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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    In my setting I have goblins as more of tinkerers and thinkers of the goblinoids, with their inventions tending to explode.
    Also Kobolds are adorable, don't at me, I didn't come up with it but.... yeah no idea how that happened really, somehow they ended up being sort of akin to scaly puppies.
    We're all just humans who like other humans... or we don't...
    What am I?
    I am me, and will continue to be me, as hard as I can.

  2. - Top - End - #32
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    I think a good general rule that has always served me well in created races that feel cool or giving a makeover to the old races is this

    "What makes this race different from a human?"

    And if those differences aren't fundamental enough, I question whether I should have it at all.

    A prime example of this is the goliath, a race im really not a fan of. 90% of the time theyre just a big human, through no fault of RP. Thats basically what they are. Theres some token fluff about them being slaves to giants or whatever, but thats not a racial trait, thats just a history, it could easily be a tribe of human barbarians that were slaves to giants. And honestly thats what I tend to do a lot of the time. My humans are weird man, there are humans out there with blue skin, tiger patterned skin, literal caveman neanderthals, pygmy humans, humans with an eclectic mix of racial traits from the real world. In a high fantasy world, humans can be as varied as they tend to be in science fiction.

    So when you look at something like an elf or dwarf and you want to give it a makeover, REALLY try and stretch those creative muscles for things that make them feel like a whole different thing entirely from a human being. For example, I tend to like my Elves to be highly androgynous, emphasizing their insane beauty (THERE ARE NO UGLY ELVES!). I let them float a few inches off the ground at half speed instead of walking, and their eyes are just pools of black flecked with white, like a starry night sky. Dwarven hair is quite literally spun of gold or silver, denoting rank with worth. Pearl teeth. Now a toothless or hairless dwarf is a wretch to be avoided, someone who sold his own features for money. So aesthetically, were getting somewhere.

    And its all about the aesthetics for an immediate and tangible impact that makes your world really FEEL fresh and inventive (in my opinion).

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Kane0's Avatar

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by Trask View Post
    Dwarven hair is quite literally spun of gold or silver, denoting rank with worth. Pearl teeth. Now a toothless or hairless dwarf is a wretch to be avoided, someone who sold his own features for money. So aesthetically, were getting somewhere.
    Explains why they would hate wine.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    I've discussed this previously, but I generally took races named after real world folklore back to their roots where possible for a celtic inspired setting.

    Goblins are a type of fairy, in particular ones that like to make a nuisance out of themselves. They adopt ugly forms to scare people, trick people into getting lost in forests or marshes, are cruel to animals and so on. They won't stab you with a knife or anything, but they'll laugh their point ears off if you fall on a farming tool and start bleeding out, or get stuck in a swamp and start to drown.

    Kobolds are similar, being a form of house spirit (though also found on ships and in mines.) Given proper respect and the odd sacrifice of food or goods they're mostly harmless and occasionally helpful. They are very easy to insult by accident though and take massively disproportionate revenge on people they feel have wronged them. Up to and including murdering people for calling them names. Getting rid of one is more of an exorcism than a fight. Spells and prayers can be used to drive them away, or finding out something that can be done to make them utterly hate where they're staying.

    For ogres and giants in general I took some inspiration from Irish folktales. They're an old race of men, the first to dwell in the land and who fought against the invading tribes of men that would become the fairy folk. Ultimately driven into the hills, deep forests, mountains, remote islands and the sea itself. The various giantkin mostly stick to themselves. Many are powerful wizards and sorcerers, they all hate the fairy folk in all their forms and usually have a beligerent and dismissive attitude towards humans. They are a dying folk, most having long since perished, the remainder living in small family groups and trying to scrape a living from harsh environments. They often have inhuman features beyond simply being huge in size, such as having animal heads, smooth skin where eyes should be or being cyclopean in nature.



