Dungeons & Dragons has been creating all kinds of amazing content recently. Sourcebooks filled all about dragons, and adventure through the world of Exandria, and now for a twist, the latest book doesn't contain new content, but instead an update of previously available content including player races and monsters. Mordenkainen Presents Monsters of the Multiverse collects all of this previously available information together in a single place, just how big are these changes?
From Aarakocra to Yuan-ti there are thirty different player races included in Monsters of the Multiverse. Interestingly enough none of these races are from the Player Handbook, the lion's share of these player races were ones that appeared in the Elemental Evil Player's Companion and Volo's Guide to Monsters with a few more scattered from other sources. If you are new to the game or haven't purchased many of the currently available 45+ Sourcebooks and Adventures then the obvious benefit here is that the Monsters of the Multiverse is a fast way to improve the stable of character races that you have at your disposal. As D&D is becoming more popular this book allows you to feel "caught up" in you're interested in stepping into D&D without the need to go back and purchase them all.
Choose Your Character in Monsters of the Multiverse
Each of the races in the Monsters of the Multiverse has had a large number of changes made to them. Some could be as small as changing a racial spellcasting modifier from the specific Charisma, to the player's choice of Charisma, Wisdom, or Intelligence. Other changes, like those for the Kobold, are a fair bit more drastic like losing Pack Tactics and Sunlight Sensitivity and getting an option of three Kobold Ancestry traits. If you're playing in a campaign, or are running a campaign, it's definitely worth taking a look to see if there's anything new. A lot of the abilities included serve to further differentiate the races from one another and what abilities they gain, while also keeping them flexible to fit with any class you might choose to play. These kinds of small changes don't just make the classes more appealing to play, but also give them better compatibility across classes taking steps away from optimal class/race pairings.
One of the major things that you'll notice picking up this book is that a lot of the greater context about a race and its history in the world is no longer included, what was previously almost a page worth of information teaching you about a race's place in the world is now a brief paragraph. It's been explained that this is a decision to allow readers to approach any of the races without preconceived notions, or feel that if they want their character to be from a certain place, or act a certain way they don't need to jump through hoops to justify why that would be possible.
Reading through the player choices and not seeing this information definitely, has me feeling conflicted. It's a good thing that those who may be feeling restricted by a canonical origin or place for a race now might feel freer to explore and create a more unique character in their game, but for those getting into the game, those kinds of training wheels might be exactly what they need to work to a blueprint before they go off and create more unique characters in the future. The removal of this information also doesn't hinder the idea of a character when it's known races like Goblins or Fairys, but when you start talking to a player about the many flavors of Genasi or other uncommon races this might lead to choice paralysis. For the time being this is less likely, as the background for these races is available in other literature and can be found if needed, but for races going forward interpretations of races will likely become less and less synched up across experiences at different tables. It really will come down to how much you like the framework provided to you by Wizards of the Coast whether you do or don't like the exclusion of this extra information.
Quality of Life Changes For Each Monsters of the Multiverse
For the DM that might not be looking at what players they might run, but instead what monsters they might want to throw at their parties these monsters may not be new, but much like the player races, they've got plenty of quality of life updates.
Monster stat blocks are now organized according to action economy. Actions, Bonus Actions, and Reactions are all clearly separated from one another. This allows for a quick glance to understand all of the options available to DMs, even with an unfamiliar stat block. If a monster feature has to do with a bonus action this does mean that they're split, that could lead to slight confusion but the knowledge of a Bonus Action being possible is much more important than losing it among the text. An example of this is the Corpse Flower, now the properties of the Corpses within it are listed first, but the options of what to do with the corpses is now listed at the end of the stat block under "Bonus Action.
The biggest consistent change you'll see is in the spellcasting monsters. These will no longer have a full spell spread listing of what spells they know at what level, and how many spell slots they have at each level. Instead, there's a list of what spells they know and how often they can cast each per day. While it can seem like a minor change it's the efficiency of being able to pick up any new stat block and hit the ground running that DMs will enjoy. Some of these spells have even been turned into new features of the monster. One of the best new monsters to show these changes off is the War Priest. This CR 9 monster can still deal out serious damage and turn around and heal itself back up. The changes, while small for many, are all about getting the table into the action, spending less time deciding what the monster is doing, and being able to keep track of what they can do easier. This new layout is one that is long overdue, especially in relation to monsters with spells.
What Are Our Final Thoughts On Mordenkainen Presents Monsters of the Multiverse?
There's a lot that Monsters of the Multiverse does very well to update the features of Player Races and stat blocks of monsters that have been around for almost as long as D&D 5e. While so many of these different chunks of information have been found across a number of books the collection of them together in one place does an excellent job of creating a true 'sequel' to the Player's Handbook. Each of the updates to the monsters is somewhat minor but allows them to continue to be relevant not only in their source material but also sets them up to be balanced and ready for the upcoming next stage of Dungeons & Dragons. Now is the perfect time for Wizards of the Coast to take all of their scattered papers from around their desk and shuffle them together into one great compendium.
Should I Buy Mordenkainen Presents Monsters of the Multiverse?
The changes improve the monster's quality of life or add a bit of a refreshed view of the Races but the core of the content remains the same. There were even stat blocks I came across where the only change was the ordering of abilities. This book is not for you if you already have an expansive 5e library. Who this book does seem to be targeted at instead is the new player, the player who wants to most efficiently have the information on how to build a character from nothing, or fill their games with fun and unique monsters. While you might not find your next adventure between the covers of Monsters of the Multiverse it will allow for incredible expansion for whatever game you're already running.
The products used in the creation of this review were purchased by the reviewer