Dear Paizo: Monsters as PCs


Product Discussion

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The main problem I have with monster PC books and rules is they don't really tend to balance anything, they just make progression a chore. It's understandable that people wanting to play a vampire/lich/mummy/Lucky Captain Rabbit King don't want to play a nerfed version that balances with the other races, but why force the GM to adjust everything and everyone else toward that end?

If I don't like the idea of someone playing something overpowered, I usually just come up with a lesser version like a half-breed or a variant and most players will be appreciative of that work especially if I can tie some of the setting into it or ask their input.

Sovereign Court

Pseudodragons are the best MPC race.


I've just learned that I'm not the only one who wants to play a gnoll.


James Jacobs wrote:
but an actual BOOK like "Savage Species" is, I would guess, probably 3 years away at the soonest.

*SUPER DUPER MAJOR GROAN*

That REALLY sucks. I mean SERIOUSLY.

After the 2010 schedule, my biggest hopes were for an Epic Handbook and a Savage Species book, since psionics is being covered by Dreamscarred, and settings specific stuff (like oriental adventures), if I need to, I can just change names and fluff on classes, races, weapons, armor, and monsters, and BAM, instant Japan.

As for the Pathfinder AP's being where to find stuff, or buying things like Orcs of Golarion, I don't use modules, and I feel that I give my worlds and its monsters the kind of fluff and flavor I like.

So yeah, your AP's and Chronicles are generally pretty useless to me.

I agree that I don't want to be shelling out $20 just for the rules neccessary to play merely one monstrous race.

Anyway, my shift is up and I'm sitting here while my relief is staring at me, so I gotta go.


I wouldn't want an MPC book this year or any year if they don't take the time to bring something new to the concept. And when they do something new, they had best take their time designing and playtesting something that works better than the older MPC books (which are still around by the way). I simply don't think it could be done (well) in the timetable people seem to be hoping for.

If you're waiting for something that works at least as well as the old MPC books, I recommend using the old MPC books.


Evil Lincoln wrote:
And when they do something new, they had best take their time designing and playtesting something that works better than the older MPC books

I completely agree. Sofar they are taking a good way to do things by having it out for playtesting before finalizing (the initial beta and now the new classes). I would like to see a book for this sooner than later like alot of others for not just PCs but making NPCs, whether friend or foe, but not at the expence of quality.

There are plenty of monsters that would work as both if properly balanced without taking away anything from the race. Though some of them would be better in a monsterous party rather than with the regular races.


raggok wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:
And when they do something new, they had best take their time designing and playtesting something that works better than the older MPC books
...There are plenty of monsters that would work as both if properly balanced without taking away anything from the race. Though some of them would be better in a monsterous party rather than with the regular races.

I think the biggest problem with doing an MPC book is anticipating what people actually want out of it. There are people who want an interesting alternative to the standard races, but there are just as many people who want to play a creature with a lot of powers not confined by what the standard races can do. Like you've said, there are already plenty of options available for this, an actual book can only present an option that may dissatisfy half the audience.


I would like to point out that many of the creatures in the various Bestiaries can be powerful PCs even without adding class levels. As examples, I specifically mention:

Ghaele Azatas - Cast divine spells as a Cleric at their HD.
Lillend Azatas - Bard abilities at their HD.
Trumpet Archon - Cast divine spells as a Cleric at their HD.
Astral Deva Angels - Capable fighters.
Planetar Angels - Cast divine spells as a Cleric at their HD.
and so on... Further, Outsiders fight as Fighters at a level equal to their Hit Die.

Also, I would like to point out that with the Worldwound closed, if that has actually happened in any given game world, there are a lot of Demons stranded on Golarion. Granted, for the moment they are still evil. However, I propose the following rule. For every consecutive day that a Demon is cut off from their source of power, the Abyss, that Demon must roll a Will save vs. DC 15 + number of days stranded on Golarion. If the Will save succeeds, the Demon's personal alignment remains Chaotic Evil.
If the Demon fail the save, the Demon's player gets to choose the personal alignment.


