Written By: Jim Zub, Stacy King & Andrew Wheeler
What They Say:
You hold in your hands an immersive, one-of-a-kind guide to the sinister, and savage creatures from the world’s most beloved tabletop role-playing game – Dungeons & Dragons. Featuring amazing new illustrations and expert insights, Monsters & Creatures shines it torchlight on the beasts that haunt, hunt, and horrify adventurers – from deep underground caverns to wild forests, rocky mountains, and the soaring skies above. If you’re eager to create you own D&D adventures, this guidebook provides the perfect starting point to worlds of fantasy and an epic tale all your own.
You hold in your hands an immersive, one-of-a-kind guide to the sinister, and savage creatures from the world’s most beloved tabletop role-playing game – Dungeons & Dragons. Featuring amazing new illustrations and expert insights, Warriors & Weapons provides would-be adventurers with all the information you need to start building your own characters and putting together your own adventuring party. If you’re eager to create your own D&D adventures, this guidebook provides the perfect starting point to worlds of fantasy and an epic tale all your own.
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Monsters & Creatures: A Young Adventurer’s Guide is a descriptive compendium outlining the most popular and familiar creatures within the world of Dungeons & Dragons, with diverse environments from the fetid depths of caverns to the limitless expanse of the skies and each realm’s creatures categorized according to those broad areas with a notable Danger Level to rate the skill needed to conquer each monster. Whether they may range from the lowliest goblins, nobility of an unicorn, brutish behemoths such as hill giants, haunting spectres like as banshees or involve the prized treasure hordes of polychromatic dragons, every variety of monster is described with meticulous aspects; the behaviors of each are fully outlined for both beginner and experienced adventurers to fully appreciate, with painstaking details exposing weaknesses, special powers and abilities, lair descriptions and most importantly for novices tips on how deal with the monsters before, during and after the battle. However the most breathtaking component of these entries are the fully rendered and captivating features portrayed within each monster’s enthralling full color illustration occupying a full page opposing the factual elements; it is this fascinating portrayal which brings each creature to life and allows them to literally materialize within our imaginations instead of remaining stagnant as meaningless words without context.
In dynamic contrast to this monstrous menagerie we are presented with the fascinating tome Warriors & Weapons: A Young Adventurer’s Guide, a breakdown of various races, prospective classes they can adopt and the gear consisting of weaponry and armor which serve to protect in order to survive another day exploring the realms of the land. However in opposition to the prior guide, this book is more consistent for encouraging prospective players to design their characters around the strengths and weaknesses of their chosen people and enhance a profession via those advantages of racial attributes, thus allowing the reader to enrich their imaginative enjoyment of the game. Due to this consideration for the reader, this book keeps humans cast as the primary civilization when comparing all other races and as such they are measured against them in terms of comparing height and longevity plus other humanoid talents. But in order to expand on the benefits of every class the writers have added legendary examples of each one with a backstory to enlighten us about their feats, all while reflecting on the specifics of each race and how they benefit the chosen occupation. The remainder of the book is then utilized to describe different aspects of various gear combinations to flesh out the desired personality and skill set of the player’s character, all in an effort to make the avatar a reflection of the reader and thereby permitting them to feel a personalized connection, and yet this immersion is once again expanded by fantastic full color illustrations, fleshing out generalities of standard races, classes and equipment, and thus making the immersion all the more fulfilling and desired for all involved.
When experienced gamers hear the name Dungeons & Dragons they of course recall the immersive rule books which form the backbone of the series, and yet this is only half of the goal with the remainder based on how well players flesh out characters and foes alike to make the adventure as immersive as possible. This consideration is the foundation of the A Young Adventurer’s Guideseries, not bogging down novice players with suffocating game mechanics such as tedious saving throws, monotonous statistics or magic resistances, but instead allows young minds and old to open themselves to the often neglected backstory of what should be the foundation of the game. As such these books assist in the narrative aspect of the game, simplifying details behind monsters and their environments for dungeon masters plus giving all who read the adventurers’ guide a chance to acknowledge the importance for players to note their avatars are reflections of themselves and thus make the tale more fulfilling for all involved.
However while the streamlined text may make the absorption of essential information easier, what actually sparks the imagination are the luminous illustrations within both books by Conceptopolis, the uncredited art studio whose name is buried and can only be found by combing through the dizzying text within the colophon or publisher’s imprint at the back of each book. While it is understandable to credit writers Jim Zub, Stacy King and Andrew Wheeler for the invaluable descriptions within, as the old idiom states – ”A picture is worth a thousand words” and in this case it is these spectacular images which serve as the spark to the black powder which explodes within the players’ creativity. This synergy of easily understood wording and immersive imagery fulfill the need for these books, allowing readers to thoroughly comprehend the meaning of seemingly foreign concepts all while delving into the nuanced world of spectacular visual immersion.
Monsters & Creatures: A Young Adventurer’s Guide and Warriors & Weapons: A Young Adventurer’s Guide are certain to become essential tomes of invaluable information instead of collecting dust on some forgotten bookshelf like their stale rule book counterparts. Although the wording may be simplified for younger readers, the knowledge contained therein is an essential foundation to those interested in the classic tabletop game and allows anyone to readily pick it up and easily absorb the essential details all while graphically enjoying the phenomenal satisfaction of the imagery accompanying each entry. This introduction to Dungeons & Dragons is enthralling for any who dare to enter if they are brave enough to venture past the intimidation of spectacular guardians emblazoned prominently upon either memorizing cover, all to tempt the foolhardy and those who have the wisdom to venture into the unknown.
Content Grade: A-/A-
Art Grade: A+/A+
Packaging Grade: A+/A+
Age Rating: Age 6 and up
Released By: Ten Speed Press
Release Date: July 16, 2019