A compilation of loads of playable races and monster stats for D&D 5e with a bunch of small quality of life improvements, but small changes may not be enough to justify for long-term players.
Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse is the latest supplement book for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. At 288 pages (longer than the standard WOTC publication) it’s stuffed to the brim with monsters and playable character races. But is it worth buying is likely the question on your lips if you’re reading this review and the answer to that is a big fat… it depends. Read on and I’ll explain exactly why and who this book is for.
|33 playable races is a lot!|
|So are 262 monster stats|
|Some great tweaks to existing rules|
|It’s a compilation of content from other books|
|The changes aren’t enough to justify it for owners of other books|
|Dilutes racial lore|
What is Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse
|Publisher||Wizards of the Coast|
|Publication Date||17th May 2022|
|Publication Type||Supplement Book|
So what exactly is this book? It’s probably most similar to Volo’s Guide to Monsters in that it provides players with a bunch of playable races (33 to be exact) and loads of monsters for DMs to throw at their players (a whopping 262 of them). But the important thing to note here is that these playable races and monster stats are not new to D&D 5th Edition. The monster stats are all the same ones found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes compiled into a single book (with the addition of something called a “Dolphin Delighter”). The playable races are also a compilation of playable races from other books such as Volo’s Guide to Monsters, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, Mythic Odysseys of Theros and other 5e books.
What this means is that there is very little in the way of unique content in this book. While it may seem like a combination of Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes merged into one, it does miss out the majority of the lore from these books. This seems to be a growing trend with WOTC who seem to be leaving it more and more down to the players how the lore plays out in their universe. Of course, another explanation for this could be the fact that with Spelljammer and Planescape settings being introduced to D&D 5e, D&D has never been quite so multiversal. Gone are the days where everything revolved around the Forgotten Realms. With that in mind, lore for halflings in one setting may not be the same in another like in Dark Sun where halflings are wild, cannibalistic people!
Despite this omission, Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse certainly isn’t slim on content and is larger than most D&D 5e publications. But it does beg the question, who is this book for if the content already exists? I believe there are 3 reasons WOTC has decided to amalgamate all this content into a single book; to give players one place instead of 2 for all the extra monster stats they want access to (beyond the Monster Manual), to have one place for most of the additional character options outside of the Player’s Handbook and to update their approach to characters and monster stats.
The first 2 reasons for this make Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse a much cheaper option to access this content and while it’s of little use to those of us that already own these books, it’s great for those that don’t. The final reason we believe is also a good change but we’ll go into that in more detail a bit later on.
What’s in the book?
33 playable races really is a lot and means there’s no shortage for players to work with. In some instances, like for the Eladrin and Deep Gnomes, they’ve become full playable races instead of just sub-races. On the other hand, the Aasimar no longer have their 3 sub-races which are instead represented by their different transformations. The selection process for which races have been included is interesting, it seems that anything that isn’t too setting specific has been included so where Shifters have been included from the Eberron setting for instance, but Warforged and the Kalashtar have not.
The playable races included in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse are:
- Deep Gnome
- Air Genasi
- Earth Genasi
- Fire Genasi
- Water Genasi
- Sea Elf
We mentioned that Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse introduces some changes to how playable races are presented in D&D 5e. The main thing here is that while the Player’s Handbook races tell you which ability scores you’ll get a boost to, Monster of the Multiverse gives you the flexibility to add +2 and +1 to whichever ability scores you choose. This gives you the flexibility to create whatever class you want with whatever race you want without being left behind. It also means that it caters for differences in individuals within a race rather than lumping them into being mostly the same kinds of beings. Obviously different races have different features and capabilities, but those differences are reflected in unique abilities rather than ability scores.
On the topic of those racial abilities, there have been a few balancing changes in cases where abilities weren’t particularly useful. The Eladrin, for example, get multiple uses of their teleport ability and the mimicry ability for Kenku have changed too. Ultimately, these are good, if subtle adjustments.
It’s also notable that much of the lore relating to playable races is gone or in the case of typically evil races like the Drow and Duergar, has been mellowed out to accommodate a larger spectrum of personalities for each race. While this may be due to multiversal factors relating to differences for the same race in different settings and to encourage players to use a wider range of races, it does feel that much of the lore is being diluted and that races are losing some of the flavour that we’ve known them to have in the past.
The rest of the book gives you the 262 monster stats already featured in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Time of Foes. These come with a few changes that reflect the direction WOTC have been going in too. Alignments often aren’t given or are provided as a “typical” alignment. Spellcasting has been given a much needed overhaul too. Instead of demanding that DMs keep track of numbers of spells cast at different levels for spellcasting monsters, instead, you just get a list of spells the monster can cast, some of which can be cast at will while others can only be cast once per day to ensure not too many of a single very powerful spell is continuously used.
So on to the big question. Is Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse worth your hard earned pennies? Well, as mentioned early, it’s a resounding, it depends. On the one hand, this is a cost effective way of getting access to monster stats from 2 books plus a bunch of additional playable races, this is great for players that haven’t already invested in other books. Add to this the fact that rule improvements just make the playable races better and the monster stats easier to run as a DM.
On the flip-side, if you already own Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, chances are this book is going to leave you feeling a little sour. You get very little additional content and while the changes are generally very good, they’re also minor making this book very difficult to recommend for those that already have the aforementioned supplement books (unless you happen to have money to burn). And while the book is pretty packed already, the dilution of the lore does set a worrying trend for WOTC.
All of this makes Monsters of the Multiverse incredibly difficult to score, but in isolation, it absolutely deserves the 4.5/5 presented below. It does come with a caveat though for owners of some of the other books of D&D 5e.