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John Napier 698 wrote:

I would like to point out that many of the creatures in the various Bestiaries can be powerful PCs even without adding class levels. As examples, I specifically mention:

Ghaele Azatas - Cast divine spells as a Cleric at their HD.
Lillend Azatas - Bard abilities at their HD.
Trumpet Archon - Cast divine spells as a Cleric at their HD.
Astral Deva Angels - Capable fighters.
Planetar Angels - Cast divine spells as a Cleric at their HD.
and so on... Further, Outsiders fight as Fighters at a level equal to their Hit Die.

Also, I would like to point out that with the Worldwound closed, if that has actually happened in any given game world, there are a lot of Demons stranded on Golarion. Granted, for the moment they are still evil. However, I propose the following rule. For every consecutive day that a Demon is cut off from their source of power, the Abyss, that Demon must roll a Will save vs. DC 15 + number of days stranded on Golarion. If the Will save succeeds, the Demon's personal alignment remains Chaotic Evil.
If the Demon fail the save, the Demon's player gets to choose the personal alignment.

I don't think you're going to get a reply after seven years.

The Exchange

James Jacobs wrote:

ALSO! I should note.

Nowhere did I promise that those 3 years would be CONSECUTIVE years.

Shame it's such an old post. I was going to recommend using 1997. We need a do-over on that one.


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QuidEst wrote:


I don't think you're going to get a reply after seven years.

And yet he did get a reply, and he got one almost instantly, from you.

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
137ben wrote:
QuidEst wrote:


I don't think you're going to get a reply after seven years.
And yet he did get a reply, and he got one almost instantly, from you.

*offers 137ben a pedantic cookie*


I feel like the Advanced Race Guide provided a decent template for a more "Monster PC" type book, Breaking down some popular monsters, such as, werewolves, vampires, lizardfolk, etc. Also, while Paizo is not in favor of adding templates to PC races, they could include an optional rule set that would allow for people doing home games to add templates to their pcs.


ARG is a neat option. There's also Horror adventures now, with corruptions to support things like vampires and werewolves and liches. May not float everyone's boats, but the options are certainly far more abundant these days.


That and the Bestiaries now seem to incorporate stats for several of their critters. I was shocked to see Deep Ones get a PC write up.

The Exchange

Surrender your mysteries to Zoidberg!


I didn't think something this far dead could be rez'ed successfully.

Anyway, more on topic: I guess the ARG could be considered James Jacobs' "savage species" like book. It's a good book, for sure, though some of the things in there leave a bit to be desired.


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Rogue Genius Games will be putting out a product very soon where you can pretty much play any monster as a playable race. Talented Bestiary. It's due out next month. I don't know if it will be done on time. Knowing the team, I am pretty sure it will be.


Bob_Loblaw wrote:
Rogue Genius Games will be putting out a product very soon where you can pretty much play any monster as a playable race. Talented Bestiary. It's due out next month. I don't know if it will be done on time. Knowing the team, I am pretty sure it will be.

In a Paizo thread, no less...


2 people marked this as a favorite.

A Paizo thread that's seven years old, and being polite and helpful too!

Shameful.

Liberty's Edge

Rite Publishing did a series of books involving various monsters as full classes. I had the joy of playing a Hill Giant in Giantslayer, a friend of mine is playing a Unicorn in Hell's Rebels based on some of these products. I would highly recommend them. The series is called In the Company of...


Shadow13.com wrote:
Unfortunately, I'm not experienced enough as a GM to create balanced MPCs. The players in my group want Vampire, Werewolf and Doppelganger characters, but I don't know how to handle this. I don't trust myself to create MPCs that are fair, balanced and fun.

Do you really suppose the Paizo design team would fair much better?

*looks at Prone Shooter feat*


Oh yeah, I would play the HELL out of a "Monster PC" game. It's certainly possible, Fantasy Craft for example did an excellent job of including monsters as playable races.


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The Corruptions in Horror Adventures actually work to great lengths to allow something similar to this.

Upon reading them, it reminded me of some stuff from the old Libris Mortis in 3.5


Monsters as PC's? Wouldn't that give PC's a little too much power?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Berselius wrote:
Monsters as PC's? Wouldn't that give PC's a little too much power?

