[Gaming 101] Games to Start With Part 1: Fantasy

Posted: August 9, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Dungeons & Dragons, Fantasy Craft, Legend of the Five Rings, Roleplaying Games, The One Ring

In celebration of Gaming Library‘s announcement that they’re willing to special order RPG books, I figure it would be a great time to start delving into good books for starting RPG gamers in the Philippines. Today we’ll be focusing on some Fantasy RPGs that have amazing production values and excellent mechanics. Admittedly this isn’t a complete listing, and there’s certainly lots of room for this particular genre, but that’s what I’m hoping the comments are for. If you’re an old hand to RPGs, and feel that you know of a game that I haven’t included, feel free to put them in the comments, the post is meant to be a reference after all.

That said, let’s get started with a few excellent Fantasy games for consideration:

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition by Wizards of the Coast
In tribute to the people responsible for the hobby, D&D takes the top spot. Love it or hate it, Dungeons & Dragons has introduced a lot of us in the hobby and everyone has at least some some passing knowledge of the rules. The latest iteration has easy to learn rules and a whole bunch of neat support in the form of figures, adventures and a strong local community. The game comes in three core books, the Players Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual. There are a bunch more of these three (PHB 2, DMG 2, MM2, etc), but you only need the first three to play.

Pathfinder by Paizo Publishing
Born from the Ashes of the 3rd iteration of the D&D rules, Pathfinder takes up the ball where Wizards of the Coast left it and made it their own. With interesting setting, continuous support and fantastic artwork, there’s little wonder that Pathfinder is the powerhouse that it is today. The Core Rulebook is massive, and in gorgeous full color. The local community of Pathfinder players are pretty helpful, and there’s a strong internet community in case you want to ask about something. Everything a player needs is here, but the GM will need to look for a different book or online sources for monsters.

Fantasy Craft by Crafty Games
On the other side of the equation is Crafty-Games’ Fantasy Craft. Born from the same D&D 3rd edition rules that birthed Pathfinder, Fantasy Craft takes the rules to the direction of a fantasy gaming toolkit. Definitely great for people who want to make up their own worlds to play in rather than work with someone else’s setting. Wuxia? Steampunk? Conan-esque Swords & Sorcery? Fantasy Craft does it all with style. The book edges out Pathfinder and D&D in the fact that it also provides all the necessary information in one book. GMing advice and Monsters are already here.

Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition by Alderac Entertainment
Fans of the CCG will need no introduction, but to those who are new to the setting Legend of the Five Rings is a fantasy adventure rpg set in the land of Rokugan, which is a pseudo-Japan setting mixed with other Asian elements. Fantastic artwork, an excellent back story and the best iteration of the rules to ever come out so far make this game a strong candidate for gamers who enjoy the idea of playing in a Japan-inspired fantasy Setting

The One Ring: Adventures Over the Edge of the Wild by Cubicle 7
Tolkien Fans need little motivation to check this game out. The One Ring is the first in a series of games that will be exploring Middle-Earth’s eras and locales. Set in the time just after the events of The Hobbit, this game puts the characters in a time of adventure and danger as you take on the roles of elves, men, dwarves and hobbits as they go on adventures and explore the world of Middle-Earth. The hardcover version of this game is especially tempting as it comes in a lovely slipcase cover and its own set of special dice and maps.  Again the book is in full color and sports some truly breathtaking illustrations.

Dragon Age Set 1 & 2 from Green Ronin
Green Ronin picked up the license to do a tabletop RPG for Bioware’s Dragon Age, and they came out with a very impressive ruleset that carries the mood of the videogame and is full of old-school nostalgia.  The harcover copies are especially good since they come with multiple books, a poster-sized map and all the dice, everything you need in one box!

That’s it for my initial batch, tomorrow we’ll look at another excellent series of RPG: The World of Darkness from White Wolf Studios

If you’re interested in picking up any of these in hardcover, you can order them directly from Gaming Library.

To place an order, please go to Gaming Library’s special order express page : http://www.gaminglib.com/pages/special-order-express-page

Take note that placing an order there doesn’t mean you’re committed, rather the Gaming Library team will be giving a quote and you can now choose whether to push through with the purchase or not.

