Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Centaurs and Minotaurs

As a Dragonlance junkie, it’s interesting to see how they’ve pulled back the damage on the minotaur to make it more workable as a player race (I imagine that working with the Volo races gave them a better baseline). The Hybrid Nature mechanic is interesting here, especially given the number of Fey Ancestry races that we’ve seen so far (who aren’t both Humanoid and Fey), as well as the planar-descended races.
 

plisnithus8

Adventurer
We are all going to handle that divide a bit differently in our games, but I think it's worthwhile to do so mindfully and not use the game as an excuse to act out in ways we wouldn't in the real world.

I don't know of any of the players I have played with that role-play as themselves. They don't want to act the exact same way in a game as they do in IRL. They choose an alignment and a race and a class and a background with goals and flaws and all the rest that would have them act differently than the person they really are. They are playing a role.

As a DM, moral dilemmas are one of the tools I use to challenge players, to see how their characters would act. I want them to be mindful of what they have their characters do, what choices their characters make. I try to have my NPCs act within their character, and if that means they are smart and cruel, then cutting off the horns of a prisoner is something they might do. I don't hold players to making choices based on alignment; their characters are dynamic, and change and free will often make great narrative. I don't think less of a player IRL whose neutral character makes some morally troublesome decisions. I reward him with Inspiration. The game is an excuse to act differently. It is a fantasy game, a role-playing game that has characters and creatures that will do things that are sometimes good, neutral, or bad.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
I don't know of any of the players I have played with that role-play as themselves.

Not quite what I meant. Of course, we often (although, not as often as you might think) play characters that differ from our real selves. What I meant that folks treating D&D as an excuse to act out in ways that are less than human, or humane.

Playing characters that are "evil" can be okay, unless you are using that as an excuse to act out in grossly violent, racist, or predatory ways. The kind of games I avoided in middle school (a looong time ago) and gave D&D a bad name were the types with players acted out creepy rape, murder, and torture fantasies. To each his own I guess, but those aren't games I would ever participate in, and I find unhealthy for the individuals and for society.

A more down-to-earth "evil" game or character can work really well. If the party is mostly evil or amoral PCs and decide to dehorn a minotaur captive (minotaur "person", not minotaur "monster") knowing full well the morality and potential consequences for such an act . . . OK, but don't be surprised how the "Minotaur League" treats the party when the situation is reversed . . .

As a DM, I would not be upset if my players didn't think through certain actions as evil or inhumane, but they would certainly reap the consequences. Dehorning minotaurs isn't something we have to think about on any sort of regular basis in the real world, after all. If my players made a consciously immoral or inhumane act, such as dehorning a minotaur person, if they did so in context of the story and in an adult manner . . . the story moves forward, again with consequences. If my players are just acting out inhumane fantasies, or are simply callously inhumane (as players, not characters), then that is a group I'm leaving.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I don't know of any of the players I have played with that role-play as themselves. They don't want to act the exact same way in a game as they do in IRL. They choose an alignment and a race and a class and a background with goals and flaws and all the rest that would have them act differently than the person they really are. They are playing a role.

As a DM, moral dilemmas are one of the tools I use to challenge players, to see how their characters would act. I want them to be mindful of what they have their characters do, what choices their characters make. I try to have my NPCs act within their character, and if that means they are smart and cruel, then cutting off the horns of a prisoner is something they might do. I don't hold players to making choices based on alignment; their characters are dynamic, and change and free will often make great narrative. I don't think less of a player IRL whose neutral character makes some morally troublesome decisions. I reward him with Inspiration. The game is an excuse to act differently. It is a fantasy game, a role-playing game that has characters and creatures that will do things that are sometimes good, neutral, or bad.


I think it comes down to expectations.

Personally, I am a fan of making evil truly evil, and sometimes I push things a bit too far and have to pull back. Not because I didn't represent the enemy properly, not even because I made my players uncomfortable, but because I took them from uncomfortable to not having fun.

If we want to be brutally honest, one sure fire way that an enemy could guarantee the party wizard they captured can't escape and attack them is to blind them and cut out their tongue. Can't see or speak, can't cast spells. However, that sort of maiming would very likely ruin the character, and it turns from "Oh no, how do I escape" to "Oh god, how could you do that" and the player is very likely no longer going to be having fun.

