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Welcome back to the Tavern! Have a seat and relax. As we head into the stressful time of year, the gift-giving season is upon us. It’s essential that we focus on our own mental health and mental growth. This week, we had the pleasure of reading Jeff Ashworth’s latest book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from RPGs: A Player’s Handbook for the Game of Life. A huge thank you to Media Lab Books for gifting us a copy in return for an honest review. Check out our feelings on it and why it should be added to your shelves.

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Everything I Need to Know I Learned From RPGs: A Player’s Handbook for the Game of Life

Typically, self-help books aren’t our jam. While we can’t discredit that many people find support and beneficial advice within their pages, it was never something we found helpful for ourselves. However, there is always a chance that one would catch our eye. And we shouldn’t be surprised that Jeff Ashworth’s Everything I Need to Know I Learned from RPGs: A Player’s Handbook for the Game of Life would be the one.

TTRPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder and more have been a big part of our lives. From playing with friends in school to meeting people worldwide online, it has helped expand our horizons. But it has also taught us many valuable lessons. And sometimes, since they are at the root of everything, still a game, it’s hard to remember how impactful they can be. Ashworth does a terrific job breaking down everything we have learned into neat little sections.

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Class-y Advice

The first major section within Everything I Need to Know I Learned from RPGs: A Player’s Handbook for the Game of Life is a deep dive into different classes. He shares how you can take some of their class abilities and what they are known for and use them in real life. For example, Ashworth discusses a Barbarian’s rage ability. Many know it is limited to how long or how many times they can use it, depending on the game itself. And he uses that to show us how to use our rage and manage our anger wisely.

Screenshot from Everything I Need to Know I Learned from RGPs: A Player's Handbook for the Game of Life with a firefighter holding a giant hammer and a group of kids player a TTRPG.

Each class provides insight and suggestions for dealing with real-life issues. Personally, one of our favorite things is the table at the end of each section. Ashworth asks readers to roll a D6 and complete a challenge that has them living like the class. For example, readers who roll a one on the druid table are encouraged to get some rays by spending time outside the home. If they roll a five, they are encouraged to spend time with animals. It’s a great exercise to help continue the journey after reading the book.

Tips from the Table and Everything Else

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from RPGs: A Player’s Handbook for the Game of Life also shares what Ashworth refers to as “tips from the table.” This is where we could reconnect with things we had already learned and see the connection to life away from the table. He dives into different things, like looking at everything ahead of you before making choices to mitigate damage or how holding an action might always be the best choice. And personally, our favorite piece of advice is that there is more than one way to storm the castle.

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The final two sections of Ashford’s book deal with real-world monsters and practical magic. The real-world monsters aren’t just your boss but also things everyone struggles with. Monsters like The FOMO Swarm and The Siren of Procrastination are more real than expected. His advice within both sections, while heavy on the TTRPG magic, is still solid for real-life situations. Something as simple as generally taking care of yourself by brushing and flossing can work wonders on feeling like you are up and ready for the day.

Overall, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from RPGs: A Player’s Handbook for the Game of Life, at its core, is a self-help book. It’s packed with helpful advice and information to help guide readers towards their goals. What makes it so unique is Ashworth’s ability to take the everyday lessons and situations from TTRPGs and use them to help explain them. For those who enjoy self-help books and play TTRPGs, this is a must-have for your shelf. But we highly suggest anyone who plays to check it out. Even the tiny lessons and reconnecting the game to real life are well worth it.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from RPGs: A Player’s Handbook for the Game of Life hits shelves in February of 2024.

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