Rolemaster Races & Monsters: Friends or Foes?

I’m curious and interested about exploring niches of Rolemaster and fantasy RPG’s in a novel way–subverting tropes, high level adventures, monsters as PC’s, eliminating the Profession system etc. In my last blog I discussed some one-off adventures I’m working on that consists of a party of “monsters” and both Peter and I have written blogs about certain creatures being classified as a Race or Monster. All of this touches upon whether various creatures or traditional monsters would make good PC’s–a subject I’m looking forward to exploring much like I’m doing with 50th lvl characters.

But these questions ignore the broader issue–why are certain races and creatures “Monsters” or adversaries to begin with? Should PC appropriate races be determined by a race’s intrinsic morality? Does RMU’s creature creation system open the door for any creature (assuming a base level of  intelligence) to be played as a PC? Assigning levels, special abilities and skills to creatures draws them into the Character Law system–why not open the door a bit wider for PCs–not just more traditional races, but “monsters” as well?


Perhaps the residue of Gygaxian Naturalism reinforces our views that monsters reside outside the natural world and setting. Without a childhood, ecosystem, culture and hopes and dreams these monsters lack the foundations of “Personhood”–they are merely there to be obstacle to the players. But what if that weren’t the case? Perhaps your game world would be like the cantina setting in ANH or TFA–filled with an endless variety of races, creatures and monsters anthropomorphized for the purposes of a working game narrative. Perhaps “monsters” aren’t inherently evil, but motivated by the same self-interest and beliefs that direct us all.


6 Replies to “Rolemaster Races & Monsters: Friends or Foes?”

  1. I’ve offered monsters as PCs on various occasions over the years – Minotaurs, Giants, various Fey, some Undead, Elementals, etc. – but my players still prefer humans, or sometimes elves and half-elves (and it’s not as if Minotaurs, etc. are actually a big stretch from humans or elves or whatnot.)

    My ultimate vision for a campaign might well be more Narnia than Middle-Earth (or Narnia if Tolkien, or, better yet, Stephen Donaldson had written it, not that I object to Lewis at all). Talking beasties, sure, but also half-visible shadows that fray and reform according to their proximity to warm flesh, Demons tormented by their past, fey that when they die turn into a pure spring or a crystal-fruited tree, hologram-like spiritual projections of raw emotion….they’d all be PC races in my most uncompromising setting.

    As an aside, Rite Publishing offer an interesting series of Pathfinder – and maybe 5e by now? – supplements called “In the Company of…” which offers monsters as PCs (including Gelatinous Cubes!) I like some of it a great deal, and its certainly well-spiced food for thought. Similar but not so good (mostly) is Dreamscarred Press‘ “Savage Races” line.

    1. I have added links to your comment to make it easier for people to find those resources.

      Like your players I most frequently default to human characters. I know humans and I know how to play one. I may be coerced into a half elf occasionally. I would never willingly play an elf out of my own choice.

      1. I’m with Peter, I gravitate towards humans in my campaign. Not just because SW is fairly human centric and I hate standard Elves, but it seems easier for player immersion in my campaign style.

    2. Narnia is a good example, I hadn’t thought about it. Anyway, that would be a cool supplement for RM and potentially expand the user base to gamers that won’t non-traditional settings.

  2. I have just had another thought. When the monster wiki is up and running. If anyone wants to take any of the monsters and create playable races from them for any particular version of RM I am more than happy for people to do that.

    I think doing it on a ‘on demand’ basis is easier than taking on the endeavour to convert all of them to races in one massive hit.

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