    Orcs don't have much of a folkloric basis, just kind of a generic word for monsters and demons presumed to derive from a gallic god, so since I was going for a celtic vibe I decided to throw out the entire concept and made up a new idea based on the Pictish word orc, which means boar. I basically mashed together selkies, kelpies, boars and the Tuatha de Danaan. So in Irish folklore the fairies used to be a race of magical men who lived aboveground before they got tricked into living underground by the ancestors of the modern Irish, who offered to split Ireland 50/50 as part of a peace treaty between their people. The Irish picked first and chose aboveground, the fairies then all went under the earth. For my purposes I refluffed kelpies, selkies and the new orcs as fairies who rejected this deal and took on animal forms to roam the world where other fairies couldn't.

    Orcs became monstrous creatures that live in woodlands and hunt those who enter without offering them a sacrifice first. They look like large wild boar, with humanlike hands where their hooves would be. If they catch an intruder they will throttle them, then drag them into the woods to string their body up on the trees around their home, which is usually a hollow under a tree or a cave. In those hollows and caves they can assume their true form, that of a proud and cruel man/woman, a former warrior of the fairy folk.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    S@tanicoaldo's Avatar

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    Amusing (to me any way), it seems we went a similar route but each chose different races. In my world I've mostly kept dwarves Tolkienesque (why mess with perfection?) but it's the elves I've gone deeply fae with. Wicked humor, pranksters, flighty pains in the ass, with a lot of mind control and illusion magic. They're not all evil, per se. But their Eternal King is one of the most feared beings in the world, and even their allies treat them very delicately. You can never tell just what might set an elf off, and they're always changing the rules on you.
    I don't think Tolkien take on Dwarves was perfect at all.

    I find their whole thing rather dull and boring. Too comical to be taken serious and too conflictant with the aesthetic and mood I use in my games.

    Having the fae instead of elves is ok I guess, but you can have the fea instead of elves anyway, while creepy magic oriented and ugly dwarves not so much.

    It just feels more unique and original in my views.
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  6. - Top - End - #36
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    Also Kobolds are adorable, don't at me, I didn't come up with it but.... yeah no idea how that happened really, somehow they ended up being sort of akin to scaly puppies.
    Dwarf Fortress is where that came from. I just feel too mean to keep them from stealing my stuff and they're so cute the way the think they're sneaky.

    In most of my settings I actually have two different types of kobolds that, while they're both from draconic stock, you couldn't tell they're related initially. They both also have a genetic memory of sorts. While it's not too advanced like that of dragons or aboleths, it does occasionally impact them at random moments when an ancient memory surfaces out of nowhere in response to some random stimulus and blindsides them.

    First there's the Draco-Reptilian kobolds or the lizbolds. They're the ones you're most familiar with, though they're less faction-y and stabby and more "just let us live damn you! We're tired of making new warrens!!"

    Then there's the Draco-Mammalian kobolds or the dogbolds. They're the odd ones out here. They act kinda like scaly puppies like Wizard Lizard's, but they've also typically had a hard history and they tend to have a hard time feeling their worth (especially when a memory surfaces). This is offset by the fact that being around them makes others happier and more cheerful, leading to lots of appreciation and happy times. Don't be shocked if they take your wallet though, just because they're adorable and great to be around doesn't mean that there aren't still some that won't take advantage of it. They tend to have most if not all of their scales replaced with really short fur, but the fuzz and skin hide distinctively draconic anatomy.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    I also like the idea of fascist gnomes. Don't ask me why. I just... do.... They are basically try to eradicate kobolds.
    We're all just humans who like other humans... or we don't...
    What am I?
    I am me, and will continue to be me, as hard as I can.

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Faeries have a number of traits of hive insects (like bees) with a caste system, similarish to the Nac Mac Feegle from Discworld. Different castes can be represented by what a traditionally different creatures in other settings (so pixies might be scouts or gatherers and sprites are warriors).

