You'll find the very best Dungeons and Dragons books to fit any occasion here regardless of whether you're a newcomer or a veteran

the best dungeons and dragons books that need to be on your shelf

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Considering how massive the D&D library is, narrowing it down to the best Dungeons and Dragons books isn’t easy. In fact, players new and old have an almost-overwhelming level of choice. Where the hell do you start?

That’s why we’ve put together some recommendations of what you should priotize here – this is a list of the best Dungeons and Dragons books for fans, by fans. You’ll get the most out of these suggestions regardless of whether you’re a newcomer inspired by the likes of Stranger Things or a longtime adventurer hoping to expand their collection, and they’ll allow you to dive into one of the best tabletop RPGs without getting lost.

Because the best Dungeons and Dragons books can be expensive, we’ve been sure to include the lowest prices as well. Our bargain-hunting software is always rooting out discounts, so keep your eyes peeled for price cuts as you browse the best D&D books. You’ll be able to see any current discounts by clicking on the button under each entry.

As for how we chose these recommendations, our team only includes products we’ve used extensively ourselves. We run and play D&D games in our spare time, and in our experience, these have been the most useful Dungeons and Dragons books to have on the shelf.

Best Dungeons and Dragons books

the best dungeons and dragons books that need to be on your shelf

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

1. Player’s Handbook

The best Dungeons and Dragons book overall

Specifications

For: Everyone

Features: Core rules and character creation

Reasons to buy

+

Everything beginners need

+

Extensive character creation options

+

A one-stop shop for all things D&D

Reasons to avoid

Traits can be limiting

Of all the D&D books out there right now, this is arguably the most important. As a detailed guide on gameplay, rules, how to create a character, and more, it’s a one-stop-shop for everything you need in order to begin your tabletop adventure. That’s true no matter how experienced a player you are, too; along with entry-level advice, the Player’s Handbook is crammed with advanced mechanics for combat and spellcasting. In essence, this is the Dungeons and Dragons bible. It’s beyond useful for players of every stripe, and it’s always handy to have a copy close by.

Even though it doesn’t include every playable species or class in the game, the Player’s Handbook also has more than enough to give you countless hours of gameplay. With nine races to choose from (including the classic elves, dwarves, and halflings), numerous backgrounds you can use, and rules for almost every class, it’s the place to start when making an adventurer for your next campaign.

This is one the best Dungeons and Dragons books for Dungeon Masters as well. Besides featuring info on everything from gods of the multiverse to equipment stats, it provides a few ideas for what the party can do on the side. Do they have a job? Hobbies? The Player’s Handbook gives you plenty to chew on, and we can’t recommend it enough.

the best dungeons and dragons books that need to be on your shelf

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

2. Dungeon Master’s Guide

The best Dungeons and Dragons book for DMs

Specifications

For: Creating adventures

Features: Campaign and world-building tools

Reasons to buy

+

Inspiring tips

+

Extensive creation tools

+

Pages of advice on world-building

Reasons to avoid

Left wanting more

If you’ve ever thought about creating adventures for your group, the Dungeon Master’s Guide is essential reading. Besides arming you with all the tools you need for overseeing a game, it covers everything from making an awesome quest to forging a world of your own.

It’s not overwhelming, either. Regardless of what you want to do (be it crafting loot-filled ruins or getting tips on how to use miniatures in-game), the book’s advice is straightforward and easy to understand. Because there are so many helpful prompts, it’s practical as well.

