Top 3 All-Time RPG Supplements

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
What is your list of all-time Top 3 RPG supplements (i.e. books specifically written as supplements for RPGs)? These are those books that are awesome, multi-utility, supplements that you get a tremendous amount of use out of, regardless of the system they were originally designed for. In no specific order, mine are:

The Apocalypse Stone for AD&D is a somewhat underwhelming adventure, but it's a great handbook on how to blow up a fantasy setting regardless of what system you happen to be using.

Palladium RPG Book II: Old Ones is an awesome collection of maps of cities, towns, and forts that can easily be used to breathe life into any fantasy RPG setting (I've used it heavily in AD&D and Rolemaster, for example).

Sprawl Sites (for Shadowrun) is a great collection of adventure seeds and story-starters that is good for both reading and practical use in cyberpunk settings in general (it doesn't take much adaptation to use them in non-Shadowrun settings).
 
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Bilharzia

Fish Priest
My top 38,000:

of note:
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People of the earth : an introduction to world prehistory

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The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art

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After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000-5000 BC
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
For me, it's the following:


Eclipse: The Codex Persona is a d20 supplement that, to me, epitomizes the mantra of "options, not restrictions" that characterized D&D Third Edition. It presents a point-buy (rather than character class-based) system for building not only characters, as well as races, and is remarkable for the sheer amount of options it allowed for. What makes it different from other point-buy systems is that if offers guidelines wherein weaknesses can be introduced to abilities in exchange for either a cost reduction or a power-up in another aspect. Of course, all of this requires adjudication by the GM, as well as players who don't want to be disruptive, power-game, or otherwise hog the spotlight (instead of everyone adhering to a "Rules As Written" paradigm), but a glance at what the author's done on his blog should make it clear how impressive this is.


The Primal Order is, for me, the last word in deities and religions in tabletop RPGs. I've seen a lot of supplements that de-emphasize the presence of gods in favor of their terrestrial institutions, but this one puts the focus squarely on the deities in a way that makes it clear that they're the movers and shakers of the multiverse, and what that means in the scope of your game! Not a bestiary of cosmic beings, it instead outlines what gods are, what they can do, and what takes up their time and effort every day. The "capstone" appendices of how this works for various RPGs are the cherry on the sundae here (even if they did bring legal trouble), and I still refer to this book and its supplements today.


I'm not sure if there's every been a more elegant D&D product than the Rules Cyclopedia. Compressing the first four entries of the BECMI line, along with some salient parts of the D&D Gazetteers, and even giving a quick conversion guide for AD&D 2E, this was the all-in-one package. Not a starter set, it presented literally everything you needed to play D&D from levels 1 to 36, including campaign setting information, a collection of monsters, spells and magic items, and how to quest for immortality (even if playing an Immortal wasn't to be found here). There's a reason why this book has the acclaim that it does among those who remember it.

Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
For me, it's the following:


Eclipse: The Codex Persona is a d20 supplement that, to me, epitomizes the mantra of "options, not restrictions" that characterized D&D Third Edition. It presents a point-buy (rather than character class-based) system for building not only characters, as well as races, and is remarkable for the sheer amount of options it allowed for. What makes it different from other point-buy systems is that if offers guidelines wherein weaknesses can be introduced to abilities in exchange for either a cost reduction or a power-up in another aspect. Of course, all of this requires adjudication by the GM, as well as players who don't want to be disruptive, power-game, or otherwise hog the spotlight (instead of everyone adhering to a "Rules As Written" paradigm), but a glance at what the author's done on his blog should make it clear how impressive this is.

I honestly thought that I alone ever read and used this book (there aren't too many mentions of it online). Cool!
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I honestly thought that I alone ever read and used this book (there aren't too many mentions of it online). Cool!
I've felt the same way; glad to know it's not just me!

Also, at the risk of being self-aggrandizing, I've made some Eclipse builds over on my blog. Check them out if you ever feel so inclined.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Can’t really go top 3, but:

WotC’s The Primal Order series of books
Task Force Games’ The Central Casting series of books
Green Ronin’s Book of the Righteous
Palladium’s Compendium of Weapons, Armour, and Castles
GURPS Martial Arts

I’ve used them countless times over the years, across editions and even systems.
 


TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Palladium’s Compendium of Weapons, Armour, and Castles
GURPS Martial Arts
I have that Palladium guide, and use to use it a lot. I have GUPRS books that I really liked, and have never played GURPS.

My old 1E DMG remains the single book I reference the most. At some point I realized that the--BEST SELLING--Moldvay/Cook books--and the openings of those accompanying modules, are also great, and sort of cliff notes to the AD&D stuff that I would for games published years latter.
 

Derulbaskul

Explorer
Caverns of Thracia by Paul Jaquays. The gold standard of dungeons - history, layout, factions; it's all there.

Faiths & Avatars for the Forgotten Realms. Finally, a stake in the heart of bad design which was generic clerics.
 

delericho

Legend
"Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide" for AD&D 2nd Ed is #1 for me.

