80 5E D&D Monsters Reimagined with Fun and Fantastic Flavor from My Dad’s Monster Manual
My Dad’s Monster Manual may have started as a silly idea proposed by game designer James Introcaso but here we are months later looking at a fully produced product for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons currently No. 1 Most Popular from Wizards & Guild Adepts at Dungeon Master’s Guild and a silver bestseller in less than two days. What is this unusual 5E D&D book? Let’s get into it.
Introcaso father and son team capture spirit of creativity
To create My Dad’s Monster Manual longtime DM’s Guild Adept and future MCDM line developer James Introcaso tapped his father’s creativity to reimagine 80 different creatures from the 5E D&D Monster Manual. The process involved James showing his dad Lucian J. Introcaso artwork from the Monster Manual. From there the senior Introcaso shared his thoughts on behavior and history inspired by what he saw and came up with a name for the creature. Armed with his dad’s ideas James rewrote the book using this new lore.
The result is an 88 page book with a passionate team of creators helping to bring the ideas to life on the page. Joining James on this quest were editor Hannah Rose, sensitivity editors Daniel Kwan and Leona Maple, Rich Lescouflair for layout, graphic design and art direction and a robust list of artists and playtesters.
In the introduction to My Dad’s Monster Manual James describes how his dad would create new stories to tell his son featuring various toys and it’s plain to see creativity runs in the family. It’s particularly noteworthy how much enthusiasm and energy supported this project, which garnered some of the most popular engagement James ever experienced as a creator. This is saying quite a lot considering his accomplishments working directly with Wizards of the Coast, developing his own tabletop roleplaying game in Burn Bryte and soon segueing into full time development for Matt Colville’s MCDM Productions.
I enjoyed the introduction almost as much as the 5E D&D creatures themselves. Reading about how James and his dad worked on the project, how they developed the creatures and why some made the cut while others did not is fun and insightful. I especially appreciate the time they took to craft compelling lore for each creature entry. Like the official Monster Manual and other sources these brief sections pack great ideas into succinct text blocks for players to support great mechanics with rich ideas for how, why and where creatures interact with game settings.
Here’s a selection of my favorite entries from My Dad’s Monster Manual. It’s also worth noting the book includes quotes from James’ dad similar to other official books like Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. These thoughts and humorous asides make a great addition to the book and I enjoyed reading each of them.
- Bullwak Tree (yochlol). I love me some plant creatures! Reimagining a horrid demon as a slime covered tree is really amusing and it’s got some terrific features. My favorite part is the lore though, with a hint about using the tree’s slim for various alchemical concoctions.
- Cedlore Stump (gibbering mouther). My favorite creature gets reimagined as a plant used by evil creatures as evil landscaping to guard their homes. Lovely.
- Chromadon (basilisk). Taking a terrifying creature and interpreting it as a gargantuan behemoth with a comical voice and shy attitude is brilliant.
- Cryon (beholder). A poster child for this book as well as D&D itself this dreadful monster becomes a Tiny prankster from outer space. They’re even innately loyal to one another. How anti-beholder can you get right?
- Donafur (shadow demon). This one gets elevated far beyond it’s originator as an individual entity of CR 26!
- Entomblinizer (gelatinous cube). A feared dungeon roomba ooze becomes an elemental with baked in adventure hooks for resurrecting fallen friends.
- Pudgling (ettercap). Not gonna lie, I simply enjoy the name and it’s fun to imagine Lucian J. Introcaso seeing the illustration and coming up with these ideas based on the art.
- Scorpdillo (rust monster). Those feathery antennae give this creature a tickling attack and this is just plain fun.
- Stratonian (lemure). Like the cryon this one amuses me because of how vastly different it is than the creature it’s inspired by. The lowliest of lowly fiends reimagined as a mountain sized CR 30 elemental cracks me up.
- Vizor (nothic). Nothics already have some of the best lore in 5E D&D and I love the implications of this creature almost as much as its inspiration.
Part of the fun of My Dad’s Monster Manual comes from knowing what all these creatures are and seeing how wildly different Lucian J. Introcaso interprets them based solely on the illustrations. But this isn’t to say you need solid grounding in 5E D&D monster lore to appreciate this book or find it useful in your games. Far from it! In addition to being a resource to draw from in games both mechanically and narratively it makes a great example for players how letting your imagination run wild can be incredibly rewarding.
You can find My Dad’s Monster Manual over at DM’s Guild where it’s available in PDF and softcover versions here. Check it out and then let me know your favorite creatures from the mind of Lucian J. Introcaso in the comments below.