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4 Reasons Critical Role Fans Will Find Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes Fascinating
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4 Reasons Critical Role Fans Will Find Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes Fascinating

Critical Role is Geek & Sundry’s live Dungeons & Dragons show, featuring Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer and his troupe of fellow voice actors. Catch them every Thursday night at 7:00 PM PT on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and on Alpha.

Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes is the newest book of Dungeons & Dragons lore and monsters from Wizards of the Coast. Inside you’ll find just about all of hell’s denizens (all Nine Hells, that is) and the wars they fight, along with more demons, dwarves, gnomes, and githyanki than you can shake a silver sword at.

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Does all of that information sound a bit daunting? If you’re a Critical Role fan, there are a few easy places to start diving into the tome. Take a look at these four sections featuring places and creatures that you’ll recognize from the show’s first campaign before you get completely lost in the book’s fascinating pages.

Major spoilers for the first campaign of Critical Role follow.

The City of Dis

“As hells go, there could be worse hells.” – Percival de Rolo, “Vox Machina Go to Hell

Caio Santos @BlackSalander

After Vox Machina defeated one of the most powerful enemies they ever faced, they decided to clean up some loose ends. One of them was Hotis, a rakshasa who would likely be out for revenge after being defeated by Vox Machina not once, but twice. To permanently destroy him, they would have to travel to the Nine Hells. But they prepared—well, as prepared as Vox Machina gets, anyway—and set out for the City of Dis.

In the first chapter of the Tome of Foes, we learn that Dis is the second of the Nine Hells, and the city occupies of most it. Dis is ruled by the devil lord Dispater, who oversees mining operations and weapon manufacturing for their unending war. The book also gives guidelines for choosing to add Dispater’s lineage as a tiefling’s subrace.

Gray Render

“You see this almost ten-foot-tall humanoid mass begin to step out from the water. You can see, from the glistening liquid that is just coasting off of its back and body, unkept by any fur or flesh, there is a hide, a rhino-like thick gray scaled almost hide, that seems to cover the entirety of its form.” – Matthew Mercer, “Jugs and Rods

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During their travels together, Percy de Rolo bestowed the title of “Grandmistress of the Grey Hunt” on Vex’ahlia. When the group returned to Whitestone for a rare peaceful rest, Percy decided to make the title official. Vex was tasked with completing a trial to fully earn her title as a protector of the Parchwood. In her trial, she encountered a monstrous beast and decided to engage it in combat.

The creature is a towering gray render, which you can learn more about in the Tome of Foes’ bestiary. The description paints a picture of a monstrosity who can be a formidable ally, but not one that can be completely controlled. The book also describes its method of reproduction, which is… kind of icky.

Orcus

“You see, slowly drifting out of the shadow, a single gnarled black horn.” – Matthew Mercer, “K’Varn Revealed

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The first major foe Vox Machina faced was the abominable and mutilated K’Varn, a beholder who had experimented on itself. It had managed to acquire the Horn of Orcus, the Demon Prince of Undeath, and somehow claimed its power for its own.

Orcus rewarding those who are loyal to him is mentioned in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. Creatures that spread death and destruction are given a “small portion” of his power, usually from Orcus himself. (It’s unknown if the horn was given freely to K’Varn, however.) You can learn more about Orcus in the book’s detailed bestiary.

The Raven Queen

“The Raven Queen, as part of the laws of the cosmos that hold the various planes together, the Raven Queen does indeed escort good souls to the positive planes, the upper planes, and not-so-good souls to the lower ones.” – Matthew Mercer, “Vox Machina Go to Hell

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When Vex’ahlia died after springing a hidden trap placed on a Vestige of Divergence, Vax’ildan begged the Matron of Ravens, or the Raven Queen, to take him in her place. The Raven Queen accepted, taking Vax as her new champion, and he donned the armor that her previous champion wore. She would later play a key role in the battle against Vecna and in Vax’s fate.

If you want to know about the Raven Queen, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes unlocks a number of secrets about the enigmatic deity. She lives in the Fortress of Memories in the Shadowfell, it reveals, and adventurers brave enough to venture there often stay trapped there forever…

(And be sure to check out the Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting for more details about the Matron of Ravens in particular.)

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Featured Image: Ona N.

Other Images: Wizards of the Coast, Caio Santos (Dis and Gray Render), Kageyama Satsuki (K’Varn), and Catarina Sarmento (Raven Queen)

Special thanks to Critical Role Transcripts.

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