New D&D Unearthed Arcana lets you live out your tabletop dreams to play as Iron Man
One of the fun things about Dungeons and Dragons is looking at all the cool options that you’ll probably never actually get to play, because there’s just not enough time to play sixteen D&D games in a week.
So when Wizards of the Coast puts out new Unearthed Arcana subclass options, I always get a little excited. Plus, as a guy running a D&D campaign, new subclasses often become new ways to bedevil my party. This is something that you will come to treasure as you run more games.
The most recent Subclasses on offer for Unearthed Arcana is just one of several they’ve released, so we’ll round up the highlights here for you to look at. (Here’s the full info for part one, part two, and part three if you want to dig through these new subclasses in-depth.) This year has been heavy on the subclasses, and that’s pretty cool in my opinion.
An Artificer that’s similar to but legally distinct from Iron Man
The latest Unearthed Arcana adds the Armorer subclass for the Artificer — and if you were wondering how to make Iron Man in D&D, that’s pretty much what this is. However, it’s one of very few subclass options we’ve gotten for Artificers since they were introduced — so even if it isn’t very original, it’s good to get the added variety. Plus it has an infusion that allows the Artificer to simply declare “No, I make that Concentration check” once a round after a failed check. That’s a big deal. In general, whether you’re talking Doctor Doom, Lex Luthor, Tony Stark, John Henry Irons, or either of Overwatch‘s power armor heroes Brigitte or Reinhardt, you could model that with the Armorer.
As cool as finally making a powered armor superhero might sound, I think the other two subclasses in this Unearthed Arcana are more interesting. Circle of the Stars allows you to make a Druid who’s oriented around cosmic mysteries and stellar wisdom, a nice departure and an interesting way to utilize Wild Shape without actually turning into animals.
The Fey Wanderer is definitely a very different approach to a Ranger. I have my issues with Rangers in 5e — it really feels like Dungeons and Dragons doesn’t know what to do with the class any more and hasn’t since the long ago days of AD&D 2e, as every edition to come out since has had problems. (And to be fair, 2e wasn’t perfect either.) But the Fey Wanderer at least has a strong theme and can do cool things like bounce a charm spell that fails onto another character that makes them feel distinctive.
Sing me a muse of fire, or lava, or monsters
Part two of the year’s Unearthed Arcana has an eclectic array of subclasses: the College of Creation for Bards, the Unity Domain for Clerics, and the Clockwork Soul for the Sorcerer. The College of Creation reminds me a bit of Tolkien and how his cosmos was literally sung into existence, an idea also taken from Celtic myth to some degree. Bards of the College of Creation can literally sing the universe into changing for them, to a certain degree, which is pretty cool and interesting. And it’s not as brokenly powerful as it sounds.
The Unity Domain is pretty much what it sounds like — it’s a Cleric domain that’s all about teamwork and protecting your allies, with powers that help protect and empower them like Protective Bond. If there’s a character who is always getting taken out, the Unity Cleric can put Protective Bond on him or her and give them Resistance to all damage for a round as a reaction. Finally, the Clockwork Soul is a new Sorcerer bloodline that basically makes you part Modron, giving you weird mechanical abilities with your spells. It’s one of the more interesting of the three.
The Path of the Beast
Finally, the year’s first round of new playtest Subclasses gave us the Path of the Beast for Barbarians, the Way of Mercy for Monks, the Oath of the Watchers for Paladins, and the Noble Genie patron for the Warlock. I like Barbarians, and I like the Path of the Beast for adding actual animalistic shapeshifting into the mix. Being able to grow a tail that does 1d12 damage and has reach equivalent to a polearm at third level is pretty amazing, and as you level up you’ll gain abilities that let you inflict Psychic Damage (the only kind of damage that Bear Barbs have to worry about). It’s an interesting subclass, and one I could see being used for a specific character concept like a Barbarian who never uses weapons.
The Way of Mercy, well, if you wanted to try and model a D&D Monk as a healer, this will get you a big chunk of the way. The ability to spend Ki points to essentially cast a Cure or Inflict Wounds spell as part of your melee attack action, a field that makes ranged attacks gain Disadvantage and poisons every hostile target within five feet of you, and the ability to put a target into a state of invulnerable suspended animation that will freeze them but make them completely immune to all damage and spells, it’s an interesting toolbox. The Oath of the Watchers is, well, not as unique — it’s just a Paladin Oath that makes them a specialist in killing things like Demons or Fey or other outsiders.
The Noble Genie is probably the most interesting of the four subclasses on offer: it’s a Warlock patron who is one of the Lords of Genie-Kind. The Collector’s Vessel ability can allow for some creative use, if you bind a member of your party with it — casting Eldritch Blast from the Cleric’s square instead of your own, for example. Protective Wish is a cool way to protect, say, the party healer by literally switching places with them so that whatever was gonna hit them hits you instead. It’s a really fun and interesting subclass with a lot of potential for cool moves that others will wish they’d thought of.
Give a new subclass a try!
Like I said, I love subclasses for all the options they bring for making a class feel and play differently, even though there’s no way I could possibly play all of them. These ten subclasses definitely do a lot to bring new flavor to their respective classes, and I recommend taking a look and seeing if you like any of them.
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