What Are The Greatest Ever D&D Books For Inspiring Adventures?

Will Doyle

For 4E, the Underdark book is particularly good. Of all their setting books, it's the one that made me want to drop everything and immediately run an Underdark campaign.

In 3E, I particularly liked Frostburn and Sandstorm. Those books gave me some of the best campaigns I've even run.

In general, I find flicking through Ultimate Toolbox just before a session is consistently helpful.

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First Post
1st Edition AD&D - The original grey Forgotten Realms boxed set. The amount of fluff and hidden odds and ends about the world were incredible and inspired a lot of my initial days as a dungeon master.

2nd Edition AD&D - The Forgotten Realms deity books... still the best written fantasy religion breakdowns I have ever read. I wish any following edition took their setting's gods so seriously and provided them such detail. Even for my homebrew world, I used these books as a model for its mythology.

The Van Richten's Guide series for Ravenloft. Not only was it full of interesting stories and crunch, it breathed new life into old gothic tropes.

3rd Edition D&D - The Ravenloft Gazetteers by Sword & Sorcery Studios. These books were amazing, and you could tell the love for the setting that was poured into them. Written from a narrative standpoint with all the crunchy bits in the back, it made the Dread Domains feel like a living, breathing world. I was actually kind of pissed when WotC took the license back away from these guys.

4th Edition - I am sorry to say, for as willing as I was to give this system the old college try as a learning point for my kids, I found none of it inspirational. That's why I went to...

Pathfinder - I have to pick one? Frankly, the writing on this line is fantastic. Some of the smaller splat books are hit and miss; I'm not fond of writers who approach D&D material in a textbook format. But almost every supplement has some bit of lore, short story, or dossier that brings story ideas to mind.


Although I'm not especially a fan of the old Wilderness Survival Guide, I certainly agree tha tthe 3.5 environment focus groups were dreadfully disappointing.

I'm inclined to agree, but I was surprised by how much I liked Frostburn. If I hadn't burned out completely on 3.x at that point, my next campaign likely would have been there. It just inspired me.

Let's see, other books...

BECMI: Although my taste runs more toward B/X or LL these days, the Mentzer version of the Expert book has lots of great ideas for some town and wilderness adventures. Some of the gazetteers are good for ideas as well.

1e: My favorite book, hands down, is the 1e DMG. In a pinch, I roll on the City Encounter table and the session sometimes just writes itself. The box set for the original Grey Hawk and the Old Gray Box (tm) for the Forgotten Realms still get my creative juices flowing.

4e: I'm not the biggest fan of 4e, but the Monster Vault: Threats to the NV was great. Good setting stuff, good adventure seeds, and great monsters.


I kind of like Frostburn. Despite the fact, that it really isn't a good book and there's barely anything in it that I would use.

Swedish Chef

I enjoyed the original grey box for Forgotten Realms and the 3ed FRCS.

I don't know why, specifically, but FR1 Waterdeep and the North was my "go-to" book for inspiration for a long time. I liked it so much at the time that I bought a second copy and it is still sealed in the original shrinkwrap! :eek:


In former times, I really liked Keep on the Borderlands, Dungeon magazine and the 2e module, The Silver Key.

For 3e, the Greyhawk Gazetteer, The Vault of Larin Karr and Mesopotmaia are still on the shelf, along with Dungeon.

For 4e, I bought Hammerfast, even though I don't play 4e. But, I'm a sucker for dwarven-themed adventures and settings.

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