DMs Guild Review – Monster Manual Expanded III

Over 300 monster statblocks with over 100 pieces of original artwork.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher. Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Dragonix, with art by Bad Moon Art Studios, Brian Valeza

Monster Manual Expanded III is, shockingly, the third book in the Monster Manual Expanded series, adding another several hundred new statblocks to D&D 5e. Some are expanded variants of existing monsters such as bugbears, driders, giants, and dragons, along with several entirely new monstrosities — now accompanied by breathtaking, professional original art for nearly every badass beast.

The monster supplement includes over 300 statblocks taken from over 50 monster groups, and clocks in at nearly 300 pages. The quantity is certainly there, but what truly impresses me is the quality, and specifically the art.

The original artwork is frequent, professional, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Nearly every one of those 300+ monsters has a piece of art to go with it, often taking up half a page or more, including background environments and dynamic poses.

The artwork makes this supplement more impressive than the original 5e Monster Manual! For monster groups with multiple PC-like statblocks, such as the eight new Bugbear types, we’re given effective lineup poses with multiple figures with one or two art pieces, not unlike the cultist lineups from Princes of the Apocalypse.

You could (and should) buy this supplement for the monster art alone, but the new statblocks are once again a welcome addition to Fifth Edition.

To use the above Bugbear example, the original MM gave us a CR 1 Bugbear and a CR 3 Bugbear Chief. Monster Manual Expanded III provides a CR 6 Beastlord with legendary actions and the ability to summon rats, wolves, or worgs; a CR 4 raging Ghost Berserker with reckless attack, a CR 2 Witch Doctor with cleric spells and a debuffing curse as a reaction; and a CR 5 Dark Claw of Skiggaret, with a slowing sickle, warlock spells, legendary actions  and a necrotic aura of shadowy tendrils. And that’s just half of the new bugbears!

The classic Beholder is given three creative variants: the disease-ridden, tentacled Eye of Gulguthra, the small, pack-hunting orbital maws of the Gorbel, and the mechanized, spell-reflecting Clockwork Beholder. Giants also get a lot of love, with Fire, Frost, Hill and Stone Giants all getting three to six new statblocks, including my favorite new Hill Giant, the Siege Hulk, who caries a large portable ram and wears a pair of howdahs on their shoulders where up to four small or two medium creatures can launch attacks. Love it!

beholder eye of gulguthra

My favorite all-new monsters include the spherical, multi-limbed Deepspawn, which is capable of birthing clones of up to CR 3 monsters that it’s previously devoured. Purple Dragons resemble the shark-like Bulettes and lurk in the Underdark, silently hunting its targets with its psychic breath. The Clockwork Golem looks like a D&D version of Iron Man (or more accurately, War Machine), with an arcane cannon that fires different elementally-charged projectiles.

I’m also in love with the new plant monsters, a woefully under-represented monster type. The Dragonroot Tree features serpentine roots with venomous jaws. The Hangman Tree grapples its victims and swallows them, while the dead-looking Noran features a delightful Halloween-like visage and a natural rock cannon on its forehead.

On the higher end of deadly terrors we have the CR 17 Diwata, a plant-like fey created from a cursed human. Its abilities include the Dryad’s tree stride, a Troll’s regeneration, over a dozen druid spells, and a petrifying presence. The 20-ft tall, CR 19 Heriophant of Annihilation is a top lieutenant of Orcus himself, defending Thanathos in the Abyss. This thing makes the Medusa look cute, with a Death Gaze that instantly reduces anyone who doesn’t choose to look away to 0 hit points with a failed DC 20 CON save, in addition to necrotic-powered attacks and an aura of annihilation.

Not everything is a vicious nightmare beast. There are the tiny fey Duwendes, which are like cute, gremlinized versions of gnomes. Korreds are those long-haired troll dolls with the ability to whip their 50-ft hair out and grapple enemies. Pegataurs are — you guessed it, winged Centaurs. In fact this book really doubles down on the Centaur-hybrid concept with Hybsil (half-deer), Bariarus (half-goat), and Dracotaurs (half-dragon). If you like humanoids with four-legged lower halves, you’ve found your monster book!

guardinal

The supplement also includes templates for transforming monsters into different variants. Notably, turning any dragon into a two-headed or three-headed version, and transforming a non-human into a vengeful undead Revenant, such as a Giant, Ogre, or Manticore.

We’re also given about two dozen humanoid NPCs, though at this point in the series’ lifespan, the only ones left to explore are higher level statblocks, such as the Legendary Archdruid, Archmage, Bladesinger, and High Priest, inspired by high-level player classes.

Thanks in large part to the incredible artwork, Monster Manual Expanded III is the best in the series, one of the best DMs Guild products of the year, and an absolute must-buy for Dungeon Masters.

Pros:

  • Over 300 statblocks in over 50 categories of monsters, from Archons and Aswangs to Vampire Spawn and Wraith Mages.
  • Incredible original artwork for nearly every monster.
  • Every statblock includes proficiency bonus.
  • Templates for making multi-headed dragons and monstrous revenants.
  • Appendices organize monsters by type, challenge rating, and environment.

Cons:

  • None!

The Verdict: Monster Manual Expanded 3 proves the series is still a must-buy for dungeon masters, with a huge variety of awesome new monsters, empowered by some of the best creature artwork you will find on the DMs Guild.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s