Greatest Hits 2013: The United Nations… of Monsters

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on December 17, 2013

While the Dungeon’s Master team enjoys some well-deserved vacation time, we’re breaking out the greatest hits and shining a spotlight on a few of our favourite articles from 2013. We’ve searched for hidden gems that our newer readers might have missed and our long-time readers will enjoy reading again. Enjoy a second look at these greatest hits from Dungeon’s Master.

The idea is really quite simple; introduce a governing body to your game world that has representation from all races in your fantasy campaign. In the article we suggest a few ways to make this work. At the end of the article we provided some possible adventure hooks. Today we’ve got a few more.

These hooks will certainly work better if the DM knows he’s going to include the UN of Monsters in his campaign when the PCs are developing characters. The DM can provide direction without revealing too much. Enjoy.

      • Every party member is a different race (not that uncommon). They are approached by a mentor early in their adventuring career. The mentor explains that they are being considered for membership in a very exclusive club. Every time the PCs take on a quest they are scored and judged. Eventually some or all of the PCs are offered seats on the UN of Monsters’ council.
      • Every party member is the same race. They are brought together as special enforcers in order to protect and promote the culture and history of their people. They are fully aware of the UN of Monsters as they take orders directly from their race’s representative. Do they do so unconditionally? What would happen if their contact on the UN was killed or replaced? Is their loyalty to the UN of Monsters, their race, or the person who happens to hold office right now?
      • One of the PCs represents his race at the UN of Monsters. His race is expelled from the UN. Any protection his race had from being included in the UN of Monsters is gone. What does the PC do? Is he personally held responsible for any problems that spin out of the expulsion? Is it within his power to get his people back in to the UN? What are the consequences to other races that help?
      • The PCs witness monsters coming together after a natural disaster to provide aid. Creatures like Dragons and Giants (many of them evil) literally move mountains, redirect the flow of rivers, and rebuild infrastructure like roads and bridges. During this unexpected cooperation hunters attack and kill the creatures. What do the PCs do? What side does the party sympathize with?

The idea of a United Nations of Monsters is one I’ve kicked around for a long time. It certainly has a lot of potential for any fantasy game world. I hope that some DMs who read the original article and who read this rerun borrow it and use it in their campaign. If you’ve used a UN of Monsters or something similar, please share your experiences in the comments below.

From April 24, 2013, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: The United Nations… of Monsters.

One 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.

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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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Michael December 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm

So last night I was thinking about what my players wanted from the 13th Age game I’m running and came to the conclusion that, based on backgrounds and one unique things, politics between races was going to be a major factor in the campaign (I’ve got a couple of passionate international relations majors).

I want to thank you for this very well-timed “rerun” article. The timing is perfect and I will definitely be drawing from some of the ideas laid out in it.

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