Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: D&D Next Monster Manual: Finally Got Mine

Normally I get the Monster Manual or any version of a monster book without too much thought.  A book of monsters, I'm in.  I took my time getting the 5E version.  Probably because I've been attempting to clean out some of my gaming stuff, but seem to be collecting more.  Armed with a coupon at B&N last night I decided to grab a copy.  It's nice to see my local B&N looks to be getting more gaming books. 

One of the first things I do when I get a monster manual is I flip through it to see how it's laid out.  I think the 5E MM has done a great job.  Although I am puzzled why they would dedicate an entire page to a picture of myconids.  There are much cooler critters I would rather see featured with full-page art. 

It is nearly 50 pages longer than its 4E step-brother version.  The 4E version boasts having nearly 500 monsters in between its covers.  Because of this, the stat blocks dominated the page and the art was crammed into the corners where they could find space.  The 5E MM does fewer monsters, more space and a better product.  While the art in both are great, I get to see it and enjoy it more in the 5E version.  The stat blocks for each creature is easy to find and read, they don't take up the majority of the space, allowing for more details.  I like that.

The other habit I have when getting a new critter book is to look for the critters I use a lot.  I use a lot of the trope monsters such as goblins, bugbears, orcs and pretty much all the undead.  I check my standard monsters to see if there is anything new, any change that might spark my interest.  I like to see what someone else may have come up with to add to a certain creature's legacy.

The first example is the goblin.  With their stealth ability, which increases their chance of surprise make them no joke.  In my experience with 5E so far, surprise has become a huge factor on how a battle may go.  A handful of goblins armed with bows and surprise can whittle a party down quickly. 

Second example, fricking zombies and their undead fortitude.  A DM with hot dice can make a small group of zombies nasty.  Again, I've already had experience with this.  This is another example of how taking a normally innocuous encounter and with a simple tweak, these creature needs to be handled with care (and lots of fire!).  And they give a stat block for a beholder zombie.  How can you not like that?

A big thumbs up here at the Manor for the latest iteration of the Monster Manual.  I'm looking forward to building some adventures with the 5E system.  While the stat blocks are not conducive to my micro adventures I might try to slip one.