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D&D General Identity of Monsters Post-Alignment (+)


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oreofox

Explorer
While at the moment I have a bit of "monoculture" for the various peoples that inhabit my world, I also have only focused on one continent. My biggest departures (I think?) are my gnomes, gnolls, and goblinoids.

My gnomes aren't the illusionist trickster fae wannabes of typical D&D. They used to be, but then began to change after one of the races of antiquity tried to wipe them out. They became more war-like (think of the depiction of the Spartans in the movie 300), lost their affinity for illusions and pranks, and focused more on technology. The ones in the country that pops in my head when I speak of these gnomes are my steampunk people. Though they've only made airships, no cars or such.

My gnolls are a matriarchic society of giant beekeepers on the central plains. Like the other animal peoples, their ancestors were basic animals that were changed into a more humanoid body. This progenitor of "modern" gnolls were like the typical D&D gnolls (minus the demonic part), but they changed their ways and became something different. They got hooked on the honey of giant bees (which has a stronger taste and sweetness compared to regular bees), and now have enormous bee farms, selling the honey for large sums of money and keeping thieves away.

My goblinoids are all one people (goblin, hobgoblin, bugbear), though separate, aka subraces. Bugbears didn't exist until about 500 or so years ago during the last major war, and can't reproduce. They are the product of goblins and hobgoblins and a ritual they perform. Come to think of it, I don't really have much on the culture of the goblinoids, but I am going to continue with this because I really like what I did with them. Anyway, a bugbear only exists when a group of 10 goblins and hobgoblins (typically 7 gobs and 3 hobs) perform a ritual, usually during a time of crisis such as a war. This ritual combines the life force of the 10 together, killing 9 of them and transforming the 10th (it's random which gets "blessed") into a bugbear.

These might not seem interesting to some, and I still have to expand a lot to get away from total monoculture, but for some reason my players really like my homebrew world.
 

Faolyn

Hero
My gnolls are a matriarchic society of giant beekeepers on the central plains. Like the other animal peoples, their ancestors were basic animals that were changed into a more humanoid body. This progenitor of "modern" gnolls were like the typical D&D gnolls (minus the demonic part), but they changed their ways and became something different. They got hooked on the honey of giant bees (which has a stronger taste and sweetness compared to regular bees), and now have enormous bee farms, selling the honey for large sums of money and keeping thieves away.
I would totally steal this for something except one of my players is a major apiphobe.

My goblinoids are all one people (goblin, hobgoblin, bugbear), though separate, aka subraces. Bugbears didn't exist until about 500 or so years ago during the last major war, and can't reproduce.
I'm having my goblins as a single species. Goblins have sort of a "larval" form where they all look the same, until they hit puberty when they differentiate into goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears--and even orcs. But they're all called goblins and the difference is merely for stat purposes.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So orcs are an odd case for me, because I feel like Eberron has entirely solved the issue of what to do with them.

No orc culture relies on any geography of Eberron, and could trivially be transferred to pretty much any known D&D world, even the Ghaash'kala just need a harsh land to be on the frontline of protecting the rest of the world from. Hell, Underdark can work.

And there is a wide range of cultures, filling many different niches.

Ghaask’kala are holy warriors, Shadow Marches has both Gatekeepers and creepy swamp Cultists, Eldeen Reaches has classic druids, Mror Holds mountain range has native folk in conflict with the people who have driven them most of the way out of their home, and paint the orcs as savages to cover their guilt.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
This thread gave me an idea for another thread.

I don't know if the amount of ideas I'm having lately is a good sign or a sign of impending doom, but I'm enjoying it.

I'm also enjoying trying to not be a jerk. :ROFLMAO:
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
If you've been doing so for years, share your stories! If you have ideas or questions about specific monsters and what can set them apart from eachother without having monocultures or assumed moral natures, ask!
Most bandits are people who live in the area that turned to banditry due to some reason they can chase after for plot & adventure. Instead of a random group of goblins/ogre/etc they are local farmers/miners/etc out of work & on the brink of (or worse) financial ruin & solving this could be as simple as killing the undead/monstrosities in the mine/dealing with the port beastie/etc. The players might be reticent to proactively dig into & solve these kind of things without an NPC flagging them down offering pay them x to go do it but after the first time or two time they get to do things like sell a certificate of partial ownership in a mine to someone important they will be more eager


Monsters aren't human & many of them are scary enough to be above any twinge of murderhobo, maybe that shopkeep is a medusa & has a trained basilisk instead of a guard dog

Many beasts, oozes, fiends, monstrosities & so on are still fair game for murderhoboing but might be around being a problem for reasons too... if you can't think of a reason, "babies!"... oooops the party is covered in blood & gore & momma t-rex/winter wolf/etc looks very unhappy
 

So orcs, trolls, ogres, goblins and kobolds in my world are survivors of the last time the world ended. The common races are refugees who got dumped on a continent they thought was cursed by less than omnipotent gods trying to save them from dying worlds and got centuries to develop before first contact. The new dragons were assigned as guardians.

