James Maliszewski, prodded by the other Brian Murphy, listed his favorite RPGs that are not D&D. Even though it's rather lacking in "indie" goodness, James' list is still far more eclectic than mine:
- STAR FRONTIERS - My parents bought me the Knight Hawks box for Christmas, not really understanding how the game was put together. No problem, a few days later I bought myself the Alpha Dawn box for my birthday, though we had to hunt all over town to find a copy. I loved this game in spite of its many flaws, including a very clunky combat system that usually resulted in people beating each other to death with their otherwise useless guns after they'd burned through all their ammo. I still love the aliens, especially the blob-like dralasite, which was a favorite in our games. It also caught me at just the perfect time, when my reading tastes were heavily into Heinlein, H. Beam Piper, and Alan Dean Foster. You can still get a taste of this game through the "digitally remastered" version now available on the web page for The Frontiersman.
- GURPS - Nearly as old as D&D and still chugging along fine. I have a love-hate relationships with GURPS. The trick to really enjoying it is choosing just the bits you need and leaving off the rest. I haven't gotten to play this one nearly as much as I'd like.
- Shadowrun - This is one of those games that either clicks with you or doesn't, and it's almost entirely your reaction to the setting that will decide the issue. When it came out, it really clicked with my friends, and it was just as popular as D&D with us through the end of my high school days. It's the game that really taught me to pay attention to mechanics, and how the rules can reinforce or interfere with the setting. The first edition of this game did both. I have very cool ideas for this game, and some day I hope to play them out.
- Traveller - My exposure to this game was pretty limited. It seemed to have more promise than Star Frontiers in many respects, but was always a near-miss with me. I suppose that's in large part because what I really wanted was...
- Fading Suns - Wow! I adore this crazy little game. It's so deep, so rich, the concept at once so simple to grasp and yet so textured in its possibilities and presentation. The mechanics, unfortunately, are as sprawling as possibilities, and were always a hurdle I felt I had to get over. I've got the outline of a sci-fi setting on my hard drive, and it owes more than a little to the ideas in Fading Suns.
- True20 - I'd love to mention Blue Rose here as well, but I really haven't gotten to play it enough to list it. But I have gotten to enjoy a bit more True20, and for a while, I was thinking it would be the last RPG I'd ever need. Yeah, it's really that good, and that flexible, a sort of GURPS-lite without making you feel like you're cheating yourself of GURPS' crunchy goodness. I still adore the rules, but it was my dissatisfaction with trying to tweak them for fantasy that has me turning back to Moldvay/Cook.