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D&D 5E Choosing a 3rd party monster book

RoiC.

Explorer
I'm looking to get a new 5e bestiary book. Since I've already gotten the Monster Manual, VGtM and MToF, I'm thinking of getting a 3rd party book. I'm leaning towards a book that's mostly focused on planar creatures and fey (although a few extra dragons and aberrations can be a big bonus) that can inspire me and shake things up a bit.

Currently I'm leaning towards the Kobold Press books (although I'm having a hard time choosing between the Tome of Foes, the Creature Codex and the Tome of Foes II, so any input would be appreciated), but I'm open to hear any recommendations you can make. If you can elaborate on why you recommend a certain book (theme, stat block quality, interesting lore, inspiration or whatever else comes to mind), it'd be very helpful.
 

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Volund

Explorer
+1 for Tome of Horrors 5e and Fifth Edition Foes.

FGG is licensed to publish monsters from the 1e Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II, so in addition to in addition to FGG content these books have a lot of 5e stat blocks for AD&D monsters that I haven't seen published anywhere by WotC - Crypt Thing, Decapus, Dracolisk, Gorgimera, Mobat, etc. FGG runs frequent sales on pdf's - I bought both for under $15.
 

Just a few threads below this one currently, we're discussing the Monster Manual Expanded III with its author, who is giving us art previews of the upcoming release. If you want some good general monster books, with (among other things) lots of interesting variants and twists on normal generic monsters, you should look into his previous releases: the Monster Manual Expanded and the Monster Manual Expanded II, both on the DMs guild.
 

Regarding the three Kobold Press books, I would recommend purchasing them in order (that is, ToB, then CC, then ToB2). They're all excellent, but there are a few cases where they build on the book before - where a monster is introduced in ToB and then more variants are introduced later.

I liked "Fifth Edition Foes" when I first got it, but it has largely fallen out of use since - the other books are just better, IMO.

Finally, I have the two existing "Monster Manual Expanded" volumes. They're excellent for adding lots of new variants of existing monsters, and also for higher-CR monsters. They're a bit less good for new monsters, IMO. But of all the monster books I have, they're very quickly become the most-used after the original MM.
 

Finally, I have the two existing "Monster Manual Expanded" volumes. They're excellent for adding lots of new variants of existing monsters, and also for higher-CR monsters. They're a bit less good for new monsters, IMO. But of all the monster books I have, they're very quickly become the most-used after the original MM.
They look insanely useful, but man, are the PODs expensive.
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
Are there any variant monster books out there that are statted up to be fully compatible with 5e, but take a 4e or 13th Age inspired design approach?

By that I mean I'm looking for self-contained stat blocks that never require looking up spells, with varied tactical combat and magic abilities, movement abilities, control effects, and trigger mechanics with variant monster versions included in the same stat block (ala 4e, or 13th Age's 'nastier specials').

I would pay top dollar for such a book, especially if it reworked all the core 5e monsters to fit this design paradigm. @Morrus, something to think about for Level Up's Bestiary.
 

I noped out of 4E after reading the PHB, but the more I hear about 4E's bloodied condition, the more I like it. I would definitely be interested in a 5E monster book with 4E design theory behind it. (Not so much the aesthetics, though, as that's part of what turned me off about 4E.)
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
I noped out of 4E after reading the PHB, but the more I hear about 4E's bloodied condition, the more I like it. I would definitely be interested in a 5E monster book with 4E design theory behind it. (Not so much the aesthetics, though, as that's part of what turned me off about 4E.)
Yes, I totally get why the player side of 4e's mechanics didn't resonate with many, but as an old time gamer (I started with Basic and AD&D decades ago), 4e monster design was great!

Combat was always tactically interesting, and as an old school improv style DM, it made running off the cuff, improvisational encounters sooo much easier to run and manage without needing to do any prep ahead of time.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Are there any variant monster books out there that are statted up to be fully compatible with 5e, but take a 4e or 13th Age inspired design approach?

By that I mean I'm looking for self-contained stat blocks that never require looking up spells, with varied tactical combat and magic abilities, movement abilities, control effects, and trigger mechanics with variant monster versions included in the same stat block (ala 4e, or 13th Age's 'nastier specials').

I would pay top dollar for such a book, especially if it reworked all the core 5e monsters to fit this design paradigm. @Morrus, something to think about for Level Up's Bestiary.
Sort of. We're making sure you don't need to look up spells in combat by replacing the combat ones with abilities, but we'll still have the full spell list there for those who need it.
 

Nebulous

Legend
You can't go wrong with any of the three Kobold Press monster manuals (Tomes and Codex). They're all good and have a strong focus on fey, and I'm sure there are dragons in all of them too. Also, the monsters can be quite a bit meaner than default 5e monsters, if you're wanting to scare the PCs some. Other than those, Monster Manual Expanded 1, 2 and soon 3 are excellent monster books that take the core 5e monsters and scale them up and down. It's quite an indispensable book in my opinion. Any complaint that a core 5e monster is "vanilla" is largely corrected by the Expanded books.

But if it is lots of fey and weird stuff, I would go for the Tome of Beasts first.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Sort of. We're making sure you don't need to look up spells in combat by replacing the combat ones with abilities, but we'll still have the full spell list there for those who need it.
Awesome. So a spell-like ability unique to a monster makes a return? I would love that.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Tome of Foes II has a high percentage of Fae. That's the one I would suggest if you get one, although all three by Kobold Press are very good.
 

Dragonblade

Adventurer
Sort of. We're making sure you don't need to look up spells in combat by replacing the combat ones with abilities, but we'll still have the full spell list there for those who need it.
That's great! And a nice improvement. I'm very much looking forward to Level Up! :)
 

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