D&D General What Would Happen if Fiends Came to Fill the "Low CR Monsters" Niche?

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
5e lore says they are born of normal hyenas that were corrupted by demon ichor. New gnolls are created when hyenas (and sometimes other creatures) eat dead gnoll meat and transform into "adult" gnolls. They barely work with any other races, create no tools or living spaces, only communicate in the simplest terms, and have no families or young.


This is very different than previous edition lore, and some exceptions (such as Eberron) exist. They were set up to be basically unnatural engines of terror and destruction that orcs could only dream of being, and it's been soundly rejected by people who just want a hyena-headed PC race.

I don't imagine a 'gnoll 2.0" will fair much better.
Yes, the 5e lore casts gnolls as demon-spawn. The problem is, the people (such as myself) who want playable gnolls don’t like that lore, and don’t want gnolls to be fiends at all. Maybe if you kept the same lore, but had them look like horrible monsters, people would be more accepting of it, but the fact of the matter is, they look like anthropomorphic hyenas. You combine an animal and a human, and inevitably a huge number of people will find it sympathetic. Folks want their cool hyena people, and they don’t want them to be always-evil monsters created from tainted demon meat.
 

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Remathilis

Legend
Yes, the 5e lore casts gnolls as demon-spawn. The problem is, the people (such as myself) who want playable gnolls don’t like that lore, and don’t want gnolls to be fiends at all. Maybe if you kept the same lore, but had them look like horrible monsters, people would be more accepting of it, but the fact of the matter is, they look like anthropomorphic hyenas. You combine an animal and a human, and inevitably a huge number of people will find it sympathetic. Folks want their cool hyena people, and they don’t want them to be always-evil monsters created from tainted demon meat.
That's fine. Difference of opinion.

I LOVE the new gnolls. I like that they were absolute beasts, fiends in mortal flesh, and more a force of nature than a another humanoid race. It made them unique and not "furry orcs" and it didn't bother me in the least they aren't a PC race. After Volos guide, I used more gnoll encounters than I had in 20 years prior.

Remove that and gnolls are just another furry PC race to go along with tabaxi, tortles and harengon in Zootopia D&D.
 




fba827

Adventurer
While it is not a "problem" just something to consider. Low level PCs (that would be dealing with the low CR creatures) are often narratively assumed to be dealing with more mundane threats more commonly, with extraplanar beings being a random appearance growing more and more as PCs get higher in level dealing with larger scale (ie city-region-continent-world-planes).
So if you do shift demons and devils down to a more common level of appearance just be sure you have a concept of what will fill higher CR narrative arcs and not feel repetitive ("for 20 levels we've been fighting just different strengths of devils...")
 



Scribe

Hero
Folks want their cool hyena people, and they don’t want them to be always-evil monsters created from tainted demon meat.
Lucky for them, its as simple as remembering a 'Typically' is assumed and has existed since the release of the MM in 2014, and they can say a Wizard did it for anything else.
 


aco175

Legend
Part of the argument against having orcs and goblins and such as common enemies is that their are frequently good individuals, they reproduce, and they may be native to the area.
My games have never had a good orc or goblin, maybe a neutral(ish) one at best. I'm not sure how frequent they are. I have no problem with them being the cheap, evil ones.
 

I've been thinking for a while that D&D, if it wanted to, could just shift a lot of the negative traits ascribed to goblins and orcs and whatever to certain low CR demons and make them more common as low-level enemies. It would also help give dretches and what not more personality.

Part of the argument against having orcs and goblins and such as common enemies is that their are frequently good individuals, they reproduce, and they may be native to the area. In contrast, low CR demons (manes, rutterkin, dretches, quasits, etc) are are pure evil without the civility that devils can have, don't reproduce, are invaders from the Abyss rather than natives of the world, and don't even really die when destroyed unless destroyed in the Abyss. Their presence in large numbers also increases the Abyss' link to a world, so wiping out incursions is also an imperative, and there are higher CR demons that can serve as bosses forcing lesser demons into servitude (though, being Chaotic, many of these demons would probably flee to go do their own thing, further making them a threat to the countryside even as the boss demon summons more minions from the Abyss).

Demons are the most obvious choice for rampaging monsters, but devils and even yugoloths could be justifiable (thought currently the lowest CR yugoloth, the mezzoloth, is at CR 5). How many adventures with some villain forcing orcs or goblins into their employ would work just as well with summoned fiends in that role?

The only thing is I have the suspicion that putting demons in the goblins' niche might somehow end up making people want to start portraying literal demons and devils more sympathetically, which would be bad optics for the game that once suffered under the Satanic Panic. Making them staples of low level adventures where the authors try to get creative with them might make them more interesting as NPCs, and we could have players starting to want to play good demon PCs.

Thoughts?
I think that could work. You could also say goblins and such are demons if you want. Also, goblins, orcs, etc don’t have to have culture, reproduce sexually, or anything like that. Thing can be expressions of evil if you want (heck you could make elves or humans that way too if you want).
 

