The 10 Best Tabletop RPG Books of 2022

A dragon deep in its lair roars as it hovers over its treasure.

Drawing: FR Publishing / Kotaku

Let me be clear here: once I got copies of these books, I knew I would never go back to normal. J&D.

The 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons hit the shelves in 2014 and has become one of the best iterations of the classic formula. But it’s 2022, and with the main rules being available through an open license from publisher Wizards of the Coast, it was only a matter of time before someone developed and updated them. With EN Publishing and an incredibly diverse and talented team answering that call, Level up: Advanced 5th Edition is a new standard for fantasy role-playing.

It’s not just one pound, but actually three pounds as standard J&D fashion, with Adventurer’s Guide, monstrous menagerie, and the essential Trials and Treasures.

Advanced 5th Edition overclocks the original rules of J&D to make way for more narrative depth and tactical play. The best way to find out about all the updates and changes is to just jump into those books, but here are some of the highlights:

“Race” is rejected as a mechanism in favor of a fusion of heritage, culture and background. You can also choose a fate. It’s a rich assemblage of qualities with which to build characters. You’ll have more unique and nuanced options, with bold and heroic direction to follow, and it’s so much more dynamic than anything you’d get from the original rules. On top of that, several classes have been changed, with Warlock probably benefiting the most.

If you are just a gamer, then the Adventurer’s Guide is your starting point. It also serves as the ground rules of the game. Game masters, referred to here as “narrators”, can engage in rich Monstrous Menagerie for monster stats, but this book is not just a list of monsters. Each monster gets a “Legends and Lore” section so you can confidently answer the question: “I rolled an 18 on my background check, what do I know of Kobolds in this area?” This is in addition to essential advice for planning balanced and interesting encounters, with information such as the types of signs a particular beast would leave behind, or how it might behave when meeting the party, adding a nice narrative twist to what would otherwise be a collection of Statistics.

I didn’t even mention Trials and Treasures yet what is — to some extent —A5Eit is Dungeon Master’s Guide. You will have enough information to run a game off the Adventurer Guidebut T&T will give you No Man’s Sky Resource tiers to flesh out worlds: exploration settings, travel activities, weather events, roaming monsters, and rules for specific regions and biomes.

i can’t praise Advanced 5th Edition sufficient. It replaced not one, but two games for me, giving me a good reason to also retire my very weathered 1st edition Pathfinder Core Rulebook. And did I mention that since it’s built on top of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, you can just use all the stuff you already have in existing 5e games with a few minor tweaks here and there.

This is the final version of Dungeons & Dragons. Do not accept any substitutes.

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