A Young Adventurer's Guide Beasts & Behemoths
What Goes Bump in the Night
Thanks to the local library I was finally able to get a copy of "Beasts and Behemoths." The book is broken up by size category: tiny & small, medium, large & huge, and gargantuan. Each category (with the exception gargantuan) has a legendary creature of that size and an encounter page. There is also a section dedicated to Lycanthropes of 5 different types and a section specifically for metallic dragons (5 types and Bahamut).
I personally like this book and found that this had lots of good information for some good creatures. There is lots of elements on each of the pages that help one understand the monsters that adventures come to face. The way I feel that this could be well used with younger players is perhaps they are reading about their enemies at a library, perhaps they are learning the information through stories at the local inn. I find that it is important for younger players to learn this information, interact with the books and see the cool images to get inspired without learning how to metagame. I find that it is important to encourage learning and role play to help them be successful with out making information come to easily.
What's on the pages?
With each of the creatures there is a skull that warns adventurers about the danger level of the creatures on a scale of 0-5 and then epic. The book gives a nice description of each of the creatures and then some extra details in regards to lair, size and anything special about them.
On each of the pages there is also a size comparison to a humanoid. This gives a good reference on what a player may see when coming face to face to these creatures.
The book is really good about giving young players some good advice on the dos and don'ts of each of the creatures. This is to help players learn how to be successful and stay alive during encounters. As young adventurers and new players start to explore the world of D&D I like to use the young adventures guide as manuals they can find at a library.
I love the artwork that comes with Wizard of the Coast work. In this book there are lots of artwork, one for each of the creatures. The encounters have full pages of colored art work. One of my favorites is the medusa that is at the beginning of the medium section. There are different characters and monsters featured on the majority of the pages present in the book.
When I let the kiddos look at my Young Adventure's Guide books many times they are looking at the pictures (as they are still to young to read texts like these). The images in all of the books have sparked conversations about who people are, what creatures they are seeing and if I have encountered any of the places or beasts they see. The art work has lead to a lot of great conversations and the images they are most interested in I will read the text around it to them.
Classics and Unusual
There are some fan favorites of monsters that show up on the pages of this book. There are classics of trolls, orcs, and gnolls. Sphinx is the encounter of the large and huge section featuring Queen Luluah. The dragons and were wolves sections allow readers to see the differences between creatures of the same races.
There are some lesser known creatures as well. The books starts off with cranium rats but there are also sahuagin, girallon, and oni. Each section is a good introduction to the creatures, though nothing is meant to be be to overpowering of knowledge.
The skulls next to each creature tells how deadly something is and using numbers vs. written words even my young students can figure out if something they see is going to be a threat to them or not. They also know that epic means that they should run away quickly if their character sees one in the game but are very interesting to learn about through the books. They really like relating the people, places, and monsters they see to things they know already. This is obvious as a "Tarrasque is a big scary dinosaur and must be feared."
Encouraged to Write your own Story
It is important to encourage people to develop their own creativity. As a DM I appreciate the end section of the book that asks the questions and gives tips to beginners to help them bring their ideas into creation and help enhance story elements when it comes to encounters. I have done some of the what would you do scenarios that are in the books with my students and we have have had conversations and created encounters based on what they found the most interesting in the texts.