Zen'Trath (5e Race)
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A sentient race composed of a black, slime-like liquid. Zen'Tra (singular) are capable of converting their liquid bodies into almost any shape or size provided they have enough biomass. Still, their origin still limits them to a, at least, vaguely humanoid form. The only features visible on a zen'tra are a pair of beady eyes and a massive, unsettling mouth, filled with row upon row of needle-like teeth. The face appears slightly unnerving as their mouths seem incapable of producing the sounds required for speech. The slime that makes up most of their bodies is not dangerous in itself, although it slowly will begin to dissolve any biological creature that remains submerged within it for an extended period of time. A zen'tra is able to control and hold this process, however doing so is akin to holding ones breath and without practice and a very calm mind, can not be done for more than a minute. Zen'tra do not weigh much compared to their size due to the relatively light materials that make up their body. Most zen'tra shape themselves similar to how they looked before their conversion, although some may assume a different gender or even none at all. If they lack memories of who they were, the shape is vaguely humanoid. Although they match the proportions, their physiology is incapable of producing any texture. This causes the outer membrane to appear smooth and featureless, as well as a glistening sheen. Their eyes can range the spectrum in terms of color. Though most lack any type of pupil the color often shifts, becoming darker near the centers. Oftentimes the eyes reflect light and appear to glow in dim or dark lighting.
Physiology and Psychology
Zen'trath usually do not eat regular food as it has very little digestible material for them. Generally when the zen'trath feed they simply find plants or small animals and absorb them into their bodies for digestion. Some Zen'tra fatten themselves by absorbing larger masses of vegetation in order to increase their size or heal after losing some of their own body. Likewise, they can shed some of their body mass to shrink somewhat, although they prefer to simply fast instead, as simply shedding away unwanted materials is seen as wasteful. Although they do not exactly sleep, they still enter phases of inactivity similar to animal sleep. Poison and spells that trigger sleep cause a zen'tra to fall into this state of inactivity.
Zen'trath reproduce by fully encasing a living creature in the sludge of its body and slowly converting the victim's flesh to that of a zen'tra. The youngling is forcefully expelled three days after the complete conversion of the other creature. It hinges on the circumstances of the birth how coherent the past memory of the creature is: a willing and relaxed person retains most of their memories from before, an unwilling victim only remembers their past haphazardly in nightmares and a fresh corpse has next to no memory. But the curious powers of their slime work in a beneficial way, too: A zen'tra can sacrifice some of its mass to either speed up the healing process of its target by acting as a sort of disinfectant and source of nutrients or clad it in a black armor-like layer of slime.
Zen'tra are capable of taking on a different form for years so long as they possess a small amount of biological material from the desired form within their own bodies. The biological sample is kept from decaying within the body of a zen'tra. Their volatile bodies, however, do slowly dissolve this precious resource, forcing them to seek fresh material every other year or so. A zen'tra living a long time disguised among humanoids begins to adopt their pattern of thought as well as parts of their culture. Good zen'trath usually try to become the best example of the species they are living together with, seeing it as a way to honor those who granted them a home.
Zen'trath have a varied opinion regarding emotions. Although some evil and neutral zen'trath maintain that they have none, they still experience some base impulses like hunger or rage at the suffering of a fellow zen'tra. Good Zen'trath on the other hand generally maintain that they have emotions, but they too can come of as detached and cold, because of the fundamental differences in biology making it difficult to empathize with more mammal and nuanced emotions like love, stress or joy from good music or food.
Zen'trath history is not well known, though far from forgotten. The race began as a strange magical accident when a group of wizards attempted to summon the soul of a fallen comrade back to the physical plane. The result was an explosion of necrotic energy which reduced the participants to desiccated corpses. As the wizards decayed their bodies became little more than black sludge, which coalesced into the first zen'tra, commonly referred to as the Progenitor. The Progenitor, having an only faint knowledge of the world gleaned from the minds of it's dead creators, ventured forth to find a place of its own.
Decades later the progenitor learned the secret of bringing forth a race. Who exactly the first to be transformed were depends on which zen'tra is telling the tale, but all agree it brought forth four children in short succession and taught them the future foundation of how zen'trath society should operate, before releasing them at the age of 10. The Progenitor than vanished from the face of the earth, never to be seen again, while its children slithered into the cracks of the world, disappearing into the underdark.
