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Monster Manual II (1e)
 
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Monster Manual II (1e)
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Monster Manual II (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2019 21:23:20

Continuing my review of the monster books of my youth with what can be called the most polished of all the AD&D/D&D monster books, the AD&D Monster Manual II.

This was the first book to feature the new "orange spine" and Jeff Easley cover art. It is also one of the larger AD&D first ed books at 160 pages. Sometimes I wonder what an old-school cover would have looked like, something drawn by Tramp maybe. That all aside, the cover of this book is great, but it doesn't quite grab you the same way that the MM1 or the FF did. But inside is more than makes up for this "perceived" slight.

For this review, I am as usual considering the original hardcover and the newer PDF from DriveThruRPG. There is no Print on Demand option yet for this title, but as a special feature, I'll also have a look at the miniature book from Twenty First Century Games S.r.i.

The book(s) and the PDF have full-color covers featuring art from Jeff Easley. Inside is all black and white art from Jim Holloway, Harry Quinn, Dave Sutherland, and Larry Elmore. No slight to the previous book's artists, but the style and quality here is more consistent. Some might see this as an improvement (I do) but others will point to this as a sign of the change from the Golden Age of TSR to the Silver Age. Of course, it features the byline of Gary Gygax, though we now know that some of them were created by Frank Mentzer and Jeff Grubb. In some ways, you can see this change in tone and feel that is happening at TSR in this book.

The Monster Manual II was the first hardcover after a year hiatus. The book is better organized and layout than most of the AD&D hardcover books. I have to admit I always credited this to TSR finally moving over to computer layout, but I have nothing to support this claim save for how the book looks.

There is a lot to this book too. OVer 250 monsters there are a ton more demons, devils, and more from the outer planes, like the daemons, demodands, modrons, and even good-aligned creatures like the devas and solars. We get a few more dragons and some giants. We get a lot of monsters that feel inspired by the first Monster Manual. There are also many from previous adventure modules. This book also gave us the Tarrasque, the Catlord, the Swanmay, the Wolfwere. and more.

This book also has nearly 30 pages of encounter tables at the end that covers all three books, very useful to have really and a selling point for the PDF. Get the PDF and print out the tables.

The Monster Manual II is still by all rights a classic. While I don't get the same thrill from it as I do the Monster Manual or the Fiend Folio, but the monsters individually are great.

It remains to this day a lot of fun and a book I still get great enjoyment from.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Manual II (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/06/2013 09:15:01

The new Monster Manual II joins the original Monster Manual and Fiend Folio in the AD&D series of books. In his preface, Gary Gygax expresses a wish to eventually have several volumes of monster, a wish that seems to be shared by the rest of the hobby, judging by the number of new monsters that appear in the pages of nearly every hobby magazine, professional or amateur.

In the by now familar format of the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio, the new book maintains the standard of clear presentation. Each monster is introduced by its statistics, which are fleshed out by a paragraph or more of description and most of them have been illustrated. However, some unsightly gaps have been left, looking as if illustrations had been planned for and then not included. This is particularly noticeable in the dinosaur collection. Overall, the artwork is, if anything, better than the previous books, with some particularly fine examples by Harry Quin.

The range of monsters presented is wide - birds, insects, humanoids, undead and more. Some are developments of previously published creatures; for example there are two new types of elf, a large number of dinosaurs, four more dragons and enough devils to make Asmodeus himself nervous, ranging from the Dukes of Hell to the meanest Least Devil (as the hordes of devilish minions are called). As well as the Devils, who of course live in Hell, the inhabitants of various other planes are described, both the great lords and their minions - such as the Devas from the Outer Planes of Good, and the Modrons of Nirvana - along with the Elemental Grues, a collection of terrifying beasties from the Elemental Planes. There is also a selection of Demons, including some of the Demon Princes and, interestingly, the semi-demons produced by the mating of human beings with demons and succubi... which might give some chaotic evil DMs a few ideas! For botanical DMs there's a fine army of fungal monsters, while MUs had better check their spell books carefully for the Bookworm. And if you've ever wondered what a Will o'the Wisp looks like when at home try looking up the Boggart.

At the back of the Manual is a complete alphabetical list of all the 'official' monsters to be found in the MM, FF and MMII. Each is provided with a volume and page reference. There are also detailed breakdowns of this complete monster list by level and by native terrain; in each case sub-divided by their frequency of occurrence.

Also supplied are a large selection of random encounter tables covering dungeons by level, the out of doors by terrain type, water by type (salt, fresh, tropical etc) and by depth, and the Astral and Ethereal Planes. An extremely useful feature for the DM who prefers some control in what 'randomly' appears in his world is a brief guide to the mechanics of creating random encounter tables, in the same format as the published ones.

There are too many high level monsters for my taste and too many are overly deadly. On the other hand there are many interesting ideas and several well-developed tribes and huerarchies.

Overall Monster Manual II is a good, well presented addition to the AD&D series, with some very useful creatures, and is probably worth buying, particularly if you like a wide range of monsters in your game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Manual II (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jeffrey K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2006 00:00:00

I never had this book before... one of my friends did. Now I want to have it and I'm not as in touch with that friend anymore, so....<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Manual II (1e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/17/2005 00:00:00

It's a decent scan of the Monster Manual II and has alphabetical bookmarks. The book itself is handy for background on various extraplanar denizens, odd humanoids and fey beings.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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