No, not usually. Read the guidelines on it in the Bestiary. If anything, you have to be careful that the 'monster PC' doesn't become underpowered as the characters level up.


Rite publishing does some real good stuff for some select monsters (most of the ones i wanted to play) but I wouldn't mind some official MPC stuff. In the mean time try CR-2 as a level adjustment (expect mixed results)


I actually prefer having related PC races instead of monsters... ugh, my stomach is churning when I think of "monsters as PCs" and then thinking about the Level Adjustment X_X

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Related to the topic of playing a monster PC: Monster Classes They all contain a base race and additional progression of the race as a class (similar to Savage Species).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Jeffrey Swank wrote:
Related to the topic of playing a monster PC: Monster Classes They all contain a base race and additional progression of the race as a class (similar to Savage Species).

This is very easy to do straight from the bestiaries given that each monster type has specific good saves, BAB progression, skill points per level, HD type, et cetera. That just leaves any special options for the GM to assign 'levels' to... which can usually be done by setting the level equal to a similar class option.

I've been creating progressions for monster PCs this way since v3. Combine with the gestalt rules and they can progress as a character class right from first level. If that results in an imbalance with the other players the old ECL rules can be modified to put the monster PC's class level behind their 'monster level'.


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Jeffrey Swank wrote:
Related to the topic of playing a monster PC: Monster Classes They all contain a base race and additional progression of the race as a class (similar to Savage Species).

I've bought all of your first series PDFs from Dreamscarred. About to use a PC built from one of the two races in Pinnacle and Pit. Care to guess which one?

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

John Napier 698 wrote:
Jeffrey Swank wrote:
Related to the topic of playing a monster PC: Monster Classes They all contain a base race and additional progression of the race as a class (similar to Savage Species).
I've bought all of your first series PDFs from Dreamscarred. About to use a PC built from one of the two races in Pinnacle and Pit. Care to guess which one?

Pit, pit, pit! :D *evil grin* I hope it balances nicely and most importantly, you have fun with it. More monsters to come!


Jeffrey Swank wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
Jeffrey Swank wrote:
Related to the topic of playing a monster PC: Monster Classes They all contain a base race and additional progression of the race as a class (similar to Savage Species).
I've bought all of your first series PDFs from Dreamscarred. About to use a PC built from one of the two races in Pinnacle and Pit. Care to guess which one?
Pit, pit, pit! :D *evil grin* I hope it balances nicely and most importantly, you have fun with it. More monsters to come!

I'll see what I can do. :)


Relevant to this, somebody did a lot of work on their own to try to create a balanced mix of Core, Featured/Uncommon, and Monstrous races. Whether this succeeded or not is an open question, because they used the Advanced Race Guide Race Builder, but got to give them credit for trying.

Edit: Just in case anybody didn't notice, the work at the above link was posted approximately 6 years after most of the messages in this thread . . . .


Another success for my nefarious plot to resurrect "dead" threads! Mwahaha! *evil grin while sipping Cognac*

Seriously, though, if the information I posted earlier is in any way helpful, I'm glad to help.


what we should technically do, is decide which monsters make decent enough PC races and strip them down to thier essence, making newer and more balanced monstrous races with power levels comparable to a Dwarf or Tiefling.

using a Nymph as an Example, +2 to intelligence and charisma, -2 strength, and maybe some form of elemental affinity trait for Druids. maybe +2 to Saving throws, the Swim Speed and the Fey Type. medium size, human base speed, maybe the silver tongued ability.


My group often plays around with monsters as PCs. If the creature is a template, we just make the base character and apply the template. If it doesn't have a template or a characters option in the bestiary, we take the stat array for the creature and subtract 10 for each stat, and use that for the racial mods, then use point buy or roll stats and add them.
Class info is then applied and off we go. Any other racial perks are just added gravy.
One of the other fun things is ignore things about classes based solely on a character having a humanoid form, if it makes sense, (ie 4 armed Magus only using one weapon, etc.) to add to the fun.

