Adult Swim Yule Log (AKA The Fireplace) – Movie Review

Adult Swim Yule Log

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hello internet, Slick Dungeon here! I know it’s a little late for a yule log but I heard about this movie and was told I just have to watch it. It’s definitely not what I expected. This one is really hard to review without spoilers but I am going to do my best to remain spoiler free here. I am going to give a few odd warnings for a yule log though.

Adult Swim Yule Log starts like any other yule log video you could watch. Like, when you’re at a Christmas part on Christmas eve and you decide to just throw an image on in the background with some soft music playing that feels warm and homey and spreads that good ol’ holiday cheer. If you were take the first three or so minutes of this movie and put it on a loop, you would not be able to tell a difference from those popular YouTube clips and this film.

But if you want to see some interesting and downright weird stuff just keep watching. Around three minutes in, the frame of the fire gets interrupted by someone vacuuming and from there it turns into one of the most insane movies I have ever seen in my life. If you are a horror fan and you are tired of all the usual stuff and need to see something different, oh this one is it. I guarantee there is something here you are not at all expecting.

But, some trigger warnings for viewers of this particular yule log, there is a fair amount of gore and violence here so be warned. It’s also odd to say this but the acting in the yule log video is pretty good and they sell a fairly outrageous story. There’s a few loose ends that don’t seem like they tie together completely for me but if you have a decently strong stomach for gore and violence watch this one.

I can honestly say, I was not expecting what I saw. This is a film that really works best to go in blindly on so I’m not going to say a lot more about it. Except for this; it’s really nice to see an innovation in horror where someone is not just rehashing old plots but actually trying something new here.

If you want a calming experience don’t watch past the third minute. After that, well my friends, you are on your own and it’s pretty wild.

If you’ve seen this, I’d love to hear what you thought, especially if you went into it blind. Let me know in the comments.

Flammably yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review corrections

Hey all, this post is a little different than most of my Marvel review posts. I knew this would happen at some point in my reviews but there are a few issues I missed in the reading order. What can I say, the list changes all the time and there are so many of these comics it’s easy to overlook sometimes. For the next few reviews I’m going to be doing the ones I missed. In each post, I will tell you where they should be in the reading order but otherwise the reviews will be as you have seen before.

To make a long story short, I did an audit of my Marvel 616 reviews to make sure I hadn’t missed any and it turns out I did. So, here are the ones I have missed which you will soon see reviews for.

  1. Journey Into Mystery #91 goes after Amazing Spiderman #1
  2. Strange Tales #108 goes after Journey Into Mystery #91
  3. The Amazing Spider-Man #2 goes after Strange Tales #108

After that my reviews are back on track with Fantastic Four #13 and the rest should be good after that. Apologies for missing these but I hope you’ll keep reading my reviews anyway!

Happy New Year!

Hello internet and Happy New Year! Slick Dungeon here back to welcome you into the year 2023. Today I thought I would do a more casual post wrapping up a bit of last year and letting you all know what to expect in the dungeon for this year.

Above you can see some of my posts from last year so if you haven’t checked those out please do.

2022 was a great year for this blog. I had an increase of views of 116% from 2021, an increase of visitors of 140%, an increase of likes of 77% and an increase of comments of 127%. If any of you reading this contributed to that increase, thank you! It’s genuinely appreciated and I hope you’ll stick around.

Here are links to the top 5 most popular posts on this blog for 2022. These go from least viewed to most viewed.

  1. An Interview with Zamil Akhtar, Author of Gun Metal Gods and Conqueror’s Blood
  2. Top 5 Tabletop RPG’s to play in 2022
  3. How to Play Call of Cthulhu Part 2 – Creating an Investigator
  4. Top 5 Campaigns for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition
  5. Top 5 Horror One Shots for Dungeons & Dragons

Going down this list above, Zamil Akhtar will be publishing new books this year and I fully plan to review them, so look forward to that. I will be posting a top 5 list of tabletop RPG’s to play in 2023 so keep an eye out for that. I will also continue my How to play Call of Cthulhu series. And I am sure I will have more top 5 lists related to Call of Cthulhu and Dungeons & Dragons this year.

I’m hoping to have an even better year in 2023 but of course that depends on you and it depends on what kind of content I deliver.

