Happy Halloween, geeks and freaks. Today, we have a special preview of the new Dungeons & Dragons monster supplement, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, to satisfy your beastly cravings.
Volo’s Guide is a whole new take on the nearly 40-year-old Monster Manual. This time, it’s got some story, framing it more as an academic debate than an encyclopedia: “Esteemed loremaster” Volothamp Geddarm describes the iconic monsters of D&D’s Forgotten Realms universe while the Sage of Shadowdale argues his take on monsters is too classic. The two duke it out academic-style in comments scattered throughout Volo’s Guide, to be released November 15th.
D&D’s lead designer Mike Mearls told Polygon recently that Volo’s Guide is meant to question and draw out D&D’s monster tropes. What is it like, he asks, for mind flayers to eat humans? Volo’s Guide may answer these kinds of questions:
“If you take a look at something like a mind flayer, it has that sort of ‘50s science fiction feel. It’s the creepy monster that lives under the bed and eats your brain by the end of story. But I think with a 21st century approach, you can say, ‘Well, who is the mind flayer.’ And it sounds funny, but then you start getting into it. What’s with this guy eating brains . . .
What’s the biology of the mind flayer? But no one asked about its feelings. But when you think about, it the game tells me that mind flayer has an 18 intelligence. The highest intelligence a human can achieve, that’s their average. Literally, they walk in the room and they are the smartest being there. They are smarter than every human they’ve ever ate. So talking to us is like meeting dogs, for them. What’s that got to be like?”
Of course, like any D&D head knows, the real pull of Monster Manuals are the illustrations. Publisher Wizards of the Coast has provided us with an exclusive preview of a few pages. If you can drag your eyes away from this seriously phenomenal art, read about a few of Volo’s Guide’s new race options, as well as some lore and a bestiary. Here we have some gnolls and yuan-ti:
Io9 posted about Volo’s Guide today, too. You can check out their coverage here.