Unearthed Arcana Review: 13 Class Features

A new UA this week. Let’s take a look.

All Classes

Proficiency Versatility– Wow, this is bad. Like, I get what they’re trying to do, but when I DM, this is the thing I let players do for free. It takes a few sessions before you understand your character and what they should be good at. And, honestly, swapping skills rarely comes up anyway, as fighters want athletics not because they think their character is athletics, but because that stacks on their Strength. Sacrificing an ASI to get a skill from your class list doesn’t seem like anyone would go for it.

Barbarian

Survival instincts– Hey do you want to give up advantage on the most common saving throw in exchange for 2 skills? No? How about expertise in them? Great, pick from this list of 3 bad skills and 2 good skills. I could see taking it, it is powerful enough, to be an interesting question, depending on your character.

Instinctive Pounce– Spend reaction to move to a person who moved near you. Eh, not bad. Not exciting, but Barbarian movement wasn’t that exciting either.

Bard

Enhanced Spell List. Hooray for more options, I guess? These all feel rather bard-y, it’s just really interesting that they feel the need to make casters more capable.

Magic Inspiration– Bardic Inspiration can be added to damage or healing? That’s crazy.

This is definitely reving up for a real Player’s hand book 2, if they’re rebalancing the classes with these add-ons. I want to jump down to ranger, but I shall resist and keep pressing on.

Spell Versatility– Bards can swap out a spell each long rest. That’s crazy, even if it does have an odd little restriction, but still, there’s going to be a lot going for that.

I think this makes the bard a bit stronger, but not overwhelmingly so. Feels like a bit of polish, really.

Cleric

Cantrip Versatility– Swap Cantrips on Level up. This is for all fools who think resistnace sounds useful.

Cleric Spells– Clerics getting smites is interesting. I can see the logic behind it, and it feels like “Well, duh!” this will make more melee clerics beyond war. This is starting to excite me.

Harness divine power: use CD to recover a 1st level spell slot. That’s… great! Like, I can picture the cleric spending a short rest after a fight, recovers his spell slot and does rites for the dead and stuff, instead of just soldiering on. I think that would be amazing. (And my cleric/rogue Joyce would have LOVED this feature…)

Blessed Strikes– Clerics deal a d8 extra damage for attacks and spells at level 8. Wow. level 8 is high for trying to do multiclass shenanigans, but this makes clerics suddenly good wherever in the formation, instead of locked where they first signed up.

This, makes the cleric feel great. I’m excited by these changes.

This book isn’t going to be PHB2, this is going to be “We wish we could alter everyone’s copies, but we’re paper bound, not digital” the movie.

Druid

Cantrip Versatility– Swap Cantrips on Level up. This is for all fools who think resistnace sounds useful.

Spell list– Nice, ceremony is a good spell for druids.

Wild Companion– Find familiar for a wild shape. Man, I don’t know what to think about this one. On one hand, it’s a nice neat way of being able to do a companion. On the other, I don’t like find familiar. It’s flavorful, tho, and that goes a long way.

Druid didn’t get a lot, but it was a beast of a class anyway.

of COURSE that pun was intentional.

Fighter

Fighting Style Options- Oh man! The doc moves these to the bottom, but I’m going to review the fighting styles we’re getting right here!

  • Superior Technique
    • One use of Battlemaster. Not an instant pick, but, depending on your build, could be very, very good. Always worth looking at for experienced players.
  • Martial Versatility
    • Swap fighting style on level up. This is a pretty powerful one (while not technically a fighting style). This let’s you say, oh, we found a +3 greatsword  of Awesome? Yeah, I’ll be stopping dueling style next level, then. This will be good to have.
  • Blind fighting
    • No penalties for attacking invisibles, except if they use their action to hide. Nice. That’s been a long time coming
  • Interception
    • Intercede for allies. My paladin is taking this ASAP. The force is strong with this one.
  • Thrown Weapon
    • Draw and toss, and a +1 to hit. Freaking finally some thrown weapon support. And I can tell people that no, you don’t want archery for that. Awesome
  • Unarmed Fighting
    • There’s a lot of stuff in this one. just go read it
    • oh, man, this feels good. A way to unarmed without being a monk. And the question of “Am I duel wielding hand is answered.”

