Opening Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes

Unlike 4th Edition, 5th Edition D&D has had a much slower pace for book releases. While some fans grumble, the change has worked in WotC's favor, making each release an event, and interest is doubled for source books like Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.

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While Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (MtoF) is a rich resource for both players and DMs with 144 monster stat blocks, new options for elves, dwarves, tieflings, halflings and gnomes, and a host of inspiration, it also reads a bit like a story that reveals the cosmology and pre-history of the D&D multiverse. That fulfills Mike Mearls’ goal of explaining the driving forces in the D&D multiverse so that a new player or DM would have a good sense of the world.

Much like Xanathar's Guide to Everything, MtoF uses the conceit of having been written by someone within the D&D multiverse – Mordenkainen, the legendary wizard from Greyhawk who believes in maintaining "the Balance" out of fear that any victor in the war between good, evil, law and chaos would become a tyrant. This allows the book to use epic conflicts as the organizing theme, and it's a good choice.

The first chapter explains the Blood War, the ongoing battle between demon and devils with details on the demon lords of the Abyss and the devils that rule the Nine Hells. It answers the common question, "Why don't evil beings join forces to conquer the multiverse" rather well, providing an excellent viewpoint for devils.

MtoF provides ways to customize NPC cults according to the associated demon or devil lord. Cambions, devils, demons, and tieflings also get customization options. The demon lords detailed in Rage of Demons are reprinted here for simplicity and to keep everything together, but they're modified with increased hit points and often higher damage attacks.

The primal history of the elves explains not just how Drow became outcasts, but why there are so many types of elves. Rather than make "they're evil" the motivation, it's a more complicated origin akin to Lolth and Corellon as parents who turn on each other, leaving their children to suffer for it. The origins of the Raven Queen, Eladrin and Shadar-Kai also tie into this epic conflict. If the upcoming D&D movie succeeds, this bit of history could make a good prequel.

Elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes and tieflings get various player options including charts for quirks, personality options, etc. and more details on the various deities and their relationships with their followers. If you ever wondered what an elf experiences during reverie and why, MtoF answers that along with the Drow counterpart, how elves punish crime and more.

A much talked about teaser for the book revealed the new ability, Corellon's Blessing. Because the creator of the elves can change into any shape, with the DM's approval, this ability allows an elf to change their gender once a day, after a long rest. Mechanically, it's a simple gift, but it led to some fan debates as to whether the "Player's Handbook +1" rule would limit players who wanted this ability to MtoF, preventing them from using it with the class options from Xanathar's Guide to Everything. While MtoF doesn't specify, the free PDF, Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes Primer, which is available on DriveThruRPG and the DM's Guild web sites, indicates that for official play, Corellon's Blessing, along with some deity choices for elves, dwarves, halflings and gnomes, are not limited by PHB+1.

After explaining their intertwined origins, sea elves, Shadar-Kai and Eladrin become player options in MToF with the latter gaining variant options of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Eladrin. These options are subject to PHB+1 for official play. However, in a D&D Beyond interview designer Jeremy Crawford cautioned that the Eladrin listed in the monster section in the back of the book are not player options.

Much like the history of the elves, dwarves and their tragic fight with the duergar (now a player option) is another key piece of lore. Deities of both groups are explained, which makes sense since fealty to and hatred of Moradin is at the core of the split between the two. The sidebars on the effects of alcohol on dwarves and duergar are interesting and could be used to add depth to one's role-playing.

Gith also become player race options in MToF, but Giff do not. The latter are a hippo-headed, military race from Spelljammer with art that makes everyone who sees it want to play one. It would be relatively easy to homebrew an option using the monster stat block as a foundation.

Official play for the Githyanki and Githzerai requires that they be members of the Sha'sal Khou, a group of radicals seeking to reunite the two groups into one Gith species. Much like how organized play requires lawful evil characters to be members of the Zhentarim, this requirement gives the DM a way to rein in characters since Githyanki tend to be lawful evil.

Between the Gith entry and the duergar, there are numerous references to mind flayers and their long-gone empire, so it's a bit surprising that it's not detailed in the book. It would have been a logical addition. The creatures in the bestiary have higher challenge ratings to accommodate characters 10th level and above.

Considering the number of planar creatures in MToF, I suspect Sigil may be part of an upcoming release, with a revival of Spelljammer as a close second guess – especially since Mike Mearls noted in a recent video that Spelljammer ships cross planes instead of sailing through space.