The only way this works (for us) is to really role play the negatives that come with some of the abilities. Like vampires not being able to go out into the sun, any side effects to being undead, light aversion, etc.
If these things are just handwaved away, it cheapens the experience.

A lot of these guys end up being enemies sometime down the line in other campaigns for non-monster PCs.


John Napier 698 wrote:
Jeffrey Swank wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
Jeffrey Swank wrote:
Related to the topic of playing a monster PC: Monster Classes They all contain a base race and additional progression of the race as a class (similar to Savage Species).
I've bought all of your first series PDFs from Dreamscarred. About to use a PC built from one of the two races in Pinnacle and Pit. Care to guess which one?
Pit, pit, pit! :D *evil grin* I hope it balances nicely and most importantly, you have fun with it. More monsters to come!
I'll see what I can do. :)

Actually, that campaign may fall through. I'm at the mercy of my supervisors in my security career who can't supervise their way out of a paper bag.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
CBDunkerson wrote:
Berselius wrote:
Monsters as PC's? Wouldn't that give PC's a little too much power?
No, not usually. Read the guidelines on it in the Bestiary. If anything, you have to be careful that the 'monster PC' doesn't become underpowered as the characters level up.

this misconception is why people can't have nice things.


Kryzbyn wrote:
subtract 10 for each stat

You should subtract 11 from odd stats, since monsters are created with an 11/11/11/10/10/10 array (and stat mods should be even).


Bandw2 wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:
Berselius wrote:
Monsters as PC's? Wouldn't that give PC's a little too much power?
No, not usually. Read the guidelines on it in the Bestiary. If anything, you have to be careful that the 'monster PC' doesn't become underpowered as the characters level up.
this misconception is why people can't have nice things.

I think it entirely depends on HOW you integrate monsters as PCs as to whether they are overpowered or underpowered.


Khudzlin wrote:
Kryzbyn wrote:
subtract 10 for each stat
You should subtract 11 from odd stats, since monsters are created with an 11/11/11/10/10/10 array (and stat mods should be even).

Yes... unless I am mistaken this is how they did things before Savage Species came out.


Pathfinder's standard array isn't elevens and tens, it's 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. Also, you have to subtract any possible attribute advancement due to HD. This evens the stats out even further.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:
Pathfinder's standard array isn't elevens and tens, it's 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. Also, you have to subtract any possible attribute advancement due to HD. This evens the stats out even further.

No, that's the standard array for NPCs with class levels (which then have their actual modifiers listed later in the description).

Stats for creatures without class levels are just racial modifiers applied to three 10s and three 11s.


If we want to reach that level of "well, technically...", then it would be just as accurate to say that creatures with racial HD have *no* racial modifiers, they just have ability scores that are exactly the way they are.

Reverse-engineering monsters the same way an NPC would be (de)constructed seems more appropriate to me.


Meh, one ability point doesn't make enough of a difference to alter the quick rule of thumb.


John Napier 698 wrote:


Actually, that campaign may fall through. I'm at the mercy of my supervisors in my security career who can't supervise their way out of a paper bag.

Cancel that. My GM and I have made alternate arrangements. I also think I'll keep a campaign journal from that character's perspectives.


Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:

If we want to reach that level of "well, technically...", then it would be just as accurate to say that creatures with racial HD have *no* racial modifiers, they just have ability scores that are exactly the way they are.

Reverse-engineering monsters the same way an NPC would be (de)constructed seems more appropriate to me.

I agree. The ability scores in the various Bestiaries represent an average example of the listed creature. Monsters intended to be run as player character should be exceptional, like the difference between adventurers and the stay-at-homes.


There are approximately 69 monsters from the Bestiary
that have not been previously done in Pathfinder.
I have excluded all of the ones done in the first set
of Monster Classes by Dreamscarred Press. I have also
excluded everything in the Advanced Race Guide, as well as
all of the Templated monsters as well as the Bestiary
entries which have information that allows their use
as Player Characters. If any of the list below have
had a similar treatment by another company, please post.
And please include references, like a link to the product.

