Elves may be elegant and dragonborn dashing, but have you ever wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons as a parasitic worm that pilots corpses? Whether or not that’s been your heart’s secret desire, it’s a reality you can now explore, thanks to this homebrew DnD race.
Created by Reddit user SeathTheCleric, the Zestodin are a DnD race of intelligent parasitic creatures, perhaps related to the Mind Flayer 5e. Their hosts are dead humanoids, which they control like grisly meat mechs, but also form a sentimental attachment to, sometimes even recovering their memories.
Seath, 24, works as a plant technologist in north Germany. “Basically I’m a glorified gardener,” he jokes. He says he got the idea for the Zestodin from the parasitic Selphids found in The Wandering Inn fantasy series.
“I found the idea pretty interesting and wanted to try to make something similar for DnD, but still make it my own of course,” he says.
According to Seath, a well-designed race for Dungeons and Dragons should give the player unique things to do while not overshadowing their DnD class features. “Bonus points if these features create great roleplay opportunities or memorable moments in the game,” he adds.
And the Zestodin offers tons of roleplaying opportunities! “Pretending to be one of the bad guys to gather information or giving the loved ones of the deceased an opportunity to say their goodbyes,” are Seath’s first suggestions.
He also adds that trying to make a deceased person’s life your own, or figuring out how to become your own person while wearing someone else’s skin is also a great – if rather morbid – opportunity for character development.
Seath says he enjoys built in flaws and challenges in DnD, but suggests that “with mechanics that have drawbacks you really have to be careful, or players will be put off from the whole concept.” He says it was a delicate balance deciding “how quickly the host body decays and how much the player is punished for leaving it,” but concludes, “I think I found a good middle ground”.
Because Seath has his hands full with DMing, the Zestodin haven’t been playtested yet, but their creator is keen for players to try the homebrew race out. “If someone uses my homebrew stuff I hope that they do not shy away to change stuff up if they feel like it is unbalanced,” he says. “I would also appreciate any feedback I get from people who tried my stuff out in their game.”
We think it would be pretty cool to roll up a Zestodin after your first DnD character dies, and then play a parasite living in the same body. You could use the same DnD character build, but with an entirely new personality and manner of roleplaying, or try a completely different DnD class.