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The Monster Manual, released in 1977, is a 112-page monster sourcebook. It is one of the three core rulebooks for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, and was also the first book released for that edition. The Monster Manual presents rules and game statistics for monsters, and is intended primarily for use by the Dungeon Master.

Official synopsis[]


This book provides a complete alphabetical listof of all "Monsters" encountered in the various works which comprise the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game system. It is an invaluable aid to players and dungeon masters alike!

1983 release[]

"this is the original source used by Dungeon Masters and players to create challenges to combat scenarios"

Within the covers of this book lurk the monsters that made the AD&D® game famous. Elves, dwarves, dragons, orcs, ghosts, and were wolves come to life as you read their detailed descriptions. In fact, each individual listing has all the necessary information to perform special attacks, defenses, and magical resistance. No adventurer can be without it!


List of monsters[]

The book provides game statistics for over 350 monsters:

aerial servant, anhkheg, giant ant, ape (gorilla), carnivorous ape, axe beak, baboon, badger, baluchitherium, barracuda, basilisk, bear (black bear, brown bear, cave bear), giant beaver, giant beetle (bombardier beetle, boring beetle, fire beetle, rhinoceros beetle, stag beetle, water beetle), beholder, black pudding, blink dog, boar (wild boar, giant boar, warthog), brain mole, brownie, buffalo, bugbear, bulette, bull, wild camel, carrion crawler, catoblepas, wild cattle, centaur, giant centipede, cerebral parasite, chimera, cockatrice, couatl, giant crab, giant crayfish, crocodile (normal crocodile, giant crocodile), demon (Demogorgon (Prince of Demons), Juiblex (the Faceless Lord), manes (sub-demon), Orcus (Prince of the Undead), succubus, type I (vrock), type II (hezrou), type III (glabrezu), type IV (nalfeshnee, etc.), type V (marilith, etc.), type VI (balor, etc.), Yeenoghu (Demon Lord of Gnolls)), devil (Asmodeus (arch-devil), Baalzebul (arch-devil), barbed devil (lesser devil), bone devil (lesser devil), Dispater (arch-devil), erinyes (lesser devil), Geryon (arch-devil), horned devil (malebranche) (greater devil), ice devil (greater devil), lemure, pit fiend (greater devil)), dinosaur (anatosaurus (trachodon), ankylosaurus, antrodemus (allosaurus), apatosaurus (brontosaurus), archelon ischyras, brachiosaurus, camarasaurus, ceratosaurus, cetiosaurus, dinichtys, diplodocus, elasmosaurus, gorgosaurus, iguanadon, lambeosaurus, megalosaurus, monoclonius, mosasaurus, paleoscincus, pentaceratops, plateosaurus, plesiosaurus, pteranodon, stegosaurus, styracosaurus, teratosaurus, triceratops, tyrannosaurus rex), displacer beast, djinni, dog (war dog, wild dog), dolphin, doppleganger, dragon (black dragon (draco causticus sputem), blue dragon (draco electricus), brass dragon (draco impudentus gallus), bronze dragon (draco gerus bronzo), chromatic dragon (Tiamat), copper dragon (draco comes stabuli), gold dragon (draco orientalus sino dux), green dragon (draco chlorinous nauseous respiratorus), platinum dragon (Bahamut), red dragon (draco conflagratia horriblus), silver dragon (draco nobilis argentum), white dragon (draco rigidus frigidus)), dragonne, dragon turtle, dryad, dwarf (hill dwarf, mountain dwarf), giant eagle, ear seeker, eel (electric eel, giant eel, weed eel), efreet, elemental (air elemental, earth elemental, fire elemental, water elemental), elephant ((Asiatic) elephant, loxodont (African elephant)), elf (elf, aquatic elf, drow, grey elf, half-elf, wood elf), ettin, floating eye, eye of the deep, flightless bird, giant frog (giant frog, killer frog, poisonous frog), violet fungi, giant gar, gargoyle (gargoyle, kapoacinth), gas spore, gelatinous cube, ghast, ghost, ghoul, giant (cloud giant, fire giant, frost giant, hill giant, stone giant, storm giant), gnoll, gnome, giant goat, goblin, golem (clay golem, flesh golem, iron golem, stone golem), gorgon, gray ooze, green slime, griffon, groaning spirit (banshee), halfling (halfling, tallfellow), harpy, hell hound, herd animal, hippocampus, hippogriff, hippopotamus, hobgoblin (hobgoblin, koalinth), homonculous, horse (draft horse, heavy horse, light horse, medium horse, pony, wild horse), hydra (hydra, lernaean hydra, pyrohydra), hyena (hyena, giant hyena (hyaenodon)), imp, intellect devourer, invisible stalker, Irish deer, ixitxachitl, jackal, jackalwere, jaguar, ki-rin, kobold, lamia, lammasu, lamprey (normal lamprey, giant lamprey), larva, giant leech, leopard, leprechaun, leucrotta, lich, lion (lion, mountain lion, spotted lion), lizard (fire lizard, giant lizard, minotaur lizard, subterranean lizard), lizard man, locathah, lurker above, lycanthrope (werebear, wereboar, wererat, weretiger, werewolf), giant lynx, mammoth, manticore, masher, mastodon, medusa, men (bandit (brigand), berserker, buccaneer (pirate), caveman (tribesman), dervish (nomad), merchant, pilgrim), merman, mimic, mind flayer, minotaur, mold (brown mold, yellow mold), morkoth, mule, mummy, naga (guardian naga, spirit naga, water naga), neo-otyugh, night hag, nightmare, nixie, nymph, ochre jelly, giant octopus, ogre, ogre mage (Japanese ogre), orc (orc, half-orc), giant otter, otyugh, giant owl, owlbear, pegasus, peryton, piercer, giant pike, pixie, giant porcupine, giant Portuguese man-o-war, pseudo-dragon, purple worm, quasit, rakshasa, giant ram, giant rat (Sumatran), ray (manta ray, pungi ray, sting ray), remorhaz, rhinoceros (rhinoceros, woolly rhinoceros), roc, roper, rot grub, rust monster, sahuagin, salamander, satyr, giant scorpion, sea hag, giant sea horse, sea lion, shadow, shambling mound, shark (shark, giant shark (megalodon)), shedu, shrieker, skeleton, giant skunk, slithering tracker, giant slug, giant snake (amphisbaena, giant constrictor snake, giant poisonous snake, sea snake, spitting giant snake), spectre, sphinx (androsphinx, criosphinx, gynosphinx, hieracosphinx), spider (giant spider, huge spider, large spider, phase spider, giant water spider), sprite, giant squid, stag (stag, giant stag), stirge, strangle weed, su-monster, sylph, thought eater, giant tick, tiger (tiger, sabre-tooth tiger (smilodon)), titan, titanothere, giant toad (giant toad, ice toad, poisonous toad), trapper, treant, triton, troglodyte, troll, giant turtle (giant sea turtle, giant snapping turtle), umber hulk, unicorn, vampire, giant wasp, water weird, giant weasel, whale, wight, will-o-(the)-wisp, wind walker, wolf (wolf, dire wolf (worg), winter wolf), wolverine (wolverine, giant wolverine), wraith, wyvern, xorn, yeti, zombie.