Orcs were the rulers of an empire on the eastern continent. The dragons noticed them and figured an advanced society across the pond was a threat. They ended up taking over the world because... dragon.

End result is that the 'monstrous' races and the common races both got their society and cultures jacked for a few hundred years and so now everyone is living with the rebuilt versions. The orcs ended up being all but wiped out, surviving as tiny populations that eventually interbred with locals or by transforming into minotaurs. The minotaurs now uphold the Old Ways of appreciating that one has a strong body and wanting to balance it with improving mind and soul through art, service, or combat acumen. How they channel this depends on the local culture.

Having lived through Armageddon and the hell that followed, most non-orcs had turned to some form of 'worship' of death.

Goblins believed in death was an all-consuming maw, devouring everything in its path. They conspired to choke it to death by breeding with ferocity. Observant goblins of sexual maturity see it as their duty to have as many children as possible. This means that their society is run essentially by teens who have not reached the age of maturity who aren't making and caring for babies. These teens either develop iron bonds of responsibility or strike out to have experiences before they have to settle down and 'choke the maw' as it were.

Due to having a unique spacial awareness, goblins are also really good at physics, expressing untapped engineering talent they're only just now discovering as goblin teens spread out and visit distant lands. This is causing a lot of them to abandon their 'duty' to the maw and take up in cities as apprentices and laymen.

I'll do kobolds, trolls and orges later.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So orcs, trolls, ogres, goblins and kobolds in my world are survivors of the last time the world ended. The common races are refugees who got dumped on a continent they thought was cursed by less than omnipotent gods trying to save them from dying worlds and got centuries to develop before first contact. The new dragons were assigned as guardians.

Orcs were the rulers of an empire on the eastern continent. The dragons noticed them and figured an advanced society across the pond was a threat. They ended up taking over the world because... dragon.

End result is that the 'monstrous' races and the common races both got their society and cultures jacked for a few hundred years and so now everyone is living with the rebuilt versions. The orcs ended up being all but wiped out, surviving as tiny populations that eventually interbred with locals or by transforming into minotaurs. The minotaurs now uphold the Old Ways of appreciating that one has a strong body and wanting to balance it with improving mind and soul through art, service, or combat acumen. How they channel this depends on the local culture.

Having lived through Armageddon and the hell that followed, most non-orcs had turned to some form of 'worship' of death.

Goblins believed in death was an all-consuming maw, devouring everything in its path. They conspired to choke it to death by breeding with ferocity. Observant goblins of sexual maturity see it as their duty to have as many children as possible. This means that their society is run essentially by teens who have not reached the age of maturity who aren't making and caring for babies. These teens either develop iron bonds of responsibility or strike out to have experiences before they have to settle down and 'choke the maw' as it were.

Due to having a unique spacial awareness, goblins are also really good at physics, expressing untapped engineering talent they're only just now discovering as goblin teens spread out and visit distant lands. This is causing a lot of them to abandon their 'duty' to the maw and take up in cities as apprentices and laymen.

I'll do kobolds, trolls and orges later.
That goblin society could be a really fun way to use the goblinoid race from the Acquisitions Inc, which goes from small to medium over the course of its life, along with other changes.
 

For a more literal post-alignment society: it used to be true that the races associated with evil gods were forced to do evil acts by their nature - orcs couldn't help being murderous, goblins couldn't help being deceptive, and so on. But about ten years ago, that changed, and free will was granted to all intelligent races. It's even possible that some had-to-be-good races lost their own blocks, so evil (or at least selfish) aasimar are now also possible, and elves no longer change color when they change worldview.

I say ten year because that's long enough for word to have gotten out, but not long enough for people to be used to the new way of things. Everyone is uncomfortably trying to navigate this new, less structured but more fair world.

(If I'm running this, I'd work with players to flesh out how each races was and how they are now, rather than try to pre-culture-ize every possible option. The recurring theme, however, is that different people will react differently. No two villages are quite the same, and the old stereotypes, once reliable truths, just don't hold.
 

