Monday, November 21, 2016

Gamer ADD: Monster Manual II Part 9

Ecology of MMII Demi-Humans

As I have noted before, the MMII has two different elves within its pages: wild elves that are neutral fighter/druids and valley elves that are chaotic fighter/magic-users. When deciding which demi-humans to use for PC classes, I chose to use the wild elves. This is due not only to their PC-friendly alignment but also because they offer an interesting departure from the standard D&D elf.

Then porphyre77 opened a can of worms inside my head by suggesting that the Swanmay could also be an interesting stand-in for the elf. They are rangers and (for the purposes of a three-tier alignment system) are lawful. My brain immediately started linking the swanmay ability to shape change into a swan with the long list of normal animals that can be found in the MMII. Each animal became the basis for a different clan or tribe. Thus, elves are primarily ranger-types that can, depending on what clan they belong to, transform into an animal form.

I also made the connection that dwarves, as represented by the duergar, also have transformation powers: they grow big. Transformation is also implied by the mongrelmen and their chaotic morphology. Thus, shapeshifting becomes the common denominator of what it means to be a demi-human in an MMII-inspired world.

Chaos, in the form of arcane magic, has twisted both elves and dwarves into humanoid versions of themselves: valley elves and derro. Given that the undead in the MMII are largely dependent upon the existence of necromancy to bring them to unlife, it follows that there ought to be a twisted version of the mongrelman that dabbles in such nasty magic. This could be the origin of the implied necromancer.

Finally, there is one more creature in the MMII that is a shapeshifter: the wolfwere. These nefarious hunters have very fey-like powers: music that casts the equivalent of a slow spell on its listeners and they can only be harmed by cold-iron or magic weapons. This suggests that there are tribes of elves that have gone “wild” — thus the moniker wild elf. These clans, to certain degrees, have lost themselves in their animal forms. Thus, they range in alignment from neutral to chaotic.

Given that the “example” of a lawful elf transforms into a swan and a “wild” elf transforms into a wolf, it follows that the mammalian clans are the ones most likely to have gone wild, with the carnivorous ones being the most likely to have fallen into a chaotic world-view. In turn, the avian clans are the ones that still hold onto their “elfishness.”

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