A new installment of Unearthed Arcana, containing 6 new quite interesting races.
First off we have the Astral Elf, a member of a group of elves that live in the Astral Plane. As such, they are imbued with a spark of divine light, and often very very old; thousands of years, since nothing ages in the Astral Plane. In terms of mechanics, they have the usual elf stuff – Trance, Darkvision, Fey Ancestry, and Keen Senses.
Their first new feature is Astral Fire: You know a cantrip from dancing lights, light, or sacred flame, also choosing if Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma will be your spellcasting ability. Sacred flame is a very good damaging cantrip, which I think overshadows the utility of the other two, but they’re not bad options either.
The second feature is Radiant Soul, which allows you to regain hit points (equal to your proficiency modifier + INT, WIS, or CHA) once per long rest. This can be a real game changer, since it allows you to avoid death in the first success as well as instantly get up again, saving healers a perhaps dangerous trip to your body. I really like this one.
Finally, we have Trance Proficiencies; by drawing from the collective elven memory, you become proficient to one weapon and one tool of your choice after you finish a long rest using Trance.To be honest, I think the tool is probably going to be more useful than the weapon; I don’t think you’ll have many situations where an extra weapon proficiency is needed, unless if you play e.g. a wizard with a sword – and then you probably want to multiclass to fighter. A nice feature, and I’m sure players can find ways to use it efficiently, but not too exciting.
The second race is the Autognome, a mechanical simulacrum of a gnome. While the first thing that comes to mind is probably some sort of clockwork gnome, you can go a lot of different ways with the design – some biomechanical being, something towards steampunk or aetherpunk, etc. Same goes to why you became independed from your creator. Let’s take a look at the features. First of all, you are considered a construct and not a humanoid; a lot of spells have special interactions with constructs, but we’ll return to that later.
The first feature is Armored Casing, making your AC equal to 13 + your DEX modifier. Pretty good for dexterity fighters, as well as spellcasters – it’s essentially a free Mage Armor.
After that, we have Built for Success, allowing you to roll a d4 and add the result to an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. You can do this a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier per long rest, and you can choose to do so after you see the d20 but before you know if it succeeds on its own. I’m not really sure if this is just fine or if it crosses into too powerful to be honest. I think it’s just a bit too versatile; perhaps if it was restricted only for ability checks, I’d be more accepting.
Moving on, we have Mechanical Nature, giving resistance to poison damage, immunity to disease, advantage on saving throws against being paralyzed and poisoned, and removed the need to eat, drink, or breathe. Again, perhaps a bit overtuned – it’s just a bit too much packed into a single feature. I think having either resistance to poison damage or advantage against poisons, but not both, would be much better; I don’t really have a problem with the disease immunity, but again the advantage against paralysis seems like extra defensive utility on a feature that already has a lot of it. Conditional, sure, but how many conditional defenses before it becomes too powerful?
The fourth feature is Sentry’s Rest – pretty straightforward, instead of sleeping you spend 6 hours in a sort of standby mode, where you are still conscious.
Another feature is Specialized Design, giving proficiency with two tools of your choice. I think this is ok; perhaps it could be limited to only artisan’s tools, but I’m not that picky.
Finally, we have True Life. As I mentioned before, being a Construct rather than a Humanoid has special interactions with many spells – in particular, many healing spells can’t actually affect you. This makes it so that isn’t the case for Cure Wounds, Healing Word, and Spare the Dying; in addition, when the Mending cantrip is cast on you, you can expend a Hit Die and regain that much HP plus your CON modifier. This is a somewhat necessary feature to streamline the game a bit, allowing you to benefit from standard healing without the need for something special.
Overall, several of these features remind me of previous iterations of Warforged – but all of them combined. Extra AC, extra proficiencies, defenses, and so on. I made my opinion clear on each feature, I think this is an overtuned race in terms of utility that could use a bit of pruning. I expected then to have something to do with Mechanus, considering the title of this UA, but their current lore is also nice, allowing you a much greater freedom in creating your backstory.
Next up are the Giff, a race with hippo-like features. I’m not sure to what degree they are hippo-like, e.g. humanoid hippos or just a few superficial characteristics. They have a rich storytelling tradition, and apparently there is contention over how their name is pronounced – with a soft or a hard “g”. Of course, everyone who supports the former is wrong. But let’s take a look at mechanics, few that they are:
First, while your walking speed is 30 feet as is the standard for medium humanoids, you also have a swimming speed equal to that. Easily overlooked, until you really need it.
Second, we have Damage Dealer. Once per turn, you can reroll a 1 on a damage die for a melee attack. Pretty good boost to your damage, even if it pushes you to certain types of builds
Finally, we have Hippo Build: You have advantage on Strength ability checks and saving throws, and count as one size larger in terms of carrying capacity and weight you can push, drag, or lift. The first part is quite nice, helping with a lot of situations, and it also synergizes well with the second – after all, pushing, lifting, etc are Strength checks.
Not really much to say about the Giff. They have a clear direction in terms of classes and gameplay, and we don’t know much about their lore from just this UA. Perhaps they will appear in a later supplement with additional information.
