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5E: Battle of the Sexes of the Monsters

September 24, 2014

So there’s been a bit of a discussion around the gender distribution of the monsters in the 5E Monster Manual.  More research is always better, so I did some counting myself.

To cut right to the bottom line:

Total Monster Illustrations: 277
Asexual Illustrations: 221 (80%)
Males Illustrated: 37 (13%)
Females Illustrated: 19 (7%)

Ergo, changing 9 male illustrations to female illustrations, or 3% of the total illustrations, would result in gender parity.

My data and comments follow.  It is, by its nature, often a judgment call, and I can appreciate that others may have different judgments.  Maybe it’s obvious that flumphs reproduce by fission and I just missed it.  Alas, I’ve done my best.
Sexual Biology, Depicted Ambiguously [88]

Carrion Crawler
Dinosaur, Plesiosaurus
Dinosaur, Pteranodon
Dinosaur, Tyrannosaurs Rex
Displacer Beast
Dragon, Shadow
Dragon, Ancient Black
Dragon, Ancient Blue
Dragon, Ancient Green
Dragon, Ancient Red
Dragon, Ancient White
Dragon, Ancient Brass
Dragon, Ancient Bronze
Dragon, Bronze Wyrmling
Dragon, Ancient Copper
Dragon, Ancient Gold
Dragon, Ancient Silver
Dragon Turtle
Faerie Dragon
Hobgoblin, Warlord
Hook Horror
Kuo-Toa, Archpriest
Kuo-Toa, Whip
Lycanthrope, Werebear
Lycanthrope, Wereboar
Lycanthrope, Wererat
Lycanthrope, Weretiger
Lycanthrope, Werewolf
Ogre, Ogre
Ogre, Half-Ogre
Orc, Orc
Orc, Orog
Rust Monster
Sahuagin, Sahuagin
Sahuagin, Baron
Yuan-Ti, Abomination
Blink Dog
Giant Eagle
Giant Fire Beetle
Octopus, Tentacle
Giant Spider
Riding Horse
Swarm of Bats
Winter Wolf
NPC, Druid

Ambiguous or Unknown Biology, Depicted Ambiguously [49]

Aboleth [1]
Beholder, Beholder
Beholder, Spectator
Blight, Needle Blight [3]
Blight, Twig Blight
Blight, Vine Blight
Cambion [4]
Chimera [6]
Fungi, Gas Spore [11]
Fungi, Shrieker
Fungi, Violet Fungus
Gibbering Mouther
Intellect Devourer
Mind Flayer
Naga, Spirit
Naga, Guardian
Ooze, Black Pudding
Ooze, Gelatinous Cube
Ooze, Gray Ooze
Ooze, Ochre Jelly
Purple Worm
Shambling Mound
Slaad, Red
Slaad, Blue
Slaad, Green
Slaad, Grey
Slaad, Death
Umber Hulk
Death Dog
Phase Spider

Asexual, Depicted Ambiguously [46]

Demon, Balor [8]
Demon, Barlgura
Demon, Chasme
Demon, Dretch
Demon, Glabrezu
Demon, Goristo
Demon, Hezrou
Demon, Manes
Demon, Nalfeshnee
Demon, Quasit
Demon, Shadow Demon
Demon, Vrock
Demon, Yochlol
Devil, Barbed Devil
Devil, Bone Devil
Devil, Horned Devil
Devil, Ice Devil
Devil, Imp
Devil, Manes
Devil, Pit Fiend
Devil, Spined Devil
Genie, Marid
Golem, Flesh
Hell Hound
Mephit, Dust
Mephit, Ice
Mephit, Magma
Mephit, Mud
Mephit, Smoke
Mephit, Steam
Skeleton, Skeleton
Skeleton, Minotaur
Yugoloth, Arcanaloth
Yugoloth, Mezzoloth
Yugoloth, Nycaloth
Yugoloth, Ultraloth
Zombie, Ogre

Asexual, Depicted Asexual [35]

