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  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Rich thematic background information, well organised, good list of monster options

Might Not Like

  • Not enough content to satisfy some. More options for some monster classes would’ve been nice.
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Dungeons And Dragons: Volo’s Guide To Monsters Review


Do you want to delve a bit deeper into the lore of some of D&Ds classic monsters? Or maybe inspiration for writing your next scenario as a DM? Whatever your motive, this is a highly recommended resource for players and DMs alike that will enable you to do just that and more. It’s full of excellent content on monsters, additional character races and stat blocks and whilst this is classed as legacy content, don’t let that put you off buying. I would still recommend buying Volo’s Guide to Monsters for the quality content that it offers and the benefits, in particular for DMs, to craft scenarios and campaigns.


For those who may not know, Dungeons & Dragons content for 5e has undergone some changes over the last few years. Much of this has seen a move to reword rules and content or introduce what you could argue is a soft entry to what is tantamount to a changed ruleset. There is the danger here that some of the richness of background information will become lost to those without the physical copy.

Some of the older content, as with Volo’s Guide to Monsters, is now classed as legacy. It is perfectly usable still for all 5e content, it just means there have been amendments since. Personally, I prefer the legacy content and this review looks at the content and why I recommend it as it remains an excellent resource for D&D 5e scenarios and campaigns.

What’s Inside?

Well Volo’s Guide to Monsters doesn’t waste any time into diving straight into 97 pages of excellent monster lore. This is where this mighty tome really shines. This monster lore section covers some of the classic foes in D&D lore from Beholders to Hags, from Goblinoids and Orcs to Kobolds and Mind Flayers.

What Volo’s Guide to Monsters gives you is great background lore and details to help you create memorable and thematic campaigns. With a system like 5e, the rules are heavily centred around combat mechanics so all the more reason to flesh out important sessions with the potential for improved roleplay and exploration. Volo’s Guide to Monsters is then an excellent sourcebook for monsters and will help you build scenarios and monster lairs and help give life to encounters.

The Dark Sisterhood.

One of my favourite sections is on Hags. Let’s face it, Hags can be terrifying. Players confronted with Hags will suddenly feel out of their comfort zone. In part this is because they are great villains thematically, that player knowledge can’t ignore, but also mechanically it can be difficult to know how to counteract them.

For DMs they are so unpredictable and their magic so potentially open-ended, it might feel daunting running a session where Hags feature. Well, it doesn’t have to feel daunting. Instead relax and enjoy watching the player characters panic and avoid anything which might be construed as a deal with the Hags!

In part this can be achieved by designing content that entices or forces players to talk, even if to gain additional important information, as opposed to the fight or run-away options. Volo’s Guide to Monsters will help you here as the lore detailed inside will give you the necessary support including some nice touches like hag names, personalities and treasure, which is just enough fuel to either use or inspire you to create homebrew variations, rather than adding content for padding. The attention to detail is very good.

What Volo’s Guide to Monsters does then is an excellent job in giving you an insight into how to play them, how to set up their lairs and their motivations.

Additional Character Race Options

The next section lists excellent new options when creating player characters including the likes of Tabaxi and Lizardfolk. The section isn’t large, it’s 18 pages, but it is enough to give you the basic description, name examples and character traits to supplement the existing rules on character creation.

The additional character options give you great fantasy alternatives that work in the various D&D settings, options that aren’t too outlandish and work both for player characters as well as NPCs. One of my favourite characters to date has been a Tabaxi monk. Hilarious fun with powerful options when adding the Mobile and Athlete feats too.

With these additional options, you have additional flavour to add to campaigns especially when they are focused on a particular setting or environment, so for example, if you have an aquatic themed scenario, DMs can introduce a Triton NPC to help the PCs.

Finally in this section you have a little extra content discussing the option of allowing for monstrous adventurers. These humanoids may usually be considered as villains, but there is potential for playing as Bugbears or Orcs for example as regular adventurers. Maybe these characters are outcasts or renegades, or maybe they are diplomats or addressing a far-reaching threat that goes beyond local needs, or maybe the adventure party is an altogether darker group of adventurers (this reminds me of playing one of a group of trolls in another roleplaying game system based on a famous fantasy trilogy setting!) It was a novelty and fun for a bit.


Volo’s Guide to Monsters also contains a bestiary. Here, in alphabetical order is a very useful list of additional monster options. Within this bestiary you have specific examples of monsters within a category so with Hobgoblins and Orcs, there are a number of variants eg magic-user options which helps when you are building an adventure party or an enemy team or squad.

This is supported by an alphabetical index of monsters on the contents page, that is really useful to help navigate straight to a monster type.

There is a good range of monsters here and honestly, some great food for thought if your plotting something new for your campaign!

Useful Appendices

Here you’ll find an interesting list of assorted beasts to expand the content in the D&D 5e Monster Manual, some example non-player characters to save you designing them from scratch and another list of monster stat blocks by types.

Finally, scattered through the book are several example lair maps to either use or help inspire you to creating your own homebrew content. For me, this has always been a highlight of campaign and

scenario design. Yes, it can be quite laborious at times, but equally it’s great to get those creative juices flowing. Volo’s Guide to Monsters is an excellent resource that will help with that.


It is a well-crafted tome of thematic and inspiring information. The artwork is nice. It is neatly laid out, easy to read, easy to navigate and I honestly don’t think there is any needless padding or useless content.

Quite simply, it is a resource that I have often dipped into whether for specific scenario design or for inspiration for encounters, which could then become inspiration for deeper campaign relevant themes. This then is one of the key tests for me ie Does it get used? The answer being a resounding yes!

If you can acquire a physical copy of Volo’s Guide to Monsters and you are a fan, player or DM, of Dungeons and Dragons 5e, I highly recommend picking up a copy now. I don’t think you can beat having the physical book to use at your leisure, so get it whilst it is available. It is entirely possible it will go out of print in the near future, which will be a shame for 5e because it’s attention to detail and rich flavoursome depth is its strength.

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Rich thematic background information, well organised, good list of monster options

Might not like

  • Not enough content to satisfy some. More options for some monster classes wouldve been nice.

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