I know, right? For most gamers, the Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition Monster Manual isn’t even out yet! I’ve already reviewed it though and honestly – I want more. Now, no Monster Manual is perfect, because there is only so much room and so some monsters, even very popular ones, get left on the cutting room floor. This is of course why there will eventually be a Monster Manual II. Now this isn’t some sort of insider knowledge or anything; just something that has always happened for D&D. AD&D First Edition had a Monster Manual II 2e had dozens of Monstrous Compendiums. 3e and 4e had multiple Monster Manuals. and so I’ll be shocked if Fifth Edition doesn’t get one as well. As such, here now are a list of ten creatures I hope to see in Monster Manual II -if/when it gets released. These are in alphabetical order rather than in some sort of top ten format, as I’d like to see all of these get 5e stat blocks eventually. Now, let’s look at what is missing.
Like a lot of creatures on this list, the Crimson Death was once a very popular monster to inflict upon your players. The crimson death was an evil vaporous creature that feasted on the blood of fleshy squishy type lifeforms. So people and dwarves and cats. Probably not Mycanoids and Treants. In Forgotten Realms, Crimson Deaths were believed to be dead vampires because of the whole humanoid shaped clouds that drink blood thing, but it was never proven either way. Again, these were a lot of fun to throw at players because they’d be expecting a vampire that could assume the token mist form and get something completely different. Heck, at least one novel from this period centered around a noble vampire only staying undead because he feared being a Crimson Death far more than being a ironically named sun elf.
They’re creepy, an unexpected type of undead and one of Forgotten Realms more iconic monsters. Yet it’s missing from the 5e Monster Manual. Here’s hoping they’ll get a stat block sooner rather than later.
So in the Fifth Edition Player’s Handbook, Dragonborn are given as a starting PC race. In their section, there is a sidebar about Draconians and how they differ. This sidebar mentions it is possible to have a PC draconian, but it fails to go into the differences as well as the special abilities of all five Draconian races. Talk about a massive tease to Dragonlance fans. The, to add insult to injury, after hinting at playable Draconians, they don’t even make it into the Monster Manual despite being the most iconic monster in Dragonlance. Boo-urns.
So what are Draconians? Well, they are a race that is made, not born. An evil priest of Takhisis does their magical mumbo jumbo and curses a metallic dragon’s egg. Instead of producing a single dragon of that species, it produces a whole host of dragon-man hybrids known as Draconians. Each race has their own unique abilities and also a way to stick it to their killer when they die. Maybe they turn to stone, maybe they explode into a ball of fire – all that you do know is that when their Hit Points hit Zero, you needed to prepare for one last attempt to do you in – much like a horror movie villain.
I have to admit I was really disappointed to not see Draconians on the list of creatures that would be in the Monster Manual, if only because I was so excited by the tease in the 5e PHB. I’m sure a lot of other people were too. Well, maybe if WotC pays heed, we’ll get stats for Draconians in one form or another, be it protagonist or antagonist.
Giant Space Hamsters
Quit laughing. I’m serious. No, really. I am. I want to see Giant Space Hamsters. Sure, this marks me as a Spelljammer fan, but who cares. There are some actual solid reason I was to see the Giant Space Hamsters in a Monster Manual other than the lolz.
First off, for the first time ever, Tinker Gnomes are a playable class in the Player’s Handbook. Sure they’ve been playable before, but there stats were in the 1e Dragonlance campaign setting book – not the core rulebook for the game. As such, Gnomes need their trusty steeds and source of vehicle locomotion. How else are their strange contraptions going to work? They NEED their hamsters! Second, what other D&D monster race is currently starring into a comic book mini-series over at IDW? It’s not beholders. It’s not Mind Flayers! It’s not owlbears or draconians or Yuan-Ti or even a dracolich. No, it’s the mighty Giant Space Hamster. Okay, well maybe Boo from the Forgotten Realms is a MINIATURE Giant Space Hamster, but he’s still a Giant Space Hamster. Just ask his owner! Anyway, this is a pretty big lost crossover opportunity for Wizards of the Coast. Kids, casual readers and people who flip through the comic are going to fall in love with Boo. If you remember him from the days of 2e, then you probably loved him too. What happens when those kids or newcomers go looking for Giant Space Hamsters in the Monster Manual? Oh, not there? Too bad potential newcomer. You’ll have to contend yourself with Grells and Flumphs and Water Weirds – creatures that are no less comical or bizarre, but somehow made it in instead. Well, hopefully Wizards of the Coast can rectify this mistake and bring back the most toyetic monster in D&D history – if not in a Monster Manual than perhaps in a new version of Spelljammer! Eh, eh?
Okay, I realize that there are some people who take gaming far too seriously and have bitched about Giant Space Hamsters since their inception because god forbid D&D be funny – but comedy has always been a part of the world’s oldest role playing game. We had comedy dungeon crawls, a cartoon series, a bad movie with some Wayans brothers or something (I’ve repressed it) and KENDER for crying out loud. Let’s bring back the hamsters. IDW has already done so in their comic book series and they were referenced in Murder In Baldur’s Gate last year. Come on WOTC – you obviously want to inflict Tyrannohamstersaurus Rex and Wolly Rupert on your paying customers. Just pull the trigger already!