Animated Object, Animated Armor
Animated Object, Flying Sword
Animated Object, Rug of Smothering
Beholder, Death Tyrant
Crawling Claw
Death Knight
Elemental, Air
Elemental, Earth
Elemental, Fire
Elemental, Water
Galeb Duhr
Golem, Clay
Golem, Iron
Golem, Stone
Helmed Horror
Invisible Stalker
Modron, Monodrone
Modron, Duodrone
Modron, Tridrone
Modron, Quadrone
Modron, Pentadrone
Naga, Bone
Salamander, Fire Snake
Salamander, Salamander
Shield Guardian
Water Weird
Zombie, Beholder

Sexual, Depicted as Male [19]

Centaur [5]
Duergar [10]
Elf, Drow Mage
Giant, Cloud
Giant, Fire
Giant, Frost
Giant, Hill
Giant, Stone
Giant, Storm
Gith, Githyanki
Gith, Githzerai
Gnome, Deep
Yuan-Ti, Malison
NPC, Archmage
NPC, Bandit Captain
NPC, Cult Fanatic
NPC, Noble
NPC, Thug

Asexual but Traditionally Depicted as Female, Depicted as Female [7]

Banshee [2]
Devil, Erinyes
Dryad [9]
Hag, Green
Hag, Night
Hag, Sea

Asexual, Depicted as Male [7]

Devil, Chain Devil
Genie, Djinni
Genie, Efreeti
Zombie, Zombie

Asexual but Traditionally Depicted as Male, Depicted as Male [6]

Angel, Deva
Angel, Planetar
Angel, Solar
Devil, Bearded Devil

Sexual but Traditionally Depicted as Female, Depicted as Female [5]

Lamia [9]
Merfolk [12]

Asexual, Depicted as Female [4]

Demon, Marilith
Genie, Dao
Vampire Spawn

Sexual but Traditionally Depicted as Male, Depicted as Male [4]

Cyclops [7]
Minotaur [13]
Androsphinx [14]

Sexual, Depicted as Female [2]

Yuan-Ti, Pureblood
NPC, Scout

Ambiguous or Unknown Biology, Depicted as Male [1]


Ambiguous or Unknown Biology, Depicted as Female [1]


Asexual but Traditionally Depicted as Male, Depicted Ambiguously [1]


Sexual but Traditionally Depicted as Female, Depicted Ambiguously [1]


Sexual but Traditionally Depicted as Male, Depicted Ambiguously [1]



[1] Aboleths have been around a very long time, and “they never die”, and the average campaign setting is not knee-deep in aboleths; together, this implies that aboleths probably either cannot reproduce at all or reproduce in some manner very different from standard biologies.

[2] The undead in general are a bit problematic under this sort of analysis.  They generally either cannot reproduce themselves (zombies, for example) or reproduce in a broadly asexual fashion (wights, perhaps.)  Still, they’re generally formed from the corpse of a sexual creature, so there’s that to consider.  Finally, a monster like an undead skeleton might be depicted as the remains of a sexual corpse, but I personally do not have the expertise to identify the sexual dimorphism present in the human skeleton.  I’ve done the best I can with the undead, but there’s a certain amount of inherent arbitrariness in how I’ve classifed them and their depictions.

[3] Tree-related-monsters are a bit of a challenge.  Some trees have distinct male and female individuals, such as poplars.  Other trees do not.

[4] Cambions have the fiend type, but they also seem to be half-mortal, so I’m not sure what their reproductive capabilities might be.

[5] Somewhat tempting to classify the centaur as ‘traditionally male’, yet female centaurs go back to at least 400 BC, so I’m not convinced it’s a strong tradition.

[6] Probably chimerae have two sexes, but the possibility of them being strictly-hermaphroditic is too tempting to sweep aside.

[7] The various Cyclopes of myth are invariably male, but it seems as likely as not that the D&D monsters described here are, like others of the giant type, sexual.

[8] If I was arbitrary with the undead, it’s ten times worse with demons, devils, yugoloths, and all the rest of these extra-planar non-biological entities.  A few are obvious but many are not; I’ve done my best, but I certainly hold no grudge against anyone who comes down on the different side of the fence on these ones.

[9] Very close to calling this depiction ambiguous, but the traditional sources for the dryad were just enough to tip me over to one side.  Much the same situation with the lamia.

