It’s tough to think about fantasy without the image of fantastical beasts and foes of legend coming to mind. The mighty minotaur and the mysterious centaur are just two of these creatures brought straight from myth to our tables. The Unearthed Arcana exploring and even updating these monstrous races for those interested in playing monsters in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons has come out and while Nerdarchists Dave and Ted are reviewing the document, I figured I’d take the chance to talk about these interesting creatures and a couple of experiences I had with centaurs and minotaurs in gaming.
Centaurs and minotaurs on the player side
I played at the same table as a minotaur fighter that was a treat to be around. A brash and lovable hulk of a beast, always looking for the next fight. It was nice to see a player really get into their monstrous form. He would often describe himself as snorting and digging his hooves into the dirt. His combat style was often that of charging, shoving and goring. His background as a sailor meant he was an excellent shipmate to have aboard. Kurz was big, loud and jovial.
The player really played into the idea of playing monsters and that he was different; mannerisms, practices and even mundane interaction in the world. These differences didn’t often stop the flow of a scene, but were sprinkled in, always being a gentle and fun reminder that we had a bull-man in our midst. It was refreshing to see a monstrous character that took advantage of his race, instead of feeling like a human with horns.
As for centaurs, while I’ve never had one at the table as a PC, I did use one as an NPC as an almost literary parallel. The party in this campaign all came from the same small village and this was their first major excursion away from the town they grew up in. The ranger was an outcast for crimes his family committed in the past.
An evening of the ranger on his own foraging, he came across a centaur, tall and proud but with a prominent “X” scar on his chest. In there conversation, the range eventually inquired about the injury and the noble centaur explained that this was a mark of exile. For his crime, he was not to return to his people, but explained how he still loved them and patrolled the outside of their territory to protect them. The conversation opened the eyes of the ranger on how he could atone for past sin and behavior and that love and loyalty are so dearly important.
What do you think about the new Unearthed Arcana? Plan on throwing some mythological creatures into your game, even as NPCs? Does the idea of playing monsters appeal to you, or have you already done so and if so, what kinds of monsters have you played? Centaurs and minotaurs are longtime favorite creatures for players to try out but there’s tons of intriguing creatures in D&D history to satisfy the itch for playing monsters.
Let us know if you have or if you have plans to do so in the comments below. And be sure to check out the video below sponsored by Easy Roller Dice. You can find a special link to their site and use out exclusive coupon code for 20 percent off your first order with Easy Roller Dice!
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