I have to admit, this was probably the biggest, “I can’t believe it’s not in there!” monster for me. I mean, Green Slime is one of the most memorable and iconic monsters in D&D. I still remember those cartoon ads done in comic book style on the back covers of my Marvel or DC comics (only 65-75 cents per issue BTW) from my childhood where the female warrior gets attacked by slime and the Wizard has to DIMENSION DOOR the party into a “To Be Continued” cliffhanger. Green Slime is just one of those things you expect to me in the Monster Manual but nope – it’s not here. Color me shocked.
Now other goops of various colors and sizes did make it in to the Fifth Edition Monster Manual. Black Pudding, Gelatinous Cubes, Grey Ooze and Ochre Jellies are all there, but the great Green Slime is nowhere to be found. Perhaps it is still out there lurking and waiting in some corner of WoTC’s office waiting for someone to say, “I Don’t Know” to something so that it has free reign to attack. Of course, since the only thing that can hurt Green Slime is a Cure Disease spell, you’re have to feel bad for all those Canadians it ate during its heyday at Nickelodeon.
Now, wait a sec. There are some lycanthropes in the Monster Manual, five to be exact. However aside from the Wererat and Werewolf, which are the two biggest lycanthropes in the game, the 5e Manual includes Weretigers, Wereboars and Werebears. I can honestly say I’ve never played an adventure where someone has used a Wereboard in ANY way. It’s space filler at best, which could have gone to some of the more popular D&D lycanthropes. Same with Weretigers and Werebears. You rarely ever see these things used aside from the old Altered Beast video game. Of course, some people might use them regularly and absolutely love these two, but again in terms of adventures I’ve own, run, played and designed – you never really see the Wereboar, tiger or bear. Meanwhile, look at the old 2e Monstrous Manual. It contained Seawolves, Werebats, Werefoxes, and Wereravens. That’s four more than the 5e Monster Manual and three of those that didn’t make it in (Fox, Bat and Raven) are not only more popular lycanthropes to use, but I actually own several published adventures from older edition were all three feature prominently. I can’t speak as to what made the cut and what didn’t, but I’d definitely have put the Kitsune, the Werebat and the Wereraven in. The Kitsune is such an unusual and fun monster to throw at people, especially since she is usually an elf. The Werefox has also been a major character in some AD&D novels so it’s gotten a lot of “screen time” so to speak. Wereravens are one of the most detailed Lycanthropes in D&D history, with a vast history and lineage written out. Plus they’re good aligned which makes them great NPCs. The Werebat is one of those swerve style monsters where a PC may be thinking it is a vampire that is terrorizing a town, only to discover it’s a similar yet very different antagonist that they have to defeat. Too bad they spent their money on holy water and garlic instead of a silver dagger.
I’m hoping that Monster Manual II brings back these more popular lycanthropes varieties, especially because all some of them are rather unique to D&D. There are only so many pages in a Monster Manual, so it’s not a huge deal by any means, but these variants really should be included in MMII as they have such potential, and a fan following to boot.
Okay, this is going to inspire one of two reactions. The first being, “YES! Bring them back!” The other being, “I…have no idea what Alex is babbling about. I thought his desire for Giant Space Hamsters was bad enough.”
Neogi were a major alien race in Spelljammer and they would also show up in Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms due to their interstellar travel ability. It is believed that the Neogi bi-engineered Umber Hulks as their own personal slave race and bodyguards (So they’re to blame for all of your characters who have been killed by one) and they are allies with Mind Flayers, which lets you know they’re extra super evil. Most of all, they are galaxy spanning xenophobic pirates who look like a giant spider mated with an electric eel. Think an even creepier Drider for you Drow fans. The Neogi were awesome monsters to throw at PCs because they were slimy inside and out, which made them something PCs could kill without the team Paladin giving out admonishments. Plus Neogi are super smart and extra cunning, so a single one would make a great end boss for a low level adventure or campaign, while the whole race made for spectacular recurring enemies. It would definitely be great to see these guys back in full force in Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons. They’ve gone from the major antagonist race for an entire campaign setting to pretty much completely forgotten.
This was one of those big omissions in my opinion. The Death Knights are in the 5e Monster Manual, but not the Skeleton Warrior. These two go together like peanut butter and jelly – especially for Dragonlance fans. Now the Monster Manual contains the standard 1 HD Skeletons that are used as cannon fodder in many an adventure, but Skeleton Warriors are far more than that. These undead had a whopping 9 HD back in the day, couldn’t be turned and were experts in combat. A group of skeleton warriors could give a mid-level party pause for sure. They’re also aware and intelligent unlike the mindless drone that is the rank and file skeleton. Whoever possesses the Skeleton Warrior’s circlet can make them do their bidding – as long as they are wearing it. Otherwise they are going to be a target for the Skeleton Warrior’s wraith. Factor is what was almost total immunity to spells and you had one of the toughest enemies in the game. Once a party encountered one or more Skeleton Warriors, they would take a squadron of regular bone baddies a lot more seriously. After all, you never knew if one was lurking in the midst. Heck, they ALL could be Skeleton Warriors and so discretion would definitely become the better part of valor.
