If there has been a theme in the past ten years of Dungeons & Dragons, it’s been the struggle to bring accessibility to general audiences. While the game has experienced tremendous growth and acceptance and is now truly bordering the mainstream market, it still suffers from one major detractor: D&D is a complicated game and has a high barrier to entry. Dungeons & Dragons: Monsters & Creatures and Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors & Weapons are the latest in a long line of innovations that attempt to convert the game into something more palatable.
These two books, which are part of a series of four, are intended to serve as simplified introductions to the core concepts of D&D, aimed at younger audiences. Warriors & Weapons focuses on races, classes, and equipment, while Monsters & Creatures focuses on the beasts that players will encounter in their adventures.
Both books strip out all of the rules and mathematics involved in D&D and, instead, choose to focus on the world behind those rules. The writing is kept short and sweet without feeling dumbed down for a younger audience. Because the books maintain a 100-page count, they’ve cut all but the essentials for newcomers. There are a few glaring exclusions that would’ve been appreciated (spears in the weapon section and mimics in the monster sections, for example), but these could always be included in later entries in the series.
The books combine the essential information with illustrations depicting examples of each topic. Hands down, this is some of the best D&D artwork ever put to page. I’m not sure if it’s because they went for a cleaner, more child-friendly style or if they just curated the art a little more than usual, but the visuals are jaw dropping. Everything from the way these books are bound, to the cover art, to the layout is gorgeous and practically worth the price of admission alone. These two books are going to be proudly displayed in my collection for their covers alone.
I have the opportunity to read a lot of good books, but, like I said in my earliest review: I get most excited when I get to review things that are new and unique. Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors & Weapons and Dungeons & Dragons: Monsters & Creatures are treading on familiar ground – the basics of roleplaying – but tackle it from a creative, new perspective. These books are absolutely fantastic for children, and, frankly, anyone brand new to D&D could probably stand to read them. Even if you don’t know the first thing about Dungeons & Dragons, these books are a great fantasy resource. I’d say that if you have even the most passing interest in fantasy, these books are a must buy.