"the most complete alphabetical listing and description of the latest AD&D™ game creatures" A must for the serious AD&D™ game player. This manual contains all the new members, from Abishai to Zygom, including new creatures like the Deadly Pudding, Devas, and Valley Elves. And you'll also have the advantage of the extended lists of lycanthropes, giants, and other beasts."
There are times when something drops outt of the memory bin & hits you square between the eyes. In this case its Gary Gygax's Monster Manual II. The reason is the inclusion of many of the iconic monsters & classic Gygax descriptions. But what draws one back to the classics?!
The wiki entry on the Monster Manual II has some clues; "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, in particular from S4: Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. The book included random encounter tables for dungeon and wilderness settings built from the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II, and a dozen new devils that had been first published in the pages of Dragon magazine."
Its the inclusion of the classic Dragon magazine monsters that does it for me along with S4: Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Why?! Because of the very iconic nature of the Tourament module. The Monster Manual II enables the DM to continue the action of the module by expanding the wilderness of danger & horror beyond the dungeon itself. There tons of hooks that can be included into the mix with the weirdness of the Monster Manual II.
This gives an over arching overview of the direction that Advanced Dungeons & Dragons would take in the coming years. The ideas, thoughts, & weirdness of the Monster Manual II is a credit to Gygax's vision. He was ousted from TSR later after the Monster Manual II came out but we get a clear vision of his tone & masterful use of the Monster Manual II. The Amazon reviewer C.Jackson notes in the MMII review;
"There are a good number of critters within, however, that you might only be tempted to use if you were attempting a very authentic early 80s AD&D experience, or if you are heavily invested in the complexities of early D&D demonology. As with the Fiend Folio (and the Basic Creature Catalog) there are a decent number of "gotcha!" monsters with unusual or surprising qualities that would likely only be entertaining once."And while this is true it should be noted that the monster ecology found within the MMII is used & referenced extensively not only in Greyhawk but also the Forgotten Realms. The Fiend Folio would also have this same distinctision in early Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
My own love for the Monster Manual II is over shadowed by my love for the Fiend Folio. The relation ship between the two books is tenious at best & adversarial at worst but that's a blog entry for another time.