A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Default Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    D&D has a long history of having numerous monster books. Most editions have their primary Monster Manual with what has become established as the most common creatures, but also various Monster Manual 2s, Monster Manual 3s, and Fiend Folios. 3rd Edition even had a Monster Manual 5.

    While those book are generally really cool and fun to read, my perception from both my own games and stories shared from other groups is that a very large majority of monsters encountered in played D&D campaigns still come from the primary Monster Manual for edition in question. Other monster manuals seem to be getting very little use, even though they are the same size with similar numbers of creatures.

    Over the editions there have been various cases of monsters from primary Monster Manuals that only appeared in secondary monster books in later editions, and I know for example that the 3rd edition Monster Manual had a couple of monsters that never appeared anywhere else again. So we don't need to be super pedantic about which monsters might have once appeared in a primary Monster Manual. The main question here is about creatures that we wouldn't consider to be "established standard monsters of D&D", like orcs, owlbears, ettins, mind flayers, or shambling mounds.

    What nonstandard monsters have you encountered playing a meaningful role in campaigns that you played?
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    This is all 3.5 obviously but I keep using them into my Pathfinder 1E games.

    MM3: Frequently: Ambush Drake, Battlebriar and the Warbound Impaler subtype, Boneclaws, a reskinned, converted Chraal last Pathfinder session in my megadungeon as a temple guardian, Dracotaurs, Drowned, Storm Elementals, Shadesteel golems, Harpoon Spiders, Living Spells, Skullcrusher Ogres, Runehounds, Shredstorms, Stonesingers, all the new trolls, voidmind creatures and the yugoloths, esp. the Mezzoloth.

    MM2: The Tanar'ri there, the Devils there, an elemental weird as a plot device, grells, the hellfire wyrm, hook horrors, myconids frequently, death knights and half golems.

    FF: Caryatid Column, Alkiliths, the golems (esp Hellfire), half-illithids, khaasta, maugs, rukanyrs, sporebats and steel predators.

    Those are the most frequent. Also, all stuff from Frostburn.
    Last edited by GameMaster_Phil; 2021-07-05 at 02:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    As a 5E DM, I frequently use monsters from Volo's Guide. I occasionally use monsters from Mordekainen's tome of foes. I'd say my breakdown of monsters from homebrew/monster manual/volo's/everything else looks like 45/30/15/10.

    From Volo's guide, xvarts wound up playing a massive and critical role to a 2 year campaign ironically. My party decided to champion their cause and try to get them accepted into a society that regarded them as shoot on sight.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    In 1E many of the now iconic monsters got their start in the MM2 and made their way into core in later editions.

    I started in second edition with the monstrous compendiums, and its amazing how many iconic monsters were left out of the original; griffons for example. So yes, absolutely.

    The revised 2E monster manual was probably the most complete book ever published for the game, and was more than capable of supplying monsters for any game that didn't involve lots of outsiders.

    The 3E MM 2 was absolute garbage and everything in it was hilariously over or under CRed; using it always resulted in a bad time.

    Didn't play fourth, and afaik there has yet to be a second monster book for 5E.
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Uhm. I have no idea what was in MM2 and 3. Let me go find the Monster filter.

    Right. Let's see…
    MM2:
    I Play a lot of Planescape, so the Arcanaloth. That said, with rewritten stats, I remember finding them disappointing.
    The Bronze Serpent, I think I used once. Not especially memorable.
    I'm sure I used at least one of the Gem Dragons before, no idea which.
    Firbolg, I think? Might just have been some homebrew stats I wrote myself.
    Stained Glass Golem. That one was good.
    Orcwort. Wrote an entire short Horror Adventure around one of those.

    MM3:
    Canoloth, though only as side-muscle for a boss fight, really.
    Drowned. That was a fun adventure. A viking burial Mound was being desecrated, so drowned sailors came back for revenge. Adventure started when the Players started finding drowned Farmers in the middle of their fields, far away from water. Drowning aura makes for some unusual Combat Setups.
    Blackscale and Poison Dusk lizardfolk. Needed some swamp tribes.
    Petal. The Players got a favour from a fairy queen and asked for some Warriors to help them with a fight. They got a very proud petal duelist.
    Variant Rakshasas. I like Rakshasas a lot, so I used the variants to great effect.
    Ultroloth, but see Arcanaloth: this was more used as Inspiration for homebrew stats. Pretty sure this ended up aat around CR 20 with a lot of unique abilities.

