On a Useful Review of the 5th Edition Monster Manual

Review of core books are mind-numbingly imbecilic. If you're playing the game, you're going to buy the core books.

Here's what I think about it and a whole bunch of scans of pages of the manual.


  • Unlike the players handbook, this cover is stunning. It's not fantastic art. But it is attention getting. Also, if you look at the competition, it's pretty easy to say it's the best monster manual cover to date. (1st Edition, 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition, Pathfinder)
  • It has the worst griffon I have ever seen in any product ever. Apologies to the artist.
Derp.
  • Most of the art is really good!
  • I like the watercolor marks behind the monsters.
  • I am sad about the "Page Tear" formatting effect. It looks nice, but it will certainly cause the book to appear dated as time passes. That's actually a major issue with a lot of the art, which is done digitally. Like it's clearly not real paint, and there is a lot to be said for the qualities of real paint!
  • Also, note the birth of the weirdly smooth monster form.
  • This is really what a bestiary should be. Like the monster descriptions are not filled with annoying bullshit. They are filled with legends, adventure ideas, history, and lore. 
  • It reminds me of the other monster manual worth owning.
  • The best art is the side art!
  • No monster creation rules?!
  • It's a weird collection of monsters that skews to low CR encounters. Is that because it's the first
    Look like anyone we know?
    monster collection? Because encounters should be made from multiple low CR creatures instead of large single monsters? Why include the angels? 
  • As noted by other people, there are huge stylistic shifts in the art. Mordrens are magical, weird, steampunk-like Despicable Me minions, whereas undead are Walking Dead Terrors. 
  • There's about 1 million shout-outs to older editions of Dungeons and Dragons. Check this Death Knight guy out →
  • Nice to read a monster manual with Mind Flayers, Beholders and OTHER PRODUCT IDENTITY RETAINED BY WOTC
  • Monsters are pretty simple and easy to run. There are a lot of suggestions on changing things up. There are no monsters with 8 gabillion powers that require a preparatory class in how to use them effectively.
  • Did I mention the monster text is actually really interesting, giving you ideas on how to use the monster, adventures, and ideas? It's a ton of text devoted to things in the book. Like, this is interesting even if you're not playing Dungeons & Dragons.
  • On the other hand, all the advice is, like in the players handbook, how to run a Dungeons & Dragons monster as a Dungeons & Dragons monster. Monsters are their archetypical Dungeons & Dragons selves. It's not fantastic, strange, or new, it's as maxed out Dungeons & Dragons as you can get.
  • There are a number of visual monster redesigns that are pretty interesting, including the cloaker and the piercer. 
  • The preliminary sketches cleaned up and used for backgrounds is a great touch.
  • There is no nudity. :-(
It is a monster manual that any gamer of any edition could sit down and read and be interested in. Like, non-gamers would read it, because it's basically talking about a bunch of cool monster stuff.

So far, everything Wizards of the Coast has actually written and produced for 5th edition (and not farmed out) has been great. Only time will tell if the quality holds up. 

Ed Greenwood is under the impression that there's never going to be another world shaking realms event, so I'm interested in staying alive long enough to see how that's going to turn out. 

Carrion Crawler Redesign.
Definitely something I don't want in my house

Always a good sign when the get the Cockatrice Correct

And gnolls are pretty sweet looking!

The trend towards using real world animal design is nice!
(Also, note the notes scattered throughout the book)

A flaccid piercer impresses me. That takes some guts.

Hack & Slash 
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4 comments:

  1. No nudity? Au contraire! It's just all male nudity. See specifically the hangin' loose horned devil (pg 74), the leaping-into-action imp (pg 76), and the (dangerously close to full-frontal) werebear on page 208. If you like your guys lean of limb, with strategically placed thighs and shadows, you'll find a few pages to linger on in this book.

    If you get warm for the male form, there's also a ton of variety for you in the MM. Lots of guys are sporting the six-pack-and-loincloth look. Like a soft potbelly? See the svirfneblin (pg. 164). Want more doughboy all around? The cyclops wants to tease you with an up-kilt flash (pg. 45).

    What's amusing is how upside-down things are. The erinye is so heavily armoured she looks like she's compensating for something. The incubus and succubus look like American otaku cosplaying on a budget. But the kobold? Replace that tattered loincloth with some frayed cutoffs and he's ready for GQ.

    For female nudity, the harpy (pg 181) is the best we get, though she's one of the best pieces in the book in my opinion.

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  2. The Harpy's naked too, fwiw. I disagree with Trollsmyth though, I think she looks a little too... sympathetic and tragic. I like a vicious harpy, m'self.

    As for monster creation, isn't that more of a DMG thing? I think 3.x was the only time monster creation was ever in the Monster Manual.

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    Replies
    1. Confimed. Monster Creation is in the DMG along with material to build encounters like a CR list. (Both of the later can be downloaded from Wizards site right now however.)

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  3. Didn't they break the tradition of putting the challenge rating very visibly next to the name of the monster? Which makes no sense to do? Because one of the first things a DM asks when seeing a monster while skimming through the book is "is this level appropriate for the party?"

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