What's the best and worst D&D book you own from any edition?

JeffB

Adventurer
Are we talking strictly rulebooks? If so...

OD&D-
Best= Greyhawk, despite the Thief and Paladin, it really opened up the game otherwise.

Worst= Blackmoor: God awful rules variants. But TotF and Steve Marsh's/Tim Kask's monster additions help it from being complete garbage.

Honorable Mention for Best- Original Holmes edited Basic Set. AD&D Monster Manual (this is a OD&D supplement, mechanically)

B/X/BECMI-Different games in their presentation of style of play , but I'm lumping them together for brevity

Best= Moldvay/Cook/MArsh B & X booklets. My fave edition of the game ever. Clear, concise, fantastic presentation of the ruleset.

Worst=Companion Set. Huge disappointment. Shelved, never used.

AD&D
Best= 1E DMG- as an in game reference, not great. As a work of DM advice and inspiration? Amazing.

Worst=Most of the bad hardcover books came out long after I had given up on D&D for RQ and other RPGS, so for early titles-Fiend Folio: Amazing cover that totally blew me away the day it arrived on bookshelves- Full of mostly crap monsters I never used.

AD&D2- I came into this later in it's life
Best=Monstrous Manual

Worst=2.5 hardcovers.
Dishonorable Mention=Tome of Magic

D&D 3.0
Best=Manual of the Planes (I tire of what has become of the Great Wheel post Gary, but this is a good read)

Worst=PLayer's Handbook. Like all WOTC books, here we have the beginning if the "lacks an Author's voice " problem which makes for a horrible un-inspiring read. Hate the presentation/aesthetic.
Dishonorable Mention= DMG. Horrible advice about making the game your own because everything is countered with 'you probably will break your game'. The Yeah, thats great, but... DMG. Only useful for full blown NPC stats and some magic items.

D&D 3.5
Best=I don't have a best here for rules. The only thing I still own is Secret's of Xen'drik

Worst= The entire 3.5 change. So PHB,DMG, MM.

D&D 4.0
Best= DMG 1. A DMG that's actually great at teaching a DM how to be a DM on the creative side (Some of which reprinted in the 5E MM) , and at the table, and tools you need.

Honorable Mention=Monster Manual 1. For finally making all the boring monsters interesting in combat, all the samey monsters different in combat, and self contained stat blocks. Yay! I'm fine with the minimal fluff. I grew up with OD&D monster descriptions. I also like the knowledge check mechanics to figure out the lore.

Worst=I prefer the Essentials changes in nearly every way, but in retrospect Monster Vault sacrificed it's word count too much in the direction of fluff. It sorely lacks a variety of creatures. Overcompensation.

D&D 5.0
Best= DMG. Solid guide for a DM on the creative side and the table side., good presentation of Magic Items, and nice section at the end with rules variants (could be bigger though, as implied through the playtest).

Worst= Monster Manual for it's huge step backwards to earlier edition non self contained statblocks which require referencing the PHB for spells, and removal of interesting monster powers/combat abilities in the name of simplicity (hint for WOTC , you can keep monsters simple in the stat block, AND make them interesting combat encounters, check out 13th Age Monsters for a textbook example)

Dishonorable mention=Volo's. In the buildup I figured I would be all over this. After spending roughly 2 hours with it, back on the shelf- it's like the Fiend Folio was for me in 1E, except I was smart enough this time around not to purchase it first.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
My absolute favorite is 2e Creative Campaigning. Lots of good advice and inspiration for games.

Other editions:

Basic - Rules Cyclopedia

1e - DMG

3e - Savage Species
The implementation was imperfect, but we had a lot of fun with this book nonetheless.

4e - Rules Compendium
It was a good rules reference, but I still reference the early chapters for inspiration from the Nentir Vale setting.

5e - PHB
The first book of my favorite edition.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
Best for me, hands down 2E FR Empires of the Shining Sea and Lands of Intrigue; I consider those one boxed set, or the former being a continuation of the latter. As far as campaign settings go, it doesnt get much better than those two IMO.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
P.S.: Epic handbook is pretty up there for worthless for me for the same reasons. It's a shame I was a completionist back then; I bought the autographed version (mainly for the Olidamara dice).
Epic Level Handbook was indeed useless and near if not the top of my most despised book. Favorite though? That's tough to say. I do have very fond memories of reading through the MM2 AD&D when I was young....and yes I still have it.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
That is mind blowing.

