Gaming isn’t a static hobby that just takes place in front of the monitor or TV with a controller in hand. While we love rounds of Fortnite and dive into the latest Call Of Duty just as often as the next gamer, there’s always room for the tabletop varieties as well when friends get together to socialize on the weekends.
There’s a pretty expansive definition of what exactly constitutes “gaming” that covers a huge range of options, from cross-platform games that leap back and forth between the video screen and the tabletop to ongoing video game-based comic series and collectible card games.
No matter what your preferred method of play looks like, 2018 is a momentous year for tabletop gamers, as Magic: The Gathering turns 25 and Pathfinder finally begins testing a long-awaited (and long-dreaded) second edition this coming summer.
While it can be an expensive pastime, there is a reliable, no-cost way to jump into tabletop gaming as local hobby stores participate in the celebration that is Free RPG Day every summer!
Free RPG Day 2018 Publishers
This year’s rendition of the gaming holiday is slated for Saturday, June 16, 2018, and we’ve already got a sneak preview of all the books, cards, and dice that will be available completely for free!
Winners of the Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards (or ENnie Awards) tend to include products here each year, so if you want to try out a different system before laying down the cash for a bunch of expensive hardcover books, this is a great way to get started.
While some retailers will let you grab multiple products, or even one book from each publisher, others are a bit more stingy and limit it to one free item per customer. To get the best books or dice before they run out, you want to have a plan of attack before you head into the store and know which item you are most interested in ahead of time.
The king of tabletop RPGs is hitting Free RPG Day hard this year with three separate products, including the return of a fan favorite.
I’ve got very fond memories of running the first We Be Goblins free adventure back in 2011, with each member of of my gaming group coming up with their own absurd goblin rhyme as part of character creation. The party managed to blow themselves up with fireworks, get messily eaten by giant spiders, die in quicksand, and just cause all-around mayhem while hopelessly trying to prove themselves goblin heroes.
We get to relive that silly glory once again with We Be 5upergoblins, an apparently aerial adventure for fourth-level goblin pyromaniacs. Now that Paizo also has the sci-fi Starfinder RPG available, an adventure called Skitter Shot will be included that very much looks like a futuristic version of We Be Goblins. I can only imagine the sorts of shenanigans that chaotic evil goblins could get into with lasers and starships.
Finally, Paizo will round out this year’s free offerings with a Pathfinder Adventure card pack, including new goblin character Nok-Nok.
Sadly, it doesn’t look like any of these releases will include Pathfinder 2nd Edition rules, as the playtest will just be getting going at that point in the summer.
While probably best known for the super retro Dungeon Crawl Classics series, Goodman Games has some amazingly awesome settings that are way off the beaten path and well worth checking out, like DragonMech, Etherscope, and Xcrawl.
We’re getting two Free RPG Day entries from Goodman this year, including Quick Start rules and a mini adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics, as well as Beneath the Keep, a new third-party adventure for D&D Fifth Edition.
Atlas is resurrecting an old cult classic that is just now seeing a resurgence and starting to get the recognition it deserves this year. If your knowledge of modern-day horror RPGs begins and ends with Call of Cthulhu, you owe it to yourself to check out Unknown Armies.
Those classic original rulebooks go for quite a bit on Amazon and eBay these days, but the newer third edition is a bit more reasonably priced with PDFs and physical books.
To get acquainted with this occult game about broken people conspiring to fix the world, be sure to check out the free adventure/source book Maria in Three Parts.
It’s sort of hard to believe I’m typing this, but yes, there will even be free dice this year, which is pretty monumental and must be costing everyone quite a bit in production and shipping!
Q-Workshop is offering up a set of 15 unique, Viking-inspired dice with each Free RPG Day package, and they look amazing. Expect these to go fast and to be limited to only one per customer, so show up early and try to nab one while you can.
Chessex will also be offering commemorative red 6-sided dice with the “12th Annual Free RPG Day” logo etched on them. Obviously these are less useful since they don’t have regular numbers, but they’re a nifty way to mark the holiday.
If you miss out on your chance to grab one of these, there are plenty of other stunning dice sets out there — check out our list of the most amazing dice sets to buy for the gaming fanatic in your life (it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that several of them are also from Q-Workshop).
Steve Jackson Games
While I’ve been a been a fanatic for the ultra-silly Toon RPG since I was a kid, there’s no question that Steve Jackson’s flagship games are the universal GURPS, alongside the tongue-in-cheek Munchkin line of CCGs.
The latter is where Steve Jackson is putting the focus for this year’s Free RPG Day, with a new card featuring the tardigrade.
This adorable microscopic water bear has been filling Facebook memes since being made famous when covered by Neil DeGrasse Tyson in an episode of the Cosmos reboot back in 2014, and now he’s in your Munchkin matches as well!
