The other day I published a list of 10 RPGs (included below) I would recommend to anyone participating in any of this year’s Secret Santa programs or that needed some neat gift ideas. The post received quite a number of hits and then I realized that I left off a few items. This lead to the decision to expand the original because there are so many great items out there. Initially, I was really torn as to which 10 items were the best to recommend. Therefore, I determined that expanding this to 15 items would be better. The results are listed below for your review.
The original list:
The Quiet Year by Buried Without Ceremony is an amazing narrative cartography game. The game prompts (cards) help drive the narrative story all the while creating this wild and crazy map with your friends. No two games are ever the same due in part to the card arrangement and the card options you have to choose from when each card is drawn. This game is very popular in certain circles and may not be for everyone, but it’s worth a look. Buy the PDF
King Arthur Pendragon by Nocturnal Media is an old favorite of mine. I have played this game over several editions and the game is just amazing! If you target is a fan of medieval historical fantasy or Arthurian lore, this game would make a great addition to their collection. The rules are simple and the game allows for a highly narrative player/GM interaction with all or as little of the Arthurian flavor as you want to interject. Buy the PDF or book.
Fiasco by Bully Pulpit Games was a groundbreaking indie game when it arrived on the RPG scene a few years ago. The game’s playsets, which there are many, are the story framework that allows the players (typically 4) to create crazy relationships and situations that must always spin out of control. Despite the popularity of this game (featured on Tabletop) there are many that are unaware how much fun this game is. Buy the PDF
Mouse Guard by Burning Wheel is not new, but the latest edition really refines what was already a great game. The game has a direct connection to the Mouse Guard comic series by David Petersen. Even if you not familiar with the comic series, the theme of the game is appealing to so many. The mechanical nature of the game does have a slight learning curve, but it is easily learned and approachable by older children as well. Many of us like to game with our children!
Cthulhu Britannica: London by Cubicle 7 is a relatively new product on store shelves (or PDF) and it would make a great addition to the collection of any Call of Cthulhu (7e) fan. The box set is rich with detail, dripping with themes of London in the 1920s and packed with mythos awesomeness! The box set includes a player’s guide, keeper’s guide and book with three investigations to get you going. The maps and handouts are both beautiful and utilitarian. Buy the PDF
Sci-Fi Beta Kappa by Indie Hippo is wonderfully fun indie RPG. Thematically the game is positioned somewhere between Animal House (the movie) and some off the wall B-rated sci-fi film. Teenage aliens are sent to earth to attend college and maybe straighten up their bad behaviors. While the theme is different the game inevitably leads to slapstick comedy and crazier stories. The rules are light and rather intuitive and it’s a great inexpensive way for a GM to branch out slightly. Buy the PDF
Roll20 subscription – Roll20 is not the only virtual tabletop, but it is the one I personally recommend. There comes a time when GMs consider running games online for one reason or another and to make the most it, a virtual tabletop is often a necessity. The platform is rich with options such as dynamic lighting, customizable character sheets and much. The platform is system agnostic and is highly customizable. Buy from source
Dice – Every gamer on your shopping list to include your secret Santa target loves dice. It’s in our very nature! So why not show them you are thinking of them this holiday season with a new shiny new set of dice! Dice make roleplayers happy. There are many high quality dice manufacturers out there so look for some cool dice!
Night Witches by Bully Pulpit Games is an amazing, historically themed, game that is Powered by the Apocalypse game engine. This game enters new historical territory by allowing players to take on the personae of WWII Russian Female pilots and take them through not only harrowing bombing runs to harass the Germans, but also the intricacies of marginalization, NKVD and even love. Buy the PDF
Trail of Cthulhu by Pelgrane Press is a new take on the Cthulhu Mythos. Ok, not so much a new take, but a sleek and elegant rule system that allows for more time investigating the mythos than other systems allow. There are dozens of supplements for this very well support RPG that runs on the Gumshoe system. This is a perennial favorite of mine and I think it makes a perfect gift for almost any gamer!
The expanded list:
Of Dreams and Magic by ODAM Publishing is a modern a modern fantasy tabletop RPG that gives players the options to live and adventure in two worlds. The first is the waking world, the world they were born into. The other is a dreamscape in which they assume their animus, the dream form. The mechanics of the game are unique and finely honed to be both intuitive and dramatic. Hardcover currently on sale for 15% off, Use the code #preblackfriday at checkout.
Shadows of Esteren by Agate Publishing is a gritty and dirty Celtic influenced medieval fantasy game where fantasy meets a little weird steampunk. The world is Medieval Celtic inspired with low magic, a touch of the weird and horror elements that are sure to please and appeal to many gamers. The main book is elegantly written in a diary-like style and the art is amazing! Supplemental books expand the world and cultural sites. Buy the PDF
The Designers and Dragons series of books published Evil Hat Publishing is an amazing look at the rise and sometimes fall of the RPG industry from its inception to modern times. The books are chock full of little known and widely known information that is sure to catch your target’s attention. Learning how the early days of the hobby, gave rise to other elements of the hobby is a great way to learn where we have been and possibly where we might end up in the future. Buy the Bundle fo 4 PDFs or Buy separately
Inspectres by Memento Mori Theatricks is an early indie style game that is still loved and played widely after more than a decade on the market. This Ghost Buster-like game puts players into the thick of the action, but still requires them to attempt to manage their ghost catching business. Don’t worry it’s not a game of checkbook management, but rather one of unique mechanics, mayhem, ghost catching, and property damage! Buy the PDF
D&D Rules Cyclopedia by Wizards of the Coast. I would remiss if this list did not include some homage to my childhood. Basic D&D is still a great system for anyone wanting the original old school D&D of the 1980s without all the tweaks and changes. This version of the rules was good enough for a generation of gamers in the 80s and still an awesome example of a solid game that everyone should try at least once. Buy the PDF
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