Grippli: Playable Amphibians (5e)
This racial book clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
The grippli for 5e, heh? Now I’m all for that! I’m a big fan of the small, friendly, froggy, folk, so how is the race represented here? Well, we actually employ the same level of depth for the race’s fluff and playing them that we have seen in the PHB – thus, the grippli are introduced as colorful, hard-working and fun-loving individuals, including notes on how they perceive halflings, gnomes and humans. Notes on their culture and nomenclature complement the gripple race provided here.
From a rules-perspective, Grippli increase their Dexterity by 2, have a 30 ft. speed (and a 20 ft. swimming speed, which is, in a nitpick, called swim speed -which is only used in statblocks, not in ability rules), base passive perception 12 and advantage on Perception checks, proficiency in Survival as well as advantage on poison saves and resistance to poison damage. They can also long jump Strength score feet from standing still and better high jumps as well and may breathe freely on land and under water.
When taken back to back versus e.g. elves, the grippli come out as stronger: Same attribute modifiers, jumping, poison resilience and there’s the swimming…but that may even out in the subraces, of which we receive 3: Bog Born increase Con by 1, gain darkvision and may use their prehensile tongues as a bonus action to manipulate objects of up to 25 ft. away, but not magic or attack with the tongue.
Lake strider gripplis increase Wisdom by 1, have a swimming speed of 40 ft., know instinctively where North is and gain advantage on Dex-checks and saves to maintain footing in adverse conditions. Okay…does this include abilities and attacks that render you prone? I assume it does, but I’m not 100% sure.
The third of the subraces would be the patternback, who also increases Constitution by 1, proficiency with shortbows and longbows, climbing speed 30 feet and 3/day curare sweat that can incapacitate (!!!) foes – save or suck. This is an issue, particularly when 5e’s engine, with poisoned condition and exhaustion levels, allows for easy non-save-or-suck tricks. Not a fan Additionally, I think that tying the ability to short and long rests would have made sense.
Editing and formatting, on a formal level, is very good; on a rules-level, the pdf has some very minor hiccups in the finer details, but nothing too severe. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, minimalistic two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports numerous gorgeous full-color artworks of grippli, though ardent fans of 3pp-material may recognize them from other publications. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Ken Pawlik’s grippli provide an intriguing assortment of options for the player; the race, as a whole, is well-presented and manages to do cool things: The tongue works really well and the jumping is neat. On the other hand, though, when compared back to back with the core races, the gripplis as presented here exceed the power of the core races by a margin – frankly, the power of the elven trance would have been paid off by the water-breathing and speed alone – the poison resistance/advantage on saves imho is a bit too much. Among the subraces, Sailor’s Legs and the Curare Sweat could use a bit of streamlining in my book – both are functional, but do overshoot the power-level a bit in conjunction with the base race – the speed increases/gains, when compared to the core races, are more pronounced.
Bearing this in mind, this still certainly is no bad pdf and can easily be tweaked to adhere closer to the power-levels of the core races. So yes, while the grippli herein can use a whack with the nerf-bat, it should be noted that the writing is neat and that groups less concerned with the intricacies of balance in 5e will encounter no issues using these. In the end, I will thus settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this little supplement here on OBS!