View Full Version : Monster Campaign

01-04-2010, 10:59 AM
One of the groups that I GM for at times has expressed an interest in running a monster campaign. Do you guys have any advice? (i.e. pitfalls to avoid, etc)

I intend to avoid the "CE - kill each other" issue by having their general cooperation somewhat forced: by a deity, warlord, or perhaps a geas or something. They also would not start at level 1. The group is pretty cooperative so the need for the force isn't really there, but I thought I'd put it in to assist with the RP element.

EDIT: we'll be running under Pathfinder rules, in general, in a homebrew world.

01-04-2010, 03:37 PM
Thats tough to answer without any idea of the type of campaign you want. By monster, what do you mean - dragon, vampire, fantastical ones - anything goes? Or stock humanoid equivalents. If the former, my advice is "don't" without a lot of serious planning on how to keep things balanced. If the later, then its no big deal. Monster quests are nothing new - theres a "monster" equivalent to every PC class/ability.

What sort of plot?
Where's it set?
Will it involve killing other monsters or is it primarily a "attack civilized lands"? sort of thing? (as a side note, i once ran PC's in Keep on the Borderlands as monsters trying to disrupt trade and rob the inhabitants of the keep!)

Give some more parameters around what you as a GM think you can work with in terms of "monsters"...

01-04-2010, 06:25 PM
Oh right, I should have mentioned more details because you're right: it would make a huge difference.

1. Bipeds only -- sticking with humanoids (lycanthropes and <I think> vampires ok -- maybe even other intelligent undead, no dragons), though I might consider monstrous humanoids and some giant species (not sure on that one, probably cap at ogre and/or half-giant -- no fire/frost/cloud giants etc). Half-dragons are ok. I'm not sure what all the PCs will want to play, but it will probably be Drow and lycanthropes, maybe vampires or something like that. A Tengu, I think also. Level adjustments will apply, and everyone will need to start at an equivalent level. Character advancement will be a little tricky, but for the most part they will take class Hit Dice or slightly adjusted class HD. I guess this means I'm sticking close to humanoid equivalents wherever possible.

2. The plot will involve directives from their leadership and will include strikes on civilized lands as well as other monsters. It won't be a true sandbox, though there will be a lot of flexibility. I don't intend to let them run rampant without consequences. The PCs will be more "Merc" than "Evil". Heck, they may even have the option to shift alignment a little if they head that way (I'm certainly open to it).

3. It will start out in uncivilized areas largely inhabited by monsters, beasts, barbarians, etc. We'll go from there. It's a homebrew world loosely based on standard D&D traditions like Faerun (which I understand best), Greyhawk, and Eberron. Therefore things can change if we need them to.

I've never run an all-monster group and am not sure what my PCs will attempt. They tend more towards humor than power-mongering and are a close-knit group of friends and family, which should make plot and damage mitigation a little easier.

01-05-2010, 02:14 AM
Well, they should be able to develop a motivation on why they are together. I would try having them the minions of some leader(could be evil wizard) who is captured and they have to find a way to rescue him. This requires them trying to infiltrate civilized lands to get to where their leader is held.

Their motivation is different than regular PC's--they may not be so ready to interact with humanoids and have no real concept of buying things so they need to raid or scavenge their equipment and provisions. A Vampire has gotta eat ;)

01-05-2010, 02:37 AM
I ran a group once that played a group of "monsters". It was essentially just a flip of the standard dungeon run. We had a mix of a few races, Gnolls and an Orc that I can recall. Basically they banded together the same way humans, Elves, and Dwarves band together in the standard campaign.

Their motivation is different than regular PC's--they may not be so ready to interact with humanoids and have no real concept of buying things so they need to raid or scavenge their equipment and provisions. A Vampire has gotta eat ;) In our group the motivation wasn't much different from regular PC's if you were to look at it from the monsters point of view. They didn't lack the concept of buying things but they bought stuff in their own communities (just like the PCs do). When PCs venture into the dungeons, they don't lack the concept of buying things, and that isn't why they attack the denizens. To the PCs the monsters are evil and it is okay to kill them, and entering their domain, they will be killed themselves otherwise. The monster group considers the human and Dwarves enemies and when they enter their lands, they will also not be given the opportunity to buy things, so they raid instead, just like the PCs raid the Monsters territory.

