One of the coolest things about the current state of D&D 5e is just how much content is available for the game.
Even just looking at what has been officially published by Wizards of the Coast, there are so many options! Settings like the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Ravenloft, and even settings from Magic: The Gathering give players no shortage of choice for their own games!
But today we aren’t looking at content that has been officially published by WotC…
Instead, we’re taking some time to appreciate 6 must-have releases from third-party publishers.
With 5e proving to be the most popular version of D&D to date, it’s incredible what fans of the game have made!
Dungeon Masters can find new settings, rules, options, and other homebrew goodies galore these days!
If you’re a DM who is looking to mix things up at your table (as well as support some awesome third-party publishers!), this is for you!
These are the best third party books for D&D 5e!
Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting
I’m a huge fan of Critical Role (i.e. Critter) and was so excited when the Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting was released.
Let me tell you: it didn’t disappoint!
As a fan of the show, this book is like getting to flip through DM Matt Mercer’s notebook. It’s all there!
Looking through the pages, it quickly becomes clear just how much passion went into crafting this book! With wonderful art, fantastic detail, and all kinds of new homebrew goodies (items, backgrounds, class options, and more!), the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting had to make this list!
While this book is certainly targeted to those Critters who want to explore the same world as Critical Role’s season 1 group, Vox Machina, this book goes beyond being simple fan-service. Even for non-Critters, there is plenty to explore and captivate in the world of Tal’Dorei!
The Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting is available on Amazon.
Book of the Righteous
The Gods and Goddesses play an important role in most D&D settings. However, it can be tricky when trying to add plenty of things for more religious characters to interact with in your world.
That’s where the Book of the Righteous comes in.
There is so much here that it can almost be a little intimidating at first!
The writers have built an entire cosmology and myth that delivers so much useful information and inspiration. From the beginning elements through to the Old Gods and the new ones, the pantheon presented in the Book of the Righteous comes alive and seems to jump off of the pages.
Admittedly, I’ve always felt that there needed to be information in 5e to help DMs bring the religious aspects of the world to life.
Whether homebrewing new pantheons or using existing ones, it kind of felt like a nearly overwhelming challenge to create entire religious systems that could capture players’ attention while also standing up to their curious scrutiny as they poke and prod to learn more.
But the Book of the Righteous gives you so much that you can use when building your world. It’s perfectly able to be cherry-picked for your favorite parts if you don’t want to use the entire pantheon presented.
Plus, there’s plenty of guidance for creating your own pantheon for your world!
I would especially recommend this book for DMs who enjoy worldbuilding. If that’s you, you will have a field day!
Strongholds & Followers
If you spend any amount of time looking for D&D content online, you are almost certain to come across Matthew Colville. Not only is his content great for DMs who are looking to refine their craft to create the best experience possible for their players, he is one of the main inspirations behind me starting this blog!
That said, I’m not playing favorites by including Strongholds & Followers on this list. It’s a genuinely impressive book that adds an entirely new and exciting mechanic to your D&D 5e game!
The premise of the book is simple enough: as characters level up, they might want to acquire a keep and forces with which to fill and defend that keep.
But this book lays out everything that you could want to know about building such a stronghold. Different types of structures (with corresponding benefits to the party!) can be built and so can different types of followers.
For any adventuring party, getting a ton of land and fortress (complete with private army!) is just an incredible feeling.
Using this book adds a nice level of strategy and immersion to your game without being a burden! There will be no need to stop adventuring to exclusively play some kind of building simulator.
Well, unless your group just really wants to do that, I guess?
You said you’re looking for a mega-dungeon?
*insert evil laughter here*
Rappan Athuk isn’t just big.
Oh no, no, no… It’s a certified behemoth of a dungeon!
This bad boy is over 600 pages of things that your players will never forgive you for.
Not only is there the 56-level dungeon itself, but there are other related dungeons to be explored as well (about an extra 20 levels of dungeon-delving delight.)
You want more? Ok.
There’s also over 20 areas in the wilderness outside of these dungeons to
torture your players with experience.
If your group is looking for the granddaddy of all dungeons and is up to face what is possibly the single most difficult dungeon ever made, look no further!
Tome of Beasts
If I had to pick a single book for D&D 5e from a third party publisher that is required for any DM’s shelf, it would have to be the Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press.
And trust me, “tome” is most certainly the appropriate word choice here!
This is a great resource for any DM, but I especially recommend it for groups who have possibly gotten a little too comfortable with the creatures in the 5e Monster Manual.
You’ll have no problem working any of the creatures contained in the Tome of Beasts into your campaign.
Even better, the wide assortment of creature types means that there’s always options in this book to consider when building out your next session’s encounters!
Intricate clockwork creatures? You guess it: check!
Personally, I really appreciate the attention to detail in the creatures’ stat blocks and the overall formatting of the book. It blends perfectly with the Monster Manual so that there’s no weird mix-ups when you’re flipping through in the middle of combat!
Conclusion – The Best Third Party Books for D&D 5e
It was very difficult to whittle this list down to just 5 of the best books for D&D 5e from third party publishers.
The incredible amount of awesome homebrew goodies available is proof that Dungeons and Dragons is doing better than ever before!
I’m here for it! (and may have been discreetly working on some of said homebrew goodies of my own to share with you all…)
Are there any other third party books for 5e that you would recommend?
Let me know in the comments!