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What RPG book "TO FIND" in a desert island?


Hi! Sorry for the cryptic title, I hope I can explain better here: do you know the classic "what RPG book would you bring in a deserted island" and so on... but I wanted to ask a "reverse" question. Imagine a group of people, let's say teenagers/people which haven't even heard of tabletop RPG. They became stranded in the titular desert island. They find only one book, one (set of dice, pen and paper, if needed a grid with token, etc). And this book is their only sourcebook for RPG gaming. They have no access to other people to confront: no forums, no mail, no clubs, no youtube, nothing.

They are completely newbie, no previous experience at all. In this book there should be a complete game, maybe with dungeon, wilderness, tables for generating and stocking them (DM has no experience). It can be an old book, an OSR book, a new book.

Thank you, hope the question is clear (this is something I was asking myself a lot)

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The box set with the basic rules in it. Either Lost Mines of Phandelvar (LMoP) or the newer one Dragon of Icespire Peak (DoiP). They are both designed for new players and DMs and contain the rules, spells, monsters, everything but minis and maps if you wanted to play that way. Maybe you can only play to mid levels and not have stats for large monsters like Orcus, but you can drag several campaigns out if you had nothing but time and imagination to make new stuff having either of these.


If boxed sets are excluded from the definition of "RPG book," then I might go with the Call of Cthulhu Keeper's Handbook (7th ed), as it contains all the Keeper and Player rules and includes 2 complete scenarios.

Nothing better than being stuck on a deserted island and having your newly discovered RPG pastime fill you with fear and dread about ancient horrors dwelling in the sea or in the inland jungles.

Note: while I have a copy of the book and would like nothing better than a chance to play/GM the game some day, I have yet to do so!
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I’d say the pathfinder 1st edition core book. It has enough to get you by - a combination of PHB and DMG.

Or id go with the WFRP 1st edition as it contains everything you need and a good adventure.


My first thought was Fate because I've found Fate the easiest for new players to understand. The Fate core book, however, has no default world or adventure, so I'd go wth Cortex Leverage. It's very well explained, and even if our castaways have never seen the show, they'll get heists. The book also has great tables for putting together scenarios.

Of course eventually heists will get a bit stale, but by that time, at least one player will realize that the system can be easily hacked for other genres.

Let's go steal a role playing game!


Guide of Modos
They are completely newbie, no previous experience at all. In this book there should be a complete game, maybe with dungeon, wilderness, tables for generating and stocking them (DM has no experience). It can be an old book, an OSR book, a new book.
If no one has any experience, it might be a good thing for the game to share narration amongst players, or at least allow it. Assuming there's a DM 1) says that one person's imagination does the refereeing, and as a lesser point 2) assumes there's a Dungeon (Master), somewhere.

If I could shape a brand-new GM's experience, I'd try to steer clear of loaded ideas like tables and stocking dungeons. That's especially harsh (stocking dungeons) if the brand-new GM just has a book to use, and no piles of notebooks (or an electronic notebook) for recording lots and lots of GM notes. Start that GM off right by teaching things like emotional descriptions, feeding off the players' enthusiasm, and a strong feedback loop...

Jabbering aside, Numenera comes to mind as a game that assists the GM and has a good amount of content on-board!


One book? Vampire the Masquerade (second edition if I had to pick an edition). It may not be as popular as it once was but it was one of the most entertaining rulebooks I have ever read. It is has great little stories and narrative pieces though out to set the mood. It's well written and it's immersive with an easy system to learn. It encourages roleplaying but combat can be fun too. Very few other rulebooks do as good a job of immersing the reader in it's world as Vampire.
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I'd say the best for found is probably not a beginner box. Why? usually too limited. LMoP may be a month or two, but it's still pregens.

For a single volume, learn to play out of it, any one of these:
  • Talisman Adventures (but with a sticker reading "double the costs for level-up.")
  • Talislanta (the big blue book)
  • Mouse Guard
  • WEG d6 Star Wars 2nd Ed.
  • WEG d6 Star Wars 2nd Ed Revised and Expanded
  • WEG TORG (The setting is ultra-gonzo, but the rules are solid)
  • FFG boxed reissue of WEG Star Wars 1E & Star Wars Sourcebook 1E
  • The One Ring 1E
Talislanta is little known, but it's a good system, has a lot of setting (it's onlly like 20% mechanics, including gear and classes). It's the same core mechanics as Morrigan used in all their other games, too... not that there were all that many...

Talisman's relatively new... but it's fun, has a lot of options in the book, and a decent example of play. It's also simple to run and simple to wing it with.

The One Ring is an arguably poor lore source, but it gives enough to run a game with the right feel, has good adventure design suggestions, and plays well. (2E is too early to tell.)

Any of the WEG SW editions mentioned include a solo adventure to teach the basics to the GM. The FFG reprint is a bit of a dodge of the 1 book rule, but since (AFAICT) it was only sold as a bundle....

Mouse Guard is extremely easy to run. It has a strong set of guidance on how to play it, and it has stronger advice on how to build adventures for it.

I think you just described the hobby up until about the year 2000!
Maybe on that side of the megapuddle, but on the US West Coast, that ended about 1985... with D&D in the box chains, and in the AAFES and Navy Exchange ordering system. All the bases had situations wanted boards (usually physical) as did most of the colleges and universities. And most of the game stores except Toys R Us and Kaybee Toys. It wasn't hard to find a group at all. Finding one that wasn't too out there? That was a little harder.

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