Including the unusual, hard-to-find, totally new and strangely wonderful, we’ve got a selection of gifts and games that will be appreciated by both hardcore tabletop roleplayers and people who are curious about TTRPGs but might not know where to start. Most—if not all—of these products physically came out this year, which means that they’re less likely to be part of a collection already.
Packed into this list is a mix of indie games, unique accessories, fun books, and gifts for the people who know that their friend/kid/partner likes TTRPGs like Dungeons & Dragons but might not have any idea what to get them. I’ve got you covered! From high end art pieces to zines, check out io9’s list of gifts for the tabletop curious.
Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Gizmodo’s 2023 gift guides.
Why we like it: Okay, okay, we get one 5e supplement! One!! Flee, Mortals! by MCDM games is an impressive bestiary and antagonist generator with extra rules for how to deal with groups of enemies that makes combat impactful and easy to run. And the art in this book is incredible. There are a lot of 5e supplements out there but I think this one is focused, deliberate, and will improve games of all kinds.
Price: $79.99 (Hardcover) $39.99 (PDF) Where to buy: MCDM Productions
The RPG Zine Club
Why we like it: Plus One EXP’s newest experiment is a community building endeavor packaged with a TTRPG subscription. Gift a subscription and they’ll get three gaming zines every month. You can choose between story and adventure games, as well as physical or digital only copies. Support new designers and expand your collection.
Price: Subscriptions from $10-$100/month Where to buy: Plus One EXP
City of Winter
Why we like it: Expensive, yes, but gorgeous. City of Winter is a card-driven narrative game about a family journeying to safety. It’s a displacement narrative, a recovery metaphor, and one of the most beautifully produced games I’ve ever played. It’s the kind of game that inspires scenes that you talk about for months.
There’s also a slim rulebook, and a box for everything to fit in. It’s such a wonderful game and uses a ton of prompts that help people move through the narrative. Just a great game.
Price: $25-175, depending on the version Where to buy: Heart of the Deernicorn
Why we like it: Is the Knucklebone necessary in any way? No. It’s cheesy and silly but I love it. This little automatic random dice roller dohickey is currently being crowdfunded, but put this on your list for next year. I dunno, there’s something very Nice about this, and I simply can’t tell you why I enjoy it so much. A kind of retrofuture nostalgia? I dunno, but I love it.
Price: $100 Where to buy: Knucklebone
Why we like it: Poems… about TTRPGs? Or is this just lyric games by another name? Either way, Adventure Hooks by Tyler Crumrine is a delightfully charming pack of poems, prompts, and a game rolled into one. Or six? It’s a small, quick read, and has deep artistic roots that feel at home as a chapbook or as a standalone adventure. If you have an artsy weirdo bard in your life, this little book is perfect.
Price: $14 Where to buy: Possible Worlds Games
Till the Last Gasp
Why we like it: If you’re looking at all this imagination and thinking to yourself… what I really need is some guard rails, I would like to recommend Till the Last Gasp, a wonderful little game that allows narrative storytelling but doesn’t require it. It’s easy to pick up and play, provides framework for tactical decisions, and keeps things fast paced and fun.
Price: $40 Where to buy: Critical Role, Walmart
Why we like it: Fabula Ultima made a huge splash at the ENnies this year, and for good reason. In addition to really embodying Japanese RPG vibes, it has one of the most intuitive, innovative onboarding structures I’ve ever seen. It might be a crunchy game but it teaches you how to play as you play it, and carefully metes out information as you move through the adventure. It’s clever and a great system, and absolutely worth finding the hard cover, although it is sold out in some places. (I’ve found it at Modiphius!)
Price: $34 (Print+PDF) $18 (PDF Only) Where to buy: Modiphius, DriveThruRPG
A Dropout/Dimension20 Subscription
Why we like it: Yes, okay, Dimension 20 may be playing a lot of D&D, but they are pushing the genre forward in intersting ways and featuring a lot of big name players in the AP space. Any fan of Actual Plays would love a subscription, and with 20 seasons of actual plays and guests from across the TTRPG Actual Play sphere, you won’t be wanting for stories.
Price: Subscription, $6/month or $60/year Where to buy: Dropout.tv
DIE: The RPG
Why we like it: Crowdfunded last year, Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans’ DIE RPG is finally available for purchase. A meta game about why we play RPGs, it can be given as a gift to a long time TTRPG fan who might want to try something new. You can get the standard game or the deluxe version with all the dice, GM screen, and coins.
Price: €97 (Deluxe Hardcover Print+PDF), €54 (Hardcover Print+PDF), €27 (PDF Only) Where to buy: Rowan, Rook & Decard
Eldrich Overload Tarot
Why we like it: An absolutely stunning tarot deck that merges classic fantasy and cyberpunk aesthetics, this is an incredible gift for any TTRPG enthusiast. It’s inspired by D&D and the codex book is a wonderful way to help prompt your game movement and character generation. Also… the art???
