DMs Guild Review – Monster Weaknesses

Hundreds of optional combat and social weaknesses for every creature in the 5e Monster Manual.

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

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

Designed by: Daniel Kahn, with Ari MessengerDevilin DMGlitchyPixieMaddison NicholMichael RosenthalNevernotDM (Benjamin Ragan)PhaerlaxPurple Bog PressXhango GamesEventyr Games

When I think “monster weakness” I picture glowing red parts of a monster’s body in old school boss fights. In D&D, exploitable weaknesses are few and far between, such as a skeleton’s vulnerability to bludgeoning damage.

Monster Weaknesses includes over 500 new traits that clever player characters can discover and exploit, all of which are far more interesting and detailed than simple damage vulnerabilities.

As with Home-Field Advantage, every single monster from the 5e Monster Manual is represented, including dozens of beasts and generic NPC statblocks.

Everyone has a combat weakness. Weaknesses can be easily discovered through accidental experimentation, such as lighting a torch around a cloaker, triggering its fear of light, or distracting an otyugh with a hunk of meat.

One of my favorite weaknesses finally adds proper headshots to zombies, which temporarily disables their pesky Undead Fortitude at the cost of a higher AC attack.

Most monsters also have a social weakness, such as groveling before a beholder to make it easier to fool, or launching into a metaphorical pissing contest with a balor as you both recite your grand accomplishments.

Weaknesses could also reward players who diligently research how to defeat a certain monster, such as presenting a hill giant with a puzzle, severing a solar’s connection to their sword, or having a lightning spell ready against a blue dragon’s breath attack, activating the unique Lighting Rod trait.

Some weaknesses are so well designed they should be added to the standard statblock, such as charming a xorn by feeding it enough gems, or transforming a shield guardian into a sentient creature by placing its control amulet around its own neck. And the aforementioned zombie headshots!

monster weakness fey

I’m particularly fond of beasts getting the same amount of love and attention as other monsters. The beast entries are full of cheeky references and shared cultural knowledge that should lean to some satisfying discoveries: spiders can’t climb on wet surfaces, rats are distracted by instruments, ravens are frightened by the sound of Thaumaturgy, horses are weak to polearms while charging, etc.

Using all of these weaknesses may make encounters too unbalanced. The designer acknowledges this and suggests increasing monster HP, or tweaking weaknesses as needed.

I would humbly suggest that utilizing weaknesses allows the DM to use monsters that would normally be far too powerful for the party to handle. Throw a hydra at a lower level party, but have its heads get tangled up even if a PC doesn’t take the Dodge action. A large group of gargoyles attack during the day, but many are turned to stone from the sunlight (an excellent Gargoyles reference!).

The supplement packs hundreds of weaknesses in fewer than 60 pages, using a nice balance between stock art and original artwork. Most of the original art comes from personalized experts that introduce each creature category.

There’s Ellywick Timbers, the inquisitive gnome artificer who sneaked into Mechanus to learn about constructs, or Maoka Dragonsbane, the badass dragonslayer who’s in it for the thrill of the hunt. The expert on fiends is a masked fallen angel, while the humanoid scholar is a mind flayer! With fun little descriptions and flavorful commentary, these experts inject some much-needed personality into the supplement.

More than anything, Monster Weaknesses rewards players thinking outside the box when dealing with threats. A single supplement can’t account for all the crazy ideas your party may have, but with hundreds of intuitive traits, it’s more than a worthy addition to your DM shelf.

Pros:

  • Interesting and thematic weaknesses for hundreds of official 5e monsters, including beasts and NPC statblocks.
  • Most monster entries include combat and social weaknesses.
  • Personable experts for each creature type.
  • Attractive, easy-to-read layout, with fabulous original artwork.

Cons:

  • None!

The Verdict: Whether a means of on-the-fly balancing, rewarding clever player ideas, or injecting slightlier crunchier encounters, Monster Weaknesses is a highly recommended addition to every Dungeon Master’s repetoir.

A review copy of “Monster Weaknesses” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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