The Thri-Kreen mantis men of Dungeons and Dragons have four arms, carapace armor, leaping ability, and a paralytic bite, so really the only thing they are missing is a head that swivels 360 degrees. Sure, all that power was mitigated by a short lifespan, communication issues, and an inability to use many magic items and armor due to their oddly shaped insectoid bodies, but still, what a freaking cool D&D class.
The Thri-Kreen are not a playable race in D&D 5e, so we’ll first need to take a little history lesson before we take a stab at creating our custom Thri-Kreen for D&D 5e.
The Thri-Kreen first displayed their multiple appendages in the AD&D Monster Manual II in 1983. Later, they were included in the Forgotten Realms setting in 1989, but no one really cared about all that came before, because Dark Sun, man, Dark. Sun.
When the Thri-Kreen were made a playable race in the Dark Sun campaign setting, it was glorious on the level of having a pristine white unicorn graze your front lawn. But the problem is the Dark Sun Thri-Kreen were heavily tied to psionics, something that isn’t yet available in D&D 5e. So what do we do?
Well, the D&D 5e Monster Manual gives the Thri-Kreen a one page spread, so let’s start there and see if we can’t get a playable class into your homebrew campaigns.
Princes of the Apocalypse introduced the aarakocra to D&d 5e, so in addition to the bird men, we need the bug men. But the Thri-kreen are a powerful race, ideally suited for Arthas, the hostile planet of the Dark Sun setting. So for D&D 5e it was important to reign back many of their abilities, while emphasizing the ruleset that makes D&D 5e so great.
A Playable Thri-Kreen for D&D 5e
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity and Wisdom scores increase by 1. Charisma decreases by 1.
Alignment. Thri-Kreen have a sense of morality that is alien to most humanoid races. Therefore, they are almost always chaotic in alignment, and often neutral with respect to good and evil.
Size. Medium. Slightly taller than normal humans.
Names. Thri-Kreen make no distinction between male and female names, nor do they use a surname. Common names include Chak-tha, Drik-chkit, Kacht-ta, Ptekwe, Tak-tha, Tik-tik, Kat’chka, Pak’cha, Pik-ik-cha.
Carapace Armor. Thri-Kreen have a thick outer carapace, granting them a base AC equal to 13 plus their Dexterity modifier. Thri-Kreen who choose to wear armor must have it specially modified to fit their 4-armed body structure, tripling its base cost.
Chameleon Carapace. Thri-Kreen can change the color of its carapace to match its surroundings. Therefore, Thri-kreen roll with Advantage whenever they use their Stealth skill.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 40 feet.
Standing Leap. Thri-kreen roll with Advantage whenever they use their Athletics skill to jump.
Languages. Thri-Kreen characters speak a language composed of clicks, whistles, and snaps of their mandibles. Thri-Kreen player characters can only speak thri-kreen, but they understand Common. At the Dungeon Master’s discretion, you’ll need another PC who can understand, but not speak, three-kreen, which should make for fun roleplaying.
Sleepless. Thri-Kreen don’t require sleep.
Multiple Limbs. Unlike humanoids, Thri-Kreen have four sets of limbs, meaning they can wield two additional one-handed weapons, or one additional two-handed weapon.
Weapon Proficiencies. Thri-Kreen favor two unique weapons: the gythka, a polearm-like weapon, and a chatkcha, a three-pronged throwing blade.
Bite. Using an action, you may bite, using your mandibles. This attack deals 1d6 + Strength modifier of piercing damage. Beginning at 7th level, creatures that take damage from your bite attack must make a Constitution saving throw or suffer the poisoned condition.
Psionics. Not recommended since D&D 5e doesn’t officially support psionics, but at the Dm’s discretion you may add the following natural spell casting to the Thri-Kreen:
Starting at 5th level. 1/day: Blur
Starting at 11th level. 1/day: Invisibility (self only)
For some speculation on when the Thri-Kreen will be officially supported as a playable race for D&D 5e or, for that matter, when Dark Sun might be released as an official D&D 5e campaign setting, click here for our thoughts on the D&D 5e release schedule through 2018.