Development and release[]


The book was written by Gary Gygax. Art was provided by David C. Sutherland III, Dave Trampier, Tom Wham and Jean Wells.

Gygax had already begun writing the Monster Manual in 1976.[2] Of the three initial AD&D rulebooks—the others being the Players Handbook (1e) (1978) and Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979)—Gygax selected the Monster Manual to do first as he already had a substantial collection of monster stats ready, and felt that monsters would be the most immediately applicable to existing D&D games.[3][4]

Announcement and previews[]

The Monster Manual was announced in Dragon #11 (Dec 1977). In From the Sorcerer's Scroll, Robert Kuntz described that there were delays with the printers. In View From the Telescope Wondering Which End is Which, Gary Gygax announced that the other two AD&D core rulebooks were expected to release in the summer of 1978, although in fact the Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979) would not appear until 1979.


The Monster Manual was released by TSR in December 1977[5] for $9.95 US. Its availability via mail order and in shops was announced in Dragon #12 (Feb 1978). It was intended to have been released in September 1977, but due to delays with the printer it was not released until after Christmas 1977, possibly hitting stores as late as January 1978.

The initial print run numbered 50,000 copies. It used stitched binding and a cover material used for school books, in order that the book should be sturdy for frequent use. It was notable for being the first hardcover roleplaying game book ever printed.[6] Initial sales were so promising that a second print run was scheduled in advance.[4]

The original cover art, drawn by David C. Sutherland III, depicted various creatures, including a red dragon, a unicorn, a centaur, a troll, a roper, and an owlbear. The back cover featured a manticore and a purple worm.

Subsequent printings made various changes, incorporating errata until the fourth printing, dated August 1979. During the fourth, printing the binding was changed to save money, a decision for which Gygax blamed the Blume brothers. The cheaper printing had a smooth rather than rough texture.[6] From the sixth printing in 1981, the book would credit Dave Arneson as co-creator.[5][6]

In 1983, the seventh printing changed the cover art to a scene of an aerial battle betwen a red dragon and white pegasi. That version would have an orange spine.[5]

The fifteenth printing was made in July 1989, presumably when Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was superceded by Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition. However, some books have been spotted with a printing date of 1990, suggesting that this book continued to be published after the release of 2nd edition.[5]

Various international printings were made, including several printings of a UK edition, the French "Manuel des Monstres", and the German "Monster Handbuch I".[7]

In 2013, the book was re-released by Wizards of the Coast with a new cover, featuring the red dragon from the original cover.

