Author Archives: Shane

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes Title

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes #80 – The Fetid Wedding / The City of Spiders

Burying the dead after the monstrous Juiblex battle, a visit to Gauntlgrym, and then it’s off to lovely Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders itself, for a ridiculously dangerous infiltration and retrieval mission sans expedition. Speaking of spiders, even low CR opponents can be dangerous to higher level parties in the right circumstances. Is it the final goodbye to Glabbagool, and regardless he brought… gifts? Who can cast a spell scroll? Scroll mishaps in 5E? Handling “called shots”. Limits of the Raise Dead spell. A player pulls the old switcharoo.

D&D 5e Encounter Sheet:
http://critgames.com/rpg/dnd-5e-encounter-sheet/

This is an ongoing series of Shane’s notes, thoughts and tips for running the D&D adventure Out of the Abyss, which is the tabletop portion of the Rage of Demons story line.

Each video follows the most recent session with his group.

shane plays podcast title 8-4-2018

Iron Man with Lennon Parker (the Arkansas Iron Man)! – Radio Show / Podcast Ep. 159

shane plays podcast title 8-4-2018Podcast version of the Shane Plays Geek Talk radio show from 8/4/2018:
Iron Man with Lennon Parker (the Arkansas Iron Man)!

Highlights:It’s all about Ol’ Shellhead, the Golden Avenger himself as guest Lennon Parker the Arkansas Iron Man talks his Iron Man charity cosplay and Guinness World Record level collecting!

Shane Plays airs on Saturdays at 1 PM Central on 101.1 FM The Answer in Little Rock. It can also be heard online at 1011fmtheanswer.com  and on the Tune In Radio app and iHeart Radio apps. Call in at 501-823-0965 or tweet @ShanePlays during the show!

Listen to the Shane Plays podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud & Stitcher (plus other fine podcast directories) after the live show.

Direct MP3 Download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/shaneplays/Shane_Plays_8-4-18_podcast.mp3

Listen Here via Embed:

SHOW NOTES

Arkansas RPG Con is August 11th!
Get your badge and sign up for games now!
http://arpgcon.com

Podcast zinger is from Iron Man Intro (1966)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjTIVaSnRR0

NEWS ITEMS

One ad libbed line in the first ‘Iron Man’ changed everything for Marvel | Mashable
https://mashable.com/2018/07/22/iron-man-robert-downey-jr-ad-lib/#ZcLMJ8_TIqq3

GUEST: LENNON PARKER AKA THE ARKANSAS IRON MAN

arkansas iron man lennon parker in costume

Lennon Parker, Iron Man charity cosplayer and collector from Arkansas.

Lennon is in the final process for being certified by Guinness World Records for largest personal Iron Man Collection.

Arkansas Iron Man on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/arkironman/

Arkansas Iron Man on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/arkironman/

The ARvengers
https://www.facebook.com/arkansasvengers/

happy boy and lennon parker arkansas iron man may 6 2017

lennon parker iron man collection


patreon logo in fieldLike what you hear?
Support Shane Plays Radio on Patreon!
https://www.patreon.com/shaneplays

KryptonRadio1Shane Plays is carried on Krypton Radio!
Krypton Radio is SciFi for your Wifi.
http://kryptonradio.com/

shane plays podcast title 7-28-2018

D&D / RPG News & Arkansas RPG Con! – Radio Show / Podcast Ep. 158

shane plays podcast title 7-28-2018Podcast version of the Shane Plays Geek Talk radio show from 7/28/2018:
D&D / RPG News & Arkansas RPG Con!

Highlights: D&D / RPG news and discussion. Plus! Arkansas RPG Con is coming on August 11th! Con Coordinator Carl Heyl (Save or Die podcast) and Jared Nielsen (World of Game Design) are Shane’s guests.

Shane Plays airs on Saturdays at 1 PM Central on 101.1 FM The Answer in Little Rock. It can also be heard online at 1011fmtheanswer.com  and on the Tune In Radio app and iHeart Radio apps. Call in at 501-823-0965 or tweet @ShanePlays during the show!

