Hey, ICYMI, the miniature giant space hamster special cover they teased in the Future of D&D panel? It’s Spelljimmy. Spelljamster Confirmed. Also, here’s some Hamsjammer races for public playtesting! Six, to be specific. Someone pour some spell slots into this here helm and let’s go.
First up, there’s some text that is going to become boilerplate to us, but it’s dealing with WotC’s evolving approach to races in D&D. We’re already familiar with their “do whatever you want with 3 points of ability score bonus, no more than 2 points in one stat” thing. Pretty sure we’ve seen “everyone gets Common + 1 languages” before too.
Wild Beyond the Witchlight (which, uh, I still need to review, sorry folks) introduces new language around life span, height, and weight. “Age” is going away as a line item in race mechanics, though references to longevity will remain part of a race’s flavor text. Height and weight – your physical build, generally – are whatever you want them to be, which… is confusing in a lot of ways, and without a normally Small race, it’s hard to know what this will look like for gnomes, goblins, halflings, or kobolds. We can’t necessarily expect full clarity until the 2024 release (or public playtests thereof).
What if elves were even more ageless, and they came from the Astral? Don’t misread that, this is a specific type of elf, not a change to all elves. That said, if you wanted to interpret Valinor as a place within the Astral, I think you could get that to work pretty well.
- Humanoid, Medium, 30 ft speed. Just getting these out of the way in one go.
- Astral Fire gives you one of dancing lights, light, or sacred flame, and Int, Wis, or Cha as your choice of spellcasting stat. This reminds me of high elves, of course, but getting your choice of spellcasting stat is a huge help to just making the race appealing to multiple classes.
- 60-ft darkvision.
- Fey Ancestry – in this case only advantage on saves vs charmed. I like that it spells out “saving throws to avoid or end the charmed condition”.
- Proficiency in Perception. So there’s a whole design shift away from proficiencies of any kind as a race feature, because your race isn’t your culture or how you were raised. This proficiency is about their senses as an inherent, physical trait rather than as something learned, though, so it’s fine.
- Radiant Soul lets you regain a few hit points once per long rest when you succeed a death save. It’s like getting to decide you rolled a 20 on that death save, and then some, once a day. Very nice to have.
- I expect that this kind of survivability boost is going to be more common in races going forward than it has been to date. This is still less powerful than the half-orc Relentless Endurance feature, even though it restores more hit points, because you still lose one or more turns to this if you drop to 0 during your off-turn. It’s also more of a window for an enemy to come along and put three failed death saves on you.
- Trance is the same as the standard elf trait. “Magic can’t put you to sleep” got stored here.
- Trance Proficiencies gives you two floating weapon or tool proficiencies that you can change out each long rest. That’s nice to have, especially for clerics (one of the few melee-friendly classes that doesn’t gain proficiency in every weapon they’re likely to want to use).
Overall, this looks like a large number of individually fairly minor features. What I like is that those features are broadly appealing to basically every class. I generally think it’s detrimental to a game in the long term if a race-class pairing feels like you’re fighting the system to play it. (Still a step less bad than banning race-class pairings, 2e-and-earlier/Dungeon World style).
More machine now than gnome, twisted and evil… no, none of that is quite right. Gnomo arigato? These are gnomish warforged, sort of, but with some different design choices and levels of weirdness.
- Well, this is a huge deal. You’re not a Humanoid for spell effects, so charm person/hold person/dominate person are right out. You’re a monster, baby. (But see also the True Life feature, to get rid of the huge downside of being a construct.)
- Small, 30 ft movement. Giving them 30-foot movement is a bit of a surprise, though we’re seeing WotC largely abandon Small as slower than Medium, as far as I can recall.
- Armored Casing lets you wear armor still, but while you don’t, your AC is 13 + Dex. We’ve seen plenty of baseline AC features before – great for some builds and classes, a near non-feature for others.
- Whether this is better, worse, or mechanically equal to a warforged’s Integrated Protection comes down to your build. Autognomes have better AC than unarmored characters without mage armor, and without some form of Unarmored Defense combined with an 18+ Con or Wis.
- Built for Success lets you add a d4 to the result of any d20 roll you make after you know the result “but before the effects of the roll are resolved.” Which is not the world’s clearest timing statement, but probably means “don’t make your DM roll damage before you decide what to do.” You get uses equal to your proficiency bonus per long rest.
- This is very potent, and all the more for stacking with bless, Bardic Inspiration, and the like.
