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More than 30 playable D&D races will be included in Monsters of the Multiverse

The book will become a close companion to the Player’s Handbook

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A female-presenting dragonborn bard regales her party with a song. Image: Wizards of the Coast
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The next Dungeons & Dragons book will bring together 33 previously published races for players to build new characters with. Mordenkainen Presents Monsters of the Multiverse will serve as a supplement to the 5th edition Player’s Handbook, greatly expanding the options available to new players beyond the original nine races. According to principal rules designer Jeremy Crawford, it will also highlight the rich history of some previously overlooked groups.

During a press briefing last week, Crawford noted that lots of attention has been paid to how player character (PC) races are being presented in the book. Not only have designers made accommodations to remove the concept of racial essentialism from PC races, but they have also focused their attention on beefing up the lore as well. One case in point is the lowly goblin.

Goblins have been included several times as a PC race in 5th edition D&D, including in Magic: The Gathering crossovers Plane Shift: Ixalan and Plane Shift: Zendikar, and in Adventure with Muk, a pay-what-you-want supplement sold online to benefit Extra Life. Monsters of the Multiverse will consolidate these versions of playable goblins alongside the monstrous versions of goblins and related goblinoid creatures. Crawford said that it will do so in a way that is setting agnostic (i.e., easily applicable to places other than the Forgotten Realms). But it will also tease apart bits of lore that go all the way back to the earliest days of D&D.

“Those of you who know sort of the deep goblin lore know that they’ve often been associated with a god named Maglubiyet,” Crawford said. “But going all the way back to first edition D&D, it’s always been clear that Maglubiyet actually conquered the goblinoids and was not their original godly ancestor. [...] There’s always been this sort of implication that goblinoids had a prehistory, that they were from somewhere else, that they had different gods.”

In Monsters of the Multiverse, Crawford said Wizards of the Coast took the opportunity to detail the full and complete history of goblinoids for the first time. They will explain their origin as Fae creatures, how they were conquered by Maglubiyet, and how they were turned into a force of evil in multiple places across the multiverse.

“This also allows us to talk about the fact that there are still many goblinoids in the multiverse who remember their roots and who were not a part of this gods’ story,” Crawford said. “They have their own story.”

If that addition to D&D’s 5th edition canon feels familiar, that’s because Wizards and author R.A. Salvatore took a similar tack with the drow just last year. The novel Starlight Enclave reimagines Drizzt Do’Urden’s ancestors as just one of several branches of the drow family tree. The creation of the Aevendrow and the Lorendrow effectively retcons D&D’s official lore to allow for dark elves with far more varied — and peaceable — backgrounds.

Mordenkainen Presents Monsters of the Multiverse will premiere as part of a three-volume physical product called Dungeons & Dragons Rules Expansion Gift Set. It costs $169.99 and will be available starting Jan. 25. The stand-alone book is available for pre-order and will arrive on May 17, both physically and for digital platforms like Fantasy Grounds, Roll20, and D&D Beyond.

Here’s a full list of all the PC races included in the book:

  • Aarakocra
  • Aasimar
  • Bugbear
  • Centaur
  • Chageling
  • Deep Gnome
  • Duergar
  • Eladrin
  • Fairy
  • Firbolg
  • Genasi (Air, Earth, Fire, and Water)
  • Githyanki
  • Githzerai
  • Goblin
  • Goliath
  • Harengon
  • Hobgoblin
  • Kenku
  • Kobold
  • Lizardfolk
  • Minotaur
  • Orc
  • Satyr
  • Sea Elf
  • Shadar-kai
  • Shifter
  • Tabaxi
  • Tortle
  • Triton
  • Yuan-ti