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Author Topic: Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?  (Read 3239 times)

JongWK

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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« on: April 11, 2013, 10:26:03 am »
Can you name three or four good D&D sourcebooks per edition? What makes them stand out, in your opinion?
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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2013, 11:08:04 am »
Basic:
Isle of Dread

1e:
Village of Hommlet
Forgotten Realms gray box

2e:
Vikings
Thief's Handbook
Psionics Handbook
Players Option: Spells and Magic
Planescape Monstrous Compendiums
Ravenloft Monstrous Compendiums

3e:
Forgotten Realms hardcover
Rituals and Relics
Ptolus
Wilderlands box set
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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2013, 01:08:23 pm »
For 4E, the books that stand out the most for me are:

1. OPEN GRAVE. We got tons of creepy use out of the undead monsters in this one.

2. THE UNDERDARK. The setting info here translated perfectly into actual play, and Torog's realm is extremely evocative.

3. MORDENKAINEN'S MAGIC EMPORIUM. The magic item book that should have come out instead of ADVENTURER'S VAULT.
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Libertad

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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2013, 01:42:53 pm »
1st Edition:

Dungeons of Dread Reprint-Four classic adventures, all in one book!

Fiend Folio-An expansion of cool monsters for your games.

Dungeoneer's Survival Guide-Expansion of the Underdark and plenty of advice/inspiration for subterranean adventuring.  New proficiency system adds an interesting dynamic to the game.

3rd Edition:

Player's Handbook II-Full of great options for PCs, as well as tips for building character backstory and identity.

Spell Compendium-Big collection of spells for your games.

Tome of Battle-For giving melee a much-needed boost.

Magic Item Compendium-Full of cheap, efficient, and reusable magic items for just about every character concept.

4th Edition:

D&D Rules Compendium-A big collection of clarifications, errata, and commonly used rules updated for those who don't have D&D Insider.

Heroes of the Fallen Lands: Great resource for players new to 4th Edition and includes all the "traditional" choices for races and classes (dwarf, elf, human, halfling; fighter, rogue [thief], wizard, cleric).

Monster Vault-The best "Monster Manual" for 4th Edition.  Solves the problem of "bags of hit points" which plagued the earlier Manuals in the Edition by making combat faster.

Heroes of the Feywild-A great and interesting setting, useful notes on fey society, and plenty of options for fey player characters.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2013, 01:56:26 pm by Libertad »

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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2013, 02:06:16 pm »
Basic D&D
B10 Night's Dark Terror - somewhere between a module and a regional sourcebook
GAZ1 Grand Duchy of Karameikos - first in a line of fantastic regional gazetteers for Basic
AC1010 Poor Wizard's Almanac - great overview of the world of Mystara, with details like calendars, timekeeping, weather, hex maps, etc. One of the highlights for me was a year's worth of days with world events on those days. I've gotten tons of use out of them for world-in-motion and adventure hooks.

AD&D
Forgotten Realms Grey Box - fantastic setting with just enough detail, but large tracts still wide open for DM creativity; foolishly got rid of this years ago, as I'd picked up the 2nd edition version. MISTAKE!

AD&D 2nd Edition
PHBR1 The Complete Fighter's Handbook - Got a TON of use out of this book; added combat rules, additions/alterations to weapon proficiencies, piecemeal armor guidelines; mostly very reasonable kits, too, unlike some of the later books
PHBR3 The Complete Priest's Handbook - introduces an alternate system for defining a cleric/priest class devoted to a specific deity; we used nothing but once we had the book
DMGR1 Campaign Sourcebook & Catacomb Guide - tons of very useful information for a new DM on everything from dealing with players to building a campaign world; much less useful if you're already experienced, but you'll likely still pick up something useful. Also includes a section on building dungeons. All this material should've been in the AD&D2nd DMG, in my opinion.
DMGR2 The Castle Guide - a huge amount of material around (as the title implies) castles, but also some of the medieval hierarchy that exists around them. Includes a system for mass battles and sieges. Like the DMGR1, this material should've been in the DMG
Monstrous Compendium - the hardcover version of the Monstrous Manual (which was a binder with looseleaf sheets). I actually found the Monstrous Manual better (i.e. more useful at the table), but it was generally despised due to a number of poor production choices. Assuming the Monstrous Manual is "disqualified," the Monstrous Compendium is the best single monster book produced for TSR era D&D. Highly compatible with all TSR versions of the game along with the newer clones.
Van Richten's Guide to... - is a line of supplements produced for the Ravenloft setting, but I personally think they're useful anywhere. Each one covers a particular type of "horror" monster (e.g. lycanthrope, vampire, ghost, etc.) in great detail, expanding on different ways to present these creatures as far more than adventurer fodder. The guides to Vampires and Ghosts are about the best, but almost all of them are very good. I've never run these creatures the same again since reading these supplements.  

I also got enourmous amounts of use out of a number of the settings introduced during AD&D 2nd's run.