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Up next are the Hadozee. Similar to the Giff, they are people with animal traits; this time, simian ones. Their feet are as dexterous as their hands, and membranes of skin from their arms and legs allow them to glide in the air. No mentions of a tail, although it would make sense to have one to help with balance.
In terms of features, the first interesting one is that you can choose your size when you make your character; you can be either Small or Medium. Small creatures may fit more easily in small spaces, but remember that you can’t use heavy weapons effectively, and there are likely other mechanics in play that I can’t remember right now (carrying capacity is reduced as well, although it’s probably not something to worry about much).
Second, again you have a walking speed of 30 (regardless of the size you chose – for comparison dwarves, halflings, and gnomes, the other small races, have a walking speed of 25), as well as an equal climbing speed – makes sense, to be honest.
After that we have Dexterous Feet, allowing you to use an object as a bonus action. This is actually pretty big; you can use potions as a bonus action, drop caltrops, ball bearings, or traps, use a healer’s kit, et cetera. Keep in mind that activating a magic item is NOT included in this list.
Finally, we have Glide, which means that if you aren’t wearing heavy armor you can, well, glide. When falling, you can move up to 5 feet horizontally for each 1 you drop, and if you would take damage from a fall, you can use your reaction to negate it.
Overall, this looks like it would be a very fun way to play a rogue or scout; again, we don’t have much in terms of lore, but I’m hoping the Hadozee appear again in more detail.
Next are the Plasmoid, perhaps the most interesting of the races here – at least to me. They are essentially giant amoebas or slimes that are sentient. Again, no further information in terms of background or lore, but I think you can have a lot of creativity with this – extraplanar origins, maybe an alchemical experiment at creating life, or even just a spell gone wrong.
Instead of a Humanoid you are considered an Ooze, and you can choose your size (small or medium) when you create your character. You are also Amorphous, allowing you to squeeze through almost any space and giving you advantage on grappling checks. In addition, you have 60 ft of Darkvision – and while you do need to breathe, you can hold your breath for up to 1 hour.
Natural Resistance gives you resistance to acid and poison damage, and advantage on saving throws against being poisoned. I suppose that such and extreme form of biology wouldn’t react the same to standard poisons. A pretty good defensive feature, as poison is relatively common.
Finally, we have Shape Self. This means you can change your form to have a vaguely humanoid appearence with a head, arms, and legs, or revert to a blob- plus, there is no action required to do so. As a bonus action however, you can create a pseudopod that is up to 10 feet long and essentially acts like a Mage Hand: you can manipulate or move objects, but not attack or activate magic items. Note that craeting the pseudopod is the bonus action; it’s not written, but I assume that using it is still a full action.
Overall I love the concept of Plasmoids, and I’d be interested to see this concept explored more. I don’t think they’re very strong mechanically, so I’d like to see some extra stuff on them (for example requiring less sleep or having something similar to Trance, as well as maybe some additional offensive or defensive features).
Finally, we have the Thri-Kreen, a race of telepatic giant insects. These already exist in the Monster Manual as NPCs, and now it seems we get them as a playable race as well. If you want to find out more about their lore, they are at page 288, so I’ll go straight into the features.
First of all, you are considered a monstrosity instead of a humanoid, you can choose your size to be small or medium, and you have darkvision to 60 ft. Then you have Chameleon Carapace, giving you an AC equal to 13 + your DEX modifier if you aren’t wearing any armor; it also allows you to use an action to shift colors, allowing you to blend in with your environment and giving you advantage on Stealth checks to hide.
You also have Secondary Arms, having a smaller pair of arms right below your normal ones. You can use these just the same as your primary set of arms, with the only exception that you can’t wield a shield, or weapons that don’t have the Light property with them. As written, this might mean that you can have a shield, and hold two weapons at once – you get both the +2 AC and the attack as a bonus action, which is interesting. It also allows you to hold ranged and melee weapons at the same time, again giving you a lot of versatility in combat.
Next is Sleepless Revitalization, which is self-explanatory – you don’t need to sleep, but you just need to avoid strenuous activity to gain the effects of a long rest. Note that this doesn’t make you immune to Sleep spells though.
Finally, we have Thi-kreen Telepathy, which allows you to telepathically connect to any number of willing creatures you can see within 120 feet of you. You can then talk to them, as long as they understand at least one language. This doesn’t need to be a language that you also know, or even one they can speak; they only need to understand it. When you establish that connection, you can talk as long as they remain within 120 feet of you (no longer needed to see them), or until they or you break the connection or become incapacitated. You can always find fun stuff to do with telepathy, and this feature has very little restrictions – just the range – so I really like it.
In the end, I’m torn between declaring this or the plasmoids my favorite part of this UA. Thri-Kreen are mechanically much stronger, but I just feel that plasmoids would be a lot more fun to play as in a roleplaying sense. Pretty good stuff overall, and as I said I hope we get to see more of some of these races – even though we didn’t see many Travelers of the Multiverse besides the Astral Elves. You can read the article here, and download the PDF here.
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