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Monstrous Races
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Monstrous Races

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Whether you’re playing an all-monster party or just want to play a monstrous race in an otherwise normal party, this document presents rules for playing every creature in the Monster Manual, new feats and backgrounds for monstrous characters, analysis of officially published races, highly detailed rules for building your own races, new rules for tiny races, and rules for templates for player characters.

This supplement is for 5th-edition Dungeons and Dragons. Currently DM's Guild only allows community submissions for 5th edition.

What is in this document?

  • 228 playable races (every creature in the Monster Manual, no exceptions!)
  • 116 subraces 
  • 13 templates for Player Characters, including new rules for Lycanthropes and Vampires
  • Design notes discussing how everything in the document was built and suggestions for changing everything to fit your game
  • Rules for Tiny player characters and races
  • 5 new feats
  • 3 new backgrounds
  • Analysis of official published races with suggestions for ways to alter them
  • Extensive Race Builder rules for building your own races, including 2 new races designed from the ground up to show you how it works (Mongrelfolk, and Animated Tomes)
  • Template Builder rules for building your own templates for player characters
  • Includes both the full version of Monstrous Races and the Monstrous Races Compact Edition, a slimmed-down version of the document with a lot of the clutter removed to make it a great reference option on the go

Does that seem like a lot? It is! Are you still not sure? Take a look at the preview, which covers the first 20 pages of the document, including the rules for Tiny creatures and complete racial traits for 7 races.

Featured on KotakuVice, and the D&D Character Lab Podcast, a front-page post on /r/DnD/, and thanks to all of you fine folks, a Platinum Best Seller on DM's Guild!

 
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Reviews (26)
Discussions (52)
Customer avatar
Sebastian M June 25, 2018 6:59 pm UTC
PURCHASER
If I wanted a physical copy is there any way that could happen, or is it possible?
Customer avatar
Tyler K June 28, 2018 4:57 am UTC
CREATOR
Unfortunately, you're on your own for that. DMsGuild doesn't do print-on-demand (except for WotC-organized projects like Monsters of the Guild).

However, you're free to print products for your own use, so you could go to a local print shop and have it printed and bound.
Customer avatar
Sebastian M June 28, 2018 8:08 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks a lot! I will be taking a trip to Staples tomorrow then.
P.S. love the work
Customer avatar
Derek H May 31, 2018 12:32 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you for making Reincarnation cool again. Now I can write up several tables, including ones for arcane versions of the spell.
Customer avatar
Brad L May 30, 2018 6:26 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hey, an update! Anything specific/big here, or just a compilation of the various changes people have recommended since the last one?
Customer avatar
Tyler K May 31, 2018 2:29 pm UTC
CREATOR
Any time a product on DMsGuild is updated, your "Updated Products" list will include a list of all of the update messages from the creators. Most of the time when I update the document it's just minor text corrections (typos, etc.), but sometimes there are bigger corrections. I've made several updates, so unfortunately I can't tell what's new in the document compared to the last version you downloaded.

Most recently I've made improvements to the text of the Lich template to clarify how the template's abilities work, and I fixed a bunch of missing stuff in the Wolf traits.
Customer avatar
Jacob B May 19, 2018 10:03 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Have you considered revising regeneration to something like "half your level rounded down" or "con modifier + 1/4 level"? Or is that still too powerful in comparison to the hit dice spending?
Customer avatar
Tyler K May 20, 2018 3:02 am UTC
CREATOR
The issue with regeneration on PCs is that it's an infinitely deep resource. No matter what the cap is, it's still an infinite resource. No matter what the cap is, players will likely be happy sitting at that cap. Or, if the cap is extremely low it will make regeneration function so infrequently that it's not appealing.

Plus, thanks to 5e's death mechanics, dropping to 0 becomes largely meaningless because you pop back up on your next turn at no cost. Players could be knocked unconscious every turn indefinitely at basically no cost except the movement to stand back up.

Tying regeneration to hit dice puts a limitation on its daily usage, but it still allows the player to use it enough that it's fun, and they still get to feel like they're regenerating a ton more health than a normal creature could.

