Multiclass subclasses arrive in D&D with the Mages of Strixhaven Unearthed Arcana playtest content
We love Unearthed Arcana, which brings unique and unusual options to anyone’s home D&D game. The most recent UA playtest content, the Mages of Strixhaven, has a special treat for Druid, Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard players — new subclasses that are available to more than one class.
If you’re not familiar with it, Strixhaven is a Magic the Gathering setting, and the setting the sourcebook Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos. This upcoming book is the third official MtG setting to be adapted to Dungeons & Dragons, after Theros and Ravnica. It’s easiest to think of Strixhaven as a Books of Magic or Harry Potter type of setting: it’s a school of magic with a bit more of an overt fantasy flair to it. And this Unearthed Arcana gives us a peek into what to expect from Strixhaven with new subclasses — the colleges of Strixhaven — that each focus on a specific aspect of magic. But instead of limiting this magical school to studious Wizards, Strixhaven’s colleges of magic can be studied by many different classes. Indeed, one — the Winterbloom College — isn’t even available to Wizards at all.
I admit this is an idea I’ve always wanted to see in D&D, though Strixhaven’s colleges are still limited to casting classes. I hope that we get something like this for martial classes like Barbarians, Rogues, Fighters and Paladins, because subclasses that offer abilities to more than just one class like this really appeal to me.
If you think Strixhaven might fit into your game — or you want to take it for a trial run during this playlets period — here’s a quick roundup of the colleges of Strixhaven so you can get a sense of what they’re like and which classes can make use of them.
It’s back to college for your D&D party
There are five colleges of Strixhaven, each with their own speciality:
Mage of Lorehold, available to Bards, Warlocks, and Wizards. It’s a subclass about the forces that drive history, the lore behind ancient battles, fearsome monsters, and the like. It’s basically I want a subclass that’s good at finding lost treasure and fighting monsters to get it. These players have a number of unique abilities, many based around the Ancient Companion they can summon:
- Ancient Companion, which is a statue infused with a spirit of the ancient dead that can manifest a protector
- Lessons of the Past, which gives them powerful benefits while their Ancient Companion is up
- War Echoes, which lets them impose a past injury on a current target
- History’s Whims, which lets them force Time itself to aid them
Mage of Prismari, available to Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards. These mages enjoy directly calling upon elemental power as an expression of creativity — but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re purely artistically minded, as these mages are no less powerful than the other colleges of Strixhaven.
- Kinetic Artistry lets players Dash as a bonus action and choose either to call upon icy winds or seething flames so they can walk on water, knock their enemies prone, or even set them on fire as they run past. They can even turn into a being of lightning and pass through other creatures as if they weren’t there, taking no attacks of opportunity for doing so.
- Favored Medium makes them resistant to Cold, Fire, or Lightning damage, and even grants their allies similar resistance s whenever they cast a spell with the chosen damage type.
- Focused Expression lets them enhance their chosen damage type even more.
- Impeccable Physicality enhances their bodies, giving them proficiency in Dexterity saving throws, and any roll below a 9 on a Dex save is treated as if they rolled a 10 on the die, meaning they’re much more likely to make those crucial Dex saves.
Mage of Quandrix, available to Sorcerers and Wizards. These mages become literal Mathamagicians, drawing upon calculations and integers to power their spellcasting.
- Functions of Probability allows them to buff or debuff the targets of their spells with additional math-based effects similar to the spells Bless or Bane.
- Velocity Shift allows them to force a target who moves within 30 feet of you to make a Charisma save or be teleported to an unoccupied space within 20 feet of you. They can choose to fail if they’re friendly and the player is helping them get to where they want to go — and because this is a reaction, players can use it when it isn’t their turn.
- Null Equation forces a target the damage with their spells to make a Con save. If they fail, they get disadvantage on Str and Dex checks and weapon attacks only deal half damage until the start of the player’s next turn.
- Quantum Tunneling gives them resistance to Slashing, Piercing, and Bludgeoning damage. They can also pass through creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain — but they take 1d10 Force damage for every 5 feet they travel through a creature or object and they’re violently shunted to the nearest unoccupied space if they end their turn inside a creature or object.
Mage of Silverquill, available to Warlocks, Wizards, and Bards. This subclass is all about words, words, words!
- Silvery Barbs lets them force a target who just succeeded on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw to roll again and use the lower roll. If this means they now fail the check, players can then choose another target (including themselves) to empower, letting them reroll any failed attack roll, ability check, or saving throw and use the higher. Once players force a target to fail a roll, they can’t use this feature again until after a long rest.
- Inky Shroud gives them access to the Darkness spell, which they can cast once per long rest without using a spell slot. Doing so renders them immune to the effects of the spell they just cast.
- Infusion of Eloquence lets them change your spell damage type to Psychic or Radiant and add additional damage.
- Word of Power lets them invoke ancient magical words to give their enemies vulnerability to damage, or to share damage an ally will take and lessen it.
Mage of Winterbloom, available to Druids and Warlocks.
- Essence Tap lets them use a bonus action to roll hit dice and heal during combat or deal necrotic damage that ignores resistance to necrotic damage.
- Winterbloom Brew lets them make a variety of bolstering or healing brews, or even a deadly poison to coat their blades with.
- Winterbloom Adept adds additional damage to their necrotic spells or adds additional healing to their healing spells.
- Withering Vortex lets them pick any target they’ve dealt necrotic damage to and drain its life force into themselves. This drains half the damage it took and healing players — or another target of their choice — for that amount.
Strixhaven subclasses add new options to different classes
Each of these subclasses gives players access to additional spells as well — including a number of spells their classes may not otherwise have access to. The Winterbloom subclass teaches Cure and Inflict Wounds, for example, so if you take it on a Warlock they suddenly have a potent — if extremely limited — heal at their disposal.
This is in my opinion a really cool and fun way to bridge the gap between various kinds of spellcasters. Strixhaven’s colleges of magic let Bards and Wizards speak as colleagues within the Lorehold college, lets Druids and Sorcerers share elemental tricks, and more. I hope we get more subclasses like these in the future.
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