Last Updated on January 22, 2023
So, Dungeons & Dragons 5e looks like it’s about to get weird. The game’s designers are saying things like “bold new direction” and “new evolution of 5e,” and the current roster of newly released and upcoming books seem to support that statement.
The latest Unearthed Arcana, Travelers of the Multiverse, seems to be a testbed for upcoming content that’s being planned for the upcoming Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse, a multi-planar, Dark Sun and Planescape-inspired successor to the Monster Manual released back in 2014.
As D&D 5e looks poised to break out of the prime material plane, players and dungeon masters alike should get ready for some serious otherworldly strangeness, chief among them being some cool new playable races.
The Travelers of the Multiverse Unearthed Arcana introduces six new playable races that could potentially see their way towards getting an official release.
We’ve got the insectoid Thri-Kreen (a classic monster that looks like it’s about to make the jump to playable character), the hippo-like Giff, Astral Elves, robotic gnomes, and the Hadozee – which honestly seem to be humanoid sugar gliders.
The newly proposed character race that’s sparked the most excitement by far, however, is the Plasmoid.
Meet the Plasmoids
Plasmoids are amorphous beings with no particularly defined shape, although those that spend time around other races tend to adopt a similarly humanoid form.
However, the plasmoid is by no means a shapeshifter in the sense of a Doppelganger; the rules note that “there’s little chance of mistaking a plasmoid for anything else.”
Plasmoids consume food by osmosis, leeching the nutrients they need from their environment and excreting them again through a set of tiny pores – like an amoeba – and have no internal organs, but their nerves allow them to detect heat, light, pain, and other sensory experiences that mean they can perceive the world around them just as effectively as other humanoids.
They do need to breathe (once again through their pores) although the rules below state that Plasmoids can hold their breath for up to an hour if necessary.
Plasmoids in a vacuum are a translucent gray color. However – and this is one of my favorite bits of flavor – by absorbing dyes and other colorful substances, they can change their color like some sort of kindergarten science experiment.
And here’s my absolute favorite bit – and the part where all you Trek fans out there are going to twig to the joke: Plasmoids don’t need to eat, but often emulate the experience by pushing food into a semblance of a mouth, speaking by forcing air through a series of tubes they create internally and, when a Plasmoid sleeps, they lose their rigidity and pool out across the floor.
One might conceivably envision one trading in their tent for some kind of… bucket.
That’s right folks, ever wanted to be Odo from Deep Space 9? Of course, you have. Well, now’s your chance.
When it comes to official abilities and traits, Plasmoids have the following:
Size: 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). You can also use a bonus action to create a 10ft long pseudopod that essentially functions like Mage Hand with similar limitations.
While there have been a smattering of Ooze-adjacent races (like the ghaunadan in 3e, a race of evil ooze-like shapechanger), classes (like the Ooze Domain Cleric, also from 3e), and spells (Amorphous Form and the Touch of Juiblex – demon lord of oozes), there’s never been an official Ooze race until this point.
In Spelljammer – the multiplanar, high-fantasy, high-weirdness setting released during the early 1990s to moderate success and (later) a cult following, Plasmoids were included as a type of monster. They were believed to have been the result of magical radiation affecting perfectly normal amoebae, which is fun in a deep space mutant nightmare kind of way.
Back in the early days of D&D – in the OD&D Men & Magic supplement to be specific – Gary Gygax did say that “There is no reason that players cannot be allowed to play as virtually anything, provided they begin relatively weak and work up to the top,” but this is the first time we’ve seen the rules as written embrace the possibility of a gelatinous cube (perhaps intrigued by the absorbed memories of so many decomposing adventurers) from grabbing itself a magic sword and heading off to have adventures of its own.
We’ll update this article as we learn more about the transition of Plasmoids from the Unearthed Arcana to the official rules.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.