Primal Zerg (5e Race)

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This content deviates from 5e standards. Its use could dramatically alter campaigns, take extreme care. DesignDisclaimer.png
Caution - Here there be monsters!
This content intends to provide a different experience, or goes beyond the scope of the anticipated subjects and situations, than the 5e rules were intended to handle. Some portions of the content below may not be what you expect from traditional game content. When implementing this content, DMs and Players should read over all the information carefully, and consider the following specific notes of interest:
This race effectively allows you to change your racial traits and build your own race based on monster traits. Because of this, the power level of the race can vary quite a bit, although the race as a whole should be compareable to 1st party races.

Primal Zerg[edit]

"I do not need a wall, I will evolve armor. I do not need a weapon, I will evolve claws." "The toolmakers might create something stronger than your armor and claws." "Their tools stay the same. I collect. I change."

Physical Description[edit]

The primal zerg have the incredible ability to assimilate genetic material from their food, which allows them to adapt and change much faster than most other species. More so, they can choose what they grow and incorporate into their bodies, though the process is poorly understood. As a result, they can have almost any appearance, usually adapted to their environment. Primal zerg in hot climes will likely have scales for protection and water retention, while ones in colder climes will have fur to keep themselves warm. They are usually omnivorous, obtaining genetic material from whatever they can find. A primal zerg typically has two legs and two arms, and their skin color ranges from green to orange to white depending on what environment primal zerg find themselves in.


It is said that the primal zerg originated on a faraway plane, created long ago by a curious god who wished to see her creation adapt to any environment. The primal zerg are known to be the primitive ancestors of the swarm zerg, an race of short lived creatures that adapt quickly and emphasize power over intellect. The swarm zerg, after having adapted from the primal zerg, left the primal zerg's home plane because of the influence of a mind controlling zerg, the Overmind. The primal zerg, having not lost their intelligence like the swarm zerg, chose to stay on their home plane. For thousands of years, the primal zerg remained isolated on their home plane, continuing to evolve and adapt.

The primal zerg would have continued this lifestyle if the swarm zerg had not returned in mass numbers. The swarm zerg needed to recruit strong individuals who were not susceptible to strong psychic attacks for their war effort. All who opposed the swarm zerg were massacred. After the swarm zerg left, the few remaining primal zerg choose to disperse, with some traveling with the swarm zerg, and many others choosing to settle the wilderness of many different planes, where they could continue to practice their tradition of evolving without outside interference.


Primal zerg embrace the ideals of the survival of the fittest. Some seek out a monk-like existence in rough or difficult habitats to harden their bodies and spirits, or die trying. Others join packs and set out marauding, destroying humanoid settlements they encounter, with the goal of purging the world of the weak and honing their own bodies through endless combat. Primal zerg society respects the strongest and hardiest, and those that die were never worthy of respect- any promises or deals a zerg made in life are not likely to be honored after its death. More so, if you cannot defend a promise, vow, or position by force, then it is forfeit. Not every primal zerg is particularly violent or bloodthirsty- some only kill the strong, as the weak and defenseless will not help them achieve a greater level of existence. Others take no pleasure in killing, and would rather harden themselves in solitude on top of a volcano or in a lonely arctic wasteland.

Primal Zerg Names[edit]

Primal zerg have a variety of naming traditions. Their names may be taken from the most powerful thing they have killed, such as the name of a giant or a great pack leader. They may take on a nickname given to them by fellow pack members, or a title from a village they terrorize. The most solitary have forgotten their own names out in the wilderness, but adopt a new one once they meet someone sentient.

Most primal zerg are hermaphroditic, though they may adopt certain traits to encourage a fearsome reputation.

Examples include: Brak, Dehaka, Kraith, Silvan, Yagdra, Zurvan, Zasz, Daggoth, Abathur, Izsha, Kilysa, Kraith, Nafash, Naktul, Niadra, and Zagara

Primal Zerg Traits[edit]

Creatures of widely different shapes and sizes who take on the features of any life form that can be eaten.
Ability Score Increase. Three different ability scores of your choice increase by 1.
Age. Primal zerg are long-lived but not immortal. Primal zerg reach adulthood at around ten years and have been known to live longer than 1000 years.
Alignment. Primal zerg are often neutral or evil, depending on how they interpret the "survival of the fittest" ideology. They are rarely given to acts of charity or kindness and are ultimately usually motivated by self-improvement of some sort.
Size. Primal zerg sizes are known to vary considerably. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Evolve. You can assimilate the traits from the enemies you kill. You must ingest the organic material of a creature to gain similar traits to those that were possessed by the creature. You cannot ingest undead or constructs and gain this benefit. It takes 1 hour to eat and adapt the material into your body. After you may gain one new Evolved Trait and get rid of any amount of your existing Evolved Traits. Each Evolved Trait has a point cost which must be met to take the trait. The maximum point cost of Evolved Traits you can have is 5, you may not choose an Evolved Trait more than once, and each Evolved Trait must come from a creature with a feature similar to the trait, which is represented in the Prerequisite column in the Evolved Traits table. You start with 2 Evolved Traits of your choice.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.

Evolved Traits[edit]

Trait Name Trait Point Cost Prerequisite Trait Effect
Natural Weapons 1 Creature has natural weapons Your hands partially take on the form of those of the creature you've eaten, giving you a set of natural weapons that deal 1d6 bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage.
Natural Armor 1 Creature has natural armor Your body grows a set of scales, gains fur, or otherwise starts to take on the appearance of a creature you eaten. When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 12 + your Dexterity modifier. A shield's benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor.
Needle Spines 1 Creature has a natural ranged weapon attack, such as Spikes or Needles Your body grows a series of spines that you can use to attack at a distance. This spines count as an unarmed strike and have a range of 20/30 ft, that deal 1d4 piercing damage.
Natural Resistance 2 Creature has immunity or resistance to a damage type Your body begins to take on the characteristics of the creature you ate, granting you resistance to one of the damage types besides bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing damage that the creature was resistant or immune to.
Breath Weapon 1 A dragon or other creature with a breath weapon As an action, you may exhale a wave of destructive energy. The type of dragon or other creature that you ate determines the size, shape, and damage type of the exhalation.