Here are a few of the things you can expect this year.

  1. More movie reviews
  2. More book reviews
  3. More Marvel reviews
  4. More TTRPG content
  5. More short fiction written by me
  6. A new challenge list for books, movies, and TTRPG’s
  7. Reviews of Star Wars content
  8. Announcements of upcoming projects
  9. Surveys about what direction to take this blog
  10. Random stuff that comes up I just want to talk about

There will be more coming which you have not seen yet but I’m not quite ready to talk about but I will keep you updated throughout the year.

I’m really excited about all of these things coming up and I hope you’ll follow along with me. Also, I am always looking for fellow blog writers to follow so if you have a blog that might line up with some of what you see here, let me know in the comments. I only follow those who have similar interests to mine but I would love to see what everyone is up to in 2023.

Have a great year everyone!

Positively yours,

Slick Dungeon

New Year, New You – Movie Review

New Year, New You (2019) film

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hello internet, it’s Slick Dungeon here! Well, today is the last day of 2022 and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there thinking about making New Year’s resolutions. One of mine will be to watch more movies and post about them on this here blog. But, not all resolutions are good and you shouldn’t necessarily listen to anyone on the internet telling you how to live your life. For these reasons I decided to watch the horror film on Hulu titled New Year, New You. Be warned there will be some spoilers ahead. I’ll try to keep them mild but if that sort of thing bothers you, give the movie a watch and then come on back here after.

Still with me? Good. You know how at the end of the year, mixed in with all the best of lists, the reflections on celebrities we lost, and headlines of what’s going to be the next big thing, we get tons of self help style videos from influencers telling you how to live your best life? Have you ever wondered if those videos are pretty much full of garbage like you think they are? New Year, New You answers that question with a resounding yes.

It’s a small cast of characters set in a single setting but it delivers one of the most epic takedowns of “influencer culture” I’ve ever seen. As far as the plot goes, there are four women who get together a few years after a traumatic event has happened. Three of them are living fairly normal lives, working, dating, and struggling to just get through the day for the most part. The fourth woman is a media influencer who is wealthy due to a line of health and wellness products she sells through her videos.

As you might guess there is more to the story and the past events than it seems. You might put this movie under dinner party horror. You could also call it a revenge gone wrong film. But, in my opinion, this is what I Know What You Did Last Summer had the potential for but failed to live up to.

The acting performances here are basically perfect although there is one character who seems to be led around a little too much for me to fully believe it. I was definitely guessing at most turns in the plot and there are several jaw dropping moments that make this worth a watch.

There’s nothing here overly gory. In fact, most of it is not scary at all. If you have any empathy in your soul you will feel uncomfortable for most of the movie though. The first act is a little bit of a slow burn but by the start of the third act, things really get going. There are not tons of scares, although there are a few twists. But, each moment that is meant to be shocking delivers fully on the shock.

I don’t think this is one I would rewatch over and over again or anything but I’m glad I watched it once at least. If you like a sort of slow burn horror without tons of blood but that still manages to be really shocking, this is for you. Also, if you’re sick and tired of advice about how you need to change your life just because the calendar date is getting one year bigger, watch this and you won’t feel that way anymore.

Stay safe out there, have a happy new year, and I’ll see all the rest of you in 2023!

Annually yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review – Tales of Suspense #40

Tales of Suspense Issue 40, Photo Credit: Marvel, Writers: Stan Lee & Robert Bernstein, Artist: Jack Kirby

The second appearance of Tony Stark as Iron Man further expands on what he is capable of while also giving him a new challenge.

