Monsters, Monsters, and More Monsters!
This book presents an unstoppable wave of creatures ranging from Ambush Drake to Zezir! A menagerie of beasts, behemoths, and and other ferocious beings, the monsters presented here are well prepared to battle or befriend the characters in any campaign.
The suppliment for the D&D game offers a fully illustrated array of new creatures, such as the Boneclaw, Eldritch Giant, and Web Golem. It also includes advanced versions of some monsters, as well as tactics sections to help DM's run complex creatures more effectively. Additionally, many entries contain information about where monsters are likely to appear in the Forgotten Realms and Eberron campaign settings.
If you love the idea of a lifeleech otyugh heaving its tentacled mass up out of a pit of ordure, draining away the party's healing spells as it demands even MORE sewage in its broken Common tongue, you'll probably enjoy the Monster Manual III (2003).
The 224-page book is crafted by a slew of designers. Obviously, it is a collection of monstrosities from a variety of sources: Monsters from Dragon, Dungeon, Planescape, Fiend Folio, and Eberron are included. In fact, there are over 150 monsters that range from CR 1/2 (kenku and changelings) to CR 20 (ancient night twists and greater ssvaklors).
In short, is a collection of some fantastic adversaries, some goofy ones, and some that fall in between the two extremes.
Monsters That Demand a Plot. Like the otyugh mentioned above - and otyughs speak Common, so if you haven't ever placed one as the head of a sewer-based thieves' guild, you're missing out - a number of the monsters in this tome really deserve to be showcased on one of your adventures. Kenku, for instance, those rougish mimics who descended from flightless birds, make for superb tricksters. Yugoloth make a terrifying return, web golems are sure to bedevil adventurers (and in fact all of the golems here are remarkably flavorful), living spells are pretty much genius, and the brood keeper would make for a terrifying encounter. It's a delight to see fey like the vicious and psychotic redcap here as well.
Not Much Traction. Remember that time you ran into a tribe of armands (nomadic humanoids who wander the desert as a democratic unit)? No, I didn't think so. What about the avalancher, whose sole job is to drop rocks on you as you stroll by? Or the combatitive goatfolk? Not so much. If you're the adventurer bragging down at the tavern, "Yeah, we killed a bunch of humanoid goats today," it's unlikely that any townsfolk are going to be buying you drinks. More's the pity.
In fact, all collections of monsters are going to have a few that just don't capture your imagination, whether due to poor art or a goofy premise or, just as likely, your own preferences. I'm pleased to see that there aren't many of these in the MM III. Wherever they hide in your campaign world, I hope their diet subsists solely of flumphs.
Collecting Eberron. This book makes a number of Eberron monsters available for players who didn't purchase or play in the campaign setting. Eberron monsters work quite well out of the campaign setting; whether it's player character races like changelings (finally, a playable doppelganger!), or the terrifying juggernaut known as the slaughterstone behemoth, these monsters do a fine job of joining the regular D&D bestiary. You'll want to watch for overlap, however, if you already own Eberron.
Quite a few monsters also have an ECL, which makes them playable as player characters by an understanding and adventuresome DM. In total, there are 47 such monsters here with an ECL; I'm not convinced that all are applicable to every game, especially with the demonic or intrinsically evil races, but a great number of monster races could make good PCs in any number of settings.
The Illustrated Horror. I'm of the belief that every monster should be illustrated. While this book doesn't quite hit that goal in the case of several subtypes of the same monster, the artists do an excellent job of capturing what each monster looks like as it's trying to kill you. Some monsters such as the astral stalker or the charnel become infinitely cooler due to their illustrations.
Overall, this is a fantastic book to own if you're running 3.x D&D in any of its forms. The monsters are fun, creative, and make for challenging foes. You can hardly ask for more.
About the Creators. The full list of creators includes Rich Burlew, Eric Cagle, Jesse Decker, Andrew Finch, Gwendolyn Kestrel, Rich Redman, Matthew Sernett, Chris Thomasson, and P. Nathan Toomey, with additional design by Keith Baker, Andy Collins, Bruce Cordell, James Jacobs, David Noonan, Christopher Perkins, Mike Selinker, Bill Slavicsek, and James Wyatt.
Way too many to outline here. Go Google them, and revel in their work.
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.