Great news, kiddos! Wizards of the Coast has done it again! They’ve packaged up a nice thick book chock a block full of trophies that you can give yourself at the start of your next D&D campaign. They call it “Volo’s Guide to Monsters” and a full third of the book’s contents are rules for character races.
Now stop and think about this for a second. Back in the day – before teh RPG community demanded instant gratification and rewards just for bellying that big ‘ol belly up to the table – if you wanted to run a demi-human, you had hope the dice came up right. You had to qualify for the honor of running a character with a few extra bennies.
These days, running a demi-human is as easy as flipping open a book and plonking one pork-rind stained pointer finger down on a page that lists some stat bonuses and penalties and hey, here’s some more special abilities that will see you through danger because we know you haven’t got the skills and brains to solve problems on your own.
You see the difference? Yeah, here’s my alternative take on Volo’s Guide:
I have scads more respect for these two chaps than I do for people running firbolg or lizardman PCs. At least these guys did something to earn those medals more than buy a book.
Everybody gets a trophy! All carefully balanced so everyone is the same, because no one is special unless everyone is special!
This. Is Ruining. Your. Game.
All these special rules and all these freebies are crutches holding you back. You’ve been sold on the idea that these races will spark your imagination, but they don’t. They stifle it. You aren’t really playing something new and different, you’re just playing a stat block. You’re not creating, your imitating. That’s why the shine wears off so quickly. That’s how you get trapped on the never ending treadmill of splatbooks. You run this for a bit, but without the effort of earning that cool little benny, without the game-time and investment, it just doesn’t resonate deep down in your vastly overworked heart, buried there under that pair of droopy, double-D manboobs.
Think about that dragon hoard you scored through some great strategy and a little bit of luck. That felt great, didn’t it? If the DM had given you that gold for backstabbing one kobold whore – *record scratch*
This is a thing, God help us all:
Well, thank god the heroes showed up to ensure that the kobold hookers choosing to polish a zoo line-up of knobs are safe and that the mean old man isn’t forcing them to sell their dog-faced little bodies on the black market. That’s what passes for heroism in our world these days, and they wonder why some of us harken back to days when fighting evil meant breaking up prostitution rings, killing pimps, and forcing sex slave rings to hide from the light of truth, beauty, and justice.
Oh, and just by way of reinforcing the point of this blog post: If your kobolds are just little funny looking hookers, congratulations, you’ve made them less mysterious and fantastic than people who treat them as nothing but 1/4HD critters worth 5 XP each. Good job, you imaginative creative types, you turned monsters into people! That’s not just erasing the uniqueness of kobolds, but it’s also great world practice for when it comes time to support Lena Dunham and the owners of Comet Pizza.
*places needle back on the post*
– then you wouldn’t get nearly the satisfaction out of the game. You know this. There’s a widely recognized term for it – the Monty Haul campaign. Volo’s is the Monty Haul version of rolling up a character. You should have outgrown DM Monty about the time you outgrew hairless genitals. Don’t rush back to that style by throwing money at Volo’s Guide to Monty Haul Character Classes.
Resist the urge to cheapen the game by taking shortcuts to satisfaction. You don’t need rewards before the first initiative die is rolled. The game will reward your efforts on the painting side of the DM screen if you put some time and energy into it.