At the start of the issue we are shown Tony leading a triple life. His first life is as a man of science who is not only honored for his accomplishments in Micro-transistor research but also is vital to stopping communists from taking over America. How is he going to stop them? With the invention of super fast roller skates. Yep, that’s his big innovation in this issue for the army. These skates can allow each soldier to travel at up to 60 miles per hour. The General presented with this invention is pretty excited though. He realizes these skates mean they can move troops without trucks this way and calls Stark a genius. While the Iron Man we know from the MCU would quickly agree with that statement, the Anthony Stark presented here is a lot more humble. He says, “No General… just a scientist who realizes that the boundaries of science are infinite…”

Stark’s second life is more in line with the MCU as he is shown to be a millionaire playboy whom women adore. We see him on a date but he makes excuses to leave as soon as his date suggests a swim. Tony can’t take his shirt off in public because he has to constantly wear an iron chest plate which sustains his heart. Basically, Iron Man is the first character who needs an electronic pacemaker. A bit of an exaggerated one, but that’s basically what this is. This really does make Anthony Stark stand out because he is one of the first heroes who might be described as having a disability of some sort. It’s not kryptonite that can kill Anthony, it’s basic biology, just like the rest of us. We do get this amazing line of narration here, “Tony Stark has left the party for a most unusual date with… an electric cord!

After charging himself up, we see Stark has been busy since we last saw him. He takes on his identity as Iron Man and we see that in the past he has stopped gangsters and madmen of science who seek to rule mankind. We only get a few panels to show all of this action but it’s surprising how quickly Stark is established as a hero.

While on a date at a circus, the animals in the circus break loose and cause havoc. Thinking quickly, Tony tells his date Marion to head out of the area while he goes to phone the police riot squad. He has a suitcase with an x-ray proof secret compartment that holds his collapsed Iron Man suit. He throws it on so he can save the day. As he goes through the crowd, people comment on how terrifying his appearance is. After using a few gadgets in his suit to subdue but not injure the animals, Tony realizes he needs to redesign his suit. He doesn’t want women and children to be frightened of him.

Tony returns to his date who mentions the ugliness of the Iron Man suit and suggests a modern day knight in shining armor would wear gold metal instead of dull grey armor. Sure enough, Anthony Stark paints his suit with untarnishable gold paint.

The next week Tony is set to pick up his date from the airport only to find out the Granville airport she should have travelled from was shut down three days ago. Apparently Tony is too busy being a hero to listen to the news and he hasn’t gotten around to inventing the cell phone just yet. Regardless, the town seems to be cut off from the world. Literally cut off. As in, a whole wall was built around the city and no one can get in or out. So, of course, Iron Man heads over there.

While the wall is formidable, Iron Man just digs under it. As soon as he digs up into the city he is told the town can’t answer why the wall is there by order of someone named Gargantus. If they disobey him, they die. The crowd is so worried about Gargantus they even start attacking Iron Man. The crowd is so frenzied they erect a statue of Gargantus and start bowing before it. Tony notes how the statue looks like a Neanderthal yet people are worshipping whoever this is. To solve the problem, Tony tosses a ten ton truck into the statue but the crowd still seems to be bowing to it even after it is smashed. It seems the whole town has been hypnotized. This is definitely not the first Marvel 616 story where a whole town is hypnotized and it’s far from the last. In comics at the time, hypnotizing the public gave the writers the freedom to have crowds do whatever they wanted to slow a hero down.

Iron Man basically challenges Gargantus to a street brawl in front of the crowd. Gargantus shows up and Tony tosses a few high powered magnets around Gargantus. Turns out Gargantus was a robot the whole time.

Not only that but Gargantus was being controlled by a spaceship hiding in a dark cloud. Iron Man again hurls magnets in the direction of the ship and the aliens scurry off, realizing they are no match for the Iron Men of Earth.

It’s only Iron Man’s second appearance and he’s already driven off aliens. Basically, all Marvel heroes in the 616 universe have done that at this point, with the exception of Spider-Man. Spidey will, of course, have his chance but not just yet.

Next up on the reading list we will be checking in with the Norse God of Thunder himself, Thor in Journey Into Mystery #92!

The Ravenstones: Prophecy Fulfilled

Prophecy Fulfilled by C.S. Watts

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

Eirwen, a lonely polar bear, and Fridis, a feisty Eider duck, have teamed up on the adventure of their lives, transported from the far North to a parallel world. There’s no way back; to survive and prosper, they must reinvent themselves and accept every challenge. The epic saga of The Ravenstones, an exploration of friendship, courage, sacrifice and faith not only deals with deeper themes of prejudice, vanity and lust for power but also provides readers with an exciting adventure story, full of mystery, magic and high stakes. Through the first six volumes, Eirwen and Fridis have encountered danger, intrigue and a lifetime of surprises, as well as a host of intriguing characters, animals all, from wolves, lions and bears to noble birds of prey with codes of honor that must be followed. Meanwhile, the mysteries of the magic stones and the future that is foretold hang over their lives.