I actually, very early on in one of my campaigns, put forth rules that allowed me to cut limbs off players or enemies, because there were very rare clockwork arms or eyes that they could buy as replacements. But, the very first part of those rules were that they only applied if the player asked me to implement them on their character first. It was opt-in, so that I didn't end up forcing a player to see their character physically maimed, because that is a big deal for some people.


So, I hope, everyone can agree that it is a matter of the table, and that you should make sure everyone at the table is comfortable with that sort of story being told before you start including those sorts of elements. It can make for compelling story telling, but it can also ruin a group and drive people away if you accidentally hit the wrong notes.
 

plisnithus8

Adventurer
Not quite what I meant. Of course, we often (although, not as often as you might think) play characters that differ from our real selves. What I meant that folks treating D&D as an excuse to act out in ways that are less than human, or humane.

Playing characters that are "evil" can be okay, unless you are using that as an excuse to act out in grossly violent, racist, or predatory ways. The kind of games I avoided in middle school (a looong time ago) and gave D&D a bad name were the types with players acted out creepy rape, murder, and torture fantasies. To each his own I guess, but those aren't games I would ever participate in, and I find unhealthy for the individuals and for society.

A more down-to-earth "evil" game or character can work really well. If the party is mostly evil or amoral PCs and decide to dehorn a minotaur captive (minotaur "person", not minotaur "monster") knowing full well the morality and potential consequences for such an act . . . OK, but don't be surprised how the "Minotaur League" treats the party when the situation is reversed . . .

As a DM, I would not be upset if my players didn't think through certain actions as evil or inhumane, but they would certainly reap the consequences. Dehorning minotaurs isn't something we have to think about on any sort of regular basis in the real world, after all. If my players made a consciously immoral or inhumane act, such as dehorning a minotaur person, if they did so in context of the story and in an adult manner . . . the story moves forward, again with consequences. If my players are just acting out inhumane fantasies, or are simply callously inhumane (as players, not characters), then that is a group I'm leaving.

It sounds really sounds like we are not too far a part on this issue, though I'm not really sure why you keep bringing up a distinction of person or monster (are you meaning mechanically or just philosophically?).

I still don't see cutting off horns as a big deal, morally. I might actually silently applaud the group for not taking the easy way out by just killing an enemy.
Sure the minotaur would be upset, to a degree more than the dwarf would be if his beard were shaved off, but there are many things that would upset the characters.

Different players come to the table at different levels of maturity. My initial point was that NPCs, especially evil NPCs, will do things that are evil, cutting off horns not even being more of a neutral act of self-protection than an evil act of maliciousness.
 

Remathilis

Legend
It sounds really sounds like we are not too far a part on this issue, though I'm not really sure why you keep bringing up a distinction of person or monster (are you meaning mechanically or just philosophically?).

I still don't see cutting off horns as a big deal, morally. I might actually silently applaud the group for not taking the easy way out by just killing an enemy.
Sure the minotaur would be upset, to a degree more than the dwarf would be if his beard were shaved off, but there are many things that would upset the characters.

Different players come to the table at different levels of maturity. My initial point was that NPCs, especially evil NPCs, will do things that are evil, cutting off horns not even being more of a neutral act of self-protection than an evil act of maliciousness.
Do said evil characters also cut the hands off monks or the tongues out of spellcasters? How about ripping the teeth out of lizardfolk or clipping the wings of aarakroca? Or blinding eladrin and shadar-kai or other "teleport line of sight" races?
 

Dire Bare

Legend
It sounds really sounds like we are not too far a part on this issue, though I'm not really sure why you keep bringing up a distinction of person or monster (are you meaning mechanically or just philosophically?).

What's the difference between animals and people? There are no monsters in the real world, not truly, but they abound in our fantasy and sci-fi games.

Monsters are not people, they are aberrations, corruptions, dangerous beasts that not only can be killed but *should* be killed by heroes protecting civilization.

People are sentient beings just like you and me, but might have fur, or horns, or a tail. They can certainly commit evil acts, or just be violently opposed to other races . . . but wantonly killing, maiming, or violating them without regard is evil, just as it would be in the real world.

