Review: Monster Manual 2

I got tired of waiting for the mail to arrive, so decided to go for a walk and hit up Powells and Borders to see if they had Monster Manual 2 in, already. Powells didnt despite the site listing three copies in the store, which isnt surprising since I dont think its ever been accurate, but fortunately Borders isnt very far (as in, across the street). They had it, but not Dangerous Delves, and I wasnt about to run over to Knightfall since they are a good deal farther away.
So, I placated my minis cravings with a couple of Demonweb boosters. Its not like they're going to get rid of them any other way. /merch whore

The cover is nice but honestly after seeing Demongorgon through the eyes of Wayne Reynolds it seems a bit...lacking. I dunno, something about him beating the shit out of an overstaffed party is just too fucking cool.
On the topic of art, it really runs across the board, which is something I would expect. Some of its good (winter wolf, pg 210), much of it is alright, but some is downright crap (weretiger, pg 159). Overall, I'm very satisfied with the art presentation, despite some of it being recycled from 3rd Edition: at least they had the decency to mostly reuse the good stuff (ie, darkmantle).

As a big book of monsters, most of the appeal here is going to be crunch and how well it supports your game. MM2 fills in some gaps left in MM while adding a shitload of new monsters to the mix. Not much that you havent seen in previous editions, but then the game isnt even a year old, yet. In particular I am happy to see monsters that I missed in the first MM: cockatrice, krenshar, lizardfolk, and centaurs come to mind, and I'm sure there are many more.

Some people have complained about a lack of cohesion. I think this approach has some merit, and while I wouldnt go far as to give the entire book a solid theme I think that its a good idea to support the various monsters with other related monsters. For example, MM had efreet, fire archons, azers, and fire giants, which are a group of thematic monsters that work very well together.

Its not a book for players, though there are three new races that you can use if your DM is so inclined to allow them: the bullywug, duergar, and kenku. The bullywug racial ability is very lame, especially when you consider that almost no monsters spend healing surges, but the other two have merit: I've already completed a kenku palaind of the Raven Queen.

Aside from some nitpicky art issues I cant find any flaws in this book, not that its hard to throw a shitload of monsters together and call it good. In a nutshell, if you want a big-fucking book of official monsters, pick it up. If you're satisfied with the critter count thus far, then you should still pick it up since it has Demogorgon and Dagon, goddamn it.

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