Volo’s Guide to Monsters

Xaelvaen

Explorer
5 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

I can't be overly wordy about this product, so I'll keep it simple and concise: For all the greatness there is in WoTC making more monsters, the lore they provided for the classics put me over the moon. My favorite 5E product (to date).
 
5 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

The more I read this book, the more I really appreciate the depth of information and the level of work that went into it. Through the eyes of the infamous Volo we see a much more fleshed out view of both common and uncommon foes. Seeing the cultural side of the foes presented has given my players and I new perspectives and has helped us to flesh out our campaigns.
 
5 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

Excerpt from Tribality.com review

Last week, Wizards of the Coast released their latest D&D 5th edition fall supplement book, Volo’s Guide to Monsters. I’ve had a week with the book to read it over and even try out some monsters and extended lore in game. Volo’s Guide provides monster lore, new character races and a bestiary with nearly 100 monsters. Read on for my in depth look at this book to find out if it is a must buy for you and your gaming group.

This is one of my favorite 5th edition books and should be useful for more games out there than the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (2015). I’ve already used lore (gnolls) and addition monsters (gnolls, NPC Blackguard) in my current game, and the content is really helpful when prepping for an encounter.

When I first received my review copy from Wizards of the Coast last week, my initial impressions were mostly positive. The book looks great and the monster entries look as good as anything in the Monster Manual (2014), with tons of illustrations to go with stat blocks for nearly 100 new monsters. A minor concern I had when I first held the book was it was only 224 pages, a much lower page count than the 3 core books which all push past 300 pages. As I found the time to dig deeper into the book, I quickly stopped worry about how many more monsters the book could have had and started to really enjoy everything I was reading. This book isn’t just a Monster Manual 2, a player option splat book or monster lore tome. Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide did a good job mixing lore and mechanical options and I think that Volo does an even better job.

Who Might Want to Avoid It?


  • Players who like to be surprised when taking on monsters
  • Players who are not interested in playing more obscure racial options
  • Players who are looking for a substantial amount of player options
  • Dungeon Masters who haven’t purchased the Monster Manual yet
  • Dungeon Masters who just want a big giant Monster Manual 2 with 300+ monsters

Who Should Buy It?


  • Players who are interested in playing interesting new racial options
  • Anyone who likes monster lore (if you liked reading through the Monster Manual, you’ll love this), especially Dungeon Masters looking to create monsters powered with more backstory and roleplaying for their players to encounter
  • Dungeon Masters who find themselves wanting (or homebrewing) more monster variations to send at their players
  • Dungeon Masters who are running Storm King’s Thunder and are looking for more backstory and variety for their giants

I highly recommend it to anyone who falls into the ‘Who Should Buy It’ above. I would consider it a must buy for anyone who regularly runs a game with typical D&D monsters such as kobolds, gnolls, giants, orcs, goblins and iconic monsters such as mind flayers and beholders. The Monster Manual does a good job providing lore for dragons, devils, demons and some other monsters. It’s nice to see goblins, orcs, kobolds, etc getting the same attention (and then some) in this book.



Read the Full Review
 

pogre

Adventurer
4 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

I tend to be a minimalists when it comes torpgs, but this book adds lots of fun monsters and races for the DMs to employ.
 

Evhelm

Explorer
4 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

This is a solid, if somewhat lackluster, attempt to add to the 5e canon without creating a new splat-book run (as in 3e).
 

JEB

Villager
5 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

A must-buy for Dungeon Masters for D&D 5th Edition. Part of the book has wonderful lore on classic D&D monsters, part of the book has a bunch of great new monsters, and the middle provides some cool new character races. All well written and well-thought-out. This is not only my favorite 5E book so far, but one of my favorite D&D books ever.
 
4 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

When this book was announced, I was hugely disappointed, on three counts. Firstly, I very much enjoyed the 5e "Monster Manual", and so the single supplement I was most hoping for was an MM2 of the same sort of size and quality. Instead, what was announced was a book that sounded like it was one-third a Monster Manual, which not only fell short by being full of other things I didn't want, but also meant that that MM2 is definitively not happening - it's just not in WotC's plans. Secondly, this book saw them adopt a higher price-point for 5e books - they'd already been right at the top-end of the scale at $50 for their 256-page adventures, but now they were charging $50 for 224 pages.

So I was all set to skip this book. Fortunately (?) though, Amazon had a very large discount available on the pre-order, and so it became an easy buy. But that very much sets the tone for this review: this is an okay book, but very much non-essential, so the question is entirely one of determining at what point it represents value for money.

The book starts in the worst way possible: with a foreword written by "Volo" - a fairly annoying Forgotten Realms character who serves as a travel guide and lore-master - coupled with 'witty' annotations by Elminster. Such joy. Fortunately, the contribution of these characters after that introduction (which is, fortunately, a single page) amounts to a handful of notes in the text, and is therefore much less intrusive than I'd feared.

Thereafter, the book is split into three chapters.

Chapter One is about 100 pages of lore about nine iconic monster types: Beholders, Giants, Gnolls, Goblinoids, Hags, Kobolds, Mind Flayers, Orcs, and Yuan-ti. These are very similar in style to any of the Paizo "... Revisited" books or the old "Ecology of the..." articles from Dragon Magazine. These are all fine, so far as they go, except that too many of them seem to rely on "the gods made them this way" as an explanantion for why the monsters are as they are. Still, that's fine - the selection of monsters is decent, the amount of lore per monster is about right, and it's all fairly interesting. In fairness, I mostly prefer Paizo's take on most of these, but it's nice to have alternatives.

