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The Monsters Know What They're Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters

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From the creator of the popular blog The Monsters Know What They’re Doing comes a compilation of villainous battle plans for Dungeon Masters. In the course of a Dungeons & Dragons game, a Dungeon Master has to make one decision after another in response to player behavior—and the better the players, the more unpredictable their behavior! It’s easy for even an experienced DM From the creator of the popular blog The Monsters Know What They’re Doing comes a compilation of villainous battle plans for Dungeon Masters. In the course of a Dungeons & Dragons game, a Dungeon Master has to make one decision after another in response to player behavior—and the better the players, the more unpredictable their behavior! It’s easy for even an experienced DM to get bogged down in on-the-spot decision-making or to let combat devolve into a boring slugfest, with enemies running directly at the player characters and biting, bashing, and slashing away. In The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, Keith Ammann lightens the DM’s burden by helping you understand your monsters’ abilities and develop battle plans before your fifth edition D&D game session begins. Just as soldiers don’t whip out their field manuals for the first time when they’re already under fire, a DM shouldn’t wait until the PCs have just encountered a dozen bullywugs to figure out how they advance, fight, and retreat. Easy to read and apply, The Monsters Know What They're Doing is essential reading for every DM.


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From the creator of the popular blog The Monsters Know What They’re Doing comes a compilation of villainous battle plans for Dungeon Masters. In the course of a Dungeons & Dragons game, a Dungeon Master has to make one decision after another in response to player behavior—and the better the players, the more unpredictable their behavior! It’s easy for even an experienced DM From the creator of the popular blog The Monsters Know What They’re Doing comes a compilation of villainous battle plans for Dungeon Masters. In the course of a Dungeons & Dragons game, a Dungeon Master has to make one decision after another in response to player behavior—and the better the players, the more unpredictable their behavior! It’s easy for even an experienced DM to get bogged down in on-the-spot decision-making or to let combat devolve into a boring slugfest, with enemies running directly at the player characters and biting, bashing, and slashing away. In The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, Keith Ammann lightens the DM’s burden by helping you understand your monsters’ abilities and develop battle plans before your fifth edition D&D game session begins. Just as soldiers don’t whip out their field manuals for the first time when they’re already under fire, a DM shouldn’t wait until the PCs have just encountered a dozen bullywugs to figure out how they advance, fight, and retreat. Easy to read and apply, The Monsters Know What They're Doing is essential reading for every DM.

30 review for The Monsters Know What They're Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary Catelli

    An in-depth analysis of how to fight with D&D monsters. Sticks faithfully to the stat blocks and flavor text, and to combat. Indeed, some of the discussions brush on what other uses a spell or power might have, but others simply dismiss everything not useful for combat. Also, all the monsters are assumed to be operating at maximum efficiency. This may be mechanical if they are stupid enough, but on the satyr, he observes they have a cool attack but it's not really effective. As if you could not ea An in-depth analysis of how to fight with D&D monsters. Sticks faithfully to the stat blocks and flavor text, and to combat. Indeed, some of the discussions brush on what other uses a spell or power might have, but others simply dismiss everything not useful for combat. Also, all the monsters are assumed to be operating at maximum efficiency. This may be mechanical if they are stupid enough, but on the satyr, he observes they have a cool attack but it's not really effective. As if you could not easily justify its use by declaring the satyrs are drunk. A DM could absorb principles and adjust to handle other creatures; this does stick strictly to the creatures, not the general principles. A writer, even of Gamelit, would of course have to keep the readers from hearing dice rolling, but it's a branch of tactics not easily studied elsewhere.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eric Smith

    BOOM! This book - and its author - are amazing! In forty years of gaming, this is the most inspiring, well thought-out, useful, interesting, exciting source book and RPG supplement I've ever seen. Author Keith Ammann isn't terribly forthcoming about his background, but a fierce intelligence shines through every sentence. He draws from anthropology, military tactics, behavioral psychology, history, and an incredibly deep and broad wellspring of fantasy and mythic literature to lay out his case for BOOM! This book - and its author - are amazing! In forty years of gaming, this is the most inspiring, well thought-out, useful, interesting, exciting source book and RPG supplement I've ever seen. Author Keith Ammann isn't terribly forthcoming about his background, but a fierce intelligence shines through every sentence. He draws from anthropology, military tactics, behavioral psychology, history, and an incredibly deep and broad wellspring of fantasy and mythic literature to lay out his case for the motivations and tactics of every creature in the game. This volume goes a long way toward balancing 5e, which, IMO, coddles players far too much. By implementing his carefully reasoned tactics, every creature the DM uses will be a significantly more formidable opponent. But even better, it will be much more BELIEVABLE. Five unreserved stars for this masterpiece.