D&D 3.x
I found a lot of the supplements for 3.x focused quite heavily on rules bloat. I rarely found that useful, both because of poor interaction and simple overload (can't be remembered at the table). Hence I think that the best supplements, to me, were those that focused on setting or straight gameable content.
Ptolus - already mentioned, but for me this is, bar none, the best module/supplement released during the entire run of 3.x D&D. Enourmous hardcover that is actually perfectly usable at the table, and a setting that actually bears out the assumptions built into the 3.x ruleset.
Iron Kingdoms Character Guide and World Guide - probably my favourite setting from the 3.x era, these two books comprise all you'd need to run the setting for the rest of your natural life. Vastly prefer the original feel to the newer Iron Kingdoms RPG.
Wilderlands of High Fantasy - an enourmous (and I mean ENOURMOUS) sandbox setting; another supplement that could be the only one you own for the rest of your life.

Interesting that these are all third party material.

Pathfinder
Gamemastery Guide - while not the best DM guide available (disagree with some of the advice), it still has a bunch of useful bits and pieces for the Pathfinder game
NPC Codex - for a system as complex as Pathfinder, it's actually pretty useful to have a bunch of pre-statted NPCs

Retro-Clones
Decided to throw these into their own category, as they are really their own flavour of D&D as far as I'm concerned.
Swords & Wizardry Monster Book - this is the one by Matt Finch that has recently seen a new Kickstarter edition under a new name. While lacking on the art and ecology side, the book presents an enourmous number of interesting and TSR D&D-compatible creatures. The softcover version from Lulu was well worth it to me.
Red Tide - phenomenal sandbox setting, as well as toolset for creating sandbox campaigns.
Vornheim - great little tookit for creating fantasy cities on the fly (i.e. in play, as opposed to pre-built).
« Last Edit: April 11, 2013, 03:39:46 pm by Bobloblah »
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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2013, 03:01:10 pm »
Quote from: Bobloblah;645011
Basic D&D
B10 Terror in the Dark - somewhere between a module and a regional sourcebook


B10's title is Night's Dark Terror and yes it is pretty good.
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Bobloblah

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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2013, 03:38:24 pm »
Quote from: Exploderwizard;645021
B10's title is Night's Dark Terror and yes it is pretty good.

Yeah, thanks. That's a pretty egregious typo.
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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2013, 09:35:48 am »
B/X/BECMI/whatevs - None. My inclination these days is to run it direct and pure from the Rules Cyclopedia.

1E - Fiend Folio, for the sheer imagination shown. Deities & Demigods, for the "instant campaign setting" aspect of it - each chapter implies an entire gameworld cosmology with its own individual flavour.

2E - Book of Artifacts, for encouraging the DM to really go to town on the history of major magic items. (Book of Villains gets an honourable mention for giving the same treatment to nasty NPCs.) World Builder's Guidebook, for picking apart how to build a world and for being designed so that you can start at any scale you like and work up or down as needed. Planescape box plus In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil plus The Factol's Manifesto for being the perfect basis for a Sigil-focused Planescape campaign, Torment-style.

OSR - Vornheim, for presenting an interesting and innovative way to play city adventures and proving that the OSR isn't just about reinventing the wheel constantly.
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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2013, 03:25:53 pm »
Quote from: JongWK;644955
Can you name three or four good D&D sourcebooks per edition? What makes them stand out, in your opinion?


I couldn't do this for 4e but that's from lack of knowledge, but I can't really say whether there is or not.

3e: Manual of the Planes
Forgotten Realms main book, as well as several sourcebooks

2e: Dark sun and its stuff was pretty good.
Ravenloft had its moments
"From the Ashes" was great

1e: the Manual of the planes
original FR box set
shitloads of modules

B/x D&D: The entire Mystara series

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Bloody Stupid Johnson

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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2013, 06:30:32 pm »
1E:
Seconding Manual of the Planes - since it basically invents the the Great Wheel. Lots of great stuff.

Dragonlance Adventures - pretty crunchy with lots of ideas (kender pockets table, gnomish invention rules, other classes, races, magic items).

2nd Ed.
Complete Fighter - detailed combat system which fits neatly onto the basic combat system, invents kits
Complete Bard - makes bards as a class exciting to play with interesting variants, wider multiclass and race options, and other details.
Complete Wizard - just very mineable for ideas - locations, wizard types, magical items, spells.
Dark Sun boxed set - because Dark Sun.

3rd Ed.
(3.0) Book of Vile Darkness - a fantastic DM resource for all things evil, very mineable for ideas.
(3.5) Expanded Psionics Handbook - added classes, races and stuff to the game but IMHO did it well unlike later sourcebooks.


Pathfinder:
Enjoyed their "Distant Worlds" space book, though it needs the right sort of campaign, haven't really read a lot of their other stuff.

Teazia

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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 11:34:46 pm »
1e:

DMG- pretty much awesome.  Condensed version is in B2 (worth reading as it is more accessible and lays the mental groundwork for being able to get full value from the 1e DMG).

2e:

Monstrous Manual- A great, great monster book, full of love (The MC Annual 2 has the random tables for it, and Planescape MC 1 has the demons and devils).  

The collected Van Richten's Guides- also fabulous.


Another vote of Vornheim

1e DMg and 2e MM plus the TSR/OSR PHB of your choice is pretty money and is good for tons of gaming.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 01:37:00 am by Teazia »

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Good D&D sourcebooks per edition?
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2013, 04:43:10 pm »
Yes, I would include Vornheim on my list as well.  I don't know why its so damn loveable.

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