Cool System neutral books and tools. Add on yours!

I just want to start off by saying that all these books cost money. I am not trying to advertise for these books. If it is not allowed to post about other system neutral books I use with open legend then please close this topic.

Without further ado

I’m not talking about the core rule books; I’m talking about the tech books and the themed book like horror. These books are a really fun read and always give me ideas. Also on top of that they introduce me to things I otherwise would not be able to think of on my own.

Baby bestiary 1 and 2: These books bring the monsters of DnD in to cute babies you can take care of. You can use these for any system, it has specifics on how to raise and take care of these monsters. There are no stats just how to take care of the pets and how they act the phases of them growing up from baby to adult. Also the art work is amazing.

Return of the lazy dungeon master:
A great resource for DMs who want to prepare less but still have a full and fun game. I catch my self world building for hours on sections my players completely skipped because they didn’t like how hot the desert was completely missing out on the ancient library and the owl that guards it.

The lazy DMs work book:
This is a cool set of random tables but not really needed. Also the book comes with a few generic maps of places a party might visit with details for each room. In case your party decided to go in to a sewer you your self did not even know existed.

Fantastic locations / adventures by slyflourish:
A set of pretty basic adventures and cool places to visit. Each adventure is designed to be vague so you can add it in to any story you are making and add on to the adventure itself.

Adventurer’s almanac:
This book is just a big fantasy calendar that you can add to your world, Complete with fantasy made up holidays. Bosses and specific monsters that can show up in the specific seasons. This book has cool ideas in it.

How to write adventure modules that don’t suck:
Really fun read. Mostly just a collection of essays of people who write adventure modules with tips on world building and making adventures fun.

A Complete game master’s guide:
There are 3 of these books each on a different topic. This is pretty much the opposite of the lazy dungeon master. These books are about preparing to the max. I don’t know too much about these books I own them but got too intimidated by how complete these guide are. But I see value in them if you are that kind of person who loves prepping and world building.

The game masters apprentice:
This is a deck of cards and has many uses, and there is a deck for each theme from pirates to sci fy to zombies. You can replace your dice with these cards and they have key words to help give your brain ideas on the fly. Each card has a set of names in case you need a random name quickly. I have even seen a session where the group replaced the DM with this deck of cards and played a full session. I highly recommend checking out the youtube video to see all the uses these cards have.

Non player cards / book:
These cards are a bit pricey to get all of them. Looks like they just recently came out with a book at a much more reasonable price. These have been so useful when I run games. These cards just help you build NPCs or flesh out a player character with things like secrets and quirks. These cards really help me bring my characters to life.


If you have any books or tools not mentioned here please add them. System neutral books are kind of hard to find So im always on the lookout for more. And I am hoping that one of these books or tools I posted about is interesting or useful for you. Open legend is the main system I play now and days so tools to help me run better games and be a better player in the system are always welcome.


It’s not strictly system neutral, but the Apocalypse World MC’s guide teaches a really neat style of GMing a sandbox campaign with almost entirely improv. I’ve explained it a bit in one of my GM Tech articles (GM Tech: How to be an MC) and I always think it’s worth a read.

On a similar vein, I’m also a fan of Microscope. It’s a sort-of-RPG system where a group of players work together to build a timeline and flesh out the history of a fictional world. It can be of great help when making a homebrew setting, and last time I used it all the players in the subsequent campaign independently gave their characters some sort of tie-in to important events in the recent past, which was really cool and made for an interesting story.

1 Like

Nice those look cool. As a complete noob to microscope what are the different books about and what ones would you recommend.

The one that’s just called “Microscope” is the one I described, and I’d recommend picking that one up.

I haven’t played any of the others, but:

  • Microscope Explorer is an expansion to Microscope including some new ways to play
  • Union is about the ancestry of a family
  • Kingdom has the players act as aspects of a society (the will of the people, the decisions of those in power, etc) guiding it through challenges
  • Follow is a collaborative questing RPG with no GM.

I don’t know enough to recommend them or not, but you can look into them further if you like.

1 Like

I know I’m late to the game, but if anyone’s interested, I have found Palladium Books’ Rifts Adventure Guide (PDF) useful. Very little of the book is system specific. There’s 40% general GMing and playing advice; 35% area descriptions and encounter/adventure ideas; and 25% creation rules for cities, organizations, mercenary companies, and traveling shows. The GM and player advice is completely neutral. The remainder is world specific but easily adaptable.

I also have (and remember liking… it’s been a while) the AD&D 2e Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide. Flipping through it, it has how to play; how to build your campaign/world; and some generic dungeons, complete with maps but no encounters. There doesn’t appear to be anything rules related anywhere.

1 Like

I’ve found this campaign setting “Savage Dawn” that looks promising to be a system neutral setting

1 Like

Awesome resources already presented, Here are some of mine :heart:

Books and rulesets

Fate Accessibility Toolkit: A toolkit for the Fate system, the accessibility toolkit is about how to portray characters with disability in a better way, as well as how to include people with disability at your game table. For me this is almost a how-to-be-a-better-human book. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: The fate system itself has lots of takeaways for both GM’s and players.

Burning Wheel: Incredibly well written and thought out system. Especially the first 80 or so pages. The character creation is really neat. Last I checked they only did print. The only two reasons I don’t use this ruleset is the advanced resolution of debate, combat and magic, and the fact it is strongly tied to a setting.

Tale: Has done a very good job of character creation, lore and quest creation. The quest creation may be a bit much, but it has some interesting takeaways nonetheless.

Video series

Monarchs Factory: Is about D&D, yet with gobloads of systemneutral takeaways, Specially the episodes on thieves cant, druidic and the “stuff I stole” video. Channel also has mythology and fairytale analysis. :smiley:

Matthew Colville’s Running the Game: This guy is some kind of GM philosopher with a talent for presenting. Also about D&D, but incredibly light on rules and heavy GM methods.

Puffin Forest: This ones mostly for laughs and a bit of perspective. :smiley:

Webcomics somewhat off- and "parallel-"topic

I draw a lot of inspiration and storytelling “methods” from the following webcomics, be warned they are both for mature audiences and I roved out has a lot of sexual content. The lore though, oh starry nightskies, the lore :heavy_heart_exclamation: Ava’s Demon and :warning:I roved out :warning:

I run open legend with a heavy influence from the above mentions.

EDIT 1: hah, I didn’t realize the OP’s handle is @nightsky til I scrolled up after posting. hihi.
EDIT 2: Added structure and videos.