Thri-kreen

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The thri-kreen are a race of sentient, mostly-humanoid mantis-people, originally from the Dark Sun campaign setting. They later proved popular enough to port over to other places, and canonically have a large population in the "Shining South" region of the Forgotten Realms. Thri-kreen are considered scary, but more due to alien biology and methods rather than anything intrinsically evil.

Thri-kreen have poisonous bites, psionics, and they can jump like grasshoppers. They don't sleep, but their lifespan is only 30 years. They don't have cultural taboos against cannibalism and love the taste of raw elf, though they aren't the crazed murder-munchers the Dark Sun halflings are. They prefer double-bladed lightsabers polearms, and make three-sided Xena-style boomerang-like weapons by mixing their venom with plant sap until it hardens. They've also gone through a few different body configurations over the years, starting out as basically praying mantises with hands and moving towards a notably more humanoid bent in recent editions.

First showing up in AD&D in the Monstrous Manual, and becoming a playable character race in the Dark Sun corebook, Thri-kreen are the darlings of powergamers everywhere, as four arms means four weapons means all sorts of crazy builds focused on massive, nigh-unusable numbers of attacks each turn. It turns out four arms doesn't help with spellcasting at all, so they're actually not such a huge deal.

They were recently voted one of the three most-popular races to be added to 5e, perhaps because they're the hardest "core" Dark Sun race to just glue another's template over and call it a day. The designer admitted that doing so would be pretty tough, but that it had to happen eventually.

They're a favourite when some drawfag offers to sketch some erotica for /tg/, and wants to squick us out instead. Well, except for those corrupted by Slaanesh.

The Complex Kreen Family Tree[edit]

Whilst it's been obscured by time, the thri-kreen family tree is actually surprisingly large - and even more surprisingly complex. It's possible that this showcases some of the problems that TSR had with keeping their own lore straight.

See, first, there was the Thri-kreen, the nomadic mantis-folk introduced in the Monster Manual and the Dark Sun corebook. And that was all good.

Then, in the first Monstrous Compendium Appendix for Dark Sun, we were introduced to the tohr-kreen; bigger, stronger, faster, deadlier and smarter versions of the thri-kreen, also nicknamed "mantis nobles".

So, what did "Thri-kreen of Athas", the thri-kreen racial sourcebook do? It went and made it more convoluted.

See, it turns out that the proper racial name of the mantis-folk is "Kreen"; the "Thri" and "Tohr" prefixes signify the kreen's native culture; "thri" means "nomadic" and "tohr" means "settled".

That's not to say there aren't also kreen subraces. In fact, there's six of them: Jeral, To'ksa, J'hol, J'ez, Tondi and T'keech. The sourcebook itself is somewhat vague, but careful attention reveals that the default thri-kreen originally introduced back in the Dark Sun boxset actually refers to the To'ksa subrace. Because Jerals are the only other kreen subrace native to the Tyr Region, the sourcebook exclusively focuses on them and the To'ksa, with only minimal detail given to the other subraces. The reason why three of them have names starting with J and the other three with T is culturally; "J" names signify the kreen has an active and thriving nation, whilst "T" names indicate that kreen's nation has fallen, reducing them to living under the rule of the other kreen or pursuing an existence as thri-kreen.

To'ksa are the most aggressive and most barbaric of the kreen subraces. Almost uniquely amongst their kind, they have a leathery sheathing over their exoskeleton, giving their sandy yellow bodies a dull finish. Their breathing holes are located in the head - one pair between the eyes, and a second lower down, just above the mandibles. They have long necks and the longest antennae of any kreen subspecies; 18 to 24 inches long. It's believed these longer anteannae, and the greater sense of smell they provide, may explain their unique craving for elf-flesh; no other kreen species craves it the way that To'ksa do. They have large abdomens, bearing a spiky shell that runs its length; it's speculated this may be a vestigial wing-covering. Finally, To'ksa hands have four digits; an opposable thumb and three fingers. Their barbarity means that tohr-kreen universally look down on them, viewing them as "scum" for their lack of parental care and willingness to cannibalize their own offspring, amongst other feral behaviors.

