Posted by : David Guyll September 12, 2012

The minotaur is a very iconic monster, both in Greek mythology and Dungeons & Dragons, though before 4th Edition I do not recall much general flavor about them. In 2nd Edition’s favor I have not played it in basically forever, and an Ecology article withstanding 3rd Edition did not go much beyond mentioning that they were “often found in underground labyrinths”. Regardless I have pretty much always looked at the D&D incarnation as being a true-breeding race (though before 4th Edition almost exclusively as a monster).

Note: I am only vaguely aware of the yikaria, partly because of a Dungeon adventure, and partly because I swear they were in Forgotten Realms. I really have nothing to say about them, except that I remember them kind of looking neat and could control genies...I think.


Even so the flavor of cultists blessed/cursed by Baphomet is pretty cool, despite its departure from what I have always known. It is a different--and more importantly interesting--take on things, and helps differentiate them from other Large-sized monsters in the game (besides having a gore attack). However I wonder how this will affect players who want to roll up a minotaur? If nothing else the flavor gives you something to work with, which is always nice, though if all minotaurs are the product of demon lord-worshippers then it might start to reek of rebellious drow.

Flavor aside there is still the issue of size. With the possible exception of re-sizing armor and other trinkets, I do not recall it being much of a problem in 2nd Edition. In 3rd Edition? There were several advantages, namely reach--especially since attacks of opportunity were not restricted to adjacent enemies--and increased weapon damage. Depending on how much size matters hopefully we get a Medium-sized option; I could see Large minotaurs being more monstrous, while Medium ones being more civilized and human-like.

Speaking of appearance, I am mostly torn about the feet. I prefer them with fur and tails, and the whole changed-cultist angle justifies the breasts, but ultimately these are cosmetic things and are not a huge deal. The feet? Those could raise some questions. While feet can look goofy, it makes it easy for a minotaur to handle boots and such. Hooves on the other hand make them appear more monstrous (which is good if that is your angle), but can potentially limit such things depending on your DM. Plus, i
n an edition where magic items can be harder to find and potentially harder to make, this could be more problematic if they are going to be usable as characters. Of course if magic items are also not assumed then it could just be a wash.
I like them both, and I think there is room for Large, monstrous minotaurs and Medium-size, more human-like ones in the same default/implied/generic setting. If I had to choose, I would err on the side of giving DMs more options to throw at their players. Plus minotaurs, what with their natural cunning, are made for random dungeon encounters.

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