Third Party D&D: Tome of Beasts III (Kobold Press)
It is no secret that Kobold Press is one of my favorite third-party D&D supplement creators. They are well known for creating quality products (both physically and content-wise). Recent months has seen Kobold Press thrust into the spotlight amidst all of the controversy surrounding the D&D OGL. While rest of the gaming community was screaming and arguing, Kobold Press took the unprecedented step of announcing a new system that would go head-to head with future editions of D&D. This move is very similar to what Paizo did around the turn of the century when they announced the Pathfinder system. Will Kobold Press’ Black Flag RPG really end up being D&D 5.5, the same way Pathfinder was often considered D&D 3.5? Well, that remains to be seen. But in the meantime, they are still publishing content for Fifth Edition and this book, Tome of Beasts III is their latest contribution.
Tome of Beasts III is, as you may have guessed, the latest entry in a series of monster books. Back when the first Tome of Beasts was released, it did an impressive job of filling in a number of gaps that existed in the “official” bestiary of D&D 5E. Of course, as more official 5E products rolled out over the years, many of the holes left in the Monster Manual have slowly been filled. This meant that Kobold Press had to get a bit more creative with their later monster books. Often times this meant including monsters native to their own Midgard campaign setting. Other times it meant including new variants of existing monsters (dragons, angels, devils, etc.) Thankfully, this tactic didn’t cheapen the products. It would all too easy to release a book filled with unimaginative trash monsters. Well, this book (despite its name) is the fourth monster book published by Kobold Press. Did they manage to keep this trend of releasing a quality product?
The short answer is, yes. Compared to many other third-party monster books that are floating around out there, Tome of Beasts III is a solid product. But, I do admit, it doesn’t seem to have the same level of inspiration as the previous books. The monsters in this latest book are a strong mixture of both variant creatures and completely new monstrosities. Within these pages we have new kobolds, angels, dragons, and even new owlbears… These may seem gimmicky at first. But if you take the time and really look at what is being presented, it doesn’t take long before your imagination gets rolling and you can start to see how these would make for some unique and memorable encounters.
As you might expect, several of the new monsters included in this book were designed for the Midgard campaign setting. But, Kobold Press has been kind enough to include notes that make it easy to include these creatures is nearly any campaign. The remaining new monsters are often very imaginative and tactical. It’s obvious that these creatures were not thrown together, but instead, they are well thought out and playtested. If you have a table full of players that think they’ve already seen everything you can possibly throw at them, this book will shut them up rather quickly.
As for the quality of the physical product, Kobold Press has continued their tradition of printing a colorful, sturdy book. The binding is tight and the pages are thick, glossy, and they just look amazing. I wish some of WotC’s official products reached this standard of quality.
Still, despite all the praise I’ve given this book, I do have to admit that there’s really nothing included here that’s going to make people say this is a “must have” supplement. Out of the four monster books that Kobold Press has released, this one is easily takes the fourth-place prize.
More D&D Product Reviews: