Monday, May 4, 2009

Monster Manual 2

Arguably one of the most anticipated books of 2009 (for DM's anyway), MM2 has arrived in style and does not disappoint. In fact, it delivers in buckets. First of all, WotC "completes" the 4e monster list by bringing us all (or at least most of) the classic monsters who were lacking in the MM1. The barghest, Behir, good dragons, golems, cockatrice, couatl, djinns, firebolg, frost giants, nasty hydras (cause the ones in the original MM sucked), maruts., neogis, phasespider, remorhaz, rust monster, stone giants, will o wisp, duergar and the xorn. A few have been published in various adventures, but honestly, those classic monsters belong in a MM and I am happy they were included. Second of all, we get some nifty new guidelines for our combats. Solo monsters now definitely only get *4 hit points and 8 hit points per level, no matter which role it has. Some of the solos published between MM1 and MM2 left us wondering about the hit points per level. We also see solos (especially dragons) have had their damage upped considerably. At the other end of the power scales, minions have also received a boost, dealing more damage and many of them now create an effect when killed. That's just awesome. Third of all, the monsters in MM2 have a lot of new cool abilities. From the feeding powers of the barghest, to the 3 standard actions of the Behir (great way to handle solos if you ask me. You keep the damage per round high while toning down the spikes), passing by the Maw of Acamar who is just made of pure win, to the minion-spawning pod demon, going past the Couatl's radiance which allows it to pass through allies and foes, healing the former and damaging the later, to the bebilith's destruction of armor (-1 culmultative AC for the encounter, on each hit), to the neldrazu's teleport-hit-teleport-with-enemy power of abduction to the djinn's ability to get AP's when critted, to the total-sum hit point system of the ghost legionnaires and finally ending with the eldritch giant's consume magic. Those and many others should provide great moments at your table as well as great inspiration for creating your own monster powers. Nothing is ever perfect (Ankheg has the wrong hit points; there is a reference to a power that doesn't exist; the use of skill checks to tackle aura effects; a few too many pages devoted to monster versions of PHB1/PHB2 races) but honestly, those are very small issues. I love 4e and I love cool monsters, but any 4e DM would be better off buying this book. Heck, the awesomeness of Demogorgon should be enough.
Rating:* * * * * *

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