The Saving Throw
Dungeons and Dragons ~ Dragon: Monster Ecologies Review 06.21.2007
Saving Throw's review of Dragon: Monster Ecologies.

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Dragon: Monster Ecologies
published by Paizo Publishing reviewed by Martin Drury
128 pages, 2007, $19.95
Content 15
Organization 14
Consistency 15
Intelligibility 16
Review Scoring

   Billing itself as a special issue of Dragon Magazine, Dragon: Monster Ecologies compiles 18 of the Monster Ecology articles into one concise volume. It also includes an index of all the Monster Ecology articles that have appeared in Dragon up to issue 359. This index is perhaps the single most useful feature of the book. Also included are brief recollections by authors, including Gary Gygaz, China Mieville and Rob Kuntz, about their favorite monsters. Special in-depth looks at how beholders, githyanki, mindflayers and displacer beasts have evolved over different editions of Dungeons and Dragons and a "Monsters of Suck" reference round out the work.

Each ecology contains a detailed history of the creature, how and where they are likely to live, deities they are likely to worship, and an example of an advanced member of the species. Also included are typical tactics in combat, as well typical and overall goals. The included sidebar on knowledge checks details what the player characters are likely to know about the species in general.

For players, and GMs as well, each article's content provides a lot of the missing pieces in the lore of the monster in question. This material can be incorporated into the adventure (perhaps the player characters need to figure out what is driving the inevitable that keeps chasing them) or simply provide the additional filler materials to make the world more complete. In addition, the advanced version of the creatures allows the GM to add a little more "umph" to what could otherwise be trivial encounters.

With ecologies of the choker, chuul, dracolich, draconian, ettercap, inevitable, kenku, kobold, kraken, lizardfolk, mooncalf, night hag, rakshasa, rust monster, shadar-kai, spawn of Kyuss, spell weaver, and will-o'-wisp; Dragon: Monster Ecologies covers some of the most dangerous and enigmatic foes adventurers may ecounter while out and about. Unfortunately, the book does not cover all the monster ecologies that have been printed over the years in Dragon. This may result in disappointment for fans of particular monsters that were excluded, but what is covered is a good mix in terms of levels covered and common versus uncommon monsters.

The additional features, such as the recollections and in-depth looks at how some creatures have evolved, increases the value for anyone interested in the history of Dungeons and Dragons. The "Monsters of Suck" outlines some of the "lovable losers" of Dungeons and Dragons including the ever popular flumph.

Dragon: Monster Ecologies is an interesting, but not a necessary read. With it, a GM can add additional flavor and substance to his campaign, which is always good, but it adds nothing essential to the game world. Fans of a particular monster might find the additional information gratifying, but most would be better off spending their money elsewhere.

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