Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite RPG Products of all Time

I saw this on the Other Side Blog ... and although I don't usually join these kinds of posts (not sure why really, just bad timing maybe?) I thought this looked like a lot of fun.

10 - 13th Age

The game that I am currently playing, and so perhaps subject to some undeserved attention due to that. It's the newest game on my list. This game really is a pretty sweet piece of work. The publication itself is beautiful. So far game play has been very smooth. It's the game that has brought D&D back to my table. So, I am placing it here at number 10.

9 - Star Wars (1st Edition)

The first edition Star Wars game by Greg Costikyan may have had its share of flaws, but it was an eye-opener for me. It simplified so many things while introducing a lot of new ideas. And it was self contained in a beautiful yet slim hardcover book. I liked the d6 system that it introduced and the way that it embraced the Star Wars setting. We played many games of Star Wars using these rules.

8 - Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia

Everything D&D in one cool volume. The D&D Rules Cyclopedia had it all. Classes, Races, Monsters, Gods, Setting. It was the most complete single contribution to Dungeons and Dragons ever produced and so, it's my favorite D&D book. If I were to run classic D&D today, this is the book I would pull from my shelf.

7 - Mekton II

One of two Mike Pondsmith games on my list. There was a time when I would have called Mike Pondsmith my favorite game designer. He was the first designer I know of to include anime inspired themes in his RPG design. Mekton II was an awesome little game system. It had a cool, anime inspired lifepath system, clean mechanics for combat and skill use. And it had giant robots. I used this game to run everything from Star Trek style sci-fi to James Bond style spy games ... Mekton II is awesome!

6 - The Fantasy Trip

This is actually 3 books that collectively make one product. It's Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard, and In the Labyrinth. Steve Jackson's the Fantasy Trip was so far ahead of its time. A great modular fantasy RPG with an integrated skill system that could do anything. I remember articles in gaming magazines that allowed TFT to do science fiction and superheroes within just a few pages ... and it all worked. TFT is one of the greats of the old school era.

5 - Champions (3rd Edition)

For me this was the magic edition of the Champions game before the Hero System split itself off as a generic every man system and the game was still just Champions. Man I ran a lot of Champions back in the day. So much so that I burned myself out on the system completely and haven't looked at it in years. But it was still a really influential and powerful system and scores highly among my favorites.

4 - Barbarians of Lemuria (Legendary Edition)

This game by Simon Washbourne is nothing short of perfect. Elegant system using d6 and multiple careers for diverse and interesting character options. A solid integrated fantasy world based on classic sword and sorcery. Fantastic art, clear concise writing. It's so good that it's the only game that made it to my top 10 list despite the fact that I have never played it. I hope I will be able to remedy that someday, this game is just beautiful.

3 - Dream Park RPG

My second Mike Pondsmith game, Dream Park scores number 3 in my list of all time favorites. A mixed genre game within a game, designed to do anything and not think about it too hard, Dream Park is just awesome. I still look at the game for design inspiration and ideas.

2 - Marvel Superhero Adventure Game (SAGA rules)

The Marvel Superhero Adventure Game supported one of the longest and most memorable superhero RPG runs that I ever had the pleasure to GM. The card system is elegant and versatile. This was a game that died an unjust and early death. It remains a great system. I have even gone so far as to work on my own version of the Saga system that makes use of standard playing cards. Now, if Numenera proves itself in game play to be the game I think it is ... it might just bump MSHAG out of this number 2 spot.

1 - Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st Edition)

My number one favorite RPG product of all time has to be the 1st Edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay RPG book. I have so many fond memories of playing this game. It has incredible character diversity a dead simple resolution system, exploding damage dice and gory critical hit tables that were the highlight of many a game session. WHFRP had it all.

Now that you've seen my favorites, check the favorites of these other bloggers too!

How about you? What's in your top 10?




  1. I won't go in any particular order or include pics, but here we go...

    - Marvel Super Heroes Ultimate Powers Book (TSR) - The old FASERIP system served us quite well in the '80s. The UPB expanded your character generation options a hundred-fold. Sometimes we'd just roll randomly, letting our dice create some truly weird characters. Absolutely fun.

    - Earthdawn First Edition (FASA Corp) - While the system was a bit complicated for my tastes, the mechanics worked with the game world and that was a huge selling point for me. I don't think I could ever go back to this one, except to use the setting with some other system, but it was a fun and innovative game back in the '90s.

    - D&D Basic Set (Red Box, TSR) - This boxed set was my introduction to the hobby. The interior black & white art by Larry Elmore is permanently etched into my brain. I couldn't go back to this one, either, but I loved it for what it was: a great intro to the hobby.

    - Star Wars D6 (West End Games) - Yes, it had some issues, but while this game was being supported it was awesome. The cinematic mechanics married well with the setting. And hey, it was a Star Wars RPG!

    - Black Ops (DWD Studios) - Yes, this is very recent, but I think it's great. The BareBones d00 system is quick and easy and the small, digest-sized hardback format makes it truly portable. If I want to run a spy game, a SpecOps mission, or something similar, this is my go-to game.

    - Numenera (Monte Cook Games) - Another recent game, this beautiful book has a truly unique setting filled with weird and wonderful creatures, treasures, and characters. If you can't get inspired to run a game after reading this book, you are dead inside. My only hope is that Cook supports the Ninth World line.

    - 13th Age (Pelgrane Press) - If I want to play D&D, this is the version I'm playing. The use of class talents, a streamlined set of feats, and a breezy combat system keep the game from becoming a mechanical monstrosity like it's antecedents.

    - Rocket Age (Cubicle 7) - 1930s sci-fi space pulp. There is never anything cooler than fighting mechanized space Nazi walkers on Mars using rocket packs and radium guns. I love pulp action, and this game fits the bill perfectly.

    - Spirit of the Century (Evil Hat Productions) - Yes, more 1930s pulp action. But this time, we're powered by the FATE system and sticking to Earth. The story-driven FATE 3.0 system made its debut here.. kinda. Well, much of what would be in FATE 3.0 is in here. The game has a great setting where the players are truly iconic heroes. My only complaint is it's not a hardback.

    - FATE Core System (Evil Hat Productions) - I'm not a huge fan of universal systems, but FATE is fun, and the new digest-sized hardback is a great toolkit for making your own settings come alive.

    Hey, Jeff! How about your top 10 FREE Rpgs?

  2. Great list! Completely agree with you about 13th Age and Numenera. Haven't looked at Rocket Age. I know it's based on the Doctor Who game. I should give it a look. Hmmm... top 10 Free RPG's? Challenge accepted.


  3. BTW: That was "Covert Ops" not "Black Ops" by DWD Studios. ;)

    Also, I'll throw in a bonus game, DWD Studios' BareBones Fantasy. It uses the same system as Covert Ops, the "class as skill" idea. There's a great deal of stuff packed into a small book and it's receiving a decent amount of support.