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The 10 Best RPG Board Games

The 10 Best RPG Board Games

Our roundup of the best role playing board games

The best role playing board games are difficult to define. What makes them great role playing board games? Why aren’t they marketed as role playing games (RPGs) in general? We’ll tell you why. Role playing games are often thought of as pen-and-paper adventures where you journey through a fantasy world with your fellow adventurers.

Traditional RPGs typically have a focus on heavy character customization potential and rich narrative storytelling, but don’t generally play well with just two players. One player serves as the game master (GM) or dungeon master (DM). Typically GMs or DMs “run the game” and often do not assume the role of a character in a pen-and-paper RPG.

The best RPG board games give you a great narrative experience and often do not require a GM. They blend character customization with clever board game mechanics, drawing players into an immersive narrative experience. 

We suspect that the reason why the games below are almost never advertised as RPG board games is because of market saturation and common perception. Players are used to referring to RPGs as pen-and-paper titles.

To call a board game a RPG, or even a role playing board game, would be confusing and difficult to sell. Instead, the industry unofficially refers to RPG board games as “character-driven” or “narrative-driven.” It’s up to the player to define those games, and define them we do! 

No single dictionary defines role playing board games, so we came up with our own simple criteria. Role playing board games must have: 

  • Heavy character customization elements 
  • Strong emphasis on narrative-driven storylines

Seems simple enough. It’s really not! Many board games that embrace RPG-like elements use them rather sparingly. We opted not to include games that are RPG-lites in the list below, so you get the fullest possible experience out of a role playing board game! 

Here are our top ten best RPG board games for you to drool over. 

Our Top Picks – 10 Best RPG Board Games

Best RPG Board Games - Roll Player Adventures game box and cover art

Best RPG Board Game Overall: Roll Player Adventures

Players: 1 - 4 // Game time: 90 - 150 minutes // Age: 10+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Step into the world of Roll Player and get a fully immersive RPG board game experience complete with dice manipulation, awesome inventory cards and massive character customization. This is the ultimate RPG board game for dyed in the wool RPG fans.

Best RPG Board Game on a Budget: Talisman

Players: 2 - 6 // Game time: 180 - 240 minutes // Age: 8+ // Difficulty: Medium

Enter the magical quest that is Talisman for a low investment- this is a game that doesn’t depend on cash-grabbing expansions, although it has plenty!

Best RPG Board Games - Too Many Bones game box and cover art


Most Thematic RPG Board Game: Too Many Bones

Players: 1 - 4 // Game time: 60 - 120 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Just like a warm cup of bone broth, this game goes down well. Chip Theory Games set out to create the most thematically appropriate RPG board game out there and succeeded with flying colors. You’ll have incredible fun debating the coolest-looking Gearloc with your fellow players.

Most Expandable RPG Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set

Players: 1 - 4 // Game time: 90 minutes // Age: 13+ // Difficulty: Medium

The Pathfinder universe is the one you want to explore. It has tons of expansions and add-ons. You can even switch gears and board the pure-RPG pen-and-paper train, since the board game is based off the Pathfinder family of traditional RPGs.

Best RPG Board Game for the Family: Mice and Mystics

Players: 1 - 4 // Game time: 60 - 90 minutes // Age: 8+ // Difficulty: Medium

Play as teensy-tiny transfigured mice trying to overthrow the baddies who’ve taken over the kingdom. The whole family will find a whole lot to love in this one. Talisman: Kingdom Hearts is our close second for a family-friendly RPG board game romp.

Our Top 10 RPG Board Games

Space skirmish miniature game

Players: 1 - 5 // Game time: 60 - 120 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

There are only two choices: turn towards the Force as part of the Rebellion, or embrace the Dark Side as Commander of the Galactic Empire. One player is the Empire, and everyone else is a Rebel.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault gives you a team of unknown heroes or minions to work with. It’s all about adventure- you complete special missions in either a Skirmish Mode (one-off battles perfect for quick plays), or in a Campaign Mode, which allows you to check off core and side missions with a big-picture goal. We like the idea of the Campaign Mode when you’re talking about a role playing board game. 

