Shadow World “Droloi”: Race or Monster?

Welcome to the 4th Rolemaster Blog entry of “Race or Monster” where I raise the question of certain races in Shadow World and their suitability for being PCs. You can find the other posts here: Hirazi, Krylite and Neng.

To be honest, I generally forget about Droloi even though they are listed in the various charts and lists found in the back of the Master Atlas with all the other “Mortal Races”. The Master Atlas only has 6 mentions in the index, with no entries in the timeline or text. Here is the entry from the MA4ed.

4´6˝-5´8˝ tall, no professional limitations; night vision
allows perfect sight in equivalent to a normal clear night,
100′ even in pitch dark. Skin is natural AT3, and tough
nails on hands allow attacks as Medium Claw. Resistant
to natural cold above freezing. Lifespan: 100 years.

While not evil by nature, most would say that
the Droloi are the result of some dark breeding experiment
between Demons and Humans. It is true
that they are alien in appearance, but not as strange
as the Krylites or Saurkaur. With their pale, leathery
skin, large clawed hands and feet
, and—most
of all—their four large protruding eyes, they are
certainly not pleasant for most to look upon.

One obstacle to many of the SW races is the lack of artwork. I think that’s a major flaw with SW books in general given Terry’s background as art director for many ICE products. But we do know he was also frustrated at times and limited by budget considerations. So without a good rendering of a Droloi, I think it’s hard for GMs and players to adopt a new race concept.

Races & Cultures embraces the Droloi more with some additional verbiage:

Build: Droloi are human in shape, but have long, clawed
hands and disproportionately large feet. They weigh
100 pounds on average.
Coloring: Droloi have pale, leathery skin and dark eyes.
They have no body or head hair.
Endurance: Normal.
Height: Droloi range in height from 4’6″-5’8″.
Life Span: Droloi have an average life expectancy of 100

Strengths and Weaknesses: Their night vision
allows Droloi to function exceptionally well in
caves and underground environments, and they
do not have any corresponding weaknesses
when operating in daylight.

Droloi work best as Fighters, as their strongest
attributes (indeed, their only strong attributes),
Strength and Constitution, correspond with those
most important to that profession. They do not
make the best Thieves, as they are relatively weak in
Agility and Quickness. Also, their penalties to
Presence and Appearance ensure that they are not
as effective in social situations as most races.

Droloi are not terribly popular, even among other
Subterranean races (and Subterranean races in general are
not terribly popular with surface dwellers). In the volatile
political ecology of the Ash Lairs, therefore, Droloi must
devote themselves to the protection of their race, no matter
what their profession. It is rare that a Droloi would
consent to leave home, but it is possible that he would do
so on an errand to help his community, or if offered a
suitable reward to serve as a guide.

So what to make of all this? It’s a start of a racial concept but feels incomplete. It’s implied that they are found in the Ash Lairs, but there is nary a mention of them in any Shadow World book barring the mentions above in the MA. They could be a better foil for the Krylites and more alien then the Lugroki, Murlogo or Troglodytes. But would they make an interesting Player Character? Maybe a Droloi would be an interesting PC for my long gestating “Monster Squad” adventure!

I think the Droloi are another failed opportunity in Shadow World. Rather than focus on Orcs, Trolls, Goblins and Giants I think the setting needs to focus on unique creatures and monsters that add to the concept and not just rely on trusted and true D&D style photos.

So what are you thoughts? Are Droloi really “monsters” or could they be a PC?

{Amended 8/18}. A reader alerted me to the fact that Droloi might have been adopted from one of the non-canon SW modules OR was ported over from Races & Cultures as part of the merge of RMSS and SW. Anyone have insight on this? Either way it doesn’t seem to be a Terry creation at all.