    Fiend Folio:
    Now we're Talking.
    Abyssal Ghoul: played a bit of a role when I levelled up Age of Worms for slightly higher Level.
    Bacchae: Focus of an entire Story, around someone trying to summon an Avatar of Bacchus, which had rather disastrous effects.
    Darkweaver: an old favourite. The Planescape description in the old book is great, and this is one of my favourite Monsters.
    Deva: all of them. As guides, mostly. My Players like summoning them when they get lost on another plane.
    Ethergaunt: had a whole Campaign planned around these, where I basically made them necrons from 40k. Emerging from their unassailable ethereal fortresses to wage war on the gods.
    Feytouched: quite common. Half-fey, too.
    Mechanatrix: a planescape staple.
    Quarut: Sometimes, your Players just commit crimes against space-time, you know?
    Cranium rat swarm: see Planescape.
    Wendigo: lots of fun. Slowly drive your Players insane over a week with hit and run.


    I'm sure there were more.
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    (EDIT: oh, *favorite* The outsiders, and the gods having stats so we can kill them, are most *useful*. Favorite is probably giant amoeba, and homebrew.)

    Homebrew, of course, tops the charts for nonstandard monster sightings.

    Outsiders… and other region-specific monsters, especially when adventuring in their region (Planescape, Spelljammer, Forgotten Realms, whatever).

    Templates (like ˝-Golem, Insectile, Multi-Headed, Incarnate, Gelatinous, Dark, Corpse, etc) see a lot of use - sometimes even as PCs.

    Speaking of PCs, Petals. And Whisper Gnomes. And Warforged.

    War Trolls.

    That stupid "rabbit on a stump" monster.

    Giant amoeba - that's one of my favorite.

    Time elementals, Nilbog, and sentient thought forms have made multiple sightings.

    Oh, and the monster you can drink like a potion. Good times.

    But probably the most used? The Named Ones. Elminster, Drizzt, Mystra, Mordenkainen, The Lady of Pain, Mephistopheles. Fizbin, Raistlin, Hank, Emrikul the Chaotic, Nymra Elpurtann (aka the Wave Witch), Tiamat.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-07-06 at 05:53 AM.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    That stupid "rabbit on a stump" monster.
    I really liked the variant from Pathfinder where the lure resembled a goblin sentry taking a nap, rather than the unicorn-bunny. As DM, I got two different parties with that one.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    This is actually the kind of response I was expecting from this thread. While it's a topic that really invites people to gush about the amazing things that happened in their campaigns, and those generally get good amounts of responses, there's two or three people who really used monster books a lot, and that's about it. Same thing happened in another place when I asked the same question.

    I feel quite convinced that for most GMs, these additional monster books end up being worthless expenses. I used to have a lot such books myself, but never actually used any of them from what I remember.
    I wonder what the sales numbers on those are. The two monster books for 5th edition seem to be doing well enough, but they are not pure monster tomes like the Monster Manual, and almost all the monsters in them are well established creatures that have been around for many decades.
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    What nonstandard monsters have you encountered playing a meaningful role in campaigns that you played?
    Star Spawn. (Volo's) have figured in some of our games. I have one now that I added to the Candlekeep level seven adventure as a summons (to replace a grell). What my PCs' don't know is that there's a boss starspawn who is pulling the strings on the mage who is supposed to be 'the major opponent' of that Candlekeep adventure, but as I found the adventure to be a bit too tame, I added a layer of difficulty that will trigger when they defeat this boss (or he teleports away using a scroll).
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The revised 2E monster manual was probably the most complete book ever published for the game, and was more than capable of supplying monsters for any game that didn't involve lots of outsiders.
    Yeah, that was a great resource.
    Didn't play fourth, and afaik there has yet to be a second monster book for 5E.
    Volo's Guide to Monsters have barghests, and a variety of other fine critters. I also relied on Volo's for some advanced hags (Annis and Bheur) that I've used in my Saltmarsh campaign, and I applied that book's coven rules to good effect for three green hags. Also used guard drakes from Volo's for two different adventures. (IIRC, they were from one of the published adventures initially)
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2021-07-09 at 08:39 AM.
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post

    I feel quite convinced that for most GMs, these additional monster books end up being worthless expenses. I used to have a lot such books myself, but never actually used any of them from what I remember.
    There are three problems with monster splatbooks that I see that may be contributing to this.