- Mechanical Nature grants resistance to poison, immunity to disease (boo, this includes the harm spell for no reason), advantage on saves against paralysis and poison, and no need to eat, drink, or breathe. This is a big feature that has a pretty fair number of easy-to-overlook benefits.
- Interesting comparison to Constructed Resilience: the autognome gains advantage vs paralysis saves and loses immunity to magical sleep.
- Sentry’s Rest lets you take a long rest with 6 hours of inert but conscious rest, just like a warforged.
- Specialized Design loses the skill proficiency that warforged get, in exchange for two tool proficiencies. With Built for Success on the table, that seems only fair.
- True Life makes you an exception to “a bunch of healing spells don’t work on constructs.” See, we tried a thing where ordinary cure wounds-like spells don’t work very well on warforged, in 3.5e Eberron, and it was not super fun and we stopped that. Also it does more than that, because 5e doesn’t like it when your whole feature is just working around a drawback. The mending spell lets you expend a hit die, roll it, and regain the result + Con hit points. It’s a cantrip, but it also has a 1-minute casting time, so this seems reasonable.
The autognome is powerful, but not excessively so. I think that making them easier to heal out-of-combat, without a full short rest, is a great benefit for warrior-types, balancing out the somewhat reduced appeal of Armored Casing (for Str builds anyway). I like warforged and I would play a nimblewright PC if there were rules explicitly for it (because their look has been awesome for several editions running), so autognome? More like auto-yes.
Did… did you know there was going to be some Spelljammer (J-A-M-M-E-R) content in this? Because there is, and it is hippo people who could, in principle if not in practice, wield guns. Maybe some of them affect a Victorian steampunk air. Tally-ho!
Also there’s a whole paragraph spent on whether it’s pronounced giff or jiff, and all I can do is sigh in resignation. Against the powers of a meme, the gods themselves contend in vain.
- Humanoid, Medium.
- 30-foot walking speed and 30-foot swimming speed. Swimming speed is the kind of thing you don’t need all the time, but when you need it, it’s incredible to have. Also, it does a lot more things for you than you might realize – like letting you wield non-piercing melee weapons underwater without penalty!
- Damage Dealer lets you reroll a 1 on a damage die, no more than once per turn. I think it’s weird and unfortunate that it’s melee only, because even it they’re not giving giff proficiency in firearms (see above: that’s training, not inherent), letting this apply to their boomsticks is good fun.
- But while I’m on the topic, let it apply to spells too – don’t make one of the giff’s only features useless for caster classes.
- Hippo Build grants advantage on Strength checks and saves (uh… that’s a really big deal, y’all) and grants Powerful Build – you carry stuff as if you are one size larger.
The giff looks like it has only two features. It’s just that two of the features are a lot more than they appear – swimming speed and the huge utility packed into Hippo Build. I don’t know about your games, but Strength checks are common in my games because it’s an approach the player can actively favor.
I have been reliably informed by some older fans of TSR and its works that hadozees are drawn from yazirians in Star Frontiers. Star Frontiers is a game that TSR released the year I turned 1, so you know. The important thing here is reminding my friends of the constant onward march of time, something I know they will “appreciate.”
Anyway, there’s some monkey business afoot here.
- Humanoid, your choice of Medium or Small. There are currently no advantages I can think of to being Small, though I wonder if we might see some introduced in the 2024 revision (to balance Small creatures not using weapons with the heavy quality and having a lower upper limit on what they can grapple).
- 30 foot speed, and an equal climbing speed. Climbing speed is super nice to have.
- Dextrous Feet lets you Use an Object as a bonus action. It would take a full article to dig into the question of whether this is a benefit, because Use an Object and the Interacting with Objects Around You sidebar read like hard marches in opposing directions. The deeper issue is that items and objects (are those the same? I’m never sure) don’t come out and say “requires the Use an Object action,” so it’s not clear when Use an Object is specifically invoked, rather than being a custom or one-off action.
- The intention here is, I think, to make it easier to use potions and such?
- Also check out my thread on Interacting with Objects Around You.
- Glide is, like you would expect, a downward-only flying effect. You can use it when you are not incapacitated and not wearing heavy armor. Encumbrance rules are so optional in 5e that “heavily encumbered” doesn’t even get invoked here, though possibly it should be.
- Please give me more chances to play with something like Link’s paraglider from Breath of the Wild, as long as I don’t have to complete any flying trials.
