The Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual: Roleplaying Game Core Rules, 4th Edition, commonly known as the 4E Monster Manual (often abbreviated as "MM" or as "MM1", in order to distinguish it from the upcoming "MM2", or Monster Manual 2), is a dungeon master-oriented rulebook, presenting a wide array of creatures and monsters intended to serve as challenges for player characters. It contains very limited material of potential use to players. Along with the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, the Monster Manual is one of the three "main" or "core" rulebooks upon which all official 4E D&D material is based.
The Monster Manual was released in North America on 6 June 2008, both singly and as a part of the Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set, 4th Edition. A "deluxe" version of the Monster Manual was released on 21 October 2008, boasting enhanced-quality binding, but no significant rules differences.
Optimization-Relevant Material Presented in the Monster Manual Edit
Despite being a dungeon master-oriented book, the Monster Manual presents and details the following rules elements which may be of interest to players:
NPC Races Edit
Several races are detailed in the back section of the Monster Manual, laid out in a bare-bones format. While not intended for use as player character races, they are compatible with the rules for this purpose, and are thus of potential interest to would-be optimizers. However, it is worth noting that these races are generally not balanced with player character races, nor do they have access to the breadth of racial options that player character races have.
The Monster Manual begins this section with the following:
- Several of the monster in the Monster Manual have racial traits and powers, not unlike the races presented in the Player's Handbook. In general, these traits and powers are provided to help Dungeon Masters create nonplayer characters (NPCs). This information can also be used as guidelines for creating player character (PC) versions of these creatures, within reason. Note that these traits and powers are more in line with monster powers than with player character powers.
- A player should use one of the following races to create a character only with the permission of the Dungeon Master. The DM should carefully consider which monster races, if any, to allow as PCs in his or her campaign.
- -- 4E Monster Manual, page 276
Finally, it's should be noted that similar, but separate, player character-oriented versions of several of these races have been published in various hardcover books and in Dragon Magazine online.
The following NPC races appear in the Monster Manual.
- Bugbear -- +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity; "oversized" ability, "predatory eye" racial encounter power.
- Doppelganger -- +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma; "change shape" racial at-will power.
- Drow -- +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma; "cloud of darkness" and "darkfire" racial encounter powers. See also: "Drow (FRPG)"
- Githyanki -- +2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence; "telekinetic leap" flight-based racial encounter power.
- Githzerai -- +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom; "iron mind" interrupt racial encounter power.
- Gnoll -- +2 Constitution, +2 Dexterity; "ferocious charge" racial encounter power. See also: "Gnoll (Dragon Magazine)"
- Gnome -- +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma; "fade away" invisibility racial encounter power. See also: "Gnome (PH2)"
- Goblin -- +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma; "goblin tactics" shift-based reaction racial at-will power.
- Hobgoblin -- +2 Constitution, +2 Charisma; "hobgoblin resilience" saving throw-based racial encounter power.
- Kobold -- +2 Constitution, +2 Dexterity; "shifty" Minor Action shift-based racial at-will power.
- Minotaur -- +2 Strength, +2 Constitution; "oversized" ability, "goring charge" racial encounter power. See also: "Minotaur (Dragon Magazine)"
- Orc -- +2 Strength, +2 Constitution; "warrior's surge" healing racial encounter power.
- Shadar-Kai -- +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence; "shadow jaunt" teleport racial encounter power. See also: "Shadar-Kai (Dragon Magazine)"
- Shifter, Longtooth -- +2 Strength, +2 Wisdom; "longtooth shifting" damage bonus-based racial encounter power. See also: "Shifter (PH2)"
- Shifter, Razorclaw -- +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom; "razorclaw shifting" defense-based racial encounter power. See also: "Shifter (PH2)"
- Warforged -- +2 Strength, +2 Constitution; "living construct" type, "warforged resolve" temporary HP-based racial encounter power. See also: "Warforged (Dragon Magazine)", and "Warforged (EPG)"
While not optimization relevant in the strictest sense, the Monster Manual does present two rituals, potentially usable by players. Both are evil and transformative in nature, creating a powerful undead being from a willing, living creature.
- Dark Gift of the Undying (page 259) -- Level 11, and the caster must be a Vampire Lord; turns the subject into a Vampire Lord.
- Lich Transformation (page 177) -- Level 14, and the caster must be humanoid; kills the caster and transforms him or her into a Lich.
It may also be worth noting that at one time, the D&D Compendium erroneously listed five additional monster-creation rituals as having been published in the Monster Manual. In fact, none of these five additional rituals have yet been published anywhere other than on the D&D Compendium. All five created or transformed an existing creature into a monster. These additional rituals included "Aboleth Servitor", "Create Golem", "Create Helmed Horror", and "Create Homunculus".