In Volume 7 the adventure comes to an end. One final confrontation. Either good or evil will prevail. The stakes could not be higher – no coming second, no avenues of escape, no reserves waiting in the wings to provide rescue. It’s win or die. The prophecy must be fulfilled.

REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Eirwen and Fridis, a polar bear and Eider duck set out on an adventure seven volumes ago. They’ve encountered magic, friends, enemies, scheming diplomats. warmongering forces, hopeful peace negotiators and a cast of characters as massive as any you would find in a George R.R. Martin book. All of the players have been set, all of the stakes have been raised, and one way or another the expansive story is wrapping up here. Eirwen and Fridis are about to find out if all of the danger they have gotten into, all of the intrigue that has gone on around them, and all of the political maneuvering will pay off. Will a prophecy be fulfilled? Or will it all come to naught?

C.S. Watts had his work cut out for him in this final volume. There are a ton of story lines to wrap up, questions to be answered and, action to be delivered. At the start of the series it was questionable to the reader whether or not Watts could deliver but in the end he’s answered that question in remarkable fashion. Like the rest of the volumes, there is intrigue, rumors, legends, magic, and fierce battles. This final book is just as engrossing as the rest and pays off in droves for the reader.

There are story lines from previous volumes that pay off in amazing fashion here. It may seem like a seven volume series staring talking animals would be too much but the end here makes all of the reading of the previous volumes an even richer experience.

If you have read the books up to this volume, you’ll know how charismatic and interesting the characters of Eirwen and Fridis are but it’s still a wonder how Watts balances such a large cast of characters in such a meaningful way and delivers on story at the same time.

This is a series I would recommend any fantasy fan give a read. If you love sweeping epics full of magic, interesting politics, memorable characters, and a plot that will keep you guessing, read this series. You definitely don’t want to start with book 7 so make sure to start at the beginning so you can accompany Eirwen and Fridis on all of the twists and turns that take them to this most impressive ending.

The Nun – Movie Review

The Nun 2018

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey there horror fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! A while back I took a poll on this blog to see what horror series I should review next and The Conjuring universe won. It took me a while to figure out the proper order of watching these films since there is more than one way to do it and I have never seen any of these. I found that the timeline recommended to be scariest starts with The Nun from 2018. I took a watch and I’m here to give you my thoughts. Do be warned there will be some mild spoilers for this movie so if you haven’t seen it, give it a look, come back here and then read the review.

I will admit supernatural horror where there is something like demon possessions has never really been my favorite type of horror. I don’t have anything against it at all and I can see why it really scares some people but it has to be of amazing quality to scare me. The only example I have so far where that worked for me was The Exorcistt and that might be because I was probably too young to watch it. But, I’m willing to give any good horror franchise a shot. Disclaimers out of the way, let’s get into the review.

The Nun takes place in 1952 in Romania. The feel of the film and the setting and atmosphere give the impression of a time even before that with its rural and remote setting in a peaceful (appearing) countryside. At the start, a pair of nuns are trying to keep something horrible locked away through the power of prayer. One of them is basically sucked away and presumably killed off screen. The remaining nun continues to pray but hangs herself.

Some time later a man with the curiously lazy nickname of Frenchie (you know because he speaks French) finds the dead nun hanging and the Vatican is contacted. From here the story really gets going. We meet a Father Burke and a Sister Irene who have been tasked with finding out exactly what is going on at the abbey. Sister Irene has not yet taken her vows although she is as committed as any other nun and truly believes in her faith.

A lot of standard horror tropes happen from this point. There is some lurking evil that people in the village seem to be afraid of. The abbey is seen as an isolated place where bad things have happened in the past and there are more than a few false scares and jump scares which turn out to be nothing but wind. And, of course, there are the real scares and the real evil residing in the abbey.

Things are suspiciously off when Father Burke arrives and it seems the abbey has its own way of doing things. It might be a little unusual but nothing too outright scary. That is, until night falls.

