Unearthed Arcana: Martial Archetypes Breakdown

This week in Unearthed Arcana, Affleck & Damon present four new fighter archetypes: the Arcane Archer, the Knight, the Samurai, and the Sharpshooter. To talk about them, though, let’s first step back and talk about how the Player’s Handbook fighter archetypes are imagined on a different axis than any other set of subclasses. This has informed later subclass designs, and it makes today’s UA a challenging contrast.

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: Divine Domains Breakdown

One of these days, I’ll start managing two-article weeks again, and my columns will return to their normal schedule. This is the week of America’s favorite secular food holiday, and I’ll be mostly or entirely offline Wednesday evening through Saturday morning, so this week is not the one. Today, though, Rogers and Hammerstein have Unearthed new Arcana for us: three new domains for clerics. Where barbarians and bards were two of the classes narrowest in options, the cleric stands tied with the wizard for the most in the initial release (if you count Death from the DMG), and they stay even in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide as they each tack on one more. Let’s see what the Forge, Grave, and Protection domains offer.

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.

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.

Unearthed Arcana: Encounter Building Breakdown

Huh, new UA today, and on what is for some of us a holiday. I guess WotC doesn’t take Indigenous Peoples’ Day off? Either that, or they decided it should be a gift-giving holiday. Anyway, today Mearls is tackling an alternate approach to encounter building. Overall, we see very little expansion or revision of DM-facing content, and especially not with something as bone-dry as encounter building.

Unearthed Arcana Breakdown: The Ranger, Revised

In today’s Unearthed Arcana article, Mearls returns to one of the most hotly discussed topics of 5e design: the ranger. This isn’t UA’s first take on an alternate ranger, either – and the blogging/third-party-publishing community has followed suit. That previous article lays out a lot of what WotC sees as The Issues, but the solution they presented was not particularly celebrated in the conversations I saw about it. To be fair, though, the core of the problem is that there’s probably less consensus on the ranger’s identity as a class than any other class in the game. In this article, I’m picking apart what I see in the document.

Unearthed Arcana – Ranger Revised

The new and improved Ranger is here from Wizard of the Coast’s Mike Mearls! After a few cracks at the ranger, we get an 8 page PDF that renames its archetypes to conclaves and they hope will have everyone loving the class again. We also see the re-introduction of the Deep Stalker Conclave who is most at home in the Underdark and was last seen in Unearthed
Arcana: Light, Dark, Underdark!. They basically fixed the base class, left the Hunter alone and fixed the Beast Master.

Unearthed Arcana: The Faithful Breakdown

Awesome, Unearthed Arcana is on time! This time around, we have two new subclasses addressing arcane casters that have ties to faith or a deity: the Seeker Patron and Pact of the Star Chain for warlocks, and the Theurgy Tradition for wizards. Mearls mentioned on Twitter, over the course of last month, that this article would address something that has bothered him for 30+ years; it turns out that the issue is “how to portray followers of a god of magic without making them clerics.” Let’s see how well this works out.