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As of this writing, there are 7,597 free and pay-what-you-want (PWYW) PDFs on DriveThruRPG, and depending on when you’re reading this there are probably many more than that. That’s a daunting number, and there’s a lot of free stuff that frankly looks like pretty weak sauce. It’s hard to know where to start.[1]

I thought it would be useful to create a curated list of the free DTRPG products there that I like (which I also do for RPG books on Lulu, where the problem is searchability rather than volume), so I started one. I spent several hours going through the entire category — all 7,500+ products — and then several more hours going back for more organic searches, as well as checking out suggestions from folks online (thank you!).

This turned out to be a fun project, and what shook out was two lists, one for RPGs and one for supplements. Together, these two lists represent roughly 3% of the free/PWYW products available on DTRPG.[2]

What’s on the lists?

I like and recommend everything that appears below, and I extra-super-duper-like the starred entries. If you’re curious why I like something, I eventually rate and comment on every gaming book I own; here are my RPGGeek ratings.

Both lists are in alphabetical order. In general, neither includes previews, quickstarts, micro-supplements (d100 Fantasy Roofing Tile Materials, et al), character sheets, or the like.[3] If you have a suggestion for either list, let me know in the comments (and thank you!). (Lists updated: June 29, 2018.)

Free and PWYW RPGs

  1. Atomic Highway
  2. * Babes in the Wood
  3. Basic Fantasy RPG 3rd Edition
  4. Blood & Treasure Complete
  5. BLUEHOLME Prentice Rules
  6. * Cepheus Engine System Reference Document
  7. Dark Dungeons
  8. * Dead Friend: A Game of Necromancy
  9. Delving Deeper: The Adventurer’s Handbook, The Referee’s Guide, and The Monster & Treasure Reference
  10. * Dog Eat Dog
  11. Encounter Critical
  12. English Eerie
  13. * ESCAPE Short-Play RPG
  14. * Exemplars & Eidolons
  15. Fate Accelerated Edition
  16. * Fate Core
  17. Fleshscape
  18. Forthright Open Roleplay
  19. * Galatea’s Mirror
  20. 44: A Game of Automatic Fear
  21. Godbound
  22. High Moon: The Great Werewolf Robbery
  23. The House Always Wins
  24. King Arthur Pendragon, 1st Edition
  25. * Labyrinth Lord: Revised Edition
  26. * Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Rules & Magic and Referee Book
  27. Maze Rats
  28. Mini Six, Bare Bones Edition
  29. Mutant Future, Revised Edition
  30. The Nightmares Underneath
  31. * Old School hack
  32. OSRIC Pocket SRD
  33. * The Petal Hack
  34. * Pokéthulhu Adventure Game (3rd Edition)
  35. The Pool
  36. Queer Messes
  37. * Risus: The Anything RPG
  38. The Role With It System
  39. * Seppuku: Fury of the Samurai
  40. Shamblington
  41. Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
  42. Sixtacular SRD
  43. Songbirds
  44. Spirit of the Century
  45. * Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
  46. * Swords & Wizardry Complete
  47. Swords & Wizardry Core
  48. * Talislanta Campaign handbook, 2nd Edition and The Chronicles of Talislanta, 5th Edition, plus all the other free Talislanta products[4]
  49. * Tenocha: Heroic Adventures
  50. 13th Age System Reference Document
  51. * Tequendria: Fantastical Roleplaying
  52. * Troika!
  53. ViewScream
  54. The Void
  55. White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game
  56. White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying
  57. Worlds Apart

Free and PWYW supplements

On this list, the system (or broad “mechanics umbrella,” like OSR) appears in parentheses after each supplement.