Chapter Two is very short, and provides some additional playable races for the game: Goliaths, Kenku, and a few others. The chapter also includes support for several monster-as-PC options for DMs who are so inclined. I was actually surprised by these: I had intended to ban all of them out of hand, but I found the new races sufficiently interesting that if a player came to me having read the book and wanted to play one of the new races then that would be fine (but not if they just wanted to play the stat-block). The monsters-as-PCs are not something I'd allow, though - I don't care for the concept, and the book notes they're not balanced anyway.

Chapter Three and the Appendices, then, amount to about 100 pages and provide new monsters for the game. Well, new to 5e that is - I don't think there are any genuinely new monsters here, which is no bad thing. The selection here is fine, with some odd choices (apparently, each designer was allowed to nominate one personal favourite for inclusion - which gives a nice weirdness to the book, and is a good thing). I was particularly glad to see personal favourites the Dark Ones and Chitine make the cut. Unfortunately, there are very few high-CR monsters here - it seems WotC once again have no meaningful intention to support high-level play. One of these days they should probably just drop levels 16+ (or even 10+) from the game.

One big criticism that I'll level at the monster chapter, and that I also levelled at "Tome of Beasts" is that the book doesn't have the table showing how the various traits affect monster building. Including such a table would have been a massive boon to a DM building his own monsters or building variants. It really should be a standard feature (or would be a really nice web enhancement).

And that's that.

So, a recommendation...

In some ways, this is really three books in one, as represented by the three chapters: monster lore, new PC races, new monsters. If all three of those appeal, this book is worth considering. If any one of the three does not appeal, you should probably skip this book unless you can get a huge discount. (Fortunately, the presence of Volo in the book is marginal, so shouldn't be a turn-off!)

Having said that, I don't think this book is worth buying at full price anyway. I got it at something like a 35% discount, and it feels like I paid about the right amount for what I got. Make of that what you will.
 
5 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

This book was extremely helpful to me as a DM to play the monsters, their hideouts, and motivations properly. It has a fantastic amount of detail, is well written, easy to follow, provides example dungeon layouts for the various creatures, etc. One of the best books I've purchased so far.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
5 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

This is a beautiful book chock full of lore, monsters, and new character options. I like the mixed-use format and both players and DMs will find plenty of inspiration and crunch to enhance their games. I also got the excellent limited-edition mind-flayer cover, which is gorgeous.
 

Enrico Poli1

Explorer
3 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

- I really don't like the composite nature of this product: in part Lorebook (for DMs), in part presentation of new player races (for PCs), in part bestiary (for DMs).
- I don't find very useful the first part dedicated to Monster Lore.
- I don't like very much the new monstrous playable races, but they could be useful.
- The bestiary is solid, eventuali of not exceptional and built around low-CRs creatures.
- The art is good, with many average pieces.
All in all, an average book to add to my collection. I could live without it. Buy only at strong discounted price.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
4 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

This was the first real supplement for 5e, and there have been a few more since (namely, Xanathar's Guide to Everything and Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes), but this is still the best one by far. While it does have some low points, most of its content is fantastic, and its overall theme is much more cohesive than the two books that have come since.

As has become the norm for 5e, this book has a little something for everybody: DMs get new monsters and expanded lore for a variety of classic creatures. Players get new playable races.

Believe it or not, the book only has three chapters.

Chapter One: Monster Lore
This first chapter is the longest and provides some solid lore on beholders, giants, gnolls, goblinoids, hags, kobolds, mind flayers, orcs, and yuan-ti. There's some fabulous stuff in here, including lots of random tables covering all sorts of things, from personality traits to names to possible allies. There are also some extra mechanical goodies, like the variant eye rays for beholders and the extra racial traits and action options for yuan-ti.

Each monster type also gets a sample lair, complete with map. These are very cool.

As for the lore itself: some of it is fresh, some of it is recycled from previous editions, but it all reads well and comes as a welcome expansion to what (little) is in the Monster Manual.

Chapter Two: Character Races
This is where the content for your players is: rules for playing creatures like aasimar, lizardfolk, tabaxi (catfolk), and even some monsters (kobolds, orcs, goblinoids, etc).

It's also the most disappointing part of the book, because there's some pretty obvious power creep here. Many of the race options presented are overpowered compared to the races in the PHB. It's annoying how WotC continues to sell their half-baked ideas as some kind of "DM empowerment" thing. Some of us don't have time to do a lot of customizing and would like to be able to just use what's in the book we've paid good money for!

Chapter Three: Bestiary
This is the meat of the book: 80-odd pages of new monster stats! There are lots of interesting creatures in here, ranging from beholder variants to mind flayer experiments. Each type of giant gets a new variant as well. There are also new specialist stats for the various humanoid races: kobolds, hobgoblins, gnolls, orcs, etc. Lots of new fey creatures, including the quickling and the redcap.

At the end of the book are three appendices:
Appendix A: Assorted Beasts includes a handful of new animals, including the cow, dolphin, and stegosaurus.
Appendix B: Nonplayer Characters adds to the same appending from the Monster Manual, this time with a bunch of wizard specialists, a generic bard statblock, some warlocks, a war priest, and even a warlord with legendary actions!


Aside from the variable quality of the playable races, this book is a solid purchase.
 

Jesse David

Villager
5 out of 5 rating for Volo’s Guide to Monsters

[FONT=&quot]Recommended. Full of great, flavorful, thematically consistent and highly usable lore and stats. Evocative, quality artwork. Too bad WotC adventures are such bloated, overlong messes, as the DM and player rule books are fantastic.[/FONT]
 

Advertisement

Top