When you use your breath weapon, each creature in the area of the exhalation must make a saving throw, the type of which is determined by your draconic ancestry. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. A creature takes 2d6 damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. The damage increases to 3d6 at 6th level, 4d6 at 11th level, and 5d6 at 16th level.

After you use your breath weapon, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Blindsight 2 Creature has blindsight You rely on your sense of hearing and smell to perceive your surroundings, giving you blindsight within 10 feet.
Tremorsense 2 Creature has tremorsense You rely on your sense of touch and the vibrations of the earth to perceive your surroundings, giving you tremorsense within 10 feet.
Darkvision 1 Creature has 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 can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Devil's Sight 2 Creature has the Devil's Sight trait and 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 can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray. Magical darkness doesn't impede your darkvision.
Minor Angelic Weapons 1 A celestial that has the Angelic Weapon trait When you hit with any weapon, you can have the weapon deal 1d8 extra radiant damage. Once you use this trait, you can not use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Swim Speed 1 A creature that has a swim speed Your body becomes more streamline and takes on some of the characteristics of the creature you consumed. You gain a swim speed equal to your base walking speed.
Burrowing Claws 2 A creature that has a burrowing speed Your claws become more capable of moving earth and dirt, and gain some of the characteristics of the creature you consumed. You gain a burrow speed equal to your base walking speed.
Multiple Legs 2 A creature that has four or more legs You grow additional locomotive limbs. You gain advantage on saving throws against being knocked prone, and on ability checks or saving throws to maintain your balance.
Multiple Arms 1 A creature that has four or more arms You grow an additional set of arms. These arms can hold items as regular, however, when you are holding items in three or more of your hands, you do not gain the benefits of a shield, as it becomes impossible to block effectively when you are focused on doing other things.
Vestigial Wings 1 A creature that has wings and a fly speed You grow wings. They aren't strong enough to allow you to fly, but your jump distance is tripled and you have resistance to falling damage.
Springed Step 1 A creature that has a base walking speed greater than 30 You move more efficiently or further then you would normally. Your base walking speed increases to 35 feet.
Powerful Frame 1 A creature whose size category is greater then than yours. Your body takes on a stronger more efficient visage. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
Amphibious 1 A creature that can breathe underwater trait. You can breathe air and water.
Keen Sense 1 A creature with the Keen Hearing and Smell trait. Your senses are sharpened. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Keen Hearing 1 A creature with the Keen Hearing trait. Your sense of hearing is sharpened. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.
Keen Smell 1 A creature with the Keen Smell trait. Your sense of smell is sharpened. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.
Spider Climb 2 A creature with the Spider Climb trait. You can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
Mimicry 1 A creature with the Mimicry trait. You can mimic sounds you have heard, including voices. A creature that hears the sounds you make can tell they are imitations with a successful Wisdom (Insight) check opposed by your Charisma (Deception) check.
Fey Ancestry 1 A creature with the Fey Ancestry trait. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.
Limited Telepathy 1 A creature with the Limited Telepathy trait or telepathy. You can magically communicate simple ideas, emotions, and images telepathically with any creature within 100 feet of it that can understand a language. This form of telepathy doesn't allow the receiving creature to telepathically respond.
Limited Regeneration 1 A creature with a Regeneration trait. Your body can now naturally regenerates, although you can only regenerate small wounds in short bursts. If you have 1 or more hit point and are below half your hit point maximum, as a bonus action, you may spend a hit die to regain hit points, similar to when you would regain hit points during a short rest. Once you use this trait, you can not use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Dragon Type
Dragon Damage Type Breath Weapon
Black Acid 5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)
Blue Lightning 5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)
Brass Fire 5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)
Bronze Lightning 5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)
Copper Acid 5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)
Gold Fire 15 ft. cone (Dex. save)
Green Poison 15 ft. cone (Con. save)
Red Fire 15 ft. cone (Dex. save)
Silver Cold 15 ft. cone (Con. save)
White Cold 15 ft. cone (Con. save)

Random Height and Weight[edit]

4′ 6'' +4d6 60 lb. × (2d6) lb.

*Height = base height + height modifier
**Weight = base weight + (height modifier × weight modifier)

Primal Zerg Feats[edit]

Primal zerg have an extremely impressive ability to adapt and evolve in almost any environment, allowing them to gain abilities not normally seen in other creatures. As a primal zerg, you have access to the following list of feats and if you are using the optional feats rule, you can forgo taking Ability Score Improvement feature to take a primal zerg feat of your choice instead.

Racial Feat: Evolution Savant[edit]

Thanks to a one-in-a-million fluke, your ability to process and adapt genetic material is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of your race. The maximum point cost of Evolved Traits you can have is 10, rather than 5.

Racial Feat: Monsterous Attacker[edit]

Prerequisite: Strength 13 or higher

You have evolved to be a monster in combat. Being quicker and stronger than most other creatures, you gain the following benefits:

  • When you miss a melee attack while within 5ft of your target, you may use your reaction to cause the attack to be a glancing blow against the target, dealing slashing damage equal to your Strength modifier to the creature. You may use this feature 5 times and you regain your expended uses of this feature when you finish a long rest.
  • When you score a critical hit with a melee weapon, you may attempt to shove the target as a bonus action or as a reaction.

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