I said in my behind the scenes post on custom races that I was thinking of further limiting when a race could have an innate ability. I’ve also been thinking, though, that the spell-like innate abilities should be even more restricted. Not outright forbidden, but I definitely don’t want to imply that players should be allowed to build races just to get special powers.
What I’m thinking is magical powers should be restricted to monster races. And although I don’t like race-as-class and did not design the custom races guidelines previously described for the race-as-class approach, I think monster races should be handled as race-as-class.
A monster race is any existing monster in a setting adapted to be played by a character. Players do not design their own monsters. Instead, if the players encounter a monster and one player is inspired by the monster’s concept, they may ask to play one. If the GM and the other players agree, the player creates a new character and works out an explanation for why this monster is in civilized lands. Some options:
- Having an existing character Polymorphed accidentally or deliberately into a monster form;
- Taking over a monster ally that’s been convinced to join a party;
- Being magical conjured into existence as an “answer” to a prayer for divine aid;
- Being captured by the authorities and negotiating for release;
- Arriving in town in the service of a politically-powerful NPC.
Monster characters follow the XP and advancement guidelines of the fighter or hero class unless they have innate spell-like powers, in which case they follow the advancement rules for spell-casters. They do not get any other class abilities, since their class is “Pixie”, “Minotaur”, or whatever monster they are based on.
If the player is taking over a monster ally or other already-statted monster, figure out the monster’s effective level based on their dice or maximum ability level. Otherwise, start the monster as Level 1 and adjust the powers of the monster down, or arrange the powers in order of strength and link acquisition of powers to specific levels. In either case, max monster race level is 8, as it would be for the primary class of a less monstrous race.
The monster starts with zero XP. If their effective level is higher than 1, the monster must earn enough XP for a fighter or magic-user to reach the next level above their effect. Thus, a monster character may have to adventure for a long time before reaching the next level.
Once a monster reaches Level 8, the character can attempt to find training in another class by convincing an NPC of their worthiness and making a Good or better reaction roll.
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