Each week here at Geek & Sundry we’re taking a look at new and upcoming exciting titles on Kickstarter! This week’s Kickstarter of the week is The Creature Codex, perfect for D&D enthusiasts who want to expand their monster encounter options. As of this writing, the Kickstarter has exceeded their $30K funding goal and is at over $167K. If you want to stay tuned into what’s going on in the world of tabletop, be sure to tune in to Game The Game every Wednesday starting at 4 PM PT on Twitch and Alpha.
Heroes are only as good as their opposition. Players want to be challenged when the calls for initiative come from behind the Dungeon Master’s screen. Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition has some great monster resources including the Monster Manual, Volo’s Guide to Monsters and the creatures unique to each adventure series. Any Dungeon Master worth their dice knows that more options are better, allowing for third-party creature guides to flourish in this era.
One of the biggest and best is Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press, which offers over 400 new foes of multiple levels to challenge any group of heroes. It began on Kickstarter, where the project unlocked several additional elements, such as creature tokens, a book of lairs and ready-made adventures that could be dropped into a game for those nights when the Dungeon Master is looking to mix it up. Kobold Press returns to Kickstarter for a follow-up book titled The Creature Codex, and they look to not just expand creature options for Fifth Edition, but also put into play what they learned from making Tome of Beasts.
“A lot of monster design doesn’t change from edition to edition,” said Wolfgang Baur, the mastermind behind Kobold Press. “I’m thinking of the basic design requirements of making a monster useful, plausible, playable, relevant, and interesting. Some of the work clearly does, though, in the specific math of a game system and in the expectations of players of that rules set–some games are more deadly, or have a lighter or darker tone, or monsters offer different paths to a successful encounter. For Tome of Beasts, developer Steve Winter did a total deep dive into the math of 5th Edition D&D and we shared that monster stat math with the world. We broke down what the published 5th Edition monsters look like through analysis, and then we learned what works in play by doing a lot of playtesting. Most of our playtesters came back to us with “the Monster Manual creatures are too weak, please give us more challenging monsters for my players”.
The Creature Codex looks to keep many elements of Tome of Beasts with more unusual monsters that are built to be slightly tougher to beat. It will have over 300 monsters built by the Kobold Press crew, including things like the fey-touched shadow goblins or the wasteland dragons full of corruption and decay. In addition to these creatures, the book will include at least 30 monsters submitted by Kickstarter backers that will become part of the book. (There were 10 commission slots available to high-level backers, but those were snapped up in a flash.)
“I think very highly of game designers and our ability to be creative consistently,” said James Haeck, one of the designers on the book, “producing dozens of monsters over a very short amount of time (my contribution to this book was created over only a few months). Not everyone has the time to dedicate to creating so much high-quality game material, and it’s not guaranteed that the people who do have the time also have the discipline to do so. With all that said, you don’t have to be a professional game designer to create an incredible monster. D&D’s success as a hobby predicated upon the creativity of the average Game Master, and their ability to create their own monsters and content. There are people out there who have ideas they’ve been refining for years as a labor of love, and we want to show that creation to the world. The typical professional game designer doesn’t have the ability to dedicate months to a single monster or idea, but our fans do. It’s a win for everybody!”
The Kickstarter is set to end on January 5th with a projected delivery of August 2018 for the materials. The Kickstarter has already unlocked additional Kobold Press monsters, lairs and battlemaps for creatures plus digital resources for Dungeon Masters who run games in the virtual style. Kick off your new year with new ways to challenge your players!
Seeking out more arcane D&D knowledge?
- Check out our thoughts on Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
- Here are some great 1st level spells every D&D player should consider taking.
- Make your Dungeon Master’s life easier as a player (and maybe they’ll go easier on you too!)
Images Credits: Kobold Press
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly all the way down to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.