Unearthed Arcana: Barbarian Primal Paths Breakdown

There’s big news today from WotC: we’ll be getting UA articles more than once a month for awhile. That’s particularly exciting for commentators like me, but it’s good news for everyone who enjoys 5e content. Even though some UA articles are less polished than others, they’re always good insights into the future of 5e and what the designers see going on in the game.

Since the release of the Player’s Handbook, barbarians have been substantially under-supported in official releases. The Totem Warrior has strong internal variety – it could potentially be twenty-seven different subclasses! – but it still reads like one subclass on the page, while the Berserker is a classic archetype but hard to use well and quite narrow in its function.

Hither came this article, Unearthed Arcanian: Ancestral Guardians, Storm Heralds, Zealots, greataxe in hand, a tank, a damage aura one, a religious one, with unusual features and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the PH subclasses under their sandaled feet.

Fey Weapons

By request from a reader, today’s article is about the magical weapons that the fey wield, or that the Archfey grant to their leal servants. This week should have returned to Domain Rulership, but I’m stalling on that for a week, just in case Mearls releases an Unearthed Arcana that is all about late-game play, how to spend filthy lucre at high levels, and domain play next week. Also, Colin did some great work with fey magic items in a recent EN5IDER article, so if you’re an EN5IDER patron, check it out!

The Schemes of the Archfey, Part Three

At last we come to the third part of the Schemes of the Archfey, in which I offer story hooks and political interactions for the archetypes of Archfey (archfeytypes) that I described earlier in this series. This article covers the Mother of Redcaps, the Dream-Tyrant, the Winter Lord, the Muse of Steel, and the Eldest. Particularly with the Eldest, I’ve tossed out story ideas every time I’ve mentioned them, just because I think most DMs will be less familiar with how to use them.

The Schemes of the Archfey, Part Two

Last time in my series of articles on the fey, I presented story hooks for the first five Archfey. Now I’m going back to that topic, with story hooks and interactions for the Green Man, the Night Collector, the Sea Hag, and the Thornweaver. Though three of the four are Unseelie, I’m still avoiding things like “go beat this Archfey to death,” because I figure that anything that obvious, you can handle on your own.

The Problem of Ogre Power

Dating back to… I think it was the release of D&D Basic, I’ve been rankled by the design around ability-score-boosting items in D&D 5e. I got to thinking about ability-score-boosting magic items. I’ll explain why, and I’ll offer alternatives – but even if you don’t agree with my reasoning, these six items might still have a place in your campaign. Items first, design conversation afterward.

The Schemes of the Archfey

In my last three articles on the fey, I presented a collection of fourteen Archfey. Today I’m going to talk a bit about how to make their schemes against one another, and against the other powers of the world, intersect with the PCs. This will be a combination of story hooks, metaplot ideas, and things I did in my own campaign.

Archfey Patrons, Part Three

I am distressed to discover that it has been almost two months since I wrote the last article in this series. It has been a very busy time, and here we are again. This time, I’m offering custom features for the Mother of Redcaps, the Dream-Tyrant, the Winter Lord, the Muse of Steel, and the Eldest. Even more than the previous articles, not all patron archetypes are right for every setting’s version of the fey. On the other hand, Archfey (like any cosmically-powerful entity) get shoved into itty-bitty living space all the frickin’ time, so if you’re going along in a campaign and suddenly realize that one of the more obscure Archfey would be great to introduce right now, it’s easily done.

Plane Shift: Innistrad Breakdown

There’s no new Unearthed Arcana yet this month, and maybe we’re not getting one – but we have something at least as good, and that’s James Wyatt’s new adaptation of a Magic: the Gathering plane to D&D 5e. This was announced, um, Monday I think, and released yesterday. If you’re not familiar with Innistrad, it’s a plane of Gothic horror, and it got priority over other planes because Curse of Strahd is the most recent release from the D&D side of WotC. I take the view that this is a particular blessing because we can’t expect to see another official release for the Domain of Dread anytime soon.

Tribal Knowledge: High-Level Plot Seeds

High-level gameplay has long been one of the toughest parts of a D&D campaign, for a variety of reasons. In 5th Edition, the game-balance issues of many earlier editions are greatly reduced, if not entirely solved. The adventures WotC has published bring characters to the threshold of serious high-level play (other than Curse of Strahd, we’re talking about 15th level or so) and then stop – leaving DMs to go it alone or end the campaign. In this article, I discuss ideas for how to make high-level play as satisfying as earlier levels. If your players get to high levels and have goals of their own that they’re invested in, then don’t worry about any of this article – just look for ways to make pursuing their goals bloody and inconvenient, because they’ve done the rest of the work for you. Come back to this article once they have everything they want, but they’re still looking to you for the next story.

Tribal Knowledge: Playing with a Stranger’s Toys

DriveThruRPG, the DM’s Guild, and the gaming blogosphere are just the newest sources of the huge wealth of setting material that has been published for D&D, to say nothing of WotC’s extraordinarily deep catalog of content. In this article, I’m talking about the challenges of using someone else’s content, whether we’re talking about adventures or whole settings.