Of course, I encourage you to experiment in your own game. If you ever want to try something new, you should absolutely do it. Experimenting with new ideas is a ton of fun, and...See more
Customer avatar
Jacob B May 20, 2018 2:40 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for your thoughts, in my own games I do usually say something along the lines of "does not function if you drop to zero" but I like the hit dice as well, they scale with levels alot better than the static regeneration, thanks again!
Customer avatar
Jacob B May 18, 2018 3:31 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Also something to consider for alot of the larger than than large races to help balance the BP is huge negatives to any attempts to hide or stealth and for most of the monsters in here, how their unique physiology makes having armor and weapons made difficult if at all possible, so it would be far more expensive and hard to find. Another big thing for larger races is a huge penalty to dexterity because of their size. Whenever you get around to making rules for those races I feel like these would help balance out alot of the strengths they get from being large beings.
Customer avatar
Tyler K May 18, 2018 11:32 pm UTC
CREATOR
Those are definitely things I'm considering. I've got a lot of ideas, but I haven't settled on a final version that I'm totally okay with. WotC just released the latest Unearthed Arcana with Centaurs and Minotaurs, and even WotC is shying away from rules for large character races. That's not really helpful for people who want to play large races, but I hope it gives some impression of the design difficulties involved.
Customer avatar
Jacob B May 19, 2018 12:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
Yeah that's a monumental challenge, the best I could come up with is either having a "zoomed out " campaign where large is medium medium is small etc. Or giving huge races size large, and then the powerful build feature, but neither really address the problem of size being very powerful all that well.
Customer avatar
Jacob B May 18, 2018 3:10 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hey love the idea and execution of alot of these monsters, it really does bring home the flavor of playing the monster without breaking them. Just one or two questions, why do certain races who feel more inclined towards heavy armor (planetar angles for example) still only get the ability to fly in light or no armor? And if they can't why is it rated at a BP of 4 if they will be able to rarely if at all use it depending on their class choice? Finally why do hill giants get 2 +2s while all the other giants get much less in their stats, too high of a BP?
Customer avatar
Tyler K May 18, 2018 11:18 pm UTC
CREATOR
Those are excellent questions! I don't think I adequately explained the armor limitation on flight anywhere in my design notes. The idea was originally taken from the Aarakocra traits published in the Elemental Evil Player's Companion, and that became my basis for balancing flight. Flight is a massive advantage for players, which is why the BP value is so high. But even with the high BP cost, flight is still very appealing. Limiting flying characters to light armor means that they're sacrificing the convenience of heavy armor's AC for the defensive advantage of flight. Characters looking for better armor while flying should consider the Powerful Flyer feat, which allows them to fly in medium armor.

Regarding Hill Giants, you got it exactly right. If you look at the design notes for hill giants, they basically have nothing going on except for their size and their stats. Other giants get resistances and other cool racial traits. I wanted to keep giants balanced against each other, so hill giants got...See more
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Jacob B May 19, 2018 12:33 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for the prompt reply! Yeah I guess that makes alot of sense, I just really got attached to the idea of a planetar in heavy armor flying through the sky on a quest to retrieve his power. My thinking was that because some of the races get very few stat bumps needing a feat would be very costly to them, but I can see where giving them the ability for free would make it too good.
Customer avatar
Jeremy H May 05, 2018 11:30 am UTC
PURCHASER
Looking forward to an update. Tons of good stuff in here so far. I'm wondering though, how could you scale the natural improvement of the monster as it grows in level? I mean, d4 damage for a natural attack is all well and good at 1st level, but what about at level 9 or 10? There was a similar homebrew I saw for Pathfinder years ago, Pathfinder Bestiary Levels. If you can track that one down it might be helpful.