  1. * Advanced Edition Companion (Labyrinth Lord)
  2. * Augmented Reality, The Holistic City Kit For Cyberpunk Games (universal)
  3. Bad Myrmidon (OSR)
  4. Better Than Any Man (LotFP)
  5. Big List of RPG Plots (universal)
  6. Blackmarsh (OSR)
  7. Black Pudding zine (OSR)
  8. BLUEHOLME The Necropolis of Nuromen (OSR)
  9. Book of Knights (Pendragon)
  10. Book 0: Introduction to Traveller (Mongoose Traveller)
  11. Broken System zine (OSR)
  12. B/X Essentials Core Rules and the other entries in the B/X Essentials line (OSR)
  13. Cities: Shadepoint (universal/OSR)
  14. Codex fanzine (various)
  15. * Convicts & Cthulhu (Call of Cthulhu)
  16. Convicts & Cthulhu: Ticket of Leave zine (Call of Cthulhu)
  17. Creature Compendium (OSR)
  18. Deluge (universal)
  19. The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children (LotFP)
  20. * Escape from the Astral Spellhold
  21. * Fate Adventures & Worlds line — there are over 30 of these, all with excellent production values, but my favorites are Aether Sea, Behind the Walls, Blood on the Trail, Ghost Planets, and Straw Boss (Fate)
  22. Fate System Toolkit (Fate)
  23. * Fiasco playsets — there are over 25 playsets, but my favorite is Touring Rock Band (Fiasco)
  24. From the Vats (OSR)
  25. Frontier Explorer magazine (Star Frontiers/universal)
  26. Fundamentals of Tabletop Roleplaying (universal)
  27. The Game Master (universal)
  28. The Grey Knight (Pendragon)
  29. * The Gyre (Mutant Future)
  30. Hill Cantons Compendium II (OSR)
  31. Home by Dark playsets — try Them as a starting point (Home by Dark)
  32. How to Hexcrawl (OSR)
  33. * In the Shadow of Mount Rotten (OSR)
  34. Irradiated Freaks (Atomic Highway)
  35. * Kaldor Kingdom Sampler (Harn)
  36. * Lesserton & Mor and the Player’s Guide (OSR)
  37. A Magical Medieval Society: City Guide (universal)
  38. The Marriage of Count Roderick (Pendragon)
  39. Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad zine (OSR)
  40. The Metamorphica (OSR)
  41. * Murcanto’s Lair (OSR)
  42. My Life as the GM (My Life with Master)
  43. Narcosa (OSR)
  44. The One Page Dungeon Codex 2009, Deluxe Edition (OSR)
  45. * Petty Gods: Revised and Expanded Edition (OSR)
  46. * Planarch Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer (Dungeon World)
  47. * Proteus Sinking (OSR)
  48. * Ptolus: A Player’s Guide (Ptolus)
  49. Realm of the Technomancer (Labyrinth Lord/Mutant Future)
  50. Risus: Ring of Thieves and Toast of the Town (Risus)
  51. Roll XX and Roll XX: Double Damage (OSR)
  52. The Sandbox zine (OSR)
  53. Situations for Tabletop Roleplaying (universal)
  54. Skull Mountain (Labyrinth Lord)
  55. SlaughterGrid (OSR)
  56. Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine (OSR)
  57. Slügs! (LotFP)
  58. Star Frontiersman magazine (Star Frontiers)
  59. Sword Breaker zine (Dungeon World)
  60. Tales of Gothic Earth (OSR)
  61. * Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque I, plus volume II and volume III (OSR)
  62. * Tenocha: Setting Guide (Tenocha)
  63. Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (OSR)
  64. * 2017 Gongfarmer’s Almanac, Vol. 1-8 and older single issues (DCC RPG)
  65. * Two OSR Dungeon Crawls (OSR)
  66. Uresia: Lore and Curiosities (universal)
  67. Vaginas are Magic! (LotFP)
  68. Welcome to Dolmenwood (OSR)
  69. Wheel of Evil (Labyrinth Lord)
  70. White Box Omnibus (Swords & Wizardry)
  71. White Star Companion (White Star)
  72. * The World Wide Wrestling Roleplaying Game: Expanded Universe (World Wide Wrestling)
  73. Wrack & Rune (Labyrinth Lord)
  74. Yngarr zine (OSR)

Happy gaming!

[1] Fun fact: When you sort the free/PWYW category by Highest Rated, which sounds like a useful filter, the first product rated less than five stars doesn’t appear until entry 2,462 of 7,597 (as of this writing).

[2] This percentage takes into account not only the raw number of entries on the list, but those that include multiple products (issues of a zine, Fiasco playsets, etc.).

[3] I like all of those things, but if someone is looking for recommendations for cool stuff to check out, I’m not going to recommend a character sheet. This kind of support material is great, and I love that so much of it is on DTRPG.

[4] Talislanta creator Stephan Michael Sechi generously makes virtually the entire Talislanta line available for free, but not all of it is on DTRPG. (I hope he’ll eventually migrate it all there.)

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