Listen to the Shane Plays podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud & Stitcher (plus other fine podcast directories) after the live show.

Direct MP3 Download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/shaneplays/Shane_Plays_7-28-18_podcast.mp3

Listen Here via Embed:

SHOW NOTES

Arkansas RPG Con is August 11th!
Get your badge and sign up for games now!
http://arpgcon.com

NEWS ITEMS

‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ Is Already Selling Tickets Like Crazy
http://comicbook.com/anime/2018/07/26/dragon-ball-super-broly-movie-ticket-sales-anime/

Broly Storms into Theaters in ‘Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan’ Re-Release in September
http://collider.com/broly-movie-tickets/

Board games giant Asmodee finds buyer, likely to be sold | PC Gamer
https://www.pcgamer.com/board-games-giant-asmodee-finds-buyer-likely-to-be-sold/

Star Wars RPG 30th Anniversary Edition Unboxing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGyxlujgPFg

Founders & Legends Day Celebrates ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ for Charity | comicbook.com
http://comicbook.com/gaming/2018/07/13/dungeons-and-dragons-founders-and-legends-streaming-event/

Play D&D in the Magic: The Gathering World of Ravnica This November & Delve into an Updated Eberron Now
http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/news/new-worlds

Troll Lord Games The Players Guide to Aihrde for 5th Edition Kickstarter
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/5th-edition-players-guide-to-aihrde?ref=hqnv5w

The Expanse Roleplaying Game Kickstarter
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1780208966/the-expanse-roleplaying-game

Dungeons & Dragons is having its best year ever, Hasbro CEO says | CNBC
(plus D&D e-sports???)
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/23/hasbro-ceo-dungeons–dragons-is-having-its-best-year-ever.html

Your Best Game Ever! book Kickstarter by Monte Cook Games
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/montecookgames/your-best-game-ever

THE FANTASY TRIP – Old-School Roleplaying! Kickstarter by Steve Jackson Games
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sjgames/the-fantasy-trip-old-school-roleplaying

‘Adventure Zone’ Graphic Novel Tops New York Times’ Trade Fiction Best-Seller List | The Hollywood Reporter
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/adventure-zone-graphic-novel-tops-new-york-times-trade-fiction-bestseller-list-1130198

d&d memes such simple tools


patreon logo in fieldLike what you hear?
Support Shane Plays Radio on Patreon!
https://www.patreon.com/shaneplays

KryptonRadio1Shane Plays is carried on Krypton Radio!
Krypton Radio is SciFi for your Wifi.
http://kryptonradio.com/

star wars RPG 30th anniversary unboxing thumb

Star Wars RPG 30th Anniversary Edition Unboxing & Discussion

Shane has the Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game 30th Anniversary Edition in his hot little hands and he can’t wait to get it open and take a look. This represents both the original Star Wars RPG and gaming history… does it live up to the legacy? Let’s punch it and find out!

From Fantasy Flight Games: Few books or games have had as enduring an impact upon the Star Wars galaxy and its fans as Star Wars™: The Roleplaying Game. Originally published by West End Games in 1987, it arrived at a time when the future of the Star Wars galaxy was uncertain, and it captivated a whole generation of gamers with rules and guidelines that made it possible to design and enjoy adventures truly worthy of the Star Wars universe and its ongoing space opera.

Now Fantasy Flight Games is proud to offer faithful recreations of this influential rulebook and The Star Wars™ Sourcebook. Our Star Wars™: The Roleplaying Game 30th Anniversary Edition is a limited edition set of both books, printed with higher quality than the originals and packaged in a stylized slipcase.

These books were sent to Timothy Zahn as references when he started to develop Grand Admiral Thrawn and his Thrawn trilogy. They introduced materials that were later adopted into Star Wars canon, such as the names of alien races like the Twi’lek, Rodians, and Quarren. They even inspired members of the Lucasfilm Story Group as they worked on their writers’ bible.

shane plays podcast title 7-21-2018

Hero-U with Corey Cole, Lori Cole & Matt Barton! – Radio Show / Podcast Ep. 157

shane plays podcast title 7-21-2018Podcast version of the Shane Plays Geek Talk radio show from 7/21/2018:
Hero-U with Corey Cole, Lori Cole & Matt Barton!

