It’s amazing how fast various tropes within an RPG go from near-total nonexistence to being thought of as standard operating fare. The idea of knowledge checks to determine what PCs know about various monsters is one that wasn’t originally part of 3.5, came along later, and by the time 4E came out it was accepted that a table of information at various DCs was always to be included with new monsters. And yet, despite being part of the paradigm for new creatures nobody ever thought to go back and add those in for the most common monsters present in the SRD…until 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming came along and made Monster Knowledge Cards Volume I: Aboleth to Fungus.
The book opens with a bit of metagame fiction regarding what can happen when a GM tries and fails to ad hoc what PCs know on a knowledge roll, illustrating this product’s usefulness. It then explains what subsets of the Knowledge skill apply to what kinds of monsters, how the checks work, and the possibility of gaining incorrect knowledge on a very bad roll (though sadly, this latter idea isn’t followed up on). After this come the cards themselves. Each card displays the name of a monster, as well as its type and subtypes (if any), and information about the creature at four escalating DCs: 10, 15, 20, and 25. Each page has eight cards (save for the last, with seven), allowing you to print and cut the cards at your leisure so that you can only use the ones you need.
This book is purely utilitarian in what it offers. There are no illustrations to be found anywhere, nor page borders; this was a smart decision on the part of 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, as this book seems to lend itself to being printed as necessary for when the monsters herein are used in a game. Interestingly, there are bookmarks for the PDF, each one linking to a single page of the book, which is a surprisingly convenient extra that I wasn’t expecting to find.
My overall impression of this book is that it’s not so much a supplement as it is a necessity that most GM’s don’t realize they need. With knowledge checks about monsters being par for the course now, oftentimes as a result of to avoid more overt metagaming, this book is needed due to being the only resource for knowledge tables on the most ubiquitous monsters in 3.5. The next time you have a debate with your players over how much their characters know about various monsters, just pull out your Monster Knowledge Cards.
[5 of 5 Stars!]