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Monster Manual (D&D Core Rulebook) Hardcover – September 30, 2014
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That said, I have to say that I love the "Monster Manual". The artwork is amazing and each monster pretty much gets its own page, with loads of details in an easy-to-read format. In the back of the book is a section of creatures that are not as much monster as wild animal or giant-sized animal and then a section of sample NPCs. In each case, the information presented is easily usable "as is" or in a modified form. I find the information throughout the book easy to reference and access.
From a nostalgic point of view, I still love the 1st editions of Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, and the Fiend Folio for their diverse artwork (some good and some not so good) and background information. The 5th edition is much more consistent in terms of information presented and quality of artwork. First edition had a lot more monsters, but the 5th edition ones are the ones you'd actually use frequently. In essence, this one book serves me just as well as those three volumes did.
Overall, my advice to older gamers who'd think they like to maybe get back into it - start here with the 5th edition. The three core books (PHB, MM, DMG) are superb in presentation and in content. New gamers? In my opinion, the 5th edition is very easy to jump into and have fun with. Start here!
Some may not like the way that content is laid-out but if you use it often, lay-out will become less an issue. Custom organize the data within so that it works best for your personal campaign. If necessary, tweak them with the suggestions provided, or make your own.
The artwork is also superb but it was a secondary consideration for me. That said, the artwork may inspire you to use some of these monster's for your next adventure or it may inspire the adventure itself. There are endless possibilities.
EDIT: Within about 3 months of getting it, the binding began to fall apart. Now about 50 pages are loose and falling out, so I'll either have to replace it completely or take it completely apart, punch holes in it and bind it in a ring binder (ghetto!) but I also don't want to pay for it again. crap.
ALSO The variety of monsters does leave me a little underwhelmed now. For example, if I were to summon a CR 5 Celestial being, I challenge anyone to actually find me a celestial in this book that actually fits that description, so as a DM if that spell is to have any use at all, then I have to create a CR 5 celestial from scratch. Where's all the other Elementals? And there are 5 or 6 Dinosaurs to choose from, that's it.
I WANT a list of monsters BY TYPE. If I am summoning a Fey, then I need a list of all the Fey that fit the bill. If I am creating an adventure based on Elementals, I need to know what is available. If our party find itself on a lost island full of dinosaurs, they better be ready to fight the same 6 dinosaurs over and over again, cause that's all there is. If we are travelling to any of the Planes, then what, exactly, kind of things live there?