Updated: Nov 3, 2021
Sometimes real life gets in the way of your regular game and you are left without a GM for a session. Sometimes you just don't have the energy, after a long hard work week, to run your Dungeons and Dragons epic level campaign. Have no fear indie RPGs are a great way to ensure you and your friends get your regular fix of role play gaming fun.
Lasers & Feelings (Free) - If you want to recreate the fun and epic danger of Star Trek: The Original Series then look no further than this amazing game which fits on one sheet of A4! I always pack a copy in my gaming bag just in case I need to step up to the plate and be the emergency DM for the night.
Characters generation is done in seconds as you only have a stat which are on a sliding scale from 2 to 5. A high number (4 or 5) and you are a Lasers kind of character focused on the tech, piloting or shooting stuff. A low number (2 or 3) and you are in touch with your feelings, empathetic or good at diplomacy. When you are asked to make a Lasers skill check you need to roll under your score on a D6 or if it's a feelings roll then it's over your stat. Roll your number exactly then its a Laser Feelings and you get to ask the GM a question which they need to answer truthfully.
For the DM the rest of the sheet is a scenario generator which should get your Away Team knee deep in tribbles within about 10 minutes.
Fiasco! (Paid) - The daddy of indie games is a completely different approach to roleplay games. Instead of rolling up a character you create relationships between the people to the left and right of you which define who you are and what motivates your relationship. The game is then broken up into a series of cinematic scenes which players take turns to try to resolve for the benefit of their own character or to drive the story onwards. These scenes don't have to follow a story arc and can take place any time within the story as a flash back or a flash forward.
Another great feature of the game is that you can choose from hundreds of different playsets to suit the mood of the table. Every genre is catered for and each playset has a lot of replayability because your choices (and players) will be different every time you play it.
A highly recommended way to spend 3 to 4 hours.
Here is a short list of some of the indie TTRPGs I have played or would love to play. Have you tried any of these games? Let us know in the comments below.
Always/Never/Now - A cyberpunk adventure where you need to save your fixer
Apocalypse World - Post apocalyptic RPG system
Blades in the Dark - Skullduggery in the fictional victoriana setting of Doskvol.
Cthulhu Dark - A rules lite free Cthulhu RPG by Graham Walmsley
Dread - Suspense and Horror meets Jenga!!
Dungeon World - D&D but powered by the Apocalypse World system
Flotsam: Adrift Among The Stars - Misfits and outcasts aboard a space station.
Forgotten Futures - Wonderful Victoriana adventures from Marcus L Rowland
Grant Howitt's One Page RPGs - Some very out there ideas which I would love to try
Index Card RPG - Runehammer's creation now available in a deluxe version.
Lady Blackbird - A steampunk take on Star Wars. Save the princess!!
Microscope - The collaborative world building and history RPG.
Savage Worlds - Not really indie, but I love the indie community behind the system
The Quiet Year - A map drawing RPG which I've enjoyed immensely
Places to Play
Conventions - I regularly attend my local con Dragonmeet and have had some great experiences playing a number of Indie Games over the years. Sometimes you even get to play with the writer as your DM. Check out your local RPG convention for games you can join.
Meetup - The London Indie RPG Meetup specialise in running a regular monthly session. This is currently on discord during Pandemic but in the before times this was a regular event in a central London pub setting. Check your local meetups for similar groups near you.
Friends & Family - Indie RPGs are typically rules light storytelling games and lend themselve to play with people who are put off by the crunchiness of big book RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. A perfect way to introduce your normie friends to that roleplay thing you do.
Your Group - As I mentioned at the top of the page the best thing about indie games is that they are ideal filler games. Give one a try with your regular group and see if they like them.