A Better Monster Manual

And that, is an Aarokocra.  The first creature in a standard monster manual, sorted alphabetically.Monstrous_manual_2e_-_Aarakocra_-_p5

No I’m not doing some silly alphabet book or even planning on posting about random monsters. Although that would certainly alleviate some of the lack of activity going on here. There are certain occasions where I have a bolt of inspiration and want to get it into words so I can work on things later. I have two primary interests currently. Largely it’s working over at returnofreckoning.com as a GM. Every week however I try my damnedest to run a group of 6 people through D&D. I’ve been trying for 11 months now, things have been pretty okay.

While I suppose I could post some secret squirrel stuff about RoR, my job there isn’t development related so I’m not much of an authority. Instead, this is about some of the work I’ve been banging my head against on the D&D side of things. Take a moment and let this ponderous thought worm around in your meaty brain matter. If you were to re-write the 2e D&D books, how would you go about it? I’m 80% finished with the PHB and there’s been aspects of it that are bothering me, but that’s only part of the core rules, I haven’t so much as lifted a finger towards the rest, until now.

It struck me, that the alphabetical listing of monsters is probably the most bland possible representation of a monster book you could do, and a LOT of other games have repeated the same thing. I’m certain this could be better done. In fact, what I’m interested in doing is running down a nice big list of creatures and using what relevant information I can find to group these creatures by habitat/society first, then danger/rarity second. The primary book would have plenty of repeat appearances by common monsters for sure, but that’s kind of the point for me. I want to flip open a section for a city-based adventure and see all of the relevant creatures that would embed themselves among us. When the group dives down into caverns or mines, there’s a far different menagerie of creatures that live in the dark and survive on fungus or fungus eating creatures. If I encounter Orcs in the forest, what other sort of monsters are staples to their society? The whole Giant to sub-human listing, noting which races are subservient to each other and so on.

Between the dozens of different creature books out there, I wouldn’t really be re-writing the 2e MM, but making something of my own. I think the first section of this would be dedicated to the groupings of monsters, but it would need a whole other section for the rare/unique things out there that simply have no natural territory. Things that wander planes, that which is summoned, or created. Magical beasts and mutations that serve functions as opposed to living a life. Once those are split into their own parts I would also like to detail out how to summon/create these things as part of their new designation. It’s definitely something that I’ve always noticed had been missing from the game.

Ideally a digital version of this would be best, hyperlinking every particular notation back to a stat-block would be great. But thinking in terms of dead tree format it needs to hold an interest. This is my story of the different locations in the lands, the creatures that inhabit these locations, and the creatures that are hunted by them. Exclusions would come in handy. Flipping through the MM you have full-on stat block and descriptions for some of the most basic creatures. House cats for example. I struggle to bring myself to understand who fought to have a variety of cats not only illustrated, but written out for a full page of the MM. These days, and the vast resources that exists out in the wild, such fluff and filler isn’t needed. There are more than enough interesting, useful, and challenging creatures to saturate your world. Basic creatures might exists, but you’re really not going to be fighting them. Even bears tend to run away from humans, more often than not.

Perhaps I’ll find some time to share more in the future. Don’t hold your breath. I would hope at this point my blog is more of a curiosity that people stumble across than anything that people seriously subscribe to and wait on. Either way, thanks for the views… it means something I guess.

2 thoughts on “A Better Monster Manual

  1. As for the monster manuals I think I would rewrite them to the order of CR rating instead so as a dm you simply open to the CR rating you’re looking for and you have a list to pick from. As for the rewriting of the 2nd ed rules I have done some of this numerous times as I DM using 3.5 edition and I let players pick anything from any edition and after I check and approve I modify it for 3.5. One of my favorite things to bring over is the spell compendiums for classes in 2nd edition. The thing I would get rid of though is Thac0 because it is unwieldy and players sometimes get confused.


  2. I like the idea of a topographical or environmentally based monster manual, and the idea of a digital version even better. It would make sense that if a random encounter in a rocky coastal outcrop were to occur, it would be most commonly of X creature(s) and perhaps the party would stumble upon some societal norm, like human or animal sacrifice, that would be foreign or tweak the morals of the party or members of the party.

    To have all of that in one click as a DM would be useful for one-offs as well. The time and effort.. dear lord. Good Luck!


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