Your bread-and-butter Dungeons & Dragons party won’t include a manticore, a gargoyle, a hyena or a sentient fungi, but maybe it should. One D&D player spent a year and a half converting every single creature in the D&D Monster Manual into playable characters, and now players can live out their dreams of being a great fire beetle who slays dragons.
There are hundreds of monsters in D&D’s Monster Manual, many of which don’t really lend themselves to the Lord of the Rings-esque adventures that traditionally star humanoids. Most dungeon masters won’t let players stray too far from that model. It’s hard to wrap a plot around a rag-tag team of dire bats and oozes, and it’s hard to make sure a party’s stats are balanced when it contains both a faerie dragon and a mastiff.
Creator Tyler Kamstra’s new 283-page homebrew mod “Monstrous Races” offers ways for players to embody any of D&D’s monsters using stats, role-playing notes and everything else you’d expect to see listed next to the “Human” race in the D&D Player’s Handbook. To play a basilisk, for example, players can attempt to petrify a creature with their gaze as an action. This is helpful, since basilisks don’t have hands, rendering them incapable of holding a sword. To play a banshee, or an undead spirit of a female elf, Kamstra recommends that players covet beautiful objects and remain within five miles of anywhere the banshee lived while alive.
This “Monstrous Races” mod is the sort of wonderful thing that, back in D&D days of yore, would exist as a titanic document in some far-flung basement, only to be enjoyed by a handful of players. We can at least thank the internet for giving us playable purple worms.