Art by Yours Truly, Age 4
In reading over the reviews for the new Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG, I was struck by the fact that the game does not contain any monster stats. Now, this is not terribly surprising if one has even a passing familiarity with James Raggi and his philosophies, but it still seemed to me to be an especially bold move. And it definitely got my brain working. Is it really that much of a "bad thing" as some reviewers have said?
One of the things that I've often seen cited as a failing of the Rifts rule books, both old and new, is that they too don't contain monster stats. But I'm now starting to think that this is a feature rather than a bug.
When you think about, even D&D doesn't technically include monsters in its actual core rulebooks. All you really need to play is the Players Handbook and the DM's Guide, after all.
If there must be statted monsters, let there be few. That's one of the attractions of Pendragon for me. The bestiary in the back contains an even dozen "Fabulous Beasts" - and that's really all you'd ever need, even for a full, multi-generational campaign. This is because most of the action in that game centers around interactions between fellow human beings (and stats are provided for several variations therein as well). Why would you ever need more than a dozen monsters?
I'm coming to realize that the more monsters one throws into a campaign, the more emphasis is put on combat meat grinders. Naturally it's boring to fight, say, giants and lions all the damn time. So have most of the combats be with other "PC races" and throw in the occasional beastie for variety.
The old Rifts Main Book had a "random demon generator" in the back. For my future Rifts games, I'm thinking of taking a page from another Raggi product, the Random Esoteric Creature Generator (etc.), and making most of my "monsters" randomly-generated one-off creations. I'll assemble a list of known creatures taken from my canonical sources (the Main Book, Sourcebook I, World Books 1 & 2, and Mercenaries), most of which will be playable races. I might throw in a few selections from D-Bees of North America (again, the emphasis is on intelligent, playable races) and beyond that if I need another monster or "demon" or what have you, it's all randomness!