The best LitRPG books with characters who empower others as they level up

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a LitRPG author and narrative designer for the video games industry. I’ve written and designed for many RPGs and have always found it satisfying when the player character’s actions tangibly improve the in-game situations of the NPCs. In my own LitRPGs and interactive fiction, I intentionally place the player characters within communities they will come to care about and see grow as their own personal power grows. To me, a character build is more about relationships than upgrades. Stats are just numbers until they affect the lives of others. Then they become story.

I wrote...

Skulls of Atlantis

By Edwin McRae,

Book cover of Skulls of Atlantis

What is my book about?

"It’s mateship that turns a pirate into a hero."

Captain Grace Deadeye Cortez lives in a virtual game world of magic, monsters and marauding pirates. Atlantis has risen from the depths and Deadeye aims to plunder the city of its ancient riches. With a motley crew and mighty ship at her command, Deadeye and her mateys will shoot and swash through anything that crosses their course. But our plucky pirate captain is in for the shock of her buccaneering life. An ancient sea god has awoken, threatening everything that Deadeye holds dear.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Dungeon Lord

Edwin McRae Why did I love this book?

Edward Wright is portalled into an RPG world as a bad guy, but he’s determined to use his dark powers for good. What’s lovely about The Wraith’s Haunt is that Edward doesn’t just build a dungeon. He builds a community. He offers shelter for the disenfranchised, many of them monsters, and knits a motley, heart-warming alliance for the betterment of all. And this is all done within the comfortable progression architecture of a classic dungeon core LitRPG. 

By Hugo Huesca,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dungeon Lord as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dark forces have extended Edward Wright an offer of incredible power at a terrible cost...

...and Edward has chosen to make them regret it.
When Edward is swept into the world of Ivalis as a Dungeon Lord, the Dark's most powerful servant, he has no servitude in mind. He'll oppose the evil plans of the Dark god Murmur, whatever it takes.

Through only his wits and his guts to help him survive a weakened arrival, Edward must rise to power if he is to earn the right to live another day.

But in the battle between Dark and Light, what…

Book cover of Temple of Sorrow

Edwin McRae Why did I love this book?

Devon Walker is a rare breed of main character in LitRPG. A well-written female! And while there’s a lot of focus on her classic fantasy character build, there’s as much story time spent on town building and community management. Devon forms strong bonds and friendships with the NPCs of this fantasy RPG world and she does her best to improve their ‘lives’. Stonehaven League is as much about building character as it is about character build.

By Carrie Summers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Temple of Sorrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Devon Walker has one chance to turn her life around.
A half-wit ogre, a legion of overgrown jungle beasts, and a power-tripping AI are trying to stop her.

#1 Bestseller in Role Playing and Fantasy | #1 Bestseller in Video Game Adaptations | #1 Bestseller in Metaphysical and Visionary Fantasy | #1 Bestseller in Dragons & Mythical Creatures | #1 Bestseller in Cyberpunk | #1 Bestseller in Virtual Reality

Relic Online is the hottest new game out there, and it’s Devon Walker’s best hope for escaping her hard-knock life. Thanks to her rocking achievements in other games, she’s been hired…

Book cover of One in the Gut

Edwin McRae Why did I love this book?

While Ryan is your usual ‘disaffected gamer becomes hero’ type of main character, his trajectory isn’t the standard empowerment fantasy you see in LitRPG. In a VR game where the freemium players are zombies and the premium players get to be zombie-hunting ‘survivors’, Ryan masters his zombie build and then sets about tearing down the classist pay wall. If you’ve ever wondered what a zombie revolution would look like, then you’re in for a treat with Headshot Online.

By Matthew Siege,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One in the Gut as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every week, I rise from the dead...Headshot has just gone live and the whole world's playing the new Artificial Reality blockbuster. Unfortunately, unless you can buy your way onto the Survivor's side, you can only participate as a Zombie. Each week, the forces gather to tear each other down to the bone… until, at week’s end, the Apocalypse is reset.Ryan's played the Beta for months, but now that his favorite game has launched, he finds it consuming his life—even as he struggles to decipher whether or not there's actually a way to succeed if you're not willing to Pay to…

Book cover of Re-Start

Edwin McRae Why did I love this book?

Phil is given a singular gift, the ability to roleplay his own life. He’s able to convert all of that useless World of Warcraft experience into character points, which he then uses to upgrade himself. At first, this is an encouraging story about a young man turning his life around. But it soon becomes a story of gratitude with a main character who gives back as much as he gets. Level Up is about how privilege should be acknowledged and appreciated, and how self-improvement can be a shared experience with those around you.

By Dan Sugralinov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Re-Start as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A very good book. My life stopped for five hours!” — Vasily Mahanenko

“Hugely motivating! A fast-paced, easy read which was worth the sleepless night. On to Book Two!” — Alexey Osadchuk

“A Real-LitRPG author faces the challenging task of walking the tightrope, doing a balancing act between the drab normalcy of everyday routine and the hero's larger-than-life adventures which might prove too improbable to convince the skeptical reader. In this book, however, Sugralinov has successfully pulled off both!” — Michael Atamanov

At thirty years old, Phil is an unemployed gamer who struggles to make ends meet. His only source…

Book cover of Biomedical Self-Engineering

Edwin McRae Why did I love this book?

Carl is an unhealthy old man who gets the break of a lifetime when a strange accident enables him to upgrade his DNA. Not only is it like taking a sip from the fountain of youth, but Carl can also adopt some of the sensory super powers that animals have. But rather than this turning into another boring superhero story, Biomedical Self-Engineering is the story of a nice guy whose positivity brushes off on almost everyone he encounters. Carl’s not out to save the world. He’s just out to make each day a little better for himself and others.

By Jon Svenson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Biomedical Self-Engineering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Divorced and working as a security guard in Portland, 73 year old Carl is attacked by an unknown creature before he is able to taser it to death. After being released from the hospital, he discovers by accident that he is unwittingly acquiring DNA samples from other people he touches. 
He discovers a number of shocking facts about himself when a blue box appears in his right eye, Most importantly, he discovers that his health is nowhere near to what he assumed it would be. Can he reverse the negative aspects of his health using these blue boxes somehow? And…

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Lightning Strike Blues

By Gayleen Froese,

Book cover of Lightning Strike Blues

Gayleen Froese Author Of Lightning Strike Blues

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Communications officer Singer-songwriter Fan of all animals Role-playing geek Nature photographer

Gayleen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

One summer night in a small prairie city, 18-year-old Gabriel Reece accidentally outs himself to his redneck brother Colin, flees on his motorcycle, and gets struck by lightning on his way out of town.

He’s strangely fine, walking away from his melted pile of bike without a scratch. There’s no time to consider his new inhuman durability before his brother disappears and his childhood home burns down. He’s become popular, too—local cops and a weird private eye are after him, wanting to know if his brother is behind a recent murder.

Answers might be in the ashes of the house where Gabe and Colin grew up, if Gabe and his friends can stay alive and out of jail long enough to find them.

Lightning Strike Blues

By Gayleen Froese,

What is this book about?

On Friday, Gabriel Reece gets struck by lightning while riding his motorcycle.

It's not the worst thing that happens to him that week.

Gabe walks away from a smoldering pile of metal without a scratch-or any clothes, which seem to have been vaporized. And that's weird, but he's more worried about the sudden disappearance of his brother, Colin, who ditched town the second Gabe accidentally outed himself as gay.

Gabe tries to sift through fragmented memories of his crummy childhood for clues to his sudden invincibility, but he barely has time to think before people around town start turning up…

4 book lists we think you will like!

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