As I write this, I’ve just finished writing all of the articles of my Let’s Read series on the Monster Manual 2. So now I’m going to start on the Monster Manual 3!
The Monster Manual 3 is obviously the third big monster book for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, and it was published in June 2010, about a year after the MM2.
A lot of the stuff I’ve written on the intro to the MM2 linked above also applies to the MM3. Monster roles remain the same, as does the gradation that goes from Minion to Regular to Elite to Solo. The encounter design system is the same as well.
Some things have changed dramatically, though! While you still have the lore tables with skill DCs, the surrounding flavor text has gotten a lot bigger, replacing the minimalist sentences of past books with larger paragraphs written in a more dramatic tone. The extra space taken up by this text means we no longer have sample encounters.
The stat blocks themselves also changed a lot, with monster abilities separated and listed according to the type of action they use (passive traits, standard, move, minor, triggered, always in that order).
Last but not least, the math for basic monster numbers has finally reached its final, fully fixed form. Attacks, defenses, HP and average damage all follow the basic formula in the legendary Monster Manual 3 in a Business Card post. This updated math was also published as an errata update to the Dungeon Master’s Guide, but the Business Card has it in even more condensed form. Chronologically, this is the first book where you wouldn’t need to apply any blanket fixes to monster damage.
If you were following my Let’s Read posts while reading the actual books, you’ll be familiar with all of these changes from the Monster Vault, which I read in parallel with the first MM here. The MV would be published in November 2010, updating the most “iconic” monsters from the first two books to the new format and collecting some from this one as well.
The Monster Vault would in turn be followed by “Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale”, the final monster book I intend to cover in my readings. But that’s still a ways away. For now, we look to the MM3.
This book has monsters of all levels, but focuses a bit more on the higher end. The index in my PDF copy is a little wonky because it lists each individual stat block in alphabetic order, but I’ll still read them in the order in which the larger entries appear.
The changes in math also mean that monsters are much less likely to have healing powers. Leader monsters from the MM3 are much more likely to provide combat buffs than to heal their allies.