D&D 5E Brainstorming: Getting Rid of the Monstrosity Creature Type

Levistus's_Leviathan

Autistic DM (he/him)
Since the D&D movie trailer dropped, there's been a bit of discussion on how Owlbears and similar monstrosities that are just combinations of two different animals (Griffons/Hippogriffs, for example) and are natural to the worlds of D&D should probably be reclassified as beasts instead of "monstrosities". While I agree, I personally would go a bit further. I would get rid of the creature-type of "monstrosity" entirely. It's such a diverse creature type that it basically has no meaning and is mostly used as a dumping ground for monsters that WotC gave up on trying to fit into another creature type. Some of them might be easier than the others, but here's my attempt (I'm using D&D Beyond, so this will be organized alphabetically and separated by the products they're included in).

Ankheg - Beast

Basilisk - Beast

Behir - Beast?? (Maybe a creature type for "fleshy creatures made/warped through magic" would be good?)

Bulette - Beast

Carrion Crawler - Beast

Centaur - Fey

Chimera - Fiend? Aberration? Like the Behir, this is a creature created by another creature, so maybe we can keep the "monstrosity" creature type so long as the definition is restricted to "living creatures magic + artificial selection?"

Cockatrice - Beast

Darkmantle - Aberration? Beast? Shadow-creature?

Death Dog - Fiend? Undead? Beast?

Displacer Beast - Fey

Doppelganger - Fey? Aberration?

Drider - Fiend?

Ettercap - Beast or Unseelie Fey

Gorgon - Construct

Grick - Aberration or Beast

Griffon - Beast

Guardian Naga - Celestial

Harpy - Humanoid

Hippogriff - Beast

Hook Horror - Beast

Hydra - Dragon or Beast

Kracken - Celestial (because they were created by the gods) or Beast?

Lamia - Fiend?

Manticore - Beast or Fiend

Medusa - Humanoid

Merrow - Fiend or Humanoid

Mimic - Beast? Aberration?

Minotaur - Humanoid

Owlbear - Beast

Peryton - Beast or Fey

Phase Spider - Aberration? Fey? Beast?

Piercer and Roper - Beast? Aberration?

Purple Worm - Beast

Remorhaz - Elemental or Beast

Roc - Beast

Rust Monster - Beast

Sphinxes - Celestial (I'm honestly baffled they weren't already)

Spirit Naga - Fiend

Tarrasque - Celestial? Beast?

Umber Hulk - Beast?

Winter Wolf - Beast or Elemental

Worg - Beast

Yeti - Humanoid or Beast

Yuan-Ti - Beast, Fiend, or Humanoid

(Monstrosities from other products will be added later.)

Note: These classifications do not take game balance into account. These are entirely based on which creature types I feel they would best fit into. I know it would be overpowered for a druid to turn into a Cockatrice or Basilisk. However, if I were in charge of designing 5e, there would be other changes that I would make in order to prevent these classifications from becoming a problem for game balance. (Mainly by having Wild Shape be based around customizable stat blocks built in the Druid Class, not having the player choose from beasts in the Monster Manual.)

If you disagree with any of these classifications or have any recommendations for the ones I'm questioning, feel free to comment below.
 

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Maybe a creature type for "fleshy creatures made/warped through magic" would be good?
This is what the "Monstrosity" type is, to begin with, so...

so maybe we can keep the "monstrosity" creature type so long as the definition is restricted to "living creatures magic + artificial selection?"
So, just to be clear, I agree with you on this. But it didn't take you very long to go from the thread title, eliminating the Monstrosity type entirely, to at least considering keeping it but shuffling some number of things out of it.

Personally, if I were going to actually delete the Monstrosity type, most of them would become aberrations (if they're noticeably weird or really not plausible IRL, like ankhegs), beasts (if they are really, really naturalistic and not doing things like "blending mammal and bird"), or one of the clearly-supernatural types that already has some odd stuff in it anyway (fiend, fey, or celestial mostly.)
 

JEB

Legend
This is what the "Monstrosity" type is, to begin with, so...
That's only one part of the monstrosity type in 5E. Per the Monster Manual:

Monstrosities are monsters in the strictest sense - frightening creatures that are not ordinary, not truly natural, and almost never benign. Some are the results of magical experimentation gone awry (such as owlbears), and others are the product of terrible curses (including minotaurs and yuan-ti). They defy categorization, and in some sense serve as a catch-all category for creatures that don't fit into any other type.

(Incidentally, the above definition outright states that owlbears are - per current 5E canon - not natural creatures. Although the actual owlbear text vagues that up a bit, nodding to 4E's categorization as fey beasts.)

