Tome of Beasts II (ToB2) is a 2020 Kickstarter which raised USD$413,021 to bring more than 400 new monsters created by both game designers and backer contributors to the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons game. This is the third monster book published by Kobold Press with the others being the Tome of Beasts and the Creature Codex.
Kobold Press publishes many titles and their monster books contain the highest quality art of all their publications possessing an art style of art which conforms closely to the 5th edition feel established by Wizards of the Coast.
This is most likely by design as the Chief Editor and owner of Kobold Press is Wolfgang Bauer who was a long-time editor of TSR’s Dungeon Magazine and former Wizards of the Coast employee. Wolfgang knows from experience this that you have to build not only great content but support and look and feel of the base game so that it is both useable and attractive to the customer.
So how does this book compare to the official Monster Manual published by Wizards of the Coast and its predecessors?
Tome of Beasts 2, like its monster book predecessors contains monsters that hit much harder…
When comparing it to the Monster Manual, Tome of Beasts 2, like its monster book predecessors contains monsters that hit much harder than the equivalent CR rated monster in the Monster Manual and the monsters have more variety in mechanics. This is by design with Kobold Press recognising that people likely to purchase additional monster books are running games for players that understand how to play their characters effectively and relish the surprise of a creature that is unknown and untested.
Unknown and untested is what this book delivers in spades.
“Oh a skeleton” says the player who raises a mace to squish it when it invariably runs over. Nope! the skeleton stops 60ft away and a whirlwind of bone fragments shoot at you and you have to make a strength save.
ToB2 contains creatures ranging from CR0 to CR28 and is filled with monsters of all creature types. Dungeon Masters who are looking for the less common creature types including Aberrations, Fey, Fiends, Plants and Undead will have plenty of choice as will Dungeon Masters looking for creatures suitable for artic, underwater and coastal locales.
ToB2 includes more creature which have their origins in Kobold Press’ Midgard Campaign Setting including Void, Leng, Trollkin, Eonic, and Ahu-Nixta.
Dragons, Elementals, Golems, Ghouls, Kobolds, Giants, Drakes, and Derro which are all staple monsters from Kobold Press have new variants but none are overdone. An appreciated inclusion in the book are statistics for wildlife creatures, including Alligators, Bilby, Bull, Goat, Fox, and giant Leeches, Honeybees, Scorpions, Mongooses, and Owl. These additions will make druid players happy.
ToB2 also contains many creatures of good alignment which is helpful to a Dungeon Master looking for a new type of ally to help the party.
If you are interested in monsters should you purchase this book? the answer is a resounding yes! Ah but which should I purchase first Tome of Beasts, Creature Codex or Tome of Beats 2 – I’m not made of money you know.
Which Kobold Press monster book should i Purchase First?
My recommendation is to purchase Tome of Beasts 2 if you intend to run Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frost Maiden as it contains many artic and coastal creatures which you can add or substitute in the adventure. Select Creature Codex if you want to add humanoid NPC variety with a smattering of the truly unique and bizarre, and Tome of Beasts if you want a start or peak into the Midgard Campaign setting and have access to the lore associated with the creatures in the other two books. But honestly you won’t go wrong whichever you choose first.
Kobold Press has been one of the shining independent publishes operating under the 5e licence made available by Wizards of the Coast. The Dungeons and Dragons community should be thankful for the 5e licence as it allows for the creation of excellent niche gaming products which larger companies find un-economic to produce. Wizards of the Coast should be thankful for the 5e licence as independent publishers produce what they cannot as these titles add the popularity and longevity of the game.
We can only hope for Creature Codex 2 as a fourth book will provide Dungeon Masters with nearly an extra 2000 monsters to play – best start whipping the kobolds!