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MC2 Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (2e)
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MC2 Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (2e)

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The other half of the core monsters for AD&D 2e, originally released as looseleaf sheets to fit in the original Monstrous Compendium binder.

Product History

MC2: Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989) is the second monster manual for AD&D 2e. It was published in August 1989.

Moving Toward AD&D 2e. During the AD&D 1e era (1977-1989), TSR published three Monster Manuals over the span of 14 years. So, it was somewhat surprising when TSR scheduled their first two Monstrous Compendiums within two months(!) of each other. But, there was a good reason for this: the Monstrous Compendiums had far fewer monsters per page than the AD&D 1e monster books, so TSR had to publish two of them just to produce a good set of core monsters for the new AD&D 2e game.

About the Book. Like its predecessor, the second Monstrous Compendium comes as 72 perforated hole-punched pages. It also contains eight more cardstock dividers. This material was all meant to go in the binder that came with MC1: Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989). MC3: Monstrous Compendium Volume Three: Forgotten Realms Appendix (1989) was also intended to fit into that first binder.

Monsters of Note. As the other core monster book for AD&D 2e, Monstrous Compendium Volume Two contains more of the same, which means: animals, fantasy creatures, and D&D originals. However, this is clearly the secondary monster book for AD&D 2e, because the monsters are generally more obscure. It still contains some classics like basilisks, bulettes, dracolisks, dopplegangers, gargoyles, hippogriffs, lurkers above, otyughs, ropers, rust monsters, salamanders, purple wyrms, and yellow mold. However, its other monsters are generally less iconic.

Instead of the classic giants, you have a new category of giant-kin, and instead of rats and spiders, you have urchins and whales. Where the first Monstrous Compendium largely stuck with the original Monster Manual, some of these more obscure monsters are drawn from the 1e Fiend Folio (1981) and the 1e Monster Manual II (1983), including the aarakocra, drow, myconids, poltergist, swanmay, tarrasque, and yellow musk zombies.

Monsters of Note: Demons & Devils. With all of the core monsters now accounted for, D&D players discovered that a few favorites were notably missing: demons and devils. James M. Ward explained why a few months later in "Angry Mothers from Heck", a controversial editorial in Dragon #154 (February 1990). There Ward revealed that he'd gotten one or two letters a week over the years complaining about the demons and devils. In other words, about 1,000 letters total, compared to perhaps a million copies sold. So Ward had instructed the AD&D 2e designers to eliminate the demons and devils from the updated game. Skip Williams expanded on the decision in Dragon #155 (March 1990), saying that they did not want to give "the game's detractors cheap ammunition".

But, the new policy was about more than just demons and devils. Ward said that "Avoiding the Angry Mother Syndrome has become a good, basic guideline for all of the designers and editors at TSR, Inc." He implied that doing otherwise would be "fighting for its own sake", not "fighting for a good cause."

What's most interesting about the "angry mothers" guideline is the assumption that the D&D game was now played by people with attendant mothers. This was a big change from the college age groups that helped to popularize D&D in the '70s, but it seems to be an accurate reflection of actual demographic changes that were probably thanks to the success of the various Basic D&D games (1977, 1981, 1983).

Demons and devils would return in a bowdlerized form in MC8: Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix (1991).

Whoops. The early printings of Monstrous Compendium Volume Two contained a replacement page for the vampire sheet in Monstrous Compendium Volume One. It was a beautiful example of the power of the looseleaf Monstrous Compendium system … if only they had worked correctly.

Future History. TSR would publish 13 more looseleaf Monstrous Compendiums in just four more years. However, all of these later Monstrous Compendiums would be tied to specific settings with the exception of MC14: Monstrous Compendium Fiend Folio Appendix (1992).

Afterward, TSR would reboot their monster books with a new core release, the Monstrous Manual (1993). This book would show the importance of these first two Monstrous Compendiums by combining all of their content into the new book.

About the Creators. The concept behind the Monstrous Compendium was created by the core AD&D 2e team of David "Zeb" Cook, Jon Pickens, and Steve Winter.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Product Information
Copper seller
Rule System(s)
Pages
144
Edition
1.0
Publisher Stock #
TSR 2103
File Size:
94.19 MB
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File Last Updated:
May 14, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on May 17, 2016.