Puddles

Explorer
I changed Tieflings in my world as I found their existing background to be both unfun and problematic. Instead Tieflings were once part of the Egyptian-analogue civilisation. This civilisation was created and ruled by Tyrannical Devils who created the Tieflings to be in their servitude as a lower class. The Tieflings eventually threw off those shackles of oppression and liberated themselves.

Therefore there is nothing "evil" in their bloodline, nor is there any ancient pact or sin that they made. I also removed the distrust the PHB suggests they face, because me having to roleplay all NPCs being prejudiced towards the Tiefling character did not sound fun at all.
 

Puddles

Explorer
On the other hand, for Goblins and things like that, I have pushed them all in the other direction and made them fiends/ akin to demons. Goblins are not biological creatures, but things spawned out of the darkest shadows in the deepest mountain caves as the waxing half-moon passes across the sky. Their magic is tied to the moon and has an abyssal taint to it. I do something similar with Gnolls and Orcs and any other mook I want the party to battle without worrying about them doing the right or wrong thing. I basically turn them all into demons or evil spirits.
 

Steampunkette

Adventurer
My husband ran a horrorish game where my character was a monster-hunter and inquisitive who was part of an order of people studying and investigating magical and monstrous events to try and find out what was really happening and put a stop to it.

One of the cases to which I was assigned was a village where three children had gone missing, as well as an adventurer who had taken it upon himself to try and find out what happened. The village was quiet, insular, reticent to tell me what had happened... but speaking to one of the residents who had "Taken Ill" I slowly learned a lot more.

The village was being tormented by two separate entities. One intentionally, the other unintentionally. The girl who had "Taken Ill" was dead. Her corpse possessed by a demonic spirit who took over the body the -instant- it was vacated to escape from a greater evil. This demonling was a clue to a larger plot involving a terrible darkness that was coming, one that frightened even the monstrous.

The children had been going missing because of... a Troll. But not your standard D&D troll, no. A cross between the 3e style of troll and the folklore horror function of them: Child-Eaters who could compress their bodies to hide in small spaces and the like, as well as impersonate the voices of his victims.

That stuff got CREEPY with a quickness.

The troll wasn't "Evil because Evil" he was evil because his diet and hunting style made him wicked and cruel. Meanwhile the Demon was "Evil because Evil" but was more than willing to help out if it meant she would be kept safe from the horror that was coming. Oh, she was still mean and cruel, and lashed out at others because the only life she had known was an eternity of torment by those of greater power than her own... But mostly that manifested in a desire to inflict petty harms on others. Scaring them, threatening them, scratching people who got too close and generally being an ill-tempered cuss.

And that's how we added a full on Demon to our adventuring party without a big moral conflict about murder and the like. 'Cause while the Troll was evil by action, she was evil by personality, and both were to varying degrees.

The last part of which is, by far, the most important part. Just because someone is CE doesn't mean their evil nature is "Burning down Orphanages". Sometimes it just means being incredibly rude and spiteful, or emotionally harmful.

... D&D really needs, like, a Magnitude Scale for their alignment.

Evil 1 would be "Absolute Jerk"
Evil 5 would be "Murders for Fun"
 

jgsugden

Legend
Monsters, even when limited to intelligent monsters, covers a lot of ground. A lich, an angel, a bugbear, a wight and Blackrazor may all be considered intelligent monsters - and they're all different discussions. And I don't think there is an easy answer.

In my campaign world, when this issue first rose up a decade or so ago, I decided to specify that free will wasn't a given. Some intelligent creatures had it, others did not.

Generally, humanoids tended to have it. They had the freedom to choose, and it is because they have the freedom to choose that their prayers to their Gods mean so much. Essentially Divine Power relies upon free will and people choosing to follow Gods.

However, outside humanoids (and in some cases, within humanoids (Goblins and Gnolls in particular), free will is rare. Creatures are born with base impulses, compulsions, dedications and oppositions. This is something inflicted upon them by Gods, Elder Powers, ancestors, etc... They suffer from the same problem as the Scorpion in th Scorpion and the Frog. They do things because it is in their nature. However, there are always exceptions born with free will and the ability to choose their own path free of instinctual influence. Others are freed of the influence (remove curse ends it when cast a specific way). There is a large storyline in my campaign that surrounds the belief that this is wrong and needs to end so that all creatures are free to choose.

I'm looking at this concept now and considering how it needs to evolve. I don't have an easy answer.
 

Kobolds.

