Many of you DM’s out there will be going out to get the Monster Manual 2 as soon as you can on Tuesday, but if you’re not convinced yet from my review that it’s a great resource I figured some people might like a much more in depth preview of exactly what’s in this book. If you’re the kind of person who really likes to have a few surprises waiting for you when you crack open a new book, then I recommend not reading every part of these posts. If you’re just a player, then bugger off! These posts aren’t here for you to read and learn all of the DM’s new toys (or are they?).
There are several new design mechanics that you see recurring in a few places within the MM2. Perhaps the most interesting one is that a lot of monsters now focus on moving PC’s around the battlefield, typically in a “kidnap”/jump & pull fashion that promises to be very exciting.
Angels – These divine servants get four new monsters added to the mix at the epic tier, unfortunately without much new variation in the basic faceless guardian concept, but more epic level angels are definitely a welcome addition. Angel of Retrieval uses the ‘kidnap’ mechanic mentioned above, teleporting targets 5 squares and then moving adjacent to them. Angels of Light are minions that explode in radiant bursts when they die. A very welcome new addition is the Archangel template that can be added to any angel to make them a badass elite.
Ankheg – Yes, they’re back! The basic Ankheg is a level 3 elite lurker that burrows, but perhaps its biggest threat is the ‘Gnaw and Scuttle’ attack that burns its grabbed victims with acid as it scurries away with them! We also get an Ankheg broodling level 1 minion brute that get bonuses to attack targets grabbed by other ankhegs, vicious!
Giant Ants – A very interesting addition, there are four types of lowly giant ants and of course the Hive Queen. Each one has a different Hive Frenzy ability that boosts them when a Giant Ant is killed within 10 squares, which promises to escalate combats quickly! They are clearly designed to work well in large and mixed groups of workers, warriors, soldiers, and winged drones. I think these are a great mindless enemy that still poses a very real threat to the party.
Archons – The three types of Earth Archons are in the mid-paragon tier and pretty much what you’d expect them to be, a controller, brute, and soldier that focus on knocking characters prone and dealing more damage once you are prone. The Ground Rager (controller) has a nasty aura 5 that slows enemies that don’t move within it.
Storm Archons are living tempests of wind and lightning sitting at the upper-paragon tier. The Squallshield archon is a beastly soldier surrounded by buffetting winds and rain, on top of that he chases you down if you try to run away.
Water Archons are the lower paragon elementals, with the unique vulnerability that when they are hit by cold powers they freeze and are slowed. That doesn’t make them pushovers though, as the Tide Strider can shift 6 squares and make a greatspear attack against each enemy along the way.
Barghest – These goblin shapeshifters are much more interestingly presented than I’ve seen in previous editions. You have the Savager that can change into wolf form or a bugbear and can use your own powers against you! The Barghest Battle Lord can change into a hobgoblin or a wolf. Both provide interesting encounter options for the heroic tier.
Behir – This is probably one of the coolest monsters in the book, I mean it’s a huge lightning serpent that can devour adventurers whole! What more do you need from a level 14 solo skirmisher? Oh, there’s a level 8 solo Whelp and the Behir Stormsteed level 24 soldier mount, don’t leave home without it.
Beholder – Oh great, there are more beholders now…if you want to scare the crap out of a fresh party, the Beholder Gauth will let you do just that as a level 5 elite artillery. The Eye of Frost acts as a great contrast to the first MM’s Eye of Flame with both a freeze ray and an ice ray. I believe the name Eye of Chaos may become the scourge of epic parties very soon whether it’s blinding, confounding, maddening, or teleporting you. The biggest and baddest beholder is called the Ultimate Tyrant, a level 29 solo artillery monster, and yea basically you just want to leave them alone.
Bullywug – These “nasty and noisome” aquatic humanoids pretty much speak for themselves. All of them are in the low-heroic tier, but with abilities like ‘Spasmodic Hop’ and ‘Foul Croak’ I think you can pretty much get the picture. Oh, and don’t forget the Mud Lord’s ‘Electric Reflux’ attack!
Centaur – The five types of Centaurs range from early paragon up through mid-epic tier of play, and each one promises to be a quick and deadly combat monster. They combine a lot of martial attacks with kicks, charges, and all around close-quarters tactics.
Centipede - Absolutely gross, these insects will feast upon heroic adventurers in the nastiest ways. Swarms of them do ongoing poison damage, and if you’re already poisoned then you become weakened. To make things even better, the Centipede Scuttler can feed upon weakened creatures for massive damage, and all of them scuttle around the ground with insectoid speed! Again, gross.
Chaos Shard - One of the new monsters listed on the back of the book, Chaos Shards are intelligent and malevolent living crystals that form where the Elemental Chaos meets the Abyss. Spread from the heroic tier up to paragon, all of these shards are artillery monsters with damaging auras and painful ranged attacks. Types include the Storm Shard, Death Shard, Flame Shard, and Prismatic Shard.
Cockatrice - Probably one of my favorite monsters, I am very glad to see its return! The Cockatrice is a level 5 skirmisher that flies around and it’s bite makes you feel oddly sedentary.
Colossus - The only Colossus presented is the Primoridal Colossus, although he’s only a level 28 elite brute, I wouldn’t mess with him on my own. He has a penchant for doing acid, cold, fire, lightning AND thunder damage all at one time either by slams, kicks, or even throwing giant stones at you. He’s freaking fast too!
Couatl - These flying magical serpents have been a staple of D&D for quite some time. They are presented here as the Cloud Serpent and Star Serpent, and specialize in throwing lightning and radiant damage around like confetti. They can also wrap you up like a normal snake and constrict the life out of you, so it’s probably best to try and talk your way out of things.
Cyclops - Adding on to the first MM entry, we have the Cyclops Crusher brute and the Feyblade level 21 soldier.
Darkmantle - I’m sure there’s at least one person who was waiting for this one to show up. The Darkmantle Enveloper does everything you’d expect it to do, enveloping enemies by blinding and grabbing them or teleporting into darkness and hiding when threatened.
Demogorgon – The cover feature of the book, and last monster presented for part 1 of this series, Demogorgon is every bit the baddie that Orcus is and possibly more. The demon prince sits as a level 34 solo controller, with the terrifying aquatic keyword tacked on for good measure! He’s garguntuan, he’s nasty, and he has a teleport of 10. Due to his two-headed nature, he acts on two separate initiatives, making tentacle and forked tail attacks all over the place. Each head also has its own gaze attack, both of which serve to greatly disrupt the party dynamics. Worst of all? He has a range 50 Grasp that teleports you to within 5 squares of him, so look out! It’s probably best to just let Vecna kill him…yea, like anyone lets Vecna do anything.
Demogorgon comes with 8 pages of backstory and supporting monsters, the biggest of which is the underwater demon Dagon who constantly whispers into his ears (one head at a time).
Keep an eye out for Part 2 tomorrow!