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Volo’s Guide to Spirits and Specters: A Joke or an Upcoming D&D Book?

One of the fun things about reading through D&D books like Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (here is our full review) is looking for little Easter eggs. Are the references in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist jokes or are they clues?

Listen, I like jokes. But clues are much more fun, are they not? For example, Volo’s Guide to Spirits and Specters is mentioned several times in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Being that Volo’s Guide to Spirits and Specters isn’t a book that actually exists, one has to wonder if Wizards of the Coast is hiding a clue to an upcoming book in plain sight.

There is a precedent for this, the most obvious being that Volo’s Guide to Monsters is an actual book, and a well-received one at that. It only makes sense that WotC would want to extend the line, being that, you know, they are a for profit company.

But there are other things that make it plausible. Tomb of Annihilation–D&D’s Chult-based adventure book-listed Volo’s Guide to Monsters as an item that PCs could purchase. This Inception-esque level of meta means that seeding the names of books in their other books is a thing they do.

Still, it’s probably just a joke. Chris Perkins and team insert a reference to a fake book into a real book about an imaginary city, then they get a laugh at the real D&D fans writing articles that speculate on the imaginary book written by a fictional character. That’s funny, right?

But I want to believe that Volo’s Guide to Spirits and Specters will be a real D&D book. Then I want to speculate on what’s included in the book, because this is the Internet and pretty much all its good for is rampant, misguided speculation. Who’s with me?!? You? OK, that’s the spirit! (That’s the specter?)

Volo’s Guide to Spirits and Specters: For Positive an Upcoming D&D Book

A joke on page 22 of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Or is it a clue?!?

The joke clue in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist was that the Forgotten Realms character Volothamp Geddarm is traveling from tavern to tavern, researching various “spirits,” meaning of the cocktail mixing variety. This is perfectly in character for Volo, being that his role as a fictional character is to serve as a sort of “travel guide” that introduces D&D players to the Forgotten Realms.

If the D&D team took this in a straight-forward manner, we’d be looking at a cocktail recipe book prepared by Volo. This would likely be a downloadable product on the DMs Guild (it would be a fun product to support the Extra Life charity they champion).

We brainstormed a few such cocktails in our Nerds on Earth Slack channel, coming up with a couple few:

  • Gelatinous Shots
  • Djinn and Tonic
  • Strawberry Daggery
  • Zhent-Ale Keep
  • Amber Moon Dragon
  • Will o’ the Whiskey
  • Dragon Draught
  • Dwarven Stout
  • Drizzt Do’Bourbon

But if it is an actual hardcover D&D book, it would likely be comparable to Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, a recent monster book for D&D that focused on devils and demons. That would position Volo’s Guide to Spirits and Specters as a wonderful complement to Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, except that it would focus on the undead and deities.

What exactly could a religion / deity / spiritual / undead volume of Volo’s Guide to Spirits and Specters detail? Well, consider the following:

  • Celestials (good fiends)
  • Undead
  • Archfey and fey
  • The pantheon
  • Lycanthropy

In addition–the definitely not a joke book–Volo’s Guide to Spirits and Specters could add player options such as the summoned Paladin steed or races such as revenant, spirit folk, or synad.

Of course, the inclusion of the book is probably just a joke. If it is, I can dig it. I like Easter eggs, after all. But, let’s be honest, it’s so much more fun if it’s a clue. Because Volo’s Guide to Spirits and Specters would make for a great D&D 5e book!

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