The Infernal Options in D&D's Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes

Today we're talking to Jeremy Crawford about demons and devils, about the inferno options you can find in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.

Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes has a chapter on the Blood War, one of the greatest conflicts in the D&D multiverse. And so naturally, because of having a whole chapter on that, we wanted to make sure to also include in the book a number of fiendish options. So that chapter includes options for various diabolical and demonic cults. It provides new tiefling sub-race options, which we previewed versions of on Unearthed Arcana. It has ways to customize cambions. It also includes in the bestiary a number of new demons, devils, and yugoloths.

We wanted to provide stats for some of the most powerful participants in the Blood War. And so we have statistics for a number of arch devils. And also for everyone's convenience, we have brought the demon lords who appeared in out of the abyss and put them in this book as well. So essentially, if you wanted to have a big versus match, you could have the demon lords versus the arch devils all in one book. Now when it comes to the options in the Blood War chapter that are specifically for players, we delve into ways that your tiefling, that you play could be shaped by a connection to a particular ruler of hell. Now tieflings are not the children of those rulers, but they can be shaped by the fiendish influence of the particular rulers and the layer of hell that those rulers are from. And so as people saw on Unearthed Arcana, we provide ways of customizing your tiefling to say, "Well my tiefling is somehow connected to Mephistopheles. And because of that, I have a different magical options from other tieflings."

And a number of these options have been tweaked as a result of play test feedback we got after the Unearthed Arcana. So we do similar customization things for cambions. In the monster manual, there is the cambion. And that cambion is really meant to represent a creature that is the offspring typically of a mortal and a succubus or an incubus or a fiendish being like Graz'zt or any other fiendish power that tends to be beguiling and sort of a tempter. We decided we wanted to provide cambion options that would represent better a being that instead was the offspring of maybe a fiendish creature that is not so beguiling, that maybe is more about brute strength or some other quality. And so again, we give you this ability to swap out certain abilities in the monster manual cambion to associate that cambion with either one of the great powers of the abyss or one of the great powers of the nine hells.

The cult options people also got to see a bit in Unearthed Arcana. And here we give you ways to customize the members of infernal cults, that is cults dedicated to the powers of hell by giving those cultists different abilities that will make the members of one cult feel distinct from the members of another one. As people saw on Unearthed Arcana, many of these options are meant to build on stat blocks you already have. For example, the monster manual in its NPC appendix includes a cultist's stat block and a cult leader stat block. So we give you abilities that you can basically plug into those stat blocks to make them come alive as members of a particular cult. Like alright, this cult is dedicated to Belial or this cult is dedicated to Dispater. And because of that association, this cultist has this particular power that a member of another cult does not have.

So we also do a similar thing for cultists and just followers in general of demon lords. In our demon lord and demon cult coverage, it's a little less organization specific. Hell being the plane of lawful evil is all about organizations, and despite being evil, really likes things to be tidy and hierarchical. And so cults are a natural fit for arch devils and their minions. Many demon lords also have cults, but as beings of chaos, there are also just individuals who dedicate themselves to the forces of the abyss and get filled with its dark power. And so we provide options, again, not only for members of demonic cults, but also some of these remarkable terrible individuals who have been blessed in some way by a demon lord.

So, put all of these together, the book provides a lot of tools, especially for the dungeon master to really customize villain groups, that the player characters can go up against. Some people have wondered, are these cult options or demonic boons, are they meant for player characters? The answer is no. They've been designed for NPCs and for monsters. A DM could probably customize them to work for player characters, but the target we're aiming at is basically, here's how to make some bad guys who really bear the marks of these evil planes that they have pledged themselves to.

When it comes to the monsters in the bestiary, I mentioned you have some really big bads in the form of the arch devils and the demon lords. We also provide a new rank and file demons, new rank and file devils, and also an array of new yugoloths to compliment the ones in the monster manual. Yugoloths have always been particularly interesting to me because they pull the strings in the Blood War, and they play both sides against each other. Yugoloths also in some ways, you can bargain with more easily than you can devils or demons. Because they are beings of contracts, and beings of agreements. Now they will try to turn them against you. They have this in common with devils, but it is actually conceivable that you could work for a little while with a yugoloth until you discover how it's been playing you for its own nefarious ends.

And so the book goes into a little bit as well about yugoloths, their role in the Blood War, and also how mortals get entangled with yugoloths at various times. And like with the devils and demons, a number of the yugoloth stat blocks that we provide are in the mid to high CR range. And that's a theme in a lot of the bestiary is to provide stat blocks to help populate dungeons and other environments at higher levels of play. There are still certainly low level, low CR monsters in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but we felt that between the monster manual and Volo's guide to monsters, the game has a lot of monstrous options for lower level PCs. So we thought, time to beef up the higher end a bit, and so these fiendish options are part of that effort.


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