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D&D: ‘Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse’ Available Now

6 Minute Read
May 16
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With Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse out in the wild on its own, we go through the book for our first impressions.

Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse releases in stores and online today. Available now on its own, instead of as part of the Rules Expansion Gift Set, there’s a lot to dig into. The book gathers together and updates more than 250 monsters from both Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. It also pulls together the setting agnostic player races from the different books. Now that it’s out, we’re revisiting our first impressions of Monsters of the Multiverse.

monsters of the multiverse first impressions cover

Right out of the gate, I want to highlight that we got our hands on the deluxe edition of the set and it’s absolutely worth it. These are some of the prettiest D&D books you’ll ever have in your collection. Photographs don’t really do them justice.

The pages and covers have such a wonderful texture to them. My partner, who has played one session of D&D in her life, took one look at the book and immediately had to flip through it looking at the art.

She didn’t put it down until she had gotten to the Y’s. I imagine the experience will be the same for a lot of you out there. These books are gorgeous.

But I’ve been ruined by years of playing D&D. It does things to a person. So instead of appreciating how beautiful the book was or looking at the monster, I immediately started going through the rules to see what was different.

And lemme tell you, a lot has changed. In Monsters of the Multiverse you get a sense of the future of D&D, and it looks pretty good.

Monsters of the Multiverse – First Impressions

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Let’s start with the basics. This book contains 33 player races and 252 monsters all gathered in one place. Most of them have updated rules and stat blocks. Some, like the more recent Fairy and Harengon, are reprints, but they’re all gathered up in one easy book.

But the ones that are different are better by and large. Think of it as updated rules for your favorite monsters (outside of the Monster Manual) and you’ve got the right idea.

And overall, the new changes are great. You might have read about how D&D is changing the way they’re handling spellcasting monsters. In Monsters of the Multiverse, that change is on full display.

monsters of the multiverse first impressions dragonborn bard singing happily

Spellcasting monsters have the Spellcasting action that they use to cast spells just like a regular spellcaster. But many of them also have spell attacks. In some cases, this replaces an attack/combat spell. Blue Abishai, for instance, lose the ability to cast Chain Lightning, but instead gain an action called Lightning Strike.

Lightning Strike is a ranged spell attack that deals 8d8 lightning damage to one target. And as a multiattack, they can make up to three of those per turn. That’s in addition to their suite of spells. So there’s a bit of a tradeoff.

But a Blue Abishai can, if it hits all three times, deal 24d8 to a single target. That’s pretty spicy. Add in something like its Greater Invisbility and you’ve got the potential for crits thanks to an omnipresent advantage from being invisible.

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You have to know that, though. Which is one of the stumbling blocks of the book. The designers wanted to have a better path for monsters to make sure they’re living up to their CR. And by and large they succeed.

But if you don’t know what every part of a monster can do, it’s harder to spot synergies. There’s no suggested tactics. But that’s a small quibble. And again these are only our first impressions of Monsters of the Multiverse.

Okay, Okay – But What About the Races?

monsters of the multiverse first impression centaurs

But if you’re reading this, the most interesting thing is probably the changes to player races. When the book was first announced and some of the changes leaked – there was a hue and cry about the changes to lore.

It’s true, some of the features like Cunning Artisan have been removed (R.I.P. Lizardfolk turning dragon bones into axes). But the way these new races play feels like how they should have been.

Genasi, in particular, are standout stars. They were always just kind of bleh before. But in Monsters of the Multiverse they get a distinct identity. Genasi delve more into the idea that they’re elemental humanoids.

Air Genasi move faster and can cast levitate and feather fall. Earth Genasi can cast Blade Ward. But better, they can cast it as a Bonus Action up to their proficiency bonus times per day, so you actually might use it. They feel distinct is what I’m saying.

monsters of the multiverse first impressions genasi lineup

So too do most of the new races. Even Goblins, who have been changed to be Fey, fit. I thought it might be weird to think of goblins as Fey creatures. But they talk about how Goblins were once servant of the Queen of Air and Darkness, and it makes sense. But even then, they’re still servants of Maglubiyet, who conquered their gods and enlisted them as soldiers.

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The lore as you know it is still there. And this book isn’t full of stuff – but I don’t know that it’s meant to be. It’s a very workhorse tome. It’s got 252 monster statblocks to cram in alongside 33 races.

Even so, there’s still snippets of lore, but it feels like this is meant to help give you a start. It’s almost like having the 4E Tools version of the monsters, if that makes sense.

But reading through all of this, you get a sense of what the future holds for D&D.

Glimpsing the Future in Monsters of the Multiverse

monsters of the multiverse first impressions glimpse the future

And the future looks a little more distinct. Monsters feel like they play by their own rules a little more. I think that D&D benefits from that. One thing I’ve noticed repeatedly through the books is that monsters feel a little swingier.

Multiattacks overall seem to be better. And, to my delight, spellcasting monsters frequently get spellcasting folded into a multiattack. A Drow Shadowblade, for instance, can cast Darkness as well as make three attacks with its Shadow Blade (swapping out one for a hand crossbow attack).

A Hydroloth can replace one of its two attacks with a use of spellcasting.

Monsters with spells feel like they’ll be easier to run, too. They get spell attacks that can’t be countered outright. Which is great. The way you’re meant to use the spell attacks is pretty intuitive as well. It feels like the “next evolution” of D&D is going to be pretty easy to slide right into.

It’s feeling more like 5.5 than 6th Edition. But who can say, really.

Final Thoughts

So based on our Monsters of the Multiverse first impressions, is the book worth picking up? I think it’s absolutely worth having and will be an incredible addition to any gamer’s arsenal. I think it’ll feel so much easier to play with this stuff.

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I definitely recommend adding this to your D&D collection. It feels like a necessary and welcome upgrade.

Happy Adventuring!

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