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RPG Gift Guide 2012


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.

The Classics

These are the games that frequently come up when the community here discusses how we got into Role-playing and remain popular today. 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. They are not necessarily old - in fact, all of these are in production and selling quite well.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game - Beginner's Box

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is a spinoff of Dungeons & Dragons that uses the older (but still widely enjoyed) 3.5 ruleset. In 2011, Pathfinder actually outsold its D&D parent and this beginner's box set looks to continue the trend. It comes with everything you need to play - a guide for players, another for the DM, cardboard minis (called pogs) to for heroes and creatures plus an adventure. Top that off with dice and iconic character sheets pre-filled (with blanks so you can create your own characters), this set looks to be the spiritual successor to the venerable Red Box of 1983.

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.

We aren't recommending it this year, not because it isn't a great game but because a new edition is planned for August 2013 and anything you purchase now may feel obsolete when that happens. That isn't to say you couldn't keep playing whatever you find, just that it might not be the best system to get started with right now.

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.

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.

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.

Action Movies: Hollowpoint


No one in this game is innocent. You're an Agent. No one ever messes with you, because you are that far above the common herd of men that sleepwalk through their lives. You get things done, and that usually means blood. Or pain. Or, when you are feeling generous, death. Inspired by every ultraviolent action movie you've ever seen, Hollowpoint is about being that good at something that bad. Make no mistake: you will be a very, very bad person.

Comedy: InSpectres

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.

Post Apocalyptic: Apocalypse World

Barf Forth Apocalyptica is the advice given by noted game designer D. Vincent Baker. Apocalypse World won the 2011 RPG Golden Geek for best Role-Playing game and it is gathering other awards as fast as they can make them. A powerhouse in storytelling and fantastic social mechanics makes this a game that will bring out the inner theater actor in all of us.

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.



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.


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.

Mouse Guard

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. There is a boxed set available with deluxe components and some additional rules. This box set is drop dead gorgeous and won the 2011 RPG GoldenGeek for best production values.

Rogue Trader

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 2012

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.

This is our second annual gift guide; you can also see the Best Games of 2010 or Best Games of 2011 as determined by previous editions of this guide.

Dungeon World

Dungeon World is a world of fantastic adventure. A world of magic, gods, demons, Good and Evil. Brave heroes venture into the most dangerous corners of the land in search of gold and glory. You are those heroes. You go where others can't or won't. You conquer the unbeatable and laugh in the face of Death. There are monstrous things lurking in the world. Are you ready to face them?

Dungeon World is based on the Apocalypse World engine.

The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild

The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild is the new roleplaying game based on The Lord of the Rings—the most influential property in fantasy. It's set after the events of The Hobbit; the initial game is set the region of northern Mirkwood and environs, with future releases expanding the scope of the setting to encompass more of Middle-earth as the era moves closer to the looming War of the Ring.

Chock full of incredible artwork by leading Tolkien artists, including John Howe, along with rich and detailed background information, The One Ring's game engine focuses on the themes and character types that give Middle-earth its unique place in the annals of fantasy. There has never been a Lord of the Rings game that's more evocative of Tolkien's unique vision.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

The Avengers have been disassembled, the Fantastic Four are somewhere in space, and the X-Men aren’t answering their phone. When dozens of dangerous villains are sprung from the maximum-maximum security prison known as the Raft, who’s going to stop them? You are.


Experience all of the pulse-pounding action and nail-biting drama of the Marvel Universe at your gaming table. It’s one thing to stop an alien invasion or throw down with the Juggernaut, but sometimes you’ve got to make the hard choices—will you let a dangerous villain escape in order to save an innocent life?. With the MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING Basic Game, that great power and great responsibility is yours.

Collectible Games

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+
  • Reviews
    1. 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+
  • Reviews
    1. 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.

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
  • Reviews
    1. by Joshua Rensch

Mermaid Adventures

In Mermaid Adventures the characters portray members of one of several undersea races who have adventures together. The game uses a very simple dice mechanic and has been developed for children.

  • Ages: 9+
  • Availability: Online
  • Price: $15 - $25. The book can be purchased in black & white or color and there's also a companion coloring book.
  • Reviews
    1. Review by Steve Donohue

Faery's Tale

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.

Meddling Kids

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.

Discussion Source

The suggestions on this list were generated through consultation with the whole RPGGeek community. If you'd like to see more comments about the games here or further suggestions for games, have a look at the following lists:

Collectable RPG Items
Recommendations by Genre
The most exciting RPGs published in the past year
RPGs for Kids
The Top Item For Each of the Top 10 Games

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