This game is a mix of different elements- it has great miniatures, modular tiles and characters who are new to the Star Wars universe. The gameplay that shines in Imperial Assault is largely attributable to the RPG elements. Like with many miniature games, main characters from Star Wars don’t feature prominently here in the base set. Want Luke? You’ll have to buy him separately- and that’s actually a pro in a RPG sense. Instead, you have the opportunity to make the characters your own- you already have rich backstories to begin with, and no baggage from characters who have already heavily influenced the Star Wars universe. You develop, evolve and advance your character by playing through both core and side missions. 

Why This is Fun

Successfully hack into a terminal as a brand-new Wookie or a heretofore unknown stealthy Rebel and you’ll reap rewards in terms of experience and new abilities that help you rock the next mission. That’s what makes Imperial Assault so much fun- customization

That’s the Holy Grail of role playing board games.

Who This Game is For

Star Wars fans from all galaxies. Imperial Assault embraces a fantastic thematic feel that translates into the perfect adventure for kids, families and friends alike.

Buy Star Wars: Imperial Assault on Amazon

Animal-based rollicking castle adventure

Players: 1 - 4 // Game time: 60 - 90 minutes // Age: 8+ // Difficulty: Medium

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Oh no. You open your eyes slowly and raise what you think is your hand in front of you. 

Only… it’s a paw. You crouch and reach for the solid ground below you, but instead you crush what you now know is your tail. YOU ARE FURRY. 

You know that Vanestra and her subordinates are responsible for transforming you, along with your fellow villagers loyal to Prince Collin (and the Prince himself!) into field mice. Or maybe you’re a dormouse. 

At any rate, you’re ready to embrace your new role as a mouse exploring the Royal Castle at a much larger scale than you’re used to! Role playing with a mouse miniature, you must divide and conquer. Each player has a completely different mindset, skillset and unique role. You must all work together to inform the King of what has transpired. Your ultimate goal is to stop Vanestra from destroying the kingdom! 

Why This is Fun

As a rich thematic choice for game night, Mice and Mystics takes role playing board games to the next level. You customize your mice characters, adding special abilities to your wheelhouse while also gobbling up a cheese wheel simultaneously (pun intended)! 

It’s up to you as a player to really elaborate on the base story. The more engaged and creative you are with the story as a whole, the more enjoyable your RPG experience will be. That’s a general rule for the best role playing board games – they expand your world through dramatic storytelling and role-assuming. 

Just remember to clean up after yourselves- leave no cheese crumb behind.  

Who This Game is For

Fans of Watership Down, Redwall, Root and creature-based stories in general will love this game. It’s not without its flaws- we wish the story was more deep, but there’s nothing out there quite like Mice and Mystics.

Buy Mice and Mystics on Amazon

You can build on your copy of Mice and Mystics by picking up…

Mice and Mystics: Downwood Tales – This expansion includes multiple playable characters, new villains and minions, tiles, new gameplay mechanics, equipment, story elements, and more.

Mice and Mystics: Heart of Glorm – The story in this expansion starts right after the events in the original Mice and Mystics. You get a new companion, new plastic figures, cards, counters, and a series of immersive chapters.

Tail Feathers is a standalone game set in the world of Mice and Mystics. It adds 13 new mice miniatures, along with five birds with heads that tilt. The minis enhance your role playing experience as you soar beyond the castle.

Dark horror-inspired adventure quest

Players: 1 - 2 // Game time: 120 - 180 minutes // Age: 14+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Victory Point Games

As a mash-up of gothic fantasy and horror tropes, Darkest Night (Second Edition) is larger than life. The game has the audacity to rise up as a pulp-fiction hero, and that becomes clear when you embark on an engrossing cooperative journey as one of the kingdom’s last heroes, surrounded by piercing darkness. 

Your character must save the kingdom from an evil necromancer and his flunkies. But can you, really? Let’s be honest here. Brutally honest. 

This game gives you no quarter. You stumble through the dark blindly, looking for keys that unlock valuable holy relics that help you lock away evil once and for all. You can also embark on a quest, helping the residents of the kingdom solve their problems. Just try to avoid those darkness cards –  the Necromancer’s powers grow with each darkness card. The Second Edition of Darkest Night includes new heroes, relics, events and quests that make it the definitive edition of the game. 

Your characters begin the game as feeble beings, easily overpowered. But where’s the fun in that? Hiding. Yes, Darkest Night lets you hide in the darkness as you gain strength, new powers and perform other actions. Rumors will surface, leading you to solve mysteries and set off on quests. 

