Playing non-demi-human characters

I bet the dragon on the left is a rogue.

When I was growing up, monster Player Characters were strictly verboten in D&D campaigns -- you were one of the main races, or you didn't play. Plus we had to walk uphill to the dungeon in the snow both ways.

Nowadays, of course, that's not the case, and you can play all sorts of various monster-influenced characters, both in D&D and other systems. Which got me to wondering, have you ever played a non-demi-human character (meaning not a dwarf, elf, human, halfling, or other common pre-set race)? If so, what was it?

Going a step further, if your DM said you not only could, but had to play a monster-based character, which monster would you want to use as your base?

And finally, let's say you were given the task by a major comics company to develop a super hero based on a mythological monster, what would you come up with?

35 Responses to Playing non-demi-human characters

  1. Marx says:

    I played a human ranger/druid in a Forgotten Realms campaign once and I made the mistake of skimping on my back-story with a creative DM. Come second level, my character started… changing. Minor stuff at first–thick finger and toe nails, gold irises, flaky skin–but eventually I came to discover that my character’s father was a gold dragon and the DM was putting me through half-dragon puberty. Pretty cool concept. I got a breath weapon, scaly natural armor, and claws out of it, as well as wings that were only strong enough to let me fly if the party’s psionicist reduced my mass. Went through a lot of in-character angst over many levels to get there though.

  2. Marx says:

    Oh yeah, here’s his HM pic, along with the rest of the party.

  3. Ben Trafford says:

    We played a monster-based game in AD&D 2nd edition years ago. My character was a Quickling thief. It was pretty awesome!

    The only human-seeming character in the party turned out to be a dragon polymorphed into human form and stuck there.

  4. Danny Beaty says:

    A gorgon-based superheroine could work, some chick that temporarily paralyzes the bad guy. A griffin, a phoenix, etc

  5. kingmonkey says:

    Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but looking at all these new-fangled books for the new generations of D&D, I almost feel there are too many options. I like diversity as much as the next guy, but we’re one step away from RIFTS, here. When I was a lad, we played with the normal races and that was it. Hell, we even rolled our stats using Method 1. You were lucky if you had the stats to be a Fighter, let alone a Ninja/Mage/Psionicist/Prostitute/Robo-Bard.

  6. @Marx: Cool pic.

    We had a campaign in which we were fortress security. Two orcs, a troglodyte, a troll, and I was the kobold thief. Our job was to protect a Drow noble’s property from humans who mistakenly called her mansions “dungeons”. 😉

    Lots of fun, sitting around for hours on end, playing craps, eating fritos. Until the moment when some jerks busted the door and started swinging. I made sure to kill the guy who was mapping the room first. Signature move was to shove the pencil up his nose.

    As for mythological creatures as superheroes? In keeping with Jeff’s Invisible Woman kick, I think FF covered it with Gorgon, Madam Medusa, and Dragon Man. For that matter, Marvel went into most of them with Thor, Loki, The Hydra, Cyclops, Leviathan, Windigo, etc.

    As for a superhero, I’d go with the Thunderbird… wait, Marvel already has that too.

    Finally, Jeff… you closed the Open Critique way too early! Been saving Cinder for an open day. No need for critique or anything, but I’m posting here. She does kind of fit the D&D theme, but is a humanoid. So still off-topic.

    No need for feedback, I just really like this character and want to share. Been writing and re-writing a story around her.

  7. Oquies says:

    Well I have done centaur, draganspawn(which is like a dragon type looking centaur was really cool), gnoll, demon, and a giant arachnid.

  8. Ian says:

    one time I did a fire giant/pit fiend berserker in AD&D 2nd edition.

  9. Me, Myself & I says:

    I had a Wemic character in the Forgotten Realms setting once. It was actually quite entertaining. It was comical when ever we needed to do any climbing or spelunking though. A lion body doesn’t lend itself to climbing sheer rock faces, etc.

    The link below is to a website that is all about a group of characters that are actually Goblins and how that changes the perspective.