The book's covers are well done, though the limited edition cover (my follow-up review displays that cover) by Vance Kelly is far more impressive in person. It's downright stunning, but photographs don't show off the metallics or details well whereas the mainstream release cover by Jason Rainville do.

My only real complaint about MToF is its length. At 256 pages, it's substantial but several parts could have been expanded further without the book feeling bloated. The options provided give players a lot to work with for character-based adventures. DMs will find a wealth of inspiration and creatures to challenge parties of any level. It's very much a success.
contributed by Beth Rimmels
 
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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
From my point of view, the Blessing of Corellon just opened the way for a great character backstory for Drow players. The random motivations tables for Drows all seem to give a ''Drizzt-like'' results, while this little part on the fact that a Drow with this blessing would be forced out of its city because its may trample the foundation of Drows society is really interesting.

May create a Bladedancer of Elistrae with Acolyte Sword Bard + Magic Initiate: Guidance/Resistance/Bless and the Blessing of Corellon
 

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gyor

Legend
People compare The Blessed of Corellon to Trans or Gender Fluid, but its more like Machihembras, a rare medical condition where a child is born a girl, hits puberty then turns into a boy. Except TBOCL have more control ovet it and can make a change daily. Its interesting.
 

Are you serious? Gender changing elves?
Well, there's size changing dwarves, dragon-people that breathe fire, and gnomes that turn invisible. Why not?

What Scenarios have you guys going on at your table?
You can imagine an elf spy swapping genders suddenly to hide their identity. Or a con artist doing the same. Elven nobles who chose their gender like one chooses what is fashionable that season. Depending on your world, they might be seen as blessed by Corellon Larethian and pushed into the clergy, alternating between monk or nun depending on the gender of the monastery where they reside.

Or simply playing a gender fluid character.

So if some other sex PC/NPC starts something with an elf woman on one day does this make the PC / NPC technically queer, when the elf changes into a man the next day?
Maybe. If elves use those kind of labels. Elves don't strike me as people who care about whom you sleep with.

And it's not just about what they do in the bedroom. Being male or female (or masculine or feminine) informs a lot more of your life.

Ok as a DM i did put some -most often humorous -associations with context to ongoing actual politics into some of my adventures, but this is a bit of overdoing things. Imho explicit Content and be it to drive some political correct Agenda does not belong to the Standard ruleset of a game. Put in your queer/trans/whatever PC/ NPC that is ok, but genderchanging elves? That is a bit of a no to me .
It's a small sidebar that takes up a quarter of a page. It's literally 0.09% of the book.
D&D is a game of fantasy and imagination where anything is possible. Everyone should be welcome. This is just a tiny bit signalling that everyone is welcome in D&D. They're so often excluded or forgotten, signalling that they're welcome is huge and necassary. Inclusion is important.

And to you it may be "politically correctness". To a LGBTQ+ individual... it's just life. It's not an agenda to them, it's who they are.
 

[MENTION=6872504]I can imagine all sorts of things and i am grown up enough to handle every scenario be it however explicit and twisted. But i am also convinced that D&D should not only be a game for all genders but also for a wide range of ages and people with ethics and moral which might be diverse from my own. What i try to say: a cursed belt of gender change is much fun at the table once in a while, a political agenda which is not suitable for every age category packed on one of the most noble fantasy races is not imho.
Why is it unsuitable for all ages?

Pretty much every single kid's movie has romance and kissing in it. So it's clearly acceptable to put non-explicit heterosexuality into content for children.
Why is it suddenly inappropriate to include equally chaste same-sex relationships? Or imply that there may be more than one gender or that gender is not a ridged category?

After all... these are things children might be struggling with, and need an outlet for. Young kids who are 12 or 13 and just starting puberty and are confused by their feelings, changing bodies, and whom they are attracted to can really use the safe outlet and place to experiment that is D&D. Where they can explore those aspects without stigma or social repercussion.
 

From my point of view, the Blessing of Corellon just opened the way for a great character backstory for Drow players. The random motivations tables for Drows all seem to give a ''Drizzt-like'' results, while this little part on the fact that a Drow with this blessing would be forced out of its city because its may trample the foundation of Drows society is really interesting.

