What Makes a Good LitRPG Book?

What makes a good LitRPG? Very good question. This is a subjective question (somewhat), but I’m going to try my best to help you be able to spot great LitRPG books whether it’s on Amazon, Royal Road, or other places. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have a better idea of what signs and subtle clues you can use to determine whether a LitRPG is good or not. (HINT: It’s not always about the reviews on Amazon!) Sit back and see if you agree with my seven signs that you’re going to be reading a good LitRPG.

Covers Can be Deceiving

Yes, there are some good litrpg books that have great covers, but there’s also great litrpg books that have less-than-perfect covers. It’s important to remember that the cover is a marketing thing and is not a sign of quality. Look at the ratings and reviews of the books to determine whether you want to purchase them. Before I get into the other six items, let’s take a look at what Amazon says you should look for in covers.

  • Grab the eye – covers should be eye-catching and stand out from the rest of the books on the virtual or physical shelf. If it doesn’t attract your attention, you are unlikely to give it a second glance, let alone read the blurb and then buy it.
  • Nudge you to read my book – a cover should make you want to know more about the book. It could draw your attention by getting you interested in the plot or character, or drawing you in by highlighting an interesting cover. After reading the blurb maybe you just need to know what happens next!

As you can see, what makes a good LitRPG cover is subjective, but there are a few elements to pay attention to nonetheless. Remember not to judge a book by its cover. Instead, look at the reviews that other readers have left on the books. If you think the book sounds interesting, punch in the words “LitRPG” as a search term and see what comes up. This is one of the best ways to identify LitRPG books out there.

7 Signs of A Great LitRPG:

1) The game mechanics are explained seamlessly throughout the story. LitRPGs aren’t just about the main character playing in his favorite game world, but rather, the game itself becomes an integral part of the story. You want to see the game mechanics that are used to describe what the character does with his avatar. If there’s no sign of actual RPG game play in the story for several pages or chapters, then you could be reading a regular fantasy story that just has virtual reality elements as well. 

2) The main character has been playing this game for a long time. We’ll talk about this in more detail later, but you want to see that it’s been quite some time since the main character has started playing the game he is in the story. You don’t want to see the main character starting out as a level one character when he’s only played for two weeks. This story has been done before. While it can be done well, you want to see a main character who’s been playing for quite a while, has leveled up quite a few times, and has rather developed this game over time.

3) The rules and mechanics are explained as they are used. When reading a LitRPG, you don’t ever want to be confused. As you read, you should be able to easily follow along with the main character and understand what he’s talking about. I always like to see a book that has the rules and stats explained as the character interacts with them, rather than just diving right in.

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4) There’s no info-dumping in the story. When a new game mechanic is explained, there should be a natural way in which it occurs. You don’t want to see a group of characters sitting around a table reading out of a rulebook just to describe how the new class or skill works. This is quite boring, except for the hardcore RPG fans out there.

5) There’s no dungeon crawl in the story. Let’s face it, we’ve all read LitRPGs that were nothing but quest after quest, dungeon after dungeon. Sure, it’s fun for some people, but it gets old to me. You want to see what the main character does with his skills, stats, and abilities, not just running around killing creatures just because he has to level up again.

6) There’s a strong storyline behind the game. Let’s face it – short stories are cool, but most LitRPG books are longer than short stories. If there’s not a strong storyline, then you’re probably not reading a good book. (HINT: Even if you like short stories, a good LitRPG book has a strong storyline that goes well beyond a short story most of the time.)

7) The author put time and effort into writing this story and it shows. This is related to number six, but bears repeating here. When you read that the author played this game for many years before writing the book, well, I shouldn’t have to say any more. It shows in the writing.

Paul Bellow

LitRPG Author Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow is a LitRPG author, gamer, RPG game developer, and publisher of several online communities. In other words, an old school webmaster. He also developed and runs LitRPG Adventures, a set of advanced RPG generators powered by GPT-3 AI. Here at LitRPG Reads, he publishes articles about LitRPG books, tabletop RPG books, and all sorts of DND content that's free to use in your personal tabletop campaign - i.e. non-commercial use. Enjoy your stay and reach out on Twitter or Discord if you want to make contact.

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