D&D 5E Do you ACTUALLY use 3rd Party Books?

In the last 2 years, has your group used 3rd Party content in your game?

  • Yes, we've used player content AND monsters

    Votes: 152 64.4%
  • Yes, but only monsters

    Votes: 42 17.8%
  • No, but I'd allow player content AND monsters

    Votes: 12 5.1%
  • No, but I'd allow monsters

    Votes: 10 4.2%
  • No, I don't allow 3PP

    Votes: 20 8.5%

  • Poll closed .

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
Yeah, MMS:WE was the book I used to build the starting area for my campaign, which I think lent a lot of authenticity to it, but I never returned to it, since I didn't see the value of ever again knowing just how big the agricultural area should be around any fantasy town (huge, it turns out).

I would love to see them hired to help craft a world-building chapter in someone else's fantasy RPG, though.
 

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gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Well considering I don't play 5e, rather PF/SF, my vote doesn't really count, but because I am 3PP, I almost exclusively use 3PP in all my games, often as a means of play-testing my content before publication, but other 3PP products too. I don't allow games I run to be without 3PP content in play...
 

MMS:WE is one of the greatest third party books of the 3E era. It makes me sad how few people remember it now. (To be fair, the company that publishes it has since gone all-in on 1E stuff, so that limits how well known they are outside those circles now.)
Huh. That title would 100% have stopped me even looking at it, but it does sound pretty interesting looking at it now. Of course I might just have disagreed with one of their conclusions and got really mad with it lol.
 

OakenHart

Adventurer
I've used LevelUp content in our 5e games. Mostly the monsters (the LevelUp monster book is fantastic, by the way).

A lot of people who typically don't get 3P stuff but like Eberron have gotten the Keith Baker Eberron books from DM's Guild. I also picked those up print-on-demand, myself. Obviously the DM's Guild stuff is not OGL but a different agreement, which is what I'm sure this thread is more based around due to the recent stuff, but it's still 3rd party.

Other people who've DMed in my group have used 3rd party setting books, and other lore material.
 

Nebulous

Legend
I've used LevelUp content in our 5e games. Mostly the monsters (the LevelUp monster book is fantastic, by the way).
The LU MM is just FUN to read! I don't think I have enjoyed reading a monster manual that much in many, many years. I hope any new 3PP manual moving forward uses a similar format. It adds in encounter size, treasure, combat strategy, morale parameters and more, plus really interesting lore.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Huh. That title would 100% have stopped me even looking at it, but it does sound pretty interesting looking at it now. Of course I might just have disagreed with one of their conclusions and got really mad with it lol.
For world building, it is really a cut above. Helps with a lot of the finer details, like "how many cobblers would this city of 100,000 have? How many farmingnvillahes are necessary for there to be a city of 100,000?"
 


Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
Huh. That title would 100% have stopped me even looking at it, but it does sound pretty interesting looking at it now. Of course I might just have disagreed with one of their conclusions and got really mad with it lol.
Their conclusions were derived from 3E DMG world creation math, which even at the time, people raised their eyebrows at a bit. But their explicit intention in the book -- which they talk about within the book -- is to try and make it all make sense with actual medieval economics and political and religious institutions.

Ironically, even though it was for 3E, its vibe is very OSR, so I guess it's no surprise that they went back to 1E once that was an option for publishers.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Their conclusions were derived from 3E DMG world creation math, which even at the time, people raised their eyebrows at a bit. But their explicit intention in the book -- which they talk about within the book -- is to try and make it all make sense with actual medieval economics and political and religious institutions.

Ironically, even though it was for 3E, its vibe is very OSR, so I guess it's no surprise that they went back to 1E once that was an option for publishers.
And the 5E DMG actually puts it int eh bibliography for anyone who wants to go into independence worldbuildijg, rather than replicate the 3E assumptions again.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
I missed that. That's awesome. I remember back in the day, Monte Cook said he viewed it as deserving to sit alongside the 3E DMG.
The PHB recommended reading list gets a lot more discussion, probably because it consists of D&D relevant fiction that people love and nobody reads the DMG. Bit the 5E FMG is pretty cool, includes stuff like MGS and Grimtooth's Traps.

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The PHB recommended reading list gets a lot more discussion, probably because it consists of D&D relevant fiction that people love and nobody reads the DMG. Bit the 5E FMG is pretty cool, includes stuff like MGS and Grimtooth's Traps.

