Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Same Old, Same Old

So far as I have been able to determine, the cover illustration of the revised Second Edition AD&D Monstrous Manual (note that the name continues to be used even as late as 1995) is identical to that of the 1993 version, although the trade dress has been altered to match the rest of the 2.5e line.

Everything I said in my previous entry applies to this one as well, but I have two additional, possibly tangential comments. First, I think it says a lot that TSR didn't see fit to commission a new cover for its revised MM cover. The previous white version of the book came out only two years before, so I can see the bean counter logic that argues, "Why get a new cover after so short a time?" Of course, the same logic might also ask, "Why a revision after so short a time?" I can't help but wonder if the reuse of art was an indicator of TSR's ailing financial health. In retrospect, we know that, by 1995, TSR was bleeding money and its sales were in serious decline. Was it in fact in such a bad way that it couldn't spare the cash to commission a new cover illustration? Second, the retention of the name Monstrous Manual strikes me as further evidence that TSR no longer saw D&D as a game with a history and traditions of its own, but rather as a property that they could mold and twist in any way they wished to serve their bottom line. Such was their right, of course, but I think (again, in retrospect) one of the reasons why Wizards of the Coast were once viewed as the "savior" of D&D is because its spokespeople and designers publicly showed respect and fondness for the past of the game, even as they were updating and changing it in ways that I ultimately think were problematic. Whatever else Third Edition was, it was in many ways a "nostalgic" edition, restoring many things to the game that TSR had shed in its multifarious efforts to "remake" the game in their own image.

I'll close this post with a scan of a 1977 magazine ad for the original Monster Manual, featuring Gary's daughter, Elise, as its sales model. Strange stuff indeed.


  1. If only carrying around that old Monster Manual had attracted women...

  2. :-) Too bad Gammaworld also didn't, anyone remember the Gammaworld add on the back cover of White Dwarf magazine. Elise looked even hotter in that add.


  3. Frank,

    If you ever find a copy of that ad, I'd love to see a scan of it. I don't ever recall seeing it back in the day, but then I didn't read White Dwarf until fairly late.

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  5. If you ever find a copy of that ad, I'd love to see a scan of it.

    Hey there, James. This pic is on my blog:


    Previous post was with broken link, this should work.