D&D 5E Mordenkainens feedback.

Gorg

Explorer
So, I ordered a whole bunch of D&D stuff off E-bay, and this was one of them. One I was most looking forward to. (call me a dork, I like monster manuals, lol)

I did little research, so was not expecting all the chapters of lore in the front. I like the ones on the Blood War, NOT a fan of the Elves chapter... It was like a complete rewrite of the entire race... Some interesting stuff, but I'll be sticking with the history/backstory We've used since the beginning.

The layout is cool, though. I like the quotes, and the "handwritten" sidebars from Mordenkainen!

About to dive into the chapter on dwarves and duergar.

The monster section looks awesome, though! Great art, and some really cool looking beasties!

I now eagerly await the arrival of Volo's guide to Monsters.
 

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Iry

Hero
The elven lore was certainly polarizing. Love it or hate it, it does work as a plot hook for a small selection of elves, and the politics therein. Immortal Elves if you will. ;)
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
The content in Mordenkainen's is more than a little unfocused. We have devils, demons, and gith on one hand, which neatly fit into a "planar monsters" category, then... halflings, dwarves, and elves. Huh?

I think originally there were two products planned: a book filled with lore on the playable races (elves, dwarves, halfling, gnomes), to help players roleplay their characters better, and a book about planar monsters (gith, demons, devils, etc.). One of those products probably got cancelled, and Wizards must've decided to smoosh the two books together. So now we have what is essentially The Complete Book of Elves/Halflings/Dwarves combined with The Book of Vile Darkness. It's an odd fit, to say the least. But if you can look past the confused theme, Mordenkainen's has a lot of good lore in it. More players should read it.

EDIT: My other theory is that the playable-race content in Mordenkainen's was originally intended for Xanathar's Guide, but wasn't ready in time. That would explain why Xanathar's Guide contains almost 20 pages of filler (Appendix B: Character Names).
 
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DeviousQuail

Adventurer
Mordenkainen's was a worthwhile purchase imo. The lore portions were nice because I'd never really delved into the Blood War or Gith stuff before. Now I'm running a character that is a Githyanki War Wizard and I use things I learned from this book to really flesh out the backstory and motivation. The other lore sections were fine but I can't say I've made use of them much.

The part I enjoyed most though was all the CR 10+ monsters. By the time this book came out I was really looking for more high end challenges and it really delivered in that regard.

Volo's was fine. Perhaps a bit more useful session-to-session with so many low to mid CR monsters and the expanded lore for staple DnD monsters like Beholders, Orcs, Mind Flayers, Giants, etc. But it didn't get my creative juices flowing quite like Mord's did.
 

I think originally there were two products planned: a book filled with lore on the playable races (elves, dwarves, halfling, gnomes), to help players roleplay their characters better, and a book about planar monsters (gith, demons, devils, etc.). One of those products probably got cancelled, and Wizards must've decided to smoosh the two books together. So now we have what is essentially The Complete Book of Elves/Halflings/Dwarves combined with The Book of Vile Darkness. It's an odd fit, to say the least. But if you can look past the confused theme, Mordenkainen's has a lot of good lore in it. More players should read it.
I think it's simpler than that. I think they're trying to print books that are primarily for the DM which have enough player content in them that players buy the book, too.
 

I like a lot of it and volo’s. And there is some I don’t care for. Overall, I think they’re very good purchases.

what I struggle with is the fact that for those of us that like physical books, material is harder to find...

sales and my concerns are two separate concerns/issues. They (WOTC) are not likely to worry about it so it will continue.

layout aside, the material is pretty good. Not a fan of the goblin lore however nor elven...
 

Quartz

Hero
I have the book and I feel free to chuck or include whatever I want. If I want my elves to be plant-human hybrids and my orcs to be pig-human hybrids created by Suel mages then those are parts of my Greyhawk campaign world. They don't need to be part of your Greyhawk campaign world.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Mordenkainen's elves are a good source for "I want elves that are not just 'the goodest of humanity +1'"; there are several ideas worth incorporating.
If WotC had introduced the Mordenkainen elves as "don't you know all Elves have always been like this ?!" then I would have been upset.
 




Parmandur

Book-Friend
The content in Mordenkainen's is more than a little unfocused. We have devils, demons, and gith on one hand, which neatly fit into a "planar monsters" category, then... halflings, dwarves, and elves. Huh?

I think originally there were two products planned: a book filled with lore on the playable races (elves, dwarves, halfling, gnomes), to help players roleplay their characters better, and a book about planar monsters (gith, demons, devils, etc.). One of those products probably got cancelled, and Wizards must've decided to smoosh the two books together. So now we have what is essentially The Complete Book of Elves/Halflings/Dwarves combined with The Book of Vile Darkness. It's an odd fit, to say the least. But if you can look past the confused theme, Mordenkainen's has a lot of good lore in it. More players should read it.
It's a little less random if you consider the level that the Devil Chapter plays into another PHB Race and their cultural background, the Tieflings. In fact, between Volo's and Mordenkeinen's, all non-Human PHB RaCes are covered except for Dragonborn...who just got a UA article...
 



hopeless

Adventurer
Seriously, the vast majority of the people I know who only play and never DM (which is a lot of people) don't buy any of the books. At most, a few of the most dedicated ones get the Player's Handbook. Zero of them would buy Mordenkainen's.
I'd be one of them but thanks for the heads up I'll give it a look.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Seriously, the vast majority of the people I know who only play and never DM (which is a lot of people) don't buy any of the books. At most, a few of the most dedicated ones get the Player's Handbook. Zero of them would buy Mordenkainen's.
That matches my experience as well. It also explains the product design, if they assume a high Venn overlap of book purchasers with DMs who are the sole purveyors of options in their groups.
 

