The United Nations… of Monsters

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 24, 2013

a-to-z-letters-uOne thing the fantastic worlds of D&D always seem to have in common is extreme racially diversity. Hundreds of intelligent races and monsters coexist on one planet, often even on one continent. In a world with magic this improbability becomes accepted as part of the campaign world. But have you ever wondered how all those monsters continue to coexist?

Think about it, why haven’t the biggest and most powerful creatures completely decimated some of the less populace races? It’s almost like there’s some kind of force in place to ensure that no matter what kind of creature, monster or humanoid you happen to be, you will never be the last of your kind. Every race will continue to live in some form or another in the world of Dungeons & Dragons.

What if the reason that no species is hunted to extinction is that the monsters themselves have some kind of arrangement or agreement in place? What if the Giants agreed not to destroy the Orcs and the Dragons agreed not to wipe out the Halflings? What if the Beholders agreed not to eradicate the Svirfneblin and the Goblins agreed not to kill every last Pixie. What if there was some kind of governing body, a council if you will, that had representation from every sentient creature on the planet and that this group met in secret to decide on matters concerning all beings in the gaming world? It could happen. In fact, who’s to say it hasn’t already happened.

Throughout April Dungeon’s Master is participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge is to write a new article ever day in April, excluding Sundays. That’s 26 articles over the course of the month. To make things even more interesting the title of each article will begin with a different letter of the alphabet. Today “U” is for United Nations of Monsters, a governing body where all the races of the D&D world come together in peace for mutual benefit and prosperity.

UN-logo-1Think of this body as a United Nations for Monsters. As very few races in D&D have a home land with defines boarders “nations” may not be an accurate term; however, calling it a Monster UN will provide the players with the appropriate real life context to quickly understand what you’re talking about.

So how would this work? I think it would be best to keep it as simple as possible. Each race has two representatives on the council; let’s say a male and female to keep things balanced. The council meets annually to discuss the state of the world and vote on any matters at hand.

Obviously this kind of group will have hundreds of members so there needs to be some way to keep order (even among the chaotic races). I think we look at the way the real UN is set up and borrow the elements that make sense for our game. To begin with, we put a ruling council in charge. This council ultimately votes on all important matters.

Some races should have permanent positions on the council based on that race’s power in the world and the number of individuals worldwide. Right away I’d say Dragons and Humans should be permanent members. Other strong contenders would include PC races like Elves and Dwarves as well as monstrous races like Beholders and Giants. Some of these creatures would have permanent seats, while others would rotate in and out at regular intervals.

For example, the Elf seats might be occupied by Wood Elves now, but in 10 years Drow step in, and 10 years after that Eladrins take over. The Dragons would follow a similar practice where every decade the chromatic dragons are replaced by metallic dragons, and a decade later the reverse is true. Or course, you might argue that the chromatic and metallic dragons each have a pair of permanent seats on the council.

Like the real UN, a number of seats would be open for any member of any race. The seats would have a specified term limit and every year at least one race’s seats would open up. At any given time the rotating council seats might be occupied by Goblins, Centaurs, Minotaurs, Changelings or Myconids. Literally any creature that wants the seat could occupy it if they are voted in when a vacancy comes around.

It’s up to the DM to decide if the any creatures should be excluded. For example, what about creatures not native to this plane like Demons, Elementals, and Immortals? What about sentient undead? Do they fall into the same category s the race they were in life or do they get their own representation? These are finer points but you know that as soon as the players find out about the Monster UN they’ll ask these very questions, especially if they have ambitions of becoming members and happen to be playing a Genasi, Vampire, or Deva.

Once you establish the existence of a governing body like the Monster UN, what do you do with it? That depends on what you need them to do. They can propose non-aggression between races, request aid for races facing hardship, perhaps they might even need to enforce their own edicts by acting against transgressor who defy the laws of the Monster UN. This is assuming that the existence of this United Nations of Monsters is something the general world at large is even aware of. After all, the peasants don’t need to know what the king is doing as long as he keeps the peace and treats his subjects fairly.

Adventure Hooks

  • The PCs accidentally stumble upon a gather of monsters unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. None of the creatures are fighting despite deep racial hatred and vastly different alignments. The heroes recognize a known villain of an evil race talking casually with an Elvin lord. Do they attack the villain? Do they accuse the Elf of being a traitor?
  • One of the PCs is approached by a member of his race who needs his help with an urgent matter. The PCs is asked to carry his friend’s proxy to a council meeting and vote on an important matter. This is the swing vote so he must be there to cast it or the motion will fail. When the PC arrives he is shocked to learn of the Monster UN. He’s even more shocked to learn that the motion he’s voting for was presented by members representing some of his most hated enemy races.
  • After an adventure in which the PCs kill a very powerful monster they are charged with a crime for killing it. They are brought before the Monster UN and face punishment for breaking a non-aggression agreement between the race of one of the PCs and the monster they killed.
  • The heroes are approached by a stranger who claims to represent a group of united creatures (the Monster UN). A particularly nasty creature is defying the agreements that its racial representatives made to the UN. The PCs are asked to bring the creature before the council for disciplinary action. They are unable to confirm any of the details the stranger provided about the UN, its laws, or the supposed agreement.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Geoff April 24, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I like this thought. My game doesn’t have a monster UN, but all of the non CE religions have a similar structure in a city called Panthium… Like Chyrellos from David Eddings’ Elenium series.

Geoff at ROFL Initiative

2 Wendy McLaren April 26, 2013 at 9:46 am

This really struck a chord with me! I’m going to be running a game at a large sword & sorcery event in my area this summer and the Monster UN is on the short list of ideas I have for a game. I have thoroughly enjoyed your ABC challenge this month. You’ve done a great job with it.

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