So, I’m doing a non-review of my favorite RPG products of the year. I don’t review RPG products anymore, but I can certainly tell you what I loved. This is simply my impressions and responses to products that have come out.
Consider these recommendations, but there are so many great RPGs out there. It was hard to choose the best of list, and there are many more I wish I could mention.
So, there was a small slew of Dungeons & Dragons 5e product this year (all of which is excellent), but Volo’s stood out. Volo’s is a book best described as luxurious. Entire page spreads dedicated to details about monsters, where they live, their cultures, and so much more.
It’s clearly a labor of love from game designers who love what they do, and want to share that with fans. Additionally, the addition of several new playable races to the D&D 5e ruleset is fantastic.
If you dig D&D, and you really wanna dive into monsters, this book is perfect.
First off, my love for The One Ring is entirely unabashed. I consider it a triumph in the RPG space, and one of the best made and most beautiful games I play and own. Cubicle 7 does a great job with the line, and I’m ecstatic with every release they do.
That being said, this book delivers the piece that was always missing, that of Rohan and the Rohirrim. I’ve been in love with the culture, vision, and style of Rohan since I read the books as a teen, and my single biggest complaint with TOR has always been the lack of playable cultures.
Well no more! This book is beautiful, full of maps, locations, stories, two new cultures to play, rules for mounted combat, and hits every button for me.
Hm. Not really an RPG, but a card game. But it’s a card game that tells a RPG like story. Through Haiku. Pretty cool.
I demoed it at GenCon and loved it. I’ve got a copy on the way, and I can not wait to introduce it to my group. It’s fun, clever, and beautiful, marrying card game mechanics, roleplaying game fun, and clever design into a wonderful experience.
I can’t recommend this one enough.
I’m a big Savage World fan and a big fan of their pseudo-historical Weird Wars game line. Weird War I is the perfect fit into the game line and expands to a perfect place.
The morally grey era of World War 1 is a stark contrast to the more black and white conflicts of World War 2. The use of various components (zeppelins, cavalry, melee weapons), puts the warfare here into a less familiar but very surreal place.
Battling a Zeppelin crewed by the living dead is a unique experience, and Weird Wars 1 delivers on those sorts of stories repeatedly and with the ease and elegance of the Savage Worlds ruleset.
The return of Chaosium’s flagship roleplaying game is one of the best produced books of the year. The standard editions are gorgeous, full-color books (they even have ribbons!), and I adored the rules updates to the game.
They felt appropriate, streamlined, and pulled Call of Cthulhu into a more narrative space, while retaining the good horror elements.
It’s a great example of how an ongoing and evolving ruleset can stay true to the roots, without having to sit stagnant (You can see my review of Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition for another example of that).
I missed the Kickstarter on Polaris (due to already throwing piles of money at other projects), and waited to get it until it was out retail.
Well it is! And it’s a stunningly pretty book.
Seriously. For no other reason than you will own one of the prettiest RPGs made, you should buy this.
The ruleset is solid (it’s similar to Pendragon), and the setting is evocative and delicious. There’s so much to read and explore here. A purchase I would repeat in a heartbeat.
I think I found my new default setting for my 5th Edition games.
This book is a triumph on so many levels. The mechanical design is rock solid.
The art is top notch.
The graphic design is great.
The setting is evocative, dramatic, and intense, and the book serves as wonderful introduction to someone who has never experienced the Scarred Lands before. Right now I only have the PDF, but I’ll be getting the physical as soon as I can. Really regretting not Kickstarting this one.
D&D 5e replaced Pathfinder for me a while ago, but this book constantly drives me to want to run Pathfinder. It’s a great production, and something about the setting really grabs me.
I love the new races, new classes, new abilities, and there’s so much in here that is so well done.
There’s something for everyone here (unless you hate awesome), and it’s just a great book. I’m glad I have this one on my shelf, even if I never run it.
Ah. #1 on my list for the year, is a tie! Let’s go over the first one.
A Single Moment is a masterpiece. An RPG for two players, A Single Moment stands apart in a crowd of indie games due to the brilliant design behind it.
There’s a strong focus on theme and mechanics that support theme, while allowing for dramatic and personal storytelling.
The designer of this game will be one to watch for a long time to come.I just couldn’t place this game any lower than number one.
Much like A Single Moment, Ryuutama is a force of RPG ingenuity and deserves the highest accolades. The focus on the journey as the best part of the game (both thematically and mechanically), and it’s JRPG design notes, while remaining fully in the tabletop RPG space all come together.
Ryuutama is a game I could wax poetical about for a long time to come. Instead I’ll say you should pick it up for yourself if you want to try it.