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Thri-Kreen got famous as one of the playable options for AD&D’s Dark Sun. This is their 4e debut. They would return as fully-supported playable characters in the 4e Dark Sun Campaign Setting, about 3 months after the publication of the MM3.

The Lore

Thri-Kreen are mostly-humanoid sapient insects, adapted to live in arid climes. They’re all over the Dark Sun setting, but even in this more generic version their preferred habitats are deserts and arid wastelands.

Thri-Kreen tradition says they were created by the great primal spirit known to them as Sand Father, and to other species as Old Grandfather. Sand Father looked at the deserts of the world and found them too empty for his taste. So he plucked a species of sand beetle from the world and made them into the first thri-kreen. Realizing that size and strength would not be enough to guarantee their survival, Sand Father also gave them the wisdom of the lizard and the cunning of the desert fox.

In the distant past, the thri-keen managed to form a large empire that spanned many of the world’s deserts, a nation known as Val-Karri. It lasted for a hundred years before it was subjugated and assimilated by the dragonborn empire of Arkhosia. The thri-kreen recovered their freedom when Arkhosia fell, and returned to a nomadic lifestyle.

Modern-day thri-kreen regard people who live outside the desert as weak, for only those tested by the sands are worthy of respect. Though they draw no maps or formal borders of their desert territories, they guard those territories fiercely and are quite harsh to interlopers who try to pass through without paying homage to them first.

As long as these protocols are observed, thri-kreen are content to leave other to their business and to go about their own. They’re very well adapted to their chosen habitat and don’t need to raid neighbors for resources or anything like that. Thri-kreen communities tend to be small and nomadic, and might go for years without meeting other sapients. They display good aptitude for primal magic and psionic powers, and are often good allies to any druids and wardens that also make the desert their home. Thri-kreen villains are usually in service to evil primal spirits, demons, or other groups who corrupt and transform the land to suit their own foul purposes.

The Numbers

Thri-kreen are Medium Natural Humanoids with a ground speed of 7 or 8 and low-light vision. Their signature ability is the Mantis Jump, an encounter power which allows it to jump a number of squares equal to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks. Most stat blocks here combine martial training with minor psionic powers.

Thri-Kreen Ambusher

These are young adults who spent their childhoods learning about the land and, upon coming of age, are cast out of their tribe to survive alone for a year. They travel widely to hone their skills, and their extended periods of solitude also allow them to develop their latent psionic powers.

Ambushers are Level 6 Lurkers with 58 HP and a Speed of 8. They fight with two spears in melee and with a Mind Stab power at range. The power deals light psychic damage and dazes for a turn.

They can also use a Spinning Spears maneuver. This deals about half the damage of a basic attack, but also gives them a +5 bonus to all defenses for a turn and recharges their Psionic Boost ability. This one allows them to add extra psychic damage to a Spear or Mind Stab attack after it hits.

So yeah, this is a lurker who doesn’t hide. It will alternate boosted Spear/Mind Stab attacks with Spinning Spear. It’s still pretty good at hiding as well, which is why it’s called an Ambusher.

Thri-Kreen Scout

Scouts keep watch over their territories and can stand still for hours under the blazing sun while doing so. They warn the rest of the group when they spot an intruder, and are cautious to engage them, preparing traps in advance. If a direct fight starts, they’re frenetic combatants.

Scouts are Level 7 Skirmishers with 80 HP and Speed 8. They fight with Spears and Shuriken, and can perform Leaping Attacks to move their speed and make a stronger spear attack at any point during the move.

If hit by an attack, they can use Sudden Recoil to shift 1 square away as a reaction. If the attack bloodies them, they can shift 4 squares instead. They also have a Psionic Boost power similar to that of the Ambusher, though this one recharges automatically on a 5+.

Scouts will alternate boosted basic attacks with Leaping Attacks, and will probably have traps lying around the battlefield if they were expecting company.

Thri-Kreen Desert Talker

This is a primal spellcaster with powers over the desert sands. They tend to act as judges in thri-kreen communities, trying those who break their laws and customs and punishing the guilty. The most severe punishments are execution and exile to the desert, but I imagine there are smaller ones for lesser offenses.

Sand Talkers fight with their bare claws and throw shurikens, but they also have a couple of sand-bending spells for use in combat. Shifting Dune Rend (area 1 within 10 vs. Reflex) deals no damage, but knocks prone on a hit and slides 2 squares as an effect. Desert Tempest (close blast 5) deals minor physical damage, pushes 2 squares, and blinds (save ends). It recharges when the thri-kreen is bloodied.

All of this pushing around synergizes with Sand Trap, a minor action that allows it to create three of the things within 10 squares. When an enemy starts their turn in a sand trap square, they are restrained for a turn, and then the sand trap disappears. The power recharges when there are no sand traps left in the field.

Desert talkers are good for breaking up PC formations and setting things up for their allies, which is exactly what they’ll spend the first few rounds doing. Their special attacks do very little damage, but their basic ones are okay and a good choice once all the PCs are good and restrained.

Final Impression

I love thri-kreen! Whether they’re from Athas or not, I find their look extremely interesting, and I also liked that this generic version of their culture does not make them universally hostile.