D&D 5eReviews

UA: A Trio of Subclasses Breakdown

This week’s Unearthed Arcana wasn’t the downtime actions/ways to spend cash post that Mearls has intermittently teased for months now, but that’s okay. Instead, we get three more subclasses – a monastic tradition, an oath, and a ranger archetype – that have no superficial connection, but on closer inspection reveal a through-line that may signal a shift in the D&D 5e metagame. The short version is, do you want to irritate the crap out of the DM? If so, these subclasses are ideal!

The Drunken Master

This subclass is a real-world fighting style, first showing up in D&D back in 3.0’s rushed-to-press Sword & Fist. Just on a tonal level, this subclass is definitely not for all campaigns. But if you’re running classic Jackie Chan action comedy, nothing could be more on-point.

  • Drunken Technique grants proficiency in the Performance skill, and improves your Flurry of Blows by folding in a free Disengage and a 10-ft boost to your walking speed when you flurry. It’s interesting to see a monastic tradition grab something out of Step of the Wind and move it into Flurry of Blows (not just the Disengage, but also a micro-Dash).
    • Whenever you see a free Disengage or a move-without-provoking, you’re looking at a top-flight skirmisher. (Note that the difference between a free Disengage and a move-without-provoking is corner-case, but hinges on interaction with things like the Sentinel feat. A move-without-provoking is basically always better, because Disengage is a formal rules element that other things can hook into, while a move-without-provoking is not.
  • Tipsy Sway lets you turn an attack that misses you – no matter the roll – into an attack that hits another adjacent enemy. We’ve seen redirects like this in a few other places, though I don’t remember if those turned a miss into an auto-hit or not. Importantly, this feature is just 1/short rest.
    • This is one of those features that I expect many DMs find irritating at the table, as it is fundamentally comic and exists to undermine any sense of threat from the opposition. There are plenty of groups where it’s fine and good for the PCs to humiliate the opposition (“don’t get mad at me, your ‘friend’ here is the one that hit you”) in every encounter, and I’m sure my players would hasten to agree that I am a stodgy old so-and-so, but this would irritate me every time it was used.
  • Drunkard’s Luck lets you spend 1 ki to gain advantage on a saving throw. Seems fine.
  • Intoxicated Frenzy adds a fifth attack to your Flurry of Blows rounds, but only if all three of your Flurry attacks are against different targets. I don’t know how easy monks will find it to be adjacent to three or more enemies at a time in high-level play (that same question is the problem of judging the Hunter ranger’s Whirlwind Attack), but when it works, this feature is great. It’s also very much on-theme for the Drunken Master style.

Of the three subclasses here, this is the one I like most, or really dislike least; it has only one feature that is about embarrassing the enemy, and that feature is just one use per short rest. Could be worse. The Drunken Master style is also long on supporting fiction. As long as the Drunken Master doesn’t clash with the tone the DM and other players hope to establish, go for it.


Oath of Redemption

As it happens, I’ve been contemplating a homebrewed Oath of Redemption, but the name is the only similarity – I am more interested in writing an oath about redemption of lost honor than on a vow of peace. Back in December of last year, UA released the Way of Tranquility monk, which gave me a great chance to talk about the complications of pacifism in an otherwise non-pacifist group. Everything I wrote there applies here, though this subclass works very differently – it is great at violence, but sometimes takes a less-than-lethal route. If most paladins have issues with self-righteousness and getting in the way of party goals, though, this one is even worse.