@AcererakTriple6 may be hinting at another solution, though - breaking monstrosities up into several more specific types. (Reshuffling some into existing types can coexist with that, of course.)
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

Autistic DM (he/him)
This is what the "Monstrosity" type is, to begin with, so...
Monstrosities literally are just a "catch-all category" for creatures that WotC didn't think fit the other types. A lot of them are seemingly natural creatures (Basilisks) that are just Monstrosities because WotC doesn't want Moon Druids to be able to petrify enemies, some are creations of more powerful creatures, sometimes even gods (the Tarrasque, Behirs, Krackens, Astral Dreadnoughts), some should be humanoids but aren't sentient in the base lore (Harpies), and others are just thrown into the creature type because they don't fit into anything else, even though they have nothing in common with any other monstrosity (Sorrowsworn, I'm looking at you).

If monstrosities were just creatures created/warped through magic? Fine. Awesome. I don't accept the whole "made by the gods" thing, because then almost every race and monster in D&D would be a monstrosity. But if it were just "creatures warped through magic to the extent that they became an entirely different and magical species", that would be a fine monster type. Still pretty niche, but just as excusable as "Plant". But 90% of Monstrosities don't fit that definition, and in my opinion, would be better off reclassified in another creature type.

So, if we're keeping Monstrosity as a creature type, I would prefer if it was just stuff like Behir, Chimera, Hydra, and Yuan-Ti. No shadow-creatures (Sorrowsworn), weird metal bulls that should be constructs (Gorgons), natural monsters that should just be beasts (Griffons/Hippogriffs), and obviously divine creatures that should be celestials (Sphinxes and Naga). The 5e Monstrosity creature type is a mess, because it was designed to be one. And that bugs me. Thus this thread.
@AcererakTriple6 may be hinting at another solution, though - breaking monstrosities up into several more specific types. (Reshuffling some into existing types can coexist with that, of course.)
Absolutely. The Feywild gets its own creature type (which is the second worst defined creature type in the game, but still), so I think it would make sense if the Shadowfell got its own (Shades?). There are already some monsters in 5e that would fit well into it, like the Sorrowsworn, Balhannoth, and Shadow Mastiffs. Then the monsters that should be considered natural and normal in most D&D worlds (like Griffons, Rocs, probably Owlbears, and Remorhaz) should probably just be beasts. And if there's anything left over, mainly the creatures that are normal creatures (magically) mutated so much that they're functionally new creatures, those can be Monstrosities.

I'm fine with the monster type existing, but it would have to be significantly changed in order to be on par with the rest of the others.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So, if we're keeping Monstrosity as a creature type, I would prefer if it was just stuff like Behir, Chimera, Hydra, and Yuan-Ti. No shadow-creatures (Sorrowsworn), weird metal bulls that should be constructs (Gorgons), natural monsters that should just be beasts (Griffons/Hippogriffs),
Except IMO there needs to be a dividing line between real-world natural creatures (horses, elephants, robins, etc.) and fantastic natural creatures (gryphons, chimerae, direwolves, etc.). Then, reining in Druid wildshape becomes easy: rule they can only shapeshift into real-world natural creatures.

The beast-monstrosity dividing line may not be in the right place but it does work for this purpose.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

Autistic DM (he/him)
Except IMO there needs to be a dividing line between real-world natural creatures (horses, elephants, robins, etc.) and fantastic natural creatures (gryphons, chimerae, direwolves, etc.).
Why? There isn't one between real-world natural creatures and their fantastical giant versions. 5e Owls and a Giant Owl that has its own language both count as beasts. And real-world creatures that used to exist (dinosaurs, mammoths) but are now extinct are also beasts.
Then, reining in Druid wildshape becomes easy: rule they can only shapeshift into real-world natural creatures. The beast-monstrosity dividing line may not be in the right place but it does work for this purpose.
That's also easily solved by not letting the Druid turn into the Monster Manual's versions of the monsters. People at WotC have indicated before that the PHB version of a Druid's Wild Shape will probably get the same treatment that summoning spells got in Tasha's. That problem will probably be solved in the 2024 PHB, so you wouldn't have to change the classifications to make druids balanced anymore.
 

For ultimate comedy purposes, I'd stick Behir under Dragon

It basically is a regional dragon turned into seperate creautre, like the Tarrasque

and yes. I am aware Behir hate dragons. So referring to them as Dragon type creatures will end clearly. The way they see it, they're Behir type creatures
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Since the D&D movie trailer dropped, there's been a bit of discussion on how Owlbears and similar monstrosities that are just combinations of two different animals (Griffons/Hippogriffs, for example) and are natural to the worlds of D&D should probably be reclassified as beasts instead of "monstrosities". While I agree, I personally would go a bit further. I would get rid of the creature-type of "monstrosity" entirely. It's such a diverse creature type that it basically has no meaning and is mostly used as a dumping ground for monsters that WotC gave up on trying to fit into another creature type. Some of them might be easier than the others, but here's my attempt (I'm using D&D Beyond, so this will be organized alphabetically and separated by the products they're included in).

