The Monster Manual 2 and Beyond!

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

One of my brothers called me the other day.  It seems that he had some of my gaming stuff in his closet at my parents house and wanted me to come pick it up.  The whole way over I was trying to figure out what this cache could be.  It must have gotten thrown in there as an emergency measure to ensure that they weren't found by my girlfriend and completely forgotten about.  Well it worked, and obviously too well for I also didn't find it... for about 4 years.

These lost materials turned out to be my blue binder from the New Lago campaign (precursor to Legacy of New Lago), my third edition manual of the planes, and a copy of the Monster Manual 2 that I borrowed from Revil, you guessed it, four years ago.

I was taking a look at the Monster Manual 2 last night and was struck by one overwhelming fact... It is total garbage.

I don't remember why I borrowed it to begin with, but I suspect it was for the Death Knight.  Appearing on page 207 the Death Knight is one of the ONLY decent monster entries to be found in the entire book.  The rest of it is filled with crap like Clockwork Horror, The Cloaked Ape, and the always popular Needlefolk!  As if that weren't enough stupidity such as the Half-Golem template and a new type of Dragon subcategory-Gems can be found.  Yes, the Dragons are literally made out ofprecious stone such as Amethyst, Emerald, and Sapphire.

See what I mean?

Now the book isn't all bad.  As I mentioned there are a few decent entries like the Sylph, the Banshee, the Leviathan, the Phoenix, and as I mentioned previously the Death Knight.  But for each of those there are ten foolish ones like the Glimmerskin and Teratomorph.  What the hell is a Teratomorph you ask?  I've put a picture to your right.  Cool isn't it?  Wouldn't it make a great story?

"Yeah my character died heroically trying to save the party last week"
"Eaten by a Dragon?"

"No he got whipped upside the head by a Teratopmorph."  

So many of these creatures were obviously half ass.  Essentially after the first monster manual they ran out of creatures from myth and legend and had to start creating new ones.  Some were ok, but more often you end up with something like the Gem Dragon.  "How can we make a new kind of dragon?  I know let's make him out of gems!"


Maybe it was a lack of creativity and imagination or maybe it was a lack of effort.  I think I would rather believe that WotC "phoned it in" rather than think that they tried as hard as they could and came up with this piece of garbage.

The most frightening thing about the Monster Manual 2 isn't the book itself, it's the Monster Manual 3...and 4... and 5!  If the Monster Manual 2 sucked this bad and contained few creatures that anyone with self respect would actually use then what the hell was in the other three?  Dirt Dragons perhaps, all made from different kinds of soil?  I'm sure the Top Soil Dragon was a huge hit, but fortunately I never found out.  It was apparent to me after taking a look at the Monster Manual 2 that there was little quality to be had in any of these sequels.

Maybe that is why the book really ended up in the closest.  Maybe I thought that was the best place for it.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at Tuesday, December 15, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Yeah. MM2 was, without a doubt, the worst Monster Manual ever made. It's chock full of sub-par critters that really should have spent the rest of their lives on the cutting room floor.

Thankfully though, there were a few goodies in there too - mainly the monsters which only just failed to make the grade into the first Monster Manual. It's a short list though - the Grell, Galeb Duhr, Banshee and Darktentacles. All second-string beasties and well deserving of their place in the second Monster Manual. Of the rest, only the Moon critters (Moonbeast, Mooncalf and Moonrat) deserve a mention. They're brilliant, and formed the basis for a fair few of my game sessions back in our Third Edition days.

Don't miss out on the paragraph about just how wonderful and world-changing the Open Gaming License is (it's on p220 if you want to look it up). Oh how things change, eh?

December 15, 2009 at 7:52 PM
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December 16, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Although I agree that the MM2 is really weak a quick clarification on the gem dragons.

They were created 29 years and first appeared (according to Wikipedia at least) back in Dragon #37. I can't personally vouch for that first appearance, but I was sure they have been around a long time. They were conversions of previously existing monsters.

Even so, I'm not sure how metal-based dragons are cool, but gem ones are somehow lame. Heck, that makes a lot more sense to me then some rainbow color-coding system if you really think about it. (And the gems ones are almost as old as the others, so an appeal to "tradition" can only get you so far.) But that's personal opinion, of course.

However, I agree that getting killed by a wet sack of goo is about as low as a PC can fall.

(Reposted to fix link.)

December 16, 2009 at 12:41 PM

to be fair metallic dragons are not made of metal, but gem dragons are made of gems. i agree... they r stupid.

December 21, 2009 at 12:48 AM

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