Why This is Fun

As a role playing board game, Darkest Night is absolutely a phenomenon. In any given game, you and your fellow players control four adventurers from a platter of twenty-nine heroes, each with their strengths and weaknesses. They have varying levels of interaction with other characters, but they all start with thirteen power cards. You choose their starting powers and gain new abilities as you progress. Most of the fun, though, is seeing how your chosen four adventurers work together and grow into their roles. 

Who This Game is For

Darkest Night is for folks who love creepy but well-designed replayable RPG board games. The horror element means kids under 14 should probably stay away. A good barometer is whether or not you watch Stranger Things– if you do, you can handle this one. 

Buy Darkest Night (2nd Edition) on Amazon

Fantasy deck-builder with lots of dragons

Players: 2 -6 // Game time: 60 - 90 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs

Dragons. Everyone loves dragons. Good thing there’s plenty of them here in Dragonfire

A cooperative deck-building, role playing board game with fantastic character sketches and customization, Dragonfire is set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. That doesn’t mean it’s a pen and paper RPG, but it does mean that it has role playing elements that take it above and beyond. Be oddly height-specific and play as either a dwarf or elf, or embrace your humanity as a human. Heck, you can even play as a half-orc! You’ll be able to choose from classic cleric, rogue, fighter and wizard roles. 

Dragonfire really gives you the reins in terms of character customization. You level up characters as expected in a RPG board game, but then you also open access to fabled equipment and attempt feats customized to your character throughout either individual scenarios or a well-executed campaign. The tension your character feels throughout Dragonfire is palpable, as the game uses quick game play and event resolution to fire on all cylinders wherever you are in your journey. The designers were careful to retain a healthy balance between luck and in-game predetermined stuff, while also giving you variety. As a result, this is a game you’ll want to play through again and again.

Why This is Fun

The fun element here is definitely role playing. Choose from sixteen characters and customize the way your character gains power. You are pitted against a growing number of challenges, including the ability to lose health points. Magic items are great supplements to your deck, and the way Dragonfire works with them is novel. 

Who This Game is For

Anyone who loves striding through fantastical worlds and pushing characters off the page into real-world game situations. We do recommend playing this game with a consistent player count throughout the whole campaign, so the game feels more balanced. 

Buy Dragonfire on Amazon

Three-world fantasy adventure game

Players: 2 - 6 // Game time: 180 - 240 minutes // Age: 8+ // Difficulty: Medium

Publisher: Pegasus Spiele / Fantasy Flight Games

Welcome, dear traveller. Why don’t you come in from the bitter cold and rest beside a raging fire? You must be tired, my hero-wizard-villain-thief-monster-druid-insert-your-character-here! 

You choose one of fourteen character roles at random in Talisman, a fantastical adventure board game with heavy role playing elements. You’ll travel throughout the world in search of special equipment, weapons, rare relics and trustworthy companions, all in the name of finally acquiring the tower of riches in the middle of the board- the fabled Crown of Command. It gives you the ability to perform a devastating Command spell that ends the game for your fellow players. 

You begin in the outer world of Talisman, pass through the middle world and finally reach the inner world. After defeating the Sentinel, you’ll pass through to the middle world. In this world, you’ll search for a fabled cave and complete a quest there. After doing so, you’ll finally gain access to the Portal of Power. 

You roll dice to move or fight with your character. If you happen to move onto a space occupied by another character, you can fight that character. The losing player may subtract a health point, or lose a piece of equipment (even a follower!) to the victor. Drawing a card from an adventure deck deals you monsters, events, items, spells and other miscellany. You can even become a toad if you chance upon an unfortunate “Random” spell! 

Why This is Fun

For a game that relies on character location and progression, Talisman throws a huge monkey wrench into the world of role playing board games. For one, you randomly select a character, which goes against the grain of many RPGs. Random assignation of a character means you have to learn multiple playing styles. When you die, you simply draw a new character and start fresh.

There’s a twist, though. Before someone gets to the Crown of Command, death is semi-permanent. Since you’re likely to die multiple times, you get the opportunity to assume various roles- until someone at the Crown of Command offs you permanently. It’s a fun, exhilarating race to the finish through the high fantasy universe of Talisman

Who This Game is For

If you love world exploration and classic adventure games, you will absolutely get a kick out of Talisman. This game is very easy to learn, so newer players will feel at home. We think it’s a great game to play with tweens or teens, as it encourages exploration and imagination.

