Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition is the most streamlined iteration that the game has ever seen. With mechanics that have been condensed and balanced without a loss of depth, fifth edition allows new players to enjoy D&D quickly without getting as bogged down by complexities, while still containing substantial depth for tabletop RPG veterans.
As fifth edition has been going strong since 2013, many books have been released to both explain and expand the rules of the game, while other books contain fully fleshed out adventure modules. So today, we’re going to examine the books of D&D fifth edition, and see which are the most worth a player’s time!
10 Guildmaster’s Guide To Ravnica
Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica is a must-have for anyone who is a fan of both Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: the Gathering. A crossover between D&D and Magic, the book details much of the setting of the guild-run plane of Ravnica. In addition to featuring a deep well of flavorful information about each of Ravnica’s guilds, the book features many new playable races that can be found on Ravnica, such as the Loxodons and Simic Hybrids. Similarly, the Guildmaster’s guide to Ravnica is home to numerous potent subclasses, such as the Circle of Spores for Druid. The book even includes information to help players construct entire campaigns set in the world of Ravnica, as well as magical items and characters that can be encountered!
9 Curse Of Strahd
When it comes to the adventure modules of fifth edition, it’s hard to compete with the fleshed out fantasy horror of Curse of Strahd. Based off of the ever iconic Ravenloft that has been part of D&D since 1983, Curse of Strahd adepts the setting and adventure with modern design and audiences in mind. A gothic horror campaign that features one of the most recognizable villains in all of D&D in the form of Strahd Von Zarovich, Curse of Strahd is the perfect adventure module for a DM looking for a fine tuned horror adventure for their players.
8 Explorer’s Guide To Wildemount
Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount is to fans of Critical Role what Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica is to fans of Magic: The Gathering. A campaign setting that takes place within the continent of Wildemount, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount is filled with all the info one would need to run a campaign within Critical Role’s world!
This book features numerous noteworthy subclasses such as the incredible Echo Knight fighter subclass, and the Chronurgy and Graviturgy wizard schools. Like Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, the book also includes new races and magical items, even introducing brand new spells!
7 Mordenkainen’s Tome Of Foes
While the Monster Manual is often described as a mandatory buy for DMs, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is a book that expands the monsters that one can include in a campaign to a significant degree. Essentially a second monster manual, while the Monster Manual is filled with monsters of a wide range of challenge rating, Modenkainen’s Tome of Foes is home to many of the most robust and dangerous foes adventurers can encounter such as Astral Dreadnoughts and Elder Tempests!
6 Volo’s Guide To Monsters
Though the Monster Manual and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes are each book dedicated to monsters that players can fight, each filled with countless stat sheets for foes, Volo’s Guide To Monsters, looks at monsters with closer scrutiny.
Volo’s Guide is a book that features in-depth lore regarding numerous types of monster and how they may be included in a world and how they act. This can helps DMs paint an even more vivid picture of the creatures in a campaign and how they interact with the world around them. This book even contains information on how to build playable characters around races that had previously been treated as monsters in the Monster Manual, such as Bugbears, Goblins, and Kobolds!
5 Xanathar’s Guide To Everything
Released in 2017, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is a sizable expansion to the core rules of D&D fifth edition. Adding a wide breadth of subclasses, including two to three for every class, the book adds plenty of extra options for players when creating new characters. Furthermore, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything includes numerous new feats for players to utilize, as well as a litany of potent spells such as the devastating Crown of Stars!
For DMs, Xanathar’s guide includes numerous ways to spice ups dungeons and traps, making it a solid pick-up for players and DMs alike.
4 Dungeon Master’s Guide
The third and last of the core books released for fifth edition, the Dungeon Master’s Guide would be an excellent addition to the library of any D&D player with interest in being a DM. While the majority of D&D rule books tend to focus on aspects of character creation or adventures, as the name would suggest, the DM’s Guide is dedicated to assisting dungeon masters. The book features numerous useful tables that can assist with randomly generating NPCs and encounters, and can help a new DM get acclimated to everything that goes into running a campaign.
3 Tasha’s Cauldron Of Everything
The most recently released book on this list, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is perhaps one of the most important fifth edition books to be released since the start of the edition in 2013.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything includes new subclasses for every previously established class, while giving a new official home to previously fringe Artificer class. In addition to adding new subclasses, each class received some adjustments such as balance changes and access to new spells. This book even includes some notable rules changes such as new means of creating a character’s background, and an official means of changing one’s subclass!
2 Monster Manual
Full to the brim with the stat sheets for the most iconic of D&D’s monsters, it’s hard to imagine running a D&D campaign without a copy of the Monster Manual handy. The monster manual contains everything a player needs to know about the lowliest kobolds and goblins, to the most devastating ancient dragons. In addition to containing all of the statistics about these monsters, this book even includes the lore of the majority of its monsters, allowing flavorful information such as personalities, backgrounds, habits, and the environments and lairs that these creatures reside in.
1 Player’s Handbook
If a player wanted to start playing D&D without the need for more than one book, one needs to look no further than the Player’s Handbook. The core rules of the game, this book includes information about the core races of the game, every class (save for Artificer), and backgrounds for new characters. While every other book in this list is excellent in its own right, the Player’s Handbook is the foundation on which everything else is built, capable of explaining everything a new player needs to know about D&D’s fifth edition.
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Staff Writer, Paul DiSalvo is a writer, comic creator, animation lover, and game design enthusiast currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts. He has studied creative writing at The New Hampshire Institute of Art and Otis College of Art and Design, and currently writes for CBR, ScreenRant, GameRant, and TheGamer. In addition to writing, he directs and produces the podcast, “How Ya Dyin’?”
He enjoys collecting comics, records, and wins in Samurai Shodown.
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