    Each hive has a single queen that rules the hive and produces large numbers of offspring (like the Kelda) with her captured male consorts. The other fairies are non-fertile. This can be used to justify one-gender races, similar to how worker bees are female.

    When a new queen is hatched, the hive immediately starts looking for a new suitable hive location, possibly warring with another hive to take their location. The new queen will take a few other fairies with her and establish a new hive. Sometimes, when another hive has lost it's queen, she will take over the existing hive. Otherwise, one of the queens will murder the other queen.

    Generally speaking, people only encounter the fairy castes that go outside of the hive, like scouts and gatherers. Fairies use illusion magic to conceal the location and nature of their hives from outsiders. They may be playful and inquisitive when out, but they turn vicious if their hive or queen is threatened, laying down their lives to protect the hive for the needs of the hive outweigh those of any individual.

  9. - Top - End - #39
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaeda View Post
    Faeries have a number of traits of hive insects (like bees) with a caste system, similarish to the Nac Mac Feegle from Discworld.
    Yes. you win. The Nac Mac Feegle are great. I mean I once made like... homebrew for them... if that counts?
    We're all just humans who like other humans... or we don't...
    What am I?
    I am me, and will continue to be me, as hard as I can.

  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    I've thought of doing kobolds as basically larval dragons. So when a pair of dragons mate, they would lay several dozen eggs that hatch into kobolds. The kobolds generally act as servants and guards for the dragonpair that spawned them, and maybe one in a hundred lasts long enough and collects enough experience to metamorphose into a dragonborn. Dragonborn generally go off to have independent adventures, trying to accumulate enough treasure and XP to fuel the transformation into a full dragon.

    I've also thought of doing goblins as a sort of swarm-style monster. So in this world, goblins would be a feared enemy not because they are individually strong or tough or well-equipped, but because they breed and mature ridiculously quickly. So a goblin invasion would be less an organized army and more hundreds upon hundreds of smaller bands of a couple hundred goblins each flooding across the countryside, stripping the fields and orchards bare and looting anything they can get their hands on.
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  11. - Top - End - #41
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    I have bugbears live in a society where hair is seen as a kind of mark of power.
    The worst punishment a bugbear can endure is being shaved of hair, therefore marking them as non bugbears, and stripping them of their rights. Bugbears who are shaved are either executed, cast out, or become slaves. This is why bugbears show marked disgust at other races and believe that they have no rights. They have a grudging respect for dwarves, shifters, and tabaxi though.
    We're all just humans who like other humans... or we don't...
    What am I?
    I am me, and will continue to be me, as hard as I can.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Orcs don't have much of a folkloric basis, just kind of a generic word for monsters and demons presumed to derive from a gallic god, so since I was going for a celtic vibe I decided to throw out the entire concept and made up a new idea based on the Pictish word orc, which means boar. I basically mashed together selkies, kelpies, boars and the Tuatha de Danaan. So in Irish folklore the fairies used to be a race of magical men who lived aboveground before they got tricked into living underground by the ancestors of the modern Irish, who offered to split Ireland 50/50 as part of a peace treaty between their people. The Irish picked first and chose aboveground, the fairies then all went under the earth. For my purposes I refluffed kelpies, selkies and the new orcs as fairies who rejected this deal and took on animal forms to roam the world where other fairies couldn't.

    Orcs became monstrous creatures that live in woodlands and hunt those who enter without offering them a sacrifice first. They look like large wild boar, with humanlike hands where their hooves would be. If they catch an intruder they will throttle them, then drag them into the woods to string their body up on the trees around their home, which is usually a hollow under a tree or a cave. In those hollows and caves they can assume their true form, that of a proud and cruel man/woman, a former warrior of the fairy folk.
    I absolutely love this take on orcs! It's completely original, and would be very interesting to run into as a player.