Buy Talisman on Amazon

Talisman has been around for a long time- since 1983, to be exact. It has staying power because of it’s high replay value- every game you play is bound to be different. There’s a Batman Super-Villains version, a Kingdom Hearts spin and even a player-invented Legend of Zelda reskin. We especially love the Talisman – Legendary Tales base game, which makes Talisman cooperative, adds both male and female gender options for every character and is great for ages eight and up – perfect for family game night. Relic is a contemporary spin on Talisman that increases the difficulty, reduces the character count to ten and spits the world of Talisman into a Warhammer 40,000 universe. 

The expansions you can pick up for Talisman add great value to the base game. We recommend:

Talisman: The City Expansion – Adds a complete City region to the base game. Includes a map board and over 100 new cards full of artisans, armourers, criminals, merchants, potion sellers and strangers. Also adds six detailed miniatures to go along with six new characters.

Talisman: The Highland Expansion – Adds a complete Highland region to the base game. Includes a map board full of clouds, mountains and “magical waters.” Over 100 new cards, including the Eagle King, previous guardian of the jewels stolen to create the Crown of Command. Includes six new characters and minis. 

Talisman: The Dungeon Expansion – Adds a complete Dungeon region to the base game. Play as one of five new characters- a gladiator, noble, swashbuckler, gypsy and philosopher. A map board with 100 new cards breathes life into the catacombs of Talisman. 

Fantasy adventure and exploration

Players: 1 -5 // Game time: 120 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

In Descent: Journeys in the Dark – Second Edition, you are faced with a terrible choice. Are you a hero, or are you a villain? 

As a hero, you: 

  • Navigate difficult challengers and quests, racing against the clock 
  • Explore a wide range of environments like caves, cursed forests, dungeons and ruins
  • Fight against the Overlord to bring light into the realm 

As the Overlord, you perform classic villain moves like: 

  • Impede heroes using dungeon traps, complex puzzles and awe-inspiring monsters
  • Think up terrible obstacles or barriers that will influence your opponents’ ability to complete their missions and the overall campaign 

Descent: Journeys in the Dark is a pillar of the board gaming community. So many games have been inspired by Descent’s gameplay that it’s getting a bit ridiculous at this point. It’s a huge game full of hero and monster packs- with all of the expansions, you can choose from 72 heroes and their 22 class decks. 

Descent: Journeys in the Dark does two things better than many games ever will. First, it works through a complicated tree of different missions, where your success or failure determines where you go next. Sound familiar? Yup, Gloomhaven has that, but what they do is more linear in nature. Descent adds a deep layer of customization to each scenario- no scenario is ever exactly the same because various groups can appear depending on traits you find in that scenario. 

Why This is Fun

The second thing Descent: Journeys in the Dark does extremely well is role playing. Instead of just playing, you are the character. You level up after encounters and scenarios. You communicate with fellow adventurers. You map out and strategize your moves to the point where your team becomes a well-oiled machine. You scream things as your alter ego you would never even whisper as your “normal self.” 

Isn’t that what role playing is all about- taking over and embracing a role as you journey along? 

Who This Game is For

If you enjoy tactical strategy RPG board games, you’ll love the granular control Descent affords you. If you enjoy exploring fantasy worlds alongside other fully-fledged characters, this game is for you. If you enjoy shaping your character from the ground up, and assuming the mantle of the character, complete with its strengths, weaknesses and quirks, this game is for you. 

Buy Descent: Journeys in the Dark – Second Edition on Amazon

Want something like Descent, but without the dungeon crawler theme? 

Star Wars: Imperial Assault is our favorite Descent descendant (ha, another pun). 

Three great Descent expansions:

Shadow of Nerekhall (2014) – The second big box expansion for Descent. It includes new city and sewer terrain tiles, new quests, new hero classes and new Overlord cards. You’re probably better off getting this at your local game shop, as it can be hard to find- but it’s worth it.

Mists of Bilehall (2015) – Venture into the mistlands as part of an included one-act campaign. No new heroes or hero classes are included in this one- it’s all about increasing the power of the Overload. You get twelve miniatures ready to perform the Overlord’s biddings.  