Highlights: Longtime husband and wife game dev team Corey & Lori Cole (of Quest for Glory fame) join to talk their newly released adventure RPG game Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption! Special guest: Matt Barton of Matt Chat! p.s. Matt may have a surprise announcement.

Shane Plays airs on Saturdays at 1 PM Central on 101.1 FM The Answer in Little Rock. It can also be heard online at 1011fmtheanswer.com  and on the Tune In Radio app and iHeart Radio apps. Call in at 501-823-0965 or tweet @ShanePlays during the show!

Listen to the Shane Plays podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud & Stitcher (plus other fine podcast directories) after the live show.

Direct MP3 Download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/shaneplays/Shane_Plays_7-21-18_podcast.mp3

Listen Here via Embed:

SHOW NOTES

Red Rooster: Golden Age
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/red-rooster-golden-age-books-fantasy/x/19012395#/

Trump’s Space Force
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trump-s-space-force-adventure/x/19012395#/

Shane Plays sponsor Arkansas RPG Con 2018 (August 11th) badge sales are now open. Vendor and Sponsorship options also open. Go to http://ARPGCON.COM for more info and make sure to follow Arkansas RPG Con on Facebook.

From Jake Tapper @jaketapper on Twitter:
Tia Coleman and 10 family members were on the duck boat when it capsized. Tia and her nephew were the only survivors from her family.
Verified gofundme to help Tia and her family lay nine family members to rest; funds will go directly to Tia:
https://www.gofundme.com/branson-duck-boat-survivor

Podcast zinger is from Matt Chat 408: Ultima in The Silver Age
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnJUw8meFXA

NEWS ITEMS

Microsoft is giving Dragon Ball Z, Season 1 streaming away for free for a few days
(Microsoft Store online)

17 year old Brady wants to go to Comic Con
https://www.gofundme.com/get-me-to-baltimore-comic-con

SPECIAL THANKS to game historian and YouTube show host Matt Barton of Matt Chat for his time!
Find Matt Chat on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/blacklily8

GUEST: COREY & LORI COLE

corey and lori cole drawn as wizards

Hero-U is a turn-based PC RPG with adventure game puzzles and immersive story, by the award-winning designers of Quest for Glory.

A Fireside chat with Lori & Corey Cole:
http://www.hero-u.net/lori—corey-cole-q-a.html

Hero-U website:
http://www.hero-u.net/index.html

Buy Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption:
http://www.hero-u.com/

hero-u rogue to redemption box cover art


patreon logo in fieldLike what you hear?
Support Shane Plays Radio on Patreon!
https://www.patreon.com/shaneplays

KryptonRadio1Shane Plays is carried on Krypton Radio!
Krypton Radio is SciFi for your Wifi.
http://kryptonradio.com/

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes Title

D&D Out of the Abyss Notes #79 – The Fetid Wedding

Gee, those plants sure look like otyughs that want to eat our faces, don’t they. When is astral travel not astral travel? Large scale, amateur fungal brain surgery for fun and profit. Zuggtmoy and Juiblex battle for the right to Araumycos. One of them’s going down and the adventurers just might be next… this is a major scene in the campaign! Psychic winds. Spell targeting. The final fate of the flying snake! It’s OK (and sometimes even preferable) to be spontaneous as a DM and not be prepared for every little thing. Hey, where’d that abacus come from??? And that tie???

This is an ongoing series of Shane’s notes, thoughts and tips for running the D&D adventure Out of the Abyss, which is the tabletop portion of the Rage of Demons story line.

Each video follows the most recent session with his group.

shane plays podcast title 7-14-2018

The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Tabletop Games! – Radio Show / Podcast Ep. 156

shane plays podcast title 7-14-2018Podcast version of the Shane Plays Geek Talk radio show from 7/14/2018:
The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Tabletop Games!

Highlights: Carrie Wood & Richard Ankney, authors of The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Tabletop Games! Plus RPG news and Red Rooster, Black Hops and Trump’s Space Force comic book updates!

