Whether you fancy the watchful eye of the Beholder Xanathar, or the manipulative mage Mordenkainen, these two D&D’s supplements can radically change your perception of the multiverse.
With Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, players and DMs both find themselves presented with hundreds of new character options and updated mechanic options. With Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, a history of the multiverse is combined with piles of new racial features and monster stat blogs. Together, they merge into an epic melting pot which creates a whole new sense of the multiverse.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Join the Beholder Xanathar in his extensive research of the multiverse. With Xanathar’s guidance, the limits of character creation are opened immensely. Xan’s research also includes new DM options and tools to keep your games fresh.
Character options make up the first section of the book. There are new tables for character creation details as well as new subclasses. New racial feats are also introduced.
The majority of Xanathar’s is oriented around providing new options for DMs. There are entirely too many specifics to discuss, so I’ll sum up of the most interesting features. Don’t mistake me, though. There are many, many great tools in this book which I just cannot cover in this post.
For the record, not every single player in your group needs a copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Most groups can get by with only the DM having this book, but most players will also benefit from having a copy, especially if the DM doesn’t have one.
Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
Mordenkainen is a Wizard of astounding skill. He is responsible for the spells Mordekainen’s Faithful Hound, -Magnificent Mansion, -Private Sanctum, and -Sword. What most adventurers don’t know is that he is a manipulator of great battles and struggles in the cosmos. He seeks to control these great struggles, keeping them in constant stalemate, lest any power grow too strong for his purposes. In Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, we get a history of these epic battles, new races, and new monster blocks.
The Blood War—Devils or Demons?
The Abyss and its demons face off with the devils of the Nine Hells in an endless war which overruns the River Styx flowing between them. The first section of this book details this war, its generals, and how devils and demons fight for domination. It also covers individual demons and devils, helping you visualize the epic battles and how your characters might fit into the narrative.
This is a battle in which Mordenkainen’s “Balance” comes into play a lot. He keeps one hand on each scale, so to speak, to keep things from getting out of hand.
Players might be tempted to join cults, sign pacts, or even mate with a devil or demon. These acts might grant you powerful allies, newfound powers, or even a tiefling child of your own making. But mortals beware: selling your soul is a damning act which sets you forever apart from civilization.
Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes has two major components for DMs. The first is the enormous (hi)story section detailed above, which includes over 100 pages of world inspiration for your campaigns. The second component is the bestiary.
Players, skip this section. You’d rather be surprised with this stuff, trust me.
I’ll note that for any given player, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes will change your options such that it’s nearly a necessity. If one generous player is willing to share, that might be good enough for your group. It isn’t for ours, though. We rely heavily on having multiple points of access for this content because the demand is too high otherwise.
For all DMs, players, or purveyors of fantasy lore, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes are essential additions to the collection. If you only own two books beyond the essentials (Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Master’s Guide), these are the two you need. They can completely transform your play experience and breath new life to stagnant or boring campaigns. If you only want one of them, I suggest players pick up a copy of Xanathar’s, and DMs buy Mordenkainen’s. But feel free to read more reviews to decide, as each book opens possibilities for everyone at the table.