Ankheg - Beast

Basilisk - Beast

Behir - Beast?? (Maybe a creature type for "fleshy creatures made/warped through magic" would be good?)

Bulette - Beast

Carrion Crawler - Beast

Centaur - Fey

Chimera - Fiend? Aberration? Like the Behir, this is a creature created by another creature, so maybe we can keep the "monstrosity" creature type so long as the definition is restricted to "living creatures magic + artificial selection?"

Cockatrice - Beast

Darkmantle - Aberration? Beast? Shadow-creature?

Death Dog - Fiend? Undead? Beast?

Displacer Beast - Fey

Doppelganger - Fey? Aberration?

Drider - Fiend?

Ettercap - Beast or Unseelie Fey

Gorgon - Construct

Grick - Aberration or Beast

Griffon - Beast

Guardian Naga - Celestial

Harpy - Humanoid

Hippogriff - Beast

Hook Horror - Beast

Hydra - Dragon or Beast

Kracken - Celestial (because they were created by the gods) or Beast?

Lamia - Fiend?

Manticore - Beast or Fiend

Medusa - Humanoid

Merrow - Fiend or Humanoid

Mimic - Beast? Aberration?

Minotaur - Humanoid

Owlbear - Beast

Peryton - Beast or Fey

Phase Spider - Aberration? Fey? Beast?

Piercer and Roper - Beast? Aberration?

Purple Worm - Beast

Remorhaz - Elemental or Beast

Roc - Beast

Rust Monster - Beast

Sphinxes - Celestial (I'm honestly baffled they weren't already)

Spirit Naga - Fiend

Tarrasque - Celestial? Beast?

Umber Hulk - Beast?

Winter Wolf - Beast or Elemental

Worg - Beast

Yeti - Humanoid or Beast

Yuan-Ti - Beast, Fiend, or Humanoid

(Monstrosities from other products will be added later.)

Note: These classifications do not take game balance into account. These are entirely based on which creature types I feel they would best fit into. I know it would be overpowered for a druid to turn into a Cockatrice or Basilisk. However, if I were in charge of designing 5e, there would be other changes that I would make in order to prevent these classifications from becoming a problem for game balance. (Mainly by having Wild Shape be based around customizable stat blocks built in the Druid Class, not having the player choose from beasts in the Monster Manual.)

If you disagree with any of these classifications or have any recommendations for the ones I'm questioning, feel free to comment below.
I think the Beast creature type should strictly lack any magical features.

It should be something that either does exist or hypothetically could exist in reallife.

For example, worg is a Beast. The petrifying cockatrice is not.

Things that are magical are probably Elemental, Fey, Shadow, Ethereal, or Astral including Fiend or Celestial.

Many things from reallife folklore are probably Elemental, Fey, Celestial, or Fiend.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Ankheg - Beast

Basilisk - Elemental?

Behir - Elemental?

Bulette - Beast

Carrion Crawler - Beast

Centaur - Fey

Chimera - Fiend!

Cockatrice - Elemental?

Darkmantle - Shadow!

Death Dog - Beast!

Displacer Beast - Fey

Doppelganger - Humanoid! (Fey origin?)

Drider - Fiend! (Fey origin)

Ettercap - Humanoid?

Gorgon - Elemental?

Grick - Beast!

Griffon - Beast

Guardian Naga - Celestial

Harpy - Fiend! (Fey origin)

Hippogriff - Beast

Hook Horror - Humanoid!

Hydra - Dragon!

Kracken - Fiend!

Lamia - Fiend?

Manticore - Fiend?

Medusa - Humanoid (Fiend origin)!

Merrow - Humanoid!

Mimic - Aberration?

Minotaur - Humanoid

Owlbear - Beast

Peryton - Shadow!

Phase Spider - Ethereal!

Piercer - Beast!

Purple Worm - Beast

Remorhaz - Elemental!

Roc - Beast

Roper - Aberration?

Rust Monster - Elemental?

Sphinxes - Celestial

Spirit Naga - Fiend

Tarrasque - Elemental?

Umber Hulk - Elemental?

Winter Wolf - Elemental!

Worg - Beast

Yeti - Elemental?

Yuan-Ti - Humanoid (Fiend origin)!



"Beast" − material plane origin, Intelligence 5 or lower, strictly nonmagical.

"Humanoid" − material plane origin, Intelligence 6 or higher, must have individual personalities and cultures within a larger group, can be nonmagical or magical, typically humanlike bipedal but not necessarily.

"Ethereal", "Fey", or "Shadow" − these are related but distinguishable, and while the Shadow has deathly origin it is not itself an Undead.