The difference isn't always easy to judge. Are tieflings people? Are actual devils from the pits of hell people?

I still don't see cutting off horns as a big deal, morally. I might actually silently applaud the group for not taking the easy way out by just killing an enemy. Sure the minotaur would be upset, to a degree more than the dwarf would be if his beard were shaved off, but there are many things that would upset the characters.

If you and I, both human, were enemies, and I captured you . . . would it be okay for me to strip you naked and shave off all of your hair forcefully to prevent you from hiding dangerous weapons? Would it be okay for me to break your fingers to prevent you from wielding a sword or casting a spell against me?

Is it okay for me to use a riding crop or whip on a horse, cattle, or other beast of burden? I can certainly be cruel about it. Is it okay for me to use a riding crop or whip against a person (in a non-combat or kinky BDSM situation)?

Dehorning cattle, or a rhino (we do this to protect rhinos from poachers), is not an evil, inhumane attack. Dehorning a monster isn't necessarily evil either, and might be a necessary thing to do. Dehorning a person, even a 9-ft tall person with sharp horns and hooves, is an evil act upon that person. Certainly, not all evil acts have an equal impact on the victim. I'd rather have my property stolen than be raped or murdered, I'd rather be raped than murdered due to the permanence of death. But do we really need to compare horrific acts?
 

plisnithus8

Adventurer
Do said evil characters also cut the hands off monks or the tongues out of spellcasters? How about ripping the teeth out of lizardfolk or clipping the wings of aarakroca? Or blinding eladrin and shadar-kai or other "teleport line of sight" races?

The minotaur horns would be the more obvious weapon, especially for less intelligent enemies, and doing many of those other actions you mention would cause the victims to become more trouble than they are worth prisoners who bleed everywhere, are not be able to feed themselves or answer questions.

How would a group of players handle taking prisoners if their captives had these same abilities? If they let them live yet ignored all of those other "weapons," they'd be asking for trouble.
And if the NPCs are evil and smart and wanted the PCs alive, why wouldn't they choose ways to make the prisoners less dangerous?
 

Dire Bare

Legend
And if the NPCs are evil and smart and wanted the PCs alive, why wouldn't they choose ways to make the prisoners less dangerous?

We are starting to stray a bit, yes, if the PCs are evil, they might commit evil acts. How the players handle playing evil characters, maturely or otherwise, is more my concern. Although, I do prefer my D&D games to be heroic, and I'm not a fan of evil campaigns or evil characters. But hey, that's me.

But your players characters, evil or otherwise, can't think of ways to "nerf" a minotaur captive other than sawing off it's horns? A bound captive with cladding fixed to it's horns would probably do the trick, no maiming required. Probably a lot less time and effort to boot. Not to mention magical solutions, as we are playing D&D after all.
 

plisnithus8

Adventurer
What's the difference between animals and people? There are no monsters in the real world, not truly, but they abound in our fantasy and sci-fi games.

Monsters are not people, they are aberrations, corruptions, dangerous beasts that not only can be killed but *should* be killed by heroes protecting civilization.

People are sentient beings just like you and me, but might have fur, or horns, or a tail. They can certainly commit evil acts, or just be violently opposed to other races . . . but wantonly killing, maiming, or violating them without regard is evil, just as it would be in the real world.

The difference isn't always easy to judge. Are tieflings people? Are actual devils from the pits of hell people?



If you and I, both human, were enemies, and I captured you . . . would it be okay for me to strip you naked and shave off all of your hair forcefully to prevent you from hiding dangerous weapons? Would it be okay for me to break your fingers to prevent you from wielding a sword or casting a spell against me?

Is it okay for me to use a riding crop or whip on a horse, cattle, or other beast of burden? I can certainly be cruel about it. Is it okay for me to use a riding crop or whip against a person (in a non-combat or kinky BDSM situation)?

Dehorning cattle, or a rhino (we do this to protect rhinos from poachers), is not an evil, inhumane attack. Dehorning a monster isn't necessarily evil either, and might be a necessary thing to do. Dehorning a person, even a 9-ft tall person with sharp horns and hooves, is an evil act upon that person. Certainly, not all evil acts have an equal impact on the victim. I'd rather have my property stolen than be raped or murdered, I'd rather be raped than murdered due to the permanence of death. But do we really need to compare horrific acts?