    First, if a monster archetype or role in your campaign has been occupied (Goblins as the sneaky little evil mass-produced fodder for example), GMs correctly have a tendency to not change that role around. So if in MM2 a small evil sneaky weak humanoid monster gets introduced, why should anyone replace their existing goblins with the new boblins (who are blue instead of green.)?

    The second is the missing "anchoring" of monsters in the campaign setting - monster books are usually generic. MM3 had at least some blurbs for Eberron and the FR for each monster, but the monster books I utilize the most are always setting-specific. The core MM monsters are everywhere, so they get anchored in the setting book instead of the MM.

    The third problem is the bad quality of some books and monsters. I did not like MM4 and MM5 of 3.5, for example.

    <rant>
    And the latter PF monster books were, at least in part, filled with those half-assed, lazy, uncool and ugly conversions of real-world cryptids and real-world mythological creatures with zero creativity or coolness. Those were the worst content I read in any monster book. I don't know who greenlighted that. Waste of pagecount. But apparently, the Paizo Forum users kept pushing for them. </rant>

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    I do like the blood golem and used one as the gm.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Quote Originally Posted by GameMaster_Phil View Post
    First, if a monster archetype or role in your campaign has been occupied (Goblins as the sneaky little evil mass-produced fodder for example), GMs correctly have a tendency to not change that role around. So if in MM2 a small evil sneaky weak humanoid monster gets introduced, why should anyone replace their existing goblins with the new boblins (who are blue instead of green.)?

    The second is the missing "anchoring" of monsters in the campaign setting - monster books are usually generic. MM3 had at least some blurbs for Eberron and the FR for each monster, but the monster books I utilize the most are always setting-specific. The core MM monsters are everywhere, so they get anchored in the setting book instead of the MM.

    The third problem is the bad quality of some books and monsters. I did not like MM4 and MM5 of 3.5, for example.
    Very much in agreement on all three points.

    I think people were making a couple of jokes about the Beardog when the MM3 came out. So it's just like a bear, but it's face looks a bit like a dog.

    Why do we use a page for this?

    I mean, an owlbear is also really just a bear with the face of an owl, but the owlbear has decades of established reputation and it's way more quirky and therefore memorable than a beardog.
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Personally, I've used the non-MM monster books (5e here) as much as the MM; in fact, 3rd-party monster books are among the only 3rd party content I've purchased. And I use them heavily.

    But I'm working in an environment where I don't actually have to pull out the books much, so I couldn't tell you which monsters are from where. And I'm really just trawling for stat blocks to serve as my starting points (some run exactly, others modified, etc), since the setting is heavily homebrew and throws away 99% of the lore[1].

    [1] it hits the same broad-brush notes, but the actual reasons/details differ strongly. So a goblin is recognizably a goblin, but there's a lot different depth there.
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    I'll be running an adventure in the future where a major factor are Grigs (1e MM2) which aren't in the current 5e game

    I have a deep love for Grells as a creepy trap monster. Party entering a room and feeling the tentacles drape on them as the brain-octopus thing drifts downward (1e FF)

    Likewise, Froghemoths are just weirdly awesome (1e MM2) and Hook Horrors are cool (1e FF)

    Honestly, I find the question sort of hard to answer because a lot of the best things to come out of the 1e MM2 and FF have made their way into modern game books and settings. Stuff like Githyanki, Slaads, Yugoloths and Modrons came from MM2/FF and haven't left yet so it's hard to make a case that those critters were never used or a waste of a book purchase. But saying "I played a game where we explored a Yuan-Ti temple" or "The treasure was guarded by a Gibbering Mouther" hardly sounds innovative now despite them both originating* in 1e MM2.

    In my games right now, I actually tend more towards either updating old monsters or leaning on 3rd party books in conjunction with stuff like Volo's because most players have seen plenty of the basic Monster Manual foes.

    *I know many of the critters had their true debut in modules and stuff but I mean their mass market hardback introduction.
    Last edited by Jophiel; 2021-07-10 at 10:46 AM.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    One of my players once asked, "is there such a thing as were-dragons"… when building their PC… for the module in which were-Dragons were introduced (afaik).