Shane Plays airs on Saturdays at 1 PM Central on 101.1 FM The Answer in Little Rock. It can also be heard online at 1011fmtheanswer.com  and on the Tune In Radio app and iHeart Radio apps. Call in at 501-823-0965 or tweet @ShanePlays during the show!

Listen to the Shane Plays podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud & Stitcher (plus other fine podcast directories) after the live show.

Direct MP3 Download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/shaneplays/Shane_Plays_7-14-18_podcast.mp3

Listen Here via Embed:

SHOW NOTES

Red Rooster: Golden Age
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/red-rooster-golden-age-books-fantasy/x/19012395#/

Trump’s Space Force
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trump-s-space-force-adventure/x/19012395#/

Shane Plays sponsor Arkansas RPG Con 2018 (August 11th) badge sales are now open. Vendor and Sponsorship options also open. Go to http://ARPGCON.COM for more info and make sure to follow Arkansas RPG Con on Facebook.

Podcast zinger is from Monopoly Commercial – Circa 1981
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loX9RMJjjpc

NEWS ITEMS

Joaquin Phoenix Confirmed As Joker In Origin Movie | Unilad
https://www.unilad.co.uk/film/joaquin-phoenix-confirmed-as-joker-in-origin-movie/

‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Teases Eberron as Upcoming 5th Edition Campaign Setting | comicbook.com
http://comicbook.com/gaming/2018/07/10/dungeons-and-dragons-eberron-5th-edition/

The Witcher Tabletop Roleplaying Game will be released really soon | Eurogamer
https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-07-12-the-witcher-tabletop-roleplaying-game-will-be-released-really-soon

Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game 30th Anniversary Edition
https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/star-wars-the-roleplaying-game-30th-anniversary-edition/

GUEST: THE OVERSTREET GUIDE TO COLLECTING TABLETOP GAMES

The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Tabletop Games
by Carrie Wood & Richard Ankney

Tabletop gaming of all kinds is bigger than ever, and Gemstone Publishing’s latest “how to” book is here to provide an in-depth look at this booming hobby. The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Tabletop Games takes a look at tabletop games of all kinds, from pen-and-paper role-playing experiences to collectible card games, from modules to miniatures, and everything in between. This guide includes the history of tabletop adventures and other board games as well as a look at what makes them so collectible, plus interviews with veteran industry pros and seasoned collectors alike. From the publishers of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.

overstreet guide to collecting tabletop games cover


patreon logo in fieldLike what you hear?
Support Shane Plays Radio on Patreon!
https://www.patreon.com/shaneplays

KryptonRadio1Shane Plays is carried on Krypton Radio!
Krypton Radio is SciFi for your Wifi.
http://kryptonradio.com/

New Challengers 1 Comic Book Review

New Challengers #1 – DC’s The New Age of Heroes: Comic Book Review [Spoilers]

Does New Challengers #1 from DC’s New Age of Heroes challenge us in a good way, or challenge us to toss it away? Are these four (five?) brand new adventurers, or are they familiar Challengers faces from the past? And what’s up with the Prof??? We’ll go ahead and tell you the villain isn’t Hush, but he sure looks like it. Watch Shane’s review for the full scoop! Plus some Challengers of the Unknown history (and what is their connection to the Fantastic Four)?
[SPOILERS]

steve ditko shane plays podcast title 7-7-2018

Steve Ditko! – Radio Show / Podcast Ep. 155

steve ditko shane plays podcast title 7-7-2018Podcast version of the Shane Plays Geek Talk radio show from 7/7/2018:
Steve Ditko!

Highlights: Tribute to Steve Ditko, without whom Marvel Comics (and mainstream comics) would literally NOT be the same. Also: Shane’s take on Batman #50 (“The Wedding) and Bendis’s Man of Steel miniseries, plus Red Rooster, Black Hops and Space Force comic book updates with Mitch Breitweiser, Mark Pellegrini and Timothy Lim!