Are the Monstrous Adventurers in Volo's Guide monsters or people? I think the answer can be both. It seems like you use the word "monster" to define something that is not a person and then say it's not easy to judge where the line is drawn. If that's the case, why bring up monsters in this discussion?

There is still debate regarding the use of waterboarding as state approved method of interrogation. Personally, I feel it is torture and and an evil act, but I think adding ideas like that to consider while role-playing can make things more interesting.
Prisoners in US jails are given haircuts and searched very thoroughly for weapons. I don't think I can agree that cutting off a rhino's horn is a kindness and a minotaur's horn who might have just killed one of friends is evil. It feels like you are saying it is hard to judge what a monster is and that evils don't need to compared, but then it seems like you make that judgement and comparison. I'd rather let the players explore that themselves.

I think having PCs squirm about choosing the lesser of two evils is one of the moral dilemmas I mentioned earlier that gives players a different kind of challenge.
Example 1: Morally speaking, if we don't kill this "monster" that just attacked us, is it safe to tie him up but leave him with his horns that could kill one of us?
Example 2: Is this minotaur that captured our minotaur and cut off his horns a person or a monster?

But most of that discussion is different than my main point.
Evil PCs capturing a minotaur would probably cut of its horns. Why would they not?
They don't care if it is an evil act because they are evil. They would certainly take its battle axe. Why would they leave it with horns if they had the intelligence to think of it?
 

Going back into the issue of Centaur size, I see the Centaur as being something that takes up more of a 7 foot space of control. But since spaces that creatures occupy only come in 5 foot increments it's either too small or too big.

So I think a 5 foot space is fine even if the technically protrude outside of that space. It makes it easier for balance.
 

plisnithus8

Adventurer
But your players characters, evil or otherwise, can't think of ways to "nerf" a minotaur captive other than sawing off it's horns? A bound captive with cladding fixed to it's horns would probably do the trick, no maiming required. Probably a lot less time and effort to boot. Not to mention magical solutions, as we are playing D&D after all.

I would think cutting off the horns would be the first thought; thinking through other options may not be something they have time for or consider worth time if they had it.
As for cutting off horns being time-consuming and full of effort, it seems like swinging a sword at a horn would be much easier and less time consuming than trying to think of what spell might work (plus having to use a spell slot, etc.) or trying to find something to cover it and then bind it to the horn so it won't come off and then hope that it would prevent an attack (and then potentially losing the resources of the padding and rope).

Is there a moral dilemma? Sure. But not cutting them off isn't more expedient.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Are the Monstrous Adventurers in Volo's Guide monsters or people? I think the answer can be both. It seems like you use the word "monster" to define something that is not a person and then say it's not easy to judge where the line is drawn. If that's the case, why bring up monsters in this discussion?

<snip> It feels like you are saying it is hard to judge what a monster is and that evils don't need to compared, but then it seems like you make that judgement and comparison. I'd rather let the players explore that themselves.

There is a difference between an animal and a human being. Yet, human beings are animals. Monsters are fictional, but there is a real difference between a monster and a person. And yet, some fictional creatures cross the blurry line and others are seemingly both at once. In the real world, categories are rarely absolute or binary, and they aren't anymore so in fiction, as much as we might like things to be clear, simple, and absolute.

I'm at a loss to help you further understand the difference, blurry as it is, between a monster and a person. To me the concepts are as simple as the difference between an animal and a person, despite some creatures in the Monster Manual crossing or blurring the line between the two.

Why bring it up? You can do things to animals you should not do, ethically, to people. You can do things to monsters that you should not do to people. In the real world, that's often how we justify committing evil upon others, is to "dehumanize" them, to consider them other than or less than human.
 

plisnithus8

Adventurer
There is a difference between an animal and a human being. Yet, human beings are animals. Monsters are fictional, but there is a real difference between a monster and a person. And yet, some fictional creatures cross the blurry line and others are seemingly both at once. In the real world, categories are rarely absolute or binary, and they aren't anymore so in fiction, as much as we might like things to be clear, simple, and absolute.