    So that's probably their answer to this thread.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    The DM of the long-running D&D game (started in 3.5, moved to 5th) I've been playing in since I graduated from college has a marked tendency to avoid standard Monster Manual foes so as to shake things up and keep us on our toes. The one I remember most vividly was some demon or something in 3.5 that dealt damage in a radius equal to whatever blows it took and had regeneration. We dealt with that by having our fighters grapple it and toss it over a waterfall. Killed all the fish in the plunge pool, yes, but solved the problem nicely.

    I'm planning on porting the grungs from Volo's into Mythras because I love the idea of these tiny, wicked little poison frogs that overrun people with numbers and guerilla tactics and then drug and enslave people.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    I once used a... yaogui?... from a pathfinder module I converted into 5e. A bear with antlers and a tentacle. That might not be right, because there are 1000 pathfinder monsters and I don't remember the name. It was fun to describe and draw for the game. Okay random encounter. Would use a similar messed up monster to surprise my players again.

    I find I enjoy reading bestiaries whether their contents get into the game or not. So I don't find it's wasted space, although I should be more open to just getting bestiaries that don't have game stats attached.
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    If we're talking actual play, a memorable climactic encounter with a certain "angel" in Not another DND Podcast quite clearly uses the reskinned statblock for Aurelia from Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    (All 3.5e)

    I've used banshrae and redcaps before, in a campaign that had a small emphasis on the fair folk.

    Grell are also really fun, and I wouldn't call them D&D "staple" monsters. I've thrown those against parties before too.

    Those are the only straightforward examples I can think of. I've got a habit (as a DM) of sticking a few class levels on a "standard" monster statblock and running that for higher-level parties, so I don't end up using a lot of unusual stuff unless it's custom-built or really integral to the setting (see: all the fairies in the aforementioned campaign).
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    The DM of the long-running D&D game (started in 3.5, moved to 5th) I've been playing in since I graduated from college has a marked tendency to avoid standard Monster Manual foes so as to shake things up and keep us on our toes. The one I remember most vividly was some demon or something in 3.5 that dealt damage in a radius equal to whatever blows it took and had regeneration. We dealt with that by having our fighters grapple it and toss it over a waterfall. Killed all the fish in the plunge pool, yes, but solved the problem nicely.
    I know that critter. It's called a Jovoc. My 3.5e group had a habit of summoning them, handing them scythes, and ordering them to coup de grace themselves.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    This is actually the kind of response I was expecting from this thread...I feel quite convinced that for most GMs, these additional monster books end up being worthless expenses. I used to have a lot such books myself, but never actually used any of them from what I remember...
    Same. I started DM'ing in 3rd and bought every book they printed.
    Then I got into other systems, tried other editions, and realized my mistake.

    Don't get me wrong. I love thumbing through pretty much any sort of MM. Sometimes something will catch my eye or give me an idea, and I'll run with it. Usually not as-is, but the concept at least.
    Of course, for every one of those moments, there are probably twenty or more of "really? Another half-X template?" or "what's the point of this guy?" If you give me another giant lobster-octopus, I'm just gonna have to ask why it needs to exist alongside the chuul. What does it do differently? What function does it have within the game?

    At this point, I homebrew about 90% of my monsters. Even basic ones, like giant boars or dire wolves. I want their statblocks to actually lend to interesting, dynamic encounters. That means being more than hit points and damage rolls, but it also means being streamlined enough so that running them doesn't bog down the pace of the game.

    One of the most recent ones I saw that really struck me was the Attic Whisperer from Pathfinder. Give credit where it's due; that is a great little monster.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    The D&D 4E Catastrophic Dragons were quite memorable.

    But perhaps that says more about how lame the Monster Manual 1/2 dragons were. They really fixed up things in Monster Manual 3 and possibly also Monster Vault, but probably too late.

    ( on the other hand, the cool design was probably the precursor of 5E Legendary Actions and Lair Actions, so the effort might be too late but probably not wasted )
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quixotic1 View Post
    Same. I started DM'ing in 3rd and bought every book they printed.
    Then I got into other systems, tried other editions, and realized my mistake.

    Don't get me wrong. I love thumbing through pretty much any sort of MM. Sometimes something will catch my eye or give me an idea, and I'll run with it. Usually not as-is, but the concept at least.
    Of course, for every one of those moments, there are probably twenty or more of "really? Another half-X template?" or "what's the point of this guy?" If you give me another giant lobster-octopus, I'm just gonna have to ask why it needs to exist alongside the chuul. What does it do differently? What function does it have within the game?

