D&D Next Monsters Manual
Posted by: Jendor -- October 01, 2014
The D&D Next (5e) Monsters Manual came out yesterday and I thought since I've had a chance to skim the material, that I would provide a brief review to let those who were on the fence about buying it know the opinion of someone who had.
Let me start of by saying that this book is worth buying if your interested in D&D. Not just 5th edition, but other earlier editions as well. The primary reason for this backward compatibility is the fluff information provided for each monster. Almost every monster in the book (aside from animals, vermin, swarms etc) has a section that gives detailed information about the creatures, where they came from, why they act the way they do etc. Since most of the monsters exist in earlier books as well, its useful information.
So onto the content itself, I was pleasantly surprised to see the return of multiple monsters that have never really been main stream such as Flumphs, Modrons, Cambions and others. It was a little odd that they made the decision to reduce the number of age classes of dragons down from 12 to 4, but the core shifts of power are still there and examples of each are given.
The things that I think I really enjoy the most though were the Lair actions and Region Effects. Region effects are things granted to truly powerful creatures such as Aboleths, Dragons, Liches, Mummy Lords, etc. Basically when one of these creatures takes up occupation the area around them begins experiencing phenomenon, water fouls, fire elementals begin appearing, mist covers the land, brambles grow, etc. These things don't go away until the creature is killed and even then take days or weeks to fade, they are a great way to let set the mood for an adventure by letting them know the creatures are close, the enter a town and the towns folk rather than complaining about a dragon stealing their livestock complain that horrible thunderstorms have begun.
The other nice thing was the Lair actions, these are extra actions the creatures are allowed to take basically once per round while they are within their lair. These are usually horrible such as automatically gaining advantage, or dealing automatic damage to one party member, or preventing the party from healing for that round. They usually each have two to three lair actions that they can choose between using only a single one each round. Now these aren't passed around lightly, being granted only to the most powerful of creatures, and if a party is going after a demilich in his lair they better be ready for the danger, and it makes trying to lure a dragon out of his lair for a fight a better option than going in to fight them on their turf. Of course on that same front no creature that has lair actions would be caught dead fighting a strong opponent outside of their lair.
For the most part the Art in the book is very well done, there are of course a number of images that in my opinion are sub-par but not everything can be amazing.
So I still need to finish reading the book and going over each monster but so far I have been favorably impressed by the book and figure most other people will be as well.