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A core rulebook in Dungeons & Dragons contains basic rules needed to play the game.

The Player's Handbook (PH or PHB), published June 2008, describes races, classes, and other basic rules for creating and playing as player characters in the 4th edition ruleset. It was followed by the Player's Handbook 2 (PH2 or PHB2) in March 2009, and the Player's Handbook 3 (PH3 or PHB3) in March 2010, each expanding the game with new races, classes, and other rules. In August 2014, a new Player's Handbook updated the rules to create player characters with the 5th edition ruleset.

The Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG), published June 2008, gives tips on creating campaigns, running encounters, controlling non-player characters, and other rules of interest to dungeon masters using the 4th edition ruleset. It was followed by the Dungeon Master's Guide 2 (DMG2) in September 2009. In November 2014, a new Dungeon Master's Guide updated the rules for DMs with the 5th edition ruleset.

The Monster Manual (MM), published June 2008, is a collection of attributes for generic monsters for use in encounters. It was followed by the Monster Manual 2 (MM2) in May 2009, and the Monster Manual 3 (MM3) in June 2010, each expanding the game with new monsters. In September 2014, a new Monster Manual updated the rules to create and use monsters with the 5th edition ruleset.

Rules supplements add additional, optional content extending the rules in the core rulebooks, for example, new powers for existing classes, or rules specific to a campaign setting. Errata and rules updates are occasionally released for the rulebooks.