Happy new years, folks! I’m going to be taking off most of today and tomorrow to spend time with the family before I return to my day job on Wednesday, but I thought I might get out a quick listicle to tide you all over.
Recently, I sent folks on my Instagram account a picture of my D&D shelf–a shelfie if you will. The only book I didn’t own at the time of posting was the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica which I’ve been somewhat lukewarm to.
Anyways, I thought it might be fun to take all the books I do own and list which ones I like the most and in which order. And for dramatic purposes, I’ve put them in reverse order.
#10 – Curse of Strahd
One of the first books I got when I jumped into Fifth Edition, Curse of Strahd is a fun trip back to the world of Ravenloft. While it’s a bit more like “Ravenloft cliff notes” it does a great job of hitting all the high points of the old Ravenloft campaign setting. While I haven’t run it yet, it is a pretty fun read.
#9 – Storm King’s Thunder
If you want to set your campaign in the Forgotten Realm/Sword Coast, then you should pick up this book just for the lore alone. Storm King’s Thunder does a great job of explaining a majority of the northern reaches of the Sword Coast. Plus, it’s the most sandboxy of all Fifth Edition adventures.
#8 – Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
Even though I just got this for Christmas (it took all of my willpower to hold off purchasing it for myself, by the way) this book has everything I love about Dungeons & Dragons. Big ass dungeon? Check! Maps by an old school cartographer? Check! Tons of monsters? Check! This book is awesome and I can’t wait to run it.
#7 – Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes would probably be a lot higher on this list if it wasn’t for the fact that most of the monsters in the book are pretty high CR and are tough to use at low levels. Regardless, I’ve had a ton of fun using kruthik, cannaloths, giffs, and duergar.
#6 – Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
If you’re just a player, this is probably the second book you purchased. Xanathar’s is like a cross between the Player’s Handbook/Dungeon Master’s Guide b-sides and rules adjustments to make the game more interesting. While I think that some of the class options are a little overpowered, overall it’s a pretty solid book.
#5 – Volo’s Guide to Monsters
Volo’s is one of the most brilliant creations of Fifth Edition. “Part Monster Manual 2” and part player option guide, Volo’s is a great purchase for both sides of the DM/player equation.
#4 – Starter Set
When I got into Fifth Edition, instead of going all out and creating a new campaign world, I decided it’d be better if I just used the boxed set’s adventure, the Lost Mine of Phandelver. Although Phandelver ended a while ago for my group, it really set the pace for the entire adventure. Plus, three of the biggest villains in my current campaign came straight from that book.
#3 – Player’s Handbook
It might seem weird that this isn’t #1, but it’s probably the core book I reference the least, believe it or not. Don’t get me wrong. It’s super solid, and one of the best rulesets that Dungeons & Dragons, under any ownership, has ever produced. However, I think some of the organization of the book is a little funky and all over the place and the index straight up kills me. Regardless, it still gets the bronze medal for D&D’s current slate of books.
#2 – Dungeon Master’s Guide
You’d never guess that I’ve owned my copy of the Dungeon Master’s Guide for less than a year. My copy is beat to hell, and fading in a lot of places, especially the monster challenge rating chart on page 274 which is nearly unreadable at this point. And while it suffers from some of the organizational funkiness that the Player’s Handbook does, I use this book a lot. Like, a LOT.
#1 – Monster Manual
Finally, #1 is the Monster Manual. The one thing that makes D&D D&D more than anything–even the use of the d20–is its monsters. Whether it’s beholders or rust monsters or mindflayers or liches or ancient red dragons, D&D monsters are crazy iconic and always memorable encounters and really give the flavor to the world. Plus, this Monster Manual is particularly good. It does a great job of getting all of Dungeons & Dragons’ greatest challenges into one book. And with the new monster mechanics, they’re super fun to run.
Thanks for reading!
Like I said, I’m going to be quiet the next couple of days. So enjoy this list. I’ll probably be posting a “best of” series, too, so keep an eye out for that.
Anyways, see you all next time!