  • I don’t usually go into any detail on the tenets of paladin oaths, but this one is legitimately goodly, if demanding. It’s well-suited to long, character-driven campaigns. It’s also easy to see how it would become completely insufferable.
  • The Redemption spells are a mix of great defenses and fight-stopping spells… though I have to point out that several of those fight-stopping spells are great for making your next attack(s) automatic critical hits.
  • Armor of Peace gets you out of wearing armor or carrying a shield. Your AC is 16 + your Dexterity modifier. Pushing a Dex-focused paladin is interesting, though it intersects badly with the next feature.
  • Warrior of Reconciliation requires a simple bludgeoning weapon. Note that there are no simple finesse bludgeoning weapons, so you’ll need Strength as well as Dex to make this subclass work well. Anyway, when you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, you can keep it conscious but charmed (no saving throw) for 1 minute. This should be great for getting information out of “downed” enemies in a fight. If you don’t want them to be unconscious and dying afterward, you should probably save a few points of Lay on Hands to heal them.
    • As one of my players has recently pointed out to me, features that require you to get the last hit on a creature to gain a benefit from it are awkward, because your other party members will forever be inadvertently griefing you.
    • If you’re good with charming a target for a minute, interrogating them with the benefits of the charm (that is, advantage on Charisma checks), and then killing them or letting your allies do so, I’m really doubting your commitment to Sparkle Motion.
    • The key to this design is that the paladin is encouraged to deal damage and get enemies to 0 hit points just like everyone else in the group, in contrast with the Way of Tranquility’s Douse the Flames of War feature. On the other hand, beating people over the head until they turn friendly feels very much like a hacky mission brain from an MMO. In 5e, it sounds a bit awkward.
    • Pro tip for Redeemers: Ignore this feature, use a martial finesse weapon, and you no longer need Strength for anything at all.
  • Channel Divinity has two options for the Redeemer paladin.
    • Emissary of Peace was the name of a Way of Tranquility feature. In this implementation, your Channel Divinity becomes a +5 bonus to one Charisma (Persuasion) check made in the next minute. I have questions about how obvious your use of this channeling should be, and if it is obvious, why creatures don’t react badly afterward as they automagically do to a friends (I have serious problems with the friends cantrip.)
    • Rebuke the Violent lets you reflect damage that enemies deal to nearby allies. It reflects either full damage or half damage, depending on their saving throw. This is the jumping-off point for punishing every action the enemy takes – sure, it’s limited by your Channel Divinity uses and only works on damage dealt with melee attacks, but we haven’t gotten out of 3rd level yet.
  • Aura of the Guardian (because it wouldn’t be a paladin subclass without an Aura feature at 7th level) lets the paladin transfer damage from allies to themselves. This plugs into the next two features in big ways. Well, I think it plugs in, there’s some room for interpretation here. This and Rebuke the Violent both use a reaction, so they don’t work together.
  • Protective Spirit gives you an auto-heal while you are bloodied (We all understand bloodied, right?) and not incapacitated. 1d6 + half your paladin level per round is only enough to take the edge off of your need for healing, probably, though with your AC from Armor of Peace, probably a lot of your incoming damage is from Aura of the Guardian.
    • The playstyle that Aura of the Guardian starts to lay out comes to fruition here: you’re the most amazing backpack healer ever, because you shift damage to yourself and heal through. As long as you have a really solid Concentration saving throw, add some aura of vitality to this as a place to dump your bonus action.
  • Emissary of Redemption is the Redeemer’s 20th-level feature. With most Oaths, this feature is a big, flashy transformation with a duration of 1 minute or 1 hour. Not so here: this feature is always on, though you “turn it off” for individual enemies when you attack them, deal them damage, or force them to roll a saving throw. This limitation hangs on a very technical interpretation of who “deals” damage.
    • I’ve inverted the order of explanation here, but for all creatures that this feature applies to, you have resistance to all damage they deal, and when the creature damages you, it takes damage equal to half the damage it dealt to you.
    • The trick, then, is that no one is “dealing” that retributive damage, because otherwise this feature would turn itself off after any creature attacked you once. (I mean, I assume that’s not intended.)
    • The other thing going on is that Aura of the Guardian’s damage transfer might or might not constitute a creature damaging you. Does transferred damage still carry its original creature source?
    • In any case, this feature is insanely abusive. Regardless of whether Aura of the Guardian feeds into this, the Redeemer is here to go toe-to-toe with bosses and ignore minions – the minions should kill themselves on what amounts to a damage shield. The paladin, in turn, is going to go through a lot of healing, but… who cares, every point of healing that goes into the paladin is getting fed back as damage output, except for damage from the boss. For the boss, you’re going for hold monster and a bunch of auto-critting smites.

