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D&D 5E PCs as The Monsters


I have a horror themed mini-con this summer and I think I want to do a high level D&D 5E game in which the PCs are a bunch of BBEGs that have been defeated by an adventuring group over the course of a campaign, who by the hand of the God of Death (or whatever) have been brought back to try and kill the heroes.

Would it work out of the box to have the player just use the monster stat blocks and use high level PCs for the enemies, or should I model BBEGs with the PC build system and use traditional monster stat blocks for the heroes? Or some other solution?

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I'd use the PC build system for the PCs. It will be better balanced, but also easier to understand and more flexible. If you want more exotic races than what's in the PHB, like monster races, try:
  • Official supplements (Volo's Guide to Monsters, Elemental Evil Player's Companion, Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide)
  • Setting books (Eberron, Ravnica, Wildemount, Theros) (you can buy just the races on D&D Beyond for pretty cheap)
  • Mild reflavoring with ability swaps: like give an Aaracokra a stone-camouflage ability and call it a gargoyle, or give a dragonborn a psychic breath weapon, resistance to psychic damage, and telepathy, and call it a mind flayer. (Maybe throw in bonus damage against people you have grappled, to represent the tentacle brain extraction). You don't want to overdo it; mostly add minor "flavor" abilities or swap equivalent abilities. If you're capable of running a high-level campaign you probably already have some ideas aboutthis.
  • Lots of great stuff on the DM's Guild for this. My favorite is Monstrous Races which not only covers the entire Monster Manual, but also breaks down the design rationale for each race and gives advice on tweaking them to be more or less powerful.

For the NPC Heroes, I'd use traditional monster stat blocks. Because high-level PCs have a LOT going on, and for a DM, managing all that stuff will become very difficult. Whereas a monster stat block is usually trimmed down to just a few abilities that you will use during combat. There's a lot of good high-level NPC stat blocks out there, which you could adopt, tweak, or use as inspiration for your own NPC stat blocks.

I normally don't pimp third party products, but Grim Hollow has some really interesting transformation rules, which include turning into Werethings, Vampires, Liches, Aberrant Horrors, etc.

Their art is also gorgeous.

(Grim Horror was a Kickstarter project for a full horror D&D setting like Ravenloft)

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