Read these books for RPG and adventuring inspiration

You’re crafting the perfect campaign. You’re writing the best character backstory. You want flavor. You want action. You want levity. You want drama. You want to bring an amazing, exciting, engaging story to the table.

In short: You want to be inspired.

It can feel like a slog to get some fresh ideas down but crack open a good book and the juices will start flowing.

We put together a list of books that tell good stories and help you create your own wonderful ideas for your next D&D campaign, Pathfinder character or whatever you’re prepping for the table.

D&D sourcebooks

Dungeon Master’s Guide

If you haven’t read it, either as a DM or a player, you should. To be sure, there are lots of game mechanics, but this expansive tome has loads of ideas to build games, worlds, hooks, adventures and stories. After paging through the book, you ought to come away with something. Get it here.

Volo’s Guide to Monsters

The first portion of the D&D sourcebook is all about monster lore. It takes iconic D&D monsters — orcs, beholders, mind flayers, yuan-ti, kobolds, gnolls — and breaks them down. Rather in-depth. There’s so much story in each section, you could craft a campaign out of each. (War against the orcs! Illithid infiltration! Beholder lairs!) You could also fit some of that lore to your player character to give them a killer background. Get it here.

Fiction

Conan the Barbarian

Robert E. Howard’s tales of swords and sorcery were a big influence on D&D. Conan largely traveled around during the Hyborian Age looking for adventure, and that’s a recipe for a great D&D story or character. This series is a favorite of Dungeon Crate owner Wayne Brekke. Get it here.

Earthsea

In an oceanic world — specifically, a group of islands and the vast sea that surrounds them — Ursula K. Le Guin explores what it’s like for a hero with a humbling beginning to rise to great depths of power. Sounds like leveling up, doesn’t it? Get it here.

The Kingkiller Chronicle

Bards don’t have to be wimps. Check out Patrick Rothfuss’ series to see exactly how someone like Kvothe can be a total badass. The series starts with “Name of the Wind.” Get it here.

Throne of the Crescent Moon

A setting similar to the Arabian Nights could give you a different cultural approach to RPGs, but the novel is also a great story of putting together an adventuring party. Get it here.

Nonfiction

Of Dice & Men

An exploration of D&D’s history mixed in with an explanation of the game’s importance in history, the nonfiction book gives a solid background of the ins and outs of old-school wargaming and RPGs. Plus, it explores lots of different settings, people and ideas about RPGs. Get it here.

Empire of Imagination

A biography of D&D creator Gary Gygax, this is a dramatized account that reads more like a novel with Gygax at the center. Get it here.

Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering

Robin D. Laws (yes, that’s his real name) created a helpful and short book for anyone who wants to be a better DM. And for those who are a little burned out, this should help inject a little fun into the proceedings. Get it here.

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