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We acquired the D&D Starter Set and Players Handbook and have begun playing the supplied adventure. Now I'm inspired to try my hand at creating my own adventure. I'm planning to pick up the Dungeon Masters Guide to have more information on how to do so, but between the DMG and the Starter Set rules will I have a wide variety of monsters to use? Or am I also required to get the Monster Manual for that purpose?

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up vote 31 down vote accepted

The Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG) does not contain any monsters. It does provide advice on how to create your own monsters, which is useful for creating your own adventures, but it's a lot of work to create a single monster, let alone all of the ones you require for a full adventure.

However, the Monster Manual (MM) is not the only source of monsters. The DM Basic Rules are available for free online and contain a large number of the monsters from the MM, albeit without the extensive lore that accompanies them there. The same goes for the newly released SRD.

There are also limited lists of monsters in the free online supplements for Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Rise of Tiamat, and Princes of the Apocalypse. Finally, as I'm sure you're aware, the PHB contains a highly limited list of monsters, mostly low level, mostly beasts, that could be useful to you. There's nothing in there that isn't in the DM Basic Rules, though.

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Thanks, I didn't realize that the Basic Rules included monsters that weren't in the Starter Set. – bwarner Jan 25 at 13:25
for reference, the DM basic rules contain ~175 monster/NPC stat blocks, while the MM is up around 430 (quick counts by eye). Worth adding for a sense of how well the basic rules might serve one? – nitsua60 Jan 25 at 13:39
Have you considered adding the SRD_OGL as a source of monsters available for download? Pages 257-398 have monsters. Lots of monsters. – KorvinStarmast Jan 25 at 14:46
It's also worth noting that the Player's Handbook contains stats for some basic creatures at the back - mostly those that are available as familiars, mounts, animal companions etc. so they're pretty basic, but there's enough for a few low-level encounters if you don't mind sticking mostly to mundane creatures. – anaximander Jan 25 at 14:50
@Miniman I know; it's just that nobody has mentioned yet that there are monsters in there that they could use in a pinch, and I thought it was worth noting, both for the OP and for anyone else reading this in future. – anaximander Jan 25 at 14:56

More than the Basic Rules list of monsters, Wizards has released the 5e System Reference Document that has 200+ monsters encompassing nearly all of the classic D&D list of monsters. It is found from page 257 to 360 of the 5e SRD PDF.

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You might well create very engaging adventures using only character races (men, elves, dwarves, etc.) and natural animals (for which you could improvise stats, if you even need them -- riding horses and farm animals don't really need them, most of the time). Even if you want monsters, you could create your own stats for creatures out of various myths (that's how many of the first Monster Manual monsters were created).

That said, as noted in another answer, it's relatively a lot of work to create a monster that might well only be used for a single encounter (one of the reasons D&D has so many monsters is to keep the players from just automatically knowing how to kill anything they might encounter -- as used to happen with the limited number of adversaries in the original game of the 1970s). Using available sources is better use of GM prep time, unless you specifically want to create a campaign that doesn't use any of the existing monsters, for some reason.

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You could add the SRD_OGLlink now that it is out as another source of monsters beyond the basic rules. Pages 264 through 398 have monsters. Page 257-264 explain monsters and HD and CR. – KorvinStarmast Jan 25 at 14:42
On the other hand, one of my group'sbetter adventures occurred when we found ourselves stuck with trying to contain and/or destroy a creature almost completely outside our initial understanding... Remember, in the early days of D&D, and even now in the better groups, the official rules are only a convenient starting point. Gamemaster-as-god trumps rules-as-physices in all cases except tournament play. – keshlam Jan 26 at 0:53

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