Jeral are much more civilized and calm-natured than To'ksa, and are effectively the "true tohr-kreen" of the Tyr Region. Easily mistaken for To'ksa at a casual glance, there are differences. For starters, their chitin is the outermost layer of their body giving them a glossy sheen. Their breathing holes are located between their arms, their necks are short, and their antennae are vestigial. Finally, they have three-fingered hands, with each digit being full opposable, and smaller, smooth-topped abdomens.

J'ez are black-colored kreen probably closely related to the To'ksa, as they share the leathery skin over their chitin and they also have long antennae. Aside from their color, their most unique feature is their mouth; a circular orifice ringed with inward-pointing fangs and with mobile mouth-parts used to assist with eating. They are an aggressive species, culturally fond of combat, but also highly intelligent; they make up a large part of the tohr-kreen philosophers and military leaders, and highly prize reading.

J'hol are crimson-colored, three-fingered, large-antennaed kreen with narrow feet and small abdomens; they are arguably the most humanoid-looking of the kreen. Adapted for stony barrens and rocky badlands, they are not as effective in the desert as other kreen races tend to be. Their primary contribution to tohr-kreen culture is as builders and crafters.

T'keech instantly stand out amongst their fellows; they're green. Although they have adapted to cope with the barren landscape of Athas like their fellows, they were clearly jungle-dwellers in the ancient days of their world; to this day, they are the only kreen species that can comfortably survive in the Ringing Mountains, as they are immune to the chitin-rot and respiratory infections that befall other kreen in humid environments. To this day, they prefer to live in scrub plains and near oases, where their camouflage is still useful. Possessing four fingers to each hand and long antennae, they are perhaps the most peaceful of the kreen subspecies - though still capable of defending themselves. They mostly serve the tohr-kreen as laborers and builders.

Tondi are, without a doubt, the most striking and visually unique kreen subrace. If T'keech are jungle mantids, then Tondi are flower mantids; their mottled pinkish-purple chitin sports elaborate protrusions, especially on the abdomen, that allow them to mimic giant ohi flowers or outcroppings of rock crystal. Of all the kreen, they have the greatest love of nature, usually becoming master herbalists, and gravitate towards the power of druidic magic. Rarest of the kreen subraces, they are also the most isolationist, in no small part because they're an all-female species, reproducing through parthenogensis (virgin pregnancies, for the laymen).They have abdomens as large as the To'ksa, long antennae, and three-fingered hands.

J'hol, J'ez, Tondi and T'keech all received monster manual writeups in the 2nd Dark Sun Appendix for the Monstrous Compendium.

You're probably wondering by this point "Wait! Then what the hell were the Mantis Nobles in the first Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium?" Well, we're getting to that.

"Thri-Kreen of Athas" revealed that, in addition to the six Kreen breeds, there are also two other races of mantis-folk on Athas.

The Trin are primitive, four-legged, two-armed mantis-folk; little more than animals, they roam the land and eat anything they can catch. They've been described as resembling a juvenile kreen grown to an almost adult-sized stature, but without any mental development. Even the kreen don't like the trin much, because the kreen are on the trin's menu.

Then, there are the Zik-Chil. Shorter, more slender and a pale-sickly green color, the zik-chil are instantly recognizable because their upper arms end in a unique and exquisitely-articulate set of claws, where each claw can seperate into six slender, multi-jointed "fingers". This allows for the most intricate of manipulation. More importantly, zik-chil have the innate ability to perform acts of fleshcrafting, manipulating their own enzymes and rebuilding & augmenting other races. The book is deliberately vague on whether these cold, emotionless, and ruthless mantids are somehow related to the Xixchil of Spelljammer.

The "tohr-kreen" first seen in the Dark Sun MC Appendix 1 are actually Zik-Trin; ordinary kreen who have been physically and mentally rebuilt into almost golem-like organic drones by the zik-chil. Specially, the creatures originally named as tohr-kreen are properly called Zik-trin'ta; they are created as scouts to spy upon the non-kreen nations of the Tyr Region and to try and civilize the roving thri-kreen packs. There is also another verzion of the zik-trin, the Zik-trin'ak, which is designed specifically for combat and is basically a kreen super-soldier.

Thri-kreen Stats[edit]

Thri-kreen have been present in every single edition since they were released for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons - unlike their unfortunate cousins, the Xixchil. In fact, except for 4th edition, they've actually had multiple appearances in each edition.

AD&D[edit]

Thri-kreen were present in both the Original and the Revised versions of the Dark Sun campaign setting. The versions are fundamentally identical.