Huh. This feels like it’ll sometimes be incredible but mostly not come up, because exploration or combat situations where Glide is helpful aren’t guaranteed to come up, and Dextrous Feet is probably permission to burn through your consumables faster. Here’s Dan Dillon getting quoted in a Twitter exchange about it from 2019 (it’s filed under Sage Advice, but he is clearly not speaking ex cathedra here). Top results for Googling “sage advice use an object” strongly suggests that confusion is still the order of the day to some extent.
Peter Banning: Rufio, if I’m a maggot burger why don’t you just eat me! You two-toned zebra-headed, slime-coated, pimple-farmin’ paramecium brain, munchin’ on your own mucus, suffering from Peter Pan envy!
Don’t Ask: What’s a paramecium brain?
Peter Banning: I’ll tell you what a paramecium is! That’s a paramecium! It’s a one-celled critter with no brain that can’t fly! Don’t mess with me man. I’m a lawyer!
Have you ever felt like an absolute unit blob? Do you prefer viscous weapons to their more popular autocorrect forms? Do you think internal organs are kinda bullshit actually? (See also: gallbladders.) Plasmoids may be for you!
BioShock fans are doing a double-take right now.
…okay, that’s probably enough jokes and we can move on.
- You are an Ooze.
- Choose Medium or Small. Your speed is 30 feet, regardless.
- Amorphous lets you squeeze through spaces as little as 1 inch wide (so that’s one thing Small size won’t help you with) and you gain advantage to initiate or escape grapples.
- 60-foot darkvision, and let me just say how happy I am to have so many new races in this article that don’t have darkvision.
- Hold Breath lets you hold your breath for up to an hour.
- Natural Resilience gives resistance to acid and poison damage (two resistances is A Lot) as well as advantage on saves against poisoned.
- Shape Self lets you take on a roughly humanoid shape, which I assume looks like the late great René Auberjonois (please do not disabuse me of this idea), or revert to your Blob Loblaw form. Also you can extrude a pseudopod (I can only imagine the glee Jeremy Crawford and/or Chris Perkins took in getting to write that) that acts like a short-range mage hand, except that it’s still part of you so it could get stabbed probably.
Overall, I think this is one of the most shenanigans-friendly races that has ever been published. <slaps roof> You can fit so much troublemaking in one of these bad boys. Amorphous + Hold Breath + Shape Self is about as good of a trifecta for infiltration as you could ask for, short of disguise self or invisibility. If it weren’t for a multi-decade adoration of ST:DS9’s Odo, I would probably say this was just not my aesthetic and move on, but… here we are. I’m into it. (And it’s into me, that is gross, please get me some soap.)
There are articles here on Tribality going back to 2014 with homebrewed stats for thri-kreen. If you’re unfamiliar, these are mantis dudes with cool weapons and extraneous limbs (without some extraneous limbs, you’ve probably done “insect” wrong). Probably a greater number of people know them from Dark Sun, but they’re also part of the Spelljammer setting.
- You are a Monstrosity. (I’ve got a Tony Hale .giff for this lying around somewhere.)
- Medium or Small, your speed is 30 feet.
- Chameleon Carapace gives you an unarmored AC of 13 + Dex, and you can use an action to give yourself advantage on Stealth.
- I feel like, on a narrative level, this might need some duration limit – it doesn’t keep shifting with you as your background changes. How do you know when you need to spend another action?
- 60-ft darkvision
- Secondary Arms are an extra pair of arms that can perform most normal tasks, but can only wield weapons if they are light, and no shields. You can have a weapon and shield in your primary arms and a light weapon in a secondary arm; you can also climb while wielding a weapon and shield, or have potions in hand, or thrown weapons (such as chatkcha, not statted here), or whatever. There’s a lot of creative space here, is what I’m saying.
- Sleepless Revitalization lets you remain conscious throughout long rests.
- Thri-kreen Telepathy is telepathy with 120-ft range and lets you communicate with any willing creature that understands any language, not just a language you share.
They don’t have super-leaping, super missile dodging, or venom here as they had in 2e; I’m sure someone out there is salty about that, but I’m not them. I hope that the flavor text of the final gives a lot more detail on physiology and such – the alien-ness of thri-kreen has always been one of their defining features, and I think it’s been one of the things that has drawn fans to it.
Overall, I like what I see in these races, though the total overhaul of race mechanics means that I’m taking it on faith to a great degree that PH races will have equally interesting features and not just feel… basic. Looking at you, humans. I don’t expect to be as weird and wild as plasmoids, of course, and wouldn’t want them to.
Stay tuned for my upcoming breakdown of new dragonborn in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. You know, as soon as possible.