Written by scifiboo on March 28, 2012 under Sci Fi Books Tags: Core, Dragons, Dungeons, Edition, Game, Manual, Monster, Roleplaying, Rules
Thе third οf three core rulebooks fοr thе 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game. Thе Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game hаѕ defined thе medieval fantasy genre аnd thе tabletop RPG industry fοr more thаn 30 years. In thе D&D game, players mаkе font thаt band collectively tο explore dungeons, kіll monsters, аnd find treasure. Thе 4th Edition D&D rules offer thе best possible play experience bу presenting exciting character options, аn elegant аnd robust rules system, аnd handy tаlе
List Price: $ 34.95
Like all previous editions of the Monster Manual – this book contains the list of creatures and their statistics that DMs need to make opponents for their players.
Before 3rd edition, this was all this book tried to do. Even as a 2nd edition DM could choose to buy the Fiend Folio instead of the Monster Manual, the 3rd edition (and 3.5) DM did not have this option. 3.0/3.5 added monster-specific rules that truly turned the Monster Manual into a core rulebook.
Monster feats, exotic attacks, Templates, and rules for PC monsters – all were natural extensions of the monster concept: You have monsters – and now you want to alter them for your specific needs. In my opinion, this was a excellent thing.
The 4th edition Manual follows this model – although here are some differences worth mentioning.
First – the simple stuff:The laundry list of monsters includes the bulk of classic D&D terrible guys: Orcs, Unicorns, & Worgs (Oh my!). A straight book-to-book comparison will reveal many differences in this edition’s inventory (e.g. 4th ed. has only chromatic Dragons).
Many will be bowled over by which creatures got included – but it’s worth remembering that every edition of D&D has had multiple versions of the Monster Manual (3.5 was up to volume 5). If your favorite terrible guy didn’t make the cut – they’re not gone – they’ll just be in a future product.
The creature entries seem abbreviated at first. Much as in 3.0/3.5 you will not see long-winded paragraphs about a creature’s back-tale or preferred environment. As a DM, when I need a creature I need their stats, not their life tale. Long-winded write-ups take up space that could be to the top by more monsters. Besides, adding thematic information like back tales is *my* job.
Huge changes in creature powers will come as a jolt. Negative levels are gone. 3rd edition negative levels seemed like a excellent thought – but were more hassle than they were worth. They had a high maintenance tail (keep track of your minuses AND then track a save the following day – for each negative level), and they threatened the fundamental goal of all players: level advancement. Excellent riddance.
Undead now drain healing reserves – something that that is depleting (in keeping with the “drain life energy” motif of undead) and does not have a long term maintenance issue. When you are hit, you lose a reserve. Zero maintenance. This is excellent.
Vampires – really Vampire Lords – still make spawns but now ignore garlic, running water, and stilted stakes and have detailed rules for how they must rest. Jettisoning garlic may bother some players – but traits like that work better in novels than they do in RPGs (Bram Stoker never had to deal with PCs wearing plate mail festooned with garlic cloves).
Werewolves don’t spawn lycanthropy – they infect you a disease that makes you berserk. This change is likely due to the same calculation of maintenance hassle vs. gaming value. The first time you face werewolves – lycanthropy is a fun risk. When you face an army of lycanthropes, the disease adds more logistics than drama.
Here are a lot of monster abilities that will translate into the new rules in ways that surprise and thwart. With 4th edition changing the DNA of spells and powers – this was unavoidable and does not pose any barrier to DMs adjusting the power of their chosen monster up or down.
The rules for customizing monsters is everywhere I would be most critical of this volume.
The back of the book contains a division of monsters that can be used for NPCs or PCs. This is essential, since 3.0/3.5 opened the doors for PCs to be whatever they want. The rules provided for playing a PC orc (for model) seem very set alight. Here are a host of issues that playing monsters brought up in 3.5 – and I don’t expect 4th edition to be any uncommon. This section looked a lot like an add on (and that’s fine if it is), but if DMs must expect an expanded set of rules covering this – it’d be nice if the book came out and said it.3.5′s Monster Manual had “[this monster] as a PC” entries within the monster’s description which I feel is a superior model. I want to be an orc, I pick up my Monster Manual and find the item for – Orc. Putting them in the appendix helps the player who wants to see the full menu of choices – but you could do that with an index and still place all of a monster’s data in one place. I’m a huge believer in one stop shopping – and having the rules for a specific task stored in multiple places just slows things down.
