Sunday, December 29, 2013

Goblins, Orcs and Bugbears - oh meh.

I've long been bored with the recurring humanoid races in fantasy RPGs.  It can be challenging to keep them fresh.  In my Pathfinder game, the human god killed the goblin god and used a powerful artifact to erase that god's existence from all of time.  Without the protection of their god, the goblins were enslaved by humans.  The PCs returned to town to discover it much advanced from when they left, with hundreds of goblin slaves toiling under human control.  The PCs remember the alternate past, but no one else does.

In LotFP it's a different story altogether.  I embrace Raggi's philosophy that other humans should be the primary threat, with bizarre, true monsters showing up here and there to add to the weird.  As I've gotten more and more into the game, I've started picking up various resources outside of LotFP, such as charts, random tables, adventure hooks, modules, etc.  Some of these fit perfectly into the campaign, while others are still steeped in the "humanoid" mentality.  What I'm looking at doing now is creating a list of replacements for when these humanoids show up.

Short Humanoids (goblins, dwarves, halflings, kobolds, etc.)
Children (think Lord of the Flies)
Crawling People
Legless Folk (they move using their hands and tiny stumps instead of legs)
Little People
Babyskins (something that has crawled into the flesh of stolen babies)
Animated Dolls
Walking Animals (rats, cats, dogs, goats, sheep, etc., walking on two legs)
Highly Intelligent Monkeys/Apes

For medium-sized humanoids (orcs, gnolls, bugbears, etc.)
Exotic or Foreign "Savages"
Wild Men
Lost Tribe
Mutants (using The Metamorphica)
Animated Manikins
Feral People
Artabtatitae (four-legged)
Astomi (mouthless)
Walking Animals (deer, pigs, wolves, etc., walking on two legs)
Highly Intelligent Apes/Gorillas

Large humanoids (giants, ogres, trolls)
Walking Animals (bears, elephants, camels, horses, cows, bulls, etc.)
(I think I'd be willing to use a single giant, ogre and troll once in a campaign, but most large creatures will probably be monstrosities.  It would be difficult for any large creature to exist in great numbers during the Early Modern Era, right?  Although an adventure inspired by Roald Dahl's BFG could be fun...)

What ideas do you have?  Anything else I can add to the list to prevent humanoid fatigue?

UPDATE: Additions using community feedback!

First, Known World, Old World has a great way to deal with the tired, old bandit.  Sometimes you need a mundane bandit, sometimes you need something more...

I will probably take what he started, and add some of the following to it (all applicable to otherwise normal humans):

-Demonically tainted
-Degenerate, inbred human clan ("Hills Have Eyes" sort of thing)
-Desperate, pushed to inhumanity
-Possessed (demons, evil spirits, skinwalkers)
-Righteous ("ends justify means")
-Foreign/Xenophobic (religion, language, allegiance, worldview, culture...)
-Offensive (pedophiles, rapists, necrophiliacs, etc.)
-Anachronism (removed from their own time, still carrying on their mission...)
-Infected (rage virus, etc.)
-Hosts (parasite that seeks to multiply, feed, etc.)
-Mind/Body swapped

The following list are not humans:
-Minor demons
-Tcho Tchos
-Aliens ("Greys" or maybe from Carcossa)
-Reptoids (or something else) wearing human skin


  1. I've been running a LOTFP style campaign for a while now - it's about a ruined alien city in the frozen north, discovered by Vikings (and the players are all Norse or related). Early on, most of the opponents were other raiders; more monstrous opponents involved other explorers infected by rage worms (a parasite in the water) and becoming Berserkers (or mutating further into muscled cannibals - Phase 2 and Phase 3 berserkers).

    Other humanoid stand-ins have included "white apes" (violent near-human hominids); the ubiquitous morlocks, cannibal cousins of the white apes; frost gremlins, goblin-like nuisances created from the dripping ichor of a severed Jotun's head; plasticals (Marks I-IV) - the rubbery servitors of the ancient aliens that still maintain some of the equipment under the city.

    Looks like you're going for a heavy Greek theme. I like the idea of Amazons and Myrmidons as berserkers; I've considered Satyrs and Bacchantes as violent replacements for Orcs. I'd also consider creating new races as servitors to the gods (assuming something like the Greek gods are somewhere in the background). Mechanical men or artificial men were spawned by Hephaestus; creepy black clad jawa-like things drag bodies down to the Underworld; Oreads or Nymphs can be turned into fierce analogs of elves and ward the wilds on behalf of Artemis.

  2. Just make a shtick and slap it on a pre-existing humanoid. Pumpkin-headed goblins who drink blood. Orcs with tubular heads and frogs tongues. Ogres with the same body plan as giant crabs (but still with 8 legs and soft, shitty bodies). Just don't call them goblins, orcs, or ogres.

    Or these guys: