I'm a furry gamer at heart, and I'm curious.. How would one explain the existance of anthropomorphic animals in the world of Greyhawk? The easiest explanation I can think of is making them the result of a "Island of Dr Moreau" style experiments by a Mad Wizard...
Well, if you want to stick to canon, there aren't many examples of anthropomorphic animal people in the Flanaess save certain types of born lycanthropes and creatures like jackalweres and wolfweres. The possibilities in the Flanaess itself are limited.
But that doesn't mean you can't have them exist in other parts of the world. Remember, the Flanaess is only one half of one continent. You can easily have animal-people along the lines of Brian Jacques' Redwall series, with their own civilizations and their own forms of magic, their own religions, and everything else, come from other parts of the world to the Flanaess. The arrival of talking dog-men or cat-men could solicit all sorts of reactions, from fascination to fear and horror to seeing an opportunity for rich trade or conquest.
Or, if your players journey into the Baklunish West, the southern jungles, western Oerik, the southern jungles, or the mysterious lands known only as Anakeris, they can come upon these civilizations themselves. I personally like having orcs, elves and dwarves being spread around the world just as are humans, but if you don't want to do that, there are plenty of places where animal-people can live and have their own countries and ways of life.
The vast majority of the lands beyond the Flanaess are a blank slate. Draw whatever you want on them.
There were sapient beavers in the 1st edition Monster Manual, and lots of other anthropomorphic animals like gnolls, chitines, ettercaps, quaggoths, bullywugs, balingors, tabaxi, dakons, wererats, wemics, losels, thri-kreen, aarakocras, and so on. D&D is full of them.
Even orcs, hobgoblins, and kobolds were originally presented as anthropomorphic animals (pigs, baboons, and scaly dogs, respectively).
The Savage Tide adventure path presents an excuse for introducing rakastas, the anthropomorphic cats from the original Island of Dread adventure.
Oerth is full of wilderness areas where the low human population does not impinge. There's plenty of room for more monsters.
Well Gnolls are essentially Anthropomorphic Hyenas. Kenku are Birds and Minotaurs are essentially bulls. You can even use griffs although why you would want to be an anthropomorphic Hippo is beyond me.
I derived these 'Borils' from lycanthropes for non-canonical races. In my world they are from aboriginal tribal societies. In my world it’s everything is a shade of grey. For example: orcs fall in the Minotaur category, they’re derived from Boars, not evil per se – they have a different ethos. A more correct term is "therianthrope," from therios (animal) and anthropos (man). I use several creature types.
There are many classifications;
centaur type (animal body with humanoid torso) creatures,
satyr (animal hind quarter lower body/humanoid torso) types,
minotaur (your "furry" animal humanoid) types,
werewolf (magical/mystical transformation) types,
I agree with rasgon's post above, I use Hobgoblins as Mandril minotaur types.
It all depends on what you want your world to be like. There are many ways to rationalize your organization, magic, secret societies, mysterious places...
Old School Gaming Philosophy (Most enjoyable role-playing)
The role of a superior DM is NOT to tell a story to his or her players. The DM need only provide an interesting and challenging environment for the players to explore and then administer that environment judiciously. Drama is managed conflict, using character background to drive that conflict, keep it interesting to the players, and challenging to the Players Characters.
Superior players will be able to create a character-driven, interactive story from these raw materials, and neither the players nor the GM can tell where the story is headed.
Well, I think it can depend on where you plan to put them. If by "World of Greyhawk", you mean the Flanaess, Then I think your "Dr Moreau" idea might be the way to go. The numbers would likely be limited then. If you want a larger number of them, like a whole tribe or civilization (nation), then you might want to consider placing them in western Oerik or someplace like that.
One idea on how they could be created is the 8th level spell Evolve, from the Pages From The Mages book. Yes, it's a Forgotten Realms book, but there's no reason a wizard on Oerth couldn't have researched this and come up with the same spell. If you go with a tribe of the creatures running around, perhaps the spell was developed on Oerth centuries ago and subsequently lost. (Perhaps it was a Suel wizard who discovered this spell on Oerth.)
For possible "animal men", you could use rastipedes and xixchil from the Spelljammer books. Both of these are insect based. I see someone had mentioned the Giff already (hippo men). Dragon 237 has the Lupins (dog men) and issue 247 has Rakasta (cat men). The sources I mentioned are all 2nd edition but I'm sure they can be converted if you need to, with a little thought.
If you do place them someplace like western Oerik or that Anakeris continent, either a long voyage will be needed to encounter them, or a long forgotten teleport gate might be used. You as the DM will need to figure out how you'll want to proceed there.
Once upon a time there was a gnome illusionist with a fetish for the Polymorph Other (2nd Ed. version) spell who decided that he would create a completely unique creature to serve him. It was foul and offensive, and there is really no need to go into what it was here, but suffice it to say, the creature started out as a chicken that was polymorphed into "IT". The first "IT" was sexless, and when it was killed it turned back into a chicken. No problems there really, but that is merely the beginning o our story...
The gnome then fixed on the perfect solution for creating a permanent "IT". First, he would polymorph two chickens into a single male and female "IT", which he then would breed. The result was the first true "IT". With the proper handling, true bred male and female "IT" could be bred into a whole prolific species!
Of course, this was never meant to be, and as the gnome quickly ran out of room to house all of the "IT" he had created, one eventually got loose. Shortly thereafter, the gnome was tracked down by various druids, clerics, and a mage or two and told in no uncertain terms that the next time the gnome created an "IT", it would be the last.
And so the "IT" is now known as the shortest-lived species in Oerth's long history.
The point of me explaining this whole episode is that "Furry" creatures could be created in the same way, though if one wants a "Furry" Greyhawk campaign to begin with then I think it is a good idea to play up those original humanoid descriptions to the hilt. Just make them a bit more “Furry” than they are intended to be, and do so with the other races like Tabaxi (there’s your ever popular catgirls). The idea of incorporating Oriental Adventures animal spirits is good too. With all of these more animal humanoids just go a bit more human with them in appearance. In the end it is only a simple visual change that will end up representing what you want to.
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