The Monstrous Class is a great one in Monster of the Week, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that it’s one of the favorite choices in many home groups with almost always at least one player wanting to check out this Playbook. It’s a well-written section and one that does a good job of being versatile: allowing the player to choose the form of monster they take while working with the Keeper.
This is one of the most solid battle classes in the game, to the surprise of no one, as they can use their Weird in a variety of ways to inflict damage on any unnatural or supernatural threats they come across, whether that’s through mental domination, unnatural physical abilities, or even trickery and charisma that would make a Fey envious.
These amazing powers come at the price of your curse, which is always lurking, threatening your illusion of humanity.
I feel the hunger, the lust to destroy. But I fight it: I never give in. I’m not human any more, not really, but I have to protect those who still are. That way I can tell myself I’m different to the other monsters. Sometimes I can even believe it.The Monstrous Class, Monster of the Week p.60
The Monstrous Playbook is an exciting one to play out of, and it’s not hard to see why this is so popular. Based on the combination of Curses, Moves, and your ability to customize your background with the help and/or approval of your Keeper, the story possibilities for this particular class is almost limitless!
So what decisions do you need to make when choosing the Monstrous Playbook in Monster of the Week? What makes this class so strong compared to others? What types of players might enjoy playing their own version of a Monstrous character?
Let’s deep dive into this class to find out!
What Is The Monstrous Class In Monster of the Week RPG?
This isn’t hard to figure out: you are Weird. You are afflicted, either because of how you were created or maybe you were cursed, turned, or infected at some point and that resulted in you becoming what you now are.
You are something that would likely be hunted if you gave into those monstrous instincts, but as long as you can keep fighting your curse, or finding a way to sake it that doesn’t harm others, you can be a powerful force fighting against those unnatural creatures who have no such qualm with harming others.
This is a class you expect to see in the middle of battle in some way, shape or form, and the playbook does a great job of offering multiple builds so you can be effective with natural attacks or with magical force, or even both, if you want to build that way.
You are less about investigating, although depending on the build you might be able to creatively use your natural shapeshifting or unnatural appeal to help the group get clues, but when it’s time to throw down, the group is going to be very glad to have someone like you on their side!
What Type of Monstrous Will You Be?
This is a deep question for the player because this isn’t just about style of play or picking between the obvious 2 or 3 build routes that are often obvious with other playbooks in MOTW.
Here you literally need to decide on what type of a Monstrous you want to be – what is your blessing/curse that makes you more Weird and less human?
You can even make your own breed while working with your Keeper: what you need is a Curse, a Natural Attack, and then decide on starting Moves in your class that match that starting monstrous build.
A few of the suggestions for Monster Breeds from the book:
- Vampire: Curse: Feed on blood or life-force. Natural attacks: Life-drain or teeth, add +1 harm to base attack. Moves: Immortal or unquenchable vitality, mental domination.
- Werewolf: Curse: Vulnerability (silver). Natural attacks: Claws, teeth. Moves: Shapeffhifter (wolf and/or wolfman) claws of the beast or unholy strength.
- Ghost: Curse: Vulnerability (rock salt), Natural attacks: Magical force, add hand range to magical force. Moves: Incorporeal, immortal.
- Faerie: Curse: Pure drive (joy). Natural attacks: Magical force, add ignore-armor to magical force. Moves: Flight, preternatural speed.
- Demon: Curse: Pure drive (cruelty). Natural attacks: Claws, +1 harm to claws. Moves: Dark Negotiator, unquenchable vitality.
- Orc: Curse: Dark master (the orc overlord). Natural attacks: Teeth, add ignore-armor to teeth. Moves: Unholy strength, dark negotiator.
- Zombie: Curse: Pure drive (hunger), feed (flesh or brains). Natural attacks: Teeth +1 harm to teeth. Moves: Immortal, unquenchable vitality.
- Mummy: Curse: Is a selfish dick. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the Aqua Teen Hunger Force reference!
The Monstrous Ratings for MOTW Are
- +3 Weird, +2 Tough, 0 Sharp, -1 Cool & Charm
- +3 Weird, +2 Sharp, 0 Charm, -1 Tough & Cool
- +3 Weird, +2 Cool, 0 Sharp & Tough, -2 Charm
- +3 Weird, +2 Charm, 0 Cool, -1 Sharp & Tough
- +3 Weird, +1 Sharp & Cool, 0 Tough, -1 Charm
What sticks out immediately is the Monstrous is the only class that gets a +3 to start. Because they are maxed out Weird – they are closer to the things you all hunt than the humans or human-adjacent classes the rest of the hunters are. Starting out this powerful means caps on other stats, with all the others capping at +2 as opposed to +3, but you start out strong…though sometimes at a very heavy cost to one of your other stats.
Most have a +3/+2 top heavy setup, but with more negatives on the other stats to balance it out. You’re very good at your two things and not even passable in most others, but this can still lead to a very powerful character.
This does open up the possibility of some intriguing builds, and it also means whether you’re a monster who notices every little detail or is double built for combat, you’re a nightmare for whatever you’re pursuing once you catch the scent.
MOTW Monstrous Curses
Curses are an interesting and necessary mechanic to fill out the Monstrous class. After all, you get some big boosts from your less than human side, but what is the cost?
The curses are the mechanic that works as “the other side of the coin” and can be very problematic depending on the situation. There are four curses in the base class that do a very nice job covering most monsters. You could customize one with your Keeper using the base four as examples of how to make one if necessary, but chances are you’ll find one that covers you quite well.