I don’t want to spoil too much of this movie but there are a few parts that really work well. My favorite was when Father Burke comments about graves which had bells on them. The idea was the people buried there were worried about being buried alive. The bells could be rung if that was the case and then someone would dig up the coffin and free the person. You can probably guess this but Father Burke ends up in one of those graves. It’s extremely claustrophobic and really is one of the scariest parts of the film.

The other standout scare in my mind was related to Sister Irene who is praying with a bunch of nuns to fight off evil. They disappear and we realize Irene has been alone this whole time. It wasn’t a jump out of your seat kind of scare but it was effective in giving me the creeps.

The rest of the movie is mostly standard horror stuff where the characters need to find out the background of what is haunting the place and figure out how to stop it. It turns out bombing in World War II interrupted the protections that were locking in the evil inside the abbey. There’s a bit of item and clue gathering and a final confrontation.

I will say, for my taste, this movie relies a little too heavily on jump scares and the third act feels almost more like an action film than a horror film to me.

But, here’s where going into something blind can be fun. And I beg your pardon here because I have to drop a pretty big spoiler to explain it. At the end of the events of The Nun we flash forward in time and see a university seminar in Wakefield, Massachusetts. This seminar is given by Ed and Lorraine Warren. We see them showing footage of a man being exorcised. This man is Maurice who we knew as Frenchie for most of the movie. As soon as I saw the names Ed and Lorraine Warren, something clicked in my brain. I was sure I had heard the names before. I knew the characters were from The Conjuring because I knew Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga were in that series. What finally came to me was the people they are playing are the ones who investigated The Amittyvill Horror. I actually did not know there was any connection to those movies and The Conjuring.

While I didn’t find this to be the most frightening or original of films, there are enough good scares and story hooks here to make me curious about the series. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

If you like a movie with supernatural horror, a few good scares, and a whole lot of jump scares, this is definitely one to check out.

Faithfully yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review – Tales to Astonish #42

Tales to Astonish Issue 42 Photo Credit: Marvel Writer: Stan Lee, Art: Don Heck

There are a number of heroes in Marvel 616 who are not well liked by the public. The Hulk is almost universally hated, Spider-Man has a decidedly split opinion even in his own neighborhood, and even the Fantastic Four have on occasion been the subject of public ire. Not so for Henry Pym, aka The Ant-Man. Later in his career there will definitely be things he is hated for doing but in this story, it’s important to remember the public either likes Ant-Man or is indifferent to him. To have a crowd turn on this hero would be unusual.

Yet that is exactly what a man named Jason Cragg does. Jason Cragg has a special power. He is introduced to us as he steps on a soap box and begins to speak, proclaiming, “I, Jason Cragg speak truth! Truth!” The crowd instantly trusts him. As Cragg does this, Pym just happens to be passing by as Ant-Man and seems completely unaffected. He’s wearing his cybernetic helmet and figures that must be somehow blocking whatever this voice is doing to the crowd. Cragg stirs up the crowd and tells them they should drive Ant-Man from the city.

We then get a flashback to a few weeks prior. You see, Jason Cragg was a radio announcer who was not good at his job. After delivering an ad one of the executives at the station says, “He sounds as convincing as a wet sponge.”

All super villains have to have origin stories. Some are amazing and super interesting and mind blowing. This… this is not one of those. At a nearby atomic experimental laboratory there was an accident where radiation levels were getting too high. Some of the particles seeped out before the scientist regained control and those radioactive particles apparently… went into the microphone Jason Cragg was speaking into at the time. Yep, supervillain via radioactive microphone. Why the particles went to that particular spot on the planet is in no way explained so, yeah radioactive mic is about all the backstory we get here.

Cragg finishes giving his ad over the air and suddenly everyone is buying the dog food he is advertising. My favorite line from this issue is a result of this ad, “We don’t even have a dog, but we can eat it ourselves!” That’s how persuasive Jason Cragg has suddenly become.

Cragg realizes his voice is what is causing this to happen and quits his job and just uses his voice to get free stuff like train tickets and steak dinners. That is until he happens upon Ant-Man in the middle of defeating some thugs. The police and public all praise Ant-Man and Cragg decides he has to test his mettle against Ant-Man. He figures if he can defeat Ant-Man he can defeat anyone. And with Ant-Man gone Cragg can basically rule the city.