    Speaking of orcs, how have others handled orcs in their settings? Personally, I dislike them as an inherently-evil race (if I must have an all-evil monster race in my setting, I'd rather they be something more monstruous and less like humans, like gnolls or troglodytes). In the setting that I'm currently working on, Last Haven, I plan to make orcs an embodiment of nature. They would be predators, and fierce, territorial hunters, but still capable of reason and peaceful interaction with other races, as long as they do not encroach on their lands. I'd also like to give all orcs some limited nature magic (like the Druidcraft cantrip) to demonstrate their oneness with nature.
    Currently worldbuilding Last Haven: a setting formed on a titan's corpse! If you have a moment, I would love your feedback!

  13. - Top - End - #43
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam113097 View Post
    I absolutely love this take on orcs! It's completely original, and would be very interesting to run into as a player.

    Speaking of orcs, how have others handled orcs in their settings? Personally, I dislike them as an inherently-evil race (if I must have an all-evil monster race in my setting, I'd rather they be something more monstruous and less like humans, like gnolls or troglodytes). In the setting that I'm currently working on, Last Haven, I plan to make orcs an embodiment of nature. They would be predators, and fierce, territorial hunters, but still capable of reason and peaceful interaction with other races, as long as they do not encroach on their lands. I'd also like to give all orcs some limited nature magic (like the Druidcraft cantrip) to demonstrate their oneness with nature.
    I also am a big fan of that take on orcs. I personally like my orcs more mythical monsters than thuggish barbarians (and i like using the word "orc" because it resonates pretty strongly with a lot of people.)
    I posted my take on orcs earlier in the thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trask View Post
    I made my Orcs the maggots that crawl through the parts of the world that are rotting. They start as huge maggots and eventually, after eating enough of the poor earth's flesh, grow into orcs.
    I took inspiration from the origin of the dwarves in norse mythology, as the maggots crawling through Ymir that Odin gave life, and sort of flipped the script that the maggots eating the world signal the end of the world, and the putrefaction of its surface and the end of life. The orcs are the herald of that end.

    Sounds like something similar to that might get some mileage in your setting, since the land is the body of a fallen god.
    Last edited by Trask; 2020-03-23 at 09:45 PM.
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  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Last time I used orcs, they were genetically engineered soldiers from some old war, the currently existing ones mostly those that had deserted instead of being "disposed off" when the war ended.

    Which I admit is not very creative compared to some of the others here.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2020-03-24 at 04:35 AM.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
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  15. - Top - End - #45
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    My Hobgoblins are also called High Goblins. They have all the grace and beauty (and stats) of half elves. They are just as militaristic as the MM says they are but they have sorcerers, warlocks and bards assisting the troops.

    for example, an army can be supported by a 100 1st level sorcerers with endless firebolts.
    another has a 100 2nd level warlocks with endless agonizing blasts.
    Warlock infiltrators/spies with Mask of Many Faces.
    The troops are always inspired by bards before battle.

    with such magical support, The goblin hordes are suddenly much more of a threat.

  16. - Top - End - #46
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    Daemon

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    This idea came about after reading of all the variants Pathfinder introduced of Troglodytes, without actually giving them any spotlight.
    The Troglodytes are simply the lowes kind of the reptilian race known as Xulgath. These were the psychically gifted underground explorers of the ancient Sarrukh empire (who also originated Lizardfolk, Asabi, Serpentfolks and other kinds of reptilian creatures). After the fall of their lords to the dragons, the Xulgath were left realatively unharmed given their subterranean location, and dispersed among the world, degenerating into what is known today as Troglodyte.

    Only a small part remained as the enlightened creatures they were, and held a small kingdom under an importan surface empire. At some point though, a new mutation started appearing among the lesser troglodytes: larger, tougher versions dubbed Scions. Seeing this, the Xulgath of the kingdom have been rallying their kin again, starting a rebreeding program that they hope will make them ready to retake the surface from the warm-blooded usurpers.