Price: $50 (Deck Only) Where to buy: Weird Works
Reach of the Roach God
Why we like it: Reach of the Roach God contains an incredible Southeast Asian-inspired adventure that is system agnostic, which means that you can take its setting, spells, and hooks and use them in any game. I have a copy and I love it, it’s genuinely one of the most immersive, understandable adventures I’ve read in years, and it is so easy to port onto a base game like (sigh) Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Trophy, Into the Odd, or any other Old School Roleplaying-style adventure game.
This book is unlikely to be reprinted, and even now it’s difficult to find. If creepy dungeon crawls seeped in rich lore packaged in a book full of incredible illustrations is up your alley, don’t hesitate to snag this adventure book.
Price: $60 (Print+PDF) Where to buy: Spear Witch
Why we like it: An occult journaling RPG (with some really gorgeous and very sexy illustrations) that uses traditional systems of divination as roleplaying mechanics, The Last Sabbath was crowdfunded late last year and is now available to hold in your hands. Available in Italian and English, you might have to search to find a retailer in the U.S., but I recommend Knave of Cups.
Price: $20 (Print+PDF) Where to buy: Officia Meningi, Knave of Cups
Why we like it: HUNT is a shot RPG adventure about knights of a fallen order who set out on one last quest for doom or glory. It’s not built for long campaigns, it really is just a get together and play game, and with gorgeous illustrations and using the collaborative Lumen system, gamers of all experiences will absolutely love recreating romantic Authurian fantasy.
Price: $25 (Print+PDF) $10 (PDF Only) Where to buy: Gila RPGs, Gila RPGs on itch.io
Sting and Saw Marquetry Dice Boxes
Why we like it: These dice boxes are expensive, yes, but they are gorgous pieces of art handcrafted and made by hand. Sting and Saw have a dozen designs and are occasionally willing to take on custom orders. If you’re looking for a standout gift for someone who has… just about everything else, check out these pieces.
Price: $300-$870 Where to buy: Sting and Saw on Etsy
Yazeba’s Bed & Breakfast
Why we like it: It’s not a gift guide without an addition from Possum Creek Games. Years in the making, Yazeba’s Bed & Breakfast is an experimental legacy TTRPG that disguises itself in coziness while talking frankly about queerness, belonging, homelessness, and what it means to truly build a community where people can grow. An incredible, monumental work, this game is not to be missed.
Price: $65 (Hardcover) $150 (Boxed Set) Where to buy: Possum Creek Games
Ultimate RPG Campfire Card Deck
Why we like it: The Ultimate RPG Campfire Card Deck is a lovely little deck that promps people to think deeply about their characters and their motivations. A great way to start a game or add into downtime phases during gameplay. It also includes safety tools if you want to get started with using active consent in your game.
Price: $20 Where to buy: Barnes & Noble, Amazon
Citizen Sleeper – Cycles of the Eye
Why we like it: The hit video game Citizen Sleeper got a first anniversary package release from Lost in Cult this year, and, in addition to an incredible art book, there’s now a TTRPG based on the game. Cycles of the Eye is available in basic and deluxe versions and is a great gift for someone who likes video games but might not know how to transition into TTRPGs.
Price: £29 (Standard) £129 (Deluxe) Where to buy: Lost in Cult
Why we like it: I’m a huge fan of Adam Vass, and Sweet Revenge is another banger. Your stats are spread across the seven sins and as you journey through hell your mode of death is how you fight your demonic opposition. It’s a bloody, gruesome, gorey meaty descent into hell, and I love everything about it.
Price: $17 (Print+PDF) $10 (PDF Only) Where to buy: Exalted Funeral, World Champ Game Co.
World Ending Game
Why we like it: World Ending Game is a guidebook to the end of your game. Meant to be used as a final session of a campaign, this innovative and wonderful book contains different ways to craft an ending. It’s the kind of game that you don’t realize you need until you have to deal with aftermath. A truly wonderful project, and easy to tack onto any game you’re currently playing.
Price: $40 (Print+PDF bundle) $15 (PDF only) Where to buy: Indie Press Revolution, itch.io
Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground
Why we like it: Stu Horvath’s book, Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground, is a must have for any TTRPG fan. A history of games from the 70s until now, it’s part game design philosophy, part encyclopedia, and part history of TTRPGs. A genuinely remarkable and incredibly readable book, it’s a focused look at the development of TTRPGs and I have been recommending it to literally everyone I know. An accomplishment that fights the narrative that D&D is the “world’s best roleplaying game” by proving over and over that there are way too many games out there to chose from… and always has been.
Price: Standard edition (pictured above), $50, Deluxe Edition $125 Where to buy: MIT Press, Bookshop.org, Amazon
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