Selection Criteria: Corporeal, Int 3 or greater, has a language,
20 Hit Dice or less, Generally Humaniod shape ( at least
two arms with hands, at least two legs with feet or hooves,
at least one head, and a torso ), and any one of: Humanoid,
Monstrous Humanoid, Fey, Aberration, Dragon, or Outsider.

1. Angel, Planetar
2. Archon, Trumpet
3. Azata, Bralani
4. Azata, Ghaele
5. Azata, Lillend
6. Barghest
7. Boggard
8. Choker
9. Cyclops
10. Dark Creeper
11. Dark Stalker
12. Demon, Babau
13. Demon, Balor
14. Demon, Dretch
15. Demon, Glabrezu
16. Demon, Hezrou
17. Demon, Marilith
18. Demon, Nabasu
19. Demon, Nalfeshnee
20. Demon, Quasit
21. Demon, Vrock
22. Derro
23. Devil, Barbed
24. Devil, Bearded
25. Devil, Bone
26. Devil, Horned
27. Devil, Ice
28. Devil, Imp
29. Devil, Pit Fiend
30. Doppleganger
31. Drider
32. Elemental, Air
33. Elemental, Fire
34. Elemental, Water
35. Ettin
36. Gargoyle
37. Genie, Djinn
38. Genie, Efreeti
39. Genie, Janni
40. Genie, Marid
41. Genie, Shaitan
42. Giant, Fire
43. Giant, Frost
44. Giant, Hill
45. Giant, Stone
46. Giant, Storm
47. Green Hag
48. Harpy
49. Invisible Stalker
50. Kyton
51. Lamia
52. Lizardfolk
53. Medusa
54. Mephit, any
55. Minotaur
56. Mite
57. Morlock
58. Night Hag
59. Nymph
60. Ogre Mage
61. Pixie
62. Pseudodragon
63. Rakshasa
64. Sea Hag
65. Skum
66. Troglodyte
67. Troll
68. Xill
69. Yeti


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Aranna wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:
Berselius wrote:
Monsters as PC's? Wouldn't that give PC's a little too much power?
No, not usually. Read the guidelines on it in the Bestiary. If anything, you have to be careful that the 'monster PC' doesn't become underpowered as the characters level up.
this misconception is why people can't have nice things.

I think it entirely depends on HOW you integrate monsters as PCs as to whether they are overpowered or underpowered.

no I've done several different mechanical tests on even simply trying to get good DPR in a fight, it's almost always significantly easier to just be a human with a greatsword, and yet the special side powers you can get from classes and what not, tend to be underwhelming or outright not useful to make up the difference. from 3pp, to monster classes, to just a monster with class levels.

Like I have the book company of dragons, You'd think making a giant dragon would be cool, WRONG, the archetypes to increase your size are also the ones that pretty much destroy the class, the only exception is sorcerer or wizard, who frankly couldn't care less about their size and the paragon class is basically a really bad core-monk with DPR usually 1/3 of what I can make from a simple human with a greatsword.

here's some excerpts for the grow in size archetype (remember that getting bigger is generally not all that useful in pathfinder, it's basically an even trade due to lower to-hit but increased range)

"Barbarian – Modify the barbarian’s rage ability to be gained at 4th level, with an effective level of the barbarian’s level -3 to determine rage’s effects and rounds per day. Replace the barbarian’s mighty rage and tireless rage class abilities, and rage powers gained at 2nd, 10th and 18th level."

"Fighter – Replace the fighter’s weapon mastery class ability, and bonus feats gained at 1st, 6th, 12th, and 18th level."

"Magus – Modify the magus’ spell combat class ability to be gained at 4th level, improved spell combat to be gained at 11th level, and greater spell combat at 17th level. Replace the magus’ medium armor, heavy armor and true magus class abilities."

and remember all I get from all of this is as I level, I get bigger occasionally. giving myself -1 to-hit -1 to AC each time, gaining on the positive a few natural attacks(all of them are secondary and you never gain claws) you also gain the stat changes with size but this pretty much makes it so you have around 15AC since you gain a lot of - to dex, and for the most part can't even wear armor.

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