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5E Sword Coast Adventures v Xanathar's Guide

Jack Hooligan

Explorer
So, I'm currently running LMoP/SKT and plan to go ToA afterward. Beyond that maybe OotA or CoS. I don't know anything about the Forgotten Realms beyond what's in the D&D starter, PHB, and in the campaign books.

Do I need either of these FR supplement books or are they more for DM's who are rolling their own? Is there anything missing that would enrich the official adventures I'm running?
 

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Adamant

Explorer
You don't need xanathar's guide, that's pretty much all mechanical options with no lore. Your players would probably appreciate being able to use the subclasses in it though. Sword coast adventurer's guide has an overview of many regions along the west edge of the continent, but I'd imagine the campaign books would tell you enough about the areas you would actually be using that you wouldn't need another book. Sword coast adventurer's guide also has a few player options, but they're mostly not as cool as the ones in xanathar's(Booming/Green flame blade and bladesinger wizard being exceptions).
 


toucanbuzz

Adventurer
No, the PHB, DMG, and Monster Manual are all you need to run any of the modules, which are generically set for any fantasy world you want. Knowing lore about the Forgotten Realms isn't necessary at all.

Personally, I'd suggest getting Xanathar's Guide to Everything at some point because it adds a plethora of new character options for each class as well as clarifying rules (e.g. falling, observing spellcasting), more traps, more specific downtime, more detail on awarding magic items, and names tables. It also adds several spells, but in practice, I've found some to be unbalanced so caveat emptor. You won't need it to run anything and many features won't help you with prewritten adventures, but it gives your players some choices once they've gamed for a bit and want something fresh when making a character.

I never bought Sword Coast Adventures because it seemed a little skimpy on content, and I already had Realms books from prior editions (so I know the setting fairly well). I've been just fine without it.
 


CodeFlayer

Explorer
I find I am becoming quite attached to the art and prose of the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. I will often flip a few pages and find a another image that causes me to consider it a long while. I think it would be most useful to a DM in that world and very specific region desiring to know more about the cities and features (but which will only lead to more questions - so beware of that). It is a thinner book, but I find, for me, the art more than makes up for it.

XGE has fun new mechanical options for those inclined (which I am).

These are just my personal thoughts, and I have not read the entirety of these books. (disclaimer - not a 5e expert either).
 

Jack Hooligan

Explorer
i guess if I buy these two, I'm more likely to keep committing future games to the Forgotten Realms. If a DragonLance (my first love) 5e setting book comes out...I'm already neck deep in FR stuff. same with Dark Sun, Eberron, etc. I guess it's more a personal question...go all in with FR now and make the campaigns as rich as possible or just play each campaign book as is and wherever that takes us...
 


Li Shenron

Legend
You don't need either book.

Get Xanathar if you feel you've played 5e long enough that some of your players feel running short of options or character concepts, as it almost doubles the class archetypes, and also adds lesser additions. However it doesn't contain fantasy setting lore.

Don't get SCAG for character options (they're very few and some are reprinted in Xanathar) but rather for the FR lore. However, older editions books can give you a lot more lore for the bucks, if you don't mind that stats won't be usable in 5e. Any Forgotten Realms main book for an older edition has a lot more lore information than SCAG. 3e also had many FR regional books with lots of details.
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
I've bought like 12 5e books and Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (which I bought because I was DMing LMoP) is the only one I considered, on the whole, to be a bad product. Storm King's Thunder is really a better resource for actual DMing of adventures on the Sword Coast. Since you already have that I'd recommend just spending some time with forgottenrealms.fandom.com.

More importantly, just tell your players that this takes place in your version of the Forgotten Realms, so whatever they know from previous tabletop play, video games, or novels is irrelevant. Then make things up.

I do highly recommend Xanathar's Guide, but it has nothing to do with any of this.
 
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I would get
So, I'm currently running LMoP/SKT and plan to go ToA afterward. Beyond that maybe OotA or CoS. I don't know anything about the Forgotten Realms beyond what's in the D&D starter, PHB, and in the campaign books.

Do I need either of these FR supplement books or are they more for DM's who are rolling their own? Is there anything missing that would enrich the official adventures I'm running?
both, but the Sword Coast book is more valuable if you are just getting one of them.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
You don’t need either, but both are worthwhile. However, the lore in SCAG will be largely irrelevant to ToA, CoS, and OotA. It is highly relevant to SKT.

If I had to choose only one, I would go with Xanathar’s because the content there is more general and will be useful in any setting (including Dragonlance if they ever revisit it). SCAG is mostly very Forgotten Realms-specific, though as others have mentioned it does have some generally useful stuff (spells, and a few subclasses and racial options that weren’t reprinted in Xanathar’s.

SCAG is underrated imo. It’s well-written and a useful resource for FR-based adventures. But most of the adventures you’ve chosen don’t need it. Curse of Strahd isn’t set in Forgotten Realms, and though Out of the Abyss (Underdark) and Tomb of Annihilation (Chult) are, they’re not on the Sword Coast and with minimal editing could be placed in almost any campaign setting.
 

