Maybe I should have slept on this question for a little bit, but here I go.

I am working on a TRPG and a setting that would accompany the TRPG. In my setting all monsters are or were humans, so rather than slaying them, as in D&D, you can always "save them" and "turn them back" into humans. Thus, the players will always have a dilemma when meeting a monster - do we risk capturing and saving them or rationalize why it was okay to kill it, punish it?

In order to keep this narrative, I need to populate the setting with monsters that could be "saved" and create traditions (magic, tales, etc.) on how to "save" them. Thus, I am looking for real-life mythologies and folklore that could function as inspiration.

What I am NOT looking for is traditions about werewolves being able to transform into a human. I am talking about the idea that all monsters are or were humans once, and by doing "X" (like helping them, performing a spell, ritual, etc.), the monster can be "saved" and turned back into a human or at least civilized.

I also know that Christian exorcism exists, but is there anything else?

Honestly, any info about similar concepts like "monsters turning back into humans" or "monsters being saved or re-gaining their humanity" would be appreciated. I can read on the specific myths or traditions myself.

Thank you for taking the time to read and answer my question!


In Fairy Tales

I am sure you are familiar with the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. There are many variants of the tale, all belonging to the "Beauty and the Beast" folk motif (tale type ATU 425C in the Aarne–Thompson–Uther Index).

Closely related motifs are type ATU 425A "The Animal (Monster) as Bridegroom" and type ATU 433B "King Lindworm". They all involve grooms (often princes) turned into various kinds of monsters or animals, and a maiden who has to perform a specific task or ritual to disenchant them.

You can find many versions of these tales listed in the Wikipedia pages I linked above, as well as a comprehensive list of tales related to the Beauty and the Beast here.

The Metamorphoses of Apuleius

In this ancient Roman novel a man named Lucius unwittingly turns himself into an ass. Even though you asked specifically for monsters (and not simple animals) regaining their human form, you might still find this particular novel interesting.

The process through which he breaks the spell is described in detail in the last book, and it involves several steps: seven purifying baths in the sea, the invocation of the goddess Isis, and eating a crown of roses held by a priest.

  • 2
    There are also many fairy tales of monstrous brides.
    – Mary
    Oct 13 at 23:52

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