    At this point, I homebrew about 90% of my monsters. Even basic ones, like giant boars or dire wolves. I want their statblocks to actually lend to interesting, dynamic encounters. That means being more than hit points and damage rolls, but it also means being streamlined enough so that running them doesn't bog down the pace of the game.

    One of the most recent ones I saw that really struck me was the Attic Whisperer from Pathfinder. Give credit where it's due; that is a great little monster.
    Personally I think that some monsters are great additions despite being very simple: I liked the giant zombie (forgot the name) in libris mortis because it meant I did not have to make the effort to apply the zombie template to a giant.

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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    I love those tomes of ancient beasts. I've used several things from them on my players, including but not limited to: Abyssal Mandrake/Orcwort hybrid thing, a Defacer (Just a random miniboss), a Visage (It's the BBEG, LOVE that thing, the players have only barely seen it though), a Jahi (cult leader), a Vitreous Drinker (A lurker beneath the city, I love eyes, and the not-crows are a really cool setpiece), a Wastrilith and some Abyssal Maws (in passing), an Immoth (Just a cameo as the caretaker of a test of character though), a Waterveiled Assassin (as part of said test of character), a Blackrock Triskelion (enlarged to Colossal, more of a setpiece), Dark Creepers and a Dark Stalker (briefly, as inhabitants of the forest floor of a mile-deep forest), and probably others I've forgot.
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Originally Posted by Yora
    …my perception from both my own games and stories shared from other groups is that a very large majority of monsters encountered in played D&D campaigns still come from the primary Monster Manual for edition in question.
    As both a player and a GM, this hasn’t been my experience. I avoid most of the standard monsters whenever possible, because they’re so overdone. I run Pathfinder 1E, and I’ve used Bestiaries 2-5 far more often than the first Bestiary.

    I don’t think it’s been mentioned yet, but Pathfinder APs often have very cool and well-thought-out creatures in the mini-bestiaries in the back of each chapter. I’ve used a number of them for some extremely memorable encounters.

    Originally Posted by GameMaster_Phil
    And the latter PF monster books were, at least in part, filled with those half-assed, lazy, uncool and ugly conversions of real-world cryptids and real-world mythological creatures with zero creativity or coolness.
    I happen to enjoy these books, use them frequently, and never considered them a waste of money.

    Do I use every creature in every book? Of course not. But in every book I find creatures that end up resonating with my players and filling out the campaign in ways I’d never expected. That makes these books well worth it to me.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    This is actually the kind of response I was expecting from this thread. While it's a topic that really invites people to gush about the amazing things that happened in their campaigns, and those generally get good amounts of responses, there's two or three people who really used monster books a lot, and that's about it. Same thing happened in another place when I asked the same question.

    I feel quite convinced that for most GMs, these additional monster books end up being worthless expenses. I used to have a lot such books myself, but never actually used any of them from what I remember.
    I wonder what the sales numbers on those are. The two monster books for 5th edition seem to be doing well enough, but they are not pure monster tomes like the Monster Manual, and almost all the monsters in them are well established creatures that have been around for many decades.
    The issue for me is that this is 30+ years ago now. We 100% used MMII and FF creatures, at least a handful of each. At minimum, the Gith, Kenku, Mephits, Penanggalan, Revenants and Slaad from FF, and a bunch from MM2 (many of the monsters therein got added to "core" in future editions.

    Of course, that was a radically different time for D&D...adventures with 10+ different monster types weren't unusual. Nobody complained about the ecology of the dungeon not making sense, and new monster books meant you could count on 90% of the next few months worth of featured monsters being from the new book.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    I consider additional monster books one of the best expenses for a GM, and I make a point of using as many weird monsters as I can. It's a fun change of pace, it's easier than homebrewing stuff every single time (building NPCs is already annoying enough), and lots of them have fairly interesting abilities. I even find reading through monster books to be inspiring - for example the Cloaked Ape's Fast Healing gave me the idea for a Positive Energy Portal location adventure in my current campaign, which made local creatures evolve weird traits (especially local Apes, which became cloaked Apes).
    A lot of my adventure design process is "now that I have the general goal of the PCs and an idea of the area and theme of the opposition, time to dig through those old Crystalkeep index pdfs and find something whose CR and environment/type fits! Then read through that, see if I'm inspired, and if yes use it. Otherwise start looking at homebrew, making NPCs, whatever I have time for. Flicking through monster books is an enjoyable part of GMing, and it provides both inspiration and new combat mechanics to keep things from getting stale when I don't have a great idea ready to go.

