DMs Guild Review – The Monster Menu

Over 120 unique meals based on creatures from the 5e Monster Manual.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher. Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Dave Panfilo

I love the Monster Hunter videogame series (and you bet your butt I backed Heliana’s Guide to Monster Hunting) where you can craft weapons and armor from defeated creatures. But what about harvesting monster parts to cook a hearty meal?

The Monster Menu adds over 100 exotic meals that a daring party can cook from slain monster parts, gaining temporary monstrous abilities — and drawbacks.

The cookbook is organized alphabetically, though larger groups of creatures, such as devils, hags, and giants, are grouped together. Each entry features four components, listing the meal’s benefits, downsides, number of servings, and the knowledge skill check needed to identify what the hell you just cooked, as well as some cheeky, descriptive flavor text (pun very much intended).

Each meal does a fun job replicating a monster’s most familiar traits, abilities, and attacks. The Beholder Nerve Pasta grants immunity to all magic for 24 hours (including helpful magic), but after it wears off, the next creature you look at is subject to one of the beholder’s 10 eye rays (or yourself if you shut your eyes!).

Darkmantle Pitas provide 60 feet of blindsight (echolocation), eating the Doppleganger Surprise allows you to polymorph into humanoids, and consuming a whole Balor Heart grants fire immunity, a fire aura, and a hilarious exploding-death side effect if reduced to 0 hit points over the next week.

Some meals require a lot of buy-in for both player and DM. The Basilisk Tail Curry causes beast and monstrosities “who fear the scent of a basilisk” to avoid making eye contact with whomever reeks of curry, leaving it up to the DM to make that judgement call. Fried Faerie Dragon grants a one-time invisibility some time in the next three days — but it’s entirely up to the DM on when it happens. Thankfully these more nebulous monster food abilities are more fun than frustrating.

fried faeire dragon

While the designer uses dozens of creatures from the Monster Manual, the line is drawn at intelligent humanoids. Oddly, this cannibalistic exclusion does not extend to giants. The description for Fire Giant Paninis may as well have been written by Hannibal Lecter: “The enviable metabolism of a fire giant can be emulated by making a meal of its malty red spleen.”

The cookbook also doesn’t shy away from using other intelligent, sentient creatures like mind flayers, aboleths, hags, harpies, and yuan-ti. I’m particularly incensed by the inclusion of Rustic Blink Dog (cooking the flank and ribs in a stew), as Blink Dogs are literally fey canines with the intelligence of an average human. Only in the funny flavor text for the Flumph Flan does the writer pass judgement: “I know they taste like caramel cake and clean your teeth as you chew, but you’re supposed to be a hero! Or at least a relatable sort of anti-villain.” Ha! Indeed.

The only skill check involved in preparing these meals is a knowledge check to identify what the benefits and drawbacks are, which can include Arcana, Religion, or History depending on the dish.

I find it bizarre that anyone proficient in Cook’s Utensils can automatically prepare any of these meals over a short rest; the only skill check identifies what the food does when consumed. A more interesting system would involve a skill check (or perhaps an entire skill challenge if the party wants to join in), with the result dictating how successful the dish was, which could impart different degrees of benefits and drawbacks, or even spoil the meal entirely.

The final page of the book includes a few magic items that compliment the meals, such as a magic platter or tasteful weapon, as well as some variant rules that can make preparing meals even quicker, by allowing player characters to loot them directly off slain enemies and eat them during combat. Finally, a Design Postmortem is included that provides helpful insight into the designer’s inspirations and process — something that all DMs Guild products could greatly benefit from.

Pros:

  • Over 120 unique monster meals, based on creatures from the Monster Manual.
  • Every meal is a self-imposed risk-reward, with interesting benefits and drawbacks.
  • Amazing original artwork for meals on every other page.
  • Design Postmortem.

Cons:

  • No skill checks or degrees of success or failure for cooking these exotic meals.

The Verdict: From Aboleth Eye Spit-Roast to Yeti Belly Rubdown, The Monster Menu features over 120 exotic meals to satiate even the most discerning aventurer.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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