On July 14, 2015, it was re-released in digital format. It is currently available on DriveThruRPG and Dungeon Masters Guild for $9.99.

Reception and influence[]


Between 1979 and 1991, the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual sold a total of 1,145,065 copies. Sales figures for 1977-1978 are unavailable.[8]

Year Sales
1979 61,243
1980 192,227
1981 242,990
1982 171,779
1983 200,979
1984 85,344
1985 77,017
1986 31,097
1987 37,871
1988 29,649
1989 7,311
1990 5,200
1991 2,358

The drop in sales in 1989 is likely due to the release of its successor, the AD&D 2nd edition Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989).

Critical reception[]

Some contemporary DMs disliked the Monster Manual, since players could buy it and know all monster abilities in advance.[9]

As of 2023, Monster Manual (1e) reached the rank of Adamantine seller on DriveThruRPG, the site's highest rating.

Influence on other works[]

External links[]


  1. Dragon #12 (Feb 1978), p.22.
  2. Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 78. ENWorld, Sep 26, 2003.
  3. Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 91. ENWorld, Jan 25, 2004.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "After Gary and I had delineated what would become AD&D, the question was debated as to which book we should come out with first. The MM needed the least work to get it print-ready; further, we deduced that current players (what is now called OD&D) would be hungry for more monsters with which to test their players. So it was that the Monster Manual was our first hardbound release. Sales were so good that the second printing was already slated before PHB ever saw the end of the binding machine."Q&A with Tim Kask, page 90. Dragonsfoot, October 7, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Monster Manual, The Acaeum.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 116. ENWorld, Feb 3, 2005.
  7. Monster Manual Foreign Editions - The Acaeum
  8. Tweet. Ben Riggs, July 26, 2022.
  9. Q&A with Tim Kask, page 56. Dragonsfoot, April 5, 2009.

Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manuals
Monster Manual (1e)Monster Manual II (1e)
Monstrous Compendium Volume One (2e)Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (2e)Monstrous Manual (2e)
Monster Manual (3.0)Monster Manual II (3.0)
Monster Manual (3.5)Monster Manual III (3.5)Monster Manual IV (3.5)Monster Manual V (3.5)
Monster Manual (4e)Monster Manual 2 (4e)Monster Manual 3 (4e)Monster Vault (4e)
Monster Manual (5e)Monster Manual (5e revised)
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition
Core rules
Players HandbookDungeon Masters GuideMonster Manual
Battlesystem: Fantasy Combat SupplementThe Book of LairsThe Book of Lairs IIDeities & Demigods (Legends & Lore) • Dungeoneer's Survival GuideFiend FolioManual of the PlanesMonster Manual IIOriental AdventuresThe Rogues GalleryUnearthed ArcanaWilderness Survival Guide
Desert of Desolation (PharaohOasis of the White PalmLost Tomb of Martek) • Queen of the Spiders (Against the Giants (Steading of the Hill Giant ChiefGlacial Rift of the Frost Giant JarlHall of the Fire Giant King) • Descent Into the Depths of the EarthShrine of the Kuo-ToaVault of the DrowQueen of the Demonweb Pits) • Realms of Horror (Tomb of HorrorsWhite Plume MountainExpedition to the Barrier PeaksLost Caverns of Tsojcanth) • Scourge of the Slavelords (Slave Pits of the UndercitySecret of the Slavers StockadeAssault on the Aerie of the Slave LordsIn the Dungeons of the Slave Lords) • The Temple of Elemental Evil (The Village of Hommlet) • DungeonlandThe Land Beyond the Magic MirrorThe Secret of Bone HillThe Assassin's KnotDeep Dwarven DelveThe Sinister Secret of SaltmarshDanger at DunwaterThe Final EnemyAdventure Pack IAgainst the Cult of the Reptile GodAll That Glitters...Baltron's BeaconThe Bane of LlywelynBeyond the Crystal CaveDark Clouds GatherDay of Al'AkbarDestiny of KingsDwellers of the Forbidden CityEgg of the PhoenixEye of the SerpentThe Forest OracleThe GauntletThe Ghost Tower of InvernessThe Hidden Shrine of TamoachanThe Lost Island of CastanamirMidnight on Dagger AlleyNeedleRavager of TimeRavenloftRavenloft II: The House on Gryphon HillThe SentinelThe Shattered StatueTales of the Outer PlanesTo Find a KingTomb of the Lizard KingTreasure HuntWhen a Star Falls