Monte Cook Games
An appropriately weird-looking adventure for sci-fi/fantasy-mashup setting Numenera is coming from Monte Cook Games for Free RPG Day 2018, titled Ashes of the Sea.
For those who tend to stick to PC games instead of tabletop, yes, this is the same Numenera setting used in Torment: Tides of Numenera released by inXile last year.
Instead of the expected Shadowrun or Battletech entry, this year Catalyst is showing off their D&D-branded card game Dragonfire with a free promo card. We don’t know much about the card at this point, however, as it hasn’t been shown off anywhere yet.
Renegade Game Studios
Renegade is going a very different direction than the typical D&D-style game this time around.
Overlight is a new setting due to launch with a crowdfunding campaign later this month, so not much is known about the specifics at the moment except for the description of involving “kaleidoscopic journeys” and “returning a sense of wonder to fantasy roleplaying.”
Kids on Bikes, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like, offering a rules-light setting where kids have strange adventures in small towns (think The Goonies or Stranger Things).
Both of these offbeat settings are getting free adventures, so if you want to give either system a shot with shorter, one-off games, be sure to pick these ones up in June.
You can always count on a creepy Call of Cthulhu scenario from Chaosium, and this year is no exception! Scritch Scratch is a short, modern-day horror scenario revolving around terror in the backwoods. Something tells me their take on that notion will play out a lot differently than in Far Cry 5!
Even more Cthulhu is included this year from Pelgrane Press with a two-for-one entry covering both the Cthulhu Confidential and Fall of Delta Green systems.
Cthulhu Confidential is quite a bit different than Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu game and is intended for only one player and one GM, while Fall of Delta Green is a GUMSHOE version of the popular action/horror hybrid setting, focused on investigation and covert combat in the ’60s.
Lamentation of the Flame Princess
LOTFP is a very weird, very brutal (and very NSFW) system that has received a bunch of ENnie nominations in recent years for bizarre adventures like Broodmother Skyfortress and Blood in the Chocolate.
Obviously, the series would have to include an appropriately wacky entry for Free RPG Day 2018, and we weren’t disappointed.
Since last year’s offering was titled Vaginas Are Magic, I think we all know the chicken on the front cover is very much not the Eldritch Cock they are talking about ….
After Fantasy Flight sadly lost the rights to keep covering Warhamer 40,000 with the Dark Heresy and Black Crusade lines, Ulisses Spiele picked up those rights from Game Workshop and launched the Wrath & Glory game.
To get a taste of this new take on an old setting, the free adventure Blessings Unheralded is due to arrive for Free RPG Day, and it appears to be focused on the rank-and-file soldiers in the Imperial Guard.
A new Tunnels and Trolls book will be provided by Flying Buffalo this year, essentially acting as a Quick Start Guide containing everything you need to make characters, start a game, and play your first adventure.
Troll Lord Games
This one is still a bit of a question mark. We know Troll Lord will include a third-party 5th edition D&D adventure, but the specifics are still unknown. If you see any info on this one, let us know and we’ll update the article!
This killer beholder shirt is coming from OffWorld Designs in celebration of Free RPG Day 2018, but only one shirt per box will be included, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get one. Expect it to go immediately (or for the store employees to grab it!).
Studio 9 Publishing
The offbeat Midnight Legion is an RPG system I wasn’t at all familiar with prior to today, but you better believe I’ll be grabbing up the Last Recruit adventure book.
The hook here is that Midnight Legion is essentially a much more advanced version of classic choose-your-own-adventure-type book series like Lone Wolf, and the game is meant for two players or even solo play.
While the focus on any Free RPG Day is typically Quick Start rules and new starter adventures, there’s a ton of swag besides just books that tabletop gamers need, from dice bags to card mats.
UltraPro is getting in on this year’s festivities with a killer (and ultra high-quality) Dungeons and Dragons character folio. This is another one-per-box entry that will go super quick.
Wrapping up this year’s new free entries will be Wyrd Miniatures with a Quick Start Guide for Through the Breach, a nontraditional steampunk RPG that uses cards instead of dice. I haven’t personally tried this one out yet and hope to rectify that come June 16!
Where to Get Your Free RPG Day 2018 Products
Which book, promo card, or dice set are you most looking forward to grabbing? Let us know in the comments! If you don’t already know where your local hobby stores are located, be sure to check out the Free RPG Day retail locator here.
For those who can’t make it to a Free RPG Day 2018 retailer, don’t forget that most of these entries will be available as PDFs straight from their respective publishers in late June.
Looking to dive into the wild word of tabletop gaming after grabbing some free entries? Take a look at our lists of tabletop board games that video game fans will love and a rundown of the best adult board games that came out last year to find out where to start!