Ten Tabletop RPGs for Grimdark Fans

While tabletop gamers can find heroes and high fantasy aplenty in today’s pen and paper RPGs, some might crave something with a little more grit, risk, and brutal realism. Thankfully, there are plenty of systems and supplements on the market right now that are perfect for a darker and less forgiving roleplaying experience. If you’d like to take a break from saving the realm to hunt some heretics, start gang wars in haunted cities, or hop in the blood-soaked trenches of an eldritch WWI, the list below might have the game for you. Lawful-good paladins need not apply.

The Witcher Tabletop Roleplaying Game

by R Talsorian Games

The World Doesn’t Need a Hero. It Needs A Professional!

In the midst of the 3rd Nilfgaardian War Geralt of Rivia, the White Wolf, scours the Continent for traces of his lost love! But this is not the only tale. A million other stories play out across the vast continent and you are right in the middle of one of them!

The Witcher Pen & Paper RPG allows you to tell your own story in the world of The Witcher! Adventure across the Continent, interacting with living legends and influencing the politics of the land! Fight in the brutal and horrific Third Nilfgaardian War. Or play out your own adventure as you avoid death and dismemberment!

Blades in the Dark

by Evil Hat Productions

Blades in the Dark is a tabletop role-playing game about a crew of daring scoundrels seeking their fortunes on the haunted streets of an industrial-fantasy city. There are heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, and, above all, riches to be had — if you’re bold enough to seize them.

You and your fledgling crew must thrive amidst the threats of rival gangs, powerful noble families, vengeful ghosts, the Bluecoats of the city watch, and the siren song of your scoundrel’s own vices. Will you rise to power in the criminal underworld? What are you willing to do to get to the top?

Dark Heresy 2nd edition

by Fantasy Flight Publishing

Dark Heresy Second Edition is a roleplaying game of danger, mystery, and brutal violence set in the decaying far future of Warhammer 40,000. Players assume the roles of defenders of humanity and embark on hazardous adventures in the darkest frontiers of the 41st Millennium. On the orders of an Inquisitor, at the front lines of a great and secret war, they root out dangers that imperil all of humanity. In Dark Heresy Second Edition, players explore the new Ashkelon Sector and bring to life epic tales where it is always a minute from eternal midnight and only their combined efforts can defeat those foes that threaten humanity and stave off the end for one more day. They can never rest, for the multitudes of terrors desiring humanity’s extinction are ever-present. The Dark Heresy Second Edition core rulebook contains everything that both players and GMs need to draft up characters, explore the Ashkelon Sector, develop adventures and run through a campaign.

Shadows of the Demon Lord

By Schwalb Entertainment

Enter a horrific world of dark, apocalyptic fantasy! Shadow of the Demon Lord® is a horror fantasy tabletop roleplaying game that gives you and your friends everything you need to experience the last days of a dying world. Using the rules in this book, you can create a new character in just a few minutes and be ready to immerse yourself in a setting overrun with deranged cultists, terrifying demons, and bizarre monsters conjured from nightmare. This rulebook also includes everything you need to create adventures for the game and includes extensive game mastery advice, rewards, and a bestiary packed with foes to fight or to flee. Shadow of the Demon Lord is your portal to a world of perilous, maddening adventure!

Ten Candles

By Cavalry Games

Ten days ago, the sky betrayed you. The world went dark. The sun vanished. Five days ago, They came. And now They’re coming for you. Keep moving. Don’t lose hope. And stay in the light.

Ten Candles is a tragic horror tabletop roleplaying game based around cooperative storytelling. It is designed for one-shot sessions (rather than ongoing campaigns) and can be played with any number of players and one gamemaster. A game of Ten Candles lasts 2-3 hours. Players take the roles of survivors in the middle of a sunless apocalypse, living out the last few hours of their character’s lives. The gamemaster controls Them, the unseen adversaries who stalk just beyond the light’s edge. But this isn’t a story about monsters. This is a story about what happens in the dark. What happens to those who fight against it, seek hope within it, and inevitably become consumed by it.

Grim Hollow

by Ghostfire Gaming

Grim Hollow is a grim dark fantasy Tabletop Role Play setting for fifth edition of “The world’s Greatest Roleplaying Game”. Set in the dark, godless world of Etharis, civilization has long forgotten hope and now clings desperately for survival.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

by Cubicle 7

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay takes your customers back to the Old World. Get the gang together, create your (anti)heroes, and set off to make your way through the vile corruption, scheming plotters and terrifying creatures intent on destruction. The Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Rulebook contains everything you need for grim and perilous roleplaying adventures in the Old World.

Never Going Home

By Wet Ink Games

The World is already at War.

Now the Veil has been torn.

The Whispers promise you power.

You may live long enough to lose your humanity.

Complete role-playing rules | 9 National Profiles | 6 Magic Paths | 12 Monsters | 3 Adventures

Never Going Home is a party-focused role-playing game set in horror haunted trenches during the First World War.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

by Goodman Games

Return to the glory days of fantasy with the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game. Modern rules grounded in the origins of sword & sorcery. Fast play, cryptic secrets, and a mysterious past await you: turn the page.

Zweihänder Grim and Perilous RPG

by Daniel D. Fox

Featured on Forbes.com, ranked one of the best-selling fantasy tabletop role-playing games at DriveThruRPG, and having sold over 90,000 copies worldwide, ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG is a bloodier, grimmer, and grittier version of classical tabletop role-playing games. This revised edition is published in celebration with Andrews McMeel Publishing and features a refreshed layout, new artwork, rules clarifications, color plates by Dejan Mandic, and errata.

Share this
Tags:

Nate Aubin

Nate dwells deep in the grizzled heart of South Texas and works at a college library. When he’s not lost in the stacks or busy terrorizing patrons, he spends his time writing, reading, brooding, weaving chainmail, and rolling dice with too many sides. Nate prefers his coffee black, bitter, and cold and enjoys stories of a similar sort. He’s a lover of all things grimdark, and a few of his favorite novels include Beyond Redemption, Best Served Cold, and Prince of Thorns.