The Monster Manual, released in 2008, is one of the three core rulebooks for Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition. It presents rules and game statistics for monsters, and is intended primarily for use by the Dungeon Master.
The Monster Manual contains statistics for 152 unique types of monsters, with multiple statblocks describing subtypes of each, for a total of 489 creatures. It skews toward the low level, with a mean creature level of 12.13 and a median of 11.
The front cover depicts the demon lord Orcus, as drawn by Wayne Reynolds. Orcus was the original internal codename for D&D 4th edition, and his statistics are included in this book, where he is a level 33 solo brute leader. He is the first demon lord to appear on the cover of a Monster Manual, and would set a precedent that saw the demon lords Demogorgon and Lolth appear on the covers of Monster Manual 2 (4e) (2009) and Monster Manual 3 (4e) (2010), respectively.
The Monster Manual begins with a four-page introduction which briefly describes how to use the Monster Manual and how to read statblocks.
List of monsters
The main section of the Monster Manual contains game statistics for the following creatures:
aboleth (aboleth lasher, aboleth slime mage, aboleth overseer), aboleth servitor, abomination (astral stalker, atropal, blood fiend, phane, tarrasque), angel (angel of battle, angel of protection, angel of valor, angel of valor cohort, angel of valor veteran, angel of valor legionnaire, angel of vengeance), archon (fire archon emberguard, fire archon blazesteel, ice archon hailscourge, ice archon rimehammer, ice archon frostshaper), azer (azer warrior, azer foot soldier, azer rager, azer taskmaster, azer beastlord), balhannoth, banshrae (banshrae dartswarmer, banshrae warrior), basilisk (venom-eye basilisk, stone-eye basilisk), bat (shadowhunter bat, fire bat), battlebriar(warthorn battlebriar, earthrage battlebriar), bear (cave bear, dire bear), beetle (fire beetle, tangler beetle, rot scarab swarm), behemoth (macetail behemoth, bloodspike behemoth), beholder (beholder eye of flame, beholder eye tyrant), berbalang, boar (dire boar, thunderfury boar), bodak (bodak skulk, bodak reaver), boneclaw, bulette (bulette, dire bulette), cambion (cambion hellsword, cambion hellfire magus), carrion crawler (carrion crawler, enormous carrion crawler), chimera, choker (cavern choker, feygrove choker), chuul (chuul, chuul juggernaut), colossus (godforged colossus), crocodile (visejaw crocodile, feymire crocodile), cyclops (cyclops guard, cyclops warrior, cyclops impaler, cyclops rambler, cyclops battleweaver, cyclops storm shaman), dark one (dark creeper, dark stalker), death knight (death knight (human fighter), death knight (dragonborn paladin)), demon (balor, barlgura, barlgura, evistro (carnage demon), glabrezu, goristro, hezrou, immolith, marilith, mezzodemon, vrock, destrachan (destrachan, destrachan far voice), devil (bearded devil (barbazu), bone devil (osyluth), chain devil (kyton), ice devil (gelugon), imp, legion devil grunt, legion devil hellguard, legion devil veteran, legion devil legionnaire, pit fiend, spined devil (spinagon), succubus, war devil (malebranche)), devourer (spirit devourer, viscera devourer, soulspike devourer), displacer beast (displacer beast, displacer beast packlord), doppelganger (doppelganger sneak, doppelganger assassin), dracolich (dracolich, blackfire dracolich, runescribed dracolich), dragon (young, adult, elder, and ancient statblocks for each of the black, blue, green, red, white dragons), dragonborn (dragonborn soldier, dragonborn gladiator, dragonborn raider, dragonborn champion), dragonspawn (redspawn firebelcher, blackspawn gloomweb, bluespawn godslayer), drake (spiretop drake, guard drake, needlefang drake swarm, pseudodragon, spitting drake, rage drake), drider (drider fanglord, drider shadowspinner), drow (drow warrior, drow arachnomancer, drow blademaster, drow priest), dryad (dryad, briar witch dryad), dwarf (dwarf bolter, dwarf hammerer), efreet (efreet fireblade, efreet cinderlord, efreet flamestrider, efreet pyresinger, efreet karadjin), eidolon, eladrin (eladrin fey knight, eladrin twilight incanter, bralani of autumn winds, ghaele of winter), elemental (firelasher, rockfire dreadnought, earthwind ravager, thunderblast cyclone), elf (elf archer, elf scout), ettercap (ettercap fang guard, ettercap webspinner), ettin (ettin marauder, ettin spirit-talker), flameskull (flameskull, great flameskull), fomorian (fomorian warrior, fomorian painbringer), foulspawn (foulspawn grue, foulspawn mangler, foulspawn berserker, foulspawn seer, foulspawn hulk), galeb duhr (galeb duhr earthbreaker, galeb duhr rockcaller), gargoyle (gargoyle, nabassu gargoyle), ghost (phantom