Also, I have got to stop reading this book any further, before I start punching the screen. Anyone that voted for any other book as 'The Worst D&D Book', including 'The book of Erotic Fantasy', is now officially wrong. Even the book of erotic fantasy is a masterpiece compared to the 'Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers'.
You do realize that the original question was in regards to the best/worst books you own.
Therefore I CANNOT be wrong in my answer.
Sure, 100% there's worse D&D books out there. (Ever hear of FATAL?) And I've read some of them. Or parts of some of them.
But they aren't in MY collection - physical or digital.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
I love this list just to see what people are saying. I so agree with the d&d rules cyclopedia. Your assessment of the 1E DMG shocks me. But to each his own. Love this thread.
From my point of view, I can't understand how anyone can find it good, let alone the best, other than perversity, ignorance, or nostalgia.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
From my point of view, I can't understand how anyone can find it good, let alone the best, other than perversity, ignorance, or nostalgia.
Mainly the prose. They have gotten better at writing dungeon masters guides over 40 years. Just remember Gygax didn’t have a template to improve upon.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Mainly the prose.
THat's the part I least comprehend the fixation with
They have gotten better at writing dungeon masters guides over 40 years.
I've played plenty of games that are now 30+ years old. the AD&D1E DMG before revision was outclassed by many games that predate it's 1979 release... including the Holmes Basic D&D.
Just remember Gygax didn’t have a template to improve upon.
That's both disingenuous and unlikely to be true...
Unlikely to be true as the AD&D DMG was being written in 1977-78, and the much better laid out, more clearly written, and much better at imparting information style of Classic Traveller was already on the market. Before the DMG's release, a better styled and better written RuneQuest 1E was out. And Starships & Spacemen - all of which were better organized, better worded for conveyance of the information... and that's also ignoring the much simpler Tunnels and Trolls, which, by 1976 was into 3rd edition, with Steve Jackson (not certain which) having modified into Monsters! Monsters!, which was a beautiful exemplar of well presented. Gygax would have to have been hiding to not have known of these, especially as they were advertised in Dragon.
And disingenuous, as the layout staff at TSR were doing a very professional bit of work on Dragon, and even on Strategic Review....

Apologetics for not meeting the editorial nor layout standards of the same company? does nothing to raise my opinion of Gygax...
 

Enrico Poli1

Explorer
I've already posted about my "best" choices.

Reading the comments made me remember the "worst" one. By far, it is Book of Exalted Deeds. No other product was so gross that made me want to sell it as soon as possible.
 
DMG 1e (AD&D)
Great writing ... And loved the dark tomb like feel with that artwork.

Honorable mention: Ravenloft orig.
And Dungeoneer’s Survival guide. (Orig. Deities as well...)
 
I feel prompted to list the worst books of my favorite edition(s) (3/3.5). I cant pick a single worst. Sorry. I can only par it down to a section. Too many bad ones to pick definitively.

First of all i must agree with the previous poster.
Exalted deeds actually makes my list. That out of the way, the list is:

Exalted deeds: i refuse to exalt this book. I disavow. (i have no idea why people bother saying bovd when boed exists. What complaints you have that are valid and many that you dont even make about bovd are as applicable or more to boed without fail and it is bad in so many more ways than bovd. Besides bovd is actually a pretty useful book when hamdled with care and boed generally doesnt even have that going for it. Its like its neutered retarded twin with chicken wings growing out of its divine ass.)

Oriental adventures: nails on chalkboard. This book really rubs me the wrong way. Also i dont like the content. I tried so hard to get into this book and be excited but just found myself bored. Eh...also just didnt like much about it. Also what an odd name.

Anything psionic: for the pure raw abyssal cancer. Get these things away from me. My body is not ready.
 

blueznl

Villager
Best and worst...

Best... either something Planescape (love that setting) or Ptolus (unfortunately I don't have an original print, I had to buy the PDF's and print them and have them bound in hardcovers, looks fantastic though). I also like the old AD&D 2e PHB, but that's probably just me.

Worst? Without a doubt the 2e Magic Encyclopedia. Worst product ever, probably. Utterly useless. Closely followed by most 4e stuff...
 

blueznl

Villager
What was so bad about the magic encyclopedia? Just curious.
Well, all it is is an index / price list. Admittedly, that's what it says on the back cover so I only have to blame myself buying it. It would have been a great book if the two thin volumes would have been combined into a thick hardcover, with descriptions of different variations. For example, a Death Rattle is worth 500 GP and described in AC04-059, but the book doesn't tell me what it does, what the difference is between a death rattle and a summoning rattle etcetera. And how is a violin / wine bottle rack magical in any way?

In other words, it's not an encyclopedia, it's an index. So yeah, as an index it's useful. As an encyclopedia? Not so.

(Heh. Coming to think of it, I can think of other bad products, it's just that this particular one was such a personal disappointment that it immediately came to mind, probably related to wrong expectations :cool:)
 
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R_J_K75

Explorer
Exalted deeds: i refuse to exalt this book. I disavow. (i have no idea why people bother saying bovd when boed exists. What complaints you have that are valid and many that you dont even make about bovd are as applicable or more to boed without fail and it is bad in so many more ways than bovd. Besides bovd is actually a pretty useful book when hamdled with care and boed generally doesnt even have that going for it. Its like its neutered retarded twin with chicken wings growing out of its divine ass.)
Have you ever actually used anything from the Book of Exalted Deeds?
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
How in the world....

Seriously, what was anyone involved in this project thinking?

There has been a ton of useless poorly written crap written for D&D over the years, but this goes straight to the bottom of that stack for being not only useless and poorly written but tasteless and offensive.

I can't even... I have no words. People's ability to imagine and create evil continually leaves me astounded.
To be fair, they knew it was shit, and poorly written, merely to get a rise out of people by "tweaking your nipples" and run away laughing.

 

Celebrim

Legend
To be fair, they knew it was shit, and poorly written, merely to get a rise out of people by "tweaking your nipples" and run away laughing.
Some people think kicking over apple carts and tripping old people is both funny and profound. But there is really no less self-aware response than, "I was just joking." It makes it worse, not better.
 

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