D&D Beyond, the large digital toolset and recently made first-party online library running Dungeons & Dragons 5E, announced its plans to delist two rulebooks for the immensely popular tabletop RPG. Digital editions of both Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes will no longer be available to purchase on D&D Beyond’s marketplace after May 17th to make way for the upcoming Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse sourcebook.
The decision was outlined in a recent FAQ by a member of the D&D Beyond team, which explained the reasoning behind the decision and what it meant for those who had already purchased the book. According to the post, any user who already owns either book will retain access and be able to use them on existing characters, campaigns and other game-related material within D&D Beyond’s system.
Guide to Monsters and Tome of Foes, released in 2016 and 2018 respectively, contained references and instructions on dozens of non-human character options and expanded lore on a big list of iconic and popular foes, such as beholders, orcs, giants, and more. Monsters of the Multiverse takes large pieces of both previous books through a series of mechanical rebalances and thematic reframing to better fit Wizards of the Coast’s current design philosophy. Specifically, this means removing race-based changes to ability scores from non-human options and suggested moral alignments. This brings the upcoming book in line with 2020’s Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and a dedication to smoothing out D&D’s longstanding tacit reproduction of harmful racist beliefs.
As reported by ComicBook, this melding of two tomes is not complete - Monsters of the Multiverse will be leaving a lot of lore sections, tips for dungeon masters and other material on the cutting room floor. Ostensibly, anything not reprinted will be lost once D&D Beyond delists the books - now marked with a “Legacy” tag - from their online marketplace. While it’s true that those who already own the sourcebooks won’t have to worry, it’s not clear what options other players and fans will have as far as accessing the soon-to-be-lost sections.
This concern might sound silly since the physical editions are not being recalled so Wizards of the Coast can excise the outmoded pages, but D&D Beyond’s move strikes on an issue many folks in other creative fields have been discussing since the birth of the internet - digital archiving. When Tome of Foes and Guide to Monsters drop from the store, there will be no legal way to share their original content with others, except through a campaign on D&D Beyond as outlined in this unfortunately outdated support page.
That’s because D&D Beyond users are purchasing licences from the company and not a copy of the book in the same way someone can walk out of their local game store with a bound bunch of pages with some sweet cover art. Other tabletop RPGs often provide digital copies of sourcebooks and adventures as PDFs, and while that format comes with its own suite of problems it can at least be saved, backed up and secured against any company attempting to poof it from the internet.
Dicebreaker has reached out to D&D Beyond to clarify how players might be able to access Tome of Foes and Guide to Monsters - if it will be possible - after May 17th but did not receive a reply by time of publication.