warrior, trap haunt, wailing ghost (banshee), tormenting ghost), ghoul (ghoul, horde ghoul, abyssal ghoul, abyssal ghoul hungerer, abyssal ghoul myrmidon), giant (death giant, death titan, hill giant, earth titan, fire giant, fire giant forgecaller, fire titan, storm giant, storm titan), gibbering beast (gibbering mouther, gibbering abomination, gibbering orb), githyanki (githyanki warrior, githyanki mindslicer, githyanki gish), githzerai (githzerai cenobite, githzerai zerth, githzerai mindmage), gnoll (gnoll huntmaster, gnoll claw fighter, gnoll marauder, gnoll demonic scourge), gnome (gnome skulk, gnome arcanist), goblin (bugbear warrior, bugbear strangler, goblin cutter, goblin blackblade, goblin warrior, goblin sharpshooter, goblin hexer, goblin skullcleaver, goblin underboss, hobgoblin grunt, hobgoblin warrior, hobgoblin archer, hobgoblin soldier, hobgoblin warcaster, hobgoblin commander, hobgoblin hand of Bane), golem (flesh golem, stone golem), gorgon (iron gorgon, storm gorgon), grell (grell, grell philosopher), grick (grick, grick alpha), griffon (hippogriff, hippogriff dreadmount, griffon, rimefire griffon), grimlock (grimlock minion, grimlock follower, grimlock ambusher, grimlock berserker), guardian (shield guardian, battle guardian), hag (howling hag, bog hag, night hag, death hag), halfling (halfling slinger, halfling stout, halfling thief, halfling prowler), harpy (harpy, bloodfire harpy), helmed horror (helmed horror, greater helmed horror), homunculus (clay scout, iron defender, iron cobra), hook horror, horse (riding horse, warhorse, celestial charger), hound (hell hound, firebred hell hound, shadow hound, wild hunt hound), human (human rabble, human lackey, human bandit, human guard, human berserker, human mage), hydra (fen hydra, mordant hydra, primordial hydra), hyena (hyena, cacklefiend hyena), kobold (kobold minion, kobold skirmisher, kobold slinger, kobold dragonshield, kobold wyrmpriest, kobold slyblade), kruthik (kruthik hatchling, kruthik young, kruthik adult, kruthik hive lord), kuo-toa (kuo-toa guard, kuo-toa marauder, kuo-toa harpooner, kuo-toa monitor, kuo-toa whip), lamia, larva mage, lich (lich (human wizard), lich (eladrin wizard), lich vestige), lizardfolk (greenscale hunter, greenscale darter, greenscale marsh mystic, blackscale bruiser), lycanthrope (wererat, werewolf), magma beast (magma claw, magma hurler, magma strider, magma brute), manticore, marut (marut blademaster, marut concordant), medusa (medusa archer (female), medusa warrior (male), medusa shroud of Zehir (female)), mind flayer (mind flayer infiltrator, mind flayer mastermind), minotaur (minotaur warrior, minotaur cabalist, savage minotaur), mummy (mummy guardian, mummy lord (human cleric), giant mummy), naga (guardian naga, bone naga, dark naga, primordial naga), nightmare, nightwalker, ogre (ogre thug, ogre bludgeoneer, ogre savage, ogre skirmisher, ogre warhulk), oni (oni night haunt, oni mage), ooze (ochre jelly, gelatinous cube), orc (orc drudge, orc warrior, orc raider, orc berserker, orc eye of Gruumsh, orc bloodrager, orc chieftain), Orcus, aspect of Orcus, Doresain, the Ghoul King, cults of Orcus (deathpriest hierophant, deathpriest of Orcus, crimson acolyte), otyugh, owlbear (owlbear, winterclaw owlbear), panther (fey panther, spectral panther), purple worm (purple worm, elder purple worm), quickling (quickling runner, quickling zephyr), rakshasa (rakshasa warrior, rakshasa archer, rakshasa assassin, rakshasa noble, rakshasa dread knight), rat (giant rat, dire rat, rat swarm), roc (roc, phoenix, thunderhawk), roper, rot harbinger (rot harbinger, rot slinger), sahuagin (sahuagin guard, sahuagin raider, sahuagin priest, sahuagin baron), salamander (salamander lancer, salamander firetail, salamander archer, salamander noble), satyr (satyr rake, satyr piper), scorpion (stormclaw scorpion, hellstinger scorpion), shadar-kai (shadar-kai chainfighter, shadar-kai gloomblade, shadar-kai witch, shadar-kai warrior), shambling mound (shambling mound, stormrage shambler), shifter (longtooth hunter, razorclaw stalker), skeleton (decrepit skeleton, skeleton, blazing skeleton, boneshard skeleton, skeletal tomb guardian), skull lord, slaad (slaad tadpole, gray slaad (rift slaad), red slaad (blood slaad), blue slaad (talon slaad), green slaad (curse slaad), black slaad (void slaad), snake (deathrattle viper, crushgrip constrictor, flame snake, shadow snake), sorrowsworn (sorrowsworn soulripper, sorrowsworn reaper, sorrowsworn deathlord), shadowraven swarm, specter (specter, voidsoul specter), sphinx, spider (deathjump spider, bloodweb spider swarm, blade spider, demonweb terror), stirge (stirge, dire stirge, stirge swarm), swordwing (swordwing, crownwing), tiefling (tiefling