Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes for DnD 5e – Summary and Review

Last Updated on February 1, 2023

If you’re a fan of Dungeons and Dragons, you probably enjoy all of the exciting, diverse species that make up the worlds you can explore. It’s not just the fact that these creatures exist that draws us in; it’s the fact that they all have some sort of relation to each other. Not a single inhabitant of the Forgotten Realms, or realms beyond it, exist in a vacuum.

If those relationships, the ancient feuds, mysterious origins, and strange synergies, all excite you, then Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is the book for you. Of course, we can dive more into the actual contents of this book so you can decide for yourself if it’s worth the money.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is a collection of creature descriptions and stat blocks coupled with some incredible lore.
  • The book is full of creatures with interesting and exciting abilities.
  • “Mordenkainen” provides some genuinely great insight into the behavior of many creatures, even those that don’t get full sections in the first five chapters of the book.

Warning: Is Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes Discontinued?

Before we jump into an actual review and discussion of this book, it’s important to note that it is now “legacy content.” While almost all of the creatures in it are still part of D&D lore, the book itself does not technically represent the most up-to-date version of 5e’s rules.

The question you might have is “What is legacy content?” Well, legacy content just means that the book isn’t aligned with the most recent printing of 5e rulings. 

Normally, changes to D&D rules are handled in one of two ways. Either small fixes and clarifications are made through errata or larger overhauls wait until a new edition comes out.

The printing of a later book, Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, went against this tradition. This new Mordenkainen book was meant to replace both Tome of Foes and Volo’s Guide to Monsters, another excellent collection of creatures.

What does this mean for you? Essentially, nothing. There have been no grand overhauls to 5e’s rules. According to WotC, MotM replaces MToF and VGtM. In reality, it’s a bland reprinting of both books. It tries to consolidate information and instead ends up missing out on key features. 

I mean, there aren’t even that many actual changes to stat blocks, which is the main reason anyone buys these books in the first place.

What Is Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes?

Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, much like Volo’s Guide to Monsters and the Monster Manual before it, is a compendium of creatures for use in your Fifth Edition D&D games. In addition to just stat blocks and descriptions, it also provides about 100 pages of deep insight into the nature of several different common groups of creatures in D&D lore.

In D&D, we refer to a few different types of products whenever we’re talking about official WotC literature or third-party literature. There are the core rulebooks (DMG, PHB, MM) and then there are supplementary rulebooks, campaign setting books, and adventure guides.

Of these main categories, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is a supplementary rulebook. It’s by no means necessary or essential to start playing. Instead, it’s meant to provide additional rule options for groups that want to add more to their campaigns.

What’s in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes?

Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is broken up into two main sections: a discussion of various species in the Forgotten Realms and a bestiary. While most people probably purchase this book for the creature options it presents, there is a lot of value to be found in the hundred or so pages devoted to actual insight.

The chapters in this book are as follows:

  1. The Blood War – A discussion of demons and devils, the relationship between them, their collective relation to other planes, and customization options for such creatures.
  2. Elves – A deep dive into the history of Elves, their various places in the world, Elven gods, and how the various subraces relate to one another.
  3. Dwarves and Duergar – This chapter describes the history of dwarves, the differences between Duergar and other dwarven subraces, and random tables for using dwarves in an adventure or campaign.
  4. Gith and Their Endless War – The Gith are a complicated race that most newcomers to D&D may be unfamiliar with. This chapter dives into the history of the now-separate species of Gith, Githyanki and Githzerai.
  5. Halflings and Gnomes – A lighthearted end to the lore discussion focuses on the small folk of the Forgotten Realms: halflings and gnomes. 
  6. Bestiary – This section is an alphabetical collection of creatures, many of which fit into the subcategories discussed in the first five chapters.

Scattered throughout the first five chapters are some player character options:

  • Tiefling Subraces
  • Elf Subraces
  • Duergar
  • Githyanki and Githzerai
  • Deep Gnomes

Is Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes Worth Buying?

If you’ve been playing D&D for some time and are looking for some more creatures to add to the mix along with some great insight into the creatures you already know about, you should definitely consider purchasing Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.

While it may technically be legacy content, no one is going to show up to your house and throw you into jail for not using the most up-to-date content put out by Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast. As it stands, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and Volo’s Guide to Monsters are of far better value than Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse.

Be sure to check out our full guide to 5e books here.

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