Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Ten Favorite RPG Products of All Time

A couple of weeks ago Dyvers posted a list of his top 10 RPG products, and he also wanted to hear what his reader's lists were. I'm a little behind in my blog feed, and I only just read his post, but I still wanted to get in on this one. These are my top 10, in no particular order.

10. Star*Drive Campaign Setting for Alternity - I love this setting. It's a semi-explored, semi-colonized area of space with everything you could ask for - mystery, political intrigue, military conflict, strange new works, precursor artifacts... I've stolen liberally from it for numerous games, especially Star Wars. It was a shame when TSR got the rights to Star Wars, and killed the Alternity line.

9. Star Wars 2nd Edition - Before the prequels, before the expanded universe, West End Games published over 140 adventures, supplements, and journals expanding Star Wars in all sorts of interesting ways, all the while keeping true to the feel of the universe and keeping the rules set remarkably unencumbered with unnecessary bloat.

8. Stonehell by Michael Curtis - Stonehell was one of the first, if not the first, OSR product I ever bought. Michael Curtis' megadungeon encapsulates what is to me the essence of what a megadungeon should be. While the Castle of the Mad Archmage might be closer to Gary's style of megadungeon, and Barrowmaze has fantastic theme and mood, and ASE captures the gonzo, Stonehell is closer to what I want to play and to run, and I can't wait for the second half...

7. Birthright Campaign Setting - While it isn't perfect, Birthright manages to do a lot of really interesting things, and not just with domain management. Realm spells handles "10th level" type magic really well, bloodlines and the abominations are amazingly interesting and flavorful, and playing in a land that isn't points of light or on the frontier was a nice change of pace... if only I could have gotten more players to want to play....

6. Creature Catalog - I've written about it before, but this is the best collection of monsters out there. Sure, there are some stinkers and overlap, but there are so many great beasts that make up for it.

5. Nobilis - It's a work of art as much as a game.

4. Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue - I can't tell you how many hours I spent I flipping through this D&D version of the Sears Catalog. It's just got such wonderfully setting appropriate and flavorful items and descriptions.

3. OGL - I have to praise the Open Gaming License. While it isn't exactly a product by itself, so much of the OSR wouldn't exist without it. Plus I got a lot of good mileage out of 3.x.

2. D&D 4e Core Books - Yes, a bit of a cheat with this, but 4e does a lot right. I know there are many in the OSR (and many outside of it too) who think it isn't worth the paper it's printed on, but I am still impressed, especially coming to it after the bloat of 3.5. 4e let me run games with minimal prep, without having to have a massive statblock that took hours to prepare for high level monsters that my players would kill in minutes.

1. The Rules Cyclopedia - This had to come in at #1. It's my desert island RPG.


  1. You're courting disaster, putting 4e and RC that close together on the list. :)

    I missed out on Alternity and Star*Drive, but they sound wonderful. Just the sort of thing we used to do with Traveller, and probably why Traveller would make such a list for me as well.

    1. I missed out on Traveller until fairly recently, and still haven't actually played it yet. I think in a lot of ways Alternity's Star*Drive setting owes a lot to it though.

      As for 4e and RC, I'm willing to chance it!

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  3. How does Star Wars 2nd Edition compare to the 1st?