Mordenkainen Updated Some Monsters

The new latest supplement for Dungeons and Dragons 5e, Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse (MPMM) reprints a large number of creatures from Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. My review of stat blocks is underway. I want to know how the changes will effect combat. Look for that work in progress on the DungeonSports Blog. On the way through, the streamlining of stat blocks caught my eye. Below you’ll see some of the changes I’ve found, and my impression of why they happened.

A blue abishai, first printed in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, and reprinted in Mordenkainen Presents.
Mordenkainen, why you take away my quarterstaff?

The first monster I noticed big changes in was the blue abishai. The editors removed all of the abishai’s lightning spells from the spell list. They added an attack action, a ranged spell attack that deals lightning damage, to replace those spells. The overall effect was to clarify the stat block and simplify the use of the creature in combat.

I’ve noticed this repeated over a large number of stat blocks now. The trait of Innate Spellcasting in all the stat blocks I’ve reviewed so far has been converted into an action of Spellcasting. Typically, the new version of the block has significantly fewer spells. In particular, spells with attack rolls have been removed, and the Spellcasting action doesn’t list the attack modifier for spells. As I mentioned above, on some blocks the spells are replaced with special attack actions. For instance, bheur hags previously had ray of frost. In the reprinting, the hag has a new attack action, Frost Shard. This ranged spell attack reduces the target’s movement speed like ray of frost, and deals more damage.

Actions Go Where They Belong

Another common change is the moving of traits that take an action bonus action out of the top of the stat block and under the appropriate subheading. For example, the berbalang has the Spectral Duplicate trait in MTF. This has been moved down under the Bonus Action heading in the MPMM reprint.

Multiattacks have also seen a significant number of edits. Most of these seem to be aimed at clarifiying the way the multiattack works. In instances where the action said “the creature makes x melee attacks” the word melee has been replaced with the specific names of the attack actions.

Overall, most of the changes that have been made in MPMM have been focused on simplifying stat blocks. Spells that are attacks (i.e. have an attack roll) have been removed and occasionally replaced with attack actions. Spell list have been shortened, and moved into the action column. Bonus action spells have been removed and sometimes converted into bonus action abilities. As a result. these creatures are easier to understand and use.

I’m generally in favor of what I’ve seen so far. Only in a few cases, where the stat block was for a creature that is primarily a magic user have I been disappointed with he approach. The first one like this that I came across was for the alhoon, a mindflayer lich. It’s spell list was severely reduced. I feel like this damages the character of what is supposed to be a powerful wizard.

A Mordenkainen Mystery

Oh, and one other strange thing, Wizard has been added as a creature type. For instance, the blue abishai is now listed as “fiend (devil, wizard)” I haven’t figured out why this is yet. Maybe I’ll be back with another article about that…

In the meantime, why not check out some of my nuisance monsters,

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