I just learned that Ghosts of Saltmarsh apparently has a section called "Of Ships and the Sea", presumably developed from the Unearthed Arcana of the same name. I generally don't buy adventure books unless I'm planning to run that actual adventure — but it occurs to me that these rules might come in handy should my players in a different game decide to venture into the ocean. I learned about this because I happened across a review:

But it also has just as much info on how to navigate the sea according to 5e rules, the dangers that await, weather conditions and health issues, the creatures that inhabit it, and all the mechanics in-between. If you’re a DM and you want to create an adventure in the ocean, D&D just gave you every tool you’ll ever need to make it happen on your own terms. That’s one hell of an addition to the game that a lot of people who deal with seaside adventures will gladly take advantage of.

This seems pretty significant — in previous editions this might have been a section of the Dungeon Master's Guide, or a DMG II, or a book specifically for adventuring in a that type of environment. This time around, it seems like they're tying the publishing of this kind of rules expansion to adventure hardcovers.

So, this has me wondering. What other adventures published for 5E by WotC have significant rule sections like this? I don't mean lists of magic items, monsters, or character options (such as races, subclasses, and spells), but rather specific rules that might be useful in any campaign.

Or, perhaps, what's an easy way to find all such possible rules without looking through every published adventure, or just knowing?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't all published adventures have rules and features usable outside of that adventure? Things like backgrounds, creatures, magic items? \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jun 26 '19 at 22:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Magic items and creatures are kind of expected — and as mentioned that's not really the kind of thing I mean. Backgrounds kind of fall into that too, although as a practical matter the backgrounds given in this way so far tend to be pretty narrowly around theme of the adventure. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jun 26 '19 at 22:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ And actually, there happens to be a pretty easy way to look for those things — on D&D Beyond, monsters, backgrounds, and magic items are all listed as separate purchase options. But there's no "get this rules chapter without the adventure". \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jun 26 '19 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ But I'm okay with leaving that out here if it somehow helps with the site's inscrutable unwritten rules of what can and can't be a question. :-/ \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jun 27 '19 at 9:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ And I guess I would also be interested if there is "Player's Handbook Lite" content too, like the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide or Elemental Evil Player's Companion that for some reason didn't get published separately (but I'm pretty sure there isn't, so that's kind of academic). \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jun 27 '19 at 10:06

Ghosts of Saltmarsh is the only published 5e adventure module with extended optional rules.

Non-adventure books with extended rules beyond the PHB/MM/DMG include

  • Volo's Guide to Monsters: seven playable races plus rules for various "monstrous" humanoids as player races
  • Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes: expanded options for a number of races from the PHB, plus gith
  • the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide: backgrounds, options for several of the PHB races
  • Xanathar's Guide to Everything: subclasses, racial feats, spells, and "grab bag" of DMG-like rules for traps, encounters, downtime, and more
  • the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron: setting-specific races, backgrounds, and feats
  • the Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica: mostly setting-specific races and backgrounds, subclasses for druid and cleric, and one (!) spell
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    \$\begingroup\$ What sort of extended rules are you talking about in your second sentence about the non-core sourcebooks? Are you talking about races, subraces, subclasses, and spells? If so, OP has now clarified that that's not the sort of content they mean. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 26 '19 at 23:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Didn't the elemental evils book include a few new races and a decent number of elemental spells? \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Jun 27 '19 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Xanathar's at least (the only one of the listed books I have access to) has plenty of content largely in the DM Tools section that seem to be relevant to the question - much more detailed rules for the various tools characters can acquire, and for downtime activities, for example. \$\endgroup\$ – Ty Hayes Jun 27 '19 at 12:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000: Princes of the Apocalypse, yes. I believe the EEPC reprints all the races and spells that were in it. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 27 '19 at 12:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TyHayes Yes. Xanathar's is basically presented as such, though, so it's not really a surprise. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jun 27 '19 at 15:47

The recently published Acquisitions Incorporated book has extended rules for running a (mercenary) franchise, I'm not sure if that counts.

It includes stuff like HQ Type (horse carriages, taverns, inns, airships, castles, etc), territory size, number of staff, HQ features (cosmetic, defensive, weapons, arcane), operational costs, setting staff assignments and orders, and downtime activities.

There appears to be a rule for passive moneymaking, that requires you to roll 91+ on a d100 check every 30 in game days. Your total is also increased by 1 for each day you dedicate an adventurer or staff member to fully running the franchise, so if you can dedicate 3 people to this task, you instantly have a -150% operational cost modifier at the end of the month.

You're granted powerful player options (which can be used in other campaigns) for being a part of the franchise, and it provides a useful money sink in the late game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah this is kind of a weird one, as there is an adventure included but it's really a setting book. And the franchise rules are very specific to Acquisitions Inc — they could be adapted to something else but are far from drop-in. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jun 27 '19 at 10:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ It makes it easier to insert Acquisitions Incorporated into other adventures, though. Adapting it to some other company might take a bit of work. \$\endgroup\$ – Agent-KI7KO Jun 27 '19 at 10:23

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