Ability Score Range: Strength 8/20, Dexterity 15/20, Constitution 5/20, Intelligence 5/20, Wisdom 5/20, Charisma 5/17
Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Dexterity, +1 Wisdom, -1 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
Class & Level Limits: Cleric (12), Druid (16), Fighter (16), Gladiator (15), Psionicist (Unlimited), Ranger (12)
Base Armor Class: 5
Reduce Darkness/Blindness-based penalties by 1 point/5% - this does not apply to ranged activities.
Does not require sleep.
Cannot use magic items designed to be worn by demihumans.
Can make 1 Bite attack (1d4+1 damage) and 4 Claw Attacks (1d4 damage) per round. A thri-kreen fighter can attack with both weapon and bite, but multiple attack abilities only apply to its weapon.
From 3rd level on, can leap 20 feet straight up and 50 feet straight forward. Can't leap backwards.
From 5th level on, bite attack delivers a paralytic venom; creatures must pass a Save vs. Paralyzation or be paralyzed for rounds dependent on size (smaller than man-sized: 2d10, man-sized: 2d8, larger: 1d8, Huge/Gargantuan: 1 round).
Bonus proficiency with the Chatkcha gained at 5th level. If Chatkcha Proficiency is taken earlier, the thri-kreen gains nothing.
From 7th level on, can roll a 1d20 when fired at by physical missiles; on a 3+, the thri-kreen dodges the missile. Magical missile weapons modify this roll, subtracting their plus bonus from the thri-kreen's result.

"Thri-Kreen of Athas" would tweak the above by stating that the -1 Intelligence penalty signifies a kreen of To'ksa subrace. To play a Jeral, replace -1 Int with -1 Constitution. No rules for playing J'ez, J'hol, T'keech or Tondi were presented, alas.

3rd Edition[edit]

The thri-kreen was printed no less than three times in 3rd edition. It was first printed in the 319th issue of Dragon Magazine, as part of the quasi-official Dark Sun reboot. This version was then lifted and reprinted exactly as it was into the "Expanded Psionics Handbook". Finally, it was reprinted again in the Forgotten Realms sourcebook "Shining South".

+2 Strength, +4 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom, -4 Charisma
Monstrous Humanoid
Medium
Base Land Speed 40 feet
Darkvision 60 feet
Immune to Sleep
+3 Natural Armor
Multiple Limbs: Four arms, qualify for the Multiweapon Fighting and Multiattack feats.
Natural Attacks: 4 Claw Attacks (primary, 1d4 damage), 1 Bite Attack (secondary, 1d4 damage), a weapon-equipped thri-kreen can use its natural attacks as secondary attacks.
Poisonous Bite (Ex): Once per day, can deliver poison via its bite with initial damage 1d6 Dex, secondary damage paralysis for 2d6 minutes, DC 11 + thri-kreen's Con modifier.
Leap (Ex): +30 racial bonus on Jump checks.
Weapon Familiarity: Gythka and Chatkcha are Martial Weapons for thri-kreen, not Exotic Weapons.
Naturally Psionic: 1 bonus power point at 1st level.
Psi-Like Abilities: 3/day - Chameleon, Know Direction & Location; 1/day - Metaphysical Claw. Manifester level is equal to 1/2 Hit Dice (minimum 1st) and DCs are Charisma-based.
In the EXPH, thri-kreen can also use Psionic Displacement 1/day, whilst in Shining South, they can instead use Greater Concealing and Amorpha 1/day each. Possibly a case of regional variance.
Racial Hit Dice: 2 levels of Monstrous Humanoid, which provide 2d8 Hit Dice, BAB +2, Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +3.
Racial Skills: A thri-kreen starts with (5 * (2+Int modifier)) skill points and its racial class skills are Balance, Climb, Hide, Jump, Listen and Spot.
+4 racial bonus on Hide checks in sandy/arid settings.
Racial Feats: Deflect Arrows and 1 bonus feat.
Favored Class: Ranger
Level Adjustment: +2 for the psionic thri-kreen, +1 if psionic traits are removed.

4th Edition[edit]

Thri-kreen made their return to the D&D stage stage in the 4th edition Dark Sun Campaign Setting, joining Muls as the only Dark Sun races that got brand new racial write-up for the new edition; this was likely due to their popularity in previous iterations. Comparatively speaking, in addition, aarakocra and pterrans were forgotten or ignored, and Half-Giants had nothing mechanically unique enough that they couldn't just be reskinned from Goliaths, an argument used to justify reflavoring Dragonborn as 4e's Dray.

