Grab a Free Starter Game

Each of these quick-start PDFs is designed to introduce a game by providing stripped-down mechanics that give a feel for how the game works. Note that they vary considerably in target audience; some are designed for newcomers to tabletop roleplaying and some are not.

Download a few of these free PDFs, share them with your friends, and look through them so you can get a feel for which genre and style of play might appeal most to your group. If you like the teaser, odds are you'll also enjoy the full version of the game.

A Song of Ice and Fire Quick-Start

If you haven't read the books, you may have heard of the wildly successful Game of Thrones TV series. This 32-page PDF includes the Journey to King's Landing starter scenario, characters for players to use, and enough of the core rules to get a taste of the game.

Basic Roleplaying Quick-Start

This is a stripped-down version of Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying, a universal system that can be used to play adventures in any genre. This 48-page PDF includes seven brief scenarios: a swashbuckler, two sci-fi scenarios, a dungeon raid, a bank heist, a WW 2 mission, and a post-apocalypse adventure.

Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules

Now in its 7th edition, Call of Cthulhu is arguably the most popular horror RPG of all time. This 48-page PDF contains the game's core mechanics, a 1920s adventure called "The Haunting", character sheets, and an account of how the adventure played out for one gaming group.

Cosmic Patrol Quick-Start Rules

Cosmic Patrol is about fast-paced "rockets and rayguns" sci-fi as imagined in the pulp era. The emphasis is squarely on story, and players take turns as Lead Narrator. This 24-page PDF includes characters and everything needed to run The Khan Protocol adventure.

Dragon Age Quickstart

Based on BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins dark fantasy computer game, this 35-page Quickstart Guide contains a highly condensed version of the core rules, a reference sheet, an adventure called An Arl's Ransom, and five pre-generated player characters.

D&D QuickStart Rules

Dungeons & Dragons is the original mass-market roleplaying game, and is arguably still the most played tabletop RPG. This 27-page PDF provides a streamlined introduction to D&D. You can use the QuickStart Rules to run the free 71-page Keep on the Shadowfell adventure (shown).

Eclipse Phase Quick-Start Rules

Characters defend transhumanity from horrific threats in this mind-bending game of transhumanism, conspiracy, and horror. This 41-page PDF provides simplified rules, ready characters, and Mind the WMD, a fully detailed starter scenario.

Fate Accelerated Edition

This 50-page gamebook is provided in PDF, ePub, and Mobi formats. FAE is a stand-alone game system suitable for any genre. Note that the publishers make it available under a pay-what-you-like plan, so if you wind up using the game frequently please put a few bucks in their tip jar.


This 32-page "boiled down" PDF provides the core mechanics for this veteran universal system. GURPS is a relatively complex game that is supported by a wide range of genre supplements. This Lite version does not provide a scenario or any pre-generated characters.

Legend of the Five Rings Quickstart

Lot5R is a game of medieval fantasy set in the world of Rokugan, which is a cross between feudal Japan and China. This 32-page Quickstart is built around the Legacy of Disaster starter adventure and contains pre-generated characters, spells, and basic system mechanics.

Savage Worlds: The Wild Hunt

This 16-page PDF includes the Savage Worlds Test Drive rules, a fully detailed modern horror scenario called The Wild Hunt, and printable game aids. Savage Worlds is a universal system with expansions to cover a variety of settings. It emphasizes easy prep and a fast, cinematic style.

Shadowrun Quick-Start Rules

A mashup of fantasy and cyberpunk, Shadowrun takes place in a near-future world of intrigue, corporate warfare, and threats of all kinds. The game mixes magic, advanced technology, and fantasy races like elves, orks, and dragons. This 31-page PDF includes pre-made PCs and a straightforward introductory scenario.

Updated 2014-02-08