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Volo's Guide to Monsters (Dungeons & Dragons) Hardcover – Illustrated, November 15, 2016
Enhance your purchase
This is NOT just another Monster Manual! Volo’s Guide to Monsters provides something exciting for players and Dungeon Masters everywhere.
· A deep dive into the lore behind some of D&D’s most popular and iconic monsters
· Dozens of monsters new to the fifth edition to include in your epic adventures
· New playable races to allow you to build characters to fit nearly any type of story in your D&D game.
The esteemed loremaster Volothamp Geddarm is back and he’s written a fantastical dissertation, covering some of the most iconic monsters in the Forgotten Realms. Unfortunately, the Sage of Shadowdale himself, Elminster, doesn’t believe Volo gets some of the important details quite right. Don’t miss out as Volo and Elminster square off (academically speaking of course) to illuminate the uninitiated on creatures both common and obscure. Uncover the machinations of the mysterious Kraken Society, what is the origin of the bizarre froghemoth, or how to avoid participating in the ghastly reproductive cycle of the grotesque vargouille. Dungeon Masters and players will get some much-needed guidance as you plan your next venture, traipsing about some dusty old ruin in search of treasure, lore, and let’s not forget ... dangerous creatures whose horns, claws, fangs, heads, or even hides might comfortably adorn the walls of your trophy room. If you survive.
Research has never been so dangerous!
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From the Publisher
|Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes||Xanathar's Guide to Everything||Volo's Guide to Monsters|
|Get this to:||Craft inspired adventures with new and expanded monster lore, introduce new monsters to your campaign, and open new character race options||Explore a wealth of new rules options and create a wider world for your players to explore||Immerse your players in monster lore for a deeper roleplaying experience|
|Audience:||Dungeon Masters, experienced players||Dungeon Masters, experienced players||Dungeon Masters, experienced players|
|Contents:||Over 150 monsters with stats and illustrations / More options for character creation with new races / Expanded monster lore for Dungeon Masters to add depth to a campaign||Dozens of new spells / Over 25 new subclasses / New Racial Feats / Random encounter tables for quick combat setup / Rules for Downtime Revisited / Tools like improved traps, magic items, and more for Dungeon Masters to add to their adventures||7 new playable races plus 6 monstrous races / In-depth monster lore including new variants of existing monsters, encounter tables, lair details, history, and more / Dozens of monsters new to fifth edition D&D for players to conquer|
- Publisher : Wizards of the Coast; Illustrated edition (November 15, 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0786966017
- ISBN-13 : 978-0786966011
- Reading age : 14 years and up
- Item Weight : 1.82 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.5 x 0.6 x 10.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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For the DM, this book is a treasure trove; I tend to buy 5E books for inspiration, and don't really play pre-generated campaigns, and VGtM is helping me take the campaign I'm running in some exciting new directions (at least, for me). Also, I'm all about giving players more options, so the new player races are also extremely interesting to me. I don't know how much I'll use the pre-gen NPCs, but they're handy to have, just in case.
One of my favorite things about the book is the chief conceit of its design. Peppered throughout the book are comments of Volothamp Geddarm (the "Volo" of the title) and the archmage Elminster Aumar. These little side notes add a lot to the flavor of the book, and help the reader immerse him/herself in the world.
EDIT: Another thing I like about this book that I just discovered is that the index of the book has monsters sorted by challenge rating and sorted by location. So, if you're hunting for creatures in, say, the Underdark, it's extremely easy to find them in the book. Nice addition!
What exactly are you getting in this book?
- Nearly 90 pages of in depth monster lore, focusing on Beholders, Giants, Gnolls, Goblinoids, Hags, Kobolds, Mind Flayers, Orcs, and Yuan-ti. This is very in depth work, with multiple pages providing variants, tables, lairs (including maps), historical background, and even some of the psychology of the creatures that can really help you flesh out these types of creatures in your games.
- 7 new Player Character races, including Aasimar, Firbolg, Goliath, Kenku, Lizardfolk, Tabaxi, and Triton. These are a nice edition, and I especially like how the details for these new races includes tips on how to role-play as these slightly more unique creature types. Overall, these new races feel like they can breathe a lot of new life into campaigns for players who might be starting to get tired of the standard set from the Player's Handbook.