    Here's what I've used (or put into my next dungeon) in my current campaign, for example:
    1. Sheengrass Swarm, from a wizards web article
    2. Bonesting, from a wizard web article
    3. Airjelly, from a wizards web article
    4. Myconids (from MM II)
    5. That weird rotting low-CR fungus thing that was in MM IV or something.
    6. Splinterwaif (from MM III)
    7. Shadovig (from a Dragon mag)
    8. Shadar-kai (from Fiend Folio)
    9. Spindlespitter (forgot where that was from - it's a kind of dinosaur, so maybe an Eberron book?)
    10. Spellwarped template (from MM III)
    11. Silthilar (from Lords of Madness)
    12. Verdant Prince (from MM IV, although the PCs obviously haven't actually fought him directly considering the level difference with everything else on this list)
    13. Dusk Hags (Eberron Campaign Setting, although I didn't really use it's combat statistics and could have homebrewed anything with such a vague "plot magic divination" power)
    14. Springgan (from the Fiend Folio)
    15. Topiary Guardians (from MM III)
    16. Yellow Musk Creeper (from Fiend Folio)
    17. Horrid Ape (from Eberron Campaign Setting)
    18. Karrnathi Skeletons (from Eberron Campaign Setting)
    19. Karrnathi Zombies (from Eberron Campaign Setting)
    20. Iron Defender and their archer variant (from Eberron Campaign Setting)
    21. Cloaked Apes (from MM II)
    22. Force Golem (from MM IV, IIRC)
    23. Howler Wasps (from MM IV)
    24. Dire Hawk (I forget the source, but it wasn't the MM)
    25. Lhosks (from MM IV), where were met alongside shocker lizards (from the MM)
    26. And in the near-ish future I plan to include Zern (from MM IV), Skull Lords (from MM V), and maybe a few creatures from the Monster Manual (Assassin Vines, that CR 3 fungus, more Dire Animals...)


    All this is literally just from my current Fey/Jungle campaign, started less than a year ago. All the Monster Manual has given me so far are mundane animals (most of which received a template from MM III), basic skeleton warriors, ghouls, nixies and dryads, and an owlbear zombie. The DMG has been more helpful than MM I, just because of it's NPC creation guidelines.

    A wider trend I've noticed over the years: Once my campaigns start hitting level 8 or so, the first monster manual becomes increasingly useless, and I start having to make more and more NPCs, template-stacking monsters (obviously taking templates from lots of books), and simply digging back into the last few MM books because they had a lot more mid-level creatures that always come as a bit of a surprise to PCs. Honestly, my biggest disappointments from those books are things like the Chaos Roc, the slightly more evil roper variant, or things like that lizardfolk tribe that gets statted up in MM IV (or was it V?). Those save the GM a bit of effort, but they don't quite have the "here's a cool monster idea with a novel mechanic and feel!" that the more interesting creations bring.

    My pet theory regarding why so many of the later MM monsters don't get used much is because they try to be whole "villain factions" by themselves, or don't easily fit into the traditional monster ecology GMs have in mind. If you remember the existence of Tiamatspawn haflway through the campaign and your game doesn't have Dragon-themed enemies, you probably can't just slap them in. But things like "more Devils or Celestials with weird abilities" work fine in many campaigns, and so do "weird forest/underdark monster of the week" creations like the Briarvex or the Balhannoth.
    Last edited by TalonOfAnathrax; 2021-10-01 at 11:20 AM.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Favorite D&D monsters from MM2+ and FF that appeared in actual play?

    @Yora;

    Interesting original question. For me, for a long time, it has come down to what I have figures for. Over time, as more and more of the "odd" monsters made a showing in plastic they also made a showing in my games. Today, the truth is, there are a lot of monsters from various sources that I have not bothered to use and your thought that the books are useless is only partly correct. For me, and I am only speaking for me, the publishers sent me a message based on what minis they elected to create for the game.
    Another fine mess you've gotten me into....

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