Monster Manual (2014)

I’ve said before that I don’t envy the authors of Monster Manuals. There is so much baggage that people (myself include) bring to an MM, far more than any other core book. I can’t imagine trying to wrangle all those expectations.

The 5E Monster Manual acquits itself well collecting, for the most part, classic monsters across all the previous editions (I don’t know where I stand on the grick; meanwhile, the flumph is in there, which is at once endearing and annoying). There is a notable lack of original monsters, which I am OK with – they are usually hit or miss (like the grick). On the other hand, that maybe was the first sign that 5E would be concentrating largely on revisiting the old rather that creating new material out of whole cloth.

Of the three core books, this one has the best art, though I am a little vexed by it. There are dozens of illustrators, but the house style is so overwhelming, it looks like the book is illustrated by just three or four. Which would be fine if I liked the current house style, but it feels a bit flat and unfinished to me (digital painting, which most of this is, often reminds me a lot of movie concept art, which often has a mushy, incomplete quality) but this is purely a matter of taste. The monsters are mostly well-rendered and I enjoy the new interpretations of more of them than I dislike, so that’s a win.

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