These fighting styles feel like we should have had them a long time ago. I mean, we don’t want option bloat, but these feel like we should have had them a while ago. Getting excited for this.

anyway, back to fighter

Maneuver Versatility– Swap a maneuver on a long rest. awesome. D&D is looking like it might start meaning “Figure out what we’re fighting so we can deal with it,” instead of  “We’ll fight with what we have as that’s our only choice.”

More Maneuvers!

  • Ambush!
    • Add superiority to Stealth? awesome.
  • Bait and Switch
    • Sup die to swap places with an ally, boost their AC. Eh, I think it sounds better than it is. Good for a body guard, when the wizard is doing the ability check to win
  • Brace
    • Conditional attack as a reaction. Decent.
  • Restraining Strike
    • Hit the guy, grab as a BA with the sup die boost, and your can grapple and RESTRAIN?? Dang…. the wrestler build is now
  • Silver Tongue
    • Add sup to deception/persuasion
  • Snipe
    • Make a throw as a BA, add sup to damage. Nice. Even if you only use it to machine gun attacks, it’s worth it.
  • Studious Eye
    • insight/investigate with sup die. Good at my tables.

I find it interesting there isn’t one for intimidate. Maybe it’s part of the core? dunno

Fighters are getting a huge facelift here, and it feels wonderful. Barbarians feel like they got the shaft this update.

Monk

Monk Weapons– Official guidance, including a limit on how many. See? This is what happens when you keep asking. Limits!

Ki Strike– Extends versatility of martial arts, so that’s cool.

Ki Features– More default monk abilities?? Tell me more!

  • Distant eye- no dis. for long range attacks. k.
  • Quickened Healing Spend an action and 2 ki, regain 1 monk die BLECH!!

So not a huge power boost to the monk. Still, some cool bits there. Not as good as most of the class tweaks so far, tho

Paladin

Gain the non-fighter specific fighting styles, and have a special one of their own

Blessed Warrior– take 2 cleric cantrips and call me in the morning. Man, if cleric cantrips didn’t suck, this could be okay.

Spells– Oh, look, Spirit Guardians are now a paladin spell.

Harness divine power: use CD to recover a 1st level spell slot. That’s… great! Like, I can picture the cleric paladin spending a short rest after a fight, recovers his spell slot and does rites for the dead and stuff, instead of just soldiering on. I think that would be amazing.

A bit of a boost for paladin. Nothing crazy, but a boost.

Ranger

Here we go, let’s see what we got…

Deft Explorer–  you get all 3 of these at level 10, pick the order you unlock them!

  • Canny: Proficiency, expertise, and 2 languages.
  • Roving: Speed +5, gain swim speed
  • Tireless: As an action, gain Wis+d10 Temp HP WIS times a day. oh and DECREASE EXHAUSTION AFTER SHORT REST???

These aren’t bad. Stronger than ribbons, but not full class features. Canny makes Ranger a decent 1 level dip, especially for a dungeon crawling rogue.

Favored Foe– cast Hunters Mark Wis times a day. That’ll be a poplar switch, considering Favored enemy isn’t great. And it makes Ranger an amazing 1 level dip.

Blessed Drudic Warrior– take 2 cleric druid cantrips and call me in the morning. Man, if cleric druid cantrips didn’t suck, this could be okay.

Jokes aside, A ranger who could shellegigh or Magic stone could be dope.

Spellcasting whatsits– bunch of Quality of Life stuff for Ranger spells.

Primal Awareness-A handful of free once a day spells. Nice and flavorful for the primal side of the ranger as opposed to the martial.

Fade Away– Who cares about this, beast companion is on the next page??

