Right off the bat, let me set the record straight on this book, this IS NOT Monster Manual II. Yes, it has monsters in, it but wow this book is so much more.
WOTC set’s the tone for this book up front with the disclaimer, which if you have not ever read in each book, do you self a favor! They keep getting better and better as each comes out. The disclaimer for Volo’s is as follows :
Wizards of the Coast does not vouch for, guarantee, or provide any promise regarding the validity of the information provided in this volume by Volothamp Geddarm. Do not trust Volo. Do not go on quests offered by Volo. Do not listen to Volo. Avoid being seen with him for risk of guilt by association. If Volo appears in your campaign, your DM is undoubtedly trying to kill your character in a manner that can be blamed on your own actions. The DM is probably trying to do that anyway, but with Volo’s appearance, you know for sure. We’re not convinced that Elminster’s commentary is all that trustworthy either, but he turned us into flumphs last time we mentioned him in one of these disclaimers.
Volo’s Guide to Monsters is nod to the old classic Volo’s Guide to _____ from 2nd Edition. These guidebooks (If you never read or heard of them) were written by one Master Volothamp “Volo” Geddarm, a scholar renowned for both getting into trouble and getting adventurers into trouble on his behalf, who writes travelogs of his journeys. The Volo’s works of yore, were in-character tomes that served as world books to regions of the Forgotten Realms. And that tone is kept with this book.
Volo’s Guide to Monsters is a 224-page hardcover book broken into three parts: Monster Lore, Character Races, and a Bestiary.
Monster Lore, takes up the first 100 pages of the book, and this was by far my most favorite section of the book. If you ever wanted to learn more about Beholders, Giants, Gnolls, Goblinoids, Hags, Kobolds, Mindflayers, Orcs and Yuan-Ti, then this is your section.
I’ve been playing D&D since Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) (Yes, I think I just dated myself there) and I can honestly say that I learned things while reading this first section of the book. I had no idea how a new beholder was created, I guess I never took the time to think about it. And WOW, how a mind flyer is made is horrific and fascinating all at the same time.
This section alone is well worth it for both the player and DM alike.
New races are always a welcome thing, and there are plenty here to chose from!
Races detailed are Aasimar, Firbolgs, Goliaths, Kenku, Lizardfolk, Tabaxi, and Tritons with a separate section for “Monstrous Adventurers” giving blocks for the already detailed bugbear, goblin, hobgoblin, kobold, orc and yuan-ti pureblood.
I have to admit, If I was a player (Many of you might know I DM most of the time, and never “play”, that I’d be interested in playing a Tabaxi, which if you did not know is a cat person. with some interesting quirks. Could be fun to role play.
This section give you, 100 pages of new and classic monsters that were absent from the Monster Manual. There are WAY to many list here, but I’ll just throw out a few of your options
- Cranium Rats
- Flail Snail
- Mind Flyer
But wait! there’s more you also get, 21 new stock NPCs. You will also get some new variation on the Beholder, and Giant.
My Final Thoughts
This in my humble opinion is the best source book for 5th edition. From the lore and the new monsters, it has it all. BUT I did have a few minor nitpicks about the book.
The title of the book is Volo’s Guide To Monsters, we get some trash talking from Volo and Elminster. If you know the history between these two, you know where this going. The very front of the book we get an intro from Volo and then Elminster funny and seething reply,
*Preface preview, courtesy of WOTC*
And then we get a few quips from them here and there in the book. I would have loved to see more of this, minor I know. I guess it’s the old school d&d’er in me coming out, I loved the Volo books back in the day.
The 2 games I’m running now are of a low level (1rst and 4th respectfully) the book includes a LOT of low CR monsters and few high-CR monsters, 75 of the book’s 125 stat-blocks are CR 5 or lower. There’s only 17 monsters of CR 10 or higher. Which is fine for me, as I said I’m running love level stuff and I know there a few monsters I’m going to sprinkle in to both of my game, but I know there is an outcry in the community right now that we need higher level CR monsters, so I felt as I should point that out.
I need to call out something amazing and awesome that WOTC did with this book, the appendix at the back of the book, you get a list of the monsters sorted by Creature Type, Challenge Rating, and Environment Location. Can we Que the Hallelujah Chorus , here for a second. PLEASE WOTC, do this from now on! as a DM, I can’t tell you how easy this makes my life. I can flip here, find what I need fast and I’m off trying to get that TPK.
Over all this book is wonderful, the artwork as always is top notch, the layout of the book is easy to read and well put together. It seems as if WOTC is just keeps getting better and better and putting books together at this point. If your DM’ing a 5E D&D game, then you NEED this book in your hands now.
Volo’s Guide To Monsters is available now at your WPN Friendly Local Game Store, and will be available via Amazon and other retailers November 15th.
A Big Thank You! To WOTC for providing a early review copy of the book, for this review.
*The Amazon link found above, is an AFFILIATE LINK, and DDO Players will get a small percent of your sale, this is another way you can help support the site*