I'm at a loss to help you further understand the difference, blurry as it is, between a monster and a person. To me the concepts are as simple as the difference between an animal and a person, despite some creatures in the Monster Manual crossing or blurring the line between the two.

Why bring it up? You can do things to animals you should not do, ethically, to people. You can do things to monsters that you should not do to people. In the real world, that's often how we justify committing evil upon others, is to "dehumanize" them, to consider them other than or less than human.

In a fictional world such as D&D, to make absolutes that proclaim some things are okay in regards to humans (just one a multitude of the player race options) different than animals and monsters is opinion.
Sometimes you have substituted "person" for "human." Mechanically, because this is a game, "person" is not something that exists. Human does exist, but I believe you have it meaning something different than person. The word animal is used ambiguously - "beast" being the mechanical term. Even the term "monster" is ambiguous since humanoids are considered a type of monster (and we've already mentioned the Monstrous Adventurers such as Orcs in Volo's Guide; plus elves and others are one of the entries in the Monster Manual).

You may believe that humans have a right to cut off a rhinos horn. Others may disagree. I don't need you to help me understand the difference between a monster and a person.

But again, this is pretty far off my initial point which is: It really shouldn't be unheard of for an evil PC to consider doing something evil like cutting off a minotaur's horns.

I don't want to hijack this thread with more off topic conversation so will refrain from more responses.
If you'd like to continue, I'd be happy to respond if you want to make a different thread.
 

Satyrn

First Post
I skipped from the first page of this thread to the last . . .



. . . This was not the direction I expected the conversation to go. :erm:
 

Dire Bare

Legend
I would think cutting off the horns would be the first thought; thinking through other options may not be something they have time for or consider worth time if they had it.
As for cutting off horns being time-consuming and full of effort, it seems like swinging a sword at a horn would be much easier and less time consuming than trying to think of what spell might work (plus having to use a spell slot, etc.) or trying to find something to cover it and then bind it to the horn so it won't come off and then hope that it would prevent an attack (and then potentially losing the resources of the padding and rope).

Is there a moral dilemma? Sure. But not cutting them off isn't more expedient.

Is the best tool to chop off some horns a sword or a saw? You are going to have a hard time taking off a creature's horns with a sword. Granted, we are playing a fantasy game and not a realistic farm sim . . . but, unless your ranger has a vorpal sword . . .

And really, *gasp*, we might have to use a spell slot?!?! Spells, and spell slots, are tools to solve problems, both in and out of combat. Ethically transporting a captive is a problem worthy of a spell.

You're spending a lot of effort to say, "Meh, cutting off part of a sentient being's body so as not to inconvenience the party is NBD." If you disagree that such an action would be inhumane, well, OK. We disagree. But, IMO, such an act is inhumane and evil, to be avoided by virtuous and "good" PCs. And also probably even to be avoided by evil and selfish PCs, at least those smart enough to want to avoid unnecessary negative consequences to their actions. Especially since there are alternatives. There are always alternatives.

Of course, we started with minotaurs as PCs, not as adversaries. Evil adversaries that captures the PCs would certainly have no problems chopping off their horns. Even well-intentioned adversaries might feel it is the best call. But that isn't something I would do to a PC, nerf their character. Unless we were working the act into a backstory, or playing a purposefully "dark" game, or if healing magic would easily solve the problem. And I would expect a well-roleplayed PC minotaur to feel violated, affronted, and perhaps even shamed over the loss of its horns, perhaps planning vengeance on the "monsters" who maimed it.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
In a fictional world such as D&D, to make absolutes that proclaim some things are okay in regards to humans (just one a multitude of the player race options) different than animals and monsters is opinion.
Sometimes you have substituted "person" for "human." Mechanically, because this is a game, "person" is not something that exists. Human does exist, but I believe you have it meaning something different than person. The word animal is used ambiguously - "beast" being the mechanical term. Even the term "monster" is ambiguous since humanoids are considered a type of monster (and we've already mentioned the Monstrous Adventurers such as Orcs in Volo's Guide; plus elves and others are one of the entries in the Monster Manual).

You may believe that humans have a right to cut off a rhinos horn. Others may disagree. I don't need you to help me understand the difference between a monster and a person.

