06th Aug2019

‘Dungeons & Dragons: A Young Adventurer’s Guide Vols. 1 & 2’ Review

by Guest

Review by Baron Fortnightly


Thanks to Phil at Nerdly I had the opportunity to review two new Dungeons and Dragons books, published by Wizards of the Coast and Ten Speed Press/Random House. A word of warning to hard-core D&D fans, these probably aren’t your cup of tea, but they do serve an important purpose.

The two books are Warriors & Weapons and Monsters & Creatures; small hardback, immersive guides to the world of Dungeons and Dragons. Both are packed full of new illustrations from Conceptopolis, about 70+ per book, and have great production values – metallic ink on the front cover, nice iconography, plus metallic end papers. These are books for children, but would look right at home in any D&D collection.

Both books are written by long-time D&D comic writer Jim Zub along with Stacy King and Andrew Wheeler (all role-players), who do a great job of immersing the reader into the fantasy setting of Dungeons & Dragons. There are no game mechanics or rules in these books, but they are useful for getting players up to speed on the setting, common terms, character creation and creatures of Dungeons & Dragons, without needing to read a whole rule book.

The books don’t hide the fact that they are aimed at 8 to 12 year-olds, despite some weird angry gate-keeper type reviews on Amazon complaining about this. 8 year old Baron Fortnightly would have been re-reading these books until they fell apart.

Warriors & Weapons gives the reader all the information needed to come up with a D&D player character without rolling dice or reading rules. Chapter one covers fantasy races, including newer races such as Kenku, Tabaxi and Tortle, describing each one and what makes them unique.

Next up are character classes; 6 non-magic classes are described; some class abilities, and an example of each class are given. It was great seeing Bruenor Battlehammer and Wulfgar again, as well as other imagination sparking characters. This section also includes a flowchart to help readers choose their class, examples of character background, and advice on making your character unique. The third chapter covers equipment, and is probably the most useful bit for existing players. It contains descriptions and illustrations of different weapons, armour, and adventuring gear. This a great visual resource if you want to know what your characters heavy splint armour, buckler and halberd look like. The final few pages encourage the reader to use their imagination to tell their own stories, and suggest playing Dungeons and Dragons as a fun way to do this.

Monsters & Creatures starts with a great illustration of an Owlbear – that’s all you need to know! Okay, a few more details. Monsters & Creatures covers an environment per chapter, these follow the same format: a compelling description of the environment, double page spreads detailing a number of monsters or creatures that you might encounter in said environment, an “Encounter” – a short story describing a creature encounter, plus a legendary monster.

Environments covered include caverns, forests, mountains, moors, oceans and lakes, mountain peaks and the open sky. 36 monsters are described including D&D classics such as the beholder, goblin, mind flayer, owlbear, unicorn, vampire, plus various giants and chromatic dragons. These spreads include an illustration of the creature, their abilities, size, description, danger level (a bit like Creature Rating), and some fun “do’s and don’ts”. For example under Vampire Lord it includes “Don’t forget to look up”, and “Do bring along a holy spellcaster”.

Legendary monsters include the infamous Demogorgon, Count Strahd Von Zarovich from Ravenloft, and the classic Tiamat, Queen of Evil Dragons. The final few pages are the same in both books, but this one present’s advice on using monsters to tell your stories.

Do you need these books to play D&D? No, not at all. They aren’t aimed at existing players, they’re aimed at children who’ve not been exposed to the addictive nature of roleplaying games. These books give them a taste of that better than the real world fantasy land, where they can have fun, make life-long friends, enjoy heartbeat raising adventures and bring home plenty of treasure and magic items.

Anything that gets new people playing Dungeons and Dragons or other RPGs is great. These books fill a niche that fits nicely between the ABCs and 123s of D&D for young children, and the Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook. They all encourage make believe, and are a brilliant primer. Without a doubt I’ll be encouraging my nephew to read these books and keep using his imagination to tell stories.

Warriors & Weapons and Monsters & Creatures are both out now.


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