There are two fundamental party roles going on here, then: primary defender or primary healer. You’re not the very greatest at healing, say, a whole party that has been blasted with fireballs or dragonfire, but you can heal another character of steady damage for cheap-as-free, for a long time. I’m more or less okay with the healing-focused approach, because while it’s super effective, it doesn’t emphasize enemies keeling over for having the temerity to attack you or your allies – that’s the part that really bugs me.

The class could also use a rewrite for clarity, possibly with explicit callouts of which features work together and which features do not. It’s satisfying to discover powerful combinations, if you’re into that sort of thing, but at this point 5e is complex enough that a collection of sidebars with “yes, this is intended” and “no, this doesn’t work, and here’s why” would be phenomenally useful. It would also save Jeremy Crawford a lot of work in his Twitter feed. This may or may not be a desired outcome.


Monster Slayer Archetype

The Conclave of the Slayer is apparently the one that’s really about killing evil magical monsters, not like all those other rangers. (?! Seriously, someone just let slip that Hunters don’t have any uniting theme.) The one paragraph of flavor text reads as the Better Than Your Stupid Subclass Conclave. Marsupialmancer has suggested that this reads to him as The Witcher, and as I have neither played those games nor read those books, despite Marsupialmancer lending them to me, I am taking his word for it.

  • Slayer’s Mysticism lifts a trick from the Deep Stalker, and teaches new spells at 3rd, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th. It’s about as abjuration-friendly as it could be.
  • Slayer’s Eye is the damage kicker of hunter’s mark, without Concentration, and with a bunch of information-gathering. Much like the 4e hunter’s mark, this feature isn’t magical and you can use it as many times as you want, but its benefit only works on one creature at a time.
    • It has no stated interaction with magical disguises. I’m going to suggest that spending one bonus action per creature to scan a crowd for, say, vampires or whatever is going to wreck some storylines big-time. Unless you want to tell me that the Vampire Weaknesses feature is, technically, not a vulnerability, and thus isn’t revealed. (That is the kind of ruling that makes people not trust DMs, and violates the shit out of this feature’s and archetype’s theme.)
  • Extra Attack, if you’re one of the New Hotness Variant Rangers.
  • Supernatural Defense adds your Slayer’s Eye d6 to saving throws the targeted creature forces you to make.
  • Relentless Slayer recognizes that most monsters with a lot of magic going on have some kind of escape power, and it gives you a chance to negate that with a contested Wisdom check.
    • Of course, this ignores the fact that fantasy games of all stripes have been giving enemies those kinds of features since time immemorial for some highly valid narrative reasons – like “the game is cooler if you get to fight the enemy once, force them to flee, and then do it again later in the actual sanctum.” What I’m saying is, this breaches a time-honored element that a lot of published adventures have relied on over the years for drama. D&D doesn’t have a clause for “your powers don’t work because it wrecks the drama” – instead, we try not to hand out those powers, or we justify shutting them off because of something in the fiction.
    • Beyond that, I am opposed to this feature because it just negates the NPC’s action, as many times as you can win that contested Wisdom check. It really hangs the NPC out to dry by making their dramatic moment fizzle, and that breaks the shit out of the mood.
    • It also means that a vampire using Misty Escape that loses that Wisdom roll is instantly destroyed – “if it can’t transform, it is destroyed.”
  • Slayer’s Counter functionally gives you a pre-saving-throw that is actually an attack roll. If your attack hits, congratulations, you passed your save! If it doesn’t, you still roll your saving throw with that extra d6. Especially with features like a vampire’s Charm action, the Monster Slayer functionally gets a free attack that can also negate the creature’s action. So yeah, I think this feature is a serious mistake and makes it all but impossible to maintain any credibility for classic big bads.

Monster Slayer is, in brief, here to always be cooler than the big bad. It doesn’t provide epic duels with the big bad – it just blocks off anything other than pure damage or swarms of minions that could possibly be effective. I think this badly overshadows other PCs at the table, to say nothing of being wildly better than any other ranger Conclave.