  1. magstheaxe says:

    You know, I think the kind of RPG you recommend for new players depends completely on how comfortable your new gamer is with the idea of role-playing, and with dealing with mechanics.

    I have seen the eyes new RPGers–people with absolutely no concept about these types of games–glaze over looking at a standard D&D character sheet. I know how intimidated I felt the first time I looked at AD&D’s 1st ed Player’s Handbook. The mechanics are often poorly explained and presented, and thus are a real turn-off. So my approach has typically been about showing people how they can have awesome characters doing awesome things. As a result, I use games with very light mechanics and a strong emphasis on storytelling. I find that once you introduce new players to RPGs this way, it’s a lot easier for them to wrap their heads around the denser mechanics once they want to transition to something like Pathfinder or 4e.

    I’ve used oWoD games in the past for this, but here lately I’ve leaned towards FATE-based games (Dresden Files, Diaspora), and also games from independent game designers like Vincent Baker (Kill Puppies for Satan is an awesome Halloween one-shot game for new players) and John Wick (his RPG Cat: A Little Game about Little Heroes is fantastic for new players, esp. if they’ve ever owned pets).

    The ones I’ve found to be the absolute best for the No-Clue player are:

    *The late, lamented Buffy the Vampire Slayer Game by Eden Studios
    *Prime Time Adventures, by Dog-Eared Design
    *Lady Blackbird: Adventures in the Wild Blue Yonder, by One Seven Design

    Now, if you’ve got someone coming to RPGs by way of the video game/MMPORG world, they tend to be a little more interested in the mechanics, in my experience. But they also tend to get frustrated if char-gen takes more than thirty minutes. So something a little less rules-dense, like Storyteller or Tri-Stat or Unisystem is often a good fit.

    Which makes me think: I recently reviewed the newest RPG from Crafty Games, The Mistborn RPG, for my podcast (review to be posted soon!), and I think this one could be a true contender in the “Introducing RPGs to New Players” category. It does an outstanding job in breaking the concepts down for newbies, the system is surprisingly simple, and it borrows heavily from FATE 3.0 in having strong character concepts and group goals integrated in the game.

    Anyway, my 2 cents.

    • Hi Mags!

      Good points on your comment. I agree that a lot of the games I’ve put up so far in the series are all still on the heavier end of the rules spectrum, which does have the unfortunate tendency to turn away players who aren’t really all that big on reading.

      Good call on FATE games as a good rules-lighter approach to things, it’s a good place to start if the thick books tend to be too intimidating.

      I’ve had a chance to check out the Mistborn RPG from Crafty-Games as well, and it’s a good, simple game that works great for those more into the novels than gaming in general. That said I’m just the teensiest bit hesitant to push it given the sheer number of spoilers in the game. Fans of the series will love it, but people new to the series might end up spoiling themselves big-time.

      Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll see if I can compile an entry for this series based on being rules-lite as opposed to by genre.

      • magstheaxe says:

        I haven’t read any of the Mistborn novels, and I’m not a person who gets bent out of shape over spoilers, so I didn’t really thing of that, but it’s a good point that the Mistborn RPG contains spoilers.

        Something else that occurred to me: a lot of times, when talking about RPGs for new players, some experienced RPGers get so wrapped up in recommending their favorite game, that they fail to mention that their recommendation is out of print and therefore not easy–or downright impossible–to come by. I see this a lot over on RPG.Net. I’ve seen people recommend the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, for example, which goes for $60 USD for a USED copy on Amazon.com, and upwards of $150USD for a new copy. Not cool, IMO.

        I don’t think it’s fair to help someone new to the hobby love a game, only to have them frustrated because of her inability to get it (sorry about Nobilis, Misty!). So even though I mentioned the OOP BtVS RPG as one of the best for new players, I stick to recommending games that are still out there and being supported. Not that you failed to do this, but I think it’s an important point to keep in mind, esp. since D&D 4e is going away soon.

        • Hi Mags!

          Yeah, I’ve been forced to cut out all the good but out of print games from my listing at this point. Being from the Philippines I’m playing it sorta safe and keeping my list to the ones that are easier to find when ordering the books over the internet.

          PDFs aren’t part of this series for the time being, and I’ve yet to get back to my “Cheap Thrills” series on good but free books as well.

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