View attachment 272669
Ok so I'm reading this list and nodding along, then I see multiple EGG books and I start to get worried, and then we have... an outlier, an interloper. Just as I feared.

A book I do not believe the person who made this list has read (or not in the last 30 years).

A book I do not believe anyone should ever read, unless they want to get quite angry or need to do research on really badly-written DM-related books.

A book that is at odds with probably every other book on this list.


Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax (1987)


I can believe maybe whoever wrote this list flicked through it, or looked at the table of contents, or even read the beginning of the book (where it initially seems merely dated, with claims like RPGs "necessarily" have "lengthy and complex" rules), but once you get into the nitty-gritty of it, it contains just absolutely toxic-waste grade terrible advice of the "purely adversarial playing and DMing" school of thought. Anyone who reads that and follows the advice will become a worse DM, a worse player, a worse human being. This is a book so profoundly bad that even Gary Gygax himself, a very flawed human being, disavowed the advice in it and said he didn't follow the advice given even at the time he wrote it. It's book bad enough that when I read it, aged all of 12 years old, I knew even from my limited DMing experience, that it was absolute rubbish, advice-wise. I remember being tempted to just leave it at the doctor's office where it finally broke me when I was reading it (literally so vivid is my memory of "this is godawful" that I'm 44 and I can remember where I was sitting when I felt it lol).

What's particularly odd is that there is an extremely excellent (far shorter) book on the same subject, which, at least for less-experienced DMs (which Role-Player Mastery is targeted at), covers the same ground, was written decades later, and is by another author on the list - Robin D. Laws - Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering. It's only 33 pages and it's only good advice.

To be clear there's basically nothing about actual role-playing in "Role-Playing Mastery". That is not the subject of the book lol.

(I believe I have been, as the kids used to say, "triggered" lol)
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Ok so I'm reading this list and nodding along, then I see multiple EGG books and I start to get worried, and then we have... an outlier, an interloper. Just as I feared.

A book I do not believe the person who made this list has read (or not in the last 30 years).

A book I do not believe anyone should ever read, unless they want to get quite angry or need to do research on really badly-written DM-related books.

A book that is at odds with probably every other book on this list.


Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax (1987)


I can believe maybe whoever wrote this list flicked through it, or looked at the table of contents, or even read the beginning of the book (where it initially seems merely dated, with claims like RPGs "necessarily" have "lengthy and complex" rules), but once you get into the nitty-gritty of it, it contains just absolutely toxic-waste grade terrible advice of the "purely adversarial playing and DMing" school of thought. Anyone who reads that and follows the advice will become a worse DM, a worse player, a worse human being. This is a book so profoundly bad that even Gary Gygax himself, a very flawed human being, disavowed the advice in it and said he didn't follow the advice given even at the time he wrote it. It's book bad enough that when I read it, aged all of 12 years old, I knew even from my limited DMing experience, that it was absolute rubbish, advice-wise. I remember being tempted to just leave it at the doctor's office where it finally broke me when I was reading it (literally so vivid is my memory of "this is godawful" that I'm 44 and I can remember where I was sitting when I felt it lol).

What's particularly odd is that there is an extremely excellent (far shorter) book on the same subject, which, at least for less-experienced DMs (which Role-Player Mastery is targeted at), covers the same ground, was written decades later, and is by another author on the list - Robin D. Laws - Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering. It's only 33 pages and it's only good advice.

To be clear there's basically nothing about actual role-playing in "Role-Playing Mastery". That is not the subject of the book lol.

(I believe I have been, as the kids used to say, "triggered" lol)
Having read other books by Gygax, I will believe you. However, I would wager that Mearls, Crawfordor Wyatt had read the book...and given that it must be out of print, maybe that was a gag inclusion for a via negativa learning experience for anyone who actually tracked ot down...?
 

Having read other books by Gygax, I will believe you. However, I would wager that Mearls, Crawfordor Wyatt had read the book...and given that it must be out of print, maybe that was a gag inclusion for a via negativa learning experience for anyone who actually tracked ot down...?
I'd put better odds on not having read it (I assume EGG's other books are less dreadful - certainly the DMing advice in Dangerous Journeys wasn't particularly bad that I recall, and I tend to recall bad DMing advice*) or having read it so long ago, deep in an era when adversarial DMing (and playing!) was still consider cool beans, that they'd forgotten myself, but I agree that we cannot rule out that possibility!