May create a Bladedancer of Elistrae with Acolyte Sword Bard + Magic Initiate: Guidance/Resistance/Bless and the Blessing of Corellon

The headcanon for my AL drow ranger (that I've only played a couple times) is he's intersex/ transgender, and really liked drow society, having drunk the kool-aid for all the murder and horror, but was forced out when his nature was discovered. He killed a few drow in his escape and knows Lolth is going to be pissed at him when he inevitably dies. So his only hope is to learn to be good and earn a place in another afterlife to escape an eternity of torment from a pissed off demon-goddess.
 

The Big BZ

Explorer
@The Big BZ #57 Hm, now that you point it out, so you say those dwarves are greysexual with a jelly fetish and i just did not read the monstermanual that thoroughly up til now?

How about Drizzt? Would be that cool idea to let him Change gender also? Maybe he can trick soem Lolth Priestess that way?


I can imagine all sorts of things and i am grown up enough to handle every scenario be it however explicit and twisted. But i am also convinced that D&D should not only be a game for all genders but also for a wide range of ages and people with ethics and moral which might be diverse from my own. What i try to say: a cursed belt of gender change is much fun at the table once in a while, a political agenda which is not suitable for every age category packed on one of the most noble fantasy races is not imho.

I just find it curious how in a game about killing stuff, demons, devil cults and many many other crazy things you find Elves who have the audacity to change gender as not suitable for every age category? What in particular about changing gender after a long rest is worse than say, killing people and using their souls to fuel the birth of an undead god?
 

Coroc

Hero
[MENTION=37579]Jester David[/MENTION] and others
Oh my oh my, what did i start here. please do not imply that there are some IRL race Religion, sex, sexual orientation, or political agenda which i would like to downvalue in this forum. E.g. I, for my part love bisexual women, for several reasons, i will not go into detail further.

And yes [MENTION=37579]Jester David[/MENTION] might have a point in #64 that when the game reflects several aspects of modern human society it might really help kids in puberty who are unsure about who they are.

But let us rather discuss the game related aspects and possibilities of this, since i fear my old fashioned language might get me in trouble with the mods else.

In other words they printed it in this book, now lets find out what to do with it. I think i like [MENTION=6871653]vincegetorix[/MENTION] idea in #61 on this.
 

conclave27

First Post
I was sadly disappointed by "Mage's Tome of Foes". I found it to be rather generic and bland, was hoping it to be told from an Oerthean perspective but seemed all over the place. I was really disappointed with the whole demi-human section as older editions already been there done that...and an expert from Oerth I would think talk about the Olven society in the Flaness and in Ravilia on the western content? Now the esteemed "Mage" has done his fair share of planes hoping and would be familiar with Toril and the backwaters of Krynn. There are differences between the demihumans from all three planets.... but I digress.... it is supposed to be about the Tome of Foes... which does have a healthy chunk of monsters in... but felt like this was more of a "Official Conversion" of previous stuff... and some options. I felt the hype was very misleading..... it has been said that Mordenkainen did do a fair share of research into the Blood War.... but seems to have spat out what ever berk knows around Sigil. The Planescape supplement "Blood War".... goes into a great detail on all the players as it is not just Demons Vs Devils......

5E is great and all for what it is, but seriously....if you want real info 3E and 2E have tons of material on questions most people want to know. Anyone else feel that this product was not intended for vetrans, but a catch all of cutting board stuff for new players?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
edit: quote system quoted the wrong post somehow:

It’s also cheaper to get the whole book on dndbeyond, btw.

29.99, like all the supplements, or cheaper if you get it as part of the Legendary Bundle, or wait for Critical Role to give a new discount code from their DDB sponsorship.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I just find it curious how in a game about killing stuff, demons, devil cults and many many other crazy things you find Elves who have the audacity to change gender as not suitable for every age category? What in particular about changing gender after a long rest is worse than say, killing people and using their souls to fuel the birth of an undead god?
also why keep bringing up the idea of “twisted” and “mature” themes? The existence of trans people is neither.


Edit: this part was in response to jester’s post about his Drow ranger.

That is pretty great.

I just wish they'd not push backward (IMO) on Drow, with weird stuff like their souls dying when they die rather than reincarnating, and what seems like an implication that elven behavior and alignment is more informed by their gods than by themselves.

Also the weird changes to make the elf gods other than correlon into just old powerful elves, etc. or making correlon an indifferent absentee parent.

but the Blessing of Correlon is great, and your character is great.
 
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