After creating ~12 Monster Classes for Oslecamo and perusing the Pathfinder SRD's rules on monster PCs
, I got around to thinking how other iterations of D&D tried to balance monster player characters. I prefer Oslecamo's way of doing things, but I'm eager to find out how game designers handled this monumental task throughout the years and what can be learned from them.I found an interesting post by a WotC user detailing the history.1st Edition:
Gary Gygax was originally not fond of monster PCs and wanted D&D to have primarily humanocentric settings. He argued that monster PC in most settings would be unable to integrate into society because they're treated like pariahs and hunted down.2nd Edition, Complete Book of Humanoids:
You can play monstrous PCs, but they get disadvantages and penalties. Don't know much about specifics.3rd Edition:
Savage Species introduced ECL for monsters, accounting for Racial Hit Die and Level Adjustment. While a good idea in theory, in practice it resulted in weak and crippled monster PCs.4th Edition:
I don't have much experience here, but I think that the Monster Manual gave out lower-powered equivalents for certain monsters; they'd be more in line with dwarves, halflings, etc. Some monsters such as Satyrs got PC equivalents in sourcebooks such as Heroes of the Feywild. Also, Vampire is both a race and a class (Heroes of Shadow).Midnight, 3rd Edition setting:
Hand of Shadow introduced rules
for playing the minions of Izrador (Sauron equivalent). PCs with Level Adjustment can buy flaws to reduce the LA to put them in line with other PCs. Unfortunately, a lot of these flaws are situational and may not result in a noticeable decrease in character power (but when you're playing a monster with high LA, you need all the help you can get).Pathfinder RPG:
Monster CR is treated as class levels. A CR 4 Minotaur Barbarian 2 is considered level 6. However, the system is pretty bare-bones and says that DM Fiat may be necessary to eyeball under/overpowered monsters. Also, monster PCs gain a bonus level every 3 levels a number of times equal to half the monster's CR; the reason for this is that racial hit die and innate abilities diminish as they gain levels.Dragonlance setting, 3rd Edition:
Dragonlance used the standard Savage Species rules, but due to the increased amount of characterization for monsters such as Draconians, they added in an Acceptance rule. Basically, a monster PC who hangs around a community and does heroic stuff, is nice to locals, etc, has a chance at earned respect and trust from the community (and possibly beyond with a good enough reputation). Monsters with bad reputations, strange mindset/abilities, or incredibly large and powerful have a harder time gaining Acceptance.Eberron and Iron Kingdoms:
Both settings had LA 0 races which were pretty much monsters with the serial numbers filed off or weaker variants: Golems as Warforged, Trolls as Trollkin, etc.
Overall, in terms of official content, I think that Pathfinder was on the right track, but sadly fell short of a complete system. Eberron, Iron Kingdoms, and 4th Edition's options of making playable monster variants straight from 1st level can be an interesting choice, although it may rob them of their more powerful and iconic abilities.
What do you think?