The Saving Throw
Dungeons and Dragons ~ Monster Manual V 09.07.2007
Saving Throw's review of Monster Manual V.

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Monster Manual V
published by Wizards of the Coast reviewed by Martin Drury
2007, $34.99
Content 15
Organization 16
Consistency 17
Intelligibility 17
Solid Hit
Review Scoring

   It may seem hard to believe, but Monster Manual V really is the fifth book of monsters released by Wizards of the Coast. Filled with new monsters and new takes on some old favorites, Monster Manual V offers something for every Game Master. Couple that with a smattering of new feats, eleven new templates and a new spell, and updating existing monsters with a new twist is an easy task as well. For the players, Monster Manual V offers a new race, the Jaebrin, new mounts and companion creatures, creatable creatures (either with create undead or new constructs) and a few new items.

Each creature entry contains a brief description of the creatures appearance, a stat block of a basic version of the creature, strategies and tactics the creature uses in combat, a sample encounter, ecology and society, sample lairs (if applicable), typical treasure, information for playing the creature as a character (if applicable) examples of how the creature advances with class levels and advanced versions of the creature (if the applicable), any applicable information for player characters (if applicable) and conversion notes for Eberron and Forgotten Realms campaign settings. Each section also contains a Lore sidebar that can be used by the Game Master to provide the information about the creature to the players with the appropriate knowledge skill checks.

For Game Masters, the information provided in the stat block, strategy and tactics, and sample encounters facilitate dropping a new creature into an adventure with minimal effort. The ecology, society, and lore sections make a handy reference if the creature is slated to make multiple appearances in the campaign. The typical treasure section makes customizing the treasure carried by the creature a simple task as well, and makes the creature stand out in the minds of the players. Finally, the conversion notes for Eberron and Forgotten Realms will be extremely helpful for Game Masters running adventures in those settings.

For the players, the information provided in the Creatures As Characters and For Player Characters are of the most use. If a player is looking for something new and unusual to play, the Jaebrin, Xorvintaal Exarch template, or Hobgoblin variants might serve as a good choice. The For Player Characters section contains information on using the creature as a mount, companion, summonable or creatable creatures and other miscellaneous entries such as what the players can do with the liquid remains of a Merchurion.

Perhaps the single most interesting entry in Monster Manual V is the Xorvintaal entries. Xorvintaal, a draconic word meaning "great game", describes a manner with which a Game Master can create unique dragons that can in turn recruit the player characters to help out in the great game, but bestow upon the character the Xorvintaal template. Besides describing Xorvintaal, the newest manual also describes new options for the dragons participating in the great game that may foreshadow some of the changes coming with the 4th Edition rules.

With creatures ranging from a Challenge Rating of 1/2 to 26, and at least one creature for every environment, Monster Manual V makes a handy addition to any Game Masters library of monsters. Couple that with the extensive information for players and even those who sit in the players' chairs will find the book a helpful resource to increase their enjoyment in Dungeons and Dragons.

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