  10. Owl_Poop says:

    My first one was a human barbarian that, on our first crossover into Ravenloft, got bit by a werewolf. And because our GM was pretty much a Care Bear about the party (I swear), the lycanthropy didn’t cause me to turn my character sheet over to him. My barbarian was now a werewolf with all the plusses and minuses that came with it.

    Fun times. (And I always wanted to play a Wemic or a Marilith, dang it)

  11. Jake says:

    My first character was a doppelganger. I’ve also played as a Gnoll, a Goblin, and a new race me and my DM cooked up called a Turtlefolk. I’ve also played a Cyclops before. Fun times.

    In my own campaign,I added a couple of main races to fit my world. These included Goblins, Hobgoblins, Centaurs, Cyclops, and Merfolk. I also strongly discouraged people wanting to play a Halfling and Half Elves and Half Orcs didn’t exist in my world.

  12. Worf says:

    Haven’t really played a monster based PC. The closest I came to that was a renegade albino Drow.

    Now, if I was going to develop a monster based PC, with the whole compendium to choose from, I’d love to try a Beholder wizard. I think he’d be outcast from beholder society because he actively wanted to interact with humanoids, so he eventually found a master wizard to train with and now he can morph into a human for those pesky bars.

    Now a superhero based on a monster…. Though not technically a monster for half of the time, I’d choose the winged serpent god of Aztec Mythology, Quetzalcoatl.

  13. Neon Sequitur says:

    I signed up for an Eberron game when I found out they had hobgoblin PC’s. They’re one of my favorites. The other players were convinced he was lawful good — it was hilarious. I’ve also played a Tiefling, and absolutely nobody was convinced he was lawful good!

  14. The Eric says:

    Having races that go beyond man-elf-dwarf is one the great things about 4th Edition D&D to me. I’ve played a dragonborn ranger (who not-so-tragically died falling down a stupid waterfall) and i plan on playing a minotaur paladin. Not that i won’t play traditional races, dwarves are great and one idea i have for a warlock is perfect for a human.

  15. Jadebrain says:

    I believe I may have mentioned this before in other posts, but my favorite monster race to play is the minotaur. I’ve played a minotaur monk in GURPS (and he was the best character in the whole party; hardest to kill, highest DPR, and low maintenance), a minotaur warden and a minotaur fighter multiclass ranger in 4e, and, like Eric, I’m thinking about a minotaur paladin, or perhaps a minotaur cleric!

  16. Nick Hentschel says:

    Being a Nessie fan, Dragons and sea serpents are naturally hard to resist. And the “Dinomarines” contest has hot reptilian chicks on my mind, quite naturally. But in the end, I think I’d have to play a goblin: they’re cute, in an evil sort of way, and would make a delightfully sinister alternative to a halfling.

  17. EnderX says:

    Don’t play, so I can’t state.

    And for that ‘Superhero Monster’, how are you defining those terms? Both of them, specifically? It wasn’t exactly ‘Superhero’ as in Capes/Flight level, but I’ve put together a couple of small stories in a personal universe where all the myths are loosely real, with ‘Stephanie Stone’, aka Stethno, as the major character. Possibly more ‘Detective’ than ‘Superhero’ in the way it played out, though.

  18. Cliff says:

    Satyr! hands down, I love them and have played them in AD&D even way back when, and have update him for the verious Ed including Book of Erotic Fantasy.

    male Satyr
    8th Lvl Bard
    Born as Hedonicus to the Dryad Ivy Threeleaves near the Friendly Forest on the Spring Equinox.
    Has also known as: Hedon, Edon, Don, Doni, Oni, Nikos, Nik, Nicky, Kos, Kid, Billy, Auletes, Al, Buck, Bucky

    Brown hair, green eyes 5’2″, 123lbs, looks 20 yrs old but is actually 35.

    At his 12th Spring Hedonicus found his father, Kreon, and his band and joined for six Springs

    Took the name Auletes (which is Greek for Piper) when he left his band to find another needing a piper once he was taught by the band’s Satyr bard, Suristes, to create his own pipes and play the magic songs of Sleep, Charm and Fear.

