More than 40 years after its first campaign began, seminal tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) Dungeons & Dragons is in the midst of a renaissance, but it’s far from the only TTRPG on the market. For book lovers, however, there’s no better place to start with TTRPGs than with one of these ten roleplaying games based on books.
That’s not to say that D&D doesn’t have literary merit. Fantasy nerds may be familiar with the Wizards of the Coast–published TTRPG system’s myriad novel tie-ins, such as Dragons of Autumn Twilight and Homeland, but it’s also important to recognize the game’s literary roots. There’s no denying that midcentury fantasy literature inspired creator Gary Gygax and other early D&D players — lookin’ at you, Lord of the Rings! — and that influence can still be felt in the game today.
Even if you’re a tabletop gamer who plays in a long-running Dungeons & Dragons campaign, you can — and should — make room for other TTRPGs in your gaming time. There are so many other, non-D&D RPGs worth checking out, many of them made by indie developers who don’t receive a fraction of the attention that gets heaped on Wizards of the Coast.
At the end of the day, there’s no real reason not to branch out into indie TTRPGs. They’re almost always cheaper to play than D&D, for one thing. Perhaps more importantly, many of the roleplaying games based on books listed below make room for easier methods of producing one-shot campaigns, which are perfect for both new TTRPGers and longtime roleplayers looking for a breath of fresh air.
But hey, maybe you’ve never played a tabletop roleplaying game before in your life. If that’s you, don’t be intimidated! Find a local gaming group — or an online one, or a few friends willing to spend a few hours on a Sunday being silly with you—and pick up one of the games on the list below for a roleplaying experience based on one of your favorite books. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Roleplaying Games Based On Books
Compatible with Victoriana 2nd Edition, Dark Harvest: The Legacy of Frankenstein acts as a grim sequel to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein. Set in a fictional European country founded by Victor Frankenstein himself, Iain Lowson’s TTRPG features a rich, gothic environment ripe for roleplaying opportunities.
From the publisher behind Mutants & Masterminds and the Dragon Age TTRPG, The Expanse RPG takes players deep inside S.A. Corey’s immersive sci-fi world. The epic space battles alone make this title a must-play for sci-fi aficionados.
Full disclosure: I backed this game on Kickstarter.
If competitive gameplay and fighting monsters aren’t your style, Good Society: A Jane Austen Roleplaying Game may be the book-based TTRPG for you. Inspired by the works of Jane Austen, and including expansion material based on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, this mostly peaceful game has something for everyone in its Regency setting.
Initially released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1995, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Another Story does not as of yet have an official English translation, but fan translations do exist.
If you liked this post, you’ll also like: