I tried to ask questions about what the group collectively wanted. After listening a bit, and trying to steer the conversation towards what game experience people desired, I scrawled out a grid of game traits and players. Then, I began marking off what people wanted (and didn’t want).
With a fantastic design, writing that inspires the imagination, and mechanics that make monsters fun to run and fun to fight, the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Monster Manual may very well be the best monster book ever written.
This summer was extra-special. Although I have been exercising my RPG muscles, both personally and professionally, in different directions, there is no ignoring the launch of the new edition. And for someone so steeped in Organized Play, the launch of a new D&D campaign at the start of a new edition of the game is a critical hit.
While I read the newest Monster Manual, I could feel the monsters coming together in and around dungeons and world events. There is easily digested lore for every monster in the main part of the book, and each of the 2-3 pieces of lore has something a GM can sink their teeth into and turn into a piece of an adventure.
I was one of the fortunate few to get my grubby mitts on an advance copy of the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons. We’ll have a full review of the book in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I wanted to explore some of the aspects that jumped out at me as we flipped through.
Our unofficial mascot here at Critical Hits, since the beginning, has been the powerful combination of an Umber Hulk riding a Bulette.
The Player’s Handbook – and the D&D 5th edition ruleset as a whole- feels very polished. In fact, I’d go as far to say they focused on taking everything they had from previous editions and worlds, ran with it, refined it again, and so on.
The risk inherent in mentioning optimization, rules complexity, and story vs. rules in a discussion is great. People may fall back into entrenched positions on all sides. So I want to quickly clarify some points that will also frame my discussion going forward.
The game has to be about the story if the hobby as a whole is going to flourish. This means that the ultra-optimizing, breaking the game with its own rules because they are there, intentionally ignoring the spirit of the rules to mangle the game into something it isn’t, has to stop.
This is a full game of D&D, including 4 races, 4 classes (going all the way from levels 1-20) and everything you need to run them including equipment and spells. There’s also the rules of how the game runs. The only thing it’s really missing to be fully playable are any monsters.