    Auletes traveled around playing his pipes entertaining and adventuring when it suited his fancy.
    He loved to play his pipes and did at the slightest provocation weather it was to seduce shepherds or shepherdesses, entertain peasents, torment overly pious monks, to protect young star crossed lovers from their families, music duels with gypsies, sharing with elves, overcoming banshees or the likes.
    His career hit what some would call his greatest hieght when he became court musician for a king and his lowsest when he was tired of playing to urge on the King’s men to battle and watching the sensless slaughter and he took his leave of the King’s service and ended up a begger living in a empty wine barrel in an alley behind the The Faun’s Arse tavern. Auletes doesn’t agree with common opinion and considers them just the opposite.

    A collector of Music, he owns:
    The Halfling Encyclopdedia of Folk Music,
    Holy Hops: The Sacret Tablets of Dwarven Drinking Hymns to Bud The Wiser, Guiness the Stout and Koorz.
    GoldBuckle’s Grimoire of Gnomish Jigs,
    Lethe’s Tome of Drow Dirges and Laments,
    The Seven Scrolls of Salty Sea Shanties,
    The Banned Binder of Bawdy Ballads as well as others, all Bardic spell books.



    Adventuring Garb!/photo.php?pid=152687&id=100000780936307&fbid=134442109925153


  19. Me, Myself & I says:

    I also played a Goblin once named Teek Warg Heart. Yup, you guessed it, he rode a Warg. He was a Rouge which the race lends itself well to. I advanced with some Fighter levels after a while and eventually lead a Goblin / Hobgoblin army against the neighboring human nation in a bid for independance. That was a pretty cool campaign.

    The only other non standard race I ever played was a Lizard Man Monk. The adventure never lasted long though so I never really got to explore it.

  20. Me, Myself & I says:

    Cliff (18)

    I know this isn’t the critique thread but I have to say that of all your character’s that I’ve seen, I like this one the best.

    The character does wash out a bit in the image where he is in the woods. have you considered making the trees a darker color so there is more contrast?

    The coloring on the character itself seems very natural and appropriate. This is a really great design.

  21. Tim K. says:

    I played a Trollbold from te Basic D&D Gazetteer Orcs of Thar. (Mother was a troll, father was a kobold. Don’t ask how it worked. No one wants to know, really.)

  22. Cliff says:

    finding out your a half dragon in a game sounds VERY kewl. Kewl pic too. What was the character’s name?

    @Ben Trafford
    Quickling Theif must have been pretty pretty awesome.

    @Danny Beaty
    I am happy to see you said Gorgon and not a medusa LOL. Phoenix could work, but who wants the copyright infringement hassle LOL.

    but the great thing about it is the rules now exist so you CAN play the other races, you don’t HAVE to, and a GM can say “Not in this game”

    @The Atomic Punk
    OW! What kinda damage ya get for a pencil up the nose?
    LOVE Gorgon! Just a cloven hoof away from a Satyr!
    THANKS for the link too, I harvested the Gorgon pics.
    Cinder is pretty kewl, as are all of them,
    I have a few elemental types myself

    Wow, sounds like a very diverse mix, curious, what were their alignments?

    yeah the other races do have their own mindset, when I played a Pixie in Palladium, it was kinda refreshing, Prixie didn’t care about treasure hording or fighting monsters he just wanted to have fun and play pranks.
    Here is a G rated pic safe to post of Prixie, he usually didn’t wear clothes though.!/photo.php?pid=152733&id=100000780936307

    In Werewolf the Forsaken I got so play a werewolf, VERY strange game. My outdoorsy, rancher character Conner (looks like the blonde Calvin Kline underwear model, and WB Tarzan) ending up dating a party member who was a bisexual, albino, transvestite, VERY urban techno geek, FBI agent (I swear I had NOTHING to do with it, it was a straight guy who came up with him). Our Pack was called 2 Kaotik 2 Kare, we ended up having a giant Flemish Rabbit as our totem so we could turn into Wererabbits as well. After a campaign of searching we caught up to the Pure Werewolves who killed one of our party and fought them in a Collisum type setting, we managed to rip out their throats, they would slowly heal, then we all changed into giant rabbits and pooped on them for the humilation factor. We laughed our butts off. That was the end of the game sadly, Life got in the way after that.

