Unearthed Arcana May 2020: Subclasses Revisited

As much as they seem to have worse and worse names each time, we have a new UA out, dealing with subclasses again. As such, we have updates to the Revived Rogue, now called the Phantom, The Genie Warlock, and the Archivest wizard, who had been a artificer class that they cut if I’m reading my googles right. So let’s jump in.

Phantom Rogue

I had issue with the Revived, as it seemed to be custom built to be OP in my games. Or at least, how I ran games at the time. But looking over the Phantom, it looks like they ripped out basically everything and said “What if, instead of playing a revenant, we let people play 40s supernatural detectives instead?”

As you can imagine, I’m excited.

This is a rogue with a done of flavor dropped on him. And it’s better than the Revived, because the Revived made statements about your game world. I would have had to not allow the Revived in Chaotica, because you don’t come back from the dead there. The class wouldn’t work.

The Phantom, though, isn’t about you being dead, it’s about interacting with other people dying. That makes it a lot more flexible, and the abilities provided have a lot more wiggle space. You can be a cop haunted by ghost, a voodoo dectective who seeks ghostly aid, a ninja who is guided by the spirit of his dead master. Or you can just forget all the ghost stuff and describe it however you want.

3rd: Whispers of the Dead lets you move proficiency to where you need it (Reliable Talent, anyone?) Oh, this could be like in the matrix, where they upload how to fly a helicopter! I now want to run a Matrix style game! Actually, this class would work very well with a “Guy in the Chair”

3rd: Wails From the Grave: This lets you fork Sneak Attack. It may be the Rogue’s first thing that can damage 2 creatures in a turn. Interestingly, it can be done a number of times a day equal to Proficiency Bonus, which is not a Mechanics hook we see often. I think it should be used more.

Forking SA gives the character a decent damage boost, but it’s fairly easy to negate. I think it’s going to be a cool ability.

9th: Tokens of the Departed: I’m about to have a flavor reaction as if I had just had to judge a Shokugeki. This ability is amazing, because as a GM, it’s not guaranteed to work in the player’s favor, but I can do whatever I want with it! Players have an excuse to ask the GM a question, which not enough people do, IMO.

13th: Ghostwalk: I’m imagining that this feature will be rewritten, because as it stands, it’s one of the most OP things I’ve ever seen. You get a 10 minute, non-concentration Blur, you can walk through walks and people, you can fly (slowly) and hover. I see nothing that keeps you from attacking in whatever manner you want. And its reusable as you kill people.

Maybe at 13th Level, this isn’t super powerful. But it feels good to me.

17th: Death Knell: Moar Damage.

I reeeeaalllllyyy like this Rogue. It might be my favorite. I don’t think I’ve ever read a subclass and had campaigns jump out of the page at me before.

The Genie

Okay, this subclass has changed a lot. I have some mixed feelings about it, but I think I like it better? The Noble Genie subclass was trying to give the warlock some leader roles, but it just felt weird to me. The tether thing gjust felt like a weird mechanic, and it felt odd for a warlock patron.

So they made changed. Noble Genie felt odd, as it was a Warlock that at high levels seemed to have a direct conduit to communicate with the Patron, but it didn’t say it did. Now, they removed that and made it more up to the GM and less in the player’s hands, although I think it can still work.

They also broke up the generic Genie into the 4 elements/types. I’m not sure how much I like that, as the elemental spells provided are almost rote these days. But other than some damage, an easily ignored spell list, and an elemental resistance later, the type of genie is mostly flavor.

1st: Genie Vessel: Okay, what if we gave warlocks a level 1 bag of holding? A splashable bag of holding. And it’s wearable as a ring, and you can add your Prof as damage to an attack roll, and it deals an elemental type and it can be used to sneak a person into a building if someone else is holding the item?

Right, right. That’d be crazy overpowered. Let me just go move Warlock up a step on my “Best 1 level splash list” (Had to go and write the list for this joke. :p)

Oh, there’s MORE to this class??

6th: Elemental Gift: Damage Resistance and some limited flight. Flight as bonus action, no less. And without Concentration.

…Did Crawford LOOK at this subclass???

10th: Sanctuary Vessel: You can now hold parties in your lamp. 10 minutes of partying will give people the BENEFITS OF A SHORT REST???? And they add your Proff to the Hit Die spend?

too OP, plz nerf!

I just realized that an unseen servant could totally carry you around in your lamp. 0-o

14th Limited Wish: Cast ANY spell 6th level or lower. k. Recharges in 1d4 days, is cool. And I love the idea of being able to reskin a spell to fit a genie.

Look, this is a crazy powerful, but mostly in ways that don’t really matter. I LOOOOVVVEE the flavor of this, and there is some really fun things a DM can with this, and I’m excited for one of my players to make the change, as I think this would fit what they wanted with their character a bit more (although I’m not 100 on that) Limited wish would give them a travel option they sorely need as well.

I would play this in a heartbeat (if it fit the campaign tone)

Order of Scribes

Okay, first off? Love that title. I might add that as an organization to all my D&D worlds that homogenizes how I sell spells, with blackjack and hookers.

2nd: Wizardly Quill: “This ribbon is like the savant feature from the other schools, except it actually acts like a ribbon and does cool flavor stuff, and Matt might go back and add to those savant features.” My one complaint is that I think this should be built as a cantrip, and this savant feature gives you the cantrip, so other wizards can get this, but eh, it’s still cool.

2nd: Awakened Spellbook: I didn’t realize spellbooks were not a valid focus. Huh. Swap damage types, not bad. And instant cast a ritual once per day.

Bwuh?? Okay, this makes wizard splash better. And I want to go around, collecting and awakening other wizards spellbooks and assemble a Pagemaster library.

I also want to point out how rich in flavor everything is. I think the designers of 5e are hitting their stride with this stuff. I think we’re years away from 6e, but if this is the quality of material baked into DnDNextNext, sign me up!

6th: Master Scriverner: Okay, this basically says “Gain an extra spell slot that you have to dedicate to a spell every day, as if you were preparing a spell in older editions of DnD. And if the spell gets bonuses if cast higher, then you get +1 level to the scroll, instead of just the default spell level like a normal scroll.” so that’s nifty. There’s a lot of class features in this game that say “gain a spell slot” without saying it outright. Makes balancing hard.

10th: Manifest Mind: Oh, look, another UA class that figured out how to do find familiar in an interesting way.

Looks fun.

14th: One with the Word: Okay, this is two abilities. The first is a teleport effect, which is neat. I love a good teleport.

The second ability, though, is a return to life ability. And all it costs is no longer being able to cast certain spells, PERMENATLY. (A wish can fix things, but this would not be a safe use of wish.) I don’t know what to think about this rezzing. Death isn’t super common in my games, so it should come up rarely. But it is interesting.

I’m less inclined to play this wizard, but I like it better than the archivist artificer. It’s also interesting the note at the end, that the Onomancer and the Psionic wizards are being shelved due to disinterest and problems. Which means this UA came out because they’re moving toward print and realized that out the 2 recent wizard subclasses they had, neither was good enough. I think the Archivist is a rehash of the Lore Master mixes with the artificer’s flavor. (and it’s better than the Lore Master)


Overall, I liked this UA. I’m excited by all of this, and I love the idea of a new Xanathars. Looking at my list of UA rules and subclasses, I have some high hopes!

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