Monday, August 8, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: Monster Manual II (3.0)

Monster Manual II (3.0)
The Monster Manual II for the 3.0 version of 3rd Edition appeared in 2002, just before the big transition to 3.5.  Like its namesake from 1st Edition, this MMII brings us some new monsters, but it also gives us a number of updated old favorites. 

Monster Manual II (3.0)

For this review, I am considering both the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the hardcover version I bought back in the early 2000s.

In the the 2 years since the Monster Manual was printed the designers of the 3rd Edition game had gotten a lot of feedback from players and also have seen the designs that other monster books have been able to do.  They knew what the players and the DMs were saying about monsters.  So the MMII has two overt purposes. The first, and the obvious one, is give us more monsters to use in out games. The second, and likely more helpful one, is to help clarify how the monster stat blocks are used and can be altered.  I want to discuss the second one first.

The first section of the book covers the monster stat blocks. How to read them and what sorts of details you are likely to find in them.  This is largely similar to the list to the MMI but there are a lot of additions, like the table of typic creature damage types by type and size.  Each creature type is broken down into what makes that type different than the other types with much more detail than in the MMI.

MMI detail vs. MMII

There are new guidelines on advancing monsters. This really is the reason to get this book. It expands greatly on the rules and lets you know how to do it with an example.

On the back side of the book, there are also new templates to apply to monsters to make other monsters.

In the middle, we have the reason that most people pick up the book, the monsters.  There are over 130 monsters listed here and some are new, others are old favorites.

We get some 1st Ed. MM1 favorites like the banshee, the catoblepas, the sylphs, the water weird (though now expanded into elemental weirds), and ixitxachitls.  There are a good number of Fiend Folio monsters too in the hook horror, grell, death knight (as a template), meenlock, dune stalker, Son of Kyuss, and needleman er needlefolk.  

The Daemons return, but this time they keep their 2nd Edition name of Yugoloths. Actually, I am good with that. Yugoloth always was cooler sounding than daemon anyway.  There are more demons and devils too and even some weird Lovecraftian beasts like the Moon Beast and more.

This addition to the Monster Manual line feels like it was more completing the MMI than it was a second book. I consider it a must-have book for any 3.x DM  with even a slight interest in monsters.

The art is great throughout and you can see the design is leaning into what will become known as "dungeon punk" later on.

Is this one of my favorite monster books? No. But it is a great work-horse book that has great designer information and a few really great monsters on top of that.

Monster Manual II

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