I’m sure Skeleton Warriors will turn up at some point, but you have to admit, this was an odd omission from the 5e Monster Manual.
Squirrel, Carnivorous Flying
This was actually a monster in the First Edition AD&D Monster Manual II, so why not bring it back for the 5e one. So was the Narwhale, which was the one I was originally going to add to this piece because how can the Fifth Edition Monster Manual have stats for a freaking SEA HORSE but not a Narwhale? Then I saw the Carnivorous Flying Squirrel a few pages down and realized that my god man, who WOULDN’T WANT to throw these at low level characters just to see what would happen. Of course the 1e Monster Manual II also had stats for regular squirrels and Giant Black Squirrels in the same vein as giant spiders or dire wolves, so perhaps Gary Gygax really REALLY liked squirrels. Anyway, this is something I want to see in the 5e Monster Manual II. It would be interested to see where the current D&D team would take this – for laughs or over the top deadly serious. Either way it would be the equivalent of a flying vorpal bunny which old school gamers will probably fine horrific in thought and deed. Plus, bringing this back would be a great under the radar homage to how cracktastic 1e AD&D could be. If you’re a really cruel DM, subject players to these while playing “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” by Ray Stevens. They will hate you forever.
Now the aforementioned Giant Space Hamsters don’t seem quite so absurd, do they?
I don’t think I need to say much more than those two words, do I? VAMPIRE. KENDER. A hideous experiement by Lord Soth gone fantastically wrong (right?), Vampire Kender plague the land of Sithicus and only serve to remind its citizens why Kender are the Jar Jar Binks of Dungeons & Dragons. As bad as regular Kender are though, they Vampire ones are doubly so. First, they still carry their hoopak staff, which means you have a handy dandy stake through the heart waiting to happen. I’d personally jettison any wood off my person if I became a vampire because it’s just asking for some lawful good crusader to make use of it. No, the Vampire Kender actually brandishes it as a weapon. Considering the fact Vampire Kender always act last in a combat round, this is either really brave or perhaps the most foolish thing an undead creature can do besides taking a bath in holy water.
So it seems like Vampire Kender are a joke, right? Well, that’s what you think about regular Kender before they roll a 20 and send a stone through your skull and pick your pockets for shinies as you lay dying. Vampire Kender are similar but far more horrifying. Their attacks drain Intelligence and Wisdom from victims, they have a hideous laugh that causes insanity in those who hear it and they turn into poltergeists rather than mist, wolf or bat. They have all sorts of crazy tricks the average player is not prepared for. Let’s face, how hilarious and sad at the same time is it if you get a TPK through a vampire Kender? At least they are easier to turn then regular vampires.
Vampire Kender are much like the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Quest For the Holy Grail. You get one thrown at you by the DM, you crack some jokes about kender and/or vampires in general, and then you watch as your Mage becomes a drooling idiot, your Cleric is insane and can’t turn the creature and your Bard does what it does best – get killed. Of course, I completely understand why the Vampire Kender didn’t make it into the 5e Monster Manual. Kender aren’t in the PHB (But Tinker Gnomes are – ha ha!), so why would their first appearance in 5e be in undead form. So out of all my choices in this piece, Vampire Kender are admittedly the least likely to make it into the Monster Manual II. A Dragonlance or Ravenloft supplement or campaign book maybe, but we can always hope, right?
The Wolfwere was a big monster back in the days of AD&D, Second Edition. Harkon Lukas, a major Darklord in Ravenloft was one, and players loved to throw them in to slip up cocky PCs who assumed they were fighting werewolves. Yet somehow, the rarely used Jackalwere keeps making it into the Monster Manual and the Wolfwere gets missed. Only in the Monstrous Compendium does the creature make it in right away. Harkon Lukas has his own Ral Partha lead miniature AND a Laurel Hamilton penned novel. Does a Jackalwere? NO!
So what is a wolfwere? Well it’s a wolf than changes into a man (or woman – it can assume either sex) rather than a man who changes into a wolf via lycanthrophic infection. A wolfwere is immune to silver, but its Achilles Heel is cold iron. They are also natural bards and in 2e on down, they can be found to have several levels in that character class. It’s a really fun monster to throw at players because it’s generally unexpected unless you have longtime Ravenloft aficionados at your table. It’s hard to believe that at one time the Wolfwere was most of the most popular and regularly major antagonists for mid-level PCs. Perhaps when it gets a stat block in 5e, the wolfwere can start its long slow climb to prominence again.
So there you go. Ten monsters I’m hoping to see in Monster Manual II. Are there any omitted creatures you hope get to see the light of day in Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons? Any of these you particularly love or hate? Let us know in the comments!