Monday, February 21, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: The AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendiums, Part 2

It's a Presidents' Day Monstrous Monday.  I am continuing my dive into the AD&D 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendiums.  Today I want to talk about the next three that were important to me in terms of what I call the "core" of the AD&D 2nd Ed monsters.   

The AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendiums, Part 2

It is a commonly held belief that during the AD&D 2nd Ed era that settings were at their height.  The remaining Monstrous Compendiums focused on these settings.  For me it was a perfect systems really.  I could keep monsters in with my core rules, like I did with Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Mystara. Or keep them with my boxed sets of campaigns, like I did with all my Ravenloft stuff.  So let's go with the ones I integrated (to the best I could) into my core set.

MC4 Monstrous Compendium Dragonlance Appendix
MC4 Monstrous Compendium Dragonlance Appendix

Ok, this one bugged me at first. I bought it and it said Draonlance Appendix on the front even though it was the second two-ring binder.  I didn't play Dragonlance, I was doing Greyhawk and would soon be eyeballs deep in Ravenloft.   My irritations were put to rest when I opened and the cover, while having the same art, just said Monstrous Compendium Vol. 2.   For a while I used both alphabetically, vol 1 with A through M and vol 2 holding N to Z and the tables and blank forms.  Today I use vol 1 for my core monsters and vol 2 for everything else.

Dragonlance falls into "everything else" for me.  The monsters are good, and many that have made their way back into my core monsters.

The PDF from DriveThruRPG is 96 pages, 82 monsters and at a price of $4.99. The monsters range from "Anemone, Giant" to "Yeti-kin, Saqualaminoi."  It covers all the various races of Krynn including the various types of dwarves, all the different kinds of elves, the kender and Dragonlance's lizard men and minotaurs. It was the first to include the Death Knight and Skeleton Warriors, though I always felt they belonged in Greyhawk. Certainly worth it for the Draconians and tips on Dragonlance's dragons which help redefine dragons in D&D in the first place. 

MC4 Monstrous Compendium Dragonlance Appendix

The cover of the PDF is a little dark, but the pages inside are sharp and clear.

MC5 Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Adventures Appendix
MC5 Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Adventures Appendix

Personally I always felt that Greyhawk should have had a Monstrous Compendium long before the others, but I can see why it came out when it did, given all that history.  The Greyhawk Adventures book for 1st Edition had a "preview" of monsters in 2nd Edition format. I remember being quite excited about this and really liking the new stat block even though it was much larger than before.

More so than the other MC Appendices, I tried to integrate these monsters as much as I could into my "core" Monstrous Compendium.  To me Greyhawk was the "home world" of D&D.

The PDF from DriveThruRPG is 64 pages, runs $4.99, and includes 63 monsters; Beastman to Zygom.

Many of these monsters have their origins in the AD&D 1st ed modules and Fiend Folio, but there are few others here from the Monster Manaual II.  The only creatures here that really saw "Greyhawk" to me are the Grell, Greyhawk Dragon, the Sword Wraiths and the Drowned Zombies.  There are some here that are more generic like the hobgoblin (how did that one only make it in in MC5?? Corrected. Hobs are in the core set. Hobgoblin, Norkers are in this set!)

MC5 Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Adventures Appendix

Monstrous Compendium - Mystara Appendix
Monstrous Compendium - Mystara Appendix

First Edition was all about Greyhawk. Second edition was synomous with Ravenloft for me.  But Mystara, or before that name, the Known World was where my gaming began.  So the Mystara Appendix for the Monstrous Compendium was one of my "core" core sets.  

The Mystara appendix take a few diversions from the other core world sets.  For starters this one is 128 pages and $9.99 on DriveThruRPG now.  It is also full color, a indication of the change of publishing style at TSR.   This book was also published as a standalone softcover, perfect bound, book.  It seems that by 1994 the loose-leaf era was indeed over.

The PDF though does allow you to go back to that era and print the monsters out as you like.

This set has 174 monsters from Actaeon to Zombie, Lightning.  Many of the old favorites from the B/X and BECMI days are here too.  Living Statues, Kopru, Decapus and the Thoul are all here in their 2nd Edition glory as well as many of the Gem Stone Dragons.

If you were/are a fan of the D&D Creature Catalogs then this really is a must buy. I find it interesting that this Compendium came out just a year after the DMR2 Creature Catalog.  I'd have to go through them page by page to see if there are any differences in the monsters presented, but they feel very much alike. 

The DriveThruRPG scanned PDF is very bright and clear. I would love to see this as a print-on-demand some day. 

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