Cragg goes on to tell such bold faced lies about Ant-Man as, “He pretends to be your friend, but he secretly despises you, as he does all who are normal-sized!” The crowd falls prey to these falsities and start to turn against Hank Pym.

Meanwhile, Ant-Man is getting an award from the police at their headquarters. Cragg interrupts and tells the police to arrest Ant-Man. They can’t resist and do try to capture our hero. Ant-Man uses a rubber band to launch himself away and avoids capture.

Cragg convinces the whole town to start looking for Ant-Man. Somebody gets the idea to use magnets so they can latch onto Ant-Man’s metal helmet. He has to remove the helmet, thus becoming susceptible to Cragg’s voice, in order to remain free.

Using his radioactive voice, Cragg demands Ant-Man reveals himself. Pym resists but ultimately is compelled to obey. Cragg wants to rid the world of Ant-Man but he’s no master villain. He literally has Ant-Man in the palm of his hand but instead of trying to smush him or anything like that, Cragg tells Pym to walk off the pier and make no attempt to swim or save himself from drowning.

Don’t worry too much though, this is an Ant-Man story and Cragg forgot one thing. Ants. Yeah, ants save Hank, even without a cybernetic command. They’ve gotten to know him and tend to show up whenever he is around so they get him out of the water pretty quick. Ant-Man escapes but Cragg vows to have one last battle with him.

Pym heads home where we get another diagram of his little elevator setup which allows him to get back into his lab even when he is small. Pym waits and watches until he hears Cragg is going to be a guest speaker on a television show. Pym decides that’s the place to confront Cragg.

We see Hank shrink down to ant size again and mention yet again his clothes are made of unstable molecules. He then uses his ants to infiltrate a building and grab a bottle of what Pym refers to as germs.

After that he heads over to the TV studio as Henry Pym. At some point he changes back to Ant-Man, although we don’t see it this time, so he can get his hands on a prop gun. As Cragg goes on the stage, Ant-Man climbs up his leg. Henry gets into Cragg’s ear and tells him to do exactly what he says. Pym reveals a gun pointed at Cragg, held by the ants. Pym basically tells Cragg to come clean and let the city know Ant-Man is on the level. Cragg doesn’t seem to care because he figures he can just contradict himself later. He clears Ant-Man’s name and Hank tells Cragg the gun was never loaded.

Cragg gets right back on the mic and tries to turn the crowd against Ant-Man but his voice isn’t working right anymore. See, Hank Pym arrived early and put microbes that cause laryngitis on the microphone. The crowd immediately turns on Cragg and drums him right out of town.

We end the issue with Henry Pym reflecting on the fact Cragg had a great power that could have been used for good.

So, to sum up the story here, a guy who was near a microphone got a super powered voice and tried to turn a city against its hero only to be defeated by a different microphone with laryngitis on it. Man, I love comics.

There’s not a lot significant in terms of the 616 universe that happens here. It’s mostly a silly story but it’s fun in its own way. It mostly just reaffirms Ant-Man as one of the good guys. It seems like Cragg was set up to be a repeat villain but I’m not sure if we do ever see him again. If so, I wonder if there will be any changes as to how he gets his power back.

Up next on the reading list we will be checking in on a brilliant inventor who has a suit of iron in the pages of Tales of Suspense #40!

Top 5 Sourcebooks for New Dungeon Masters

D&D Campaign Adventures for Mythic Odysseys of Theros - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hello all, Slick Dungeon here. I can’t stand long intros to top 5 lists so I am going to get right into it. Just a couple of qualifiers first. These books are all intended to be used with the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Most Dungeon Masters who already have experience will likely have these books already so if that is you, this is probably not the post for you. But, if you are kind of new to Dungeons & Dragons and don’t exactly know where to start or which books are for what, these are the books I consider absolutely essential. You don’t necessarily need all of them to play but each one brings something of value for the new Dungeon Master. There is no particular order to these rankings because I do find them all equally valuable. Which ones are right for you is for you to decide.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

5. Basic Rules

Before you spend a single cent on any Dungeons & Dragons books, you should make sure the game is truly for you. There are a lot of ways you can do this. You can play with an already established group either online or in person. You can watch live play sessions on YouTube or Twitch. You can play any number of video games based on Dungeons & Dragons. Those are all great but they don’t give you the most inside look at what the rules actually are. My recommendation is to start at the beginning and read the basic rules. You can find those by clicking the image above or clicking right here. There is no cost and if you only use these rules, you can still have a stellar game session.

