I've never played any table top D&D before. I am going to start playing the 5e edition with a group I've never played with before.

After reading the basic rules I want to become more familiar with the world. What should I do? Where do I start with reading the lores? On top of that, is there a novel / book that anyone can recommend that's an interesting read rather than just reading lores after lores?


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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you know if your DM is going to be using the default setting (Forgotten Realms) or one of his own creation? \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Aug 10 '14 at 19:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ D&D is a pretty flexible game. You'd be better off asking your DM for some recommended reading material as we can't know what sort of game he is running. \$\endgroup\$ – Quentin Aug 10 '14 at 19:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I got more update. We'll be playing "The Lost Mines of Phandelever". I am not sure if this is part of the Forgotten Realms or if it is something else. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirk Aug 11 '14 at 5:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, The Lost Mines of Phandelver are playing in the Forgotten Realms, in a region south of Neverwinter. There are a lot of Forgotten Realms novels out, but they play in different ages of that world, and you need to ask your DM what lore he considers canon. \$\endgroup\$ – Tobold Aug 11 '14 at 8:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Phandelver doesn't guarantee that the campaign is in the Realms, as it's also designed to be easily transplantable into other settings. But Forgotten Realms fiction will still give an idea of what a setting compatible with Phandelver is like. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 11 '14 at 18:39

If you're looking for the basics, pretty much any generic high fantasy novel will do. I'd recommend Tolkien as a first resource there as Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit are pretty much the iconic texts, but there are numerous more modern works that could be recommended (Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time both come to mind).

If you're interested in D&D novels, and Forgotten Realms specifically, the iconic works there are the Legend of Drizzt books by RA Salvatore there.

Finally, if you just want a quick realms primer, but would rather not read a few (or dozens) of novels, then there is the Forgotten Realms Wiki (linked above).

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    \$\begingroup\$ You may also want to mention Jack Vance's novels and, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser novels by Fritz Leiber. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Aug 12 '14 at 2:02

Generally Speaking

If you pick up the Player's Handbook for 5th Edition, there is literally a full page list of works of fiction that are recommended to immerse oneself in the fantasy mindset. These works cover quite a span of fictional universes, from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings to Burroughs' John Carter of Mars to Pratchett's Discworld. Familiarizing yourself with any of these will give you a well of generalizable material to pull into your roleplaying experience.

In Specific

As pointed out by some commentators above, if you want to get a feel for the particular setting of your world, you have to ask your DM. There are a few "official" settings for Dungeons and Dragons; Forgotten Realms is the flagship setting for 5th Edition, but Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Eberron remain popular and find support in the core rulebooks. Your DM may also opt to run a homebrew setting that draws on her own experiences in fiction but may have no specific source material.

There's also an important caveat to mention even if you are playing in a published setting like Forgotten Realms: you can't always assume the published setting is the same world you are playing in.

Ultimately, the Dungeon Master is the authority on the campaign and its setting, even if the setting is a published world.

Be careful when assuming things about the game world just because you read them in a published fiction. Your DM may not have read it, and most certainly not all of the other players will have read it, so it could cause friction at the table. If you ever want to incorporate major elements from the published setting that haven't come up in game yet, check with your DM to make sure you're on the same page.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like this caveat. When I started reading the core D&D books I found the lore snippets in there a little dull and wondered what's the point, when there are novels etc. but having DM'ed a little bit, I'd love my players to read them and build on some of the hints and curtain lifts there, even the books "for DMs" like the monster manual (how hard is it to think of a roleplaying reason, e.g. "I'm a monster hunter!!!" to know the lore? :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Feb 2 '17 at 9:41

If you are browsing a copy of the 5e Player's Handbook you can look on page 312 for a list of inspirational works. It is at the very end of the book.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition featured an Appendix N which is a list of works that inspired Gary Gygax circa late 1970s. You can see an Amazon list of all the works in that list. Many of these are also found in the Appendix E of the 5e Player's Handbook.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, and if you go down that route, the Appendix N podcast from the Tome Show is absolutely incredible (and fun) as a way to learn about those books before diving in: www.thetomeshow.com/category/appendix-n/ \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Feb 2 '17 at 9:36

Assumption: your DM is going to play Phandelver straight out of the box, in the Forgotten Realms.

I'm running the published Wizards of the Coast adventures for D&D 5th Edition, straight up with no (planned) variations.

If you were one of my players, I'd just suggest picking up:

  • Player's Handbook (PHB) (D&D 5th Edition)
  • Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (SCAG)

I would not call either of these gripping novels, by any stretch, but it seems to me (and I own both!) they are both written in a fun enough style (SCAG in particular but also PHB in its own way) dropping hints and roleplaying suggestions that you can imbibe the lore without getting too lost.

And drinking in the bits and pieces that way would help me as a DM knowing that I can expect a bit of background knowledge without immense detail on any specific area of the Forgotten Realms so I would be able to get hints from my players as to what interests them without being tied into any full-grown plot lines.


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