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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: Great rule book reads? rss

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Mark Halsey
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Hi. Long time RPG guy here from the old days of Star Frontiers, Paranoia, Chill, and Gang Busters.

I never get to role play anymore but I remember the best past for me was reading the rule books. I read more rule books than I ever played.

I’ve been out of the loop for a long time. I’m not necessarily looking to get back to the table but I’d love a recommendation for a rule book read.

Any new RPGs out there that stand out as a cool systems or entertaining reading at least?

Thanks!
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Andy Leighton
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Maybe one of the Dresden Files books - either The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game, Volume 1: Your Story for the big game with lots of rules or Dresden Files Accelerated for the smaller more manageable rules. Both are written in a somewhat conversation tone with quips and asides from characters from the book series.

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Hans Messersmith
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Its nothing like any rule-book you have read in the past, but I found Night Witches to be a great read. Its an incredible historical tale encoded into a set of rules for a game. I read it like a novel on my first read.

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Evil Doppelgänger
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Maze of the Blue Medusa was a popular choice for reading.
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Kevin
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1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide is a popular choice.

For a more modern equivalent, I find myself constantly leafing through The Burning Wheel.
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Anything from Over the Edge (1st & 2nd Editions) is a great read but obviously one has to be invested in the setting.

I also recommend The Supercrew. Although I've yet to actually play the game, I've read the (very short comic-book-style) rulebook many times.
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True Blue Jon
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Paranoia books are fun to read.
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Chris L
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Coriolis: The Third Horizon
Spire
Blades in the Dark
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Scott Trudeau
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I think Symbaroum and HackMaster 5e Player's Handbook are great reads and overall just beautiful books. Symbaroum's setting is fantastic. HackMaster's system is a much more in-depth and interesting version of older D&D and while it's a good read, the author does come off sounding like an arrogant ass on occasion. Still worth getting though.
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William Hostman
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Burning Wheel or Burning Empires are conceptual monsters. BE is the prettier... the comics it's based upon (The Iron Empires series) are also an excellent read.

Mouse Guard, despite Luke Crane's claims (with profanity) to the contrary, feels and works as if it's "Burning Wheel Light." Plus, it's visually gorgeous, plays really well, is mechanically readily accessible to new players, and it's based upon the most excellent comics of the same name.

If you're into Star Wars, any of FFG's Star Wars games are mechanically interesting and have a decent (about 1/5 of the book) amount of setting, plus foes and vehicles (about 1/5 each), and some of the best art in the Industry.

Savage Worlds is totally non-setting, but it's much loved, and the PDF is cheap. I enjoyed reading the Pirates of the Spanish Main standalone, even tho' I find SW itself too random.

Deadlands (either the original or the Savage Worlds version) is quite a good setting.

Fate Core is interesting mechanically; many other Fate games are better reads, tho', and I can say that I found several others interesting setting reads, including Bulldogs, Starblazer Adventures (Based upon the british Starblazer, not the Anime Star Blazers aka Space Batleship Yamato), and Legends of Anglierre.

For Gonzo feel, Star Thugs RPG is a little known, quirky, and unusual in both mechanical approach and setting.

If one has never read it, John Wick's Orkworld is an incredible read... but the mechanics are poorly explained and not well mathed...

Wick's Houses of the Blooded is also an interesting read for the settings, and for the action system. His Cat is also an interesting setting.

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Chris Abbott
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I'll second the mention of Coriolis: the Third Horizon.

Sidewinder d20 is proving entertaining to flip through (the original, not "Sidewinder: Recoiled").

More than a few hours of fun in the classic 1980s Traveller rule, supplement, and adventure books, including the hardcover compilation edition.
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William Hostman
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bobcatt wrote:
I'll second the mention of Coriolis: the Third Horizon.

Sidewinder d20 is proving entertaining to flip through (the original, not "Sidewinder: Recoiled").

More than a few hours of fun in the classic 1980s Traveller rule, supplement, and adventure books, including the hardcover compilation.
The hardcover is actually a new subedition, not a compilation. There are 20-some easily missed rules changes... well more than that if coming from the '77 instead of the 81 little black books. Starter is largely the same as The Traveller Book, but has a few additional changes... like finally making pulse lasers sensible.

All of the CT corpus from GDW, except JTAS, is on the CD - for $35, you get a CD or a thumb-drive (the later requires requesting it in that format) with Books 1-3 (1977 edition), Book 5 (1979 edition), Books 0-8 (1981 edition; 1980 for Bk5), Adv 0-12, Sup 1-13, Alien Modules 1-8, Modules 1-4, Double Adventures 1-6, Imperium, AHL, Dark Nebula, Striker, Fifth Frontier War, Invasion: Earth....

A stupendously large bit of reading...
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Chris Abbott
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I wrote in some haste.

The hardcover ‘compiles’ books 1-3, adds an introduction, presents a brief referee’s guide, touches on The Imperium, and offers a couple of short adventures to begin play. I couldn’t think of a more descriptive term at that instant. Noting rule revisions didn’t strike me as critical in this case given the OP’s intent to read rather than play.

Somewhere I have the comparison doc which highlights the ‘77 ‘81 TTB and ST deltas. Very useful.
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Mark Wilson
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I'll co-sign the Mouse Guard manual. I actually think it fails on several counts as a rules manual, to the point of being difficult to learn the game without outside help. But its lore, character, setting and flavor sections are excellently done. It's better as a coffee table book than a game reference, and thus perfect for OP's purposes.
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Michael Daumen
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The NPCs in the original Delta Green book were some of the most compelling I've come across, contributing well to the zeitgeist of the setting. I read most of that book the first time with my jaw dropped.
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Bifford the Youngest (Sam)
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Exalted Third Edition is a must-read for a good book. The stories therein are very well made.
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Richard
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I would like to add


Don't Rest Your Head Great Setting

Polaris: Chivalric Tragedy at Utmost North Melancholic and epic

Thirty It's more like notes of an amazing campaign than an actual rule book.

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Paul Unwin
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Back before I was weary of Star Wars (and of crappy, illusionistic GMing methods), I really enjoyed the West End Games Star Wars books. I got the sense that the writers loved Star Wars and wanted to promote play that would emulate the movies. The examples and concepts were fun to read, I loved the scratchwork art they must have dug out of Lucasfilm archives, and a lot of their fiction was top notch, and scratched an itch that nothing else did in those days.
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