Shane Plays airs on Saturdays at 1 PM Central on 101.1 FM The Answer in Little Rock. It can also be heard online at 1011fmtheanswer.com  and on the Tune In Radio app and iHeart Radio apps. Call in at 501-823-0965 or tweet @ShanePlays during the show!

Listen to the Shane Plays podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, SoundCloud & Stitcher (plus other fine podcast directories) after the live show.

Direct MP3 Download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/shaneplays/Shane_Plays_7-7-18_podcast.mp3

Listen Here via Embed:

SHOW NOTES

Red Rooster: Golden Age
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/red-rooster-golden-age-books-fantasy/x/19012395#/

Shane Plays sponsor Arkansas RPG Con 2018 (August 11th) badge sales are now open. Vendor and Sponsorship options also open. Go to http://ARPGCON.COM for more info and make sure to follow Arkansas RPG Con on Facebook.

Podcast zinger is from ALAN MOORE – talks about Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iFV1H

NEWS ITEMS

Spider-Man and Doctor Strange Co-Creator Steve Ditko Dead at 90 | comicbook.com
http://comicbook.com/marvel/amp/2018/07/06/steve-ditko-dies-spider-man-doctor-strange-co-creator-marvel-comics/

Steve Ditko, Spider-Man Co-Creator and Legendary Comics Artist, Dies at 90 | The Hollywood Reporter
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/steve-ditko-dead-spider-man-creator-was-90-1125489

MARVEL MOURNS THE LOSS OF STEVE DITKO
https://news.marvel.com/comics/90787/marvel-mourns-the-loss-of-steve-ditko/

Steve Ditko on Collecting His Mr. A Comics in a Trade Paperback | Bleeding Cool
https://www.bleedingcool.com/2018/03/15/steve-ditko-comics-mr-trade/

Ditko Works in Print (in partnership with Robin Snyder)
http://ditko.blogspot.com/p/ditko-book-in-print.html

steve ditko sinister six amazing spider man annual 1

Mr. A Steve Ditko


patreon logo in fieldLike what you hear?
Support Shane Plays Radio on Patreon!
https://www.patreon.com/shaneplays

KryptonRadio1Shane Plays is carried on Krypton Radio!
Krypton Radio is SciFi for your Wifi.
http://kryptonradio.com/

d&d mordenkainens tome of foes partial cover art with text

D&D Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes Review

d&d mordenkainens tome of foes full standard cover wraparound

Be it multiversal lore book or monster manual… or both?!?

The tagline on the front cover of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes says discover the truth about the great conflicts of the D&D multiverse in this supplement for the world’s greatest roleplaying game but that only tells half the story of what the latest book from D&D is.

Yes, it’s a lore book that covers (among other topics) the eternal war between devils and demons, the enmity between dwarves and their underground duergar brethren, and the battles between Gith kinds, told from the perspective of that famous Greyhawk wizard turned multiversal tourist, Mordenkainen*.

*Mordenkainen was actually Dungeon & Dragon’s co-creator Gary Gygax’s character, if you didn’t know

d&d mordenkainens tome of foes disclaimer
It’s also essentially half of a monster manual, much like Volo’s Guide to Monsters is. I suppose if you own both books you’ve actually got the D&D 5E version of Monster Manual II.

You can watch the video review or read the blog version below. Don’t forget the image gallery at the end of this post!

Let’s take a deeper look into the Tome, shall we?

The numbers:

  • Cover Price: $49.95
  • 256 pages
  • 6 chapters
  • 12 new playable subrace options
  • 4 new playable races (for 5E, anyway)
  • 140 monster stat blocks
  • 36 creatures CR 15 or higher
  • 1 Astral Dreadnaught (change of underwear not included)
  • 1 appendix

The lore takes up just under half of Mordenkainen’s, spanning a wide variety of subjects in the following chapters:

  • The Blood War
  • Elves
  • Dwarves and Duergar
  • Gith and Their Endless War
  • Halflings and Gnomes
  • Bestiary

The Blood War

Learn possibly more than you wanted to know (for your peace of mind) about the eternal war between the demons of the Abyss and the devils of the Nine Hells, including major personalities involved, related cults, plus demon and devil customization tables.

d&d mordenkainens tome of foes devils text box

There are also nine teifling subraces introduced for players, one for each of the nine devil lords.