01-06-2010, 04:42 PM
Well thanks, that's encouraging! Thanks for the pointers on motivation -- that's one part of the RP that I want to get right. I don't want them to get a couple adventures into the campaign and then say "So, why are we here?". I intend to do a little more homework than I normally do on monster ecology also, since they'll be immersed in it more than usual.

01-06-2010, 08:58 PM
I would at it less as "evil monsters". Consider, say Gnolls. Strong tribal traditions, narrow people button. It's not "evil" to attack the humans and make slave of them and eat them, it's simply what you do. Human are not Gnolls, therefore not important.

When you take "evil" out of the equation you take a good deal of the "evil" tension and behavior out of the equation.

I would avoid monsters like weres and vampires or even undead, and concentrate on the humanoids you can invoke tribal togetherness with. It avoids the whople "we are all evil together" vibe which frankly rings hollow.

01-07-2010, 02:14 AM
Those are some very good points Tesral. I am not fond of the alignments system anyway, but I feel in this type of campaign, it is especially needs to be thrown out the window. Good and evil are relative terms. Hitler did not consider himself evil. Gnolls don't consider themselves evil. Your standard PCs choose a good alignment, but invade the homes of other creatures, kill them and take their stuff. Basically that is considered good, because the creatures they kill are not human. Same as the Gnolls motivations in Tesrals example. Doing the homework on the monster ecologys is a good idea to try to figure out the 'monsters' motivations, so it doesn't become the mentioned 'let's be evil' campaign, or a (Drizzt) 'all the other members of our race are evil, but we are good' campaign.

01-07-2010, 11:47 AM
U could take elements from Eberron & have nations that were created by 'monsters' like Droam n' such, where monsters ARE the citizens.

01-08-2010, 10:59 AM
Good and Evil notions aside (though these are by a "social" standard, we do as a species, consider many things to be either good or evil, regardless of species or motivations) its very easy to use the same motivations. For race, its more a question of predator/prey and the role in which others are seen. Prey, regardless of intellect or cultural advancement is simply seen as that. Other predators are prey in the role of competitor. Most humanoid based species are subject to greed and selfishness, of "f**king each other over for a better percentage"... its easy to change the setting of many plot lines, modules, etc. and simply put a different culture and locale to suit it.

In my world, the worst enemies were always your own species - because they are the ones you are most in competition with. Politics, love, resources - its all the same and easy to adapt. Thats realistic fantasy settings, however, high fantasy may be different. It may be quest driven, more heroic (on either side), and more epic in scale. But, you can start by putting the "monster" characters in their own society - this may allow you to show them aspects of the culture and flavor they need to role-play it better. Then move outward to confrontations outside their own kind and build up...

01-08-2010, 02:35 PM
When you take "evil" out of the equation you take a good deal of the "evil" tension and behavior out of the equation.

I totally agree with this. It's a great way to look at things, and I'll be sure to analyze plot and character creation with this point in mind. Thanks!! Exploring the grey area will open up a lot of options.

You're right about the weres and vampires -- they'll be much harder to pull off. I'll have to have a long talk with the PCs interested to see what to do about that -- maybe there's a workaround we can explore. Perhaps the vampire/were/undead has a personal grudge or owes a debt of service or something... or maybe we kibosh that idea altogether.

Xandros: Yes, I agree: I don't like either of those two scenario types -- the "I'm a good beholder/demon/drow/ettin/whatever" or the "lets just be evil and kill everything" because they strain believability, plot, and motivation. There needs to be realistic motivation for who they are and how they fit in the world -- even if they're a misfit.

Templeorder: I like the idea of starting them in their own society first. I think I'll explore my options there a little more fully than I had originally intended (I was previously considering more of a collection of mercenaries beholden to a warlord or something). Thanks!

Thanks, these (and others) are some great suggestions that are really helping me to wrap my mind around the idea of my PCs RPing monsters. I appreciate the feedback!