20 Aug Playing a D&D Dr. Frankenstein: the Simic Hybrid Build
What is a Simic hybrid?
Simic Hybrids are lore-locked quite hard onto the Ravnica setting, but their stats represent a rather flexible opportunity for you to play as a “monster” or “mutant”. If you want to try out an innovative mishmash of physical characteristics, build yourself a simic hybrid and go nuts!
History and Lore: Where do Simic hybrids come from?
The group known as the Simic Combine uses magic to fuse different life forms together. In recent years, the Simic Combine has extended this research to humanoid subjects, magically transferring the traits of various animals into humans, elves, and vedalken.
The goals of the group, calling it the Guardian Project, are to build a Simic army of soldiers perfectly adapted to a variety of combat situations. These hyper-evolved specimens are called Simic hybrids, though they sometimes refer to themselves simply as Guardians.
What book is the Simic hybrid in?
Simic hybrids are found in the D&D 5e book “Dungeons & Dragons Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica“.
What do Simic hybrids look like? How much do Simic hybrids weigh? How tall are Simic hybrids?
These factors are determined entirely by your base race (human, elf, or vedalken) and the attributes you chose to take on, as below!
While you may be familiar with elves and humans, vedalken might be new to you, so here’s a bit more on them:
Vedalken sees imperfection as a chance for improvement, whether it’s in law or in science, and progress is an endless march toward a state of perfection that might never be reached.
This leads vedalken to pursue their work with delighted enthusiasm, never deterred by setbacks and excited by every opportunity for improvement.
Vedalken are tall and slender, standing almost a head taller than humans on average, but weighing about the same. Their hairless skin covers a range of shades of blue, from pale sky blue through bright azure to deep indigo, almost purple.
Their eyes are darker shades of blue or violet. They lack external ears, and their noses are broad and flat. As a rule, vedalken are gregarious in conversation. However, they are private concerning their personal lives, and they tend to engage more with ideas than with people.
They form close friendships based on mutual interests or compelling disagreements, and their interactions focus on their thoughts about those issues rather than their feelings about them.
To members of other races, vedalken often appear cold, even emotionless. That assessment isn’t fair—they feel emotion every bit as vividly as other races, but they are skilled at not displaying it.
Cool rationality guides their actions, they make and follow careful plans, and they are patient enough to do nothing at all when the ideal outcome relies on inaction.
Simic Hybrid Traits, Stats, and Abilities
- Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 2, and one other ability score of your choice increases by 1.
- Age: As a hybrid, you begin your life as an adult human, elf, or vedalken. You age at a slightly accelerated rate, so your maximum life span is probably reduced somewhat. The Guardian Project has not been operating long enough to observe the full effect of this phenomenon.
- Alignment: Most hybrids share the generally neutral outlook of the Simic Combine. You are more interested in scientific research and the standing of your guild than in moral or ethical questions. If you leave the Combine, however, it may have been because your philosophical outlook and alignment are more in line with a different guild’s.
- Size: Your size is Medium, within the normal range of your humanoid base race.
- Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
- 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.
- Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and your choice of Elvish or Vedalken.
- Animal Enhancement: Your body has been altered to incorporate certain animal characteristics. You choose one animal enhancement now and a second enhancement at 5th level.
Simic Hybrids are quite a different take on building a D&D character, as you get to pick and choose your most powerful abilities as you go.
At 1st level, choose one of the following options for your animal enhancement:
- Manta Glide – You have ray-like fins that you can use as wings to slow your fall or allow you to glide. When you fall and aren’t incapacitated, you can subtract up to 100 feet from the fall when calculating falling damage, and you can move up to 2 feet horizontally for every 1 foot you descend. Manta glide is definitely not as good as a fly speed; in practice it’ll function mainly as a permanent feather fall, and occasionally you’ll be able to get where you need to go by jumping off something tall. Think ‘flying squirrel’ and you’re not far off. Definitely a strong trait to pick!
- Nimble Climber – You have a climbing speed equal to your walking speed, so you’ll have a 30-foot climb speed. Remember though, in 5e a climb speed doesn’t grant any special ability to climb, it just lets you do it a bit faster. You’ll be able to scale a cliff at 30-feet movement, while your allies will likely climb at 15. Unless your setting is very reliant on you needing to climb quickly, this might be a weak choice to pick.
- Underwater Adaptation – You can breathe air and water, and you have a swimming speed equal to your walking speed. This one might be arguably better than the manta glide, however, you’re most likely going to be using this character while adventuring on Ravnica; how useful this trait is fully depends on the setting you find yourself in. Sometimes you’ll wish you could glide, sometimes you’ll wish you could breathe underwater; whatever you pick, try and play to your strengths and make the most of your abilities!
At 5th level, your body evolves further, developing new characteristics. Choose one of the options you passed up at 1st level, or one of the following other options:
- Grappling Appendages – You have two special appendages growing alongside your arms. Choose whether they’re both claws or both tentacles. As an action, you can use one of them to try to grapple a creature. Each one is also a natural weapon, which you can use to make an unarmed strike. If you hit with it, the target takes bludgeoning damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike. Immediately after hitting, you can try to grapple the target as a bonus action. These appendages can’t precisely manipulate anything and can’t wield weapons, magic items, or other specialized equipment. These natural attacks aren’t amazing in 5e, but that free grapple is particularly useful if you really get in there and make the most of it. If you’re building around it with a high Strength melee character, you will have some wild combat.
- Carapace – Your skin in places is covered by a thick shell. You gain a +1 bonus to AC when you’re not wearing heavy armor. It’s not super flashy, but it might be the best pick if you’re an unarmored spellcaster or a light armored rogue!
- Acid Spit – As an action, you can spray acid from glands in your mouth, targeting one creature or object you can see within 30 feet of you. The target takes 2d10 acid damage unless it succeeds on a Dexterity saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. This damage increases by 1d10 when you reach 11th level (3d10) and 17th level (4d10). You can use this trait a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses of it when you finish a long rest. It might be good if you have a high CON, but is it really better than having extra appendages? Depends on what you want your playstyle to be.
By level 5, you should have a sense of your simic hybrid character enough to know which direction to take it with your second pick of animal enhancement trait.
Is Simic Hybrid good?
The Simic Hybrid is a very unique D&D race. The choices you make can majorly alter your build, and thus your entire playstyle. While at home in Ravnica, they are believable in most campaign settings, as the result of wild magic or experimentation.
Try them out whenever you want a very durable version of any class. The only detriments I can see are aesthetic, so xenophobia will come into play with others’ fear of the unknown, but you can take that on as part of your roleplaying and see how your character handles the reactions around you.
A bit of this, a bit of that…
As long as you’re taking on various animal traits, you might be thinking about homebrew things.
Sure, the official options give you great choices, but is it really that much of a leap to want one tentacle and one claw for your grappling appendages, instead of JUST claws or JUST tentacles?
Down this path is the slippery slope into madness, making truly Frankensteinesque characters with all sorts of animal traits glommed onto them.
We of course cannot sanction this.
However, if you take the time to homebrew something you really want to try out, make sure it’s clearly laid out with what you’re trying to do when you beg suggest it to the DM.
Good luck and have fun in your wild new character body!