[10] It’s always a tricky thing to sex dwarvenkind by their beards, but this default position seems relatively safe.

[11] There’s so much variety in even the real-world kingdom of fungi that I hestitate to assume much more.

[12] I don’t think it’s a stretch too far to lump mermaids in with the merfolk, so I have.

[13] I live in hope that someday we’ll see a female minotaur with battle-ready armoured udder, but let’s say that I’m not holding my breath.

[14] Every monster could adopt these prefixes.  “You’re attacked by three androbugbears and four gynogoblins!”  It might clear up a lot of confusion.


The Many Faces of FATE

July 27, 2010

There’s an excellent thread on RPGnet summarizing the differences between some popular FATE implementations; it’s the sort of information I need on an infrequent basis, so I’m reproducing most of it here.  The original thread is worth reading, though.

Differences between SotC, Starblazer, The Dresden Files, Strands of Fate, and Diaspora

Core Design Concept

  • SotC (Spirit of the Century): Turn of the century pulp action! The father of FATE 3.0.
  • SBA (Starblazer Adventures): Sci-Fi themed pulp action. Heavily influenced by SotC, but features a few design tweaks.
  • DF (The Dresden Files): Based off the popular Dresden Files series of novels. Focuses on modern day urban fantasy/horror. Evolution of FATE as originally published in SotC, but with a grittier tone.
  • SoF (Strands of Fate): A generic toolkit for using FATE to run games of any power level or genre. Features a heavy revision of FATE 3.0 to make it more accessible and versatile.
  • Diaspora: “Hard” sci-fi themed action. More condensed and focussed version of FATE leaning toward more “realistic” action vs. the “over the top” action of SotC.

Fate Point Refresh

  • SotC: Fate Points Refresh Rate is 10.
  • SBA: Fate Points Refresh Rate is equal to 10 minus the number of Stunts a character has. This Refresh Rate can be increased as part of character improvement.
  • DF: Fate Points Refresh Rate is equal to its Max Refresh minus the number of Stunts and Powers the character has bought. The Max Refresh can be 6, 7, 8 or 10, depending on the power scale the game will be running.
  • SoF: Fate Points Refresh Rate is determined by the Campaign Power Level. The more powerful the characters, the higher the Refresh.
  • Diaspora: Fate Points Refresh Rate is 5 for PCs, 5 for Ships.


  • SotC: Only one box of stress if marked off at a time, the particular stress box is determined by Effect of the attack roll, e.g. if Effect is 3 the third box is marked off. If that box is already marked off the next box up is marked off.
  • SBA: A number of boxes of stress equal to the Effect of the attack roll (plus any weapon damage modifier) are marked off, e.g. if Effect is 3 (and there is no weapon damage modifier) three stress boxes are marked off.
  • DF: Damage is treated exactly like SotC, with the difference that DF has three different stress track, Physical, Mental and Social, while SotC (and SBA) have Health and Composure. Also, their stress tracks have a base length of 2 boxes, while SotC (and SBA) have a base length of 5 boxes.
  • SoF: Strands offers three different methods of tracking stress. The rest of the book is agnostic towards which method is used.
    • Method #1 (Default) – You have a set of stress boxes associated with each Consequence. Once that set is filled you suffer the associated Consequence and further stress begins accumulating on the next worse stress track.
    • Method #2 (Thresholds) – No stress boxes. If you take an amount of stress equal to or greater than your threshold, you suffer a Consequence.
    • Method #3 (Single Set) – Very similar to SBA’s stress system.
  • Diaspora: Three stress tracks – Health, Composure, Wealth. Each track defaults to 3 boxes if the PC lacks the relevant skill. Damage may be reduced, before application to stress tracks, by taking Consequences. Stress is marked from the box corresponding to the shifts gained, and goes down. If the highest box to be hit is already filled, fill the next higher box, and all boxes below. There are mini-games relating to social combat, mass combat, and ship to ship combat that modify this system.


