Every D&D book for 5E, from Player's Handbook to Candlekeep Mysteries

D&D books for 5E
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Getting into Dungeons & Dragons 5E (5th Edition) but not sure where to start? Well, we understand that. There’s over 30 books for the tabletop roleplaying game out there – if you count both campaign adventures and sourcebooks – meaning there’s a lot to choose from. And if you’re not sure of the difference between all the different 5E books, we can explain everything you need to know.

A sourcebook is a book that’s made solely to provide players and Dungeon Masters with information that’ll help enrich their gameplay. It can offer a lot of things: new rules, races, subclasses, and even campaign settings such as the Sword Coast and Eberron, being different settings with two different tones, but both adopting the same rules.

An adventure, on the other hand, is a pre-made campaign that is used by Dungeon Masters; it gives them instructions on how to run a narrative, and, speaking from personal experience, is a lot less of a hassle than home-brewing an adventure by yourself. 

With these two definitions in mind, we’re here to let you know just which D&D 5E books rank up to our best expectations and which are probably worth giving a miss.

It’s worth keeping in mind that these books are widely available in PDF form too, or on the official D&D Beyond website, but for those after the satisfaction of a fully-stocked D&D bookshelf, read on below.

D&D 5E books: Sourcebooks

D&D books for 5E

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1. Player's Handbook

Much like the Dungeon Master’s Guide, this book is essential for anyone looking to get into 5th edition. It not only gives you essential rules, tools and tips, but it explains how to create a character in the first place. It also goes into the nitty gritty details of explaining abilities, classes, subclasses, spells and backgrounds. Even Dungeon Masters need the Player’s Handbook in their life. 

D&D books for 5E

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2. Dungeon Master's Guide

This is key for any player, regardless if you’re going to be a Dungeon Master or not. It explains the basic, key rules of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, and is mandatory for anyone looking to get started in Wizard of the Coast’s popular role-playing game.

D&D books for 5E

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3. Monster Manual

So you’ve got your A-Z to help you get where you want to go, but how about your A-Z of monsters to include in your campaign? With the Monster Manual, you’ve got 150 deadly monsters to mess with, each with a detailed stat block so that planning combat encounters is as easy as pie.

D&D books for 5E

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4. Volo’s Guide to Monsters

We know you’ve already had some monsters, but why not add 139 more to your adventures, to scare your players further? If that isn’t enough to convince you, Volo’s Guide to Monsters actually adds new playable races that aren’t included in the Player Handbook, such as the celestial Aasimar and the unique Firbolg races.

D&D books for 5E

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5. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything was a huge milestone for players of Dungeons & Dragons, adding 22 new subclasses for all core classes as well as a rework of character’s racial traits to help customize their origin story. There are also new spells, items and magical artefacts, as well as 92 different rule options for Dungeon Masters to get stuck into! Talk about lush!

D&D books for 5E

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6. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Much like Tasha’s guide above, Xanthar’s Guide to Everything introduces new tools and systems to spice up a character’s creation, as well as including 31 different subclasses like the Swashbuckler and Hexblade Warlock. It even gives Dungeon Master’s new tools to work with to make their campaign the best it can be!

D&D books for 5E

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7. Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

We’ll be honest, from here on out the rest of the ranking is largely subjective. But Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is an exciting sourcebook, as it not only adds a new playable race called the Gith, but it gives you another 120 monsters (at a slightly higher level than the ones in Volo’s Guide to Monsters) and gives you more lore about the multiverse of 5th edition D&D that can be used in your campaign.

D&D books for 5E

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8. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount

If you’re a fan of the Critical Role D&D podcast and web series, then Wildemount will be the book you’re looking for, taking place on the same continent and featuring many of the same locations, characters, items, and lore as the hit show. You get new subraces, classes, items and 40 new monster encounters, too.

D&D books for 5E

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9. Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide

Yet another campaign setting sourcebook! The Sword Coast is a very popular setting for more than a few adventures, so if you’re going to be running a campaign around the area, we would recommend adding this sourcebook to your collection. It even goes into more detail about factions, and adds one new race, a Feral Tiefling.

D&D books for 5E

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10. Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica

A campaign setting sourcebook that combines the world of Magic The Gathering with Dungeons & Dragons. Even if you’re not interested in the Magic The Gathering lore it adds, you’ll still be given five unique races, two new subclasses, 45 unique enemies and a variety of magical items and weapons.

D&D books for 5E

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11. Mythic Odysseys of Theros

If exploring Ravnica wasn’t enough for you, this campaign setting adds the plane of Theros from Magic The Gathering. If you’re looking for a more hellenic adventure and love Greek settings, this will definitely be the sourcebook for you. It includes two new playable races, the lion-like Leonin and the swift-footed Satyr, as well as magical items and enemies.

D&D books for 5E

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12. Eberron: Rising from the Last War

Not to be confused with The Wayfarer’s Guide, this campaign setting puts players in the gritty world of Eberron, a more pulpy and technologically-advanced setting for those with a penchant for steampunk stories. It includes a new race, the Warforged, 13 new subraces, as well as a variety of magical items and monsters.

D&D books for 5E

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13. Acquisitions Incorporated

Created in partnership with Penny Arcade, this book adds a new race called the Verdan, and introduces heists, five new player backgrounds, and a touch of hilarity that is sorely missing in the rest of the sourcebooks. There are mechanics for helping your adventurers run their own business, too.

D&D books for 5E

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14. Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

With two new subclasses, 30 new domains of Dread and new, horrific monsters for you to explore, Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft is the perfect sourcebook for those wanting a touch of gothic horror, being packed with witches, zombies, vampires and the like. As a new sourcebook, we haven’t had the chance to test out just yet, but it builds on the famous Curse of Strahd adventure listed below and is well worth a look for that reason. 

D&D 5E books: Adventures

D&D books for 5E

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1. Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus

Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus is one of the more recent adventures and is especially important if you’re a fan of Larian Studio’s Baldur’s Gate 3, as it’s a direct prequel to the game. It’s a wild experience into the depths of Hell, and will have the party fighting demons, devils and archangels – all while trying to survive. 

D&D books for 5E

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2. Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Is there anything better than adding spookiness to a water-based campaign adventure? If the answer to that is no, then you’ll love Ghosts of Saltmarsh. It adds a dark, mysterious tone and has a number of different backgrounds and quests to add, alongside a full-blown adventure that’ll keep you guessing at every turn.

D&D books for 5E

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3. Waterdeep: Dragon Heist

Heists are our guilty pleasure, and in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist well… Come on, read the title. In this adventure, you’ll have to figure out who is friend or foe, but do so quick! One wrong move and the treasure trove that awaits you may become lost forever. 

D&D books for 5E

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4. Hoard of the Dragon Queen

A draconic adventure for levels 1-8, the Hoard of the Dragon Queen has players fighting against the Cult of the Dragon, a group that wishes to release the Dragon Queen Tiamat from her prison in the Nine Hells to unleash on the Forgotten Realms.

D&D books for 5E

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5. Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage

An adventure that takes place after Dragon Heist, players (level 5-20) are thrown into a vast dungeon called The Undermountain in order to find and combat the mad wizard Halaster Blackcloak. With 23 levels to explore, alongside 75 mad monsters, players will have more than enough to handle in this combat-orientated adventure.

D&D books for 5E

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6. Rise of Tiamat

Once you’re finished with the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, you can continue your adventure by moving across the world of Faerun to combat Tiamat and send her packing. But be warned, you must succeed or the world will certainly be doomed.