Kobolds also 'worshipped' death. To the kobold survivors, death was an inevitable stalker to be slowed down if no contained. This is why some kobolds appear to be obsessed with traps; they intend to delay or defeat death's many avatars by trapping them and hindering their progress. Over centuries, this has mutated. In some groups, creating traps has gone into creating mechanical devices, both functional or aesthetic--the more complex the better.

Before the end of the world, kobolds had been created as servitors to the old dragons. When those dragons died and the kobolds lived, their belief and loyalty was shattered. When the new dragons took over the world, some saw this as punishment for abandoning the old ways and tried to throw themselves back into service--deeply confusing the new dragons, who put them to work as menial labor and nannies to their eggs. When the dragon nations finally lost, the kobolds were ALL seen as Quislings by outsiders, even the ones who never bent the knee or rebelled. It has been centuries and kobolds still labor under the concocted stereotype of sniveling cowards who will serve anyone strong.

The truth is, most kobolds have, until recently turned their backs on society and tried living their lives on the fringes and explicitly avoiding the cruel and corrupt trappings of contemporary society. Ironically, as the world's view on dragons has softened, kobolds are now seen with (unwanted) pity, which has prodded some kobolds to decide to go out and set the record straight, setting out to become brave adventurers, prominent bards, and even villainous masterminds (basically straight up supervillains and mad scientists).

With all the chaos this brings into their lives, a lot of kobolds want even harder to be left alone, putting their trapping traditions to work keeping lookie-loos away from their homes out of shear exasperation.
 

MattW

Explorer
Kobolds: The Private Military Company

Consider the role of Mercenaries in a sort-of-medieval/renaissance world. People like Sir John Hawkwood, for instance. Ideally, you want mercenaries who are competent, relatively cheap and likely to stick to their contract. Evil but (usually) trustworthy bastards are preferred.

I can see Kobolds used as mercenaries or "Auxiliaries" by various Human-dominated empires or City States. Why risk humans when you can buy the services of a regiment of Kobolds? It might even be the more "civilized" option (less rape, more pillage).

The innate abilities of Kobolds make them an obvious choice for military adventures. They have some magical abilities and can be numerous, well-organised and ruthless. They also fight well at night, which is a huge advantage over most human armies. Also, they don't want to conquer farmland in the nice, sunny parts of the world. The late Romans could tell you why this is important....

The Kobold Kolonel and his or her officers will be more intelligent and skilled that the average kobold, or even the average human. They will be well-paid and (in consequence) they might develop expensive tastes and become wealthy patrons of the arts or influential in politics. After all, they have to do SOMETHING with their gold. They might even hire adventurers.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
In my campaign...

Hobgoblins are unrelated to goblins, are more technologically advanced than the other races, are a very lawful culture who are also expansionist, and are one of the Big 5 players.

Orcs are northern steppe nomads who operate much like the Dothraki from GoT. They are one of the Big 5 as well.

Humans are divided into an eastern and western culture split because of a large mid continent mountain range. The eastern culture is has a generic asian feel. The western culture is currently a rampaging theocracy. They are one of the Big 5.

Elves are also split into eastern and western divisions , however their network of portals and modes of magical communication keeps them from having a culture split. They are fairly basic DnD elves and are one of the Big 5.

Finally the dwarves are the last of the Big 5 and are pretty stereotypical of dwarves.

All other races vary from having minor areas of control to just having a small population of loose individuals.

Bulkywugs live in an abandoned city sinking in the swamp, like Venice with canals and such. They have formed a cargo cult thinking that dressing fancy and acting wealthy will actually summon the wealth they desire. They wear old fashioned ragged clothing poorly ipkept that they have looted from the city. They also sport fake beard and moustaches to look "lordly". Their main economy is hosting a yearly gladiator tournament.

Guthyanki have hidden training outposts in the wilds of the mountains. They are as likely to host you as a guest to gather info on the world's news as they are to kill you so you don't disclose their location.

A very powerful aboleth of super ancient age wants to transition to divinity and get "promoted".

A bunch of Fey are fighting with some outcasts with both sides courting the PCs to tip the balance.

An arcanoloth sits in town gathering scraps of secrets to report back home in return for treasure .

Basically...almost nothing in my world is "in evil so I want to kill you" evil. Every group has a reason for why they are there and a thing they are interested in accomplishing. The players will eventually bump up against some of their plans and make enemies ...but nothing other than random hungry monsters are just plain evil.
 

Faolyn

Hero
I'm working on a setting where mongrelfolk are a major PC race. Only they're called evri because "they have a little bit of everyone in them." They're considered (especially by themselves) as being the True Children of the setting area--a giant extradimensional, always-shifting Dungeon.
 




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