"Elemental" − some magical creatures are elementals that are native to the material plane, these are manifestations from features of nature, including fire, ice, water, air, sunlight, and plant.

"Astral" − I would make this origin the creature type, then make Fiend and Supernal, along with Celestial, Angel, Devil, Demon, Yugoloth, and Aberration its subtypes, since they inhabit the Astral Dominions. "Celestial" is too specifically LG, and less suitable for NG and CG. I would include LN among Celestial, hence modron and sphynx are Celestial. "Supernal" is a better term for any Non-E Astral. Actually, the Astral subtypes need a revisit too, and would help clarify creatures like kraken and medusa and yuan-ti.



I found the manticore difficult to classify. It is too intelligent to be a Beast, but it isnt a Humanoid either. Its features are nonmagic (except for darkvision). Its lore gives no clues as to its origin.



I probably want to return to how 4e distinguishes between "creature type" and "planar origin". This is a helpful distinction that opens up various possibilities, such as eladrin being a "Fey Humanoid". Some are combo creature types, such as warforge a "Construct Humanoid".
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I actually combined monstrosities and aberrations in my game after the nth time the ranger in my group that had chosen monstrosities as its species enemy saw the wackadoo monster attacking the party asked if it was a monstrosity and the answer was no, its an aberration. Later, we got rid of the species enemy ability altogether and swapped it for a "Hunter's Vision" ability.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I actually combined monstrosities and aberrations in my game after the nth time the ranger in my group that had chosen monstrosities as its species enemy saw the wackadoo monster attacking the party asked if it was a monstrosity and the answer was no, its an aberration. Later, we got rid of the species enemy ability altogether and swapped it for a "Hunter's Vision" ability.
I feel the Aberration type needs psychologically corrupting effects as well as malignant shapechanging effects.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Hydra - Dragon!
Looking at this makes me think the "Dragon" type needs renaming and expanding to include reptilian monsters that aren't in fact Dragons: e.g. Hydrae, Nagas (or Lamias, I forever get those two mixed up - whichever one's the mostly-snake with a human head!), maybe Yuan-Ti, maybe dinosaurs, etc. That would take some heat off the "monstrosity" category, if in fact it needs to go.
 

In my published setting, Monstrosity has been a very important type. Given, we've changed the definition; it now means any monster that is alien to the base world of Scavenger. But, regardless, I still like the monster-type, and making them actual aliens (yes I know, aberrations, but those are OTHER aliens incompatible with us in different ways!) or the results of arcane experiments to me makes them unique enough.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Except IMO there needs to be a dividing line between real-world natural creatures (horses, elephants, robins, etc.) and fantastic natural creatures (gryphons, chimerae, direwolves, etc.). Then, reining in Druid wildshape becomes easy: rule they can only shapeshift into real-world natural creatures.

The beast-monstrosity dividing line may not be in the right place but it does work for this purpose.
I'm not a huge fan, that would indicate there's some concept within the fictional narrative that separates Earth creatures from non-Earth creatures. (And since plenty of magic spells work based on creature type, this is obviously an attribute that exists within the fiction.) I can see that working for game settings that are assumed to be alternate Earths (i.e. Oerth), but don't love it for game settings that are assumed to have their own ecologies.
 


Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I'd go with Abominations being the quasi-unique monsters created by magic experiments, one off of evolution or godly curse, such as lamia, medusa etc Tarrasque would be Abominations (Titan)

Humanoids would be for mortal races generally playable by players, such as humans, dwarves, elves etc

Monstrosities, to me, are for races degenerated/twisted from Humanoids by demonic forces or mind warping powers, like (FR) Gnolls, Kuo-toa, Merrows, Derros, etc .

Mostly beastly creatures that can now breed true and occupy an ecological niche, even if created by magic at first, such as owlbear, griffon, worg, cockatrice etc are just beasts. Magical ones, but still beasts.

Behir, Hydra would be moved to dragons, Chimera would be moved to fiend, Basilisk would be dragon or elementals.

Devils would be Celestials (devil) and Demons would Abominations (demon).

Sorrowsworns and Skulk are undead.

etc
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
Looking at this makes me think the "Dragon" type needs renaming and expanding to include reptilian monsters that aren't in fact Dragons: e.g. Hydrae, Nagas (or Lamias, I forever get those two mixed up - whichever one's the mostly-snake with a human head!), maybe Yuan-Ti, maybe dinosaurs, etc. That would take some heat off the "monstrosity" category, if in fact it needs to go.
The essence of a dragon is a snake splicing together with other animals.

Classical dragon = snake+lion+eagle
British dragon = snake+wolf+bat
East Asian dragon = snake+carp+deer+bactrian camel+etcetera

And so on. Snake is the essence.
 

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