For many of these critters I would rather see a Race as Class option. But, that's likely too oldskool for a lot of 5e players to get their heads around (lol). How would you balance a standard Class progression with a Race as Class progression? I think Savage Species had a similar problem and their answer was a form of Multi-Classing. They had the monster PC level up until it was a fully powered "adult" form and then it could begin to acquire levels in a regular Class. I dunno… any thoughts?
Customer avatar
Tyler K May 06, 2018 3:12 pm UTC
CREATOR
Regarding scaling: Natural weapons in 5th edition, just like manufactured weapons, don't scale as characters level. A dagger still does 1d4 damage at level 20. A character's damage output typically improved due to ability score increases and class features like Extra Attack. Monstrous Races also includes the Natural Weapon Master feat and the Natural Weapon fighting style, each of which improves your natural weapon damage by one die size up to a maximum of 1d12.

Regarding race-as-class: That was something I intentionally tried to avoid. A lot of other people on DMsGuild have published race-as-class approaches to various monsters, and some of them seem like viable options. That's just not what I set out to write. Despite how clearly absurd the idea may be, I wanted every race to be playable from level 1 just like the races in the player's handbook with as a few new mechanics as possible.
Customer avatar
Jeremy H May 07, 2018 12:48 am UTC
PURCHASER
Ah, I missed that Feat. At the back, right? Thanks for explaining your rationale.

Customer avatar
Nathanael W April 23, 2018 6:25 pm UTC
PURCHASER
on page 268 the wolf's design notes mention the no hands trait and natural weapons, but the wolf traits don't seem to list these.
Customer avatar
Tyler K April 24, 2018 4:21 am UTC
CREATOR
Oops! That's embarrassing. I'll correct that and upload an updated document some time in the next couple days.
Customer avatar
Patrick T March 29, 2018 11:21 pm UTC
PURCHASER
On page 279, the wood elf's movement speed of 35 feet is listed as +1 BP, while on page 286 in the race builder the 35 foot walking speed is only +0.5 BP.
Customer avatar
Tyler K March 30, 2018 5:02 am UTC
CREATOR
Good catch. I'll be sure to correct that in the next update to the document.
Customer avatar
Timid Robot Z March 27, 2018 3:51 am UTC
PURCHASER
This is a fantastic document! Thank you keeping it up-to-date and correcting issues!
Customer avatar
Brandon S March 24, 2018 5:12 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Maybe a lengthier Lycanthrope Level Chart. The shortness of it doesn't feel like a curse, more a nuisance to deal with because its only three levels, if it were ten, I believe it would grasp the curse feel to it. Maybe add in during that time that the Lycanthrope is prone to outbursts or thievery if their Lycanthrope turns them Chaotic Evil.
Customer avatar
Tyler K March 25, 2018 4:48 am UTC
CREATOR
That's an interesting suggestion. I had a few design objectives in mind when balancing lycanthropy, and 2 levels proved to be sufficient to hit all of the important stuff. If you like the idea of additional lycanthrope levels, the document has everything you need to extend, alter, or even rewrite what I've written, and I strongly encourage you to do try it!
Customer avatar
Brandon S March 28, 2018 2:51 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you. I will try what I can to come up with something and report back on my findings and how it proceeded! =]
Thank you for this marvelous book though!
Customer avatar
Pedro C March 21, 2018 1:22 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Great product! I've had a ton of fun looking through it and using it to build my own races.
Also if this in particular has been pointed out yet, but the Awakened Tree is missing some things that are included in its design notes, namely the natural armor and the 1d8 unarmed strike die, instead have 1d6 and no natural armor.
The notes for bats also says it should have 5 ft walking speed, but it has a 30 ft one.
Customer avatar
Tyler K March 22, 2018 3:49 am UTC
CREATOR
Thanks for spotting those. I'll be sure to correct those in the next update to the file.
Customer avatar
Derek T March 17, 2018 3:50 am UTC
How do the file updates work for this? Buy a new copy after the updates or can you just download a new version? The cost is so low it doesn’t matter too much, but I was just curious.
Customer avatar
Tyler K March 17, 2018 11:27 pm UTC
CREATOR
It works the same way for all OneBookShelf sites: If you go to your Account page, near the top of the page there is an "Updated products" link. A number will appear in parentheses if any of your products have been updated since the last time you downloaded them.

