Volo's Guide to Monsters

Wizards of the Coast has once again firmly cemented for me the idea that I am not their target audience.  An article showed up today on Polygon titled “Dungeons and Dragons is changing how it makes books“.  Man, with an opener like that, it’s really hard not get super cynical on this.  And that’s reinforced with quotes like this one:

“I have this kind of personal philosophy for managing the product line,” Mearls said last month in Renton, Washington. “I don’t want to duplicate any product that’s come before. I think that if people have seen it, then it’s not really new and it’s not really exciting.”

Really?  And you’re doing that by making a book that has more narrative fiction in it and titling it “Volo’s Guide…”  Because we’ve never seen anything like that before.  Sigh.

But I’m trying not to be too negative on this, because honestly this book simply underscores what I’ve known for a long time, that I’m simply not their target audience anymore.  So who is it for, who wants 14 pages just on the beholder?  The answer I think must be people who are buying these books for the nostalgic factor alone, but don’t actually ever get to play the game.  Reading game manuals as a hobby in and of itself is definitely a thing.  Who am I to poo-poo that?

Honestly, I think my only problem is that D&D is still niche enough that friends and relatives will send me links to articles like this.  “Hey, you’re into Dungeons and Dragons, right?”  How can I explain to them that this is definitely not what I’m into?  The only arguments I can give are along the lines of “this is not Dungeons and Dragons” or “I’m only into early Dungeons and Dragons”, both of which really make me feel like a serious RPG hipster.  I wish Wizards would do me the favor of rebranding their product to stop the confusion, but obviously that makes zero fiscal sense for them.

I suppose ultimately what this means is that I really should just stop posting about stuff like this, as it’s basically not relevant to this blog.  In other news, Nike released their new Foamposite One sneakers today.

3 thoughts on “Volo's Guide to Monsters

  1. I actually find this one to be useful, as it fills in some missing classic monsters that aren’t in the 5E Monster Manual. The extra material on certain monsters can be fun and provide useful ideas for adventure design, even if I never plan to read all 14 pages on Beholders. I’ve gotten some great mileage recently from the section on Hags. This and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything are actually the only non-core books I own & use from 5E, though if players want to use something from another book I’ll assess it on a case-by-case basis.

    1. Yeah, 3 years ago I was pretty darn cynical about 5e. 🙂

      That said, I think a book like “The Monsters Know What They’re Doing” beats the pants off a book like “Volo’s Guide to Monsters”. What can I say, I’m a pragmatist when it comes to my D&D books. I’m pretty confident in making up background or twisting monsters into ways that fit the fiction of my game, I do not need a published book for that.

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