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Kingdom Events

If your campaign feels static, like nothing ever changes except what your PCs happen to do, spice it up with Kingdom Events.

It will breathe life into your campaign by giving it a sense of history, and will be a ready source of plot hooks and adventures for your PCs.

$1.99 Buy at drivethrurpg.com

Easy D20

Lightweight fantasy RPG rules by yours truly (Stolph).
  • Quick character creation and leveling
  • Great for introducing kids to role-playing
  • Moderately compatible with D&D and Pathfinder

$3.99 Buy at drivethrurpg.com

Curse of Strahd: A Dungeons & Dragons Sourcebook

A D&D 5 supplement

Unravel the mysteries of Ravenloft in this dread adventure for the world's greatest roleplaying game

Under raging storm clouds, the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich stands silhouetted against the ancient walls of Castle Ravenloft. Rumbling thunder pounds the castle spires. The wind's howling increases as he turns his gaze down toward the village of Barovia.

Far below, yet not beyond his keen eyesight, a party of adventurers has just entered his domain.

Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)

The long-awaited D&D 5 came out in August 2014. It went through extensive pre-release play-testing (called D&D Next) from the RPG community. I think it might be their best version yet!

Hopefully D&D 5 will finally put an end to the version wars. Maybe we RPG gamers can put aside our differences. Maybe it will be the one version to rule them all and in the darkness bind them! Naaah!

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook

Spawned from D&D 3.5 using the Open Gaming License from Wizards of the Coast (the makers of D&D), Pathfinder, created by Paizo, has been the home of the many gamers who didn't care for the direction D&D 4 took.

There have been numerous improvements in the rules, like it no longer costs you experience points (XP) to create magic items and such, only money (gp); so PC's will actually take time off of adventuring to create them! Plus, clerics totally rock!

There is a huge collection of Pathfinder books and supplements.

Traveller RPG Core Rulebook

This is my favorite sci-fi RPG by far. The game mechanics are simple, but the book is chock full of adventure ideas. It also has tables for interstellar trade. Very cool.

Though not an issue particular to Traveller, I find Sci-Fi RPG's to be more challenging to GM than fantasy. Your PC's can book ship passage to a planet light years away from anything you've detailed. In fantasy settings, their destination options are more limited since they have to walk to get anywhere. Unless they can teleport! But there are tricks to overcoming this problem.

Campaign Cartographer 3

I've done a fair bit of research on map making software for RPG gamers, and trust me, this is the one you want. There's a bit of a learning curve, but with some patience, you can create high quality vector-based maps. Tile-based and hex map alternatives don't even come close.

Unfortunately, it only works on Windows PCs, and the publisher has said repeatedly that they have no plans to make a Mac version.

I lent my brother my copy a few years ago, and haven't seen it since! But I'm a Mac guy now anyway.

Battle Mats, Markers, and Minis

A picture is worth a thousand words when drawing out dungeons, so I've always found battle mats and miniatures to be an indispensable playing aid.

No more arguments about where characters are when the trap is sprung. No more long descriptions of where things are in a room. Just draw it out and let the characters move their character's miniature to explore.

Microscope

Create a world collaboratively with your friends using nothing but a stack of blank index cards and a pen. And your imagination!

Read my review

Dice and Special Card Decks

Dice and special card decks can be used for a variety of purposes, from rolling attack and skill rolls, to getting ideas for your next adventure.

Fate: Core System

This game is one of the most innovative I've seen. It turns on its head the notion that the DM decides everything except PC actions. In Fate, players can spend Fate Points to influence the setting. It is what's called a narrativist RPG, whereas most other RPG's are simulationist. Fate uses special Fate Dice.

Savage Worlds Deluxe: Explorer's Edition

This is a great game: simple and easy to create a new character ("Fast, Furious, and Fun").

Unlike D&D and Pathfinder which uses a d20 for attack and skill rolls, each skill has a die type: d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12. If you beat a 4, you succeed. And it uses an exploding dice mechanic.

There is also a well developed concept of hindrances and edges (advantages). For example, taking the "Enemy" hindrance means you have an enemy who keeps showing up causing you trouble. But it gives you extra points to spend on increasing the die type of a skill, raising an ability, or gaining an edge.

It's lack of rich spell lists doesn't make it a good fit for fantasy (for me), but it's great for pulp fiction and modern era settings.

I do find it difficult to look at a character sheet and see how powerful the character is, because there is only a vague concept of a level. But if you look at the XP earned, you get a feel for it.

RPG Settings and Adventures
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