Publication date 1983
Originally published 1983
Preceded by Fiend Folio
Media type Print (Hardback)
Genre Role-playing game
Similar Fiend Folio, Monster Manual V, Monster Manual III
Monster Manual II is the title shared by two hardback rulebooks published for different versions of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy roleplaying game.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Monster Manual II was a 160-page Hardcover book published in 1983, credited solely to Gary Gygax, which featured cover art by Jeff Easley. The book was a supplement describing over 250 monsters, most with illustrations. Many of the monsters were drawn from scenario modules. The book included random encounter tables for dungeon and wilderness settings built from the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II. Some of its contents were taken from various AD&D adventure modules, in particular quite a number from S4: Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, and a dozen new devils that had been first published in the pages of Dragon magazine. Like the Fiend Folio before it, the monsters in Monster Manual II listed the experience point value for each monster within the entry. The Monster Manual II along with the First Edition Unearthed Arcana book featured quite a number of monsters, races, and places from Gary Gygax's Greyhawk Campaign world. The book featured interior illustrations by Jim Holloway, Harry Quinn, Dave Sutherland, and Larry Elmore.
Monster Manual II garnered positive reviews, receiving a score of 7 out of 10 in a review in White Dwarf magazine. The reviewer praised the book's standard of clear presentation, and felt that the artwork was better than that in the previous monster books. However, the reviewer felt that there were too many high level and overly deadly monsters, and that most of the monsters in the book are inimical to adventures. The reviewer did make note of the fact that there were "many interesting ideas and several well-developed tribes and hierarchies", and felt that, overall, the book is "a good, well presented addition to the AD&D series, with some very useful creatures". The reviewer recommended the book to anyone who likes a wide range of monsters in the game.
Doug Cowie reviewed Monster Manual II quite favorably for Imagine magazine. He noted that the cover was good, and contrasted it with the first edition Monster Manual, whose cover was "universally held to be appalling" and whose "childish style" may have "seriously hampered the development of RPGs as adult games". As for Monster Manual II, Cowie suggested: "If you like the AD&D game, go and buy it immediately." Although he found some monsters "to be just plain silly", they are all "well presented, properly thought out and adequately described".
Lawrence Schick also commented on the Monster Manual II in Heroic Worlds, stating "Some of the monsters are less than inspired, and some are quite silly; this author's favorites are the stegocentipede, a giant arthropod notable for its twin row of back plates (wow!), and the stench kow, a monstrous bison that smells real bad."
Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition
Monster Manual II was a new monster-specific rulebook that contained mostly updated monsters from the sourcebooks of earlier editions, though some monsters have almost no overlap with those of their first edition namesakes. Monster Manual II also included a discussion of monster design. Monster Manual II was designed by Ed Bonny, Jeff Grubb, Rich Redman, Skip Williams, and Steve Winter. Cover art was by Henry Higginbotham, with interior art by Glen Angus, Daren Bader, Thomas Baxa, Matt Cavotta, Dennis Cramer, David Day, Brian Despain, Tony DiTerlizzi, Michael Dutton, Jeff Easley, Emily Fiegenschuh, Donato Giancola, Lars Grant-West, Rebecca Guay, Quinton Hoover, Jeremy Jarvis, Alton Lawson, Todd Lockwood, Raven Mimura, Matthew Mitchell, Vinod Rams, Wayne Reynolds, David Roach, Scott Roller, Richard Sardinha, Marc Sasso, Brian Snoddy, Anthony Waters, and Sam Wood.
According to Jeff Grubb for Monster Manual II, "The original plan was about 50 percent completely new, about 50 percent revisions of classic beasts that were not in the first Monster Manual. Right now, it's hard to tell because a lot of "classics" have been stripped down to their core concepts and names and rebuilt from the ground up." There was no new version of Monster Manual II for the 3.5 edition of D&D, although update errata was made available for download from the publisher's website.
Alan D. Kohler, a reviewer from Pyramid, commented: "The third edition of the game moved forward the "art" of monsters, providing them with more detailed statistics and methods for advancing creatures. It is in these footsteps that the Monster Manual II must follow."