Since 5e came out over eight years ago, a large number of D&D books have been released by Wizards of the Coast and their collaborators. We’re going to dive into a comprehensive look at all of the D&D books: source guides, collaborative books (made in conjunction with affiliated creators like Critical Role), and short, self-contained adventures.
Table of Contents
Source guides are the most important D&D books because they contain rules, classes, races, and the mechanics involved in the game. You’ll need at least the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Basic Rules to play. As the years have gone by, new source guides show off new campaign settings, updated races or classes, new spells, monsters, and magic items.
This is the main one of the D&D books for new and returning players. This lays out even more than the Basic Rules and gives you insight into how to design your character, how equipment and items work, and where you will go with higher levels.
Dungeon Master’s Guide
This book helps DMs craft encounters, make new items or spells, come up with endless NPCs and towns, and tell their stories. Many DMs are intimidated by the sheer amount of work that goes into making their own campaigns, but this tome does a lot of the heavy lifting for you with predesigned ideas, traps, monsters, and NPCs. Anyone who wants to run a campaign needs a few D&D books and this one is key.
Every DM relies on the Monster Manual for intriguing and plain nasty things to hurl at players. The first section of the book explains everything you need to know about how different abilities and parts of a monster’s stat block work. The rest of the book is jam-packed with the art, statistics, and lore you’ll need to run classic Dungeons & Dragons creatures in your game, like the well-known dragons of the game’s title.
The Basic Rules are free for everyone to read and give you a rudimentary understanding of how D&D works. It’s not one of the D&D books so much as a primer on which kinds of dice are used, how the rolls work, how characters are created, and a small selection of subclasses, races, and spells.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything added a huge number of subclasses to the available list, some of which were later reprinted with some changes to better balance them. It also began providing some optional rules to add flavor to all of the classes and give players more ways to use their features. We highly recommend this one if you’re on the hunt for D&D books.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
One of the newer D&D books, TCoE brings players 22 new subclasses to choose from with a variety of origins. It’s the first book to introduce optional mechanics that give players more leeway to customize their characters, along with new feats, items, monsters, and puzzles.
Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse
Just published this year, MotM revamps plenty of classic monsters and races and introduces a few new ones too. It falls in line with Wizard of the Coast’s new push to make character backgrounds and races more diverse and inclusive in all of their D&D books.
Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
This was the very first complement published for 5E, and it was largely written with the assistance of a third-party company, Green Ronin Publishing. It’s not uncommon for D&D books to be written by other publishers. This book contains a wealth of information about the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, including the various nations, factions, and deities. The Realms’ sections on races and classes provide new player options.
Eberron: Rising From the Last War
Eberron, an iconic world born from a setting design contest in 3rd edition, introduces the concept of ‘wide magic’ rather than high magic. This is characterized by the pervasiveness of cantrip-level magic and low-level magic items, as well as the limited supply of mid- to high-level magic effects. As a result, the setting is very modern, with magical solutions to everyday problems set against a landscape of post-war subterfuge and, at times, unrest.
RftLW includes a wide range of Eberron mainstay races, the Artificer class (later reprinted in other D&D books), the adventure Forgotten Relics (for 4-6 1st level characters), and all the details you need to run your own adventure in Khorvaire. Wayfinder’s Guide is another example of other D&D books that include this setting.
Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
This one of the D&D books goes more in-depth about specific races and gives DMs a whole slew of new monsters to pepper their settings with. Mordenkainen himself travels through the planes of the multiverse to bring back new and interesting information about the creatures that live near and far.
Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft
This tome is very spooky and provides three new lineages, a kind of subclass for your subclass when it comes to race. Your characters must face terrifyingly tragic scenarios, trapped in limbo and at the mercy of whatever horrific denizens you stumble upon. It’s one of the few D&D books that is primarily aimed at people who miss Halloween.
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons
This must-have supplement contains a large compendium of new dragons and dragon-themed beasts, magic items, and player choices, including feats and new versions of the Dragonborn. The unearthed lore sheds new light on dragons’ magical nature, their hoards, and their connections to other worlds and gods.
Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
This slipcase is the first of its kind in 5E history, and it includes three 64-page books, a DM screen, and a double-sided poster map! The books are The Astral Adventurer’s Guide, which provides DMs and players with all the information they need to play in space, including six new player races (Astral Elves, Autogomes, Hadozee, Giff, Plasmoids, and Thri-Kreen); Boo’s Astral Menagerie, which includes over 60 new creatures suitable for a Spelljammer campaign; and Light of Xaryxis, which is a campaign divided into
Volo’s Guide to Monsters
D&D books are fond of using in-game authors like Volothamp Geddarm. He writes about the wide variety of monsters he’s encountered during his years of adventuring. VGtM also includes additional monstrous races for players interested in telling a less heroic kind of story.
Adventures are prewritten campaigns that go through a certain number of levels of play. For example, a short adventure might only cover characters levels 4-8, whereas longer adventures might see characters through more levels. Some adventurers are specifically written for higher-level characters, but most are written for lower levels.