* = For example, a number of books for Storytellers for Vampire 1E/2E had terrible advice, because they focused on BadWrongFun/One-True-Wayism and IIRC possibly even encouraged boundary-pushing.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I'd put better odds on not having read it (I assume EGG's other books are less dreadful - certainly the DMing advice in Dangerous Journeys wasn't particularly bad that I recall, and I tend to recall bad DMing advice*) or having read it so long ago, deep in an era when adversarial DMing (and playing!) was still consider cool beans, that they'd forgotten myself, but I agree that we cannot rule out that possibility!

* = For example, a number of books for Storytellers for Vampire 1E/2E had terrible advice, because they focused on BadWrongFun/One-True-Wayism and IIRC possibly even encouraged boundary-pushing.
It is a pretty odd list, I have to say, and not nearly as clear why they included stiff as the PHB one. Like, why is Le Morte De Aethur DM inspiration particularly...?
 

Like, why is Le Morte De Aethur DM inspiration particularly...?
My guess? Because it's a nigh-endless saga of foolhardy, impetuous, blow-hard adventurers (who take themselves extremely seriously) and bizarre stuff happening to them, that fits a lot better with D&D and RPGs in general than an awful lot of "cleaner" fantasy fiction takes.

That is 100% a guess though.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
My guess? Because it's a nigh-endless saga of foolhardy, impetuous, blow-hard adventurers (who take themselves extremely seriously) and bizarre stuff happening to them, that fits a lot better with D&D and RPGs in general than an awful lot of "cleaner" fantasy fiction takes.

That is 100% a guess though.
That matches with Under the Black Flag, which I've read. It's a great book on the actual historical society of Caribbean pirates, how pirate ships functioned and how it all eventually came crashing down. Extremely gamable stuff.
 

I use a lot of third-party stuff for 5E. Tonight alone: My homebrew campaign setting is a mashup of the "Seas of Vodari" campaign setting by Tribality Games (maps, setting, rules, subclasses, feats, and spells) and elements from Mystara: Red Steel (maps, lore, magic items), and I use several map packs, monster books, token libraries, and NPCs from the Roll20 Marketplace.
It's been a tough week, nice to hear you're finding Vodari useful for your game.
 

I have no idea how I would be able to run my 5e games with only WotC materials. I'd have a very small selection of player options, maps, magic items, adventures, and DM tools to draw from for my homebrew campaigns. I also run my online games using Roll20. Kobold Press, Griffon's Saddlebag, Nord Games, Mage Hand Press, Rolled & Told, and countless other 3rd party creators have stretched 5e for me.

Being locked into D&D Beyond's VTT with a small official selection of tokens and maps sounds limiting and likely as much fun as having to buy overpriced skins in a video game.
 

My guess? Because it's a nigh-endless saga of foolhardy, impetuous, blow-hard adventurers (who take themselves extremely seriously) and bizarre stuff happening to them, that fits a lot better with D&D and RPGs in general than an awful lot of "cleaner" fantasy fiction takes.

That is 100% a guess though.

One thing I have found with material like Le Morte d'Arthur is they are often more conducive to inspiration for adventures than modern fantasy novels. I am less familiar with Le More d'Arthur than I would like to be, but my memory of it is very short chapters that each capture something that feels pulled out of folklore and that is a pretty good resource. Whereas a fantasy novel will often tell a longer story that takes more time to get at some RPG inspiration. At least for me. My favorite resource is Strange Tales from the Chinese Studio by Pu Songling. Some of those stories are just a page long, some ten or more pages. But they all each have a strong kernel of inspiration (these are all anomaly accounts, but they are very much like reading a book of folklore).

These days I tend to go more towards folklore and legends for inspiration than novels. Part of the reason is I can randomly pick a story from something like Pu Songling and immediately have an adventure idea.

Also I don't know how it was for others when they were kids but when I was young, we had tons of books that were based on Le Morte d'Arthur, but not the actual Le Morte d'Arthur. I remember having quite a few nice books about king arthur and his knights that were essentially easier to digest versions of Le Morte d'Arthur. So if you liked fantasy and got into D&D, it was pretty hard not to be influenced by it even if you never tried to read Le Morte d'Arthur itself. Also Excalibur was really influential in the gaming community in the 80s and 90s.
 

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