    They are divided in a caste system, as follows:
    • Xulgath Troglodyte: the degenerates, but numerous, laborers and foot soldiers (B1 Troglodytes)
    • Xulgath Therons: enlightened xulgath that make up the èlite of their society (MC Enlightened Troglodytes)
    • Xulgath Kantus: the priestly caste that holds their people together through the worship of ancient demon lords (OB Xulgath)
    • Xulgath Scions: the new mutation, that the therons hope will be the next step in their evolution (MC Troglodyte Paragon)

    And other variants who all find a place in their society or army

    There may or may not be a reawakened Sarruk that has been planning all of this

    Any reference to the Locust Horde of Gears of War is purely intentional
    Last edited by MalsvirT; 2020-04-03 at 09:37 AM.

  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    There are three worlds, the Material Realm home to humans, Fairy, and Chaos. The latter two act as the afterlives of humans (where you'll wander as an immaterial ghost until you achieve peace with the universe and allow your consciousness to merge with the unconscious All).

    Fairy, the world of Order, is home to the elves. Each area of Fairy is parallel to an area of the material world, and every elf looks like their home region's is of beauty (elves change over tone to reflect changing tastes). The minor physical differences between elves are used to decide which profession they should enter, each elf focuses on their profession to the exclusion of all else, their profession is their life. The head of an area of Fairy takes the title of Prince, and it's responsible for ensuring that everything goes well
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    * Everything needs to be less human in outlook and psychology. Half the time the orcs and elves and such just come off as humans in masks

    *The elves need to be more like folkloric fair folk

    *Halflings need to either be replaced with something actually original (such as the dinocaur nomads in Eberron, the degenerate cannibals in Dark Sun, or the Kender in Dragonlance) or failing that they need to be reverted to bei g hobbit clones. Preferably the first option. But in any case their characterization needs to be taken out of the weird limbo it seems to exist in where its neither one thing nor another

    *Dwarves, gnomes, goblins, and kobolds need to be in mutual tension with each other due to competing for similar ecological niches

    *warforged should not have genders, especially not if they're followers of the Lord of Blades or some other robot supremacist ideology

    *demons need to practice less institutionalized slavery and more people-chained-up-in-the-basement slavery. They are as much chaotic as they are evil.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2020-04-11 at 04:36 AM.
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  19. - Top - End - #49
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    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    The hobbit clone halflings I always felt would work just as well as a smaller human subrace.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
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  20. - Top - End - #50
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    Zombie

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    I’m pretty sure I posted this a while back, but I’ve since improved it a little.

    I’ll only showcase a few creatures for now. More later, if people like it.


    DRAGONS
    My dragons don’t fly. They make up for this with magical resistance and extra damage resistances/immunities.

    Red Dragons radiate an aura that lets them swim through the earth like it was water. As they age, this effect improves to the point that it eventually turns the earth around them to molten lava.

    Their breath weapon improves as they age too. It starts as simple fire, and eventually becomes a blast of atomic energy.

    Silver Dragons inhabit graveyards around human towns and cities, instead of mountains. Instead of the usual cold breath, they breath toxic gas that eventually mummifies their targets once the dragon is of ancient age.

    They’re still benevolent creatures fascinated with humanoids, but mechanically they resemble flightless Shadow Dragons from traditional D&D.


    ILLITHIDS
    They still need to consume brains, but they’re not malicious. They just mutate and educate various humanoids so those races can develop at a faster rate.

    Dudes just need to eat. The fact that the other races around them start gaining the ability to read and write is a nice side benefit for everyone else.

    Also, their psychic blast is more akin to a telepathic information overload. Wizards LOVE this.


    SAHUAGIN
    Not mine, but my dad’s. Instead of sharks, they’re based more on salmon. They travel upriver to mate, leaping majestically over waterfalls...
    Last edited by Comaward; 2020-04-11 at 07:13 AM.

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    The MM says some Worgs can speak common and all can speak goblin.