#2 and #3 are rather more fluid. Probably the original "Chicago by Night" for Vampire: the Masquerade, and the "Star Wars Sourcebook" for SW d6.

That said, Jared Blando has two books on drawing maps, "Fantasy Art & RPG Maps" and "Fantasy Mapmaker". I'm not sure if these are strictly RPG supplements, but they've jumped to very high positions on my list.
 

aramis erak

Legend
What is your list of all-time Top 3 RPG supplements (i.e. books specifically written as supplements for RPGs)? These are those books that are awesome, multi-utility, supplements that you get a tremendous amount of use out of, regardless of the system they were originally designed for. In no specific order, mine are:
All my favorites are pretty much worhless outside their own systems.

I collated a book of names for my L5R games, complete with Kanji and rough meanings, making use of SCA source lists as well as several that are modern (and thus not used by the SCA). I've done similar in TOR and in Pendragon. These three contribute more to verisimilitude in play than any other supplements I've ever bought.

Now, for within their system uses... World Builder's Handbook (Digest Group) - world detailing for Traveller. It's the MegaTraveller era combination of Grand Survey and Grand Census from the CT era.
Close second is Starship Operators Manual Vol 1. (Vol 2 never came out.) Same company, same game and era, a detailing out of life on Traveller Starships.

Third? it's for Albedo 1e/2e: The Ship Sourcebook. If you want a simple yet realistic fusion torch era starship paradigm, this is your book.
The stat range for Albedo is vaguely compatible, too. And Chessex (or perhaps Paul Kidd) got Albedo up on Drive Thru... as well as the ship sourcebook. Albedo does presuppose FTL. but leave off the FTL decks for system ships if you want...

Honorable mention to Character Law/Campaign Law for Rolemaster - Campaign law includes some really awesome advice on geography; in many ways, it's why I minored in physical geo. (Unfortunately, the uni didn't approve the minor program until AFTER I graduated.)
 


In no specific order...

2E AD&D Forgotten Realms

1) Lands of Intrigue
2) Empires of the Shining Sea
3) Toss up between Calimport or Sea of Fallen Stars

Regardless Dale Donovan and Steven Schend wrote some really good stuff in the mid to late 90s for TSR.
 

Emirikol

Adventurer
Dnd 3 Sandstorm - I've used the heck out of this (and Frostburn) over the years.

WFRP3 Lure of Power - massive eye-opening about non-combat special actions

Dragon Magazine - while it was in print, this was the single greatest resource for art and ideas.
 

aia_2

Custom title
I have more than 3 items to mention... I'd love to list all the gems created in the early days (between 1975 and 1985), those that are the granfather of todays "indie"... Just few examples which deserve a special mention:
1. All the Arduin books by D.Hargrave
2. The Islandian campaign published by The Companions
3. Authentic Taumaturgy by P.Bonewits

...but these are only the top of the iceberg: there are so many gems which an entire website should be deserved!
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
13th Age Bestiary - hands down the best monster manual for any game. Every entry drips lore and hooks. Foes are presented with variations and multiple levels of challenge. And the book never forgets that it's primary purpose is to facilitate the GM to run adventures, so it's full of likely allies, adventure hooks, tactics, RP for intelligent foes, and other things specifically to incorporate them into adventures and run them entertainingly.

Deities and Demigods (1st printing) - the venerable AD&D reference, with the mistake that once you stat something up for combat that players will want to fight it. But still, for the time it was a broad introduction to so many different mythos that I didn't have any visibility into even existing.

Aurora's Whole Realm Catalog - another AD&D suppliment, this was supposedly an in-world listing of everything available in Aurora's Emporium similar to the Sears catalog (for any other ancients). Full of all sorts of mundane and not-so-much gear and items. It vastly expanded beyond just adventuring gear in what for the time was an eye-opening experience.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Deities and Demigods (1st printing) - the venerable AD&D reference, with the mistake that once you stat something up for combat that players will want to fight it. But still, for the time it was a broad introduction to so many different mythos that I didn't have any visibility into even existing.

I still use this as the primary source for roleplaying in Newhon. Later TSR products for Newhon/Lankhmar were, IMO, poor, heavy-handed, adaptations to AD&D. The Deities & Demigods entries were less mangled in their implementation. Good stuff!
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
I have more than 3 items to mention... I'd love to list all the gems created in the early days (between 1975 and 1985), those that are the granfather of todays "indie"... Just few examples which deserve a special mention:
1. All the Arduin books by D.Hargrave
2. The Islandian campaign published by The Companions
3. Authentic Taumaturgy by P.Bonewits

...but these are only the top of the iceberg: there are so many gems which an entire website should be deserved!

I've long been a fan of the original Arduin books and Authentic Thaumaturgy is a book that I've owned both in its original incarnation and, later, the SJG printing. I.P. Bonewits was a fascinating guy!
 


GreyLord

Legend
I'd say for D&D it would be

Fiend Folio

Creature Catalogue

And from S&S...

Advanced Players Guide (better advancement levels over 20 than other D20/3e systems for my games, or what I prefer to utilize more).
 

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