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The best tabletop RPGs of 2014, finalists from Board Game Geek

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The folks at aren't just fans of board games. They're also rabid tabletop role-playing fans. As part of their annual Golden Geek Awards, the community has voted on their picks for the best RPGs of 2014. Fans of video games, and those who make them, should take a look at the exotic breadth of experience that was released for tabletop play last year.

AMP: Year One - If you miss the Heroes television series, or at least its first season, then you may well be interested in AMP. The game is set in the modern day, and characters are "among the first people in the world to develop superpowers." The base set includes rules for 50 mutant powers, and 20 pregenerated characters.

Call of Cthulhu - Now in its seventh edition, this Lovecraftian ruleset has everything you need to bring the unspeakable horrors to life in the setting of your choice, noire or otherwise.

Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine - From the writer for Exalted and the creator of Nobilis, this anime-themed RPG is inspired by "Miyazaki films like Laputa, anime like Princess Tutu, and Western works like Adventure Time and My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic." The art style looks delightful, and the game system runs entirely without dice.


The Clay That Woke - In this fantasy setting minotaurs live alongside mankind, acting as silent, contemplative servants. They perform dangerous work, plow fields and fight for our amusement. Instead of rolling dice, players use a set of custom tokens drawn at random from a bag or bowl.

Dungeons & Dragons - With the release of the fifth edition, the granddaddy of RPGs is back. It's more accessible for players and the dungeon master than ever before, and Polygon has found the design ethic to be flexible and welcoming to everyone.

Firefly Role-Playing Game - A veritable legion of RPG veterans all contributed to a reboot of the Firefly-themed system this year. It uses a version of the Cortex Plus System, where instead of traditional d20 rolls many different dice are used to represent how hard or easy certain tasks are.


The Gaean Reach - Written by Robin D. Laws and based on the science fiction of Jack Vance, the subtitle speaks volumes; "The Roleplaying Game of Interstellar Vengeance." Set in the far, far future where man has spread across the stars, players hunt a single criminal mastermind named Quandos Vorn.

Mass Effect - This is a free, fan-made, non-commercial conversion for the Fate roleplaying system adapted to the Mass Effect universe. That means you can download it right now and get started on bringing your favorite slashfic to life.

Mindjammer - A complete re-write of the classic "transhuman science-fiction RPG," developed on the Fate Core system.

Monster Kart Mayhem - A kart-racing RPG, where all the world's monsters gather for a 1,000-kilometer road rally, this sounds like a great setting for a Halloween one-shot game with friends.

Night Witches - From the same publisher that brought you Fiasco, a game that brings about Coen brothers-esque drama in under an hour, comes an RPG set among the ranks of a regiment of "natural-born Soviet airwomen" who fought and died during night-bombing missions in WWII. Polygon's copy should be arriving soon with the first Kickstarter-funded printing.

Pathfinder - Based on an older version of D&D, this open-source, community-driven fantasy RPG is preferred by famed video game RPG designer Feargus Urquhart himself. Find out why in Polygon's interview here.

Star Wars: Force and Destiny - When the Star Wars RPG license changed hands recently, there was a fire sale on the old books. But this new version, from Fantasy Flight, is getting good reviews. The full-color beginner's set is only $29.95.

Storium - After a $250 thousand Kickstarter, this first of its kind online storytelling system turns writing into a game. Their video above is inspiring for gamers and would-be authors alike.

The Strange - This heady, trans-dimensional science fiction yarn explores the world between atoms using a d20 system. Players will venture to universe with its "own laws of reality, reflected from human experience or imagination, given form in the swirling Chaosphere of the Strange."

Urban Shadows - Vampires, fairies, werewolves and the undead populate this fantastically dark universe set after a modern apocalypse. It draws inspiration from cult favorites like like Angel and Supernatural.

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