The section on creating non-playable characters is particularly handy. It provides a wealth of traits, mannerisms, and quirks to choose from that can result in memorable individuals that are easier to roleplay. In addition, the fact that you can end up with countless permutations based on its suggestions is useful for time-strapped DMs.

the best dungeons and dragons books that need to be on your shelf

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

3. Monsters of the Multiverse

The best Dungeons and Dragons book for new characters

Specifications

For: Players and DMs

Features: 33 new playable races, 250+ monsters

Reasons to buy

+

New races to play

+

Intriguing lore

+

Loads of unique monsters

Reasons to avoid

We’ve seen a lot of it before

Tired of the same old character types? Monsters of the Multiverse should go straight onto your wishlist. It allows you to play something beyond traditional fantasy staples and offers 33 new races (ranging from fairies to owl-people) that can be used for your next hero. This makes it one of the best Dungeons and Dragons books by default; it lets your imagination run wild.

Crucially, all of the above will fit into any world. Although most started life elsewhere, they’ve been updated for this book with setting-neutral info. When combined with all-new lore and hand-written, pithy notes from existing characters, it’s a fascinating dive into D&D’s wilder side.

In addition, it features a sprawling 282-page bestiary filled with unusual and powerful monsters. Whole chapters are dedicated to beasts we often see as cannon-fodder, and you’re given a broader, less black-and-white view that makes them more well-rounded than they have been in the past. This isn’t about pigeon-holing cultures into categories of ‘good’ or ‘evil’; it takes a more measured, thoughtful approach.

the best dungeons and dragons books that need to be on your shelf

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

4. Monster Manual

The best Dungeons and Dragons book for DIY adventures

Specifications

For: Creating encounters

Features: Rules for almost every monster

Reasons to buy

+

Hundreds of entries

+

Fantastic artwork

+

Lots of backstory and lore

Reasons to avoid

Almost TOO much choice

The Monster Manual is a must-have if you’re running your own game; it helps Dungeon Masters call upon a host of nasty creatures to use in battle. Featuring classic foes like goblins and more unusual entries such as the many-eyed beholder, it’s full of surprises with which to challenge your players. Basically? This is the ultimate collection of baddies.

It’s one of the biggest Dungeons and Dragons books, too. There are over 350 pages to enjoy with lavish illustrations throughout, making it one of the most comprehensive fantasy bestiaries out there. Even if you don’t play D&D, it’s an inspiring read from start to finish thanks to the extensive worldbuilding inside.

However, it’s more than a curiosity for DMs. For them, it’s borderline-essential. With stats, abilities, and flavor text for hundreds of creatures, there’s something within the Monster Manual to suit every campaign you can think of. You’ll find useful context on where these enemies can be encountered too, not to mention why. That helps DMs weave monsters into the story naturally, making for a more immersive experience overall.

the best dungeons and dragons books that need to be on your shelf

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

5. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

The best Dungeons and Dragons book for advanced players

Specifications

For: Advanced players and DMs

Features: New subclasses, DM tools, and inclusive traits

Reasons to buy

+

Inventive new subclasses

+

Playful, whimsical tone

+

Very accommodating

Reasons to avoid

Origins section is too short

Few D&D books make bigger promises than Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. In fact, it sets out to fundamentally change the game. And you know what? It works. Although there are the usual spells and magical items you’d expect, this one adds the Artificer class (tech whizzes that let you play as a medieval Iron Man) to shake things up. New subclasses have been thrown in for good measure, too. These are almost universally excellent, ranging from psionic warriors that battle with the power of their mind to fungi-based Druid circles that feel as if they’ve been pulled from The Last of Us.

What’s more, tweaked character traits are a revelation (even if they could do with more depth). Allowing players to escape rules that potentially force them toward one playstyle or another, it upends the table and lets you live your best fictional life. Want to be an academic orc who’d rather hit the books than smack someone with their axe? Now’s your chance.

In much the same vein, DMs are given more ideas, tools, and quest hooks than they’ll know what to do with. Tasha’s Cauldron winds up being the best D&D update in years as a result.

    the best dungeons and dragons books that need to be on your shelf

    (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

    6. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

    The best Dungeons and Dragons book for advanced DMs

    Specifications

    For: Advanced DMs and players

    Features: New backgrounds, subclasses, and DM tools

    Reasons to buy

    +

    Excellent subclasses

    +

    Fun character backstories

    +

    Numerous DM tools

    Reasons to avoid

    Some overpowered options

    The title isn’t an exaggeration; this supplement provides players and Dungeon Masters alike with new rules for almost every part of the game. No matter whether you’re looking for fresh spells, unusual subclasses, or traps in which to catch unsuspecting adventurers, Xanathar’s Guide has you covered.

