• Justin Handlin

Monster Manual Expanded III

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Monster Manual Expanded III

Monster Manual Expanded III is the culmination of nearly two years of work by Mannix ‘Dragonix’ Manansala.

As with the previous two books, Monster Manual Expanded III assists Dungeon Masters by cutting their prep time and providing them additional bestiary options to dress up their adventures. Many creatures in this tome are archetypes and variants found in the Monster Manual, Volo's Guide to Monsters, Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, and other official 5E adventure books. There will be more new monsters this third time around, though, most of which come from earlier D&D editions. A few others have roots from his home country, the Philippines.

The most notable feature of this book outside its amazing lore and stat blocks, is the amazing artwork. Thanks to the amazing talents of Bad Moon Art Studios, Dean Spencer, Brian Valeza, as well as Ruben de Vela and Sandeson Gonzaga. Almost every stat block is represented by magnificent artwork that can inspire dungeon masters to create exciting encounters.

This book contains well over 250 different monsters! But, our show is short. So we pick some of our personal favorites and share the lore, mechanics, and some of our own ideas on how to get the most out of them.

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Character Concept:

Pyxrin Ghaallixirn

Description: She is a towering young brass scaled dragonborn. She dresses in a thin silk cloak with a cowl to cover her head. Her thick backpack bulges with rectangular shapes of the collection of books hidden inside. A pair of custom spectacles sit atop her snout and her claws clutch a large leather-bound tome with Zenith Athenaeum etched into it.

Personality: She is not interest in random violence and believes the teachings of history can help us come to an understanding. She tends to walk and read her tomes at the same time. Combined with being absent-minded and clumsy, she often finds herself bumping into people and objects. Usually leaving her left sprawling on the ground.

History: She grew up seeking knowledge in the hopes of becoming a wizard and master of the mystic arts. Unfortunately, she had zero talent for the skill. Her thirst for knowledge led her to study the world, its cultures, and its religions. As she delved into the history of religion, she learned to tap into the weave in a different manner, through prayer.

Motivation: Someday Pyxrin would love to share her passion with the world. She seeks to open her own library and fill it with as much knowledge as she can find.

Monster Variant:

Battle Commander

Origin: Gladiator

Battle Commands. The commander shouts commands until the start of the commander’s next turn. The commander can select from one of three effects:

  1. Cunning Action. Provided the commander isn't incapacitated, an ally that starts its turn within 30 feet of the commander and can hear the commander can take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action as a bonus action.

  2. Strike Fear into their Hearts. Provided the commander isn't incapacitated, an enemy that starts its turn within 30 feet of the commander and can hear the commander must succeed on a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened until the end the start of its next turn. If a creature's saving throw is successful, the creature is immune to the commander's Intimidating Command for the next 24 hours.

  3. Steadfast Resolve. Provided the commander isn't incapacitated, an ally that starts its turn within 30 feet of the commander and can hear the commander gains advantage on saving throws against being charmed and frightened until the start of its next turn.

Encounter: A Crawl Through the Desolate Wastelands (Excerpt from Extraordinary Expeditions. Our upcoming Kickstarter)

While the characters wander through a desert town the vendors try to push their goods and services upon new coming adventurers, the 10-foot high walls that surround the concentric circle city help protect against the stinging dust and wind. As the characters wander through Karnok, they meet Pyxrin Ghaallixirn (use acolyte stat block with a 17 Intelligence score), a towering brass scaled dragonborn who bumps into the party clumsily while reading a note stuffed tome. Her weathered leather-bound tome drops to the ground and notes begin to fly in all directions. She panics and begins shouting “Don’t let those escape!” and “Oh my. Those are important. Could I get some help?” A character who succeeds a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check catches the title of the book on its binding “Zenith Athenaeum”. A character who succeeds a DC 18 Intelligence (Arcana/History) check recalls reading of the lost library and its vast wealth of knowledge.

She has come to the Desolate Wastelands in search of the lost Zenith Athenaeum, said to be the grandest library to ever exist. She has plenty of information that points to its existence somewhere in the wastelands, likely buried over the centuries, much like everything else out there.

D&D Desert Random Encounter Table
Encounter Table

Magic Item:

Phoenix Feathered Arrow

Weapon (arrow), very rare

A phoenix feathered arrow is a magic weapon ammunition meant to provide a touch of elemental power to an archer’s arsenal. Not only does the arrow burst into flames upon impact, it has the power of rebirth of a phoenix. When a creature or object is hit by a ranged weapon attack using this ammunition, it takes damage from the arrow and the creature must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking an extra 4d10 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much extra damage on a successful one.

Once the phoenix feathered Arrow deals its extra damage to a creature, it turns to ash leaving behind a phoenix feather. During the next dawn, the phoenix feather regains its magic and becomes a phoenix feathered arrow.

Dungeon Master Tip:

Evolving Monsters

In most cases, when a monster or villain is defeated, they are considered dead. Simple as that. The characters never see them again. But one of the fun aspects of the game is character progression. Why does this have to only be something the player characters experience? There are plenty of stories that contain a villain or antagonist who grows in power right alongside the protagonists. Why not let this concept seep into our Dungeons & Dragons games? Not every enemy is going to be willing to fight to the death. Give them an opportunity to escape with their lives. Then, reintroduce them later in the story, making them stronger. A great example would be having the characters fight a bandit captain and his gang. After his defeat, he seeks revenge not only for the defeat of his gang, but the humiliation suffered at the hands of “goody-goodies.”

After this encounter, he goes to toughen up. He gets better equipment and works on his sword skills. Now when they meet him, he has a new set of splint armor and is dual-wielding a longsword along side his scimitar. Now he has the veteran stat block. This helps immerse the characters in the world by showing growth in more than just their characters.

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick Skeleton Hand Grenade

Big bad giving you trouble? No problem. Release a hoard of confused and pissed-off skeletons.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is get yourself a bag of holding. Once that task is completed, go in search of skeletons. Once located, use a spell such as sleep or non-lethal combat damage to knock them unconscious. Then stuff the skeleton into the bag of holding. Now, go seek out more. The weight limit of the bag of holding is 500 lbs. This means we can fit up to 20 skeletons inside before it's full. Since skeletons don’t need to eat or breathe to stay alive, they will live there indefinitely, though they may get a bit pissed off. When you’re ready to release this powerful plague upon your foe, throw it like a sling and use the mage hand or similar magic to open it from a distance. Now watch as the area is flooded with nearly two dozen skeletons. The low intelligence level of skeletons means they pretty much attack anything that moves. Now watch as your GM cries.

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