D&D 5E Monster Manuals - Too Many, Not Enough?

Stalker0

Legend
My favorite third-party monster books are the three (so far) Monster Manual Expanded volumes available from the DM's Guild.
I got to note that the MM Expanded 3 is the most gorgeous monster book I have ever seen, I have never seen so much quality art in one RPG product. I bought it purely for art (something I almost never do), and I have not been disappointed.
 

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Nebulous

Legend
My favorite third-party monster books are the three (so far) Monster Manual Expanded volumes available from the DM's Guild.

The monsters in them mostly fall into two categories: updates of "official" TSR and WotC monsters from prior editions, and variations on the various monsters already published in official 5e books. That might sound uncreative, but from my perspective it's fantastic to have a ready-to-hand set of well-designed monsters that can breathe new life into familiar tropes that remain recognizably "D&D."
Yeah, I have all three of those too. It seems like something WotC should have done, creating variants of their own core monsters, but Dragonix did a bang up job. My other favorite books, as others mentioned, is the Kobold Press monster books. I'm running a game in Midgard, so it's nice having some of the lore mixed in. It's also fey heavy, which I like. I bought them all for Roll20 and don't regret it. Players can't metagame because most of the time they're fighting something they've never seen or heard of before.
 

jeremypowell

Adventurer
I got to note that the MM Expanded 3 is the most gorgeous monster book I have ever seen, I have never seen so much quality art in one RPG product. I bought it purely for art (something I almost never do), and I have not been disappointed.
And now he has updated MM Expanded 1 with art of the same level of quality (and will soon do the same with vol. 2). I only wish I hadn't already invested in hard copies of the original versions of 1 and 2, because it's difficult to justify repurchasing them at the DM's Guild's ludicrous prices—but the revised editions' art is so stunning I may do so eventually anyway.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
As per the title, what are your thoughts?

Which one or ones are the best.
And obviously, why?

You can include 3PP stuff too.
The only stats you'll ever need...


The best advice on creating and running monsters...


The best monster books are MM3, Monster Vault, and Monster Vault - Threats of Nentir Vale.
 

There are so many sources for monsters that it's quicker to homebrew something rather than look it up.

Especially now that I have probably 50+ monsters homebrew as a Word-file, I can create new ones that fit the setting and CR in minutes.
 

Voadam

Legend
I own and use a lot of monster books and I am always interested in getting more. I like both monster collections and in-depth monster books and I enjoy them even if I don't expect to necessarily use them in a game. The last monster book I got was two weeks ago, Alien Breeds, for Traveller, an in-depth exploration of a monstrous alien species in a game system I don't run. I am running a 5e D&D/sci-fi mashup converted adventure path so it could theoretically enter my game as possible lore type stuff.

I like using about 50% core/classic monsters and about 50% something different, whether that is a monster from a non-MM book or an advanced/levelled up/templated monster when I was running d20.

I am a bit bored with modules that just use basic srd monsters straight.

For the last two years I have been DMing on Fantasy Grounds and I am not that comfortable creating new, or heavily modifying existing, monsters on there, so I have limited myself to the resources I have on FG instead of my full library of lots of PDFs. I end up doing a bunch of reskinning for my 5e Iron Gods converted adventure path game. I have found Kobold's Tome of Beasts and Creature Codex very useful for throwing in things my PCs are not familiar with or for having interesting CR appropriate statblocks to reskin. Before FG I was comfortable using stuff from all over in my face to face and PBP or email games.

4e's Monster Vault would probably be my favorite. 4e's mechanics were probably the best for monster mechanics in D&D and the Vault's revision to the core 4e MM incorporated the improved math and monster design of late edition 4e. I also got huge mileage out of the included monster tokens as they are for core monsters and useable in other edition D&D/Pathfinder.
 

squibbles

Adventurer
It's not the amount of monster books, but the portion of interesting monsters per book.

I completely agree.

Most of the compelling creatures informed by longstanding archetypes are covered in any edition's first monster book. Monsters in subsequent or third-party books tend to be extremely specific, modifications on tropes that are already covered, or ridiculous D&Disms. They're swanmays, boalisks, or wolfweres, respectively, to the more straightforward dryads, basilisks, and werewolves. And those kinds of odd creatures are fine in the context of a specific adventure (e.g. the marble snake in Palace of the SIlver Princess is great), a specific campaign setting, or, sometimes, if you happen to be really feelin' boalisks, but, to me, they don't come off as vital or compelling.

I rarely find more than a handful of monsters that make me go "wow, cool!" when reading a new monster manual. And I don't think that's because no compelling creatures informed by longstanding archetypes still exist to be invented/adopted into D&D. Rather, I feel like most monster manuals just don't have enough... I dunno... cowbell. But, of course, that's just my opinion. Ymmv, and I'm not here to tell anyone that their collection of monster manuals is bad.

I'd be curious to hear more of your thoughts about this @Yora having read your Fantasy Safari Series from several years back with its count of repeated cliches in monster manuals, i.e.:

Fiend Folio Cliche Creature Counter:

  • Evil Apes: 2
  • Variant Ghouls: 2
  • Demon Dogs: 4
  • Skeletons with Robes: 5

And to reiterate my point from above: all of those cliches are capital "A" Awesome (and variant mechanics to keep them interesting are all well and good). I just don't see the need for the fifth named skeleton with robes that has its own description, picture, and bespoke place in the multiverse.
 

And now he has updated MM Expanded 1 with art of the same level of quality (and will soon do the same with vol. 2). I only wish I hadn't already invested in hard copies of the original versions of 1 and 2, because it's difficult to justify repurchasing them at the DM's Guild's ludicrous prices—but the revised editions' art is so stunning I may do so eventually anyway.
I'm in the same boat, but at least there's the added excuse that he's also updating some of the monsters (there are quite a few in the revised MME1 that now get some legendary actions, for example), as well as deleting monsters that have been made redundant due to official WotC releases, but conversely adding in some new monsters/variants in their place. I've been a big fan of his work since the original MME1 (since it filled in a gap I felt was sorely needed with the monster variants), so I know I'm just going to have to save up and eventually buy the hard copies of the revised MME1 and MME2.

(Basically, if there's anyone reading this thread who feel they need more monsters, especially variants of official monsters, go over to the DMs Guild and check out his work. The PDF previews should be enough to tell you if it's what you're looking for. Plus, all the original art make them just great to look at).
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
MM 3 looks pretty good.

I find there are too many monsters in most books, and what I mean is that they could be designed more like a toolkit.

So Celestials could have X abilities, stats that range between two values. Arch Celestials are between a particular range too. This would cover, Angel's, demon, jinn or whatever servitir race of the gods you wanted.

Same for vampires, and vampire lord. The list of powers and abilities should then allow you to create any kind of vampire you wish. It would creating monsters easy, and fun too.
 


Voadam

Legend
Whaaa. I still have NOT used all the 1E monsters . Yes there is and can be too many monster books.
I did not use all the monsters in the 1e MM. I was still glad to get and use the 1e Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II and the Role Aids Monsters of Myth and Legend. I would have gladly gotten the other two Monsters of Myth and Legend as well if I had seen them in stores.
 

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