RPG Gift Guide 2010
Welcome to Role-Playing Game Geek (aka RPG Geek), a worldwide community of folks who love RPGs! The community here is tremendously knowledgeable about our hobby and we have combined our brainpower to produce a list of great gift ideas for you this holiday shopping season.
Role-playing is a hobby that can inspire quiet nights with family and friends;
or it can be vibrant and exciting, almost like amateur theatre;
The stereotypes about it lie; it can be done outdoors in the sunshine:
and by dads, mums AND children of all ages:
A role-playing game is one of the best presents you can give, especially to young people, as it encourages us to step beyond the confines of our daily lives and enter into the world of collective imagination. It is a worthwhile activity that can educate and enlighten, helping people to break out of themselves and be all they could ever - or never - have been. If the person you're buying for has ever dreamed of being someone, something or somewhere else, you can make it happen for them this Christmas!
Apart from the 'Collector's Items' section, all of these products are currently in print and readily available. Prices in the guide are based on RRP and may be found more cheaply by sharp-eyed shoppers.
Games We Grew Up On
These are the games that frequently come up when the community here discusses how we got into Role-playing. They are the archetypes on which the rest of our hobby is built and while each is a fine game for a beginner, they still hold our interest years later.
Dungeons and Dragons
The Iconic RPG that brought the hobby to the attention of the mainstream. Dungeons and Dragons has, in its many forms, been around since the 1970s and continues to be a popular system today. With innovative combat rules and hundreds of character options, D&D is sure to please anyone who finds it under their tree.
This is some confusion in the older (circa 2008) Dungeons & Dragons Core 4e and the new (in the past few months) D&D Essentials has been released as a new line of 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. The D&D Essentials line strips D&D 4e down to the basics with the most iconic monsters and heroes represented. You can still play with the Core 4e books or you can play with the new Essentials books. They are compatible though the Essentials tends to have all of the rules errata built in and is generally clearer than the original core books. For absolute beginners it is recommended to start with the Starter Set and for people that have some role-play experience you can move directly on to Dungeon Master's Kit, Player Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Lands and for good measure Dungeons & Dragons Essentials: Monster Vault and Rules Compendium. With those four Essentials books you can provide a lifetime of RPG fun.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
Probably the most popular fantasy RPG in the world, the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Set contains more than enough to keep a gamer happy. Using an engaging set of tokens and cards to manage characters and their development, this RPG is sure to please any fantasy gamer.
Set in a hard science fiction universe, Traveller allows players to take part in epic journeys through uncharted galaxies. Like the other games in this section, Traveller has been around for decades and has been refined into an amazing game.
Best Games by Genre
There are as many types of Role-Playing Game as there are types of TV shows or books. Just as some shows are better than others, the games in this category shine as the best of their type and have as such earned recognition from the community here.
In InSpectres, the players are franchisees of a supernatural investigations group, similar, but legally speaking not identical to, the Ghostbusters. Their tangles with the forces of darkness are light-hearted and humourous. A movie is in production at the moment, so get it before it commercialises! This is the top rated comedy game on RPG Geek.
Horror: Call of Cthulhu
Based on the stories of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft and set around the turn of the 19th century, The Call of Cthulhu pits the 'investigators' against beings of pure evil from outside our dimension and their gibbous minions. This is the top rated horror game on RPGG.
- Ages: 17+ - Adult themes, horrific violence.
- Availability: Local Games Stores and Online (Amazon among others)
- Price: $34.95
- by Eric Dodd
Samurai: Legend of the Five Rings
Set in Rokugan, an alternate world similar to medieval Japan and China, Legend of the Five Rings allows players to take on the role of heroic Samurai, conniving Courtiers or wise Shugenja while they attempt to save the clans of the Empire from the evil Shadowlands. This is the top rated Samurai game on RPGG
The Most Popular Games
The games in this category are the cream of the cream and a gamer's dream. They have consistently remained in or near the vaunted top ten positions on RPGG since they were listed and are a worthy addition to any collection.
Mouse Guard is an Ennie and Origins Award-winning game in which players take on the roles of heroic young mice defending their medieval citadel from insidious predators and villainous rats. Based on the comic of the same name, this game is hours of anthropomorphic awesomeness and is designed for all ages to enjoy.
Often touted as the best Science-Fiction RPG in print, Diaspora encourages players to contribute to a shared narrative and breaks the mode of many traditional RPGs. Since its 2009 release, it has proved wildly popular and has become a fan favorite here on the 'Geek.
The dark future of the Warhammer world is here and its name is Rogue Trader! In the Grim world of the 41st Millennium, players adopt the roles of explorers, seeking lost wealth and untold power in uncharted regions of the galaxy. A huge hit with fans of both Warhammer and Science Fiction, Rogue Trader is definitely going to make some people happy this Christmas.
The Best Games of 2010
In a community like RPGG, a lot of buzz is generated by upcoming products and evaluations of the latest and greatest in our hobby. The truth is that there are hundreds of RPGs released each year and only a few survive long enough to become memorable. These games have been consistently popular since their release and, being the latest and greatest, are good ideas for the gamer who has everything.
