- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Wizards of the Coast; 2 edition (Sept. 1 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786928735
- ISBN-13: 978-0786928736
- Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 1.9 x 28.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #306,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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.
Top Customer Reviews
For instance, Pinky and the Brain fans will have no trouble understanding the motivations of the Moon Rat. And, while the collective of the Clockwork Horrors bares obvious resemblances to the Borg of Star Trek fame, it has a swarm-of-locusts twist that can make it an appealing addition to a story-line. The Corpse Gatherer, too, makes a nice rampaging disaster for the party to save the village/realm from. For a young party, having an Orcwort move into their home town will provide the same sort of challenge.
The art in MMII has all the benefits and drawbacks of a collectable card game. Some of it is quite good, some of it is quite funny, but the styles clash. Compare the comical the Bronze Serpent and Teratomorph to the nicely-rendered Catoblepas or Crimson Death to the photo-realistic Tempest. Any of these styles would have been fine, but all at once is no good.
If I have any other complaint about MMII, it's the organization or lack thereof. Firbolg and Fomorians are included, as well as several new kinds of giants, but the Firbolg and Fomorians are listed under F, not G (either for Giant or Giantkin). It's just difficult to guess whether a creature will be listed under a group name or by itself. For instance, when looking for a Dragon species from the Hells, would you start with Dragon, Devil, or Hellfire Worm? I'd have used categories more extensively.
The MMII provides several good new templates (Tauric, Titanic, Half-Golem, and Warbeast stand out), but the Monster of Legend template is nothing special. Any DM that couldn't think to glom on a few cool abilities to a base monster to make him into an end-of-dungeon big bad dude needs more help gaming than this book can give him.
Some of the content in MMII has appeared before in builder books (Legendary Animals and expanded Dire Animals). Also, some collections of old favorites are back (Myconids, Gem Dragons, Dinosaurs, expanded Demons and Devils). Whoever wrote the descriptions for the new demons has a happy felicity of expression. For instance, "An abyssal maw is a disgusting creature consisting mostly of teeth." I wonder if that's what is pictured on the cover?
There is a scattering of much-needed elemental creatures (Ash Rat, Breath Drinker, Immoth, Fire Bat, Galeb Duhr). If the Weirds were included for no other reason than to give us the section title, "Weird Society," that would have been reason enough, but these creatures give us additional insight into elemental plane ecology. The Tempest is fascinating as an Elemental of all four types at once. There must be many more multi-type Elementals waiting to be conceived. We also get a fair selection of creatures from the ethereal plane (Ethereal Doppelganger, Ethereal Slayer, Ethereal Scarab).
Another gem of humor is the Crimson Death, a creature that has blood as its avatar and its seal, and whom one must imagine comes like a thief in the night to drop, one by one, the revelers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel. The description of the Bladelings makes one suspect that the plane from which they migrated might not be Gehenna after all, but rather one of the MMORGs, probably NWN or Ultima Online.
There is enough dark emotional residue running around the MMII to fill New York's Van Home pneumatic transit line (Nightmare Beast, Julajimus, Fihyr). This theme continues into the undead (Ragewind, Jahi, Meenlock). There are at least three creatures bent on creating cults around themselves (Rakarazyll, Jahi, Avolakia) and the Avolakia and Rakarazyll also fill out an infiltration/impersonation theme with the help of the lawful Ethereal Doppelganger. MMII also has a few stories come to frightful life (Julajimus, Mooncalf). One hesitates to inquire, though, how the Mooncalf got its name, since it resembles neither a calf, nor an absent-minded, foolish person.
As with any group this large, MMII has a few creatures that rate an "uninspired" at best. The Reason Stealer may have been created merely so there would be at least one creature that steals intelligence points. The charisma-munching Jahi, on the other hand, has great role-playing possibilities. Some of the new giants are a little rocky, and not in a good way. The Spellweaver, which is clearly meant to be mysterious, succeeds--there is no hint in the MMII at what this creature wants, nor at why it was included in the book.
Still, there's more that's fun than foul. At least random, unguarded treasure is likely to increase with all the new creatures who leave it lying about (Moonbeast, Darktentacles, Gravorg, Nightmare Beast). Though the name "Windghost" does it no justice, there is a porteugese man-o-war crossed with a hot-air balloon that is a marvelous invention. The Morkoth is a fine creature concept, too, for all that it looks like a reject from the casting of The Phantom Menace. The Desmodu look like such fun; they are to fruitbats what Wookies are to Ewoks, and then some. This Monster Manual II is a far better offering than the near-useless Deities and Demigods.
The Raggamoffyn, too, with its Tatterdemanimal subtype, is more laughs than a barrel full of dead monkeys. Hmm, Barrel Full of Dead Monkeys. I wonder if anyone has written up a monster description for that yet. Maybe I'll try that when I get back from tea with the General of the Yugaloths in the Crawling City of Gehenna . . .
So let's get into it.
First the good:
1) The whole first section of the book before we even get to the monsters is great. The authors explain the creature abilities, special abilities, attack routines, and monster advancement in a much more clear and concise way than MM 1. You understand exactly how improved grab works, right? And swallow whole does bite damage how many times? These things and more are now explained quite nicely.
2) If you're a big psionics fan as I am, MM 2 offers something new. They have rules for how to use the Psionics Handbook to make the MM 2 creatures with psionic powers (such as the thri-kreen) truly "psionic". They have spell to power conversions, what combat modes they'd get, etc. Very cool.
3) Monsters as playable classes. If a monster could potentially take class levels, there's information for ECL and preferred class. If the creature is psionic, it even further breaks down the information into psionic/non-psionic ECL.
4) High CR monsters. There's a lot of baddies in this book that will challenge mid-high level parties. I was a bit worried there would be nothing for lower level groups, but there's plenty of low CR mobs too.
5) Cool templates. You will like these... promise.
6) Old favorites from 1E and 2E done up with 3E stats. Welcome back the Myconids!
Now the bad:
1) Too many damn constructs. Yes I know it's hard to make a monster that challenges a high-level group, but it doesn't have to be a construct! Really the constructs are fine. They are neat. I just feel they could have diversified a bit more.
2) Recycled monsters. About 20% of the monsters are re-writes from other WotC products. If you already own the books from which the original creature came, these are not new to you. Still, it's nice to have them all in one source. No more looking through web enhancements for the gem dragons, and MotW for legendary animals.
If it wasn't for those 2 faults, MM2 would have gotten 5 stars, as it is, it gets a solid 4. Worth owning.
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Its CR values: mean ~8.5, mode 5, median 8, low 1/4, high 28.Read more