Let us start by determining what a monstrous character is. A monstrous character is character, be it Player Character (PC) or Non-Player Character (NPC), whose race is considered a ‘monster’ by the general populace of the world. In D&D I would consider the races of aarakocra, goliath, tieflings and even drow as monstrous races. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t allow players to play these races. I think these races would create interesting dilemmas for the player’s group in certain circumstances. Players with monstrous characters would need to hide their heritage in some way when in normal society. Unfortunately, I don’t see many players playing the fact that their race is feared and hated in normal society. Instead they just play another character and act as if they would any other character in society. When the angry mob of villagers with torches and pitchforks come after them, the party thinks they can talk their way out of the encounter, or they just slaughter the innocent villagers for being idiots. If the game master introduces elements that could be detrimental to the group, well that could cause a entirely different set up problems to the gaming group.
Some may argue that the race has been accepted in general society like the tiefling or drow, and to that I say hogwash. While I can see any race being accepted into a society, the history and justification would need to be worked out before hand. Drow must be seen as a non-evil race and tiefling must have moved past the fact that they are of demon heritage in order for other people to trust them. I can see people accepting a drow or tiefling child in their village, but the first time the crop fails, they are going to blame on that child and kick him out of the village. At which point the child will grow up and destroy that village and become a major nemesis to the players, but that is beside the point. If a game master wants to make a monstrous race accepted by the general populace, that is fine; it no longer becomes a monstrous race. But, in my opinion, you can’t have both. You can’t have a race viewed with contempt and also be accepted by the general populace at the same time.
There are some caveats; you can have a race that is accepted by one group of people and not another. I fully encourage this, but then the race is no longer a monstrous race. The hatred for the race is based on societal differences and not on the race being a ‘monster’. Of course you still run into the same issues if you go into an nation that doesn’t accept the race, but if your group has probably worked past the issues of someone playing a monstrous race. You can also have the race be slave-masters in the society, I think the race would still retain their ‘monster’ status and the player is playing one is accepted, but the other players, who are considered slave status, would be the ones trying to hide their activities. If the group should leave the area, the player playing the monstrous character would be in the situation of having to hide hos heritage.
All in all, I would recommend playing a monstrous race if the player is up for challenging role playing. If you are simply looking for better stats or ‘just to be different’, I would suggest the player reconsider. If you are not prepared for some difficulties with the race, don’t be surprised when your character dies at the hands of some racists villagers.
Categorised as: General