Following Supernatural’s grand finale, fans of TV show might enjoy these tabletop RPGs of monster-hunting and paranormal investigation.
With the airing of its series finale on November 19, 2020, Supernatural, the long-running series about the muscle car-driving, monster-slaying brother duo Sam and Dean Winchester, has finally come to an end. In the void left by the conclusion of this paranormal TV show, long-time fans might be interested in creating their own stories of monster hunting through tabletop roleplaying games. There’s no shortage of RPGs for occult, horror, and urban fantasy storytelling, and the following systems really capture the gritty, blue-collar, hard-scramble life of the Winchesters and other monster hunters in Supernatural’s setting.
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After their mother’s death at the hands of a yellow-eyed demon, Sam and Dean were raised by their vengeful father to become Hunters: investigators, banishers, and killers of the monsters, demons, and ghosts haunting the lonely roads of America. Driving from town to town in their signature Chevy Impala, the Winchester brothers faced off against different monsters of the week, grappled with bucketloads of psychological issues, and tried to avert the Biblical apocalypse (at least during the first five seasons of Supernatural – the last ten were essentially about them dealing with the fallout from canceling the apocalypse).
There is, in fact, an official tabletop RPG for Supernatural made using the Cortex System – a game called, unsurprisingly, Supernatural Roleplaying Game. The games listed below, however, have the advantage of taking place in original worlds outside the official canon of Supernatural, while still letting players recreate the tone and feel of being an underdog monster hunter like the Winchesters, outnumbered, outgunned, desperate, and haunted.
Tabletop RPGs Like Supernatural – Hunter: The Vigil
White Wolf Studios and Onyx Path Publishing are famous for roleplaying games that put the players in the shoes of supernatural creatures: vampires, werewolves, mages, changelings, demons, Frankenstein monsters, and more. Hunter: The Vigil diverges from this theme by focusing on ordinary yet extraordinary humans – people who glimpse the unnatural predators lurking in the shadows of their worlds and decide to grab a shotgun and torch in response.
The Tier 1 gameplay of Hunter: The Vigil most closely matches the mood of Supernatural’s early seasons, with purely mortal monster hunters banding together in Cells, investigating occult disturbances, and figuring out the powers and weaknesses of monsters through trial and (often fatal) error. The game’s Tier 2 and 3 gameplay more closely aligns with the later seasons of the show, as the monster hunters acquire powerful relics, join more structured hunter societies, and even gain a few supernatural tricks of their own.
Tabletop RPGs Like Supernatural – Monster Of The Week
The Powered By The Apocalypse RPG Monster of the Week lets players tell stories inspired by many different paranormal media franchises – Supernatural, The X Files, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, and more. Character playbooks like The Wronged, The Chosen, The Expert, or The Weird embody certain flavors of monster hunter, while special narrative Moves like “Kick Some Ass” and “Investigate A Mystery” create interesting story developments. The plot of each Monster of the Week session is geared towards players identifying, tracking down, and foiling a monster with novel powers, hungers, and an agenda that will lead to great harm if left unchecked.
Tabletop RPGs Like Supernatural – The Dresden Files RPG
The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game was published by Evil Hat Productions using its signature Fate roleplaying system, letting players tell their own stories in the world of The Dresden Files, a bestselling urban fantasy series written by Jim Butcher. Like book protagonist Harry Dresden, players can take on the role of Wizard Private Eyes or other archetypes like Changelings, Shapeshifters, and Champions of God, as well as “Vanilla Mortal” characters like police officers, mob bosses, or monsters hunters. The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game really shines when players have the chance to run a “Session Zero,” thanks to an intricate ruleset that lets players collaborate with the GM to build their campaign setting.
Tabletop RPGs Like Supernatural – #iHunt: The Tabletop RPG
Premise-wise, #iHunt: The Tabletop RPG: Killing Monsters In The Gig Economy blends elements from both Hunter: The Vigil and The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game. Like Hunter: The Vigil, #iHunt focuses primarily on working-class monsters hunters who struggle to defeat monstrous prey. And like The Dresden Files, #iHunt is based on a series of urban fantasy books by author/game designer Olivia Hill. The unique draw of #iHunt is how it creates a world where the business Supernatural-style monster hunting is, well, a business.
The titular #iHunt is a job app like Uber or Lyft, where clients post bounties for monsters and lower-class, marginalized, Millennial hunters try to complete these jobs without dying horribly or falling behind on rent. Both the #iHunt books and #iHunt: The Tabletop RPG are unapologetically by and for the have-nots of society: marginalized people like the poor, minorities, and LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as people from homes so broken that hunting ghosts and vampires doesn’t seem so scary by comparison.
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