Top 10 D&D Rule Books that Everyone Must Have

Over the forty odd years of Dungeons and Dragons publications, there have been 5 editions, and countless books. And I mean countless! So many that it is hard to know where to begin. So here is the ultimate top 10 list of D&D books (across all editions) that you have to have in your library!

1. The Player's Handbooks

Yes, a bit obvious but the Player's Handook in any edition is always quite a special book. At the most basic level of the game, this is the only book you need. The player's handbook in every edition gives you the game system, how stats work, how saving throws work, hit points, combat etc.

Frankly, without a Player's Handbook you can't really play the game, so if you are only going to get a single book, this is the one that you need.

2. 1st ed. AD&D Dungeon Master Guide

With everything I said about the Player's Handbook being the only book you need to play the game, that doesn't quite hold true for 1st ed AD&D. Sure the Player's Handbook can tell you the combat procedure, but what it doesn't tell you is what you need to roll on your d20 to actually score a hit on your opponent. For that information you will need to get the Dungeon Master's Guide which has the combat matrices for all classes, armour classes, and monsters.

3. 1st ed. AD&D Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Those of you switching from a more recent edition of Dungeons and Dragons to 1st ed. will find their character's woefully under powered. And it is true. Comparatively you will have fewer class abilities, fewer skills, and fewer hit points.

So in order to actually give your character a reasonably sized set of skills, you need to get the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide. This is the first book that gave dungeons and dragons a skill set for player character's called Proficiencies (much like in 2nd ed). AD&D Proficiencies are a collection of skills that your choose from to give your character that much more ability, and a fighting chance in your game.

4. 1st ed. AD&D Oriental Adventures

Aside from the obvious benefits of giving you a ninja class for your game, Oriental Adventures gave 1st ed Ad&D an alternative to the Alignment system used in all 5 editions. Instead, you are given an Honour total, a number assigned by your race and class. The higher the number the more honourable you are, the lower the number the less honourable you are. Your DM will assign you honour based on your actions through out the game.

The Honour system creates a more active and relatable sense of your character's morality in the world, as well as providing  a great avenue for quest hooks.

5. 2nd ed. AD&D Tome of Magic

Second Edition has an insane amount of books. TSR was going bankrupt and desperately try to make some coin but. as we all know it sadly didn't work. However from this last hurrah, we did get some pretty amazing stuff added to the game. The reason I chose the Tome of Magic is for one simple reason, it introduce the Wild Mage Class, one of the most fun and unpredictable magic using classes.

And to add to its legacy, the Wild Mage Class is the inspiration for the random spell effect table in 5th ed. So the kudos really has to go out to the first book to feature the class.

6. 2nd ed. AD&D The Complete Fighters Handbook

I have a lot of the Complete "______" Handbooks, but the the 2nd Ed complete Fighter's Handbook is the only one I have actually read cover to cover. While the dozens of interesting character kits make for some interesting roleplay choices, the real strength of the Complete Fighter's Handbook comes in it's last few pages. There you'll find new combat techniques, new proficiencies. My personal favourite is the the Shield Weapon Proficiency which you can use for a Bash or add to your parry roll. An awesome power for 2n edition.

7. 2nd ed. AD&D Al-Qadim

2nd edition's The Al-Qadim is the only official D&D campaign setting that deals with the ancient and medieval middle eastern fantasy. That aside, Al-Qadim also offers a fantastic bargaining system to include in any game, and the prices on dozens of items that you can't find any where else, like fabric for example. However, that's not what makes the Al-Qadim great.  Its true shining is the introduction of the Sha'ir Character Kit. The Sha'ir is a magic wielding genie summoner. You may request any spell you have heard the name of and your Gen familiar will try and fetch it for you from the planes of magic. You have limit on the number of spells you can cast a day, and at higher levels you actually get the ability to imprison and command djinni!

It is an incredibly OP class, and not at all surprising that it never made it out of 2nd ed. aside from in an issue of Dragon Magazine.

8. D&D 3 Book of Vile Darkness

The Book of Vile Darkness is one of the best known minor artifacts. it is surprising that it took them so long to get a version printed. The Book of Vile darkness is a treasure trove of information for any DM hosting and Evil campaign and for any player with an evil alignment. It is sure to darken your games and provide a little more depth into what would likely be a slaughter-fest otherwise.

9. D&D 3.5 Spell Compendium

There are a decent amount of spell compendiums out there for D&D, so it was hard to decide which one to put on this list. While the decade spanning, 7 Volume 2nd Ed AD&D Wizard's and Priests Spell Compendiums are undeniably awesome, the 3.5 Spell Compendium has two advantages. First, The 2n ed books are quite rare, there is a much better chance at finding the the 3.5 spell compendium. Secondly the 3.5 Spell Compendium  fits in a single book. You don't have to lug 7 spell books around to have the access you need.

While it doesn't have as many spell as its 7 volume counter part, it is a great addition to any magic using class.

10. D&D 5 DM Screen

OK, So I know this one is not technically a book, but it is probably one of the best DM screens there is. I really like using DM screens in my game, as there are usually several snippets of information to help you host your game on the back. However, D&D 5 takes a slightly different take. ON top of providing you with some rules, you are also treated to an NPC generator, a random small event table, and a search table. All of these tools make it much easier to deal with the unpredictable nature of table top RPGs, and will help you host a smooth game... And the D&D 5 DM screen is shorter than the other ones, so you can actually see over it!

I know that there are thousands of books and modules out there to choose from, and I probably missed a couple of your favourites. What do you think?

Written by: Andrew Gregory
Top 10 D&D Rule Books that Everyone Must Have Top 10 D&D Rule Books that Everyone Must Have Reviewed by JADE Gaming on 8/17/2015 02:25:00 pm Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Not a bad list, but the Vile Handbook is overrated. Several of the Completes are worth consideration for this list (Ninja, Druid, Psionicist), as is Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog and the Planeswalkers Handbook.