From lore and descriptions to traits and abilities, learn all about Thri-Keen in D&D 5e
While many races in the D&D universe do look weird and wonderful, most have the appearance of the fantasy characters the franchise is well known for. However, the Thri-Kreen are the most alien-looking playable race in D&D 5e. They are insectoids that stand upright on a pair of legs but have 2 pairs of arms, an armoured carapace and mandibles instead of teeth.
As you’d expect from such an alien race, the Thri-Kreen have been introduced as part of the Spelljammer setting in Spelljammer: Adventures in Space (though they originally appeared in the Dark Sun setting many editions ago). They are now a playable race in D&D 5e and our guide will tell you everything you need to know to play as one.
What are the Thri-Kreen?
The Thri-Kreen are insectoids that traverse wild-space. Most creatures are unfamiliar with these beings and find communication challenging as the Thri-Kreen language relies on a series of clicks with emotions conveyed with their mandibles and antennae. As you can imagine, this can make communication with other races challenging as they generally can’t create the noises that most races make with their mouths. Instead, the Thri-Kreen communicate through telepathy with most other races and are able to convey messages through images to their minds.
The Thri-Kreen look like large, bipedal ants. Their legs allow them to stand upright and they have 2 pairs of arms though their secondary arms are not as strong or maneuverable as their primary pair giving them limited uses (no wielding 4 light sabers General Grievous style I’m afraid). Like most insects, the Thri-Kreen have an external carapace giving them a tough, armoured exterior. Their carapace is also chameleonic allowing them to change their colour to blend in with their surroundings. They have mandibles instead of teeth, a pair of antennae and large eyes on the sides of their face.
As an alien species that are not even classed as humanoids, but monstrosities, they have a very different culture to most other species. They express emotions through their mandibles and antennae, speak using telepathy and are a space-faring race having experienced countless worlds. While little is fully known about their culture, it’s worth bearing in mind what quirks an alien species might have when you play as one and what misunderstandings might occur with other races.
How to play as a Thri-Kreen
As an alien species, the Thri-Kreen are perhaps some of the most difficult races to play as. Little information is given about their culture or personalities so you’ll need to make up a lot for yourself. This does give a great opportunity for you to play around with this concept of an inscrutable alien species. Making it difficult to understand how you feel about a given situation and using telepathy in interesting ways by conveying meaning through images rather than words. You may find that you also misunderstand many of the quirks of the other races too.
With that in mind, it’s up to you how you play as a Thri-Kreen, but we’d suggested leaning heavily into how you might act as an alien coming across different cultures (much like ET for example).
Thri-kreen features in 5e
|Ability Scores||+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores|
|Size||Medium or Small|
|Languages||Common and 1 other|
|Traits||Chameleon Carapace, Darkvision, Secondary Arms, Sleepless, Thri-Kreen Telepathy|
|Book found in||Spelljammer: Adventures in Space|
If you want to play as a Thri-Kreen, your character will have the following traits and abilities:
Chameleon Carapace – While you aren’t wearing armor, your carapace gives you a base Armor Class of 13 + your Dexterity modifier. As an action, you can change the color of your carapace to match the color and texture of your surroundings, giving you advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in those surroundings.
Darkvision – You can see in dim light within 60 feet of yourself 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.
Secondary Arms – You have two slightly smaller secondary arms below your primary pair of arms. The secondary arms can manipulate an object, open or close a door or container, pick up or set down a Tiny object, or wield a weapon that has the light property.
Sleepless – You do not require sleep and can choose to remain conscious during a long rest, though you must still refrain from strenuous activity to gain the benefit of the rest.
Thri-kreen Telepathy – Without the assistance of magic, you can’t speak the non-thri-kreen languages you know. Instead you use telepathy to convey your thoughts. You have the magical ability to transmit your thoughts mentally to willing creatures you can see within 120 feet of yourself. A contacted creature doesn’t need to share a language with you to understand your thoughts, but it must be able to understand at least one language. Your telepathic link to a creature is broken if you and the creature move more than 120 feet apart, if either of you is incapacitated, or if either of you mentally breaks the contact (no action required).