Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Volo's Guide to Monsters (First Look)

Hey guys we’re back with a quick look at the brand new Volo’s Guide to Monsters for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition.  Volo’s Guide is written from the in setting perspective of Volo, a contemporary of Elminster who may or may not be factual accurate about everything he writes down.  Let’s take a look at the book and see if we can find any treasures within the tome of Volo’s Guide to Monsters.  Volo’s Guide to Monsters is broken into 3 primary sections, and has several appendices.

The first section of the book, Monster Lore, is a much more detailed series of articles on heavy hitting monsters from the original Monster Manual.  You get detailed insights into the psychology, the biology, and the personality of monsters that can propel hours of storytelling and monster slaying mayhem.  Also included are variants for keeping know it all players on their toes, and example encounter areas for some of the most iconic (Non-Dragon) monsters in the Dungeons and Dragons universe.  A new DM can get a lot of insight into how to use these monsters in their own adventures, and even a pro can find some interesting insights into monsters they thought they knew like the back of their hands.  

The second section of this book, Character Races, opens up a new bag of tricks for the budding player.  This section is the only one i think a player should reference, as most of this book is intended for the DM to find new and creative ways to eat you.  There are seven races that are ready to play out of the book, (Aasimar, Firbolg, Goliath, Kenku, Lizardfolk, Tabaxi and Triton) and an additional section of more monstrous races that your DM can allow you to use with their permission.  The new races introduce interesting options and choices for a player, and we always like options.  

The third section of the book, Beastiary, introduces some returning favorites from previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons to the 5th edition rules set.  There are 86 pages of new monster statistics for the new DM to tinker with.  Our favorites include the Froghemoth and vegipygmies, (they are from one of our favorite modules of all time, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks) though you’ve also got the Neogi from Spelljammer fame and the unholy/undead/psionic/magic abomination that is an Alhoon.  Take your time and get acquainted with the new murder machine options you have as a Dungeon Master.  

The three appendices all flesh out other ideas and options for a DM.  The first appendix adds to the pre-existing pool of animals and beasts for a DM.  The second appendix increases NPC options (along with a lot of options for spellcasting npc jerks).  The third appendix indexes and categorizes the new monsters and makes the book easy to reference.  

Overall, i like the book a lot.  It adds a ton of value to the monsters covered in the Lore chapter, and can give an adventure/encounter designer a ton of ideas on using these monsters in a different way.  The Character Races expands options for the player looking for new ideas and other crazy things to play.  We’re particularly looking forward to aquatic mischief with tritions.  
The rest of the book expands ideas and options for a DM looking for new and interesting challenges for their players.  We like the layout, and additionally we love the disclaimer.

The front of the book on its inside cover includes a disclaimer that you should under no circumstances ever trust Volo.  Indications of potential lying and liberal applications of the not truth mean that even if you have the book in front of you, you can take some teensy liberties with the monster profiles and the ideas in the book.  Very similar to the introduction to the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, this is a book of ideas that you are supposed to make your own.  We give it a number between 4.5 and 5.0 legendary adventurers out of 5.0.  


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