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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Zern - Playable Race



Diego Havoc
2015-07-24, 02:55 PM
http://pathtogolarion.wdfiles.com/local--files/part-5/Zern.jpg

The Zern are a monsterous race from the 3.5 edition Monster Manual 4. They are evil shapeshifters who see themselves as the only true sentient species, and all others as mere playthings to be experimented on. They use their mastery of transmutation magic to warp other creatures in an attempt to find the perfect form.

In other words, they are not very nice. :smalltongue:

I've always thought they were pretty cool though, so I cobbled together a quick 5th edition playable template for them. Took me about 15 minutes, so it's probably not balanced, but see what you think.

Zern Traits

Ability Score Increase: Your Consititution score increases by 2 and your Intelligence score increases by 1. Zern bodies are naturally tough and their minds are sharp from studying magic and biology.

Size: Zerns are tall, lanky humanoids, standing around 6 feet tall and weighing 170 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed: Your base walking speed is 30ft.

Alignment: Zerns see themselves as the only true sentient creatures in the cosmos. They experiment on other beings in the same way that a child plays with toys. Supremely self-centered, zerns are usually neutral evil.

Darkvision: You have darkvision out to 60ft.

Adaptive Defenses: A zernís ever-changing physiology allows it to shrug off effects that attack its endurance or disrupt its bodily functions. You have proficiency in Constitution saves, and advantage on all saves against transmutation spells and poison.

Enhanced Healing: With a little concentration, a Zern can will its own wounds to close and heal. When you spend one or more hit dice to regain HP, you may roll each hit die twice and take the better result. Additionally, you can regrow lost limbs over the course of a month.

Malleable Form: A zern can rapidly alter its metabolism, internal structures, organs, and other bodily systems to cope with a variety of environments and situations. As a bonus action, you gain one of the following benefits. Each benefit has an unlimited duration. When a zern uses a bonus action to gain one of these forms, it loses the benefits of the form it previously held. All changes are non-magical in nature and do not require concentration to maintain.

Adrenal Surge: The zernís upper-body muscles bulge and grow with enhanced power. Add your proficiency bonus to damage rolls with melee and thrown weapons.
Boneless Form: The zernís body seems to melt into a puddle of goo as its bones liquefy. You gain advantage on Dexterity checks to escape bonds or squeeze through small spaces.
Impervious Hide: The zernís skin shifts into plates of armor. Damage you take from non-magical bludgeoning and slashing weapons is reduced by 3. This does not stack with similar abilities, such as the Heavy Armor Master feat.
Size Shift: As the spell, Enlarge/Reduce, except you can only target yourself and it does not affect your weapons or equipment.
Speed Burst: The zernís legs lengthen and its lower body muscles bulge and grow. Its base speed increases by 10 feet and it can dash as a bonus action.
Shifting Guise: You shift your form to mimic the shape of any small or medium humanoid form you have seen, or a humanoid form of your own design. You gain no abilities, attacks, or movement modes of the assumed form.


Transmutation Affinity: When a zern is affected by a non-harmful transmutation spell that targets it, it gains HP equal to the level of the spell slot used.

Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Zern.


Notes:
Enhanced Healing and Transmutation Affinity replace the zern's fast healing ability. I nerfed as many as the zern's other abilities as much as I could, to try and bring them down to player level. I wasn't sure about Warping Energy, the natural attack zerns have. It seemed like it just wasn't necessary, so I left it out.

I think this is fairly balanced, except maybe for Size Shift and Impervious Hide.

Amnoriath
2015-07-24, 03:29 PM
This is horridly imbalanced. Adaptive Defenses is strong in and of itself, but Malleable Form is like having two different 2nd level spells at will as well as more powerful than a Shifter subrace and a huge damage bonus which scales more than rage. Overall it trounces the Changeling in its specialty while being better in melee than a Half-Orc and Goliath combined.

Ninja_Prawn
2015-07-24, 03:44 PM
I agree. Malleable Form is way beyond what's acceptable as a racial trait in 5e. You might get away with it if the race had nothing else going for it, but that's not the case here.

Flashy
2015-07-24, 06:20 PM
Throwing my voice in here, this race is over the top broken. No other race gives a save proficiency, and malleable form should be hard nerfed if not outright removed. No racial feature should ever give unlimited concentration free versions of second level spells, much less durationless versions that you can switch between for a bonus action.

eleazzaar
2015-07-24, 07:23 PM
I haven't thought much about level adjustments in 5e, but this strikes me as super OP unless you require a level adjustment, and I doubt a +1 LA is enough.

Many of the individual parts of "Malleable Form" are as good as a feat, or maybe better.

Princess
2015-07-24, 07:52 PM
Each of the malleable form abilities is easily the main feature of a separate race that would entirely be worth it alone - the last one is the only special feature that the UA Changeling gets.

And yeah, a race giving a save proficiency, and one of the best at that, is over the top all by itself. With the con and int bonuses, adding this to a campaign makes them the best wizards hands down, and really appealing as anything else as some of these powers are stronger than an ability score increase.

