A new unearthed arcana presents playable races from the myriad worlds of Spelljammer. Autognomes, Thri-Kreen, and Plasmoids, oh my. Check ’em out.
In a new Unearthed Arcana titled Travellers of the Multiverse, Wizards of the Coast has teased out enough spelljammer lore that it’s time to dust off my 3rd-favorite jpeg on the site.
Now, granted, merely saying the words Spelljammer and Confirmed in close proximity is probably enough to reset the clock, we all know from Games Workshop’s folly that sometimes the clock falls off the wall and then the only thing to do is release Squats. Similarly, with this new Unearthed Arcana we get a look at some playable races taken straight from the pages of the Spelljammer index of the Monstrous Compendiums.
With six new playable races, even if this is the biggest tease and a duck into some kind of Planescape-esque setting, it’s still great because that means we get Planescape and that’s an even better win than Spelljammer. So whatever book this happens to be for, these new playable races look like an absolute blast. As mentioned, there are six all in all, the astral elf, autognome, giff, hadozee, plasmoid, and thri-kreen.
Before we dive in to this delicious Spelljam(mer), it’s worth mentioning that this new Unearthed Arcana includes the new changes to Player Races outlined earlier this week:
So you can expect to see this kind of thing going forward. It’s coming for your elves and dwarves–but honestly it makes for a pretty flexible character creation system. By and large the player gets to decide what they want. There is, of course, nothing preventing you from making a gnome who’s 6’2″ and still somehow technically small, but if that’s what sparks joy for you? There’s literally no mechanical difference. You’re just a big lanky gnome. Kind of like how Carrot is a big beefy dwarf. Let’s dive in.
Astral elves are elves who ventured long ago from the Feywild to the Astral Plane. Over thousands of years (because nothing ages in the Astral Plane), that time in the Silver Void has “imbued their souls with a spark of divine light” which manifests as a “starry gleam” in their eyes. Long-lived, ven for elves, these are especially contemplative elves for whom time has little meaning.
But mechanically speaking, they get the following. They’re medium humanoids (which not all of the new races are), they move at 30 feet per round, have dark vision, fey ancestry, and keen senses like all elves normally do. But these ones gain two new abilities: Astral Fire which gives you a cantrip: light, dancing lights, or sacred flame, and lets you decide what ability from Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma, is your spellcasting ability. You also get Radiant Soul which rewards you for succeeding on a Death save, and swap out proficiencies after every trance.
What a name. Autognomes are exactly what you think they are. They’re mechanical gnomes built in the image of rock gnomes, usually with a big overarching purpose in mind like “be a steadfast colleague” or “be a loyal companinon.” However, sometimes they malfunction (like say, if they’re hit by lightning) and they strike out on their own to follow in the footsteps of Johnny-5.
These are gnomish robots, and they’re absolutely great. Autognomes have a lot to make them robots–they’re reminiscent of warforged but feel distinct. They have a trait called Armored Casing that gives them a base AC of 13 + Dex when unarmored, and are built for success allowing them to add a d4 to a single attack roll, ability check, or saving throw (much like the reanimated’s multiple lifetime trait), and gain most of the construct things you’d expect, including the Construct creature type. You also get an exception to benefit from healing spells.
These gun-wielding, starfaring, space hippos are rich storytellers, natural brawlers, and are, hilariously divided over how to pronounce their name. Is it giff with a hard g, or giff with a soft g? Much like the word .gif, there is a correct pronunciation, and if you get it wrong they will headbutt you.
Giffs are much like they appear in in Mordenkainen’s tome of foes. They’re very straightforward, medium humanoids who gain two simple traits: Damage Dealer which lets you reroll a 1 on a damage die for a melee attack, and Hippo Build which is basically powerful build with a different name.
These are simian-folk with membranes that let them glide. So if you wan to be a flying monkey adventurer, this is the way to go. Like Harengon, they can be Medium or Small, they have both walking and climbing speeds, and get a Use an Object bonus action thanks to Dextrous Feet. They can also Glide, which is a little more complicated than flight, but basically lets you not take damage from falling as long as you can take a reaction.
Perhaps my favorite of the bunch, these are sentient oozes. Right down to the creature type. If you play a Plasmoid, you are an Ooze. You gain the Amorphous trait, which lets you move through openings as narrow as an inch, along with the ability to hold your breath for an hour, and a curious trait called Shape Self which lets you temporarily reshape your body to give yourself a head, one or two arms, one or two legs, and makeshift hands or feet–or revert to a limbless blob.
You can also extrude a pseudopod to do things. It’s great. And creepy, but you’re a cool slime person, what more do you want?
Finally we have the race that broke a thousand editions (well really just two). The multi-limbed insectoids are back with a set of secondary arms (with some restrictions) that allow them to wield additional weapons, a Chameleon Carapace that lets you blend in with your surroundings to gain advantage on stealth, and Telepathy which lets you mentally communicate with folks.
And all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. A whole multiverse awaits.