Feed: You must subsist on living humans – it might take the form of blood, brains, or spiritual essence but it must be from people. You need to act under pressure to resist feeding whenever a perfect opportunity presents itself.
Vulnerability: Pick a substance. You suffer +1 harm when you suffer harm from it. If you are bound or surrounded by it, you must act under pressure to use your powers.
Pure Drive: One emotion rules you. Pick from: hunger, hate, anger, fear, jealousy, greed, joy, pride, envy, lust , or cruelty. Whenever you have a chance to indulge that emotion, you must do so immediately or act under pressure to resist.
Dark Master: You have an evil lord who doesn’t know you changed sides. They still give you orders, and they do not tolerate refusal. Or failure.
What Do The Monstrous Moves Bring To The Table?
Because of the versatility of monsters that the Monstrous playbook can draw inspiration from, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that there’s an equally diverse set of moves in order to accommodate all your potential choices.
Here’s a look at all the moves for the Monstrous class.
- Immortal – You do not age or sicken, and whenever you suffer harm you suffer 1-harm less. A near essential take as the number of times that 1-harm less came into play or helped save the day in a big bad fight was amazing.
- Unnatural Appeal – Roll +Weird instead of +Charm when you manipulate someone. This is an outstanding move for that type of monster since the maxed out +3 Weird means this can make you very charming indeed.
- Unholy Strength – Roll +Weird instead of +Tough when you kick some ass. This is an outstanding move and since every Monstrous has +3 Weird, this just maxes out their combat buff.
- Incorporeal – You may move freely through solid objects (but not people). Very useful move for scouting out secured or hard to get into places.
- Preternatural Speed – You go much faster than normal people. When you chase, flee, or run take +1 ongoing. Solid choice.
- Claws of the Beast – All your natural attacks get +1 harm. Solid choice, great for combat.
- Mental Dominion – When you gaze into a normal human’s eyes and exert your will over them, roll +Charm. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7-9, hold 1. You may spend your hold to give them an order. Regular people will follow your order, whatever it is. Hunters can choose whether they do it or not. If they do, they mark experience. Worth noting: unlike most roll moves, there isn’t an additional penalty if you botch the roll on this move, meaning there is way less of a downside.
- Unquenchable Vitality – When you have taken harm, you can heal yourself. Roll +Cool. On a 10+, heal 2-harm and stabilize your injuries. On a 7-9, heal 1-harm and stabilize your injuries. On a miss, your injuries worsen. Healing is great if you can roll high enough to manage it.
- Dark Negotiator – You can use the manipulate someone move on monsters as well as people, if they can reason and talk. Solid move.
- Flight – You can fly. Simple, useful, effective. Never underestimate the power of the Z-Axis in an X/Y world.
- Shapeshifter – You may change your form (usually into an animal). Decide if you have just one alternate form or several, and detail them. You gain +1 to investigate a mystery when using an alternate form’s superior senses (e.g. smell for a wolf, sight for an eagle). Who hasn’t wanted to play a shapeshifter at some point?
- Something Borrowed – Take a move from a hunter playbook that is not currently in play. Can be incredibly effective, especially with compatible classes that no one in your party is playing.
Who Should Play The Monstrous Class in Monster of the Week?
Anyone who likes to be a fighter, a tank, a hack and slasher. Or any player who likes stories of creatures struggling against the demon within. Some classes are very niche in Monster of the Week while others are going to have a wide appeal and and Monstrous is one that is going to have a very wide appeal to many different players, and with good reason.
There’s a lot that you can do with the Monstrous Class, you’re never going to be a pure push over in combat, and you will have the ability to customize your particular Monstrous to fit the play style you want to engage with, which also makes this one of the more versatile classes out there – and that’s even before taking into account the roleplaying potential.
Here’s what Braden, “The Business,” had to say about his experience playing the Monstrous class in our first MOTW campaign.
The Monstrous class is the ultimate marriage of power and flexibility. You can be a stereotypical movie monster, a morally questionable anti-hero whose beauty is definitely only on the outside, someone looking for a cure who isn’t afraid to use their newfound power for good – the list goes on and on. With a wide variety of useful upgrades and the ability to take from other classes not in your party, you can build in so many different directions it can be difficult to narrow down the perfect build.
Just watch out for any Divine players – they tend to be super judgmental and will never get your vibe, no matter how hard you try to get them to see the method behind your perceived madness.Braden, who played a Monstrous in our group and had a serious rivalry with the Divine in the group
MOTW The Monstrous Class: Final Thoughts
When you’re going out to fight the unnatural and the supernatural, or any other entities you might just call “Weird,” it’s nice to have a Monstrous on your side to fight fire with fire…but God or the gods help your party if it turns when with the group! There’s a lot to love about what this class brings to the table in its playbook and the Moves, gear, and unique options make for surprising versatility between builds.
This is a fantastic class, one that’s going to get a lot of attention from players, and rightfully so. It is a fantastic class and when paired in the same party as a Divine or Initiate can be a lot of fun to watch the story and “Do I really have to work with them?” roleplaying moments play out, especially with an experienced TTRPG group.
If no one else at your table has claimed this one yet, grab it quick before someone else does!
Other TTRPG Articles You May Enjoy
- Monster of the Week The Spooktacular Class Guide
- Monster of the Week The Pararomantic Class Guide
- Monster of the Week The Gumshoe Class Guide
- Monster of the Week The Initiate Class Guide
- 5E Best Feats for Monks
- 5E Best Feats for Bards
- Monster of the Week Playbooks Reviewed
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.