Review: The Monster Manual (Mathew's take)
The Monster Manual is a tome as old as Dungeons and Dragons itself, first published in 1977 and has been one of the sidearms of any good dungeon master ever since. Wizards of the Coast sent us each a copy and we tore through them eagerly. Since Deo has actually run D&D games before, I’m going to let him review the actual content of the book while I review the book itself and point out a few cool features of it here.
The artwork in the Monster Manual is gorgeous. Every monster has its own distinct artwork, all done in the same painted style found in the artwork of the Player’s Handbook. Everything looks dangerous and deadly - and the style almost looks like a field guide of sorts, like something Darwin would have drawn up as he travelled the globe on the Beagle.
One of my fave parts of it is the alamanc-style flavour they’ve put on almost all of the monsters. It’s fine enough to read descrptions and look at pictures and stat blocks, but it’s another thing to imagine how things like Grells would fit into a story. On some monster pages there is a small block of flavour text about how the monster was encountered, what it did to a teammate, or its eating habits. It’s an amazing little touch that makes the book come to life even more than before.
Lastly, one of my other fave parts is how the book takes something you might encounter and need variants to pitch at your players? The Monster Manual has you covered. Rather than showing just one Drow and moving on, it shows you four different types of common Drow. For new DMs, this is great - it’s hard to know how to adjust monsters for your fights or encounters. But here we have the options to get started right out of the box.
The price is still $60 CDN. If you’re a DM on a budget, this might be out of your price range. If this is the case for you, I would consider looking around the web, even consider the Pathfinder Monster SRD as the numbers are pretty easy to transfer between the two game systems. But I would still save up to get this. Having this info at your fingertips in the thick of a battle is just super handy (speaking of experience with the Pathfinder Bestiary 1 tome).
This book is an absolute must-have for any DM. Not only is it well written but it really does a good job of helping new DMs run games and throw cool monsters at the players. It covers all the bases and all the classics. It’s still feels a bit too expensive to me, but when I consider the work that went into it and all the details you get from it, I think it’s worth it.
A copy of The Monster Manual was provided to EpicRoll.net by Wizards of the Coast free of charge for review purposes. While we thank them for their generosity, this fact has zero weight in our reviews - we write em like we see ‘em - good, bad, or ugly.
- Mathew out!
PS: Deo’s meatier review of the details of the book and the monsters themselves is coming soon - watch for it!