But again, this is pretty far off my initial point which is: It really shouldn't be unheard of for an evil PC to consider doing something evil like cutting off a minotaur's horns.

I don't want to hijack this thread with more off topic conversation so will refrain from more responses.
If you'd like to continue, I'd be happy to respond if you want to make a different thread.

Dude, if you haven't figured out that the discussion over "animal", "monster", and "people/person" has nothing to do with mechanics . . . I guess we are done. If you can't see the difference, and how that affects what you can ethically do, yeah, we're done.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
So, Crawford has been posting pictures on Twitter of Medium Centaurs from Dragonlance and Al'Quadim sourcebooks:

"Given all the centaur excitement, here's some D&D history. Centaurs have had a variety of cultures and sizes in D&D. The generic Large version is in the "Monster Manual." Medium varieties appear in Dragonlance (pictured) and Forgotten Realms books as far back as 1990. #DnD" https://t.co/5Ktp4HpXFE

"D&D has both: Large and Medium centaurs. We get to have our centaur cake and eat it too. Also, here's another Medium centaur, this time from the Forgotten Realms—a desert centaur from Al-Qadim." https://t.co/E0ivjvfqVa

I get a strong, strong vibe, together with the return of the Krynn Minotaurs, that this says something interesting about some product in the pipeline...View attachment 97566View attachment 97567
 


So, Crawford has been posting pictures on Twitter of Medium Centaurs from Dragonlance and Al'Quadim sourcebooks:

"Given all the centaur excitement, here's some D&D history. Centaurs have had a variety of cultures and sizes in D&D. The generic Large version is in the "Monster Manual." Medium varieties appear in Dragonlance (pictured) and Forgotten Realms books as far back as 1990. #DnD" https://t.co/5Ktp4HpXFE

"D&D has both: Large and Medium centaurs. We get to have our centaur cake and eat it too. Also, here's another Medium centaur, this time from the Forgotten Realms—a desert centaur from Al-Qadim." https://t.co/E0ivjvfqVa

I get a strong, strong vibe, together with the return of the Krynn Minotaurs, that this says something interesting about some product in the pipeline...View attachment 97566View attachment 97567

In the case of minotaurs, they are explicitly not the ones from the MM. These minotaurs are Krynn minotaurs, which are a race of civilized people who are physically smaller and less monstrous, and whose lore has nothing to do with other minotaurs. The ones in the MM are an entirely different species of hulking monstrosities. So it makes sense that they could have completely different stats (although I'm not totally satisfied with the stats they gave them), and the Krynn minotaurs work as 1st level PCs (or NPCs), while the others are multi-HD menaces.

In the case of centaurs...well that just isn't really the case. Sure, here are some pictures showing smaller centaurs. But where is the lore behind that? Are we talking about there actually being multiple types of centaurs on an individual world? Or are we saying that Krynn centaurs (for instance) are smaller than the MM centaurs? How about the Forgotten Realms ones? Okay, well then where are the MM centaurs? If both types are galloping around on the same world, we need some lore that tells us about that. It's kind of a big deal. Or should we assume they are taking the "runt" centaur angle for PC usage? (Which I vehemently detest, and means they won't get used in my games if it is the case, and I'll have to fight the urge to bring up the dumbness of the runt centaur design every time centaurs come up in discussion. Ain't nobody got time for that.) They need to tell us this stuff!
 

Ilbranteloth

Explorer
Ah. I kind of suspected you would try to pull off something ridiculous like this.

Since no character build ever uses any weapon damage expression less than d6+modifier, having a d6 natural weapon is entirely and utterly insignificant.

That does not mean it's unreasonable.

At low levels, that is. Check out my other thread.

"Try to pull off" what? Comparing unarmed strikes to unarmed strikes?

Somehow I'm not finding any character builds in the rules. Or do you mean the character builds that people who are heavily focused on the mechanical aspects of character design online? Because that's one way to play the game, but it's certainly not the way.

A lot of our campaigns take place in cities and towns, where most of the local laws prohibit the drawing of steel first. So unarmed combat (and thus natural weapons) come into play a lot. Admittedly, if you're playing the APs or combat-focused adventures, then they may be less of a benefit, but it still provides a potential off-hand attack.

I'll check out your other thread, though.
 

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