Each adventure provides maps, encounters, traps, enemies, and NPCs with additional guidance for DMs. They are perfect for one or two-shots, newer DMs, or people who are too busy to write their own adventures from scratch.
Lost Mine of Phandelver
This adventure will take characters from 1st to 5th level and, if purchased in physical form, includes a DM screen, character sheets, and other goodies. This story opens with our heroes as modest caravan security guards to the town of Phandalin, where they become entangled in a quest to save hostages from bandits and eventually discover the titular mine itself.
Hoard of the Dragon Queen
HotDQ, the first segment of the Tyranny of Dragons storyline, will take characters from 1st to 7th level. The plot revolves around the Cult of the Dragon, which was once dedicated to the creation of undead dragons in order to fulfill a promise, but times have changed.
A new leader has been gathering fabled dragon masks in order to free Tiamat from her imprisonment in the Nine Hells. Your party enters the action right away, arriving in Greenest as it is overwhelmed by a small army gathered by the cult and headed by a blue dragon.
The Rise of Tiamat
The sequel to the Tyranny of Dragons storyline, continuing where HotDQ leaves off and bringing characters up to level 15. The hidden alliance between the Dragon Cult and the Red Wizards of Thay has been revealed as an opposing alliance forms on the Sword Coast. However, the plot of the cult is progressing. They seek enough blood sacrifices with all of the dragon masks to complete their ritual and free Tiamat from her hellish prison.
Princes of the Apocalypse
PotA is an adventure that takes characters from 3rd to 15th level, but there are additional adventures in the book for players who want to start at 1st level. Cults that worship the great Elemental Evil are growing in power and influence, hoping to usher in their own elemental princes. Will your party take a strong stance against them? Or turn the rival cults against each other in order to unravel their evil plot?
Out of the Abyss
OotA begins with your adventurers caught by drow for slaves in the subterranean Underdark. Because this adventure begins at 1st level (and goes up to 15th! ), the PCs must break free of their restrictions and escape with whatever allies they’ve made while imprisoned. Avoiding the drow and their priestesses isn’t the only danger as this adventure progresses to confronting the mighty Demon Lords themselves. Arachnophobes, beware: the drow are a spider-based society with a slew of creepy crawly creatures.
Curse of Strahd
Straight into gothic horror to send shivers down your spine and make you want to invest in very thick turtlenecks. CoS transports players of the first through tenth levels to Barovia, a Domain of Dread ruled by the Dark Lord Strahd, a vampire with a lot of free time who enjoys playing with people, watching as they turn against each other for his amusement.
The party must rise to the challenge, scouring the mist-engulfed land for the items required to destroy Strahd and save the land. Before entering Barovia, the adventure connects with the mini-adventure Death House to level players from 1st to 3rd level. Most D&D books have tie-in adventures if they don’t start at level 1.
Storm King’s Thunder
Giants of all kinds are fighting on Faerun’s Savage Frontier, and with their Ordning shattered, they embark on their own personal crusades to establish their own breed of giant atop the hierarchy. When giants run amok, the little folk are bound to be trampled underfoot, and it won’t be long before your band of adventurers is called in to figure out what’s going on and put things right. SKT is intended for characters of first through eleventh levels, but it also serves as an appropriate starting point for characters of the fifth level if you’re looking for some of the D&D books that let you jump in late.
Tales of the Yawning Portal
Unlike other D&D books, this is actually a collection of seven remastered D&D adventures that cover a wide range of levels to suit every table. The adventures are The Sunless Citadel (1-3, 2000), The Forge of Fury (3-5, 2000), The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (5-8, 1980), White Plume Mountain (8-9, 1979), Dead in Thay (9-11, 2014), Against the Giants (11-14, 1978), and the ever infamous Tomb of Horrors (11-14, 1978). (high level, 1978).
Tomb of Annihilation
A muggy jungle, roaming undead, cunning yuan-ti, and a Death Curse that spans the globe. Something sinister is going on in ToA; resurrection magic has stopped working, and those who have been revived are starting to wither and die. Your group of adventurers must travel to the Chult peninsula to figure out what is going on and end it, but the mystery that is at the core of a trap-filled tomb is coveted by others with less than noble intentions. An adventure for level 1-11 characters.
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
This adventure begins with your characters (levels 1–5) collaborating with the aforementioned Volo (of Volo’s Guide fame from other D&D books) However, soon after being lucratively rewarded, the prospect of a larger payday looms. Someone has hidden a dragon’s hoard, and the players must race against the clock to find it before one of the multiple foes do. Interested?
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
This is one of the D&D books that picks up immediately after a different adventure. Once you’ve completed Dragon Heist, you can move to this one and go from level 5 all the way to level 20 as you go through the biggest dungeon ever.
