Volo's Guide to Monsters

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Volo's Guide to Monsters
Volo's Guide to Monsters.png
GenreRole-playing games
PublisherWizards of the Coast
Publication date
15 November 2016
Media typePrint (hardcover)

Volo's Guide to Monsters is an accessory for the 5th edition of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, published in 2016. It is, in part, a supplement to the 5th edition Monster Manual and the Players Handbook.[1][2]


This book adds a variety of new playable races and expands on existing creatures in the Monster Manual in addition to adding new ones. It includes lore for monsters such as beholders, hags, and illithids.[2][3] The book also contains in character margin notes by Volo and Elminster.[4]

  • Chapter 1: "Monster Lore takes several iconic D&D monsters and provides additional information about their origins, their dispositions and behaviors, and their lairs".[2]
  • Chapter 2: "Character Races presents character races that are some of the more distinctive race options in the D&D multiverse, including the goblin, the orc, and the firbolg".[2]
  • Chapter 3: "Bestiary provides game statistics and lore for nearly one hundred monsters suitable for any D&D campaign [...], such as the froghemoth, the neogi, and the vargouille".[2]
  • Appendixes[2]
    • A: Assorted Beasts
    • B: Nonplayer Characters
    • C: Monster Lists
  • Maps of Monster Lairs[2]

Publication history[edit]

This book was released on November 15, 2016. An exclusive edition with an alternate art cover by Hydro74 was pre-released to select game shops early in November 2016.[5][6]


Volo's Guide to Monsters won Best Supplement and Best Artwork & Presentation at the 2016 Golden Geek Awards (determined by users of BoardGameGeek, RPGGeek and VideoGameGeek).[7] In Publishers Weekly's "Best-selling Books Week Ending November 20, 2016", Volo's Guide to Monsters was #13 in "Hardcover Nonfiction".[8]

For the A.V. Club, Nick Wanserski wrote that "what I’ve enjoyed about Volo’s is that it understands how role-playing game source books, at their best, serve two distinct purposes. As a direct campaign aid, it provides more mechanical ingredients like monsters, player characters, and treasure. Secondly it serves as an idle reading companion—something to flip through and explore and pick out the appealing ideas. Even without actively playing a 5th Edition campaign, there’s a lot in here that I will happily slice out and reassemble in my Frankenstein’s monster of a campaign".[9]

Zack Furniss, for Destructoid, wrote that "in the second chapter, there are new character race options. I was expecting only a few, but there are seven new (well five, if you're counting downloadable supplements) races and six monster races. The angelic Aasimar are more fleshed out here than in the Dungeon Master's Guide, and the huge, mountain-dwelling Goliaths are no longer relegated solely to the downloadable Elemental Evil Player's Campaign. [...] Monster races aren't quite as in-depth, lacking history and storytelling hooks, but still include enough information to be playable. Bugbears, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, orcs, and yuan-ti purebloods are all ready to be played now. An all-monster campaign could be a fun, if I ever have the time to run it. [...] I'll be plucking out nasties and their stories to creep out my friends for a long time. I love the marriage of narrative and mechanical information. It's easy to ignore if you just want to have new stat blocks, but it's hard not to get sucked in and read all of it".[10]

For Polygon, Charlie Hall wrote that "most of the information is great fodder for dungeon masters. How do you roleplay a beholder? How do you speak like a giant? What does their four-tier caste system contribute to goblin society? What does a gnoll chant to keep his spirits up while on the hunt? What is the lifecycle of a mind flayer? [...] Ever wondered what a hag is most likely to drive off the used car lot, or fancied a careful examination of the kobold pantheon? It’s all in there, and something is going to light a fire in your mind and bring a richer, more memorable experience to the table. The second third of the book might be my favorite. I’m not able to share much, but suffice it to say that with Volo’s Guide both dungeon masters and players will be able to bring new races to the table, both as player and non-player characters. [...] The final third contains rules for 96 monsters that are new to fifth edition, including the Gauth and the Mindwitness".[1]

On using Volo's point of view as the framing device for this book, Cameron Kunzelman for Paste wrote "imagine that Ken Jennings was a drunk, really cared about being able to name all the animals of the zoo, and was the sole grantor of Michelin stars across the world. That's Volo. [...] As a character, Volo is brilliant because he is a device through which the designers of the Forgotten Realms can give Dungeon Masters a set of bounds.[...] That 'thinks he knows' is crucial, because having Volo write the guide means that he can be wrong. From a design perspective, Volo is a way of giving DMs a toolbox that they don’t have to be completely adherent to. Whatever Volo thinks or writes can be slightly off the mark. Maybe he only saw a tavern during the daytime. Maybe he cut some corners. Nesting world design within the subjective opinions of an expansive, world-trotting character with a penchant for embellishment solves a lot of problems and generally makes the job of being a DM a little more fun".[4] In a later review, Kunzelman wrote that "my one serious critique of Volo’s Guide to Monsters is that it doesn’t do enough with its supposed writer. The character Volo has done a number of things: he wrote guides to specific cities, appeared in games, and even wrote the manual for a Baldur’s Gate game. [...] Volo’s Guide to Monsters has snippets of info from Volo, but it mostly tells the DM facts about a world, rather than opinions, rumors and suspicions that might be completely unfounded. [...] In any case, the book is interesting and genuinely helpful for any given Dungeon Master who might be using these monsters in her campaign".[11]


  1. ^ a b Hall, Charlie (2016-10-19). "Dungeons & Dragons is changing how it makes books". Polygon. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Volo's Guide to Monsters | Dungeons & Dragons". dnd.wizards.com. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  3. ^ "Volo's Guide to Monsters is the new, awesome Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons". Destructoid. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  4. ^ a b "An Exclusive Preview of the New Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual Volo's Guide to Monsters". pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  5. ^ Volo's Guide to Monsters Review|Nerd Sourced
  6. ^ "New Dungeons & Dragons Monster Guide Has Limited Edition Cover Option". www.bleedingcool.com. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  7. ^ "11th Annual Golden Geek Awards Winners for 2016! | Geekdo". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  8. ^ The Associated Press (November 23, 2016). "PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Bestsellers". NEWS 1130. Archived from the original on 2020-09-29. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  9. ^ Wanserski, Nick. "Your guide to Volo's Guide To Monsters". Games. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  10. ^ "Volo's Guide to Monsters is the new, awesome Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons". Destructoid. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  11. ^ "Volo's Guide to Monsters isn't a Typical Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual". pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 2019-06-20.

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