While Paul W.S. Anderson's Monster Hunter movie doesn't come out until December, Ten Speed Press and Wizards of the Coast have a more immediate fix for giant monster enthusiasts. That would be Beasts and Behemoths — the fifth installment in Jim Zub's Young Adventurer's series for the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. Stomping onto shelves and digital retailers next week, the 112-page guide chronicles the most fearsome, toothsome, and bloodthirsty leviathans of D&D lore. But what sets this entry apart from Monsters & Creatures, you may be asking?
"In Beasts & Behemoths we profile 40 more creatures and legendary villains from the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons. In Monsters & Creatures, the profiles were organized by location (underground, underwater, in forests, mountains, or in the sky), while this time, we’re building up creatures by size, starting with tiny and small creatures, and moving through medium-sized, large and huge before delivering on the gargantuan — creatures of staggering size that promise epic adventure," Zub explains to SYFY WIRE. "Shifting these creatures out of a purely alphabetical list helps contextualize them in a new way and gives our readers new ideas on how to use them in their own creative stories."
After a rather arduous journey in which most of our party was gobbled up by grotesque aberrations of nature, SYFY WIRE procured several interior pages that we can exclusively debut to the public. We've captured a Gnoll, a Corpse Flower, and the smiling (at least we think he's smiling) fella on the cover: a Tarrasque.
"Even after so many years of playing D&D I can still be surprised by little details in the Monster Manual," adds Zub. "It’s easy to take some of this stuff for granted, but when we dig in to generate these new profiles, I still find exciting bits I’d forgotten that we can highlight or emphasize in unexpected ways."
"Gnolls are scary scavengers with an insatiable appetite for destruction," Zub says. "One on one they’re not too much of a threat, but adventurers almost always encounter them in huge packs and that makes them deadly."
"Corpse Flowers are an undead plant that pulls corpses into itself to increase its power. Worst of all, it gives off a dangerous stench that can stop adventurers in their tracks," Zub explains.
"A Tarrasque (the Tarrasque? We hope there isn’t more than one) is a gargantuan monstrosity that can level cities with its huge body and has a roar that can be heard for miles. It’s the D&D kaiju and you don’t want to mess with it," Zub warns.
The author's personal favorite beast and/or behemoth are the Cranium Rats, which he describes as "creepy and fun as a concept. The more of them that are together in one place, the more intelligent they get. That’s just a fun idea and a neat visual. I definitely want to use them in my own D&D tabletop adventures."
He continues: "Our team loves digging into familiar and forgotten parts of D&D lore to profile these creatures. It’s a thrill to spotlight them and get our readers excited about how they might fit into upcoming adventures. Writing the ‘Do This’ and ‘Don’t Do This’ sections of each profile can be a challenge at times. You want to offer advice that’s unique to each creature and that sometimes requires thinking outside the box in terms of how each one attacks or interacts with an adventuring party. It’s definitely the part that looks simple, but probably takes the most time."
Beasts & Behemoths goes on sale next Tuesday, Oct. 20. You can pre-order a copy for $11.89 right here.
"Our team has been blown away by how much the D&D community has embraced these books and used them to bring new players, young or old, into the hobby. Knowing that pushes us to be even more focused on what we include and how we explain the game and its world," Zub concludes. These guides are built as a way to unlock creativity in our readers the same way D&D did for me when I was 8-years-old (I even did a TEDx Talk about it). No matter what new elements we include in the guides, that foundation, giving new players ideas and letting them bring their own creativity into the mix, is at the heart of it and that’s why it works."
In addition to Creatures & Monsters, the Young Adventurer's line also includes: Warriors & Weapons, Dungeons & Tombs, and Wizards & Spells. "We’re in development on a sixth book in the series, but the title hasn’t been announced," teases Zub. "I can’t go into much detail yet, but I will say that it’s focused on helping both Players and Dungeon Masters bring their best to the table."