2010 has been a banner year for role-playing games and accessories — here’s 10 of the best!
#10 – Legend of the 5 Rings 4th Edition
Fifteen years after the first edition was published, AEG has released a brand new remake with this 4th Edition. In the Emerald Empire of Rokugan, characters will be challenged to play a balanced game, mixing honor and service in with the clash of swords. A beautiful project filled with great source material, AEG has done right by fans of the franchise.
#9 – Deathwatch
Space Marines, the most war-hardened soldiers of the Warhammer 40k universe, finally get their role-playing game turn in this release form Fantasy Flight Games. While narrow in scope (the focus here is definitely on combat), stepping into the boots of a space marine is a long-standing wish for gamers. The Warhammer 40k universe is long and storied, and Deathwatch does it justice with a beautifully compiled source book. Even those uninterested in this particular game should consider giving it a read if they are fans of the setting.
#8 – Apocalypse World
D. Vincent Baker is coming off of a big indie success with Dogs in the Vineyard, and his next release does not disappoint. Set in a gritty post-apocalyptic world, this is a much darker take than the other similar-sounding game on this list (Gamma World). In this world, nobody even knows where it all went wrong. It’s a bit “Mad Max”, but it also challenges some gaming taboos by including some NSFW interactions. What did you expect from a game with classes such as “Battlebabe” and “Gunlugger”?
#7 – Pathfinder Player’s Guide
Heralded by fans as an off-shoot from D&D, Pathfinder presents a fantasy setting for those who preferred the 3.5 Edition of the D&D system over the newest 4th Edition. This year’s Pathfinder Player’s Guide has kept the young game going strong by presenting a huge value for your dollar. There are twenty different character classes presented, and each of them gets nearly as much treatment as you would expect in individual sourcebooks.
#6 – Freemarket
A transhumanist RPG that puts players onto a crowded space station, Freemarket runs on a unique reputation-based system that puts an emphasis on character interaction. The preconceived notions players develop from playing traditional RPGs can actually get in the way, but for the open-minded gamer, Freemarket is a treat. Couple that with a beautifully-designed boxed set stocked with cards and counters, and you’ve got one of the best RPGs of 2010.
#5 – D&D Dark Sun Campaign Setting
Originally released in 1991, the fictional desert world of Athas has been brought up to date with a 2010 4th Edition remake. This re-release does more than just bring the setting up to date, though, it also helps to improve typical D&D gameplay with new rules. Character creation for Dark Sun also involves the assignment of traits in addition to the standard race and class designations. These new traits can help to create more well-rounded characters, and in turn, a superior role-playing experience.
#4 – Adventure Burner
The third and final supplement book for the indie-RPG Burning Wheel system, Adventure Burner succeeds in its goal to make gamers better players. The 150 pages filled with commentary, advice, and clarifications are a must-have for any fan, as they will help you get the most you possibly can out of the Burning Wheel system. In addition, the book includes several ready-to-play scenarios, and 42 pre-constructed characters. After the core Burning Wheel book set, this is the next purchase a Burning Wheel player should make.
#3 – The Dresden Files RPG – Vol. 1: Your Story
Based on the popular Dresden Files novels, games using this system are set in the real world, but with a twist. Once you crack the surface, you’ll reveal a setting filled with vampires, werewolves, and wizards. Publisher Evil Hat has based this game around their FATE rules system, and its fans widely regard Dresden Files as an improvement over their previous release, Spirit of the Century, particularly in the area of combat resolution.
#2 – Gamma World
A stand-alone roleplaying game that uses 4th Edition D&D rules, it takes players into the world of post-apocalyptic science fiction. Characters get to deal with radioactive wastes, ravaged cities, and rampant lawlessness, all set against a nuclear backdrop. To keep things light-hearted and fun, a deck of cards is drawn from to determine player mutations as the game progresses. Dystopian settings are all the rage (think Fallout, Bioshock), so why not play an RPG involving the survivors of some mythical future disaster?
#1 – D&D Essentials Red Box Starter Set
Do you enjoy long walks through dungeons? Slaying monsters by candlelight? Well, the box is back! If you haven’t played Dungeons & Dragons for 20 years, this is the product that is calling you back. D&D is surging in popularity among geek circles, and this set is winning over the crowd by providing a complete game experience for a bargain-basement price (it’s under $20!). D&D has been the gateway to pen and paper roleplaying for several decades, and while hardcore gamers may look down their nose at such a basic product, a release of such magnitude that directly attempts to bring new players into the hobby must be our game of the year.