Suggestions for a gateway game to tempt Secondary students from D&D

I teach high school. I’ve recently moved to a school with a well established RPG club, but it’s all D&D, and nothing else. But I know that a couple of my students would really enjoy the more narrative style of game. I’m wondering what you might recommend as a good game to use to showcase the differences. Keep in mind these are students at a school, ages 13-16; so Monsterhearts and the like are not gonna fly.

I’m not too enthused with Dungeon World, it seems to close to D&D, among other factors. Another fantasy game is fine.

I curious what folks think is best, and why.


Edit: I’m pretty familiar with PBTA and FITD “rulesets” so I’d likely stick to those (not a lot of time to take on new system mastery these days).

Lady Blackbird might be a good gateway game? Maybe Fate Accelerated?

Edit: Also, Microscope?


What about something like Slugblaster? It’s forged in the dark in a zany universe where teens group together to run interdimensional journeys to battle monsters. I think the aesthetic might be more nostalgic for a time that contemporary high schoolers might not understand tho.

Alternatively I think Mausritter is an interesting OSR-type game where you play mice with the natural problems that an anthropomorphic mouse might have. I think there’s a free option on

I’ve heard it’s easier to change radically, with a different setting and whole new expectations, else some habits “carry” from one game to the other.
I’d suggest The Vicar is coming for tea or it’s teenage or Cthuluh variants: Outrageous or The Deep Calls.

Or @Nickwedig 's
I use these for first sessions, they’re easy, fast, and steer well if the players want to go specific places.


Monster of the Week is a good choice. The premise is accessible. Character creation is quick. The rules are simple. There’s no lore to worry about. And it’s easy to give players both a concrete goal and free rein in how they pursue it.

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It’s outside of the PbtA/FitD realm, but my son (9) enjoys Dungeon Crawl Classics. It is very “like D&D”, but less corporate and more weird. Possibly inappropriate for a school setting, since it’s pretty overt about “wizard make deals with demons” and stuff.

How about Scum and Villainy? That’s FitD, and kids would all be familiar with Star Wars as a touchstone, and possibly Firefly or Cowboy Bebop. Rogues and space seems like an easy sell.

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This has been my experience as well; Monster of the Week sits in a comfortable spot between “familiar enough that’s it’s not weird and confusing” and “different enough that you don’t try to play it like D&D”.

Say no more!
I suggest, to no ones’s surprise, Fantasy World :smiley:
The SRD @ is free and contains 100% of the game rules.
Typos and bad formatting are included in the price, but I’m slowly working on that :sweat_smile:
Besides, the commercial PDFs by MS Edizioni have just arrived to the KS backers and should soon be available for purchase, should one wish for an insanely nicer reading experience :wink:

The SRD intro provides a handy TL:DR section about all the core points that make FW different from D&D and DW, so be sure to check that out to see if this game is what you are looking for.
And for any further questions, I’m at your disposale here on the forum :slight_smile:


I was going to suggest a Forged in the Dark gameScum and Villainy is a great call. I second that. it’s mechanically very different, which encourages players top look with new eyes at the D&D ruleset.
I would also definitely recommend Last Fleet and Brindlewood Bay. Both are very good implementations of Powered by the Apocalypse.
For a solid rules lite game ICERPG (Index Card RPG) can be used to do a good nockabout SciFi game.
If you want a system with more crunch, Stars Without Number is very well designed.

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