As heroes grow in power, they seek out more formidable adversaries. Whether sinister or seductive, ferocious or foul, the creatures lurking within these pages will challenge the most experienced characters of any campaign.
This supplement for the D&D game unleashes a horde of monsters to confront characters at all levels of play, including several with Challenge Ratings of 21 or higher. Inside are old favorites such as the death knight and the gem dragons, as well as all-new creatures such as the bronze serpent, the effigy, and the fiendwurm. Along with updated and expanded monster creation rules, Monster Manual II provides an inexhaustible source of ways to keep even the toughest heroes fighting and running for their lives.
To use this supplement, a Dungeon Master also needs the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. A player needs only the Player’s Handbook.
So many good monsters, so little time.
The Monster Manual II (2002) was published near the end of 3e D&D, shortly before the 3.5 edition was released. It's a collection of over 130 different monsters, both old favorites updated for 3e and brand new monsters. This book was awaited eagerly by players who desperately wanted more monsters and who wanted to avoid (or supplement) the many third party OGL monster books being released by other publishers during the same period. Wizards' reputation for creating solid, imaginative, and mechanically interesting monsters made this book a must-own.
Old Friends, Not Forgotten. Oh, banshee, we missed you. Yes, even with your appalling insta-kill death wail, it's nice to see you back in the game; and the new Charisma drain makes you a force to be reckoned with.
The planar bladeling is back (although its art isn't doing it any favors), as is the boggle and the myconid. The catoblepas raises its ugly head (wordplay fully intended), celestials from the outer planes are back, and the crimson death drifts onto the scene. There are hook horrors, ixitxachitls (say it five times fast), psionic gem dragons, elemental weirds, jermalaine, and many more. Galeb duhrs and formorians are back, as is the grell - and anyone who doesn't appreciate a beaked, tentacled floating brain is hard for me to relate to - the thri kreen, and the yugoloth.
New Friends, Eagerly Welcomed. There are also some new monsters here that you surely can't say no to. Not everyone agrees, but the avolakia is a horrific alien monster of almost Lovecraftian appearance that combines the worst aspects of a worm, an octopus, and an insect. I used these shapeshifting aberrations with great effect as an ongoing villain in one of my favorite campaigns.
The bone ooze is utterly terrifying, and the picture of the chain golem alone is enough to make it memorable. The corpse gatherer is an undead creature the size of a graveyard, and by comparison the abyssal maw (whose popularity was helped by a ubiquitous plastic miniature) was based upon Mike Mearls' ever-hungry dog. The famine spirit is a ravenous undead also helped by superb art, and the fihyr is a wonderful series of monsters whose impact is slightly dulled by having a pun for a name.
Look also for the leechwalker, the moonbeast, and the revolting flesh jelly.
A Swing and a Miss. Every once in a while, there are some monsters that just never gain traction. Maybe it's a goofy picture, maybe it's an extreme niche to blame, but the number of beasts in a Monster Manual means that there can afford to be some critters that you look at, raise an eyebrow, and just keep on going.
In this book, examples might be the abeil (a mechanically fine but slightly gratuitous race of bee-elves; who wants to risk being stung by a bee-elf's butt stinger…?); the braxat, a fine monster with disappointing art; and the ethereal doppelganger, which has great ideas behind it but is something of a “screw you” monster for parties to fight.
Luckily, though, most of the monsters in this tome are tremendous amounts of fun, and even those few with less-inspiring art are solid mechanically.
The Stand-Out Entries? This monster book is worth buying for the death knight and the spell-stitched templates alone.
Hmm. A spell-stitched death knight? Both delightful and deadly, and worth the price of admission.
In short, this is a must-have if you're playing 3e or 3.5e D&D and want a great source of imaginative monsters. Even if you don’t find something you’ll use immediately - and frankly that’s unlikely - then it’s still both inspirational and fun to read. That's a nice quality in a monster book.
About the Creators. Edward Bonny is a freelance designer who has written numerous articles for Dragon Magazine.
Author and designer Jeff Grubb pushed back the boundaries of D&D when he wrote the original Manual of the Planes in 1987. He's written material for Boot Hill, Spelljammer, Urban Arcana, and the Forgotten Realms, and he also wrote the Marvel Super Heroes game.
Rich Redman started as a customer service rep in 1994 and moved to design in 1998. In addition to other projects, he was the main designer for the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game.
Skip Williams was one of the first employees at TSR, a tremendously experienced designer who specialized in the Monster Manual when he helped write the 3e D&D core rules.
Steve Winter is the co-creator of the seminal Marvel Super Heroes game, editor of Star Frontiers, Gangbusters, Top Secret, Oriental Adventures, and many more. He co-wrote the Pool of Radiance computer game and worked on numerous products for both TSR and Wizards of the Coast. He is currently Editor in Chief of Dragon and Dungeon magazines.
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.