A photo of an open leather journal, with a set of blue and silver dice and a wooden carved pencil sitting on a blank page.

All you need to play most TTRPG games is the basic rules handbook. For Dungeons and Dragons in particular, this expands to include both the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide – simply because DnD uses a somewhat elaborate character creation system, with more stats and in-depth rules than many games. But most games, including DnD, also sell supplemental books and content, both fan made and official.

If you’re looking for more content for your table, they’re a great source of inspiration and content! But they can be a little difficult to start navigating, especially if you’re looking into making some of your own.

 

How RPG Supplements Work

RPG Supplements usually take a few different forms: modules, worldbuilding, and raw content.

Raw Content

A digital file showing a piece of "raw content" supplemental material - titled "Glass Weapons".

Raw Content supplements are collections of gameplay material that can be used with the basic information already provided by the rulebooks. These are things like monster stat blocks, extra features and spells, or new classes and races.

You might sometimes find collections of these available for a higher price, but they’re also pretty common as small, individual freebies on social media.

 

Worldbuilding

A photo of the cover of "The Two Swords", a novel in the Drizzt series, which took place in and featured the Icewind Dale D and D location. It shows a dark elf with white hair in a green cloak leaping against a light background

Worldbuilding supplements are new locations and settings that can be used with the rule system that a game provides – think Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, or the Swordcoast. These usually come with maps, histories, and organizations that can be used to craft campaigns without the actual storylines themselves being presented.

They usually include some raw content and rules exclusive to the module. Setting-specific races, monsters, and subclasses are common.

 

Modules

A digital image of a scene from "Curse of Strahd", an officially published campaign module for D and D. It shows a young woman in a red cloak fighting wolves in a misty forest, with a mysterious figure behind them.

A module supplement is a pre-written adventure that you can run pretty much as-is (think Curse of Strahd or Storm Kind's Thunder). It’ll outline the monsters for your party to fight, places for them to go, and a plotline for them to follow!

Sometimes these will come with new content (usually monsters), or provide worldbuilding and setting information, but not always. Particularly good ones will naturally introduce the players and the DM to the location and backstory necessary for the adventure, while more bare-bones ones may intend for you to layer the adventure with your own backstory and content.

 

Are Paid Fan-made RPG Supplements Legal?

About 90% of the time, yes.

Official supplements are available for a lot of games, including Dungeons and Dragons. And even if they aren’t, pretty much all games are written under the Open Gaming License, which allows for publication of supplemental materials, and even new games, so long as they don’t violate specific trademarks (such as artwork or particular terms).

Official publishers aren’t the happiest about this, but the fact is that you can’t actually copyright the way in which a game is played, and many of their concepts come from folklore and popular culture anyway. So long as you aren’t using something that’s especially unique to a game (like, say, Count Strahd), you should be fine to either purchase or even publish your own as “system compatible content”.

If you do want to find content that uses DnD trademark content, like a new town for Icewind Dale, your best bet is DMsGuild. It’s run by DnD’s publishers and allows you to publish content that might otherwise violate their copyright. They do, however, take a portion of the profit.

 

Great RPG Supplements for DnD

Dungeons and Dragons, in particular, is known for its active community and frequent publication of supplemental content. Here are some of my favorite supplemental RPG books for DnD:

 

Official

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden

The alternate cover for the Rime of the Frostmaiden D and D campaign module. It shows a stylizes owl head with horns in front of a patterned blue background.

Rime of the Frostmaiden is something of a combination setting/module supplement. It outlines an adventure that takes characters exploring the frozen north, testing their endurance and mettle against Duergar, the Goddess of Frost, and a forgotten magical ruin. It’s one of the best long-form campaign modules that WotC (the DnD company) has put out, to date.

You can buy it here

Candlekeep Mysteries

The alternate cover for Candlekeep Mysteries modules book. It has detailed gold patterning across the red cover, which looks like patterning one might see on an old victorian novel.

This is (at time of writing) the most recent publication of WoTC. It’s a collection of small, independent modules, centered around a great library called Candlekeep.

If you’re looking for one or two session ideas, it’s a great place to go to.

You can buy it here

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

The alternate cover of Tasha's Cauldron of Everything sourcebook. It shows a watercolor painting of a woman with dark hair on a light background.

If you aren’t looking for a setting or a module, just new rules and content, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is a good choice. It contains various supplemental subclasses, races, and rulesets that can be used with pretty much any campaign.

Some are original to the book, while others are collected from modules and settings that happen to contain location-specific content.

You can buy it here

 

Fan-made

DMsGuild, Patreon, and DriveThroughRPG have tons of fan-made content that you can check out. There are some of my favorites on DMsGuild:

Splendors and Shadow

The cover of Splendors and Shadow sourcebook. It shows a blimp above a victorian city, with large stylized text above it with the name of the book.

If you’re like me, and never left your middle school steampunk phase, and can’t seem to find a good steampunk rpg, layering it over the established Dungeons and Dragons rules and setting works pretty well as a stand-in. These rules allow you to bring your players forward into an industrial steam-powered setting while maintaining all of the magic and fantasy of traditional DnD.

You can buy it here

Adventures in Ravenloft

The cover of Adventures in Ravenloft. It shows a pale man riding a black horse with faming hooves and mane away from a dark forest.

If you really like Curse of Strahd, but have already finished that particular campaign, there’s still lots of fun to be had in the horror setting of Ravenloft (if you aren't familiar with it, imaging a fantasy-flavored Transylvania). This particular collection of modules includes 10 adventures in that setting for you and your party to fight your way through.

You can buy it here

GKF Presents: 8 Prestige Classes

The cover of the Prestige Classes document. It's a plain page with the DMsGuild logo and the title of the document and legal jargon.

Fans of 3e and 3.5e often miss the customizability of previous editions. One way that was achieved was through the use of Prestige Classes – classes you can work toward and take once you’ve established certain prerequisites with your normal class. They aren’t included in the normal 5e rules, but this supplement collection includes several that you can include in your games, if you so choose!

You can buy it here

 

 

If you have any favorite supplements, or supplemental material of your own that you'd like to share - please leave a comment below with it! We're always looking for more!

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