Why play just one kind of creature when you can be a horrible mutant amalgamation of them all at once? That is the question poised by the Simic Hybrid, one of four new playable races in the upcoming Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica.
The Simic Combine is one of Ravnica’s iconic Guilds. Like the Selesnyan Conclave, they too are concerned with protecting and promoting life and health, they just have a different approach to accomplishing the same stated goal.
The Simic Combine believes, as does Dr. Ian Malcolm, that life…uhhh…finds a way. Sometimes though, you have to step in and muck about with the DNA, grafting one or more sea creatures, or hey maybe reptiles, depending, to the host body in order to protect it and ensure that it grows. There was a time in Ravnica’s history when the Simic Combine (fitting) was lead by Momir Vig, a scientist who decided–with good reason–that all life should be improved upon. Sure he didn’t bother to ask people if they wanted to have magic bio-hacks grafted to their bodies, but most people need coaxing to eat their vegetables.
In later days, when the massive sinkholes known as Zonots opened up and the Merfolk of Ravnica emerged, the Simic Combine was rebuilt in their image, embracing an aquatic kind of Druidic Science let’s call it. Again, you still see lots of hybrid creatures, but now there’s a decidedly nautical theme to them. One needs look no further than their Krasis creatures to see their fusions.
But to play a Hybrid is to play a creature that’s been actively transformed into a hybrid creature. As part of the Simic Combine’s Guardian Project, an army of super soldiers is being created in depths of Ravnica, fusions of man (or elf or vedalken) and beast. Which makes playing one of these creatures interesting. Because right away you have a whole set of questions to answer that most characters don’t have to think about.
For starters, what do you look like–now this one sure, other characters can think about, but if you’re playing a Simic Hybrid you have options. Do you look mostly human with subtle scales, do you have grappling appendages? Do you have gills or fin-like wings? Do you still have hair? Has it too transformed into lion-fish like spines, or maybe it’s like a writhing mass of nautiloid tentacles? If you’re playing a Hybrid you can get creative with your appearance.
But that leads us to the second big question that Simic Hybrids have to answer: why?
Were you created voluntarily? Did something drive you to undergo the transformation process? Was it to gain power? To protect loved ones? Was it because you didn’t feel at home in your own body and sought out a new one? Were you looking to become a better warrior? Or was it something more sinister–there are rumors that not all of these Simic Hybrids are voluntarily created. Perhaps you were abducted as a child and experimented on. Perhaps you escaped, and now roam the streets of Ravnica guildless, not welcome at the Combine anymore–but hunted nonetheless because you know too much–neither are you welcome with the other guilds, because you could just as easily be a Simic spy. This could be excellent motivation for adventure.
And life as a Simic Hybrid prepares you for adventure. Make no mistake. These are definitely created with a purpose–the big function of the Hybrid race is their animal adaptations, but we’ll get to that in a moment. For now some basics. As far as stats go, you get +2 Constitution, +1 to a stat of your choice. You’re probably aging at an accelerated rate, but hey the Guardian Project is new, so who knows?
Like most nonhuman humanoids you gain Darkvision, are Medium sized, and have a base speed of 30ft. Then you jam animal parts onto your body and everything gets crazy.
Animal Enhancement is the star feature of this race. Your body has two different animal enhancements–one at 1st level and you get one at 5th level (which I assume is just dormant for a while, owing to the time the process takes to take hold). At first level you can decide between
Manta Glide which allows you to glide, squirrel (or indeed manta)-like through the air, subtracting up to 100 feet from your fall when calculating falling damage, and, moving up to 2 feet per foot of movement spent descending. You don’t have to–you could just use your ray-like wings as a parachute, but, you could in theory access some hard to reach places.
Nimble Climber gives you a climbing speed, which is surprisingly useful. Reach hard-to-reach places in the middle of a fight. Perfect for a skirmisher or a ranged character; nothing keeps you safer from melee combat than being somewhere where your opponents have to fly or climb to get to you.
Finally Underwater Adaptation lets you breathe air and water just as well, and grants you a swimming speed. This one is a little more situational, but it’s one of those abilities that, when it comes in handy, it is the difference between night and day. Harder to purposefully use than the Climb Speed or Gliding one, but canny players will start planning amphibious assaults.
And then once you hit fifth level, a few more enhancement abilities open up, these ones a little more active in terms of combat. It starts with Grappling Appendages, which like the name implies, give you two special appendages that you can use to make unarmed strikes that not only deal 1d6 + Strength damage, they also come with a free grapple attempt as a bonus action. And since they grow alongside your arms, you can still wield weapons in your normal hands.
Carapace is an armored shell, or maybe it’s scales–whatever the case, it’s a +1 bonus to AC when you’re not in heavy armor, which again seems to lend itself well to ranged or skirmish characters.
Finally Acid Spit gives you an acid breath attack–you pick a creature, the make a Con save vs. a DC 8 + Con Modifier + Proficiency or take 2d10 acid damage (scaling up to 3d10 at 11th level, and 4d10 at 17th). Interestingly enough, there’s no limit on this at the moment, though I expect it’s meant to be once per rest.
At any rate, those are the hybrid mutants of the Simic. Be sure and playtest one, and leave Wizards of the Coast your feedback by clicking on the survey linked below, this will help shape them up for the final version of the book. If you think they should have more hybrid options, or less, or need more power tweaks, this is your chance to let WotC know!