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New Treasures: The Monsters Know What They’re Doing by Keith Ammann

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Monsters Know What They're Doing-small The Monsters Know What They're Doing-back-small

Cover by Lily Pressland

I’m enjoying watching role-playing seep into popular culture. It’s happening in casual and insidious ways. Like with self-help books for Dungeon Masters, a section in the bookstore that I couldn’t even imagine when I was gaming in the basement with my friends 30 years ago. Every time I see a book like Keith Ammann’s The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, I grin a little. Okay, more than a little.

The Monsters Know What They’re Doing makes for some light and entertaining reading.It’s essentially an alphabetical listing of over a hundred different giants, undead, humanoids, NPCs, and other monster types, with a 2-4 pages essay on combat tactics and “villainous battle plans” for each. Much of it is drawn from Ammann’s popular blog The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, and it’s an insightful and lively read throughout.

Personally I might have liked more in-depth pieces on fewer monsters. These essays are useful, but not in the ways I found the Third Edition Savage Species book useful. That one looked at how monsters could level up, acquire spells, familiars and special weapons and spells, and was a fantastic resource for creating that unique Orc shaman or kitted-out Kobold prince. To be honest, I don’t know how much I’d actually use The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, but it sure made fun reading. Here’s the description.

In the course of a Dungeons & Dragons game, a Dungeon Master has to make one decision after another in response to player behavior—and the better the players, the more unpredictable their behavior! It’s easy for even an experienced DM to get bogged down in on-the-spot decision-making or to let combat devolve into a boring slugfest, with enemies running directly at the player characters and biting, bashing, and slashing away.

In The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, Keith Ammann lightens the DM’s burden by helping you understand your monsters’ abilities and develop battle plans before your fifth edition D&D game session begins. Just as soldiers don’t whip out their field manuals for the first time when they’re already under fire, a DM shouldn’t wait until the PCs have just encountered a dozen bullywugs to figure out how they advance, fight, and retreat.

Easy to read and apply, The Monsters Know What They’re Doing is essential reading for every DM.

The Monsters Know What They’re Doing was published by Saga Press on October 29, 2019. It is 543 pages, priced at $28.99 in hardcover and $14.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Lily Pressland.

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