Upping Your RPG Game

The folks at Monte Cook Games must be among the busiest in the industry.  Not only are they now supporting two distinct RPG lines (one of which has blossomed into not only a multi-genre line but also spawned a completely new line of games aimed at kids), but now Monte Cook himself (with the help of a number of RPG luminaries) has written Your Best Game Ever

Your Best Game Ever isn’t a rulebook, or even an RPG.  Instead, it’s a rules-agnostic collection of advice, insight, and interesting alternatives for your RPG campaigns.  It’s starts at the most basic level, with what an RPG is, but where most such works (including the GM advice sections in most RPGs) are fine to just dip a toe in the theory and philosophy and then move on, Your Best Game Ever is focused on concrete, real-world actions you can take to learn about RPGs, including things like watching a streamed game online or visiting your local game store (something we at Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy® heartily endorse).  There’s advice on how to actually find a group, what to expect the first time you play, what supplies you’ll need and how to organize them.  And that’s just the first 14 pages. 

The book does touch on issues like genre, complexity, and style in RPGs, but even here, the focus is on giving you something you can use at the table.  There’s a whole section on “Being a Great Player” which focuses on strategies for making a character you’ll enjoy playing and other players will enjoy having in their party.  The section on GMing includes helpful advice on building name lists (because the PCs will zig where you expected them to zag and suddenly that shopkeep who wasn’t even mentioned in the map key will need a name and personality), designing location, event, and flow-chart based adventures (or, if you want to turn things on their head, designing your adventures based on the goals of the PCs), how you can incorporate act structure in your adventures, and making sure the adventure is focused on the proper stakes for the PCs. 

Where many books would consider their job done after offering advice for players and GMs, Your Best Game Ever continues by offering advice to get the most out of the game and the group.  This includes how to host (and how to be a pleasant guest in someone’s home), how to schedule a game and handle player absences, and how to play online.  There are even genre-inspired recipes for snacks to bring to your games.

My favorite section is near the end of the “Being a Great Player” section.  After explaining how you can create arcs for your character, crafting their development as people over the course of a campaign, it then goes into detail about how your group can incorporate these arcs as an alternative advancement mechanic for any game you’re playing.  Instead of leveling up by killing monsters or whenever the GM thinks its time, you can instead have a unique leveling path for each character which represents how those characters have grown as people (or helped their companions to grow).  It’s a clever system that’s easily modified to fit just about any RPG that includes some flavor of mechanical improvement reward system. 

Your Best Game Ever is a full-color hardback book clocking in at 240 pages.  The list of additional contributors (most of whom wrote a page-or-so of additional advice) include Matt Colville, Jennell “Caverns of Thracia” Jaquays, Matthew Mercer, and Sean K. Reynolds.  Whether you’re new to RPGs and are looking for some advice to make the most of your game, or you’re an old hand wanting to inject some new life into your multiyear campaign, you’ll find something useful, inspiring, and though-provoking in Your Best Game Ever.  Ask the RPG experts at your local Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy® about getting your copy today.