What are we looking for in a LitRPG?

  • Edwin McRae

I had to put my narrative designer’s helmet on to understand this one, and I think we're looking for the same things we seek in RPGs.

It’s not the deep character relationships.

It’s not the fascinating plot twists.

It’s not the fresh injection of new fantasy and science-fiction concepts.


I personally didn’t play Grim Dawn for the story, and I didn’t play Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey for the mind-blowing concepts.


Like many of you, I suspect, I choose my RPGs based on two things.



I want to be something cool in a cool world.

Just like, in a LitRPG, I want to read about a cool MC being cool in a cool world.

But there’s more to it than that.


The mechanics are what make or break RPGs and they’re also what make or break LitRPGs.

Case in point. Technomancer. Wonderful setting. Terrible mechanics. Borderline unplayable.


And by mechanics in LitRPGs, I really mean the character build. Yes, there are plenty of other mechanics in LitRPGs, from combat to town building. But I think the character build is the most important.

Character Build

Just like with a video game RPG, we want to see these three elements in a character build.

  1. Unlockable and improvable abilities that are both impressive and empowering.
  2. An interesting array of ability choices. Not too few, but not too many either.
  3. Abilities have to be used in a meaningful way in the plot.

This is what I think we’re looking for in LitRPGs above anything else. Effective character building.

If you'd like to come chat with me about stuff like this, please check out my Discord Channel by clicking on this link.


Edwin McRae

I'm an RPG gamedev veteran and now a LitRPG author.

If you'd like to take a look at my LitRPG novels, here they are!


About Edwin McRae

Edwin is a narrative consultant and mentor for the games industry.

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