Scaling monsters/Adding templates.Adding class levels and templates to 3.5 monsters ensured that no monster had to be dull (three words: Vampire Kobold Sorcerer) and from all appearances this will carry forwards in 4th edition. These rules in 4th edition are in the DMG and I would inquiry this.
If the Monster Manual is truly a core book (the core…
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This is the best of the 4e core books for me, but still left me feeling a bit sour.
First the excellent. In the tradition of the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual, this book dispenses with lengthy descriptions of monsters and instead focuses on stats. Only in rare circumstances do we get lengthy prose regarding a monster’s motivations outside of being fodder for the adventurers to beat up on. Filling in the details is left to the DM. The new stat blocks are straightforward and much simpler to use than their 3.5 counterparts. Special abilities are in the stat block rather than hidden amongst the monster’s descriptive text. That’s a welcome change indeed. Also, one of my favorite things from the last two 3.5 MM’s is carried over: knowledge checks to see what our heroes might know about their current foe. All in all, this is a very simple to use book.
Then here’s the terrible news. Here are a lot of monsters missing from this book when compared to its 3.5 counterpart. Yes, some of the new core monsters were pulled from books other than the first MM, but leave-taking out monsters as classic as metallic dragons reeks of a mandate from marketing. Just like with the PHB, things many veteran players expect have been left out for the sole reason of saving them for another book to sell. You want your metallic dragons and the rest of the giants? Buy `Monster Manual II’. Then here’s the artwork. A friend and I spent about 10 minutes playing `spot the recycled art’ with this book. Unevenly 10-15%, maybe more, is culled from 3.5 books. Were the contracted artists unable to meet their deadline for new artwork, or did someone at Wizards choose to cut the budget? You be the judge.
So what we’re left with is a very well designed Monster Manual that’s simple to use, but missing a significant number of iconic monsters and wholly original artwork. That’s excellent for a 3 in my book.
This Monster Manual shakes things up a lot. Like a lot of the new edition, it’s about reimagining the ancient in a fun new way. Once you get to the excellent stuff, it’s really wonderful. The problem is the excellent stuff is buried in the monster entries (scattered between the two to three condemn introduction, and the lore bits that give backstory to font depending on how well they roll). You end up having to hunt around and end up missing a lot of stuff that gets buried in between huge striped blocks of stats.
Here’s not a lot written, but man is it tightly written. No waste, very efficient and packed with new flavor and background information. Just reckon what they could have done if they spent a whole page on each monster. Unfortunately none of the monsters get that depth of coverage–just a few sentences. That’s it. They get in a lot in those few sentences, but it’s a shame they didn’t expand on that. It’s one of the things I really miss from the ancient 2nd edition books. Now it’s all statblocks.
Each monster has several statblocks at uncommon levels with uncommon names. No time is given describing the differences between the various types of monster, in fact in most cases the name seems to be entirely about what level the monster is and what special attacks it has–rather than any fastidious role in it’s society or anything. The difference between a drider fanglord and shadowspinner? Beats me.
The art is excellent and pretty consistant, but a lot of it feels like redone versions of art from the ancient books–and some of it is copied straight out of the ancient books. Not cool. The night hag, or the deathknight for model, yanked aptly out of their original Monster Manual entries. When they redo one though, it’s ususally real eyecandy. The lich, for model, or the foulspawn, or the new take on the lamia.
I like the new thoughts they’re rolling out for fourth edition. Certainly the new Monster Manual gives lots of fun new twists on even the most dull of the classic monsters. But the format. Argh, the format. They really needed to devote more space fresh art and to talking about the monsters and less time statting up multiple versions of each one. Who needs six kinds of kobold? Certainly not me.
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