What Do I Know About Reviews—Monsters of the Guild (Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition)

I always have a difficult time trying to formulate reviews for monster books. I love them, and so much of my opinion is based on “gut reactions” to the monsters. In general, monster books just get shifted back in my review queue indefinitely, while I analyze other books.

The problem is, there are so many strong, evocative monster books coming out now. Additionally, books like Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes are challenging what monster books look like, with information on lairs, personalities, and playable races.

Monsters of the Guild, specifically, is a product that really caught my eye. It is a product sold on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, which has a host of different contributors, including some of the most prolific DM’s Guild authors.

The preview version of the product, Monsters Without Borders,  was a charity product that benefited Doctors Without Borders. The final version is available in both PDF and print on demand, and I’ve got both the PDF and the hardcover version of the product.

How Is the Guildhall Constructed?

Monsters of the Guild is 158 pages long, with a glossy cover and matte pages in the physical edition. The print on demand version of the book feels solidly made. Colors are black, white, and various parchment and sepia tones, with a color cover.

The cover is a striking stylistic image of a beholder. Interior art varies a lot in style. Page 5 is a great, full page set of sketches of the contributors. For the rest of the book, the best way I could compare the art would be to say it hearkens back to something like the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual. There isn’t a unified style, and art varies from more detailed line drawings to more impressionistic images. I personally wish that some of the art had been a little more polished. It isn’t bad, but a little tweaking might have made a stronger overall impression–your millage may vary.

The formatting in the book made a very strong impression on me. Titles, fonts, boxes, and side bars all look very professional, and  make the book a joy to read through and reference.

The Body of the Beast

There is a forward by Chris Lindsey from Wizards of the Coast, and the final five pages summarize monsters by challenge rating, environment, and type. In between, the book is wall to wall monsters, with references to where the monster may have appeared previously, a note on who created the monster, and some notes on the motivations of a creature and how they might be used in an adventure.

Here are some overall stats for what appears in the book:

CR 0
2
CR ¼
1
CR ½
11
CR 1
12
CR 2
9
CR 3
17
CR 4
15
CR 5
12
CR 6
11
CR 7
5
CR 8
4
CR 9
2
CR 10
1
CR 11
6
CR 12
2
CR 13
2
CR 14
2
CR 15
2
CR 16
1
CR 17
1
CR 20
2
CR 21
1
CR 16
1
Aberration
9
Beast
14
Celestial
1
Construct
13
Dragon
6
Elemental
10
Fey
6
Fiend
15
Giant
1
Humanoid
15
Monstrosity
9
Ooze
5
Plant
6
Undead
10
Monsters that appeared in recent Wizards of the Coast products since this book was published:
  •         Demon, Bulezau (appears in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes at CR 3, CR 5 in this book)
  •          Demon, Maurezhi (appears in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes at CR 7, CR 11 in this book)

The Good  That Monsters Do

I love how clear and easy this book is to look through. The formatting is great, and the summary tables at the end of the book are very useful. While there are many evocative monsters in the book, in particular I would be very interested in getting the Cairnlord (a fey powerhouse creature), the Grave Weird (an elemental corrupted by corpses), the Infernal Obelisk (a fiend that looks like a walking monument to evil), the Mindflayer Tadpole (I really loved Lords of Madness back in 3.5), and the Necrosphinx (a huge undead guardian sphinx) to the table.

Wandering off the Trail

Some monsters are strong entries, but the nature of the entry feels a little incomplete, so the monsters feels less usable and more like an ad for other products. An example of this might be the crystal and amethyst dragons, which each only appear at one age category, but have all the standard dragon age categories available in the Gem Dragons of Faerun product where they originally appear.

There are also a few monsters that feel as if they are probably great in the adventures where they originally appear, but they feel a bit more difficult to employ without that framework.

Another thing that I noticed in some of the monster stat blocks is that some attacks have evocative names, but the name seems to contraindicate what the actual damage type is (for example, an attack with necrotic in the title that does psychic damage). In a few places, there are attacks with evocative names, but without any real explanation of what the attack looks like. There are hit bonuses or save DCs, but not a clear description of what is happening to cause the damage. It’s still functional, but might have been better detailed.

Qualified Recommendation–A product with lots of positive aspects, but buyers may want to understand the context of the product and what it contains before moving it ahead of other purchases.


While there are a few quirks, this given what this project is, it came together amazingly well. There are some useful monsters in the book, and it may be worth it to look at exactly how this product came together if you have any interest in the DM’s Guild and how products on the site are evolving.

That said, if you already have the Monster Manual, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes (and possibly third-party books like the Tome of Beasts), it may be a while before you are driven to pick up another monster book.

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