Friday, September 19, 2014

D&D 5e Monster Manual Review

Today, the newest version of the Monster Manual is released, or at least it is for those lucky enough to have a FLGS that gets them today and not a couple of weeks from now.

Are you jealous?

I already have mine. I got it early as a thank you from my FLGS since I’m taking over as DM on Wednesday nights. Adam, the DM who’s been running us is feeling a little bit of DM burnout with too many games going on. I get that. I've been there! And since I've already covered for him before, I’ll again take the DM's chair. Unfortunately this means that my dwarven illusionist, who just hit 3rd level, is going to be benched for a bit.

Thankfully, this isn't a permanent situation, as Adam is willing to swap back and forth on DMing duty every other chapter, which should work out to every month or so. Not ideal, but someone has to run the game!

But back to the Monster Manual! Seriously, it’s good. I’m only halfway through it so far, but it’s definitely worth it. I love the lair effects for the legendary creatures, the little quotes scattered about, the concept sketches, and the wide variety of monsters. You've got the usual goblins, kobolds, vampires, and beholders, but they also included some of my favorites like Blights, Scarecrows, and Crawling Claws!

The art is something of a mixed bag. I appreciate that it’s all less over the top Wayne Reynolds anime style, but some of it seems a little… cartoon-ish. Compare the orcs (pages 246-47) with the crawling claw (44) for example. The orcs just feel very… WoW inspired, whereas the crawling claw looks truly murderous.

The index seems like a missed opportunity. Yes, it’s a list of all the monsters alphabetically. We already get that with the table of contents. Sure, it includes all the animals and NPCs from Appendix A and B, but I think it would have been more useful had it been by challenge rating. Also, a list indicating which monsters are Legendary wouldn't have been out of place either.

I have gotten several good ideas from it for encounters I want to include in my Friday night Weird New World campaign, so that’s a definite positive, and I think that's highly indicative of the inspiration factor that the MM provides.

Have you gotten your copy yet? Are you going to? What do you think of it so far?

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