Kurotowa

Legend
The content in Mordenkainen's is more than a little unfocused. We have devils, demons, and gith on one hand, which neatly fit into a "planar monsters" category, then... halflings, dwarves, and elves. Huh?

I think originally there were two products planned: a book filled with lore on the playable races (elves, dwarves, halfling, gnomes), to help players roleplay their characters better, and a book about planar monsters (gith, demons, devils, etc.). One of those products probably got cancelled, and Wizards must've decided to smoosh the two books together. So now we have what is essentially The Complete Book of Elves/Halflings/Dwarves combined with The Book of Vile Darkness. It's an odd fit, to say the least. But if you can look past the confused theme, Mordenkainen's has a lot of good lore in it. More players should read it.

I have a similar theory, but I figure the devils and demons chapter started as a tiefling section but wandered off focus. Notice how all the player options parts in it are tiefling based? So my bet is the book was pitched as a very PHB2 type deal to give expanded background and options for all the core player races. Not half-orcs, cause orcs got a Volo's section, and not dragonborn, because they're just not popular enough. But we've got elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, tieflings, and oh let's throw in the gith as something new to spice up the pot.

Of course, the MtoF book we got is one of the weaker of the 5e line. The player options aren't deep enough to really inspire mechanical creativity and the racial lore is too divorced or at odds with any of the established settings to be of much use. Generic setting lore is only useful if you're playing in a generic setting, or building one from the ground up. It's about the only book I can't see myself recommending to anyone besides completionist collectors. Even Volo's is better with all the new races, even if they're not great mechanically.

ETA: Okay, on review my non-DM self forgot that half of MtoF is a MM2 bestiary. So I guess that's the main use-case for buying it. For players, though? An easy skip.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
I have a similar theory, but I figure the devils and demons chapter started as a tiefling section but wandered off focus. Notice how all the player options parts in it are tiefling based? So my bet is the book was pitched as a very PHB2 type deal to give expanded background and options for all the core player races. Not half-orcs, cause orcs got a Volo's section, and not dragonborn, because they're just not popular enough. But we've got elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, tieflings, and oh let's throw in the gith as something new to spice up the pot.

Of course, the MtoF book we got is one of the weaker of the 5e line. The player options aren't deep enough to really inspire mechanical creativity and the racial lore is too divorced or at odds with any of the established settings to be of much use. Generic setting lore is only useful if you're playing in a generic setting, or building one from the ground up. It's about the only book I can't see myself recommending to anyone besides completionist collectors. Even Volo's is better with all the new races, even if they're not great mechanically.

In its defense:

  • Lots of the monsters are great
  • The variant tieflings are very cool and do add a lot of options for mechanical creativity to that race
  • gith are actually a very good player race; I think it's only a matter of time before a high-profile gith character shows up and then everyone will be playing them. Baldur's Gate 3 may cause this.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I have a similar theory, but I figure the devils and demons chapter started as a tiefling section but wandered off focus. Notice how all the player options parts in it are tiefling based? So my bet is the book was pitched as a very PHB2 type deal to give expanded background and options for all the core player races. Not half-orcs, cause orcs got a Volo's section, and not dragonborn, because they're just not popular enough. But we've got elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, tieflings, and oh let's throw in the gith as something new to spice up the pot.

Of course, the MtoF book we got is one of the weaker of the 5e line. The player options aren't deep enough to really inspire mechanical creativity and the racial lore is too divorced or at odds with any of the established settings to be of much use. Generic setting lore is only useful if you're playing in a generic setting, or building one from the ground up. It's about the only book I can't see myself recommending to anyone besides completionist collectors. Even Volo's is better with all the new races, even if they're not great mechanically.

ETA: Okay, on review my non-DM self forgot that half of MtoF is a MM2 bestiary. So I guess that's the main use-case for buying it. For players, though? An easy skip.
Well, in Volo's Guide to Monsters, they specifically call out Fiends and Gith as something they would like to do in a similar book (along with Dragons and Undead, who might both get their full coverage by the end of year with Ravenloft and the mystery Draconic product). I would say they brought in the PHB Races when they realized that Tieflings and Half-Orcs would be the best developed PC Races, with Goblinoids beating out Dwarves and Elves.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
In its defense:

  • Lots of the monsters are great
  • The variant tieflings are very cool and do add a lot of options for mechanical creativity to that race
  • gith are actually a very good player race; I think it's only a matter of time before a high-profile gith character shows up and then everyone will be playing them. Baldur's Gate 3 may cause this.
If Matt Mercer brings Gith into CR, they might hit it big.
 

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