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Reviews of 'Monster Manual III'

Monster Manual III

by Various
D&D 3.5 Core Books, Volume 5

Reviews of 'Monster Manual III'

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Reviewer: Trampas Whiteman

Rating: Stars

The Monster Manual III is the latest monster book by Wizards of the Coast. At 224 pages long, it offers a wealth of information on new monsters for the D&D game.

My first reaction, being the "dino" that I am, is that there was no Monster Manual III in 1st edition. Putting aside this silly notion, my second reaction was, "How can they come up with new monsters that are interesting?"

As it turns out, the designers did a fine job. The book contains a ton of new monsters, so to go over every individual one would be difficult. However, I'll give some general thoughts.

First, it is good to note that each monster begins at the start of a page. When I first saw the Monster Manual 3.0, I thought the designers had taken a step backwards, and the layout was a bit hard to read. This book is very well laid out in regards to having a monster entry per page.

Second, and to my delight, are sections detailing how the monsters can be used in the Forgotten Realms and in Eberron. This is a very useful tool, and one I wish they had used back in the days of 2nd edition. From the standpoint of being a Dragonlance website, I do wish they had a section for use in Dragonlance, but I'm sure that this was avoided due to Dragonlance being licensed to Sovereign Press.

Amongst the new monsters are some Eberron-specific monsters, many of which can be used in other settings. Such monsters include the changeling, the shifter, and the warforged. It's interesting to note that there are a couple of new designs on the warforged, including a charger that appears like a gorilla, and the halfling-sized warforged scout.

Monsters in this book are pretty standard fare, as far as monsters go. Most are new, but we do see the return of an old favorite with the kenku. One of my favorites was the Living Spell, where magical effects gain sentience.

I also enjoyed the phoelarch, a phoenix-man who dies and is reborn as the fiery phoera. Fans of the phaethon in Dragonlance may take a note from this and adapt the phoelarch/phoera for that purpose.

I was also pleased with the introduction of two new rakshasa subraces – the ak'chazar (white tiger rakshasa) and the naztharune (black tiger-like rakshasa).

The living topiary garden would also provide some refreshing entertainment in a game.

There were a few monsters that I felt were a bit silly or poorly designed. The arrow demon is a demon with four arms that can use two bows at once. I have a hard time imagining how he can hit two targets without tangling up all over himself. The dracotaur seemed okay, but why not go back to the original dracon from Spelljammer fame? The lhosk is the gorilla version of a drider, with a gorilla torso and spider body. I'm not sure why this one was created, with the drider already existing. I also question the vermin lord, who appears at first like a variant of the thri-kreen.

There's also some new variations on themes, such as new giants, new lizardfolk, and new trolls. I thought they were done in such a way as to make them interesting, rather than just a "ho-hum" variation.

The artwork was fairly decent as well. I've noticed that some WotC books of late seem to not have as good of artwork, but I was pleased with this book. The battlebriar pic is particularly nasty, and I'm sure would give more than one player the willies!

I was also a bit disappointed that psionics didn't play a bigger role in this book. It would have been the perfect opportunity to update the gem dragons to the 3.5 Expanded Psionics Handbook rules, yet this was not taken advantage of.

Some monster feats are also in this book, as well as a glossary, which is real handy if you don't have your original Monster Manual with you.

Overall, I found this book to be just what it sets out to be – a good monster book. For the most part, it is standard fare, and is typical of what you expect to see in a monster book. It's very useful if you're a Forgotten Realms or Eberron fan. I don't think the book is essential, but it would be a good tool for dungeon masters who wish to add a little something new to a game.

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