- 6 new Monstrous Player Character races, which feature groups that were represented in the first 90 pages. These are more limited/specialized builds that a DM would really need to weigh before including in a game, but absolutely could provide some fantastic adventures for the right group of players. The 6 Monstrous races represented are Bugbear, Goblin, Hobgoblin, Kobold, Orc, and Yuan-ti Pureblood.
- An expanded Bestiary.The next 99 pages of the book are dedicated to new monsters for your games. There are an excellent variety of new creatures, including some favorites that didn't make the original Monster Manual. Personally, I was glad to see a nice balance between creature types, and that these new creatures help round out some of the groups, such as Fey. It also is nice to see a book like this deepen the bench; this section of the book provides an especially large amount of new monsters of the type covered in the first 90 pages (Beholders, Giants, Gnolls, Goblinoids, Hags, Kobolds, Mind Flayers, Orcs, and Yuan-ti). A full 10 pages of this is also used to create new NPC stats, which is a great boon to be able to build encounters that stretch across a wider CR level in more civilized locations.
- The book wraps up with 4 pages of Appendixes which provide a quick reference no matter how you are looking for a creature: you can find them by CR level, by Creature Type, or by the typical environment that you would find the monster in.
All in all, the content is incredibly useful for any dungeon master who wants more content. The new monsters alone are worth the price of admission. The new character races are also an excellent new addition, although their uniqueness may make them more useful for some groups over others; that said, options are always nice to have. The first 90 pages of lore will be most useful to DM's who are planning on using the types of creatures listed in their campaigns. Especially if you are using those creature types, I highly recommend this as an addition to your collection, as the amount of material provided on these creatures is sure to spark your imagination and spin new adventures for your table.
Volo's guide has the monsters "out of the box," but then has sub-sections after each monster that show variations you can add in the game to make them different, more challenging, but also stay within the spirit of the monster's original design. For example in the beholder section, they have alternative eye socket powers. So previous knowledge from another game won't aid the players when they encounter your re-skinned creations.
If you have someone at your table who is a rules lawyer, and they take issue with things that aren't in the books (you're cheating!), this will help you create variations that you can point to and say "actually this can exist." It also just gives more ideas and culture for the monsters. This includes behavior, biological functions and culture which all really help build verisimilitude. So if your group likes a lot of realism and detail, Volo's guide has done the work.
The book is very detailed, and is written from the perspective of Volo, a traveling wizard from the Forgotten Realms setting who has a very high opinion of himself and is prone to conflation. Thankfully, there are annotations from Elminster (also from Forgotten Realms) that help either confirm, or in some cases, completely refute what Volo is saying. This makes it for a more amusing read.
This guide was necessary for D&D. Some of the monsters in the book are as old as the game (over forty years) and the community takes them for granted. It's nice to see a product that freshens up the old, brings some new and ultimately helps give a DM tools to create a more immersive experience.
Top reviews from other countries
This volume is full of valuable resources, more powerful versions of standard Monster Manual critters ; Monster lairs (the Mind Flayer tunnel complex is extremely challenging), New races for PCs ; example NPCs; Detailed ecologies for some creature. All are useful and usable. It is a bit unwieldy in that some of the book is designed for DMS and some for players but , I suppose, that is close to the AD&D version of many moons ago, the Unearthed Arcana.
Great production values and top notch artwork feature throughout...the Fire Giant Dreadnought and Slithering Tracker pics are highlights for me. The cover artwork is slightly underwhelming, in contrast.
It's a shame no space could be found to credit the original creators of these creatures, I remember many of the best here (Kenku, Tabaxi, Nilbog etc) appearing in White Dwarf Magazine way back in the day , sent in by fan contributors. Still, in a way, their longevity and continued popularity, renewed in these up to date versions, are a testament to the writers who invented them,
As a resource it's a very valuable one and one that I refer to often.
However, the production quality on the book itself leaves something to be desired. The binding is poor and care has to be taken to prevent pages becoming loose from the spine whilst some of the pages in my copy weren't even cut properly. This meant that I had to carefully cut pages away from one another myself, which is hardly ideal.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 9, 2021