  3. 4 out of 5

    jedioffsidetrap

    Browsed this book out of nostalgia, looking up some of old fave creatures: Beholders, Shambling Mounds, Githyanki, Xorn, Owlbears, Bulettes, Umber Hulks... heh heh. Great title!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    So I'm saying that I'm finished, but alas, I am not. This book is awesome for what I've read so far though! Let me explain by saying that this is a personalized reference book written by someone that has been a GM for a LONG TIME, runs a blog powered by personal experience and the experience of GMs from all over the world, and therefore, he understands the ins and outs of reading CR Rating, spells, and creature stats; through this data, he translates the numbers into personality or a modus opera So I'm saying that I'm finished, but alas, I am not. This book is awesome for what I've read so far though! Let me explain by saying that this is a personalized reference book written by someone that has been a GM for a LONG TIME, runs a blog powered by personal experience and the experience of GMs from all over the world, and therefore, he understands the ins and outs of reading CR Rating, spells, and creature stats; through this data, he translates the numbers into personality or a modus operandi for your the agents of your PC's demise! BRILLIANT!! As a long time RPer, but noobish D&D DM, this book was perfect for me as I am able to look at my story, learn in a short time what long time fans of the game already know and change it to make GREAT STORIES. Which is what a DM is supposed to do isn't it? Last week in a game, I had a group of miners who "aqcuired" some cursed coin from a long dead Dark Paladin's secret tomb. My PCs encountered 4 skeletons walking towards them under the moonlight drinking in revelry... My rogue opened fire shooting the left side skelly with his hand crossbow, then moved to the shadows on the street (15ft), bonus action hid, then moved the last 10 feet to stealth... However he damn near choked on his drink (along with the other two players at the table) when I told him that the skeleton screamed in pain... Oh you should have seen the looks on their face, and mine as I used information gleaned from this book in my game, making my story better!! And when they ventured out to investigate the tomb, I had a better understanding of what skeletons do, which means I also know what they don't do, allowing me to drop hints in the middle of action to my players because some mobs were skeletons and some were humans cursed and in the middle of combat they had to figure out which was real and which were only an illusion. It was great, it was fun, and I'm NEVER going to be finished reading this gamer's bible. So a BIG 5 stars, and a serious recommendation to anyone that wants to enhance their DMing skills or pick something up to get the information needed to become a great DM!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Diego Souza

    Uma coisa que sempre me irritou na maioria dos Livros de Monstros, de D&D ou de outros RPGs, é que por vezes não havia o aprofundamento adequado dos monstros, especialmente no que toca ao uso de suas habilidades (salvo, claro, alguns suplementos já lendários, como "I, Tyrant"). O autor desse pequeno tesouro em forma de livro ajuda a desvendar tais mistérios, inclusive usando de muita lógica e amplo conhecimento das regras, sem ser chatão. O mais legal é que as estratégias de combate são abordadas Uma coisa que sempre me irritou na maioria dos Livros de Monstros, de D&D ou de outros RPGs, é que por vezes não havia o aprofundamento adequado dos monstros, especialmente no que toca ao uso de suas habilidades (salvo, claro, alguns suplementos já lendários, como "I, Tyrant"). O autor desse pequeno tesouro em forma de livro ajuda a desvendar tais mistérios, inclusive usando de muita lógica e amplo conhecimento das regras, sem ser chatão. O mais legal é que as estratégias de combate são abordadas como se os monstros fossem criaturas orgânicas (ou não), com instintos de sobrevivência fruto de seleção natural (ou falta dela). E, sim, tem a estratégia do Tarrasque. "Chomp, chomp, chomp, gulp".