To clarify, despite the titular character "Xanathar" being from the Forgotten Realms, the book is in no way a Forgotten Realms book. I really want to emphasize this. There are books that are Forgotten Realms books, and those that are not. XGtE is one that is not. It's a general 5e game expansion, sort of an extra half of a PHB and an extra half of a DMG combined.

Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide is a Forgotten Realms book. However, it also has a plethora of information that is applicable to the general D&D multiverse that also includes Greyhawk and other previously published campaign settings. For instance, the non-human deities aren't Forgotten Realms exclusive. They are worshipped also in the Greyhawk setting, as well as hundreds of worlds in Spelljammer and Planescape. That being said, at this point, about the only reason to get it other than getting Forgotten Realms content would be to get the few exclusive class and spell options. Some of those are worth getting. In particular it includes the green flame blade and booming blade cantrips that they haven't reprinted anywhere, but I consider essential options warrior-mage types.

Along the same lines of Xanathar's Guide not being Forgotten Realms, Mordenkainan's Tome of Foes isn't Greyhawk, despite Mordenkainan being a Greyhawk character. It's a book that combines lots of information on the non-human typical PC races and their pantheons (re-presenting the material on those pantheons from SCAG, but with a different take on some of it), with some information on more exotic or monstrous planar creatures, and essentially the third monster manual for the game making up the second half.

The second monster manual is Volo's Guide to Monsters (another one that is setting inclusive despite having a named character, this time a Forgotten Realms one), which follows a similar setup to Mordenkainan's Tome of Foes, but with orcs, goblinoids and some classic monsters as the main types of creatures focused on in the first half of the book, and a chapter with a variety of stats for additional PC races (Mordenkainan's Tome of Foes also present a few new PC race options).

Interestingly, Ghosts of Saltmarsh actually is a Greyhawk book, although its touch is very light on anything outside of the adventures. And much like SCAG has some general character options at the end that aren't necessarily Forgotten Realms specific, GoS has a big set of ship and sea-faring rules that aren't specific to any setting.

D&D lore is a huge sprawling thing like comic book and sci-fi universes, so there's a lot to know. Just ask around if you aren't sure what is actually limited to a setting versus general D&D stuff.
 

So, I'm currently running LMoP/SKT and plan to go ToA afterward. Beyond that maybe OotA or CoS. I don't know anything about the Forgotten Realms beyond what's in the D&D starter, PHB, and in the campaign books.

Do I need either of these FR supplement books or are they more for DM's who are rolling their own? Is there anything missing that would enrich the official adventures I'm running?
Try Forgotten Realms Wiki.

The 3rd edition FR book is better than SCAG, but really the novels and/or computer games give you more idea of what the setting is like.

As mentioned, Xanathar's Guide is not about FR.

Just make stuff up if you like - there is no rule that everything has to match the official version (which is pretty messed up and contradictory anyway).
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I have both and both are good. Personally, I prefer books I can open and use to PDFs and online sites, but that's me. If you like books, get both. If you can only get one and you plan to go beyond the pre-written adventures, then the Sword Coast is the book to get as it will inform you about more of the area the PCs will be adventuring in.
 

Azzy

Newtype
So, I'm currently running LMoP/SKT and plan to go ToA afterward. Beyond that maybe OotA or CoS. I don't know anything about the Forgotten Realms beyond what's in the D&D starter, PHB, and in the campaign books.

Do I need either of these FR supplement books or are they more for DM's who are rolling their own? Is there anything missing that would enrich the official adventures I'm running?
In my opinion, you don't need either.

IF you plan to continue running in the Forgotten Realms, the Sword Cost Adventurers Guide is handy for both DMs and Players that want more information on the setting. It can help flesh out characters, cities, and such and provides information on the religions of the setting. It also includes new player options like new races, subclasses, and backgrounds along with four new cantrips.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything isn't a setting expansion. It's a rules expansion with lots of new subclasses, spells, and a few new feats. It also has some good stuff for DMs. It's not necessary, but if you want more options for your games, it's a great source.

That said, you don't need anything except for the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, the Monster Manual, and whatever adventure you want to run (if you don't create your own adventures). Everything else is optional and just icing on the cake.

I hope that helps and I wish you and your players good gaming and lots of fun.
 

Mistwell

Legend
So, I'm currently running LMoP/SKT and plan to go ToA afterward. Beyond that maybe OotA or CoS. I don't know anything about the Forgotten Realms beyond what's in the D&D starter, PHB, and in the campaign books.

Do I need either of these FR supplement books or are they more for DM's who are rolling their own? Is there anything missing that would enrich the official adventures I'm running?
This is what I am talking about when I say there is too much jargon used to discuss this hobby.

New players don't know what they mean. Often even old players don't know what the acronyms of all the adventures are.

It's not much more efficient. For example, LMoP/SKT is just Phandelver. It's about the same number of keys to hit, and fewer keys on a cell phone since you'd need to hit space and also hunt for that slash key on a second option screen.

Why do this? It excludes those who don't know what they mean, doesn't save time, doesn't enhance communication, why do so many people do this (it's not you Jack....tons of people do this)?
 

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