It's like this: you know how humans can crossbreed with just about anything, right? Hence the existence of half-elfs, half-orcs, half-dwarves, half-Ogres, half-Goblins, half-Gnomes, half-Gnolls, half-kender... you get the idea. Plus, many humanoid races could crossbreed with each other; orc/ogres, orc/goblins, and so forth. Well, what happens if you keep mixing species together, generation after generation?
According to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, you end up with a bunch of hideously deformed monsters whose bodies are quite literally patchwork amalgamations of various different traits, both humanoid and animal. Skin that's tapestry of different traits (hairy patches, scaly patches, feather clumps, smooth, warty, and different shades), mismatched limbs and organs, mongrelmen are literally nothing more than an asymmetrical assemblage of random body parts - not helped by the fact that, at the time, "monstrous humanoid" wasn't separate to humanoid, so you could have humans successfully crossbreeding with bullywugs, lizardfolk, gnolls and minotaurs, among others. Needless to say, they're best known for being hideous and ugly; most "goodly" humanoids tend to shun them, whilst most evil ones tend to enslave them.
Despite this, mongrelmen are generally a peaceful race, who mostly want to be left alone. Given their freedom, they establish camouflaged communities in the wilderness and live simple agrarian lives, avoiding contact with other races and simply keeping to themselves.
Mongrelmen have undergone some lore changes over the editions.
Firstly, in their "Ecology of" article in Dragon Magazine #242, they were changed from being "the bastard sons & daughters of many generations of cross-species breeding" to the unwitting creations of a wizard who wanted to engineer a shapeshifting servitor species - sort of a tame doppelganger. He succeeded in the form of the Infiltrators, who could consume samples of flesh from humanoid species in order to "store" that genetic material, which would enable them to shift into that species at will. Unfortunately, his creations weren't true-breeding, and instead their offspring were hideous amalgamations of traits randomly selected from the various species assimilated by their parents. Worse for the poor Mongrelmen, they have corrupted the memories of their ancient wizardly creator into revering him as a god, and continue their Infiltrator ancestors' practice of Feasting (consuming scavenged flesh from humanoids), which only continues to warp and pollute their bloodline with random traits.
Secondly, in third edition, Mongrelmen (renamed to the more gender-neutral Mongrelfolk) reappeared twice. Firstly, they showed up in the 3e Fiend Folio, where they were given a more generic version of the original AD&D fluff, being basically goblinoids who happened to be racially mixed. They were then given a major lore revision in the later Races of Destiny, in which they have become a lot tamer. Whilst still the result of multiple generations of cross-species breeding, the end-result is not the hideous patchwork of editions past, but a harmonious blending of humanoid traits that can readily pass for any of its parent species, with the proper preparations. Indeed, they are instantly accepted as just another member of a humanoid race when they meet one of said races... just not the same race as the viewer. So, for example, a dwarf might see a mongrelfolk as an unusually short and broad-shouldered elf, whilst an elf would instead see him as an unusually tall and slender dwarf. There are still some "visibly warped and ugly" type mongrelfolk, but they are a tiny minority, and they make themselves openly known about in order to serve as decoys for the more harmoniously blended members of their race.
In fifth edition, after returning in the Curse of Strahd adventure, they went back to the "hideous amalgamation of human and random animal traits" lore, but were closer to Broken Ones in terms of fluff, being humans warped into bizarre man-animal mishmashes through magical experiments.
Mongrelmen have had playable stats in the Complete Book of Humanoids and Dragon Magazine #242 for AD&D, and in Races of Destiny for 3.5.
In the Complete Book of Humanoids, Mongrelfolk had the following statblock:
- Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 6/17, Dexterity 6/18, Constitution 8/18, Intelligence 3/17, Wisdom 3/18, Charisma 2/8
- Ability Score Adjustments: -1 Intelligence, -1 Charisma, +1 to any other ability score
- Racial Class & Level Limits: Fighter 10, Mage 10, Cleric 10, Thief 12, Bard 8, Shaman 7
- Natural Armor Class: 5
- All mongrelfolk, regardless of class, have a base 70% Pick Pockets skill, and from 5th level on increase this trait by +5% per level.
- By spending 1 full turn, a mongrelfolk can camouflage itself, an item or even a building, giving it an 80% chance to go unnoticed (+1% extra per further turn spent camouflaging itself, to a maximum of of 95%).
- Can perfectly imitate any monster or animal sound.
- Hideous Appearance: When interacting with a non-mongrelfolk NPC for the first time, treat a mongrelfolk PC's Charisma as 1. Additionally, mongrelfolk bards cannot use the normal bardic ability to adjust Crowd Reactions when amongst non-mongrelfolk.
|Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races|
|Core:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
|Dark Sun:||Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen|
|Dragonlance:||Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur|
|Mystara:|| Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak) |
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
|Oriental Adventures:||Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk|
|Planescape:||Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling|
|Spelljammer:||Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil|
|Ravenloft:||Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope|
Book of X:
| Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar |
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
|Dragon Magazine:||Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart|
- +4 Constitution, –2 Intelligence, –4 Charisma: Mongrelfolk are hardy, but they lack proper education and others find their appearance repulsive or at least vaguely unsettling.
- Humanoid (human): Mongrelfolk are humanoid creatures with the human subtype.
- Medium: As Medium creatures, mongrelfolk have no special bonuses or penalties due to size.
- Mongrelfolk base land speed is 30 feet.
- Low-Light Vision: Mongrelfolk can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
- Emulate Race (Ex): Because of their radically mixed heritage, mongrelfolk can use magic items that only function for a user of a certain race. This ability works like the emulate race function of the Use Magic Device skill. A mongrelfolk can automatically emulate any humanoid race, with no need for a skill check. Mongrelfolk who have the Use Magic Device skill have a +4 racial bonus on attempts to emulate nonhumanoid races using that skill.
- Sound Imitation (Ex): A mongrelfolk can mimic any voice or sound she has heard. Listeners must succeed on a DC 16 Will save to detect the ruse.
- Immunity to sleep spells and similar magical effects.
- Diffuse Blood: Mongrelfolk gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against any spell that targets a particular race or ignores a particular race, provided the selected race is part of their general ancestry (human, halfling, dwarf, elf, gnome, goblin, or orc).
- +1 racial bonus on saving throws against enchantment spells or effects and illusion spells or effects.
- +1 racial bonus on saving throws against poison.
- +1 racial bonus on Appraise, Climb, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Search, and Spot checks.
- +4 racial bonus on Hide and Sleight of Hand checks.
- Automatic Language: Common. Bonus Languages: Any.
- Favored Class: Rogue. A multiclass mongrelfolk’s rogue class does not count when determining whether she takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.
- Level Adjustment: +0.