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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: February 14, 2018.)

Free and PWYW RPGs

  1. Atomic Highway
  2. Basic Fantasy RPG 3rd Edition
  3. Blood & Treasure Complete
  4. BLUEHOLME Prentice Rules
  5. * Cepheus Engine System Reference Document
  6. Dark Dungeons
  7. Delving Deeper: The Adventurer’s Handbook, The Referee’s Guide, and The Monster & Treasure Reference
  8. * Dog Eat Dog
  9. Encounter Critical
  10. English Eerie
  11. * Exemplars & Eidolons
  12. Fate Accelerated Edition
  13. * Fate Core
  14. Fleshscape
  15. Forthright Open Roleplay
  16. 44: A Game of Automatic Fear
  17. Godbound
  18. King Arthur Pendragon, 1st Edition
  19. * Labyrinth Lord: Revised Edition
  20. * Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Rules & Magic and Referee Book
  21. Maze Rats
  22. Mini Six, Bare Bones Edition
  23. Mutant Future, Revised Edition
  24. The Nightmares Underneath
  25. * Old School hack
  26. OSRIC Pocket SRD
  27. * The Petal Hack
  28. The Pool
  29. * Risus: The Anything RPG
  30. * Seppuku: Fury of the Samurai
  31. Shamblington
  32. Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
  33. Sixtacular SRD
  34. Spirit of the Century
  35. * Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
  36. * Swords & Wizardry Complete
  37. Swords & Wizardry Core
  38. * Talislanta Campaign handbook, 2nd Edition and The Chronicles of Talislanta, 5th Edition, plus all the other free Talislanta products[4]
  39. * Tenocha: Heroic Adventures
  40. 13th Age System Reference Document
  41. * Tequendria: Fantastical Roleplaying
  42. * Troika!
  43. ViewScream
  44. The Void
  45. White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game
  46. White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying
  47. 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. Creature Compendium (OSR)
  14. Deluge (universal)
  15. The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children (LotFP)
  16. * Escape from the Astral Spellhold
  17. * 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)
  18. Fate System Toolkit (Fate)
  19. * Fiasco playsets — there are over 25 playsets, but my favorite is Touring Rock Band (Fiasco)
  20. From the Vats (OSR)
  21. Frontier Explorer magazine (Star Frontiers/universal)
  22. Fundamentals of Tabletop Roleplaying (universal)
  23. The Game Master (universal)
  24. The Grey Knight (Pendragon)
  25. Hill Cantons Compendium II (OSR)
  26. Home by Dark playsets — try Them as a starting point (Home by Dark)
  27. How to Hexcrawl (OSR)
  28. * In the Shadow of Mount Rotten (OSR)
  29. Irradiated Freaks (Atomic Highway)
  30. * Kaldor Kingdom Sampler (Harn)
  31. * Lesserton & Mor and the Player’s Guide (OSR)
  32. A Magical Medieval Society: City Guide (universal)
  33. The Marriage of Count Roderick (Pendragon)
  34. Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad zine (OSR)
  35. The Metamorphica (OSR)
  36. * Murcanto’s Lair (OSR)
  37. My Life as the GM (My Life with Master)
  38. Narcosa (OSR)
  39. The One Page Dungeon Codex 2009, Deluxe Edition (OSR)
  40. * Petty Gods: Revised and Expanded Edition (OSR)
  41. * Planarch Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer (Dungeon World)
  42. * Proteus Sinking (OSR)
  43. * Ptolus: A Player’s Guide (Ptolus)
  44. Risus: Ring of Thieves and Toast of the Town (Risus)
  45. Roll XX and Roll XX: Double Damage (OSR)
  46. The Sandbox zine (OSR)
  47. Situations for Tabletop Roleplaying (universal)
  48. SlaughterGrid (OSR)
  49. Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine (OSR)
  50. Slügs! (LotFP)
  51. Star Frontiersman magazine (Star Frontiers)
  52. Sword Breaker zine (Dungeon World)
  53. Tales of Gothic Earth (OSR)
  54. * Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque I, plus volume II and volume III (OSR)
  55. * Tenocha: Setting Guide (Tenocha)
  56. Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition (OSR)
  57. * 2017 Gongfarmer’s Almanac, Vol. 1-8 and older single issues (DCC RPG)
  58. Uresia: Lore and Curiosities (universal)
  59. Vaginas are Magic! (LotFP)
  60. Welcome to Dolmenwood (OSR)
  61. White Star Companion (White Star)
  62. 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 starts 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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