Elves

Mordenkainen’s brings us rich lore on surface elves plus their cousins in the Underdark, the Feywild and the Shadowfell.

This chapter’s topics include (but are not limited to) their cosmic and material history, deities, phases of aging from childhood to elderhood, and their culture(s) and outlook on life. 

The Tome introduces three new elf subraces are introduced: Eladrin (feywild natives), Sea elf and Shadar-kai (Shadowfell natives). There are also tables for generating random details for a PC or NPC elf.

Although it caused a minor controversy when first announced, the elven blessing of Correlon isn’t heavy-handed in the way its presented, yet it also seems obvious this is a supportive statement on gender issues as it is described as a “miracle” rather than an ability (the current D&D team has not been bashful in it’s support of said issues). I only touch on this because it was the subject of some discussion before the book released.

Dwarves and Duergar

Ah, the dwarves. Those short, stubborn mountain delving-addicted fellows and their underground gray brethren the duergar. What can be said about them and their ongoing conflict in 5E that hasn’t already been said? Oh, look, it’s all right here in Mordenkainen’s. 

In this chapter you’ll find the deep roots of the war (see what they did there?), plus cultural and religious info on dwarves and duergar and their clannish societies. There’s also a nice section on dwarves of the multiverse (Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance). It’s interesting and somewhat odd that there isn’t a similar section in the book for elves and gnomes, yet there is for halflings. An editorial oversight?

d&d mordenkainens tome of foes dwarf and duergar hammers and shields

Alike, yet different

Duergar (described as a “dark mirror” of dwarven clans) also receive 5E love with rules on making duergar characters, complete with the requisite (and let’s be honest, beloved by many) random tables to help flesh one out.

Gith and Their Endless War

In addition to the The Blood War chapter, my guess is this section will be of the most interest to longtime D&D players eager for official 5E information on those extraplanar races the githzerai and the githyanki.

Both races were first introduced in 1981’s Fiend Folio with the githyanki actually making the cover (flabby elbows and all, eww). Since then, the Gith have had a definite fan base within the world of D&D over multiple editions.

AD&D Fiend Folio 1st Edition

Seriously, bro, those elbows

This chapter gives a history of their conflict in addition cultural info on both Gith factions, and introduces the both the githyanki and githzerai as playable races for in 5E, complete with random tables for names, personality traits, ideals, bonds and flaws. 

Halflings and Gnomes

There’s no dramatic, ongoing conflict between halflings and gnomes but by goodness they get a chapter, too! Describing their generally low key nature as survival trait in the greater dangerous multiverse, Mordenkainen’s also provides personality, cultural and religious info on both subraces. Wait, they’re shorter than average so is that sub-subraces? I digress.

Halflings also receive a “Halflings of the Multiverse” section much like dwarves, and Dark Sun (!) is also mentioned plus some random tables for character customization.

d&d mordenkainens tome of foes gnome tinkerer

“Eureka! Also: ow.”

Guidance is offered for deep gnome characters (including a new feat for deep gnomes), and gnomes in general get some random character creation tables.

The Beasties 

The Bestiary (monster stats and info) makes up over half of the book (in fact there are 140 monsters stat blocks… I counted!). While not all of them are new to D&D in general, I believe all of the monsters listed here are new to Fifth Edition with the exception of the demon lords, who appeared in the Out of the Abyss campaign book.

Given the focus of Mordenkainen’s, the monsters listed here tend to be exotic at best and downright brain-twisting or diabolical (or both!) at worst. Various drow, duergar and derro are the more mundane listings, with plenty of aberrations, demons, devils, monstrosities and more to wreak havoc on your peace of mind, and your players’…

d&d mordenkainens tome of foes oblex

The oblex (hint: not your friend)

As a DM, I like having monster stats like these because many of my players are D&D veterans from several editions back. As soon as I drop a monster on them, they immediately beginning searching their internal memory database to see if they know what it is and what strengths and weaknesses it has. They’re not exactly metagaming (usually!), it’s just human nature. 

