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This D&D monster manual wants to help save real-life animals from extinction

Book of Extinction lets you include animals wiped out by humanity in your RPG campaigns.

Image credit: Mage Hand Press

A new book for Dungeons & Dragons 5E hopes to help stop real-life animals from vanishing by letting you include extinct creatures in your campaigns.

The Book of Extinction is a bestiary for Fifth Edition - similar to D&D’s iconic Monster Manual - that includes more than 100 real-life animals made extinct via anthropogenic extinction. In other words, due to their interaction with humans.

Included among the animals are familiar extinct creatures such as the sabre-toothed tiger and dodo, as well as perhaps lesser-known fauna wiped out by humanity’s actions, such as the great auk and North American passenger pigeon.

The Kickstarter trailer for Book of Extinction

According to publisher Mage Hand Press, the tome aims to be part history book and part D&D monster manual, dividing its pages between offering background on the real-life animals - and the reasons for their disappearance - and providing versions playable in D&D 5E and other RPGs.

The book includes stat blocks for both realistic versions of the original animals and their fantastical reimaginings as magical creatures inspired by the legends and history surrounding them. The dodo becomes an Alice in Wonderland-esque inhabitant of D&D’s Feywild fairy plane, while the North American wild pigeon grows into a swarm of birds known as the Feathered Tide.

As well as the real-life creatures, the book will feature fantastical additions such as prehistoric lycanthropes - shapeshifting creatures such as werewolves - and living statues, along with new races and subclasses for use in D&D 5E. An adventure, The Last Owlbear, is also included.

Image credit: Mage Hand Press

The list of real animals was originally drawn from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ‘red list’ of endangered and extinct species, with other animals - including dozens of enormous megafauna - added during development.

Its creators said the book itself was written in partnership with various academics and researchers, as well as being checked by a science consultant from the conservation-focused Center for Biological Diversity, to ensure its accuracy.

“We believe that if human behaviour caused these extinctions, then our behaviour can safeguard the future for other species,” the book’s creators said.

“We hope that if we can change the way players tell stories in game, we can change the way that they think about the world outside of it.”

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The Book of Extinction is currently live on Kickstarter, ahead of its planned release in January 2025. Proceeds from the book’s pay-what-you-want preview will be donated to the Center for Biological Diversity. The book will be accompanied by a companion podcast hosted by lead writer Lucas Zellers, Making a Monster: Extinction, delving further into the history behind the real-life animals.

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