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    This book has fantastic content for a DM, and really made me think about the expansive opportunities for adding challenge to combat. In particular, reading the stats and what they relay about tactics really got me thinking, as well as the opportunity to think beyond the abilities listed (when to grapple, shove, disengage, etc). One thing I wish the book had was a more through discussion of tactics in general, but through the many examples you do arrive at that knowledge for the most part. I reco This book has fantastic content for a DM, and really made me think about the expansive opportunities for adding challenge to combat. In particular, reading the stats and what they relay about tactics really got me thinking, as well as the opportunity to think beyond the abilities listed (when to grapple, shove, disengage, etc). One thing I wish the book had was a more through discussion of tactics in general, but through the many examples you do arrive at that knowledge for the most part. I recommend not buying the audio version of this. I made that mistake and found it less useful since it is better used as a resource manual for the individual monsters. You can't have a page open to a monster during gameplay if you bought the audio like me, and quick refreshers are impossible.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rob Marney

    Great, easily readable advice on how to make monsters behave realistically. Unfortunately, the book is laid out like a reference manual, so all the advice is repeated about ten times (once for each applicable monster), in addition to the introduction that explains how to make these judgments for yourself based on a few simple rules. Because everything is laid out per monster, the author also feels the need to include things that are obvious for completeness' sake, resulting in a lot of tips like Great, easily readable advice on how to make monsters behave realistically. Unfortunately, the book is laid out like a reference manual, so all the advice is repeated about ten times (once for each applicable monster), in addition to the introduction that explains how to make these judgments for yourself based on a few simple rules. Because everything is laid out per monster, the author also feels the need to include things that are obvious for completeness' sake, resulting in a lot of tips like "The detect magic spell is not useful in combat" or "This monster will flee when seriously wounded."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beau Raines

    If you play Dungeons and Dragons, whether you're the DM or not, this is a great book to read. The author has evaluated the monsters, their stats and actions, and shows you what the monster would do. If you're a numbers nerd, it all about the probabilistic expected value of the attack. I'd you're planning an adventure, it gives flavor to your encounters, because everything isn't going to be "rah, rah, smash, smash." A lot of the material comes from his blog, The Monsters Know What They're Doing htt If you play Dungeons and Dragons, whether you're the DM or not, this is a great book to read. The author has evaluated the monsters, their stats and actions, and shows you what the monster would do. If you're a numbers nerd, it all about the probabilistic expected value of the attack. I'd you're planning an adventure, it gives flavor to your encounters, because everything isn't going to be "rah, rah, smash, smash." A lot of the material comes from his blog, The Monsters Know What They're Doing http://themonstersknow.com/

  9. 5 out of 5

    Donovan

    Great for staying or experienced DMs I thought this book would just be a book on how to munchkin the monsters. Instead i found a week thought out presentation of tactics based not just on the monsters' abilities, but also on their flavor text and the type of monster they are. I have been playing D&D for close to forty years and this book wool definitely help me present my monsters better in every way. Great for staying or experienced DMs I thought this book would just be a book on how to munchkin the monsters. Instead i found a week thought out presentation of tactics based not just on the monsters' abilities, but also on their flavor text and the type of monster they are. I have been playing D&D for close to forty years and this book wool definitely help me present my monsters better in every way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tamsyn Cunningham

    Partner borrowed from the library, and I went and bought a copy so we could have it as a reference for RPG planning. If I haven't heard of a monster this book gives me ideas on making it real for my characters so they aren't fighting me, they are fighting a black pudding.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gabby DePaul

    Excellent resource if you want to add color and flavor to your encounters, instead of making it just a numbers game. The author gives a good insight into the mind of each creature and how they think, giving you the tools you need to create your own believable (and fun) combats.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Excellent material, each monster is thought out well and given a well reasoned approach to combat based upon their abilities. Due to the nature of the material, a bit rough to read cover to cover, but a great resource.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Deanne Townshend

    This book is a must-have for any and all DMs and GMs. While it is a handy resource, it also teaches readers how to dissect a stat block and figure out tactics on their own, as well as how to critically think through your own homebrewed creatures. Beyond wonderful

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Forthcoming

  15. 5 out of 5

    Britton Clay

    fun read, but even better as a reference book for running encounters!

  16. 4 out of 5

    ZorroG

    I am ready to DM my own world (alternative to AL) now. Bwahahaha!

  17. 5 out of 5

    William Paley

    I have to test these tactics to be certain, but they seem to be viciously good.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Ackley

  20. 4 out of 5

    Evan Doran

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Morris

  23. 5 out of 5

    Devin Arnold

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Masson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

  26. 5 out of 5

    Finn O'Connell

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mario

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jason Adams

  29. 4 out of 5

    MrPerfectRed

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Monahan

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