Iconic monsters for your D&D campaign
This core rulebook packs in over 200 new monsters to menace D&D player characters. Classic monsters such as the derro, the mimic, and Lolth (Demon Queen of Spiders) make their first 4th Edition appearance here. In addition, this book includes scores of new monsters to challenge characters of heroic, paragon, and epic level, including deadly catastrophic dragons!
Monster Manual 3 (2010), designed primarily by Mike Mearls, Greg Bilsland, and Robert J. Schwalb, with additional design by a small army of talented designers and developers, provides over 300 new creatures for 4e D&D. This is the monster supplement where, in my very prejudiced opinion, they got the flavor text just right. Having heard feedback that prior monster books in the 4e line relied too heavily on game mechanics instead of story material, the Monster Manual 3 focused instead on making the actual monsters' history and backstory as cool and flavorful as possible. I'm delighted to say that they succeeded.
This notable improvement is joined by enhancement in fundamental monster design and in the layout of the stat block. The stat block was redesigned to make running a monster as easy as possible. Quick and simple monster design has always been one of 4e's hallmarks, although many people might argue that earlier monsters didn't inflict enough damage in combat (including me, but not my players, which probably tells you something right there). Finding the sweet spot has been a process of small adjustments, and it's nice to say that in the MM3, they got it right. Monsters now do enough damage to get players' attention and to pose a real threat, yet without the specter of an insta-kill on most hits.
Amazing Art. Many a good monster has been ruined by awful art. Raise your hand if you remember the tirapheg. No one? Yeah, there's a good reason for that. The 4e MM3 has bright, evocative, action-packed art that makes you want to haul out a sword and attack the beast. The banderhobb, for instance, a massive bug-eyed boogeyman; the ghost beholder, rising from its own corpse; the gremlin, ripping the head off of a teddybear; the kuo-toa, doubtlessly burbling out prayers to Blibdoolpoolp. All the monsters are well illustrated, as they should be.
Exciting New Monsters and Classic Foes. So many old friends! The contents reads like a who's-who of "monsters I've missed." Behemoths (cough-dinosaurs-cough), cambions, catoblepas, cave fishers, cloakers, dark ones, the list goes on and on. Your favorite demons and devils are back – hiya, quasits! – as are the mimic, rot grubs, xvart, mimics, and mind flayers.
There are superb new monsters as well, though. The nerra, mirror-shard monsters from a corner of the Astral; brand new demons and devils we haven't previously seen; primal spirits known as tulgar; and aberrant star spawn. Better yet, their game mechanics make sense; the stat blocks are well laid out with flavorful, themed attacks; and there are a range of monster levels to help accommodate different levels of campaign.
Plot Hooks Galore. The real advantage of a more story-oriented approach is that it seems to make the seeding of good plot hooks much easier, or at least more prevalent. “Monster Lore” tells players what they'd know about the monster. “Encounters” lays out how the monsters usually fight, and with whom. And each monster's introduction gives the DM a feel for its place in the world, what it may seek and how it might be used.
I remain amazed how the statistics-only approach of the DDI tools removes so much flavor from really good monsters. Reading this book instead of just looking up monsters on the online Compendium, I'm reminded of how much fun they are and how many sneaky and sinister ways they can be used. I'll be sticking with the book from now on.
About the Creators. Mike Mearls is the epitome of a rags-to-riches Dickensian orphan, in that he began writing for 3rd-party d20 developers at the advent of 3e D&D, and now he works for Wizards as a senior manager, setting the creative direction for D&D.
Greg Bilsland is a content developer and producer for WotC, directing R&D efforts on dozens of products.
Robert J. Schwalb is a freelance writer and game designer who has probably written more in one day than you have in a month. Seriously. Not kidding about that. You'll find his work in dozens of books, articles, and game supplements.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.