heretic, tiefling darkblade), treant, (treant, blackroot treant), troglodyte (troglodyte warrior, troglodyte mauler, troglodyte impaler, troglodyte curse chanter), troll (troll, war troll, fell troll), umber hulk (umber hulk, shadow hulk), unicorn (unicorn, dusk unicorn), vampire (vampire lord (human rogue), vampire spawn fleshripper, vampire spawn bloodhunter), vine horror (vine horror, vine horror spellfiend), warforged (warforged soldier, warforged captain), wight (deathlock wight, wight, battle wight, battle wight commander, slaughter wight), wolf (gray wolf, dire wolf), worg (worg, guulvorg), wraith (wraith, mad wraith, sword wraith, dread wraith), wyvern (wyvern, fell wyvern), yuan-ti (yuan-ti malison sharp-eye, yuan-ti malison incanter, yuan-ti malison disciple of Zehir, yuan-ti abomination, yuan-ti anathema), snaketongue cultists (snaketongue initiate, snaketongue zealot, snaketongue warrior, snaketongue assassin, snaketongue celebrant), zombie (zombie rotter, zombie, gravehound, corruption corpse, rotwing zombie, chillborn zombie, zombie hulk).
Following the monster statblocks, a four-page section is dedicated to providing traits for several races featured as monsters in book: bugbear, doppelganger, drow, githyanki, githzerai, gnoll, gnome, goblin, hobgoblin, kobold, minotaur, orc, shadar-kai, shifter (longtooth and razorclaw), and warforged.
This section is followed by a glossary of terms, and a list of monsters by level.
Development and release
Development on D&D 4th edition began in May 2005, with a team of Wizards of the Coast employees codenamed "Scramjet" working on world and setting elements from May to September 2006. Scramjet consisted of Rich Baker, James Wyatt, Matt Sernett, Ed Stark, Michele Carter, Stacy Longstreet, and Chris Perkins.
Scramjet examined the entire D&D third edition range, starting with the Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), to decide which D&D creatures deserved to appear in the initial 4th edition Monster Manual. Criteria for inclusion included coolness, practical playability, and relevance to the game world. The search was divided between the staff by monster types: Rich Baker searched for the best fey, devils, and "mastermind" creatures; Ed Stark for giants, monstrous humanoids, and "artillery" type creatures; and James Wyatt demons and magical beasts.
At this stage of development, several 3e creatures were cut, while others were changed to give them a more fixed role in the world. A major goal was to ensure different monsters were distinctive, so that each monster looked and played differently from one another.
The decision was made to give each monster a full page or two-page spread, something which had already been a trend in third edition monster sourcebooks. This limited the number of monsters which could appear in the book, but this was compensated for by including multiple statblocks for variants of the same monster.
The Scramjet team, tasked with creating a flexible, sparsely detailed world which might fit easily into any setting, designed an ecosystem where the selected monsters would fit together. In several cases, they made significant changes to monsters in order to give them a more well-defined place within that world. With the new system typically using multiple monsters per encounter, alliances or connections between monsters became more relevant. For example, driders, previously outcasts of drow society, were now favored of the goddess Lolth, with the Monster Manual suggesting combat groups with drow and driders together.
A goal in development was to do away with "bogus parallelism"; for example, including an earth elemental genie simply as an obvious counterpart to the fire elemental efreet. Rather, monsters were selected on uniqueness and practical utility. Monsters which the PCs rarely fight were excluded from the Monster Manual or changed; metallic dragons did not appear, while angels were expanded to be servants of deities of all alignments.
Reception and influence
In a product description of the Monster Manual (4e) at DM's Guild, D&D historian Shannon Applecline described the response to D&D 4th edition as mixed. The new, clearer monster layout was widely praised, but the book was criticized for its lack of monster ecology lore.
Shortcomings of the initial monster design in this book were addressed from 2010 onward, with a new monster design standard in Monster Manual 3 (4e) (2010) which increased monster damage scaling and reduced hit points on solo creatures. Many creatures from the Monster Manual subsequently appeared in revised form in the D&D Essentials Monster Vault (2010) sourcebook.
- Monster Manual (4e) on Dungeon Masters Guild
- Product page (Internet Archive)
- Art Gallery (Internet Archive)