Unearthed Arcana: Druid Circles and Wild Shape Breakdown

I guess if you’re going to call any class even obliquely harvest-holiday-themed, druid is a good one. Accordingly, this week’s Unearthed Arcana offers three new druid circles and a variant Wild Shape rule. Whatever else might be said, they took more risks with new mechanics this time than last week, and so even if I wind up disliking it (spoiler: I won’t), it’s useful as suggestions for what’s “in-bounds” for third-party design. Third-party designers get read the Riot Act for venturing too far outside the borders that Smith & Wesson Mearls & Crawford lay out in official releases, you know? Anyway, let’s get to it.

Oh, and in case you’re new around here, I have done some writing about druids before. The link points to the last article in the series, with directory links to the earlier ones.

Unearthed Arcana: Bard Colleges Breakdown

Welcome to Week 2 of November Madness (which might become Indefinite Madness, depending on how long they keep up with weekly UAs), in which the Dynamic Duo give us two new bard Colleges: Glamour and Whispers. These aren’t the first bard Colleges we’ve gotten from UA, either. I’ve also talked about the 5e bard class here in Tribality before, just as a baseline. Short version: bards needed more subclasses in a bad way, so I’m glad there’s been so much support.

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.

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.

Archfey Patrons

I’ve covered a lot of elements of the fey in the course of this series. Today I want to talk about one of the main reasons that we care about them in the first place: warlocks take them as patrons (and some paladins swear Ancient oaths to them). But there’s only one kind of Patron – that is, all Archfey warlocks have the same Patron powers, even though the Archfey themselves are as different as Summer and Winter. That has always sat a bit oddly with me, so in this article I’ll be talking about some kinds of Archfey and the ways each of them is a bit different.

A Visit to the Shadowfell – Shadar-kai & More

This week on the Campaign Trail we visit the Shadowfell to look at the Shadar-kai and other inhabitants of this plane. In my next campaign (which is about to start) we’re returning to the Nentir Vale, and I am allowing both Eladrin (elf like inhabitants of the Feywild) and Shadar-kai as playable racial options. The Shadar-kai are extraplanar human-like creatures with tattoos, scars and piercings. The Shadar-kai love to rejoice in battle and have shadowy abilities that are associated with the their home in the Shadowfell. Many, many monsters can be made to easily fit an encounter in the Shadowfell as well. Let’s take a quick trip to the Shadowfell.

Fey Chivalry

In the 5e Monster Manual, we find many of D&D’s traditional fey – pixies, satyrs, and sprites, among others. This… falls a little short of both the variety and threat level I would like to see for the fey. I mean, the Archfey are potent on a level with the Nine and the Great Old Ones, judging by their significance as warlock patrons. This article, which might become a series, introduces a variety of higher-ranking fey creatures. There is also a knightly order (intended to be one among several) for those who serve the Archfey. This is going to become real obvious, real fast, but: I love me some Changeling (Dreaming, Lost – both awesome.)

Fey Knight

Fey knights wander the Feywild, the Material Plane, and other places as they undertake quests for their lords, the Archfey. When not traveling, they defend their lord’s palace, or the halls of their lord’s vassals.

Pride drives fey knights to seek glory in battle; they rarely refuse any challenge that they have any hope of succeeding. They are the flower of fey chivalry, punctilious in manners and exquisitely refined in bearing.

Fey knights are quite similar to high elves in appearance, but with an otherworldly sheen to their skin and a palpable aura of majesty that few high elves can match.

Faerie Tales: Naiads, Pixies, and Sprites for 5e

A dear friend of mine asked me to run a 5e adventure for his kids over the holiday. It will be their first official D&D game, though since their dad is a video game designer they are more than familiar with the concept. His son wants to play a Merlin-like half-demon magician with a pet wolf. Tiefling wizard it is; with a wolf familiar because fun trumps rules. His daughter’s requests were a little more challenging: a faerie or a unicorn. I countered with a centaur-like unicorn race with plans to “borrow” Dan Dillon’s centaur rules from the brilliant Midgard Heroes, but her counter-proposal was a faerie with a pet unicorn. We landed on a pixie with a unicorn NPC friend.

Their dad decided that a PC with a leadership role would be ideal, so he could reasonably step in if they needed guidance. As a fan of the oft-overlooked Epic film and Christina Stiles’ (et al) Faery’s Tale, I suggested a sprite fighter (battlemaster) to counterpoint his daughter’s pixie sorcerer. It was an excellent excuse to expand a faerie racial build into sub-races and because I am who I am, naiads (aka nixies) made it into the mix.

Ideas for a Fairy Tale Campaign Setting

This week on the Campaign Trail I’m continuing to look at campaign settings that go beyond the typical fantasy worlds most of us play in each week. In each article in the series I’ll provide notes on running a campaign (or adventure) in a campaign setting inspired by less typical D&D settings and genres such as lost world, steampunk, ancient mythology, pirates, gun fu, sci-fi, wild west and more. My weekly game in the Seas of Vodari has my players slowly progressing towards a forest covered island, where I’m sure they’ll encounter some fairies and other Fey. I thought that this week we could look at Ideas for a Fairy Tale Campaign Setting. I’m not referring to a trip to the Feywild, but actual storybook fairy tales like we see in movies such as Frozen, Tangled, Maleficent, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Snow White and the Huntsman.