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The Travelers of the Multiverse unearthed arcana seems to have finally confirmed that a 5e spelljammer book is on the way and we’ve got a bunch of new interplanar races to play with. We first saw the plasmoids way back in 2nd edition as a monster, but now they’re getting the full playable race treatment giving 5e players their very first opportunity to play oozes! These big amoebas can be human-shaped, literal blobs, or anything in-between. But how does one play as a blob? Get your microscope and hide all the disinfectant as we go through everything you need to know.
The brief introduction we get to 5e plasmoids really focuses on their physical form rather than any sort of personality or culture. It’s also highly unlikely they’ll stick to the 2nd edition lore since they’re mostly just monsters in the old editions (basic clan structure and a desire to eat things being their main cultural touchstones). Physically we get a lot of bits that add up to “ooze person”. Their natural state is really just a blob, but they can squash and stretch to get more typical humanoid features like a face… or limbs. You’ve got ganglia and other important bits inside but just like an amoeba you’re fully amorphous and can reshape yourself however you like (kind of, more on that later). We also learn that they’re normally grey, but they can “color themselves” by absorbing dyes which opens some fun options.
Just like all the other newly released races the plasmoids are a “lineage” rather than a “race”. This means that the ability score increases are up to you and the selection is all about the features. What’s exciting to me is that plasmoids get some completely unique stuff not seen anywhere else. Let’s go through each of these features individually and what they’ll mean for your new goopy character:
Creature Type. You are an Ooze.
Size. You are Medium or Small. You choose the size when you gain this race.
Speed. Your walking speed is 30 feet.
Amorphous. You can squeeze through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide, provided you are wearing and carrying nothing. You also have advantage on ability checks you make to initiate or escape a grapple.
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 discern colors in that darkness only as shades of gray.
Hold Breath. You can hold your breath for 1 hour.
Natural Resilience. You have resistance to acid and poison damage, and you have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned.
Shape Self. If you are not incapacitated, you can reshape your body to give yourself a head, one or two arms, one or two legs, and makeshift hands and feet, or you can revert to a limbless blob (no action required). As a bonus action, you can extrude a pseudopod that is up to 6 inches wide and 10 feet long or reabsorb it into your body. You can use this pseudopod to manipulate an object, open an unlocked door or container, stow or retrieve an item from an open container, or pour out the contents of a container. The pseudopod can’t attack, activate magic items, or carry more than 10 pounds.
So, a few of these features are pretty normal but some of them are dense. Let’s really analyze each of these and how they work:
Creature Type: While the “ooze” creature type isn’t terribly relevant but not being humanoid is huge. A lot of spells and abilities specifically target humanoid creatures so as an ooze you’re effectively immune to them. Hold Person and Charm Person are good examples of “humanoid only” spells, and you’ll find “target humanoid creature” sprinkled throughout 5e. As a plasmoid “ooze” you get to jiggle defiantly at these spells with impunity.
Size: Once again we get to choose between small or medium with plasmoids, which seems to be a regular thing with the new lineages. In a way this shows off how little difference there is between the size categories, and heavy weapons will probably be the only mechanical factor here. So, unless you plan on using a heavy weapon (in which case make your plasmoid medium) you can just go with what feels best. Be a little gooey blob or a man-sized ooze, the choice is yours.
Speed: Your goopy legs or blobby flow is apparently just as good as most legs with a standard 30-foot movement speed. This is the basic stuff, not a penalty, but nothing special either.
Amorphous: NOW we’re getting to the good stuff. Amorphous is something we see on practically all oozes, and it basically represents your liquid ability to fit through cracks and schlurp your way out of tight spots. 1 inch is tiny and there will be a million situations where you can get somewhere your friends can’t if you’re willing to go unarmored and unarmed. I’ll go into this more in the character-building section but the utility you gain from “packing light” is going to be hard to pass up. The second half of this feature is quite useful too. You get advantage on both initiating and escaping a grapple, but not anything for maintaining it. Not gaining the advantage still puts Giffs as the new de facto grappling race but getting to ooze your way out of a grapple is an excellent safety net in some encounters.
Darkvision: It seems like 9 out of 10 races have darkvision but it’s still nice to have. Remember it’s on your sheet and never worry about bringing torches!
Hold Breath. While you’re not getting a swim speed, this means you’ll be able to take on most aquatic encounters without a problem. You’ve got to breathe eventually but an hour should be enough time to investigate the shipwreck, pass through the poison cloud, or whatever else that would normally require magic or special items to get through.
Natural Resilience. Poison and poisoned resistance are fairly common, but we’re getting acid resistance on top of that making this that much better. Acid is a mid-tier resistance (acid damage isn’t exactly common but it’s not extremely rare either) or taken all-together this is a solid defense package.
Shape Self. This is the “look humanoid” feature that the fluff descriptions were going on about, but it’s also combined with an interesting “reach” feature. Firstly, the “look humanoid” half is very strangely worded. I can make legs, but I can’t make a tail? Also, if I make a head can I make it look like any head or just “my” head? I fully expect in a final version this will be reworked into a simpler “look like a humanoid creature” feature, but right now you have very specific options that don’t really serve a purpose. Then in the 2nd half we have the pseudopod that you can stretch up to 10 feet away. Since you can already fit through cracks, the primary purpose of this seems to be the “touch the magic thing from far away” trope. However, it’s not entirely clear if your pseudopod counts as you exactly for the purpose of explosions and traps. For now, as written though, this seems like a safe way to trip traps from at least a small distance without any risks!
Building a Plasmoid Character
There’s no more ability score matching now with the “lineages”, so there’s also no real “ideal” classes anymore. However, the plasmoid has a couple features that can work amazingly well with certain strategies. The amorphous feature gives you insane exploration options like sliding through keyholes and through tiny cracks IF you’re willing to leave stuff you’re wearing and carrying behind. There aren’t many classes that can maintain combat effectiveness with literally nothing, but Barbarians and Monks get pretty close. Monks specialize in fighting with just their body and barbarians are still quite lethal even when using just unarmed strikes and grapples. And you’d think that the spellcasting classes would work well for this, but even sorcerers still technically need a spellcasting focus which unfortunately can’t pass through a crack with you. However, Warlocks specifically taking the pact of the blade can simply bamf their pact weapon into their hands after slipping through a crack, essentially assuring that you’ll always have access to your weapon while schlumping through the smallest spaces.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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