Another in the popular Warhammer line, Deathwatch casts players as Space Marines, the violent, sometimes noble, sometimes vicious defenders of the Terran Empire. Their opponents are numerous and come in many forms, but when geared up for battle, a Space Marine is less a warrior and more a force of nature.
- Ages: 15+
- Availability: Local Games Stores and Online (Amazon among others)
- Price: $59.95
- by Aidan W.
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space
Based on the world's best and longest-running Science Fiction TV show, Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space allows the players to adopt the roles of characters from the series or create their own Time Lord and TARDIS for the purpose of do-gooding all over the galaxy. The game is easy to learn and play and features a fun, cinematic combat system that mirrors the show's ideology.
The Dresden Files
Hot on the heels of the best selling novels and TV show, The Dresden Files thrusts players into the darkness-filled world of Harry Dresden, where they use their experience of the supernatural to help those less fortunate. The game is powered by the innovative and popular FATE engine and won two prestigious 'Golden Geek' awards this year (for best Roleplaying Game and Best Art).
A game about criminals with character, Fiasco is about events spinning out of control, a spiral of chaos caused by seemingly innocuous events. Using a dynamic, GM-less system and drawing inspiration from various heist films, particularly those of the Coen brothers, this is not a game for the faint-hearted or innocent.
Pathfinder was designed based on thousands of pieces of feedback from fans on how to improve D&D. Combining those elements into an exciting, dynamic world with an evolving storyline, the game's creators have scored a massive hit with the fans. Pathfinder is about options, power and high fantasy - all desired by gamers the world over!
- Ages: 17+
- Availability: Local Games Stores, Borders and Online (Amazon among others)
- Price: $49.95
- by Paco Jaen
As time goes by, certain games become harder and harder (and thus more desirable) to find. Their enduring popularity and the challenge of obtaining them makes these games very difficult to get, but most gamers would be thrilled to get their hands on a copy. You'll have to do a little searching, but if you can get them, these will make someone very happy these holidays.
7th Sea Player's Guide
Avast, me hearties! 7th Sea be the piratical game of choice here on the good ship RPGGeek and this book be what ye need to play it! Arrrrr! Also allowing players to take on the role of Musketeers, Shapeshifters and Slavers amongst others, this is a fantastic game if you can find it.
- Ages: 14+
- Availability: Online
- Price: $50+
- by Styfen
Beyond the Mountains of Madness
Deep in the Antarctic, there is a range of mountains that dwarf even the greatest peaks known to man. There, an expedition has uncovered something hideous and shaking about the origins of mankind, something which must remain a secret if we are to survive. A campaign for Call of Cthulhu, this is highly desirable and hard to find.
- Ages: 17+
- Availability: Online
- Price: $150+
- by Eric Dodd
Castle Zagyg: The Upper Works
Designed by Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, this adventure module was published for only a short time before Gygax's passing. Being the last work he produced, it quickly became collectable and is now very hard to find as well as being quite good, apparently!
Pendragon allows players to become knights in the service of King Arthur Pendragon, battling the Saxon foe and doing chivalric deeds of the highest order. Against them stand the forces of darkness and sorcerous evils uncounted by man! While not as famous as some of the bigger fantasy games, Pendragon offers a sense of history that many others don't capture.
RPGs For Kids
Gaming stereotypes of the past are based on the period when roleplaying games were invented and the marketing campaigns of the 1980s that targeted teenagers. In fact, the origins of roleplaying can be traced back to childhood games like 'Cowboys and Indians' and 'Peek a Boo' and many roleplayers are now in their 30s and have children. Playing these games with children is a joy and they will please any roleplaying Dad or Mum.
In Faery's Tale, the players are sprites, brownies or other forest spirits from the fairy tale realm of Brightwood. They encounter other creatures from such stories and progress to become princesses or knights in this enchanting storytelling game. It can be played 'freestyle' or with dice mechanics.
Mysterious things down by the lake? Strange stuff going on at school? Only one person can solve this mystery... YOU! Meddling Kids is designed as an introductory roleplaying game based on traditional Saturday Morning cartoons like Scooby-Doo and Josie and the Pussy Cats. It has appeal for children of all ages.
Happy Birthday, Robot!
In Happy Birthday, Robot, players take turns writing the story of Robot's birthday.How many words you'll get to write is determined randomly - how much can you say in four words? How much can your friends add in just three? What will Robot's birthday be like? Will Robot meet new friends? Go to outer space? You decide, one roll at a time!
- Ages: 10+
- Availability: Local Games Stores and Online
- Price: $15 - 25
- by Joshua Rensch
The Princes' Kingdom
In The Princes' Kingdom, you are nine years old! You just had a birthday and your brothers gave you a puppy. The three of you are seeing the world from your very own boat. You are the sons of the King of Islandia - and you are the only three that can stop the war. The Princes’ Kingdom is a game about children, adults, and ideals that uses a simplified version of the rules from Dogs in the Vineyard