By Jason Campbell

Note: received no complimentary products or other compensation in exchange for this review.

Monte Cook Games 

The Planar Bestiary for 5e is a recent book from Monte Cook Games. It’s available in hardcover and PDF and there’s a free preview available on their web site:

The planar bestiary is a compendium of monsters for use in 5e. Note that there will be a release of a version of this book for the Cypher System later in 2023. It is designed to be a companion for use in a campaign in the Path of the Planebreaker setting which is available for 5e and the Cypher System. 

I’ve used many of the monsters in my 5e campaign and found them to be wonderful creations. My campaign is set in a standard fantasy world where there’s no planar travel at all. I’ve found that many of the monsters can fit in all sorts of settings, giving a mysterious impression to players, especially those who’ve memorized the 5e Monster Manuals and the like. 

One caution to DMs who may be used to using only monsters from Wizards of the Coast: don’t look at the listed CR for each monster in the same way. I’ve found that a creature rated CR 10 in this book may be tougher in combat than a CR 10 creature in the Monster Manual. Here’s an example (your mileage may vary):

My part of five 10th level characters fought a CR 15 Stormwing creature from the Planar Bestiary. They survived, but the strongest fighter went down in the process, and if I’ve used all of its legendary actions they may not have survived. If they’d instead faced a CR 15 Mummy Lord from the Monster Manual They’d have had very few problems. 

I’d definitely recommend the Planar Bestiary for any game masters looking to expand their creature repertoire. 

Have you used this book in your game? Tell us your thoughts below!

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