    Make the Worgs the master race and goblins the slave rave. Let all the worgs speak common. It is the Worgs to desire conquest, breeding in great numbers and using goblins as slaves with hands. The worgs will use armor built for their body types. some will have steel teeth.

    Imagine the PCs trying to protect a town from an army of a thousand Worgs supported by 500 goblin slaves...the negotiations with the worg ambassador would be very interesting...

  22. - Top - End - #52
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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    In my new setting elves are creatures of light and are the archetype of lawful evil.

    They have built their palaces in the desert with graceful columns emerging from the sand and spacious marble halls an colonnades running through cities. This is all built on slave labour. Furthermore giant silver mirrors collect and condense sunlight into gems that can be used to power weapons and war. They exemplify the destructive use of light in war and their magic supports this with spells that focus light to burn enemies.

    The powerful in elf society control the collecting mirrors and have the greatest access to light. This not only gives them influence but their channelling of light has a side effect. The light suffuses their bodies making them extraordinarily long-lived. They are preserved as glowing figures for thousands of years still commanding their armies, their slaves and their family empires.

  23. - Top - End - #53
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops08 View Post
    The MM says some Worgs can speak common and all can speak goblin.

    Make the Worgs the master race and goblins the slave rave. Let all the worgs speak common. It is the Worgs to desire conquest, breeding in great numbers and using goblins as slaves with hands. The worgs will use armor built for their body types. some will have steel teeth.

    Imagine the PCs trying to protect a town from an army of a thousand Worgs supported by 500 goblin slaves...the negotiations with the worg ambassador would be very interesting...
    Bring in Barghests as well. Maybe a worg is a half-barghest wolf.

    Barghests are already wolfish in shape, quite intelligent, reasonably powerful magicians and are said to sometimes rule goblin tribes.
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  24. - Top - End - #54
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Last time I used orcs, they were genetically engineered soldiers from some old war, the currently existing ones mostly those that had deserted instead of being "disposed off" when the war ended.

    Which I admit is not very creative compared to some of the others here.
    I like that actually, it kinda reminds me of the discworld orcs... but tbf I'm kinda biased when it comes to looking for things similar to discworld... it kinda fits with their origin, sort of like uruk hai in lord of the rings.
    We're all just humans who like other humans... or we don't...
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  25. - Top - End - #55
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops08 View Post
    The MM says some Worgs can speak common and all can speak goblin.

    Make the Worgs the master race and goblins the slave rave. Let all the worgs speak common. It is the Worgs to desire conquest, breeding in great numbers and using goblins as slaves with hands. The worgs will use armor built for their body types. some will have steel teeth.

    Imagine the PCs trying to protect a town from an army of a thousand Worgs supported by 500 goblin slaves...the negotiations with the worg ambassador would be very interesting...
    This might work better for Barhests as Eldan mentioned, where it could actually set up a region with a Spartan style government. The Barghests functioning as the Spartiates and hypomeiones, the Warghests as the mothakes, goblins as the helots, bugbears as skiritai and hobgoblins for the rest of the perioikoi.

    So, barghests rule unless their family became poor or disgraced at any point, occasionally allowing a few warghest children into "school" (the brainwashing center). Hobgolins produce anything skilled, while the bugbears live on land unsuitable for farming in exchange for services in war. Goblins are slaves owned by the state, and lent out to individual barghests to work the land, making up almost the entire population. Multiple surrounding towns and villages of goblinoids have also been subjugated, although each is distinctly smaller than the barghest ruled area.
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  26. - Top - End - #56
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    in my setting, goblins are living in a scrappy desert. they live in caves underneath the desert, feeding on plants that feed on the natural magic field.
    they were forced to live there because, being smaller and weaker than anyone else, they were chased away from all the best land millennia ago.
    they can live there because they need less food than everyone else.
    they are explosive breeders. an average goblin family has 10 to 20 children.
    but they have limited resources. limited food, limited water, limited living space. so they became social darwinists. they don't practice birth control. instead, they cull their young.
    when young goblins reach maturity, some are deemed useful for the tribe. those with magical capacities and those with some great skill.
    Everyone else is sent out, to die in the desert.
    those are the goblin raiding bands that are encountered by adventurers. it also explains why they are attacking against suicidal odds: they are hungry and have nothing to lose.
    though they have a small chance: if they survive two years, they can go back and be tested again. generally as warriors. if they pass, they are admitted back. this happens very rarely, though.