In conclusion, this set of subclasses introduces new features that consistently trump the actions and intentions of NPC threats, whether through negation or redirection. This is power creep, plain and simple, but what I’m hearing from other 5e DMs is that they’re already having a hard time mounting challenges to the PCs while working within the existing guidelines. Volo’s Guide to Monsters does perceptibly advance the relative powers of the NPCs, but the Redeemer and the Monster Slayer go substantially too far with PC power. The Drunken Master is… probably okay, if not the tone for every game.

I should say this just about every time, but I want to thank Colin and Marsupialmancer for talking the Unearthed Arcana documents out with me, week after week. Their wisdom is the greater part of the insight that I write into these breakdowns. Oversights, however, I claim as mine alone.

  • MTi

    Thanks for the brakedown Brandes.

    I love the Drunken Master. I liked that Prestige Class when it was launched back then in the 00s, I like what I see also here.

    The thing with the Redemption Paladin is that:
    a. Bonus Action economy is a huge thing and it gets worse as you progress in levels
    b. You really need that 1-level dip in Monk to get access to Monk Weapon Quartestaff, unless you want to suck in melee attacks with the simple melee weapons that deal bludgeoning damage. You might also improve your AC as well.
    c. Rebuke the Violent makes you “punish” the ones that use violence. I find it kinda ironic to punish the “evildoer” even if your barbarian buddy right next to you might do the exact same thing.
    I don’t know, I like the subclass thematically, it is just some solutions just won’t work.

    The Slayer Ranger is bad. Too OP even for the powergamest gamers out there. It might make sense in a one-person adventure, but for a shared experience it is a big no.

    • Unexpected Dave

      I don’t know about the Monk dip. The Redemption Paladin’s unarmored AC is always going to be better than the Monk’s (unless you somehow have a Wisdom score of 24 or more) and that Warrior of Reconciliation feature is something you’ll probably ignore in most battles.

    • MTi

      I don’t argue with that. It’s bad though that one class feature goes down the drain.

    • Unexpected Dave

      You don’t HAVE to dump strength; you could keep a Greatclub on your belt for those occasions when you need it.

    • MTi

      Well, the first two stats will be Dex. and Cha. and then Con. So, it’ll be a tough call to have to put something substantial to Str (at least a +1 bonus I recon), unless you get a racial bonus to that of course.

      In any case, it’ll not be a dump stat, but still not one of the best.

    • Not to quibble, but I’d probably build a Redeemer as either Dex/Con/Cha (the tank build) or Con/Cha/Dex (the healer build). With the way the Redeemer takes on damage for others and wants to reflect damage, having a huge pool of hit points is Priority One, to my mind.

    • Colin McLaughlin

      Dex/Cha/Con is a great control build, because it ensures your spells are harder to resist. Don’t forget, these guys have GREAT control spells. I mean, ridiculously great.

    • Their control is indeed strong, though the comparative shortage of spell slots may limit that approach a bit more than one would like, if it’s your main combat role. Cha also juices most healing spells you’re casting to sustain yourself, of course (other than the ever-popular aura of vitality, that is.)

    • crimfan

      If you want to MC it won’t be a dump stat either.

    • Though, y’know, that MC does lock you out of the 20th-level feature. If I think there’s any chance of getting to 20th level and I have to choose between that 3rd level feature and that 20th-level feature, even though I’d be playing with that 3rd-level feature for the whole span of the campaign, I’d still be pissed off when I was a Paladin 19/Monk 1.

    • crimfan

      In my view the 20th level features are pretty inconsequential compared to something I’d have for most of the character’s life.

    • Totally legit, and a better actual character-building strategy. I think I’ve summed up why I’m not made for the cutthroat world of class-dip multiclassing, though. 😉

    • crimfan

      To be clear, I don’t typically do it either but will MC if it better supports the character concept or opens up some thematically appropriate abilities. Of my three current characters, one is a decidedly not optimized halfling scout fighter, one is a half elf feylock with a side of mastermind rogue, and the third is a half elf bard turned ravenlock.

