Shadow World “Neng”, Race or Monster?

neng

Peter’s blog Monday, “Is a Kenku a race or a monster” made me think about the Neng, a creature/race in the “Artificial Beings” section of the Shadow WorldM Master Atlas. SW has a great many odd races: Hirazi, Jhordi, Kuluku, Quaidu, Synshari, so it always struck me that Neng could be moved to the race section and available as a PC choice. Terry in fact states that the Neng can breed/reproduce and qualify as a race.

The Neng were a creation of Kadaena (a more refined version of Shards)—thus the classification as “artificial”. But the Neng are Caucasian, with rough skin (similar to acne scarring), large bony hands, lean and averaging 5’7” to 7’ in height. Compared to some of the other races, the Neng sound downright average appearing! The Neng have two very special abilities: they can shoot acid via a tube in their tongues and they can turn objects or themselves invisible at will. For many GMs those abilities might be too unbalancing in a low level game?

As a “monster” Neng are stat’ed at 8th lvl with a base move of 90! Perhaps as a player choice the acid shooting becomes skill based and invisibility is tied to level by limiting times/day or duration? I think the acid spit is cool, the invisibility slightly problematic but interesting and the base rate is a bit much.  I’ve never had a Neng as a PC,  but I do like the concept of more defining racial abilities than just stat bonuses and physical appearance. I would rather inject special abilities via a race trait than as some arbitrary “talent” or “quirk” randomly rolled on a table.

Terry suggests that Kuluku might be unbalancing and GM’s should carefully consider allowing them as PC’s. Are Neng’s abilities more disruptive than the Kuluku? Although they are described as cruel and evil, would Neng work as a race in your SW campaign?

4 thoughts on “Shadow World “Neng”, Race or Monster?”

  1. I would generally not consider the Neng to be suitable for players (of course, that’s always a personal decision). I have done a brief sidebar on them for a project. I would probably class them as an NPC race, rather than strictly as a monster.

  2. I know nothing of Neng but Rolemaster tends to be self balancing. If you need to develop an OB with the acid spit and the invisibility requires powerpoints. Maybe give them both invisibility and unseen so even lower level Neng can make something disappear.

    A first level Neng would be able to use unseen but would also have to balance that vs using other available spells.

    I have seen much more powerful back ground options in Companion I than those abilities.

  3. The book says “they are invariably evil”.
    So, I would only allow them in an all-evil party, with some reduced abilities or without any background options to compensate with the rest of the players.
    They might also work in those parties where one of the player has a hidden agenda. Not my style for a campaign, but I know some people do that.

    The only way I might use them in my group is to make one of the players characters a Neng without their knowledge, or without fully explaining the situation, so that discovering their true nature becomes part of the story. And this would mean they should fight the natural tendency for evil and such.
    I did something similar once with a character that ended up being a Golem, created by a K’Ta’Viiri Runemage. I tuned the backgrounds to have reduced bleeding, extra strength and weight, etc.

    1. I am never keen on evil PCs. Unless the character concept is about the journey from dark to light I find evil PCs are far more likely to make the party fall apart.

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