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Monster Manual 5th Edition -- RPG Review

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The Monster Manual is a classic D&D book that we see a new version of with each edition of the game. It's one of the core rule books that every dungeon master must have to run an effective campaign. The Monster Manual is typically just a list of monsters that players may encounter in their adventures, and that basically describes this book. It features dozens of monsters that you can write into your adventures as a dungeon master, though this edition does have a few nice little extras.  Given that, this book is mostly geared toward DMs. It offers few options for players, outside of having stats for animal companions or mounts. There are no options for playing new races. Since there are so many creatures introduced in this book, with many being at the same level of power as a starting player, it seems to be a missed opportunity to offer some new options to players. But, then again, this book is a great resource for DMs, and it's probably best kept out of the hands of players. The only real issue that might get in a DM's way is that some creatures, mostly real-life animals, are listed in an index outside of the main list of monsters, which takes up the bulk of the pages, and is nicely illustrated and alphabetized. These can be a bit hard to find during gameplay.  D&D veterans will be glad to know that many of their favorites are back. Things like Grells, Beholders, Aboleths, Bulettes, and of course, the Tarrasque. They've all been given the 5th edition treatment with a few mechanical tweaks. One of the best of the new mechanics is the new rule for 'legendary' creatures. These creatures have special powers that give them extra actions per round, which makes them very powerful foes. Another feature that really brings flavor to your game is the 'regional power' rules for some monsters. These powers detail special features of the land around the creature and their lair. For example, the vicinity of a vampire's castle is barren, covered in fog, and has an unusual number of wolves, rats, and bats living there. Around a unicorn's lair, however, open flames extinguish, healing spells cast by good-aligned creatures to aid other good creatures are maximized. These are just a few examples of regional effects. The effects follow the creature involved, so if your players manage to kill the vampire and take his castle, they don't get to keep the cool magical effects. This is a really great mechanic that allows for some cool storytelling.  Overall, if you're running a D&D game, you'll need to pick this book up sooner than later. It's essential to keeping a game interesting by providing challenges to your players--and this edition does a great job of that. As with every edition of D&D through the years, the Monster Manual will provide you with material to keep your campaign your players engaged at every level for years to come.

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