Ghosts of Saltmarsh
This book, like TftYP, is a collection of seven shorter adventures that can stand alone or be entwined with each other and others. Unlike other D&D books, GoS is centered on the seaport town of Saltmarsh, with plenty of opportunities for swashbuckling skulduggery on the pirate-infested seas across levels 1-12. The book also includes guidelines for living in Saltmarsh between adventures, where you can buy magical items, go carousing, do mercenary work, research, or work an ordinary job if you prefer a simpler life.
Baldur’s Gate: Descent Into Avernus
It’s time to dust off those Cleric and Paladin character sheets because this adventure begins with their time to shine. Not too many D&D books focus on healers. The holy city of Elutrel has vanished, and unless your party can figure out what happened, its neighboring city, Baldur’s Gate, will follow suit. Starting in the unholy city of Baldur’s Gate, the players will have fallen into the first layer of hell by the end of the adventure.
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
The chilly, windswept permafrost north of the Spine of the World has recently become even colder. Auril, the divine exemplar of winter’s wrath, has exacted her vengeance on the region, depriving it of sunshine and causing snowstorms and a swirling sea to pinpoint Icewind Dale in an eternal winter. Your players will progress through levels 1-12 as they quest around Ten Towns, assisting locals, foiling disastrous plots, and eventually taking on Auril herself to restore the sun to the sky and usher in spring.
Candlekeep is a fortress library with an unrivaled collection of books and scrolls, many of which hold their own mysteries and the key to an adventure. Aside from describing Candlekeep (complete with a poster map) and its inhabitants, this book contains a whopping seventeen self-contained short adventures (or one-shots). This is just one of the D&D books that are great for adding side quests to your existing games, taking a break from an ongoing campaign, or just getting another bite-sized chunk of D&D goodness.
The Wild Beyond the Witchlight
The Witchlight carnival is back, and the sights are not to be missed. This adventure for level 1-8 characters will show you the quirkiness and wonder that the traveling fey hold. Like Ray Bradbury described, you can discover the dark mysteries lurking behind the scenes. This adventure can be completed without engaging in combat and introduces the Fairy and Harengon races as new player options.
Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel
A compilation of adventures that take you from level 1 to 14. The Radiant Citadel is its own setting and also has doors to many other planes of existence, giving the DM and players plenty of room to explore the far reaches of the multiverse.
A great four-part adventure that accompanies the newest Spelljammer setting for the D&D books, this adventure helps characters learn to hold their own against fearsome space pirates as they journey around the Astral Plane and the multiverse as a whole.
Wizards of the Coast is owned by Hasbro and is an immensely popular brand. It’s no wonder that they frequently collaborate with other gaming companies to produce D&D books that contain crossovers, new campaign settings, and even new friends to the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
If you’ve ever wanted to play D&D in a corporate office, AI has got you covered. Unlike most settings, you play as a lawyer, scion, intern, or other office worker dealing with humorous situations where the arcane meets the cubicle.
Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
The official WoTC tie-in to Matt Mercer’s widely praised Critical Role transports you to the region of Wildemount (location of CR campaign 2) in Exandria. In addition to lore about the land’s deities, factions, and history, EGtW adds additional choices for established races, as well as races that have been published elsewhere (aasimar, goblinoids, and so on).
Exandria’s magic is unique, with time-and-gravity-based magic (or Chronurgy and Graviturgy) giving us the Echo Knight Fighter and two new Wizard subclasses (complete with new spells).
Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep
The first full-length adventure set in the world created by Matt Mercer, the DM of the popular D&D stream Critical Role. He has collaborated on other D&D books and likely will again. This adventure will take level 3 to 12 adventurers through the Wastes of Xhorhas, the Netherdeep, and introduce them to the continent of Marquet. This book will include new magic items, monsters, and a lot of lore and story that will tie into the campaigns you’re watching at home!
Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica
The first of two Magic the Gathering crossover D&D books, GGtR provides all of the lore you need to run a game in the city world of Ravnica. Players will find backgrounds to represent whatever guild they’re a member of, new races, and subclasses.
Mythic Odysseys of Theros
Yet another one of the Magic The Gathering and D&D books, MOoT is the quintessential book that asks the question: what if I played D&D in ancient Greece? The book is rife with gods and goddesses of all stripes and suitably heroic subclasses in honor of them.
Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
If you have been missing that college experience in your D&D books, but also want to play as an adorable talking owl, then this is the book for you. The adventurers take characters from levels 1-10 as they go through four years of magical university.
Dungeons & Dragons vs. Rick and Morty
This is a starter set for fans of the popular Adult Swim cartoon; another fine example of collaboration in D&D books. Rick Sanchez wrote the book, which includes commentating on the clichés that have gone in the game over the years. The mad scientist has also been nice enough to give us an adventure, The Lost Dungeon of Rickedness: Big Rick Energy, that will take brave Morties everywhere from a skittish first level to a gallant third level.
Hunt for the Thessylhydra
This is an experimental collaboration in D&D books between Wizards of the Coast and the Netflix hit show Stranger Things. The adventure is written for characters levels 3-4 as the characters hunt for the titular Thessylhydra.