I'd suggest removing the con save entirely, and toning malleable form way, way down, if you want this to be balanced with core races.

It also might be worth considering to split this up into subraces, if you're willing to adjust the flavor to match that.

Diego Havoc
2015-07-25, 06:21 AM
Oops, okay, clearly I have no idea what I'm doing. :smallredface:

I... don't know how to fix it, if I'm honest.

Ninja_Prawn
2015-07-25, 06:26 AM
I... don't know how to fix it, if I'm honest.

I'm willing to have a crack, if you're okay with that. I'm not familiar with the original race, but I think I can work with what's in your OP.

Diego Havoc
2015-07-25, 06:42 AM
This is horridly imbalanced. Adaptive Defenses is strong in and of itself, but Malleable Form is like having two different 2nd level spells at will as well as more powerful than a Shifter subrace and a huge damage bonus which scales more than rage. Overall it trounces the Changeling in its specialty while being better in melee than a Half-Orc and Goliath combined.
Okay, yeah, I checked out the races you mentioned and I was way off.


I'm willing to have a crack, if you're okay with that. I'm not familiar with the original race, but I think I can work with what's in your OP.
Sure, go ahead.

Ninja_Prawn
2015-07-25, 07:16 AM
Ninja_Prawn's Zern
The zern are evil shapeshifters who see themselves as the only true sentient species, and all others as mere playthings to be experimented on. They use their mastery of transmutation magic to warp other creatures in an attempt to find the perfect form.

Zern Traits
Zern have the following racial traits:


Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2 and your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Size. Zern are tall, lanky humanoids, standing around 6 feet tall and weighing around 170 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Alignment. Zern see themselves as the only true sentient creatures in the cosmos. They experiment on other beings in the same way that a child plays with toys. Supremely self-centred, zerns are usually neutral evil.

Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You canít discern colour in darkness, only shades of grey.

Adaptive Defences. A zernís ever-changing physiology allows it to shrug off effects that attack its endurance or disrupt its bodily functions. You have advantage on any saves against poison and magical transmutation.

Enhanced Healing. With a little concentration, a zern can will its own wounds to close and heal. When you spend one or more hit dice to regain hit points during a short rest, you may roll an additional d6 and add that to the total. Additionally, you can regrow up to one lost limb in thirty days of downtime.

Reshape. All zern are able to change their bodies, sculpting themselves into whatever form is most suited to the task at hand. You can cast Alter Self once per day. When you alter yourself using this ability, the duration of the spell becomes "one hour", though you can end it early as a bonus action.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Zern.



ASI 3
Darkvision 0.5
Adaptive Def 0.5
Enhanced Heal 1
Reshape 1
Languages 0

TOTAL 6


This is still at the upper end of the power curve, especially for wizards, but at least it's somewhere near balanced.


New Feat: Malleable Form
Prerequisites: Zern race.

You have learned to rapidly alter your metabolism, internal structures, organs, and other bodily systems to cope with a variety of environments and situations. As a bonus action, you take one of the following forms for a duration of up to ten minutes. Once you have used taken a form, you may not take another until you complete a long rest. All changes are non-magical in nature; they cannot be dispelled and do not require concentration.


Adrenal Surge. Your upper-body muscles bulge and grow with enhanced power. Add your proficiency bonus to damage rolls with melee and thrown weapons.
Boneless Form. Your body seems to melt into a puddle of goo as its bones liquefy. You gain advantage on Dexterity checks to escape bonds or squeeze through small spaces.
Impervious Hide. Your skin shifts into plates of armor. You gain resistance to non-magical bludgeoning, piercing and slashing weapons.
Shifting Guise. You shift your form to mimic the shape of any small or medium humanoid form you have seen, or a humanoid form of your own design. You gain no abilities, attacks, or movement modes of the assumed form.
Size Shift. You grow or shrink as if affected by the Enlarge/Reduce spell. Changing into this form does not affect your weapons or equipment.
Speed Burst. Your legs lengthen and its lower body muscles bulge and grow. Your base speed increases by 10 feet and you can dash as a bonus action.


That might still be overpowered, even though there's a racial restriction and it can only be used for 10 minutes/day. I'm terrible at making feats...

Diego Havoc
2015-07-25, 08:12 AM
Yeah, that does look better. :smallsmile:




ASI 3
Darkvision 0.5
Adaptive Def 0.5
Enhanced Heal 1
Reshape 1
Languages 0

TOTAL 6
What's this? Is this from the DM guide?

Ninja_Prawn
2015-07-25, 08:33 AM
What's this? Is this from the DM guide?

No, it's not an official thing.

It's basically a rough estimate of the relative power of racial features, created by Musicus (you can find his document here (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ViqLSEN67mmd2Lo_OJ-H5YX0fccsfI97kFaqx7V1Dmw/edit) and other works here (http://zappyman2.wix.com/musicushomebrew)). I've only recently started using it, so my costings may be a bit off, but it helps give me a sense of perspective.