Monster Manual 2: An Early Review

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on May 13, 2009

Monster Manual 2

I have the Monster Manual 2.
I know it’s not supposed to be out for another week, but I’ve got one. And I feel it’s my duty to share some of the greatness inside with my fellow gamers. Since many of you will have the book by this time next week, I’ll try to give you just enough to keep you salivating and not enough to ruin all of the surprises.

The complete list of monsters is already available, so I’m not going to waste your time with that.

Demogorgon

The monster on the cover is Demogorgon, Prince of Demons (L34 Solo Controller) and he is tough! He’s got 1,260 hp, 48 AC, Resist 30 variable, and Teleport 10. He’s got a slew of powers to choose from and since he has two heads he gets to take double actions every round on different initiatives. So on each of his two initiatives he gets a standard, move and minor action. Nasty. Now if you this is just too much to throw at your PCs don’t worry, there’s a weaker version you can baby your PCs with: Aspect of Demogorgon (L25 Elite Controller).

New Monsters as PCs

The Racial Traits section describes three monsters that can be played as PCs: Bullywug, Duergar, and Kenku.

The Kenku is my new favourite race. I cannot wait to play a Kenku Rogue. They get +2 to their Dex and Cha. They get +2 to Bluff and Stealth. And they have two very cool racial abilities. The Flock Effect gives them a +3 bonus to attack rolls when flanking and a +3 bonus when aiding another with a skill check. They also have Mimicry which allows them to mimic sounds and voices (Insight vs. Bluff to know it’s not real). Some races are clearly suited for come classes, and the Kenku was made to be a Rogue.

The Bullywugs and the Duergar don’t interest or excite me as much as the Kenku, but I know some players will relish the opportunity to try out these new choices. In the mean time, there are many versions of these three monsters presented to give the DM new threats to throw at PCs.

Beholder

The new Beholder Ultimate Tyrant (L29 Solo Artillery) is a much more powerful version of the Beholder Eye Tyrant presented in MM1. The Ultimate Tyrant only has a few more hit points than its weaker counterpart (1,080 hp vs. 900 hp), but its real threat comes from its 10 eyestalks. The Ultimate Tyrant’s 10 eyestalks all contain different powers than those possessed by its lesser cousin the Eye Tyrant. All of these new powers are area burst 1 within 10, and not the pitiful ranged 10 of the Eye Tyrant that your PCs may have already overcome. PCs beware!

Dragons

I was very happy to see the inclusion of the Metallic Dragons in the Monster Manual 2. I don’t want to ruin the joy of reading these long-time staples of the game, so I’ll limit myself to presenting a list of each type of dragon and where they land on the power scale. No sign of Brass Dragons or Bronze Dragons. I guess Wizards of the Coast is saving them for Draconomicon 2 or Monster Manual 3.

  • Admantine (Solo Soldier)
    Young (L7) /Adult (L14) / Elder (L21) /Ancient (L28)
  • Copper (Solo Skirmisher)
    Young (L6) /Adult (L13) / Elder (L20) /Ancient (L27)
  • Gold (Solo Controller)
    Young (L9) /Adult (L17) / Elder (L24) /Ancient (L30)
  • Iron (Solo Lurker)
    Young (L5) /Adult (L11) / Elder (L19) /Ancient (L26)
  • Silver (Solo Brute)
    Young (L8) /Adult (L15) / Elder (L22) /Ancient (L29)

Rust Monster

There’s already been a lot of talk about the Rust Monster so I won’t spend too much time on it. There are three different versions in Monster Manual 2: Rust Monster (L6 Skirmisher), Young Rust Monster Swarm (L9 Soldier) and Dweomer Eater (L11 Skirmisher).

The Dweomer Eater is particularly dangerous because it does to ranged magical weapons and implements what a normal Rust Monster does to metallic melee weapons. Suddenly the Wizard has something to be afraid of. All three of these monsters have a description for Residuum Recovery. If they eat the PCs items, the Residuum can be recovered after the battle. The real plus is that the Residuum is worth the market value of the item and not the normal 1/5. There is an interesting sidebar called “A Guide to Using Rust Monsters” which advises DMs on how to use Rust Monsters without upsetting PCs too much.

Giants, Goblins and Human

We get three new Giants: Eldritch Giant, Frost Giant, and Stone Giant, ranging from levels 14-21; we get five new Goblins, ranging from levels 1-12, and we get 14 new Human entries.

Final Thoughts

I’d estimate that there are about 300 monsters in the Monster Manual 2. About half of them fall into the Heroic tier, and the really good news is that the upper heroic tier is very well represented – an area sorely lacking in MM1. The Paragon tier has fairly equal representation throughout levels 11-20. Only about 40-50 of the monsters in Monster Manual 2 are in the Epic tier with only two above level 30.

The Monster Manual 2 is a must for DMs. As a companion to Monster Manual 1, it continues to provide 4e versions of many classic D&D monsters while introducing some of the more obscure creatures your PCs won’t necessarily recognize on sight. Pick this up next week and start throwing new monsters at your PCs as soon as you can. The PCs will thank you and your game will be better for it.

10 on a d10.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dungeon May 13, 2009 at 8:09 am

10 on a d10. i agree.

2 David May 13, 2009 at 8:18 am

Any new kobolds?

David’s last blog post..We never stopped to order one

3 Ameron May 13, 2009 at 8:25 am

@David
No new Kobolds, and I for one am glad. I’m getting sick of fighting those little suckers.

4 David Brown May 13, 2009 at 8:49 am

I believe the developers said (maybe in one of the preview books or on a podcast) that they were dumping the “alloy” dragons, Brass & Bronze, for the Admantine and Iron. So, maybe they’ll be back in Draconomicon 2, maybe they’re gone for good.

5 Chase Dagger May 13, 2009 at 11:59 am

Nice Review, thanks for giving us the heads up.
I was pleased to see “14 new Human entries.” I get tired of creating my own sometimes, and the MM1 didn’t have enough.

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