Religion: The Three Faces Of The Progenitor
Zen'trath society is based around the idea of all members sharing their origin in the Progenitor. The Progenitor, having grown from a historical person into an object of myths and legends, is venerated similar to a deity. Zen'trath do not invoke his names for blessings or aid in need since they know he his long dead and his soul, if he had any, to begin with, has already passed on. Instead, they see him as a symbol of zen'trath unity, holding festival and masses in its name. Evil zen'tra see it as the ultimate creation, a perfect being made from death and magic that chose a monstrous form for it and its kin to show the race their purpose: to embrace their disgusting nature, to relish the fear and dread others feel upon seeing a zen'tra and, in the end, become the master of all they survey. Neutral zen'tra see it as a founding figure, laying down the foundation and principles of their respective societies, so they may better face the hardships of the world; together instead of alone. A sinister interpretation of this Progenitor tells it deliberately choose the form of the modern zen'tra, so they never could be accepted among other races and instead had to live separately from the other races, forever relying on it as a father figure. Good zen'tra instead teach the Progenitor deliberately choose its form with good intentions, for otherwise, it would not have been able to grant its children the power of healing and protection. The fact that those powers only work on non-zen'trath infuriates the supremacists of the species to no end. Good zen'trath on the other hand see it as a chance to travel the world. They teach the value of all good and sentient life, often living disguised among other humanoids, coming to the aid of the wounded, the needy and the sick. Zen'trath on their own are genderless, and thus usually do not form romantic bonds. Most of the species view one another as siblings and feel brotherly love to one another, even to supposed traitors and enemies. Thus, banishment instead of physical harm or incarceration is the most common punishment.
Arts And Culture
At first glance, zen'tra cities seems almost sterile: ordered, quadratic blocks of stone interspersed with communal pastures of grasses to feed on. Neither music nor poetry is practiced by them, but looks deceive: They do appreciate art and intellectual debate, if in their own way. For example, zen'trath erect large Museums dedicated to strange, porous sculptures and paintings resistant to their acid. There, zen'tra change into their ooze shape and pass through them. The sensation produced by this is as much part of the experience as the viewing of the sculpture or painting. Most of the materials a zen'tra artisan works with consist of stone, chitin and metal as they are not easily dissolved by contact with their membrane. The highest example of zen'tra craftsmanship is an item that accommodates a zen'tra's shifting form while still being practical to use, for example armor or robes that can be adjusted to fit an form of different width and height.
Political Organization: Amorphous Order
Zen'tra have little in the way of hierarchies, instead, the decision is reached through a communal consensus. While this ensures everyone's needs are met, the process is unfair to minorities species and races living in the cities of the zen'trath, since they are almost always outvoted if their concern conflict with those of the zen'trath. In addition, it is difficult to obtain non-zentra food there, unless smaller settlements have been established. As a result, zen'trath cities are mostly avoided by friends and enemies alike, since they posses little of value to acquire or steal there and the species self regulates their growth, only creating new zen'tra if another passes on. Rapid slaughter of zen'trath encourages the race to convert a large number of other humanoids into their own. Lastly, a shapeshifting, sentient slime makes for a very poor slaves, as some drow and duergar cities found out the hard way. As such, "life and let life" is the policy most commonly adopted by their neighbors, unless they are planning on eradicating the race or the zen'trath lust for conquest. Some zen'trath grow discontent with this live devoid of passion, uncertainty and growth, embarking instead on adventures that take them far from home. Others wander the world for the identity of the person they once were. A zen'tra city is usually surrounded by wide grasslands, as well as underground farm plots of hardy mushrooms to act as a reserve in the case of food shortage.
Evil zen'tra operate as a sort of cult, often living disguised among other humanoids and convert those they deem worthy to join their ranks. Unable to fill an inner void, they hunger for ever more power, never satisfied with what they have now. Thus they amass influence, knowledge and power to rule from the shadows. They face an uncomfortable choice: either they convert a large number of humanoids and have to share their power or they are rule as a shadowy and small cabal, but always live in the fear that their lackey will turn against them. Either way, the life of an evil zen'tra is often nasty, brutish and short.
The zen'trath societies never felt the need to develop their own language, adopting a dialect of the common tongue instead. Thus, zen'trath tend to utilize either the name of the victim they were 'born' from or a name they decide to take upon reaching adulthood or an utterance they hear in their formative years and take a liking to. In regions where Common is rare, particular communities of zen'trath might speak the region-dominant language instead and adopt names from this language.
Example Names: Any name of another race, irrespective of gender; Aarr, Disgusting, Dream, Go-awei, Id, Kas, Knight, Stranger, Veil, Wanderer, Song.