Great question.

My take on it is that it wouldn't scratch the same itch, because somehow (insert unprovable but interesting evolutionary psychology hypothesis) we humans find a story of tribal us vs. them (where the "us" are the good guys) to be too compelling. But, for it to work, to really tickle those ancient neurons, the "them" needs to thread the needle between being mostly human-like, but just enough different for us to convince ourselves that it's ok to suspend our normal morality.

The messy party is that this weak spot in human psychology has been historically leveraged not just to tell a rousing tale, but also to justify genocide/oppression/slavery. So when, today, we think we're just using that trick in order to tell a good story, we're piggybacking off of centuries (or millennia) of bad history. Which kind of sucks for people to whom that kind of discrimination is all too real.

So, yeah, using fiends would help avoid that problem, but I think for the same reason it just wouldn't be as engaging and might not see the kind of adoption we might hope for.

Still, I'm all for it.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I've been thinking for a while that D&D, if it wanted to, could just shift a lot of the negative traits ascribed to goblins and orcs and whatever to certain low CR demons and make them more common as low-level enemies. It would also help give dretches and what not more personality.

Part of the argument against having orcs and goblins and such as common enemies is that their are frequently good individuals, they reproduce, and they may be native to the area. In contrast, low CR demons (manes, rutterkin, dretches, quasits, etc) are are pure evil without the civility that devils can have, don't reproduce, are invaders from the Abyss rather than natives of the world, and don't even really die when destroyed unless destroyed in the Abyss. Their presence in large numbers also increases the Abyss' link to a world, so wiping out incursions is also an imperative, and there are higher CR demons that can serve as bosses forcing lesser demons into servitude (though, being Chaotic, many of these demons would probably flee to go do their own thing, further making them a threat to the countryside even as the boss demon summons more minions from the Abyss).

Demons are the most obvious choice for rampaging monsters, but devils and even yugoloths could be justifiable (thought currently the lowest CR yugoloth, the mezzoloth, is at CR 5). How many adventures with some villain forcing orcs or goblins into their employ would work just as well with summoned fiends in that role?

The only thing is I have the suspicion that putting demons in the goblins' niche might somehow end up making people want to start portraying literal demons and devils more sympathetically, which would be bad optics for the game that once suffered under the Satanic Panic. Making them staples of low level adventures where the authors try to get creative with them might make them more interesting as NPCs, and we could have players starting to want to play good demon PCs.

Thoughts?
I'll just point out it worked for Diablo.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
The only thing is I have the suspicion that putting demons in the goblins' niche might somehow end up making people want to start portraying literal demons and devils more sympathetically, which would be bad optics for the game that once suffered under the Satanic Panic. Making them staples of low level adventures where the authors try to get creative with them might make them more interesting as NPCs, and we could have players starting to want to play good demon PCs.

Thoughts?
Goblins (orcs, etc.) reproduce in the same way that humans do. That goes a long way to making them into people--you can have baby goblins and elderly granma goblins, if you wanted.

How do demons reproduce? If you want them to remain inhuman, killable monsters, then have them reproduce as such. They aren't born; they spontaneously generate out of corrupted places or out of piles of filth, spawn from evil thoughts, or are formed out of souls stolen or captured by greater demons. (This is assuming you don't have them being created out of the souls of the damned, as is traditional.)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
4E, BTW, also had a thing for making non-evil minotaurs relatively prominent in its default setting even before making them a PC race in that edition's Player's Handbook 3. The Nentir Vale region was once the site of an advanced minotaur civilization called Saruun Khel that was devoted to Lawful gods such as Bahamut and Moradin. The adventure Thunderspire Labyrinth is set in the ruins of a section of Saruun Khel, and later in Madness at Gardmore Abbey a tomb of minotaur Bahamut worshipers from the days of Saruun Khel (where Bahamut was depicted as a minotaur) can be found. Baphomet himself was more of a corrupting influence instead of their racial god, trying to influence evil minotaurs to destroy everything their non-evil kin have accomplished.
Gods I wish they’d put out a book of 4e setting lore with 5e rules. Or just art and lore, damn.
 


JEB

Legend
Re: gnolls. It looks like the lore may be shifting in Monsters of the Multiverse, per a leak on Reddit:
Gnolls were hyenas transformed by magic. Many of them were then corrupted by the demon lord Yeenoghu. Whether in service to Yeenoghu or dedicated to the survival of their kin, gnoll war bands seek to soften up foes with surprise attacks and leave no survivors alive.
 

Scribe

Hero
Re: gnolls. It looks like the lore may be shifting in Monsters of the Multiverse, per a leak on Reddit:
Shocked GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Re: gnolls. It looks like the lore may be shifting in Monsters of the Multiverse, per a leak on Reddit:
🙄

Adding the word “many” to the description of evil gnolls doesn’t actually do anything to shift the lore. Show is what the non-evil gnolls look like, don’t just tell us they could theoretically exist somewhere. Then give us PC stats for them.
 

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