4. Dungeon Master’s Guide

Cover Art by Tyler Jacobson

This one may seem obvious but if you want an expansion of the basic rules, you’ll need to get the Dungeon Master’s Guide. This book goes over the basics of how to run the game but it also has great advice on everything from what magic items there are, how to create memorable non-player characters, and how to create worlds and multiverses right at home. While no single source book can be all encompassing, this does a fair job of covering most situations you’ll find in game. I’ve read and re-read and re-re-read this book more times than I can count and I usually still come away with something new each time.

You can get your copy by clicking the image above or clicking here. This retails for $49.95 but there are often times you can find it on sale for less so watch for bargains.

3. The Player’s Handbook

Cover Art by Tyler Jacobson

As Dungeon Master you have a big job. Not only do you need to know the rules of the game, you need to know what the players know about the rules. For this reason, you’ll want to have a copy of the Player’s Handbook at your side. This book covers the types of characters players can make, gives a run down of the rules, and contains rules for things like magic spells which will be used in the game. While I have certainly read this book more than once, I refer to it less than my players do. I have a good understanding of the rules and where to look when I am in doubt. But, I don’t memorize every word in every spell or anything like that. Still, this is a vital reference and if you’re serious about playing, it’s one of the core rulebooks you cannot do without.

You can get your copy by clicking the image above or clicking here. This one also retails for $49.95 but again there are often times you can find it on sale for less so watch for bargains.

2. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Cover Art by Wylie Beckert, Magali Villeneuve

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is the newest sourcebook on this list. I have it here because as good as the Player’s Handbook is, there were some issues with how rules for character creation happened. Tasha’s corrects some of those problems and gives more freedom to players on how to build their characters. I won’t get into the finer details in this post but it did make it so players were not quite as locked into things like every Half-Orc character having to have only certain bonuses just because they were a Half-Orc. In other words, you could have a Half-Orc who is really intelligent or charismatic etc. rather than one who just has tons of brute strength. In addition to that, however, there are also great tips in here for making puzzles and traps. Also, this has the Artificer class which is an extremely fun class to play.

You can get your copy by clicking the image above or clicking here. This one also retails for $49.95 but again there are often times you can find it on sale for less so watch for bargains.

1. The Monster Manual

Cover Art by Raymond Swanland

In a way, I’ve saved the best for last. This is my favorite of the core books. Whenever I am stuck for ideas about what to throw in front of my players, a flip through here always gives me inspiration. The Monster Manual is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a bestiary explaining the different types of monsters you can use in the game. If you’ve been playing with the basic rules, this manual helps to expand your options. And each creature gets not only a stat block to show you how to run it, but it also has good descriptions and details of where the creatures live, how they behave and what some of their goals or motivations might be. Using this book is very helpful to flesh out a session and the rules are generally clear about how to run the monsters in your own game. There are other books that expand on this one so if you ever do get tired of playing with what is here, you always have that option. But for beginners this is where to start for making great enemies (and sometimes friends) for your players.

You can get your copy by clicking the image above or clicking here. This one also retails for $49.95 but again there are often times you can find it on sale for less so watch for bargains.

Conclusion

There are my top five recommendations for sourcebooks for new Dungeon Masters. These will cover the basics for you and you can have months of fun with these alone. If I had to give you my top 3, it would be basic rules, Player’s Handbook, and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The basic rules do cover a lot and the DMG is great to have but ultimately, you as the Dungeon Master, can come up with your own worlds with or without having every single rulebook.

In a future post I will go over my top 5 adventure books for fifth edition but it’s tough to play those without any sourcebooks whatsoever.

So, have you used any of these sourcebooks? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

And, if you like these types of posts and want more of this type of content, consider purchasing one of the awesome books listed above through this post. It really helps out this blog when you do.

Adventurously yours,

Slick Dungeon