A race of monstrous, slime-like creatures born from magical experimentation.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Charisma score increases by 1.
Age. Zen'Tra mature at 5 years old. After 100 years, the zen'tra simply break down, vaporizing in a cloud of toxic black smoke.
Alignment. Zen'Trath can range from evil monsters to righteous protectors, though they tend to shirk off the idea of 'laws' tending toward chaotic.
Size. Although the exact mass and height of your body changes if you shed or absorb organic matter, it can never exceed 7 foot or go below 5 foot in height. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Amorphous. As an action, you can shift your form into a pool of slime or back into your humanoid form. While a slime, your size is Small, your base walking speed is 15 feet, and you can fit through openings at least an inch wide, however, the only action you can take is to Dash, Disengage, Dodge or revert to your humanoid form.
Bio-Healing. Over the course of an hour, you can partially envelop a creature and accelerate its natural healing by expanding Hit Dice and regaining no hit points, the enveloped creature regaining hit points equal to the hit points you would have recovered. While you are enveloping a creature both you or it cannot take any other activity.
Consume Biomass. Zen'Trath can absorb biological components of a humanoid creature of its own size, then shape itself to take on that form. This process takes roughly 8 hours to complete and can be performed while resting. After finishing the process, you internalize the appearance and mannerisms of the creature you are mimicking. For up to 1 year, you can store the biomass of a creature within your body and can assume its shape as an action. You gain advantage on Charisma (Deception) checks to pass as this creature. You lose access to your other racial traits while disguised in this way. You can end the transformation as an action, returning to your original form. You can store the biomass of only one creature at a time and can destroy the stored biomass as an action.
Magical Experiment. Your creature type is both humanoid and ooze.
Symbiosis. You can cast the mage armor spell once with this trait on a creature other than yourself, requiring no material components, and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common, and Undercommon.
Random Height and Weight
|5′ 6″||+1d6||80 lb.||× (1d6) lb.|
*Height = base height + height modifier
When creating a zen'tra character, you can use the following table of traits, bonds, ideals and flaws to help flesh out your character. Use these tables in addition to or in place of your background's characteristics.
As a result of how they created and the differing material influences of their experiences and circumstances, zen'trath tend to be a varied lot. While the zen'trath from their own cities come of as slightly alien and apathetic, if educated and friendly, the zen'trath living with other species seem more gregarious, although their shapeshifiting can weigh on their sense of self.
|1||I try to eat everything. Almost literally.|
|2||In addition to the Progenitor, i revere many other gods, hoping to be permitted into their afterlife.|
|3||I have no set identity, instead adopting a new persona for every shape I take.|
|4||I learned no table manners whatsoever. I just fall on the plate and absorb the food.|
|5||I have a very odd sense of what qualifies as art, entertainment and productive work.|
|6||Due to my appearance and ways of thought, i come of as cold and emotionally detached.|
|7||I still feel emotions and take on a shape very similar to my old form.|
|8||I find the emotion the fleshy ones call "love" deeply disconcerting. Hopefully, it's not infectious!|
|1||Stability: Things worked so far. Why stir up trouble? (Lawful)|
|2||Greater Good: The Progenitor tasked us with being healers and protectors. I will fulfill this holy mission. (Good)|
|3||Knowledge: In an ever changing world, knowledge is the source of security and power. (Any)|
|4||Community: We will prevail together instead of alone. (Neutral)|
|5||Supremacy: The zen'trath shall reign over the lesser races! (Evil)|
|6||Change: Change is inevitable; to try to stop it is foolish. (Chaotic)|
|1||I work to retain or regain my old life, from before i became a zen'tra.|
|2||A zen'tra changed me against my will into this form. I will have revenge!|
|3||My city was destroyed in a disaster. I want to rebuild it.|
|4||I still am grateful to the community that adopted me in my childhood.|
|5||I want to create the greatest piece to art ever know to the zen'trath.|
|6||Other Zen'trath are everything to me.|
|1||Everywhere i go, i try to enforce the zen'tra standards of what art is supposed to be and do this in the most caustic form of critique imaginable. I don't have many friends.|
|2||Feelings? What are those? They sound delicious.|
|3||I have, literally and metaphorical speaking, no spine.|
|4||I harbor a martyr complex, looking for the right moment to sacrifice myself.|
|5||I secretly think that everything would be better if most people became a zen'tra.|
|6||My sense of self and identity are very weak as a result of constant shapeshifting.|
- Compare the racial trait "Symbiosis"