After the separation D&D into separate "Basic" and "Advanced" games, the "Basic" game continued to be published in level-based boxes. Monsters of the appropriate level were included in the rulebooks for the various "Basic Game" sets (Basic, Expert, Companion, Master, and Immortal) and later collected in a single D&D Rules Cyclopedia book.
The first edition Monster Manual is also famous for the topless portrayals of its female monsters, such as the succubus and Type V demons, the lamia, the sylph, among others. The casual depiction of female nudity is a hallmark of first edition Dungeons and Dragons art.
Fiend Folio (1981) was published by TSR UK. Much of the Fiend Folio 's contents were taken from the Fiend Factory feature of White Dwarf, others were taken from various D&D modules, and some were original creations for this volume. It introduced several popular monsters to the D&D game including drow, githyanki, githzerai, slaad, and death knights. It also featured monsters that were widely ridiculed, such as the flumph, one of the few non-evil creatures presented in that volume. Fiend Folio featured more consistent artwork than the original Monster Manual. The illustrations in this volume were of same general style as the Monster Manual, but were typically darker and made more use of light and shadow.
Monster Manual II (1983) was also credited to Gygax, though some of its contents was taken from various AD&D adventure modules, in particular quite a number from S4: Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and a dozen new devils that had been first published in the pages of Dragon magazine. It was rated fairly well at the time, receiving 7 out of 10 in a review in Issue 49 of White Dwarf magazine. Like the Fiend Folio before it, the monsters in Monster Manual II listed the experience point value for each monster in the entry itself. The Monster Manual II along with the 1st Edition Unearthed Arcana book featured quite a number of monsters, races and place names from Gary Gygax’s Greyhawk Campaign world.
The format was intended to help Dungeon Masters keep handy only the monster statistics needed for a particular game session, as well as to greatly expand the information about each monster, as each was given at least one full page. It would also mean they would only need to purchase core volumes and appendix volumes for the campaigns they wanted, rather than getting a mix of monsters in books. However, the binder format ultimately proved impractical for two main reasons:
In 1993 the Monstrous Manual was released, compiling all monsters from the first two volumes of the Monstrous Compendium plus a large number of monsters from other sources into a 384 page hardcover book. More Monstrous Compendium Appendices were released as a supplement to the Monstrous Manual in the form of paperback books, mostly 128 pages. They included updated reprints of loose leaf Monstrous Compendium Appendices and new volumes.
After the loose leaf format was abandoned, Monstrous Compendium Appendices were published in book form. Except where noted, are 128 page paperbacks with mostly new material. They included:
These volumes are not major variations from the earlier concepts of the Monster Manual; they update older monsters to Third Edition rules. In 2001, Monster Manual won the Origins Award for Best Graphic Design of a Roleplaying Game, Adventure, or Supplement 2000. One reviewer called it "...an essential reference book, and it is a bargain....
The v3.5 revision has a slightly different entry on each monster, particularly the division of the attack into Attack and Full Attack entries. Also, most of the monsters now have an enhanced version of them near the original one as an example of advancement (usually either with a template or with class levels). Many monsters now have instructions on how to use them as player characters.
Monster Manual II (2002) and Fiend Folio (2003) are new monster-specific rulebooks, and contain mostly updated monsters from the sourcebooks of earlier editions, though some others of the specific monsters featured therein have almost no overlap with those of their first edition namesakes. Monster Manual II includes a discussion of monster design. There have been no new versions of Monster Manual II and Fiend Folio for 3.5 edition, however update errata for both volumes and for the original third edition Monster Manual are available for download from the publishers website
Monster Manual III (2004) contains more monsters and was originally published in the v3.5 format. This Monster Manual is notable for having descriptions within on where the monsters might be found in the Eberron and Forgotten Realms campaign settings.
Monster Manual IV (July 2006) is also published in the v3.5 format, and uses the new stat block format that was introduced in the Dungeon Master's Guide II. Monster Manual IV contains fewer actual monsters than Monster Manual II and III, but has sample lairs and encounters for them, gives stats for classes and templates applied to old creatures (for example Drow Ninja) and full page maps. Also, like the third, it has information on where the monsters might appear in Eberron or the Forgotten Realms. The book also ties into the "Year of the Dragons" theme that Wizards of the Coast planned out for 2006 with the Spawn of Tiamat, yet contains no new monsters that are considered 'true dragons.'
In October 2006 the Special Edition Monster Manual was released, completing the set of special edition core rulebooks started in 2004 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. Like the others, this book was leather-bound with silver-gilt edges and a cloth bookmark. The book was expanded with some new information, 31 new illustrations, and a new index. All collected errata up to its release date was included in this revision, making this edition the most up-to-date Monster Manual so far
Monster Manual V was released in July 2007, published in the same format as the Monster Manual IV, featuring lairs and tactics and like III and IV detailing how these new monsters fit into Eberron and Forgotten Realms. According to previews of the Night Below Dungeons & Dragons miniatures set, some of the new monsters that will feature in it include the Greenspawn Zealot, the Arcadian Avenger, the Verdant Reaver, and the Carnage Demon.