Labyrinth of Ruin (2013) – is the first large expansion for the Second Edition. It includes the Apothecary, Beast Master, Hexxer and Treasure Hunter classes, along with revamped Overlord cards and tougher quests.

A beloved RPG transformed into a board game

Players: 1 - 4 // Game time: 90 minutes // Age: 13+ // Difficulty: Medium

Publisher: Paizo Publishing

A nemesis is lost to the annals of history. 

An all-powerful wizard goes *poof*. 

A tower collapses, brick by brick.

Welcome to Belhaim, the sign says. You look up towards where the tower used to be, and all you see is a piece of blue sky. Dust off your sleeves and get going. You’ve a lot to fix.  

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set is a cooperative adventure game ready for your touch. As one of the new heroes of Belhaim, you must craft your character’s skills as you build a balanced deck of equipment, magic and allies, because you never know what imminent terror could befall you.

Pathfinder is primarily a deck-building game with an old-school RPG feel to it, with the addition of 10-sided polyhedral dice that give you plenty of options as you progress throughout your journey. Pro tip: buy a card sleeve set and sleeve your cards pronto!

The story is really what draws you in, but the depth and range of the characters are what really keeps you going. You have infinite options as far as collecting “hero points” – clever! The folks at Paizo Publishing did a great job putting together the “story bane”, giving you one single card to use for four different enemies- streamlining this game to the max and getting rid of the fluff.

That means Pathfinder can be distributed with a lower cost, and the savings go to you- freeing up your wallet for the inevitable expansion you’re gonna snap up after you play through the base game. 

Why This is Fun

As with many role playing games, you must build your character from the ground up. After choosing a class, you will begin with a basic deck and build your way up. Choose from 440 cards that will help optimize your character’s weaponry, improve your ability to cast magical spells, increase your defense through skillfully made armor, open up relationships with your future allies and bless you as you press ahead into battle. 

Who This Game is For

Adventurers of every color and background. This is one of the best role playing board games you can play cooperatively, and it is absolutely going to tickle your fancy if you want to assemble a party of four heroes who work together to accomplish lofty goals.

Buy Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set on Amazon

Pathfinder is still best known as a pen-and-paper RPG, so if you want to try this game without the board, grab Pathfinder: Core Rulebook. This inclusive edition acknowledges gender, sexuality and disability- all of which will make your games even more fun.

With ten scenarios in the core set and plenty of random scenarios, you’ll get a lot of play time out of Pathfinder. If you’re interested in picking up an expansion (and you really should), the first one you should start with is the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path. Love pirates? Same. You’ll wanna check out an earlier version of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull and Shackles Base Set.

Best RPG Board Games - Too Many Bones game box and cover art

The ultimate dice building RPG

Players: 1 - 4 // Game time: 60 - 120 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Chip Theory Games

For those who don’t know, “bones” is just another word for dice- and this game has plenty of bones to go around (pun #1). Too Many Bones blends the dice-building and RPG genres together to create one smooth blend full of rollicking fun- make no bones about it (pun #2). 

In a crowded field of fantasy role playing board games, Too Many Bones stands skull and clavicle above everyone else (pun #3). Instead of leaning into typical RPG character archetypes, Too Many Bones scoops up all of those characters, magically transforms them into Gearlocs and makes a break for the mountains. At night among the peaks and valleys, you gather around the campfire with your fellow Gearlocs (a creative name for characters, no?) and trade stories, sift through your lockboxes, upgrade your gear and spend your hard-earned skill points.

Gaining more experience points as you go along, you’ll make difficult decisions about whether or not to boost your attack and/or defense attributes or pick up fancy-schmancy Gearloc speciality dice. You definitely have limited parameters, because you have to make a decision based on only a few options on a certain card, but you never feel boxed in because the sheer number (and depth) of options really layers juicy meat back onto the bone (pun #4).

The tension inherent in leveling up your character’s upgrades or tech trees makes for some fantastic fun. Not all the decisions you make are going to be the right ones for each situation you encounter. 

Why This is Fun

The character build structure in Too Many Bones is a gem- all of the Gearlocs you encounter in the game are going to stop your progress in its tracks, or propel you forward in your journey. We especially love the deep customization potential of each Gearloc’s technology tree, which adds a completely new dimension of fun to this role playing board game. 

