Why Third-Party Resources?

Over the course of your time playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) you may find that the character archetype you hope to play is not available through normal play. The best solution for this problem is genuinely 3rd party resources for D&D 5e. However, if you’ve ever read through the free online subclasses (like I have) you may have noticed that those homebrewed classes and subclasses are wildly (and sometimes hilariously) unbalanced. 

Personally, one of the biggest issues with WOTC-approved material right now is the company’s resistance to stepping outside of the classes they have made. Don’t misunderstand me, I love the base classes for D&D. But using only their base features to build entirely new archetypes leaves players wanting. Take the blade-singer wizard for example, when compared with its class counterparts the subclass pales in comparison for strength. Sure it’s a “gish” (magic user and fighter) subclass, but due to the resistance of making a new class centered around being a gish the blade-singer is simply lacking. In combat, it quickly becomes suboptimal to ever use your bladed options when you are a full spell caster.

But if you are just getting into D&D, where should you start with 3rd party resources? Which ones give you the most “bang for your buck”, and which ones are fairly balanced for normal table play? Luckily for you, this list of D&D 3rd party resources is genuinely a fair price (in my opinion of course). 

So without further ado, here are the best 3rd party resources for D&D 5e. 

(Note this post is not sponsored, but is simply one D&D fan sharing PDFs that they have loved)

Valda’s Spire of Secrets by Mage Hand Press:

Have you ever wanted to be a character who creates physical inventions that are solutions to any problem you may face? Play a craftsman!

Have you ever wanted to play a character who only perfects and changes a few select cantrips? Play the War-Mage class!

Have you ever wanted to play a martial half-caster that sacrifices its life force for spell slots? Play a Martyr class and be destined to die!

Have you ever wanted to be a rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ marksman who tips their cowboy hat after their heroism? Play a gunslinger class. 

Have you ever wanted to literally play a sentient toy just like Toy Story and go on adventures as a teddy bear? Pick the Geppettin race and go do your toy hijinks.

Funnily enough, this isn’t even an extensive list of what’s available through Valda’s Spire of Secrets. Each of the classes listed above has multiple subclasses that are entirely unique to themselves. Not only that but there are even more custom classes with their own subclasses as well! The rest of the classes yet to be listed are Alchemist, Captain, Investigator, Necromancer, Warden, and Witch! 

That’s not even accounting for the multiple subclasses the PDF makes for the base classes of D&D, the extra race options, extra spell-casting options, new magic items, new feats, better ingredients (maybe not this one), and much more. I also forgot to mention that this PDF has its original artwork and is well-designed for readability. Valda’s Spire of Secrets is genuinely the best PDF I’ve ever seen made for D&D in terms of game balance, price, and content. This includes original content made by D&D themselves. 

Tome of Heroes by Kobold Press: 

Have you ever wanted to be a wizard who loves guns? Tome of Heroes has it. 

Have you ever wanted to be a bard who uses shadows to terrify enemies? Tome of Heroes has it. 

Have you ever wanted to play a cleric who uses the venomous powers of snakes? Tome of Heroes has it! 

Needless to say, Kobold Press has definitely put out a great PDF with this one. It has subclasses for nearly every D&D base class. Extra race options. New feats, new weapons, new mechanics, and even a new spell-casting system that is much more about crafting your spells out of magical runes. 

I would put it slightly below Valda’s (due to Valda’s extensive list of custom classes), but it is definitely/ worth its price and time spent using the PDF. It also adds more mechanical features and extra rules that can make a DM’s life much easier, and this includes a well-thought-out vehicle system and an original gun system!

Dark Matter also by Mage Hand Press:

Have you ever watched a few too many episodes of Cowboy Bebop and wanted to be a Space Cowboy like Spike? Dark Matter definitely has it! 

Have you ever wanted to play as a Jedi or Sith in D&D, Dark Matter definitely allows for it. 

Have you ever wanted to feel like a Power Ranger and transform into a giant Gundam for space battles? You can definitely do that in Dark Matter!

Dark Matter is a 3rd party PDF that allows for a different pace and style of story-telling for D&D 5e. It has space battles, it has crazy cool space technology, space-themed spells, and space-themed spellcasters. They even have a warlock subclass completely that draws their strength from the singularity of black holes. The race options are also very interesting, allowing you to feel like monstrous aliens if you so choose!

If you ever have wanted to do a space-themed campaign, or arc in a campaign this PDF is nearly a must for any DM that wants to have an easy time figuring out mechanics and interactions in space. Just like Valda’s the book is full of original artwork!