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Strength or Wisdom
Size: Medium
Speed: 7 squares
Vision: Low-light
Skill Bonuses: +2 Athletics, +2 Nature
Multiple Arms: Once per turn, you can draw/sheathe a weapon or stow/retrieve an item as a Free Action instead of a Minor Action.
Natural Jumper: You are always considered to have a running start when jumping.
Torpor: You enter a torpor-state instead of sleeping, leaving you aware of your surroundings. You only need 4 hours in torpor to gain the benefits of an extended rest.
Racial Power - Thri-kreen Claws: 1/encounter, as a minor action, make a melee 1 attack against up to 3 opponents. You can choose whether this attack keys off of Strength, Dexterity or Wisdom at character creation. You gain a +3 attack bonus per tier and inflict 1d8 damage per tier (plus Chosen Ability Score modifier). You gain a bonus to the damage roll equal to the number of targets.

The thri-kreen's racial Paragon Path is the Thri-Kreen Predator. At 11th level it gains a Climb speed of 4 squares, +2 damage bonus with Thri-Kreen Claws, and the ability to make a jump as a free action as part of burning an action point to take an extra action. At 16th level, when the thri-kreen is adjacent to an enemy that is also adjacent to one of the thri-kreen's allies, the thri-kreen is considered to be flanking that enemy.

Its level 11 attack power is Capturing Claws (as Thri-Kreen Claws, but grabs the target), its level 12 Utility power is Insect's Spring (make a jump check as a minor action 1/encounter), and its level 20 attack power is Paralyzing Bite (inflict 2d6 + Chosen Ability Score poison damage, target is Stunned until end of your next turn and takes ongoing 5 poison damage, save ends).

Thri-kreen also had a "Winning Races" article in Dragon Magazine #411. Staunchly setting neutral, allowing it to apply to the Thri-kreen of both Athas and the Nentir Vale, it examines their culture and biology, and in particular how it shaped by the existence of a racial hive-mind. It also introduces the Ancestral Khanate, one of the Primal Spirits and the closest thing to a patron god of thri-kreen, being the embodiment of this racial collective subconsciousness. It also came with a bundle of racial feats that empowered various aspects of the thri-kreen, from improving their mastery of gythka and chatkcha to being able to use throwing weapons and hand/light crossbows with their secondary arms.

Monstergirls?[edit]

Thri-kreen "monstergirls" are one of those areas where /tg/ inevitably gets into a debate about the definition of monstergirl vs beastfolk vs furry. Born out of a memetic attempt to mess with people's heads that lead to thri-kreen erotic art (and at least two human-on-thri-kreen porn-fics) showing up in /tg/, thri-kreen have retained that memetic infamy that sees lewd commentary and requests invariably brought-up in thri-kreen threads. The issue is that such material always goes hard-core xenophile, depicting thri-kreen as their canonical near-humanoid bug-selves instead of the more human-like forms commonly seen on monstergirls, which invariably sparks the anti-beastfolk brigade to come out of the woodwork and start yapping, just like what happens when threads about the cuteness of kobolds, gnolls and minotaurs pop up.

Gallery[edit]

Thri-Kreen of Athas Poster
LamiaMonstergirl.pngThis article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.
PROMOTIONS-small.pngThis article contains PROMOTIONS! Don't say we didn't warn you.

See Also[edit]

Thri-Kreen Erotica

Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races
Core: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human
Dark Sun: Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen
Dragonlance: Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur
Mystara: Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak)
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
Oriental Adventures: Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk
Planescape: Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling
Spelljammer: Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil
Ravenloft: Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope
Complete
Book of X:
Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
Dragon Magazine: Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races
Player's Handbook 1: Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Player's Handbook 2: Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter
Player's Handbook 3: Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden
Monster Manual 1: Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
Monster Manual 2: Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku
Dragon Magazine: Gnoll - Shadar-kai
Heroes of Shadow: Revenant - Shade - Vryloka
Heroes of the Feywild Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr
Eberron's Player's Guide: Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged
The Manual of the Planes: Bladeling
Dark Sun Campaign Setting: Mul - Thri-kreen
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide: Drow - Genasi