Who This Game is For

Role playing game enthusiasts looking for their next novel RPG board game are going to love this one. Fans of tactical battle games are going to love this game. Really, this game is nothing short of a transcendent masterpiece. 

Buy Too Many Bones at Chip Theory Games

The best solo and two-player version may be Too Many Bones: Undertow, a separate stand-alone game that also integrates with Too Many Bones. Undertow packs several variable starting cards and a campaign system. Grab a separate Gearloc to play Undertow as a three-player game- we recommend Ghillie and his pets.

If you’re assembling for a four-player group, the Too Many Bones base set is the way to go. It offers you a crazy amount of variety, and includes more stuff than is available in Undertow.

The Too Many Bones base set also offers a story-based campaign mode in Too Many Bones: Age of Tyranny, allowing you to string together a comprehensive story arc by playing several sessions over time. 

Crunchy role playing adventure game

Players: 1 - 3 // Game time: 150 minutes // Age: 14+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: WizKids


You know machine knitting? It’s where you knit a bunch of different yarns together to make a beautiful sweater-rug-tapestry. That’s what Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition is. It’s the mash-up to end all mash-ups. Weaving together deck building, card drafting, dice rolling and RPG elements, this game is all about exploring the corners of your realm and wresting control of the Atlantean Empire. 

Eighteen scenarios in the Ultimate Edition allow you to build a powerful deck filled with spells and commands, cobble together a mighty army from the ground up and explore every corner of the universe as one of four all-powerful Mage Knights (and note that you’re not exactly the good guy).

As an explorer, fighter and adventurer, you set out on an epic journey to become the best of the Mage Knights. You battle fire-breathing dragons, loot sacred temples and besiege cities, all of which require a balance of deft card-dealing and aggressive tactics. 

At the beginning of each game, the sixteen cards you start with will superboost your deck build. Forget about removing or permanently discarding your cards. That’s only possible if you get a couple of cards that allow you to do so, and because it isn’t an option that’s always available to you, each card you incorporate into your deck makes you feel even more powerful.

Each Deed, Artifact or Spell card you play in this game can execute two separate things. Go with the basic effect, or roll mana dice to create spiffy special effects. Turn the card sideways and gain combat, block, influence or move points. As you crank out points from your cards, new terrain is unlocked and available for you to explore. 

Oh, and did we mention you can’t die

Immortality is finally in your grasp. 

Why This is Fun

With Mage Knight, you race against the clock- there’s a strict time limit delineated by the passage of days and nights when you come up against humongous enemies! You’ve gotta figure out how to beat the enemy with amazing combos that you pull out of your hat, one after another, like a seasoned magician.

Who This Game is For

Solo, cooperative and competitive- there’s a play style for everyone in Mage Knight. If you’re looking for a deeply thematic game that allows you to explore every nook and cranny of a fantasy realm, look no further.

Buy Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition on Amazon

Best RPG Board Games - Roll Player Adventures game box and cover art

Fantasy role playing board game with deep character customization

Players: 1 - 4 // Game time: 90 - 150 minutes // Age: 10+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Thunderworks Games

As the Dragul armies start creeping into your homeland of Nalos, you take up arms as a King’s Guard soldier in the regiment under Commander Zalic. Eventually, the armies of Nalos drive back the Dragul Invasion, but you need to blaze your own path- and create your own adventure. 

Burly trolls, horrendous goblins, dark elves, bluestone fireballs – this game has it all. Roll Player Adventures is a cooperative story-based board game dripping with all the role playing goodness you’re looking for. Based on the popular Roll Player, this game takes everything that made its predecessor great—namely incredibly deep character customization and dice management—and blends it with branching narrative storytelling.

Eleven storybook adventures are included in the base game as your main campaign, along with a Side Quest book that provides infinite levels of replayability. For the quickest start possible, you can choose to play as a premade character. You’ll likely prefer to create a brand-new character from the ground up using the rules included with the game, but you can also play a full game of Roll Player and import your character into Roll Player Adventures

Throughout the game you get cards that allow you to manipulate dice in order to solve certain puzzles or defeat enemies, which allows for a terrific balance between luck and strategy. Your actions matter. They can change the course of the game- if you cross paths with an ally, you could still suffer certain consequences stemming from your strained relationship with the ally’s faction. Remember what you did to their tribe a few turns back? Yeah, watch out for that

Why This is Fun

As your character advances on their journey, you gain experience points and gold- but you also record important keywords that will unlock secrets within the game itself. You can also curry the King’s Favor, or the Starlit Door Favor, or the Dragul Favor. The fun is in the unprecedented levels of character customization you have- you can pick up Armor, Skill, Weapon, Scroll, Trait and Familiar Cards, along with Discovery, Title and Rare Cards- all with their own purpose. 