    because of the hardship they face living in their overpopulated caves in their scrappy desert surrounded by enemies, goblins are grim determinators. they are willing to face any sacrifice to keep going, and their will sacrifice their lives gladly for their goblin nation. because while individual goblins live fast and die young after a life of drudgery, the goblin nation will endure, and they take comfort in being part of something bigger.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    My Mind Flayers are mostly part of a secret underground organization. Masking their existence from the outside world. Generally kidnapping the lost or unwanted of a population for their experiments. They will do anything to keep them secret, not just their location and whatnot, but the entire existence of their species. Any academics about to come to that discovery are quickly taken care of and replaced with a doppleganger. (Dopplegangers are mind flayer creations in my world).
    We're all just humans who like other humans... or we don't...
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  28. - Top - End - #58
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    My current homebrew setting has a few tweaks:

    Elves aren’t properly immortal, but they have a personal ritual that allows them to reincarnate. I realized later it basically makes them all Doctor Who, but whatever.

    I never like orcs as described. Now they’re basically the apes from Planet of the Apes. They are still brutish, but the aesthetic is different and it brings them into conflict with elves for Arboreal homes.

    Halflings are so blessed they’re all useless. Shiftless layabouts That think work is a suckers game, at any given time there might be 1 or two boards among them worth adventuring with and even they are often whiners, but mostly they’re trash.

    Dragonborn are the later generations of Half-Dragons, there are pure and mixed blood subraces.

    Aasimar are actual angels that have chosen to incarnate as mortals. At any time they can throw away their mortality and be a Solar or Planetar, but within a few minutes of doing so they’re going to be called back to the heavens or risk being Gated to Hell by their god.

    Dwarves are dwarves. Sorry.

    Humans are a minority outside the capital city, they are often slaves to other races.

  29. - Top - End - #59
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Quote Originally Posted by NovenFromTheSun View Post
    I’d make goblins and kobolds more like their folkloric roots by making them more like fae or spirits rather than purely biological lifeforms.
    So you would make them into undead creatures, so a cleric can turn them?

  30. - Top - End - #60
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    Default Re: How would you reinvent classic monstrous races

    Usually what I do to handle the kitchen-sink of D&D humanoids is simply NOT INCLUDE most monstrous races.

    Here are some takes I've used when I did include a particular monstrous race:

    Gnolls - Humanoids who engage in cannibalism receive an offer from the demon-prince Yeenoghu. If they accept, they transform into gnolls, gaining supernatural powers and horrible appetites. (Whether you engaged in cannibalism due to trickery or desperation isn't relevant; you eat the flesh, you get the offer.)

    Goblinoids - When a faerie circle becomes polluted with the taint of death, either because the area had been used as a battlefield or because some undead were confined in the environs, then instead of grigs / pixies / satyrs / nymphs being born of the circle, goblins / hobgoblins / bugbears / oni are spawned. These goblinoids are tainted fey who seek to drag more humanoid corpses to rot within the faerie circle to propagate their kind.

    Dwarves and Elves - There are no female dwarves nor male elves. These "two races" are a single species with very pronounced sexual dimorphism. The reason the elf and dwarf in the party bicker so much is that they're married. Dwarf x Human progeny results in a half-elf, for obvious reasons.

    Aranea - These spidery infiltrators are said to descend from the sky on gossamer moonbeams. They are not of this world, and appear only on the three nights of the full moon. This is why we are most wary of strangers on those nights, and the days after.

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