The best LitRPG books for both creative worlds and engaging magic

Who am I?

Though I write, I will always be a LitRPG reader first. I enjoy these stories for their ability to craft interesting magical worlds, their creativity of plot, and their breadth of scope. Some LitRPGs are two-dimensional, which have their place, but each of the stories I’ve listed here are most definitely not. They act as my inspiration, both in how I wish to write and in how I’d like to be more creative overall. My day job is as a technical writer for a software company, and LitRPG stories got me back into reading, forced me to think more creatively, and allowed me to follow my dream of writing my own.


I wrote...

Heavy: The Weight Of It All

By J.J. Thorn,

Book cover of Heavy: The Weight Of It All

What is my book about?

The Weight Of It All follows a boy named Terrence who is gifted the power to view weight by the Goddess. In a world where people are given affinities for cool things like swords, fire, and ice, he is initially underwhelmed… but over time his abilities grow, he Ranks up, and he comes to understand how powerful he really can be.

Told from a couple different perspectives, while Terrence learns about his abilities, his uncle Tom is a veteran dungeoneer who is followed through a dungeon with his team. The story juxtaposes the newness of Terrence as he goes to ‘magic’ school for Dungeoneers against the threats facing a man who has spent years honing his craft.

The books I picked & why

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World Tree Online

By E. A. Hooper,

Book cover of World Tree Online

Why this book?

Whenever I think of a ‘typical’ LitRPG, I think of World Tree Online. And I’ll be honest, I dropped it once before picking it back up! Years after my grave mistake, I still point people towards this story because it exemplifies many of the reasons why I love this genre: A thought-provoking world where human emotions take root in both the good and ‘bad’ characters; a story where there are actual consequences when things go wrong; and a magic system with endless possibilities, driven by creativity and perseverance. 

If I haven’t sold you yet, know that the action escalates with each book and the author only got more creative as time went on. This story is one I draw inspiration from often and I hope you check it out.

World Tree Online

By E. A. Hooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked World Tree Online as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2056, the world’s most powerful AI System, ARKUS, comes online. Created to extend human lifespans, it quickly makes world-changing discoveries in health science. It also develops an advanced VR headset that uses consumable nanomachines to let users experience time faster in virtual worlds.

Two years later, ARKUS releases World-Tree Online, a game where players scale a giant tree with thousands of unique game worlds hanging from the branches. The game’s time-dilation makes it so that one hour of playtime feels like one month to those in-game, allowing humans to virtually extend their lifespans.

However, after an old gamer named…

He Who Fights with Monsters

By Shirtaloon,

Book cover of He Who Fights with Monsters

Why this book?

One of the behemoths in the LitRPG genre, this story invented a magic system with infinite possibilities that is universally simple to understand as soon as you read how it works. More importantly, the story has some of the best characterizations I’ve ever read, introducing a cast of characters that each have defined motivations and backgrounds, helping to build out the world that the main character has been thrown into. 

It starts as a story about a man whisked into another world, and quickly sets itself apart from other portal fantasies. I have yet to find any magic system like it and I thought of it often when I created my own. 

He Who Fights with Monsters

By Shirtaloon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked He Who Fights with Monsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jason wakes up in a mysterious world of magic and monsters.It’s not easy making the career jump from office-supplies-store middle manager to heroic interdimensional adventurer. At least, Jason tries to be heroic, but it's hard to be good when all your powers are evil.He’ll face off against cannibals, cultists, wizards, monsters...and that’s just on the first day. He’s going to need courage, he’s going to need wit, and he’s going to need some magic powers of his own. But first, he’s going to need pants.After cementing itself as one of the best-rated serial novels on Royal Road with an astonishing…

Dungeon Crawler Carl

By Matt Dinniman,

Book cover of Dungeon Crawler Carl

Why this book?

Dungeon Crawler Carl is probably the most popular story within the genre… for good reason. The story follows a man forced to descend a dungeon while fighting for his life against monsters that are both nightmarish and laugh-out-loud funny. Through it all, with his lovable cat Princess donut, the whole death game is being transmitted to trillions across the universe. Matt Dinniman is a genius at creating scenarios that would be horrific in anyone else’s hands but have you laughing every few sentences. A definite must-read for any reader, not just those who enjoy litrpg.

Dungeon Crawler Carl

By Matt Dinniman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dungeon Crawler Carl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The apocalypse will be televised!

A man. His ex-girlfriend's cat. A sadistic game show unlike anything in the universe: a dungeon crawl where survival depends on killing your prey in the most entertaining way possible.

In a flash, every human-erected construction on Earth—from Buckingham Palace to the tiniest of sheds—collapses in a heap, sinking into the ground.

The buildings and all the people inside have all been atomized and transformed into the dungeon: an 18-level labyrinth filled with traps, monsters, and loot. A dungeon so enormous, it circles the entire globe.

Only a few dare venture inside. But once you're…

Jake's Magical Market

By J.R. Mathews,

Book cover of Jake's Magical Market

Why this book?

Jake's Magical Market has become one of my standout favourites because of how many different ideas can all (logically and cohesively) fit into one story. The initial premise promised a magic system based on internalized decks of cards, but the unfolding story reveals a much more sinister universe filled with mystery, corruption, and intrigue than I could have ever expected from its humble start. Jake meets each challenge head-on, growing stronger along the way, and each new arc in the story is crafted with creativity and very well thought out. A special shoutout to the author’s second series ‘A portal to nova roma,’ which some argue is even better, but Jake’s is still the more memorable read.

Jake's Magical Market

By J.R. Mathews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jake's Magical Market as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meddling gods. A magical card system. An apocalypse no one could have predicted.

Jake is working at the neighborhood market under his apartment when the world ends. He expected nuclear war, a computer virus, or even climate change burning everyone to a crisp to bring about the downfall of civilization. But cruel and arbitrary gods from another world? Who would have guessed that?

When these cruel gods shuffled Earth like a deck of cards, nothing was in the same place anymore. Monsters, dungeons, and magical items appear scattered across the globe. And suddenly, everyone has access to a new, strange…

Domestication: A Fantasy LitRPG Adventure

By Seth Ring,

Book cover of Domestication: A Fantasy LitRPG Adventure

Why this book?

This book surprised the heck out of me. In a genre where overpowered main characters are the norm, this story proved that even the greatest of powers can have limitations. It proves that with enough creativity, even the simplest of abilities can astound and amaze. The story also does an amazing job of mixing in intrigue and mystery without needing to constantly explain or do information dumps. I could blather on about this story, but above all else, the way in which it was executed makes it a must-mention on this list.

Domestication: A Fantasy LitRPG Adventure

By Seth Ring,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A world on the precipice of the apocalypse. A secret forged in the flames of war. A chance to start over.

For John Sutton, only one of those three things matters.

Retired from a decade of brutal war, he wants nothing more than a quiet pastoral life while he does his best to stem the steady increase of his Doom Points before they hit 100, signaling the start of the end.

He’s been given a small farm on the outskirts of the empire as a thanks for his service, but no matter how far he travels, it's impossible to escape…

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