Who This Game is For

Roll Player geeks who love the level of character customization they get with that game, but who want to advance to a higher plane of narrative story-telling. Role playing aficionados who are looking for a RPG board game that is easy to get to the table- this game will appeal to a whole lot of board gamers, from novices to masters. This is the best role playing board game out there.

Buy Roll Player Adventures on Kickstarter

Roll Player Adventures may be too rich for your blood. That’s perfectly fine- we also love the deep customization its predecessor, Roll Player, has at a lower cost. Here are some great expansions for Roll Player: 

Roll Player: Monsters and Minions – Allows you to expand your gaming party to include five players. New classes, background, market cards and races are also included, along with combat and boost dice, experience cubes and honor / wound tokens. 

Roll Player: Fiends and Familiars – Our absolute favorite. Add substantial depth to your character via a bond with an animal Familiar. New monsters and fiends add more flavor as well. One caveat, though- this expansion requires both the base game and the Monsters and Minions expansion. Is it worth it? Yes. Look for a deal, though.

That’s a Wrap!

The best role playing board games incorporate many different mechanics that are popular in the board gaming community and blend them with the heavy character customization at the center of the best pen-and-paper RPGs. Traditional role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons provide much more of an immersive storyline and narrative world than many non role playing board games do.

While the purest role playing game experience likely still lies in the pen-and-paper RPG world, you don’t have to sacrifice a member of your team as a game master or dungeon master to gain a rich character customization experience. That’s where role playing board games come in! They’re the best of two worlds- you get the physical experience of moving components across a board, for instance, or you can build up a custom deck to better support your character. 

When shopping for your next role playing board game, ask yourself:

  • Which is more important to you, character customization or narrative storytelling? Many RPG board games specialize in one, not the other. There are few games that strike an excellent balance between the two. 
  • Who will you be playing with? Their preferences are also important to consider.
  • What game mechanics and level of strategy do you enjoy (dice or cards, tactics or strategy)?
  • Are you looking for a light or heavy ruleset and gameplay? Sometimes RPG board games take time to get off the ground. 
  • Do you want something with co-op, competitive or semi-competitive gameplay?
  • Do you want to progress through multiple sessions in a campaign or play standalone games (or both)?

Pick up two to three solid RPG board games from our recommendations, and you’re off to a terrific start. Here are the games that almost made our list:

Call to Adventure – Light, easy, breezy. Streamlines everything you usually see in a RPG (including the fantasy theme), but we found that it was too light for serious role playing fans. A good gateway game for newbies. 

Gloomhaven – One of the top dungeon crawlers enjoyed by board gamers today. Heavy emphasis on character deck customization and branching storylines. 

Legacy of Dragonholt – A narrative-driven adventure game with a light touch. Great emphasis on character creation and customization. It’s a pen-and-paper RPG kicked up one notch. 

Middara – Tricky to find, but provides clever play in a style inspired by Japanese RPGs. No character classes means infinite options for character customization as far as your hero goes- you can cobble together a custom character from 110 disciplines and use more than 400 different weapons to navigate three separate adventure packs. 

Runebound (3rd Edition) – A realm-exploration adventure game with a similar feel to pen-and-paper RPGs. Customize your character with a great array of character skills and gear.

Sword & Sorcery – Play as resurrected legendary heroes and watch your soul and powers regenerate as you fight against the forces of evil. This one felt more like a dungeon crawler to us, but it does incorporate a terrific hero progression system.

T.I.M.E. Stories – Jump in and out of time streams as you try to solve mysteries. One of the very few games that defines itself as a role playing board game. Limited character customization but excellent narrative immersion.

The best role playing board games offer an immersive experience full of narrative twists and in-depth character building. Keep an open mind and be ready to jump right into your character. Invent unique mannerisms or quirks to add flavor to the character as you progress through a story or adventure. Embrace your character and you’ll be off on your own RPG board game quest, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!

Header Photo Credit: Thanks, Manuel Pombeiro! cc

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