Any time you download a product, you are always downloading the latest version.
Customer avatar
Elijah J March 05, 2018 10:29 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This is great! Actually balanced, unlike most homebrew and many of Wizards monstrous races. I did notice a couple of typos. From the hydra: "If you have no more hit dice you spend, you fall to 0 hit points and begin dying." Shouldn't that be "hit dice to spend" instead? Also, under the "Playing a <monster name>" section, many entries have "Like many other creatures, being awakened has a Monster Manualgreat deal of influence on your character’s personality."
Customer avatar
Elijah J March 05, 2018 10:44 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The Succubus/Incubus charm ability seems awkwardly worded. It might read more easily as a direct copy from Charm Person. "As an action, you attempt to magically charm a humanoid you can see within 30 feet. It must make a Wisdom saving throw, and does so with advantage if you or your companions are fighting it. The DC for the saving throw is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. If it fails the saving throw, it is charmed by you for one hour or until you or your companions do anything harmful to it. The charmed creature regards you as a friendly acquaintance. When the spell ends, the creature knows it was charmed by you.
After you use this ability, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest."

Also, the Hydra's darkvision has a range of 10 feet. Is that intentional? The design notes score it at 2BP, which is the same as the score for 60 feet
Customer avatar
Elijah J March 05, 2018 10:57 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The Invisible Stalker's "No Hands" seems redundant with "Unstable Form". Also, "Air Body" should be "You are immune to exhaustion, and grappled, petrified, prone, restrained, and unconscious conditions."
Customer avatar
Tyler K March 06, 2018 8:10 pm UTC
CREATOR
Thanks for spotting those. I'll make sure that they're corrected next time I update the file.
Customer avatar
Jeremy H March 02, 2018 7:06 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm very satisfied with this product. There's so much awesome for such a low price. One thing that I'm confused by (and please forgive me if it's in the book and I missed it) is why creatures that are Large such as Ettins can't actually be "Large" and must instead settle for "Powerful Build"? Thanks in advance. :^)
Customer avatar
Tyler K March 02, 2018 2:38 pm UTC
CREATOR
I think I did a poor job of explaining that design decision in the document. Essentially, it boils down to balance. Being large comes with a lot of complications, and raises a lot of rules questions that I haven't yet found a good answer to.

I'm working on a couple of ways to handle allowing large and larger creatures, and when I'm satisfied with them I'll add the document as an additional file on this product so that everyone who is already enjoying Monstrous Races will get it for free.
Customer avatar
Matthew M March 01, 2018 2:27 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'm trying to use your race creation system on a Nereid from Tales from the Yawning Portal, but I'm getting stumped by the number of abilities the Nereid has which makes it's BP shoot through the roof. Any advice?
Customer avatar
Tyler K March 01, 2018 6:46 pm UTC
CREATOR
Ooh, that's a fun monster. Eventually I'm planning to do a full adaptation of all of the new monsters in the official adventures, but I'll skip ahead to the Nereid since its giving you trouble. I won't type out a full design notes section, but I'll do an abridged version.

At a glance, I can definitely see why the Nereid is coming out with a really high BP value. It's got a high swim speed and a whole bunch of special abilities. In cases like this, it's really helpful to cut stuff down in to a normal range that's more reflective of official races.

* Creature Type: Fey (0.5 BP)
* Ability Increases: +1 Dex, +1 Cha (2 BP)
* Speed: 30 ft. walking (0 BP), 30 ft. swim (down from 60) (1 BP)
* Darkvision (2 BP)
* Languages: Racial+Common (0 BP) and 2 fixed (0.5 BP)
* Amphibious (0.5 BP)

That's 6.5 BP before we touch the hard stuff.

* Replace "Aquatic Invisibility" with Hidden Step. Normally 2 BP, but with the underwater limitation...See more
Customer avatar
Matthew M March 05, 2018 3:21 am UTC
PURCHASER
This is perfect. Thanks for the help.
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295
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Original electronic
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File Last Updated:
May 09, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on January 02, 2018.