    Turrlefolk sounds interesting. Would like to hear more.

    I had a renegade Drow back in the 80s, What was your called Worf?
    Mine was called Shadowcat
    Yes, it was around 1983 when Kitty Pryde became Shadowcat and I liked the name. Of course mine dressed like a AD&D male stripper, but what would one expect from me. I really need to HM3 him … don’t worry I wouldn’t post him.

    @Neon Sequitur
    first off … LOVE the name LOL
    The Tiefling sounds fun, I wish ya’ll would give some details, I imagine everyone thinks I give too much, but I like hearing some about people’s characters and their adventures.

    @ The Eric
    Do I ask how a dragonborn ranger dies falling off a waterfall?
    But then Thumper the Elf scout died standing next to a dain bramaged mage who polymorphed into a 9′ tall 700lb purple rabbit (this was actually a Warhammer game, BEFORE the Were-rabbit werewolf game and about a decade between them) the same GM killed my character at the BACK of the party, with the best AC of magic plate and shield, in a narrow ravine. 2 earth elementals merged out of the casm walls and the 2 front character attacked and did SO MUCH damage the elementals Exploded! The shrapnal of the exploding elementals, passed all 6 characters in front of mine, in a narrow casm … and killed mine. The entire party was asking the GM “WTF!?” He killed another one of my characters too, We stopped playing with him.

    Interesting. A minotaur monk, I would like to see that.
    Do a HM3 LOL

    @Nick Hentschel

    Thanks for the comments MMI. I admit I tend towards paler people, but ya just can’t have a pale outdoorsy Satyr IMO.
    And about him washing out in the forest, admittedly that is on purpose, since he is GREAT at como like most of his race.

  23. knighthawk says:

    Oh lets see, in chronological order or by fun had?
    I don’t really count the creatures from 4th edition as it was intended for all races to be playable races.

    Barra’Quortek Buki’Jesshc Was a Vampiric drow assassin (technically a ninja) who made a killing, so to speak, in the underdark. His signature move was the turn his victim into a vampire and put a stake through their heart when they rose. if there was to be no body left behind he used a dust buster (a brass ring with the breeze cantrip and a wineskin to hold the dust) Since there is no sun in the underdark he could operate at full strength at any hour of any day.

    Antonio Greengem was a halfling wizard of the enhancement schools. Well we fight an evil druid and my wizard just sits there counter-spelling the druids magic while everyone lays in the hurt on her. Well the DM got frustrated with me and in the druids final spell lays a reincarnation curse. Next month my halfling gets bitten in half and swallowed by a dragon (darn magic resistance) WEll as the dragon swallows me, there is a flash and a splash as not one, but two minotaurs dripping in dragon droppings. DM made it quite the gag for a character split between two bodies and could only cast if both minotaurs were touching. They were now Tarus and Bullvine Greengem.

    Kennedy The gnoll was a ranger (his version of bark skin was thick lush grass to absorb and tangle the blow rather than hard flakes) whose greatest claim to fame was his +1 silver cloak. He got it in his first “big city” trip, the bard gave each of us 100GP to dress for a fancy ball and we came to a place called the silver cloak.
    “Greetings…uh.. sir, how can i help you?”
    “This place, silver cloak?”
    “Yes sir! the silver cloak is the-”
    “Here!” He shoves the sack of gold into the tailors hands, then leaps up and pulls the silver cloak off the flagpole and walks off down the street with a shocked seamstress holding the bag.

    If my DM made us play a monster…
    In 4th edition I would play a Hobgoblin monk using oversized gauntlets.

    In 3rd edition I would play a drow Sorcerer.

    In 2nd edition I would play a quickling thief.

    Finally if I was to do a comic book, I would make a “Minotaur Paladin” As a “cow-boy sheriff” wearing a Spaniard conquistador breastplate under his poncho and carrying throwing knives, (might even go so campy as sheriff badge throwing stars) something to put his high strength to use. His love interest would be a rescued priestess of East Indian pantheon and each issue would have some snippet of Indian culture as well as culture shock of immigrant life in the old west.

