Monster Manual II: Dungeons & Dragons Accessory Hardcover – Sep 1 2002
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About the Author
JEFF GRUBB is an award-winning game designer whose recent credits include the D&D accessory Manual of the Planes and the three Ice Age Cycle novels, set in the Magic: The Gathering® world. He lives in Washington State.
RICH REDMAN has written the Dark¥MatterTM Arms & Equipment Guide and the D&D guidebook Defenders of the Faith. He lives in Washington State.
STEVE WINTER has worked on numerous products as editor, designer, developer, and manager. He lives in Washington State.
ED BONNY has had many articles published in Dragon® magazine, including his well-received AD&D® Planescape® and Skills & Powers articles. He lives in New Jersey.
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Top Customer Reviews
Its CR values: mean ~8.5, mode 5, median 8, low 1/4, high 28.
CR values of *MM1 3E* for comparison: mean ~5.4, mode 3, median 5, low 1/10, high 26.
It retials for $29.95, which is an average of $0.13 per page.
Overall, this text rounds out the D&D ecosystem fairly well, and its CR values are closer to the *Fiend Folio* than to *MM1*. The introduction features advancement rules and ability explanations that are superior to those found in *MM1 3E*. Unlike the *Fiend Folio*, there is no obvious focus in this collection; however, it is definitely not a book for games that attempt to develop humanoid cultures and conflicts--indeed, there are no "humanoid" types in the text at all, besides one template (there are, of course, a dozen "monstrous humanoid" types, and several outsiders that are essentially extraplanar monstrous humanoids).
Other developments include a good smattering of terrain-based creatures--more desert and swamp inhabitants (fans of the old Dark Sun setting will be pleased to see the return of the "braxat," the "dune stalker," the "sun giant," the "nightmare beast," the "thri-kreen," and the "rampager.") Also, a higher percentage of Colossal creatures and of Aquatic ones than in *MM1*.
The templates are generally good--standouts include the "Death Knight," the "Half-Golem," and the "Tauric" creature (a centaur-thing made of various humanoid and animal bits--very nice). The "Spellstitched" template is decent, though it conjures images of fireball-tossing skeletors from *Diablo*.Read more ›
- Nice cover, good presentation.
- They really tried to include a picture of every monster, and (for the most part) the pictures actually matched up with the monster's description, remedying a big failure of MM1. The art is mostly good, with some really nice pieces (Chain Golem and Gem Dragons spring to mind) and only a few stinkers (breathstealer)
- The ability descriptions are much improved over the first MM. In my mind, that's a reason to have it around alone. Example: the description of Swallow Whole makes it clear exactly when a monster can swallow a hapless PC, something multiple readings of the MM1 ability description failed to do for me.
- Descriptions are more complete. Every PC-able monster has ECL listed; all monsters with Grapple-related abilites have Grapple bonuses precalculated, etc.
- I like constructs, and there's lots of them in here.
- There are some NASTY critters in here - if you GM a high-level campaign, I'd say this book would be a must-have. Don't worry, there's plenty of low-CR critters too.
- Every second monster seemed to have Improved Grab and grapple-related abilites. I mean sure, it's a nice mechanic, but did they really need to give it to so many creatures?
- I guess I'm OK with the reprints of the Legendary Animals from Masters of the Wild, but did they have to reprint the Bogun?
- I would have liked some more inventive templates. The book has Big Critter (Gargantuan), Level Boss Critter (Monster of Legend), Centaur Critter (Tauric), and Multiheaded Critter (Chimeric) - all straightforward stuff most GMs could do for themselves. The Death Knight is about the only one I'd use.
Now any serious D&D player knows that Rules are what make the game, not colourful books or pictures, Rules plain and simple. The MMII starts off on a good foot there, containing even more information than the original about abilities and feats and special qualities. However there are several changes with how monsters are assigned feats (not 1 + 1/4 HD, usually 1 + Int + 1/4 EHD), which doesn't mesh well with ANY monster stats from any of the other WotC books. 1 Strike Against.
The book contains a large number of monsters (both New and Old) as well as several Templates (such as the Death Knight or Titanic ). The monsters also cover a wide range of CRs from 1/4 to 28. Now that brings me to the 2nd Strike Against the book... CRs.
A CR is a great tool for a DM to judge when to use the monster versus his/her players. Unfortunately most of them seem to have been drawn out of a hat, being either VASTLY underrated or SERIOUSLY overrated. Also the CRs above 20 aren't suitable against Epic PCs, at most they are CR 21-23 when compared to the beasties in the Epic Level Handbook. With the CR system beyond repair, it is up to individual DMs to decide what is suitable to pit against their players.
There are a few saving graces such as the Gem Dragons (although I prefer the ones in the Psionic Web Enhancement), the Effigy (balanced at CR 17), and some of the new Demons, Devils, Celestials and Yugoloths.
Nonetheless, the MMII contains many monsters that simply should have been in the MM, such as the phoenix, death knight, and crimson death. They had to put some sort of limit on the original MM, so it's good to see that "missed monsters" from the older versions of the game will find a happy home in 3E. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Marrash back, one of the cooler monsters devised for 2E, and the malebranche, essential for any infernal excursion.
MMII also contains monsters collected from published adventures (i.e. mooncalf, twig blight, bladeling) and some of the neater creatures from the now-defunct Chainmail game (stone spike, felldrakes, the Naresh demons).
What I was most pleased with in the MMII is the handy tables at the front of the book, combining all the needed information that you have to flip around for when designing your own monsters. This alone will make it easier and faster for me to design my own critters.
Overall, I'd recommend this book to folks who want clarified monster design and to incorporate the Chainmail creatures. I myself would like to see the Chainmail setting published for 3E.
Most recent customer reviews
Some interesting new entries in the D20 universe such as the infamous gem dragons :) but the format is still 3. Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2005 by Stephen Little
This book deserves three stars tops, anything more than that is too generous. Roughly about 1/3 of this book consists of 1st and 2nd edition monster conversions, some really good... Read morePublished on Dec 26 2003
Give more varieties to the monster we can choose for a DM who want to be innnovative. But i think the authors can do more work to verify the details, as some monsters from Orient... Read morePublished on Sept. 1 2003 by Chiu Ka Chun Tom
This provides many creatures that I remebered from second edition and felt were unfairly left out of the monster manual, of intrest is that for this edition they changed the layout... Read morePublished on July 3 2003 by Nate Finch
Practicly every creature in this book has tentacles, and those that don't can easily be linked to other monsters. Read morePublished on May 20 2003 by austin haws
I don't see how anyone could hate this book. It brought back some old faves like the fomorian, firbolg, and myconid. Read morePublished on March 9 2003
I like this addition to the D&D game...lots of useful stuff...Published on Feb. 4 2003 by Logan Spencer
This manual is pretty good, though it is not the best thing I've seen come from WOTC. The monsters were interesting (especially the Legendary Monster Template). Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2003 by Preston Halcomb