How many 5e Dungeons and Dragons products do you need?
The reality is not much with the free basic 5e ruleset being all that is needed to have both and introductory and medium to long term fantasy role playing experience if you have a creative mind.
Stepping up from this the classic trifecta are the Players Handbook, Dungeons Masters Guide and Monster Manual. Beyond this depends on whether you are a:
- Player: in which case Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything would be your next official pickups whilst
- Dungeon Master: in which case you are looking for an adventure, new campaign setting, monster book (such as Kobold Presses Tome of Beasts 2, or maps such as those produced by Heroic Maps.
But people like me (and probably you if you have read this far), find their bookshelves and computers stuffed with 5e Dungeons and Dragons official and 5e compatible products such as Sly Flourish’s Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master – but also resources from previous editions – but why?
- Firstly role-playing games is a very cheap hobby. Yes I know $50 for a book isn’t cheap at the time of purchase, but given the number of hours of entertainment can provide initially and over years and year the cost per hour is very cheap. The products available on DMsGuild are at even cheaper price points with most authors realising they are producing for fun rather than for a profit.
- Secondly with the exception of mechanical rules the lore and ideas within each product transcends the editions so you don’t throw old books out. My 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide remains a key reference document as it contains material that is incredibly useful in a modern game.
- Third there is the concept of “lonely fun” which is best described by DMDavid in Episode 133 by Tabletop Babble on the History of D&D Design which explains that there is a large number of people (principally DMs) who enjoy reading material far beyond what they could ever use at the table. DMDavid then goes on to explain that once the lonely fun market is exhausted the only way a publisher can survive financially is to produce a new edition.
5e Dungeons and Dragons is special from a collectors viewpoint – and not just because the edition had proved so popular – it is special because Wizards of the Coasts constricted its business activities to a business plan that is financially sensible for the long-term, namely road-testing material prior to release to obtain a measure of user feedback (research and development), and releasing relatively few materials (although this has begun to accelerate).
As Chris Perkins said in his Between the Sheets episode the slow-hard back book release has actually make Dungeons and Dragons more profitable and with more time between publications more time to produce a quality product.
This stepping back from the edge has provided the opportunity for smaller more nimble companies (and individuals) with lower operational costs to enter the 5e market.
For those of us with with a 5e addiction to more content and more lonely fun the answer to how many many Dungeons and Dragons products do I need is: “just one more”.