August 26, 2017
RPGaDay Question #26
Question #26: Which RPG provides the most useful resources?
Okay, though I'm aware that there is the choice to "opt out" of a question and answer an alternate question, I'm going to stick with the base questions, difficult or as unusual as the answers might be.
For this one, I guess it comes down to what you consider a "useful resource?" For instance, D&D has had a plethora of resources available through both WotC's own publishing efforts as well as countless third party publishers, but I wouldn't really count any of them as being "useful" since a lot of it boils down to character options, the balance of which can be hotly debated (especially the third party small publisher stuff).
For me, what really counts as a "useful resource" is anything that helps expand on the setting of an RPG. And pound for pound, that's been the plethora of sourcebooks that West End Games published for their version of Star Wars Roleplaying Game. Even after the big canon reboot that Disney executed back in April 2014 that made most of that material Legends, I've found those books to be wonderful not only to mine for adventure ideas, but just helping to paint a broader picture of what the galaxy far, far away outside of the films is like, with my two favorite supplements being Galaxy Guide 5: Tramp Freighters and Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments from the Rim. GG9 is especially great because it does provide so much minor fluff elements about the Star Wars universe, introducing things such as beverages for your salty spacer to sample, notions of what types of music one might listen to during those long hyperspace jumps, and a number of different faces your character might encounter. It also introduced the notion of Inquisitors as the Empire's top hunters of renegade Jedi such as the PCs, in addition to various training exercises that a Force user could attempt as a means of improving their Force abilities, from a series of increasingly complex lightsaber cadences to telekinetic regimens.
WotC and FFG have both kept this going, as I often find myself going back to their Star Wars sourcebooks to look up some bit of info that got mentioned, either as part of writing up an adventure to run or to build on backstory for a character, be they ally or adversary to the party. And there is of course Wookieepedia, which is a huge boon and precarious time sink to a GM that wants to look up some obscure element of the setting.
Another RPG that for me has plenty of useful resources is 7th Sea, in particular the 1st edition run of books. Each of the Nation and Secret Society books gave the reader a whole lot more information about the nation or society in question, presented a collection of NPCs that could be used as-is or more frequently as inspiration for the players to make their own Heroes or the GMs to craft their own Villains and Henchmen. Granted, some of the books were less beneficial to a GM's game than others (Sophia's Daughters is a major culprit on this front), but they all had something to contribute in terms of helping flesh out Theah. Now while the 2nd edition of 7th Sea has gotten rolling, I've found the sourcebooks for that edition to be more of a mixed blessing, though a part of that may just well be how much I enjoyed the 1st edition version of setting, and how 2e seems to be changing things up just for the sake of changing things up, and then not giving nearly as much useful info, with the one notable exception (for me at least) being the Pirate Nations sourcebook, which provides a GM enough detail to run entire campaigns set in the Atabean Sea, especially if they're looking to emulate the general feel of the "golden age of piracy" that has inspired many a pirate-themed film.
Also helpful for players and GMs of 7th Sea 2nd edition is the Explorer's Society, which offers up adventures and supplemental material for use in your games. I'll admit that some what's on offer is a mixed bag, ranging from being only marginally useful in certain settings to being an almost indispensable aid. My recommendations are to at least snag The Wine List and the Hearts and Harlots, maybe the Dark Journal series if you're running an Eisen-centric campaign, Sharper Than Any Blade if you want heavy social combat in your games, and just avoid At Sword's Point like the plague.
A third choice is Green Ronin's Mutants & Masterminds RPG, especially for 3rd edition*. Thanks to the various "bad guy" files that they've produced as part of either the Threat Report or Rogues Gallery series as well as Power Profiles and Gadget Guides, there's plenty of options for players and GMs to work with. Power Profiles is great in that it presents ways to emulate certain power themes without creating a whole mess of brand new powers, simply by showing how the proper applications of labels to a power effect can give the player the desired result, and even provide some unusual suggestions for power stunts that still fit within the theme of the character's powers. Also a huge boon for MnM3e GMs would have to be the Emerald City sourcebook, which moves the action out of 2e's signature Freedom City and to the eponymous Emerald City, set on the US West Coast. The book not only provides a lot of detail on the location itself, but also includes a ready-to-run campaign that enables the players to have their characters become the city's premiere superhero team. Now I've not played the adventure itself, but my friend Eric is running an Emerald City campaign that I've very much enjoyed, as our team of heroes (called the Stormbreakers by the initial troupe of players, of whom only one remains) have in little ways helped shape things in the city, making it less of a place setting for our adventures and more of an actual character in the campaign. I understand that they're working on a 3rd edition version of the classic Freedom City setting, moving the timeline up to make the setting more current, but alas with their publishing timelines being glacially slow at times, I've no idea when that's actually going to be released (supposedly we should be seeing the PDF in the near future), but if it's even half as useful as Emerald City was, then it should be a pretty awesome resource.
Hopefully this answer has itself proven to be a useful resource about RPGs with useful resources.
*See what I did there ;)