    However, we’d argue that DMs will get the most out of this Dungeons and Dragons book. There are dozens of encounter tables here to make exploration more exciting (and easier, for that matter) along with extensive rules on traps. Even downtime rivalries and pastimes are included, so the advice here should give your games additional spice.

    Tying this esoteric knowledge together are asides from Xanathar (a beholder crime lord whose most prized possession is a goldfish), and these add flavor to proceedings. Wry notes are scattered throughout, leaving us with a memorable read.

    the best dungeons and dragons books that need to be on your shelf

    (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

    7. Candlekeep Mysteries

    The best Dungeons and Dragons book for oneshot games

    Specifications

    For: Short, one-off sessions

    Features: 17 oneshot adventures

    Reasons to buy

    +

    One-off adventures

    +

    Fresh perspectives

    +

    Memorable storylines

    Reasons to avoid

    Some adventures are better than others

    Although prewritten adventures make up some of the best Dungeons and Dragons books, they’re a massive time commitment. Candlekeep Mysteries bucks that trend. Offering a series of one-off stories that can be plugged into any campaign, world, or setting, these quests can be completed in a single sitting. That makes them a great fit for groups that can’t meet regularly enough for weekly or monthly sessions.

    More importantly, those adventures are great. Despite being united by some sort of mystery driving the plot (hence the name), there’s a tremendous amount of variety on offer. Traditional tales of derring-do, horror, satirical comedy, and more can be found within the pages of this D&D book, so there’s bound to be something to suit your party.

    There’s a refreshing variety of perspectives on offer throughout, too. Candlekeep Mysteries isn’t limited to classic European fantasy, either; adventurers will visit places inspired by mythologies and cultures from around the world. Because so many of the stories told there are sure to stay with you for a long time, it’s well worth a look.

    the best dungeons and dragons books that need to be on your shelf

    (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

    8. Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

    The best Dungeons and Dragons book for horror fans

    Specifications

    For: Horror fans

    Features: New horror settings and worldbuilding tools

    Reasons to buy

    +

    Over 30 horror settings to play in

    +

    Inspiring tips on worldbuilding

    +

    Intriguing quest ideas

    Reasons to avoid

    Lacks fun in-character notes

    This D&D book is unsettling, but that’s the point. A whistle-stop tour of horror tropes both old and new, it’s crammed with tips on how to inject the genre into your games. Based around the horror-tinged realms of Ravenloft (prison-worlds created to contain evil Dark Lords in their own personal hell), it provides a baked-in excuse to explore any kind of fear-inducing cliche you can think of.

    Like Candlekeep Mysteries, it’s got creativity to spare as well. In spite of a brisk pace that rattles through over 30 realms in total, the worldbuilding of Van Richten’s Guide is second to none. You get a real sense of each domain even though they’re only given three to four pages each, and all of them contain numerous quest hooks to fuel your campaigns. Some of these are compelling enough to maintain full-length adventures in their own right, so there’s plenty of value for your money here.

    The same can be said about the book’s suggestions for creating your own horror worlds and characters. Namely, it’s insightful while also being laser-focused on what makes the genre tick (if you enjoy creating your own homebrew settings, it’s hard not to come away inspired). Sure, the genre isn’t for everyone. But the tips in Van Richten’s Guide are. This is comfortably one of the best Dungeons and Dragons books as a result.


    For some models to go with your Dungeons and Dragons books, check out the best WizKids miniatures. You can also get some advice on how to create your first character in D&D or the best D&D class for beginners via our guides.

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