Ranger Companion Options– So they’re taking a page from the artifice and that druid we saw, listing the creatures’s statblock in the player’s section. These look… okay? It seems like it doesn’t scale, but that might be because this is an add on to the level 3 part of the ability and all the later stuff is still there. I dunno. I think it’s better, but not quite there.

All in all, I like the ranger’s tweaks here. I’m probably going to have to build a few rangers to see if I like them, especially that magic stone build. I think this is good for ranger, as good as we can get without time travel errata.

Rogue

Cunning Action: Aim– Spend BA (and your movement this turn) to get advantage. This means rogues don’t have to play wackamole with cover. I like it.

That’s it. That’s all rogues get.

That what I like about this UA, actually. Everything in this feels NEEDED, it’s not just loaded with options for options sake.

Sorcerer

Spell options– Nothing really stands out here.

Metamagic Font of Magic Options– I love more options (I thought these were metamagic, but they’re not. These are available to all Sorcs, without taking up their choices. That makes them much better!)

  • Empowering Reserves- 2 points to gain adv. on a check. I am perfectly fine with my players using spell slots this way.
  • Empowering Touch- Nonmagic weapon counts as magical for 1 minute. Sure.
  • Sorcerous Fortitude- turn spell points into temp HP. Sorc-locks rejoice!

This looks like a good utility boost for Sorcs.

Metamagic Options– Options love more of.

  • Elemental Spell- Spend 1 spell point, change the damage type to Elemental + Acid. Chaotica did it first!
  • Seeking spell- Spend 1 spell point to ignore half or 3/4ths cover. Not great in my games.
  • Unerring spell- Spend 2 points to re-roll the attack roll.

Eh, not bad, but nothing interesting

Sorcs were certainly here in this document. Yep. (That probably means sorcs were written alright in PHB1)

Warlocks

Spell stuff– I wonder how much the core archetypes had one of their spells hit the current warlock spell list.

Invocations– A few of these. I’m not going to describe them, just react.

  • Bond of the Talisman- are we getting a spoiler here? Still, the effect of this looks sweet.
  • Chain Master’s fury- hooray, my level 3class feature can make an attack, now that I am level 9.
  • Eldritch Armor- I want to see this in a movie. Honestly, this is Warlock as Iron man.
  • Eldritch Mind-  adv. on concentration is always nice.
  • Far Scribe- Free Sending Spells. Acq-Inc did it first.
  • Gift of the Protectors- One free cast of Death ward on the first person of CHA people who needs it. the rest are on their own. Could be worth the invocation slot.
  • Investment of the Chain- I can’t imagine people taking this
  • Protection of the Talisman- Still don’t… oh, wait, it’s here below. Got it. Uh… this is okay? high level for a permanent half bless. Quarter bless, really. Meh.
  • Rebuke of the Talisman- CHA damage and a push to a bearer who gets hit. that could be good.

Pact of the Talisman– Hey, we haven’t had a new Pact before, have we? the pact gives a character permanent guidance on a non-proficient skill check. hand it to a bard for some amazing counterspell shenanigans, specially if they’ve taken guidance. It’s not an amazing pact, but, honestly, I like having a fourth option. I’ve made warlocks who would have preferred this to the other.

Nothing stands out spectacularly, either for bad or good. Picking invocations is going to get tougher, but it might be easier to fit the character concept to the build, which is always nice.

Wizard

Wizards don’t get much, just spells, but they’re picking up some good spells. Enhance ability, and a slew of divinations. I really like Enhance ability

Skraz

That’s the end of the list. I think it’s all pretty good. Rubbish options happen, but there aren’t enough to really complain about. Like I said, these feel like options that are really completing the game, as opposed to expanding the game. I think we’re getting a book closer to XGE, as opposed to a PHB2, but that’s not a problem, XGE was a good book.

We don’t have a list of spells to fold in, afaik, but there were those extra feats from a UA back in the day. If they grab the feats, these class options, the archetypes, maybe rules for sidekicks and vehicles in an adventure neutral book, that’ll be pretty sweet.

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