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Card art for Tiamat from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set of Magic: The Gathering Cards. Image: Tyler Jasobson/Wizards of the Coast

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The best D&D gift ideas for fans, players, and Dungeon Masters

Dice, books, and a few surprises for the RPG player in your life

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Shopping for the Dungeons & Dragons fan in your life can be daunting, especially if you don’t know all that much about how the 50-year-old role-playing game even works. Allow us to help guide your hand toward some of the best options for all kinds of players — as well as fans of popular D&D shows like Critical Role. We’ve even included a handy table of contents that will bring you straight to the right section for you.


Beginners

The latest starter set for D&D, Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle ($19.99), is a lean little item. It’s the new gold standard for onboarding new players, complete with comprehensive pre-generated character sheets and all the rules you need to get from level 1 to level 3 — plus a decent little adventure to boot. I said lean, though, and I meant it. Toss away the chunky cardboard spacer inside and there’s not all that much material left inside the box.

A much more substantial offering is the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit ($24.99). Even though it was released in 2019, it’s no less up-to-date that Dragons of Stormwreck Isle. Both are based on the same book, 2014’s Player’s Handbook ($22.95), and both contain the same core rules. But the Essentials Kit adds three extra d6 dice (for traditional, old-school character generation), plus a thick stack of cards for keeping track of things like magic items, conditions, and initiative — all key concepts for D&D.

The Essentials Kit also comes with rules for sidekicks — rules-light characters that can help fill out the table if all you have is a budding DM and one or two eager players.

Experienced players

If someone you love is neck-deep in an ongoing D&D campaign, then there are a ton of options to help them have more fun at the table.

A Character Journal ($16.99 hardcover, $9.95 paperback) is an excellent upgrade for regular players. The cleverly-named Dandy Beyond makes them in a host of colors that are easily found online.

Wooden accessories are another excellent gift option — things like rolling trays, dice vaults, and more. We’ve had experience with several manufacturers over the years and can happily vouch for Michigan-based Dog Might Games and Elderwood Academy, as well as Massachusetts-based Wyrmwood Gaming. All offer exceptional values — up to and including high-end custom items that might take a few weeks or months to customize. Best to get your orders in soon.

Another great gift for regular RPG players would be dice, which are nearly a dime a dozen online. To really get a feel for all the different varieties that are available, I recommend heading on down to your friendly local game store to roll a few around. There are also plenty of other options for slightly more high-end offerings. Check out Dispel Dice ($60 and up) and Level Up Dice ($75 and up) for several examples.

Dungeon Masters

D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast launched several new products for Dungeon Masters this year that have largely gone under the radar. I’ve been messing around with them for a few months now, and I’m a big fan.

First, any DM who meets regularly with their players in person should have the D&D Campaign Case: Terrain ($64.99) at their disposal. This hefty little kit contains 30 double-sided, interlocking terrain tiles that can easily be used to create interior or exterior environments. There are also five sheets of plastic clings, displaying features like rubble, traps, and treasure — de rigueur stuff you’ll encounter in just about any adventure. The whole package comes bundled inside a sturdy box, which even sports its own rope handle.

The D&D Campaign Case: Creatures ($64.99) perfectly complements the Terrain case with an assortment of flat, poker chip-style tokens and an assortment of plastic clings to use as decoration for them. What’s nice about this set is that it comes with plenty of duplicate beasties, so DMs can easily field an entire fighting force to go up against their heroes. Not finding the right monsters inside the case for your campaign? With some printer paper and a little Blu Tack, you can get a lot of mileage out of this set — which also comes in a nice box with a rope handle for easy transport.

Want to go that extra mile? Consider picking up some supplements for your DM on Dungeon Master’s Guild, an online shop run by Wizards and OneBookShelf that offers PDF materials and print-on-demand hard copies of its books. Their Adamantine Metal Products list is where the good stuff is, but you’ll want to know a little bit more about what kind of campaign your DM is running before you get spendy. If you’re strapped for time or trying to gift a surprise, you can always go for the Level Up 5th Edition: Adventurer’s Guide, which is full-to-bursting with optional systems and rules to keep things interesting at the table.

Is your DM one to go above and beyond with their storytelling? Then you might want to opt for something a little more cerebral. The Quiet Year ($8.00) is a storytelling game that allows players to collaboratively build a world together. It’s a great way to begin a new homebrew campaign.

On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes it’s nice to end a campaign with an emotional bang. Everest Pipkin’s World Ending Game ($15.00) will do just that. From our preview story:

World Ending Game is character-focused. Meant to be used as a tool for managing the end of things in tabletop worlds, it slots right into games like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder as well as the wide world of tabletop beyond. These kinds of games are played in a character-centered way, and figuring out how to let go of those characters, to let them pass into some other phase of their life beyond the campaign that you have played, is often hard to do.

Game books

Click on the title for a preview and/or an excerpt. All prices taken at time of publication.

Dungeons & Dragons Rules Expansion Gift Set ($117.16)

Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep ($29.99)

Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse ($32.81)

Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel ($28.99)

Spelljammer: Adventures in Space ($46.88)

Novels and other books

Click on the title for a preview and/or an excerpt. All prices taken at time of publication.

New Drizzt novels: Starlight Enclave ($18.49) and Glacier’s Edge ($21.30)

New Dragonlance novel: Dragons of Deceit ($19.51)

New Critical Role novels: Kith & Kin ($13.64) and The Nine Eyes of Lucien ($24.99)

Cookbook: Heroes’ Feast ($22.30)

History: Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons ($16.59)

Beyond D&D

Looking for something completely different? Mix things up for your gaming group with these decidedly non-D&D options that offer up totally different rules and settings. Click on the title for a preview and/or an excerpt. All prices taken at time of publication.

Blades in the Dark ($24.99): Lead a band of scoundrels through the haunted streets of an industrial-fantasy city unlike any other in gaming. The campaign-focused game is a masterclass in improvisation.

.dungeon ($10): A rules-light romp through your favorite media. If it’s on your shelf or lodged somewhere inside your mind, it’s fair game for this meta-textual cyberspace adventure.

Mothership ($14.99): A grim, dark spacefaring adventure where characters are unlikely to make it out alive. Aliens, event horizons, and more await you in this torturous game.

Trophy Dark ($15): High fantasy and horror are intertwined in this elegant indie game.

Wanderhome ($45): A Redwall-inspired setting with cozy animal folk, pastoral fantasy, and introspective storytelling.

Zweihander Fantasy Horror RPG Starter Set ($29.99): A hefty, durable box filled with posters, maps, handouts, and 100 pages of the meatiest new tabletop RPGs to come out in years. Not for the faint of heart.

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