Look, we could go on all day about using Dungeons & Dragons as a means to collaborative storytelling and how combat detracts from the “roleplaying experience.” Or, we could just admit that we play D&D so that we can murder fantastical monsters and loot their rapidly cooling bodies for treasure. Unfortunately, sometimes killing the same old giant spiders and baboons available in the Monster Manual gets a little stale. Players and DMs need a little spice in their encounters. Sure there are plenty of clever and original homebrew monsters on the internet (including some of mine), but occasionally I want a professional company to write up the stats for several hundred monsters, print them on paper along with illustrations, bind that paper together and mail it to my home in exchange for money. That’s why I bought Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press.
I’m going to cut right to the chase for this review. If you are a Dungeon Master currently running a 5E Dungeons & Dragons campaign you need to buy this book. The monsters presented in the Tome of Beasts will provide you with so many more options for challenging the players in your game. And, they are FRESH options. Not the same old monsters that all of your players have the stats and attacks memorized for.
Tome of Beasts includes over 400 creatures that can be placed into environments ranging from icy mountains to the depths of the Underdark. There are new undead like the myling that would be perfect for a horror campaign and humanoids such as the gearforged templar that would feel right at home in Eberron. The volume includes all of the things you would expect from a book of monsters such as six new types of dragons and five new types of golems. However, it also presents new humanoid races like the Bearfolk and Ratfolk. Even better the Tome of Beasts contains entries for Demon Lords and Fey Lords. You can use these folks to flesh out a Warlock’s backstory or just throw them right in as boss monsters for your campaign.
If nothing else I write here convinces you to buy this book let the Derro Fetal Savant do it. A chaotic evil, soul-swapping baby in a cage? Who should I make the check out to?
So, what does the Tome of Beasts lack? Well, it doesn’t include useful tables like Monsters by Environment or Monsters by Type. Kobold Press has addressed this omission by saying that there just wasn’t enough room in the book. That’s easy to understand when you look at how huge the book is already.
Other than that I can’t find many faults with the book. The printing and binding quality is on par with anything you’d buy from Wizards of the Coast. The art is fantastic. Yup. It’s just a great book. You can even buy it in PDF!
How To Buy
Tome of Beasts is available now from the Kobold Press store. The hardcover retails for $49.99, the PDF for $29.99 and both together for $54.99 (do the math and get this one!) They are currently on backorder so expect some delays. You can also pick up the PDF version at DriveThruRPG.
All illustrations and references are the property of Kobold Press