We’re proud to announce our pick for the Best RPG book of 2016!
2016 was a good year for RPGs. We saw more successful tabletop Kickstarters (a trend that continues to grow), as well as books printed by major publishers at the top of their form. If you were a player or a GM in 2016, this was great. We based our decision on what they meant for their respective game system, as well as formatting, art, and overall production. So to start, here are our Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order):
Apocalypse World: 2nd Edition – Lumpley Games
Curse of Strahd – Wizards of the Coast
Curse of the Crimson Throne – Paizo
Maze of the Blue Medusa – Satyr Press
Numenera Starter Set – Monte Cook Games
Pathfinder Pocket Edition – Paizo
All of these books are incredible products and worth picking up. Maze of the Blue Medusa is one of the best adventures you’ll ever pick up. Curse of Strahd and the Crimson Throne update classic adventures in the best way. Entire worlds are powered by the Apocalypse World engine (it’s one of the most flexible systems you’ll find). Both Numenera and the Pocket Editions give you great ways to bring new people into the game.
Now, while the editorial staff was excited for each one of these releases there was only one book that could take home Best RPG Book of 2016…
The Winner Is…
Volo’s Guide to Monsters – Wizards of the Coast
Volo’s Guide has probably had the biggest impact of the books that came out in 2016 (2015 would be a different list for sure)–it departs from the “storylines” concept that Wizards has been using in their previous releases, but remains true to one of the core ideals of 5th Edition, that story matters. Where books like Against the Giants (which is excellent) have their big sprawling plots–Volo’s Guide to Monsters gives you the tools to create stories and plots of your own.
It expands on the background of a number of races, both for players and GMs. You get an in-depth look into the societies of iconic monsters like Beholders, Kobolds, and Yuan-Ti, while also getting detailed information on new player races. The player races are all phenomenal. They’re interesting, they have unique powers that make them play different from older races, and they come with a lot of information to help get you inspired.
And inspiration is key here. The whole book is littered with little things to inspire your game, from tables and rules that evoke the flavor of the monsters they’re talking about, to snippets of conversation between Volo and Elminster. It all works in tandem to make the book fun to read–while at the same time doing the one thing every RPG book should do–making you excited to get out there and play. I’m curious to see if Wizards will continue this trend of books that don’t have a set storyline, but that still enrich the world in 2017. There’s a lot of good stuff on the horizon for certain!
There were a LOT of other rpg books released this year – what were some of your favorites from 2016?