  • SotC: Stunts range from single sentence descriptions to entire sub-systems in complexity. You gain a fixed number at character creation.
  • SBA: Pretty much the same as SotC.
  • DF: Stunts are divided between those available to “vanilla mortals” and the powers used by the supernatural. You spend Refresh to buy Stunts.
  • SoF: Characters gain a number of Advantages based on the campaign power level. They are broken down into three tiers, Expert, Heroic and Powers.
  • Diaspora: Players begin with three stunts. There are four broad stunt categories, with a semi-freeform stunt construction within each category


  • SotC: Consequences are Mild, Moderate and Severe. The first Consequence taken is always Mild, the second always Moderate, the third always Severe.
  • SBA: Consequences are Minor, Major, Severe & Extreme. The type of Consequence taken is chosen by the player, and may vary depending upon how much Stress needs to be replaced with the consequence. A Minor consequence negates 2 stress, Major 4 stress, Severe 6 stress and Extreme negates 8 stress. Any Stress that is not negated completely is marked off on the Stress track. A character can only normally take 3 consequences before being taken out.
  • DF: Consequences are treated like in SBA, except that Extreme Consequences have special status and cannot be taken lightly, they change one the character Aspects to reflect the trauma and they are not easily “healed”.
  • SoF: All three stress systems use Minor, Major, Severe, Extreme, Defeated
  • Diaspora: Mild Consequences reduce shifts by 1, Moderate by 2, and Severe by 4. Players may only ever (without a stunt) have three Consequences, and only one of each kind – regardless of what track the Consequence is on.

Companions’ Stress

  • SotC: Companions don’t have a Stress track; they can only provide an additional Consequence for the attached character.
  • SBA: Companions have a Stress track equal to their Quality +1, e.g. a Fair (+2) Companion has 3 stress boxes. They still provide an additional Consequence for the attached character as well.
  • DF: DF has no Companion/Extras rules. Every foe is a potential character-killer here.
  • SoF: Strands does not have Companion rules. There are four different tiers of NPCs that is determined by their importance in the campaign. Also, groups of extras can be handled as a single “Unit” for faster play.
  • Diaspora: Diaspora lacks Companion rules.

Companions’ Skills

  • SotC: By default Companions have no Skills. A ‘Skilled’ advance provides one skill at the companion’s quality, two skills at quality -1, or three skills at quality -2. Subsequent advances allow another layer of that pyramid to be selected.
  • SBA: By default Companions have a Skill “column” with one skill at their Quality, one skill at Quality-1, one skill at Quality -2 etc, down to Average. A ‘Skilled’ advance provides an additional column, but with a peak rating of one less, e.g. a Good (+3) Companion’s first Skilled advance would provide an extra Fair(+2) skill and an extra Average (+1), for a total of one Good (+3), two Fair (+2) and two Average (+1); a further Skilled advance would provide only a single Average (+1) skill.
  • DF: —
  • SoF: —
  • Diaspora: —


  • SotC: Weapons do not provide a damage bonus.
  • SBA: Weapons provide a bonus to the amount of Stress inflicted by a successful attack.
  • DF: Similar to SBA, but a bit less granular.
  • SoF: Weapons provide a bonus to stress inflicted. Optionally, they may also provide their own Aspects.
  • Diaspora: Weapons have Harm and Penetration values – Harm is a bonus to offensive rolls, Penetration is a penalty to armor Defensive value. They also have Stunts and Aspects


  • SotC: Only really mentioned under Gadgets and Gizmos, they impede a roll-up on an already checked stress box (or something like it).
  • SBA: Armors can sustract an amount of shifts of damage equal to its value after a succesful attack, before the wearer has to absorb stress. Armor and shields can take additional stress by accepting one or more Consequences, depending on the type of armor/shield.
  • DF: Similar to SBA, but less granular. Armors have unlimited uses barring narrative events saying otherwise.
  • SoF: Two options. Armor may either provide a simple bonus to your defense roll or you may divert stress to an armor stress track.
  • Diaspora: Armor automatically reduces the attacker’s roll by its Defensive value minus the Weapon’s penetration. Armor also has Stunts and Aspects.

River Map for the MM2 GameDay Adventure 2009

June 3, 2009

Also available in PDF.