Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual

Product– Monster Manual

Producer-Wizards of the Coast

Price– $50 but not now

System– Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition)

TL; DR– THANK GOD FOR PICTURES AND BREVITY!  99%

 

Basics– Every good hero needs a better villain!  This book introduces several monsters for any devious DM to throw at their players.  Let’s hit the highlights!

 

Crunch or Mechanics-Stat blocks have been leaking out from WotC for some time, and they sleek!  Even the heavy hitters like the previewed red dragon, one of the biggest foes to throw at a PC, has a pretty short stat block.  Also, gone are a ton of keywords and references to other things.  There are powers, but they are explained in each stat block.  I don’t need to constantly look up every feat, power, and ability in some other book to run an encounter.  That was an excellent idea in fourth edition DnD, and it is amazingly well executed in fifth edition.  I can pick a monster, read its stats really quickly (about a page for each monster even at the high!) and be ready to run an encounter mechanically in under two minutes! 5/5

 

Theme or Fluff-The book is full of art, short story bits, and little explanations of each monster.  All these pieces really bring the monster to life.  In addition, each monster gets a story block that really helps build a world or worlds.  Specific monsters from several different campaign settings get short story blocks to draw the reader into the different settings that TSR/WotC has published over time.  Other fun ideas are blasts from the past like devil/demon types along side their names.  Those little nods back to the origins of DnD really tie this modern book back to the beginning.  This isn’t a setting/story book, but it is an excellent way to learn about more than just the monsters stats.  5/5

 

Execution-So, I love the layout of the stat blocks, the descriptions of monsters, and the extra bits of story.  But, you know why is amazing?  PICTURES!  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY DO SO MANY MONSTER MANUALS HAVE WORDS INSTEAD OF PICTUES!  Every monster in this book gets a picture!  Now instead of showing my players a picture of a generic spider and saying “well….it’s like this, but with this other part….and this thing over here” I can hold up the book and show them an honest to goodness individual picture!  DO THIS OTHER COMPANIES!  The only problem I see in this book doesn’t have an index of monsters separated by CR, only an alphabetical index. 4.9/5

 

Summary-I love this book.  It’s got great art (heck it’s got individual art), great stories, and phenomenal stat blocks.  If you want to play DnD 5e, you’re going to need this book.  If you want to see a really top notch monster manual, give this one a look. 99%

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