Monday, July 30, 2012

Only Ten Hard Copies

Recently, Brendan asked, "If you could only keep 10 of your printed RPG books, what would you pick?"

In no particular order (well, besides generally alternating between TSR-era titles and OSR titles):
  1. The Arduin Trilogy: The first three Grimoires bound in one volume. Includes awesome critical hit and critical fumble tables, random tables that make character generation more fun (in both my and my players' opinion, at least), gonzo monsters (Kill Kittens!) and more classes, magic and optional rules than, well, you really need. Which is awesome.
  2. Tome of Adventure Design: Matt Finch's giant book of tables. It includes everything from diseases to villainous motivations to randomized dungeon mapping to monster and trap generation to, well, so much more.
  3. Ready Ref Sheets: Published by Judges Guild, this is a collection of tables. It includes city encounters, poison rules, an alignment charting system that's spelled out in a much more practical way than in the DMG, a random ruins generator, a well-thought-out, if complex justice system and a material component list for 48 potions, among other awesome things.
  4. The Dungeon Alphabet: 26 letters in the alphabet, 26 themes for tables. This is a great book for inspiration and for flipping through when you've hit a block in preparing an adventure.
  5. City Book 1: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker: Published by Flying Buffalo, this is a system neutral collection of businesses, the NPCs who run them and adventure hooks related to them for use with any city. I once ran a city adventure completely by the seat of my pants with this, Haldane and Matt Finch's City Encounters. For game prep, I just made sure I was really familiar with these three documents; my players loved it, and so did I.
  6. The Wilderness Alphabet: Basically the Dungeon Alphabet for the outdoors. My favorite tables are the domains of the gods and the population factor tables that provide the quickest and easiest way to find out what businesses operate in town that I know of. 
  7. 1E DMG: Only twenty-some pages into it, I've already gotten inspiration for Dragon PCs (against Gary's advice, I know) and decided to incorporate the Ranger follower tables, the Age rules and at least some of the disease rules into my game.
  8. ACKS: The tightest version of D&D I know of, built to be tinkered with and with extensive end-game rules. If I ever had to choose just one iteration of The Game to play, straight from the book, for the rest of my life, it would probably be ACKS.
  9. The Great Pendragon Campaign: Over 400 pages and 100 adventures, plus inspiration for more adventures and a great system for running battles, even for games other than Pendragon.
  10. The Majestic Wilderlands: A rules supplement with great classes, multiple simple magic systems, magic items and simple combat rules additions. Enough history and geography to be well-versed in the Wilderlands is included as well.


  1. Sir, I salute your brevity, your economy, your concision! I've just been posting on the same topic and found myself rambling so much that I've had to divide my response in two.

    We only have one book (the DMG) in common, although you have a couple of things that would be among my runners-up. And thanks for reminding me that I really need to get myself a copy of the Tome of Adventure Design some time.

    1. Tome of Adventure Design is top notch. The discussions included with the tables are also great. Really one of the better recent products. Its only flaw that there is so much there it can be somewhat intimidating to actually use.

      I really must get a copy of the Arduin trilogy.

    2. One of my players (who's also one of my oldest friends) has copies of the original Arduin tomes, which I covet along with his collection of Underworld Oracle zines.