  24. joel says:

    once in a D&D campaign, I started out as an elf sorcerer. however, on the last day of the campaign, I was able to undergo a freaky transformation and I got my DNA fused with that of every type of monster in existence (that was awesome!)
    then another time, I think i was a ninja this time in the beginning, anyway, we were fighting a hoard of monsters in an epic struggle. it was on that fateful day that my simple ninja transformed into none other then Ghost Rider (not sure if he is quite a non-human, but it was still awesome.)

    in a slightly similar vain, if I had to make a monster themed superhero, I would go with my favorite creature the demon!

    he’s sorta more Ghost Rider meets Daredevil in personality department, rather then the traditional superman style. anyway, here ya go, my super”hero” Hellspawn:

  25. Rhinoman says:

    More than 2 decades ago(Wow, that makes me feel old) my friends and I played a campaign the one summer with nothing BUT non-demihuman characters. We had a Werebear, a Mongrelman, a Tri-Keen, a Gnome and a Quickling. We were a group of mercenaries hired out to take down unruly characters or difficult monsters. The DM had his hands full but he did a great job!

  26. Kalkin says:

    That’s another reason, why I prefer RQ3 over D&D. In RQ any species with atleast 3d6 Int and all abilities present (of course one can discuss of vampires and mummies lacking POW) could be a PC race. There is none of that arbitrary “player character race” crap.

  27. Neon Sequitur says:

    Since Cliff asked to see it, here’s the background page for my old tiefling character:

    Lots of good stuff in that campaign. More on Marid’s lineage here:

  28. Chris McD says:

    I played an umber hulk bard. It’s background was that Pillbug (it’s name) put on a ring from one of it’s victims. It happened to be a ring of sustenance. Without the burden of constant hunger, Pillbug felt a lack of purpose….until it discovered a passion for song!

  29. Rainman says:

    One of my favorite DnD characters of all time was a Bugbear Rogue. The guy was Neutral Good, a combat powerhouse, and the most heroic and cunning individual out of his entire group.

  30. Phatchick says:

    Right now, I’m working on a harpy character. Haven’t quite decided the alignment yet, probably wind up chaotic good.

  31. Amon says:

    I am an old school gamer and have created several different races and classes my favorite was Amon & Noma twin half silver dragon they didnt get breath weapons of wings but had unreal strength and constitution I made them a variant of monks called brawlers.

  32. Dan Gonzalez says:

    I played one game where my “character” was actually a group of three Kobolds who were acrobat/theif types. They were brothers and bickered all the time, but when they teamed up in combat they were pretty good. The GM was a bit lenient and it was fun playing them. I based them off of the Brownies in Willow. Good times. 🙂

  33. Val says:

    Played a Were-cat once. We were testing a bunch of demi human templates. Was funny, We went by some rule, to determine if I could control the change or not. I rolled taht I could completely control it, but I wanted to have a little edge for the DM’s sake of story. So we decided we’d start with me having control 90% of the time or so. After a few levels, we’d let me have full control, saying I had learned along the way. Our first campaign had to do with rat people, in a peace bonded town, a rat-man insulted me, and pissed me off, so I rolled for control and rolled a 1, change in town and caused a lot of trouble. Was a fun adventure, and the DM loved how much I was willing to work with him on the story side.
    Can’t think of much about a superhero. Guess something like this werecat would make it easy to compare maybe a wolverine type hero. 🙂

  34. Val says:

    Actually, let me say it was a Were-Tiger. Chuckle, not just a cat, I suppose. 🙂

  35. Sean Murphy says:

    I played a Minotaur Ranger in one campaign, and my character had the “Savage” kit from Player’s Option. I really liked “Dances-in-Tracks”.

    If I was told to create a character that had to be a monster, I would love to do a centaur, or a half-dragon, maybe a satyr… It would depend on my mood.

    For a superhero based off one of the mythological races, a Merman Psionicist or a Dwarven Tony Stark.