
Exalted – My favorite thing I never get to play or run. Unlike the above titles, this one can be really, really crunchy. But the setting, god. I can’t do it justice. Just look it up some time. It’s a fantastic spin on fantasy that’s explicitly not-Tolkien and I just love it so much.
Scion – You play as the offspring of a god, and can ultimately work your own way up to godhood. What’s not to love? The rules can be a tad wonky at times, but this is in part because they do such a great job conveying the sheer powerscale. The system bears a resemlence to Exalted, but far, far simpler by comparison.