Imposing boundaries pt.1 - subtract one monster and one class

So let’s start with the “generic” middle of the road OSR game, with the basic classes and monsters.
If you had to, what ONE class and ONE common monster, each of which is referenced a lot at low level, would you get rid of, PERMANENTLY, and why? What would it free you to do or not do, and would you add replacements or leave the game without them?

For me: Thief and Orc.

Elf - Players as non-humans demystify the world, for me. It’s hard to give them enough info, but withold enough to keep the world mysterious. Dwarfs and halflings I don’t mind so much, they are more grounded as species anyway.

Thief is a solid candidate for removal, too - by adding dungeoneering mechanics to one class, it adds psychological limits to other classes.

As for monster, it’s tough. I’d go Bugbear just because I don’t get them. They look dumb, are not scary, and it’s hard to imagine them fitting any setting.

Orcs and goblins would be the last thing I’d remove, they’re my favorite fantasy monsters. DnD could just be wizard, fighter, goblins and dragons. Maybe some trolls to add a mid-tier monster…

“Thief” to me is more of something people do, ie commit property crimes, and one could argue that all murder hobos are Thieves plus something else. Like in the old D&D Lankhmar setting where loads of characters are Thief plus… (something). I understand about Elves too, great point.

Interested to know why removing Thieves and Orcs is your choice, zombienomicon?

I guess it makes room for using other monsters, or just makes goblins more common… Now, if you remove all the basic monsters, like how LotFP recommends you do, you end up having to create new, weird monsters that the players are more likely to be scared of. Good for horror, especially. But also, part of the charm of old school dnd is meeting and fighting those classic trope-y monsters.

Thief - I kept them in my WHITEFRANK game, since they are trad, but really- to me Thief still suggests a behavior pattern rather than thief abilities, although a good argument could be made either way. Orcs- specific to Tolkien. Goblins but no Orcs, restores Goblins to their threat level from folk tales and allows for their great variation in size and shape again from old tales.

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That’s great reasoning for orcs!

I agree with removing the thief class. Personally, I atomized there Thief powers and either disperse them among the other classes or make them the main system that all of the classes interact with when it comes to traps and handling situations in the dungeon or when the party tries to do something that Thief would do.

Personally, I would slash Orcs and simply make them another group of people that the players can interact with in the world. I’m partial to going as far as making Orcs their own class along with the dwarf, elf and halfling.

In addition, I’m partial to removing Kobolds and lump their trap making and tunneling skills into the Goblin to help give them another set of tools to go up against PCs with. It will certainly make a horde of goblins more frightening to go up against if the PC start hearing tunneling at the same time as they are fighting a group of goblins in the room they’re currently in.


re Orcs as class, I am in favour of “if Elves are a class, they’re all classes” approach, sort of an OSR version of Monsters!Monsters!. It really logically has to be either that, or NO nonhumans are classes. It’s super weird just having a kind of Tolkien exception for certain races as classes.

I added “Orcs as a class” in the form of Elf, Cursed as a class which I thought was a way to not use the Tolkien specific “O” word but still have the original Silmarillion type idea of them- Elves tortured by the Evil One into a new shape. But still immortal!

Poor Thief class is getting clobbered though so far. oO

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I feel like the Thief is getting clobbered because most people have varying experiences with thieves or rogues in games. Also, having most of the trap/problem solving related buttons tied to one class makes it more potent than intended. Allowing the Fighter or Magic User have some of those Abilites can even the playing field a bit more and allows multiple people have access to another tool.

I mention the Ork class because I honestly feel like it would be a good addition as either class line up or option since its pretty ubiquitous in media. Though I feel like the Ork as seen in different media can be expanded upon more than what is seen.

Though making stressing their origin as corrupted versions of an Elf could provide an avenue for larger expansion.

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I feel that the Warhammer / greenskin WoW / klingon type Orcs have a long enough history in different media now to more than justify their inclusion as a character class for people who want to. Way back in BECMI there were the Orcs of Thar I think it was called, and that was fine. Compared to a lot of the Mystara stuff it did no harm to anything else in the setting and expanded a major threat race into something definitely playable. In systems with lots of +2/-2 stuff it’s very easy and in more detailed systems even more so. And the clans or tribes of Orcs are well established in people’s minds, for sure.