This retrospective on the AD&D Second Edition Monstrous Manual completes my retrospectives for the AD&D 2e core rule books. I went over the Dungeon Master's Guide yesterday, and the Player's Handbook way back in October of last year. Also did one on the Monstrous Compendium, but I don't think it really counts because the compendium is not a book, but a binder.
Indeed, back in the day I could not wait to get the AD&D Second Edition Monstrous Manual. I got tired of lugging that compendium around with all of its loose leaf pages. When I finally bought it 1993 when it was published, I was a happy gamer. Sure, there was no new information in it, but it was a book.
Yeah, the demons and devils were still long gone (but that's what owning the AD&D 1e Monster Manuals were for, right?). I still cringe a little when I read the cumbersome terms "baatezu," "tanar'ri," and "yugoloth." Man, what were they thinking? Even "Monstrous Manual" doesn't quite sound right.
To this day I still don't mind monsters having an ecology and extensive backgrounds, even though some readers think it takes up too much space that could be reserved for stats or more monsters.
I liked that each monster's experience point value was printed with each entry. Gone were the XP calculations determined by hit points as in AD&D 1e.
Most of the full color artwork was okay, nothing really inspiring, or leaving anything to the imagination. The monsters are just standing in their white box going "grrrr..."
So once again, AD&D 2e leaves me torn. Its organization and functionality beats AD&D 1e, but the "cool stuff:" the ambiance, the artwork, the "feel" of the books, the mystery, is gone.
Now, unlike the 2e DMG, I did use the Monstrous Manual for my games.