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MC5 Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Adventures Appendix (2e)
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MC5 Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Adventures Appendix (2e)

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Prepare yourselves and your characters?. Here come more monsters, this time from the Greyhawk Campaign Setting! These 64 pages are filled with beasties and creatures, from aspis to zygon-and everything in-between! Crystalmist dragons (yes, there are more-four more, to be precise), and plenty of deadly plants await entry into your campaign. As always, these monster descriptions are organized on separate pages, ready to be incorporated into your Monstrous Compendium binder. And, you get four full-color dividers with identification tabs! Snap them in, and set them free!

Product History

MC5: "Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" (1990) is the fifth monster manual for AD&D 2e. It was published in April 1990.

Origins (I): Binders of Monsters. MC5: "Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" (1990) was the third Monstrous Compendium in a row to focus on a specific D&D campaign world. This truly affirmed the direction of the line. With just two exceptions (for the Outer Planes and the Fiend Folio), the rest of the Monstrous Compendiums would each focus on a specific campaign world.

Like its predecessors, the "Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" came as a sheet of perforated pages, meant to be torn out and placed in a binder. To be more precise, it was intended to go in the new binder that had been released with MC4: "Monstrous Compendium Dragonlance Appendix" (1990).

The "Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" was just the second Compendium to clock in at only 64 pages, but this was the format that almost all of the later looseleaf Appendices would use.

Origins (II): Greyhawk Rising. It was somewhat surprising to see that Greyhawk was the third campaign world to receive a Monstrous Compendium, because the game line had been poorly supported during the later years of AD&D 1e. However, it had been obvious that things were changing since the advent of AD&D 2e (1989): Greyhawk had received adventure support almost immediately and then had enjoyed a line of short adventures, some of which were introductory. The "Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" was yet another sign that TSR was intent on supporting its oldest setting.

Monsters of Note. So, what do you define as a Greyhawk monster? It was a somewhat difficult question because Greyhawk had been the default setting of D&D's oldest published adventures. That meant that TSR didn't really have the option of collecting together all of the monsters from published Greyhawk adventures the way they had for Dragonlance, because they would have locked up some of the game's most iconic monsters, including drow, giants, and gibbering mouthers.

Sadly, the "Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" ends up being a bit of a hodge-podge instead that's almost as generic as the MC1: "Monstrous Compendium Volume One" (1989) and the MC2: "Monstrous Compendium Volume Two" (1989). Certainly, there are some monsters that are truly unique to the setting, many of which had appeared previously in Greyhawk Adventures (1988). Unfortunately, that book's beastman, camprat, crystalmist, grung, inguni, nimbus, sea sprite, wolf mist, and sea mist just aren't that memorable. The aspis from A1: "Slave Pits of the Undercity" (1980), the slow shadow from WG5: "Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure" (1984), the valley elf from S4: "The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" (1982), and even the son of kyuss that debuted in the Monster Manual II (1983) feel more memorable and more appropriate to the setting, but they're in the minority.

Several other monsters originated from AD&D 1e's Monster Manual, while the editors also made heavy use of the weirder beasties from the Fiend Folio (1981), including the bonesnapper, booka, crypt thing, flail snail, galltrit, grell, hook horror, mite, necrophidius, needleman, norker, scarecrow, skulk, and tentamort. None of them feel particularly tied to the Greyhawk setting.

The absence of Underdark creatures from the "D" adventures (1978) and other original creatures from "A" adventures, "C" adventures (1979+), and even "WG" adventures (1982+) may point to Greyhawk's central problem: as the default D&D world it wasn't that unique on its own … which might have been its ultimate downfall.

Monsters of Note: Dragons. One of the most interesting inclusions in the "Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" is the set of unique dragons that didn't fit into the chromatic or metallic spectrums. That of course includes the Greyhawk dragon, but also the cloud dragon, the mist dragon, and the shadow dragon from the Monster Manual II. It was a neat conception, that one of the original settings of the D&D game would also be a source of new dragons, but it wouldn't last: the mist dragon and the shadow dragon would both be adopted by the Forgotten Realms setting in later years.

Curiously, the "Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" also powers down dragons. AD&D 2e (1989) had made a big effort to make dragons more dangerous; one of their power-ups was that their breath weapons became usable every three rounds, not just three times a day. "Greyhawk Adventures Appendix" walks that back, keeping the every-three-rounds limitation, but also restoring the three-times-a-day limit!

Perhaps this change was a mistake, perhaps it was unpopular, and perhaps it was only intended to apply to these new dragons. In any case, the powered-down breath weapons were never seen again in AD&D 2e, not even when most of these dragons reappeared in the Monstrous Manual (1993).

About the Creators. As with most of the Monstrous Compendiums, the design of this one was a group affair. Writing was by Grant Boucher, William W. Connors, Steve Gilbert, Bruce Nesmith, Chris Mortika, and Skip Williams, with editing provided by Mike Breault.

 
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Discussions (2)
Customer avatar
Zia M September 12, 2016 10:35 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Minor nitpick, but just noticed the Grell is missing. The Grung is printed twice instead.
Customer avatar
Douglas B September 13, 2016 1:59 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Good catch. OBS folks, can you please fix this error?
Customer avatar
Douglas B August 16, 2016 6:16 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Minor nit-pick for the product history: the Son of Kyuss was originally published in the AD&D Fiend Folio, not in Monster Manual II.
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Rules Edition(s)
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64
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TSR 2107
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File Last Updated:
July 16, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on August 16, 2016.