Yet with more unusual monsters like these I’ve got a better chance of truly surprising them, truly challenging them, and truly creating that unsettling sense of uh oh, what the heck is THIS thing and do we stand or run?

When I talked with Jeremy Crawford and Kate Welch about Mordenkainen’s stat blocks, they said they wanted to make sure to provide higher CR monsters to give DMs and players a resource for higher level adventures. That’s not empty talk: Out of 140 total stat blocks, there are 68 creatures CR 10 or higher, 34 CR 15 or higher, 20 CR 20 or higher, and 4 CR 25 or higher! So tell your parties to bring their A game and pack a lunch, these baddies aren’t going down easy.

d&d mordenkainens tome of foes zariel

Zariel: the perfect challenge for your level 1 party of brand new players!

The book includes a helpful appendix in the back with the lists of monsters broken down in different ways including type, challenge rating and environment. Very handy, but I’d still like a complete book index (see below).

Final Thoughts

This is a nice book, both in presentation and in usefulness. It seems especially applicable to DMs and groups looking to add something diabolical or exotic to their games yet there is enough lore on more mundane subjects for it to have some application for just about everyone.

It’s another somewhat risky release on behalf of the D&D team in that it defies easy categorization. Is it a lore book? Is it a monster manual? Is it about demons and devils, or is it about elves and halflings and dwarves? The end result could easily have been confusing and unfocused but the risk paid off and Mordenkainen’s covers a lot of ground in a well defined way while managing to be both a lore resource and monster manual lite all in one package. Although I buy each new D&D release for review purposes, as a DM I’m glad to have this in my box of tools.

Like with other D&D 5E books, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes looks great from the cover and interior art and overall layout and design. Whatever the D&D team has done to get that part of their production process cooking, they definitely need to let those chefs stay in the kitchen. 

d&d mordenkainen's tome of foes standard and premium covers

Both the standard and premium covers are well done, even Mordenkainen grudgingly says so

My main continuing gripe with the D&D 5E releases does indeed continue here: still no index. Aaaaargh! Since when have indexes for a resource / reference book fallen out of favor? Well, okay, there’s sort of an index at the beginning. But it’s not a subject index, just an index of monster listings. Look, this isn’t a PDF or some other electronic version I can hit CTRL-F and search instantly. It’s a real, hardcover reference book that has a real, hardcover reference book price. Give me an index!

Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes: Should You Buy It?

Here’s my standard approach: Given the different types of RPG gamer (even within the fairly closed system of D&D), the current needs of any given DM or player, and the subject of a book itself I tend not to give an up or down recommendation.

At the risk of being obvious, I’ll also point out this is not a core rule book and not required to play D&D.

With that said:

If you are hungry for more lore in general to enrich your D&D 5E experience, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is absolutely for you.

If you are particularly interested in one or more of the lore sections (demons, devils, elves, dwarves, gith, halflings, etc.) this book could very well be for you but keep in mind it’s not dedicated to just one subject. Although the chapters are fairly in-depth and comprehensive, it’s still limited to one chapter per category. Depending on your individual wants, it might  be like like buying a blister pack of several action figures to get just one or two you want.

If you want more Sword Coast and/or Forgotten Realms lore, Mordenkainen’s probably isn’t for you. Although many of the of the subjects, races and monsters can be encountered in or are an essential part of Faerûn, this is a multiversal source book that applies to many settings and planes.

If you want more official yet unusual monster stat blacks to surprise and challenge your players with (or to study voraciously if you’re a player), Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is absolutely for you. 

If you want more “regular” monsters that fit in well with generic high fantasy D&D setting or the current default of the Forgotten Realms, this might not be the book for you. The stat blocks are cool, yet as already mentioned they lean towards the diabolical and/or exotic and just plain strange not to mention higher level in many cases.

If you’re a completionist who makes sure to get a copy of every official D&D book release, then great googly mooglies what do you need my review for? Go get your copy if you haven’t already! 


Thanks for your time, and enjoy the image gallery below!