• The Monsters Know What They’re Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters

  • The Monsters Know What They’re Doing, Book 1
  • By: Keith Ammann
  • Narrated by: Kevin T. Collins
  • Length: 25 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (186 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

From the creator of the popular blog The Monsters Know What They're Doing comes a compilation of villainous battle plans for Dungeon Masters.

In the course of a Dungeons & Dragons game, a Dungeon Master has to make one decision after another in response to player behavior - and the better the players, the more unpredictable their behavior! It's easy for even an experienced DM to get bogged down in on-the-spot decision-making or to let combat devolve into a boring slugfest, with enemies running directly at the player characters and biting, bashing, and slashing away.

In The Monsters Know What They're Doing, Keith Ammann lightens the DM's burden by helping you understand your monsters' abilities and develop battle plans before your fifth edition D&D game session begins. Just as soldiers don't whip out their field manuals for the first time when they're already under fire, a DM shouldn't wait until the PCs have just encountered a dozen bullywugs to figure out how they advance, fight, and retreat.

©2019 Keith Ammann (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about The Monsters Know What They’re Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters

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  • Overall
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Audible Got this RIGHT - Chapters have names!

First and foremost -> to use a book in audio form like this, which is really a topical reference book, you need a table of contents. And the case of an Audible book, that ToC is the; Chapters list that you can click on in the App. In this book - which is a real rarity for Audible (I've listened since 2009, 542 books so far), this book has names for the "chapters" that match the print book. SO you can go to a topic by section, like "NPC's" and then "Bandits and Assassins". I truly wish that every book which didn't have numbered chapters was set up this way.

Second - the content of the book, for the DM, is stellar, Love it - great advice, solid insight, solid understanding of DnD 5e. If you played 3.5 much of this book would work as well, but not all I'm sure. For example, Orcs, Goblins, and YuanTi haven't substantively changed since 1E. Vampires and Ghosts have had some updates.

Third - the Narrator is excellent, solid pacing, accurate pronunciations. Note, though, that sometimes it appears that the recording studio changed a bit as the book was recorded -> The audio level is a bit higher than others, for example.

42 people found this helpful

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Not a story! Guide to help game Masters fight

And it's fantastic
This works perfect for the Busy DM who doesn't have time to bget abhook shipped, flip through pages and all that stuff.
Each chapter in audible is split to a different npc which is perfect !

8 people found this helpful

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No matter your level of DM-ing, this is a must

First off I will note, the voice actor does well, he is plain, but gets the information to you clearly and precisely. I would highly recommend speeding him up. I listen to it at 1.3x and it sounds good, because he does talk a bit too slow.

If you are a lifer, like me (lifetime Dungeon Master) this is an absolute must. Unless you have read the Monster Manual, inside and out and dissected every flavor text and stat; this is going to be a great tool for you. To say this is not worth it, means you are much more a slide by the seat of your pants DM, make it up as I go along and hope for the best (I am in many ways this way too).

But the details he brings to light is almost essential. Even if you don't use everything, just knowing the Goblins rarely melee attack if ever. Orcs have more power than you realize and a band of Drow's are an extremely formidable foe can make your battles better.

I ended up also buying the book for quick reference, in battle I like to have the page bookmarked to refer to when things get hot. Do they run? Do they disengage? Do they Dash? Rush? What? This book will tell you, or help you to CORRECTLY figure out what the monsters do. Up to you if you want to stick with it or not.

Wish I knew about this sooner, but I have to tell you, it has really improved my battles. Even my PC's have told me that they didn't expect the Kobolds to lay out traps and take off when it got tough, they were used to fight to the death or something.

As a DM you should have Players Manuel, Monster Manual, Dungeon Masters Guide and this book. You will be unstoppable!

4 people found this helpful

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A great book for any DM!

The book's content is smart, witty and well thought out. Also the narrator's clean pronunciation allows for a better understanding of the ideas.

4 people found this helpful

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For New or Inexperienced GM's

I guess this would be good if you were new or very inexperienced. Not helpful in the least to anyone who has any Tactical Wargaming Experience. I even find it lacking in what it does try to explain. Very vanilla!!!

3 people found this helpful

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Let your dragons live!

I recently listened to The Monsters Know What They’re Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters written by Kieth Ammann and narrated by Kevin T. Collins.

This book is written as a bit of an instructional guide for Dungeon Masters of Dungeons and Dragons 5E. While this book is specific to this edition of the popular game commonly known as D&D, it’s principles of considering monster stats, abilities, and lore combine to give one a guide for running monsters in any combat oriented RPG system. He uses the available information to inform the tactics of each creature, thus giving each a unique and vivid life at the table.

Narration: Kevin T. Collins actually brings a fairly well spoken and thought out diction to the task of reading this tome. His reading elevates a topic that could be a dry read into something that is arresting. He adds the emotion of an enthusiastic teacher to his reading and it matches the book’s tone quite well.

Conclusion: This is an excellent book for any Dungeon Master in any tactically based RPG system, but especially for those invested in 5E. The methods described here are a useful guide to turn boring statistics about creatures into a useful way of modeling a vibrant living breathing creature at the table. It lets you bring your dragons to life!

2 people found this helpful

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Note: This is not for listening through

The chapters are named for the various monsters. If you are a DM looking to strategize a particular monster you should go straight to that chapter and listen.

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Really interesting, but get the physical book

The content & presentation of this book is really interesting and is an invaluable tool to take your DM skills to the next level. I found that this was a bit more difficult to follow in audio format because the stat blocks get hard to follow. As a DM resource it is difficult to reference specific monster groups section as well.

I ended up returning the audio book, but will definitely be buying a physical copy.

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A DM's Must Read

If you are a DM gaming D&D 5e this is must read that will ensure you will take your game to the next level. I highly recommend it.

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Easy listening for a Dungeon Master

This is a great read.
Having purchased the digital copy, I wanted something that I could listen to while walking, driving or most importantly, preparing my game session.
The way the chapters are set up for the audiobook is fantastic. I can find the creature I want some information about, whether or not I use the described tactics and get some useful information.
The narrator, is interesting enough to listen to that I don't feel bored by his voice. He uses the entire term for something, rather than the abbreviations in the book. Constitution vs. Con etc., which helps keep clarity in the actions that are being spoken about, whether it is to determine the type of fighting style a creature has or whether there is a saving throw for an effect of the creature.
All in all, physical or narrated, this is a fantastic resource for DM's and Players alike.