      I won’t make a perversely weak character, but don’t worry too much about optimization. 5E is pretty solid without a perfectly optimized character.

    • Unexpected Dave

      In practice, I’ve found that the 5e encounter-building guidelines are “tuned” for characters which aren’t perfectly optimized. There’s plenty of wiggle room to build a character around a fun concept or even *gasp* one who sacrifices their combat ability in favour of something that strengthens their non-combat abilities.

      As a DM, with a group of players who are incorrigible min/max-ers, I generally have to beef up a monster’s HP in order to make the encounters sufficiently challenging. It works fine because everyone at the table has a relatively optimized character. I dread to think what would happen if I had just one disproportionately strong character. I hate being in a position where I have to “pick on” the strongest character, even if that’s clearly what the enemies would do.

    • crimfan

      They should also be tuned for players who aren’t tactically savvy. Some players just seem to have an inability to make tactically sound decisions, so even if they have a reasonably optimized character it’s still an issue.

      I don’t mind picking on a character, though. If they’ve proven to be the biggest threat or they’ve left themselves hanging loose and vulnerable, they draw the aggro.

    • Colin McLaughlin

      There isn’t really any competition for bonus action sans normal paladin stuff (spells mostly) and one channel divinity option that is mostly not going to occur in combat. Reactions? Sure, but even then it’s limited (channel divinity) vs. your persistent aura.

      The Warrior of Reconciliation feature doesn’t work well with Dex paladins, but you can just carry the weapon on you and set up the situation to make it happen. You have some strong spells that can aid you in that. After all, if they are low enough for this feature to work, they are low enough to be caught by your sleep.

      Rebuke the Violent is a silly ability, all around.

    • Unexpected Dave

      And then again, my opinion on this point is colored by the fact that I’m generally not a huge fan of multiclassing for min/max reasons. I try to do it only for flavor and color.

    • crimfan

      WotC’s new thing is benefits that come with a sneaky cost attached in an attempt to get you to choose suboptimal things. “One hand giveth and the other taketh away….”

      They did that a lot with the warlock builds they posted. The hexblade gets Cha as an attack stat except on two-handed weapons. Then their invocation makes… a greatsword, just to make sure you have to use Strength instead. It’s damned annoying and I said so on the survey for those classes.

      It’s too much like dating a psycho who’s good in bed.

  • Still haven’t read them? For shame! (Get a more recently translated copy, the first pass of The Last Wish left something to be desired, imo.)

  • Oh, right, the obvious point of comparison to Tipsy Sway is Stand Against the Tide, the 15th level Hunter option. Where Tipsy Sway turns a miss into a hit on another target, Stand Against the Tide (which doesn’t have usage limits beyond costing a reaction) converts a miss against you into a new attack roll against another target of your choice. There’s a little wiggle room on the precise interpretation of “repeat the same attack” (I’m assuming that means a new roll), but overall I’m surprised that Tipsy Sway isn’t a straight copypasta of Stand Against the Tide.

  • crimfan

    These are just lame. They might be OK for NPCs or corner-case campaigns, but in my view are pretty narrow concepts (at best).

    Drunken Master might work for the right campaign but I’d look askance at it for most. I like the monk for some games, but not as a base class, though, but that’s no small part because they keep wanting to shoehorn a shao-lin (faux-lin?) into what’s really otherwise a western themed game. The monk type powers could be pushed in a more thematically appropriate way (as per our discussion on another thread) but they weren’t.

    The ranger as “I really, really HATE” one kind of adversary is annoying. It creates an expectation that the DM is going to have that foe show up for the ranger having a chance to shine while most of the rest of the time… meh.

    Monster Slayer and Redemption involve a huge amount of griefing either of the DM or other players or of other players on you, at least in most likely campaigns. The “I can see through all your disguises” just ends up meaning that the DM is either going to have to go through serious gyrations to make certain plots happen or, just as likely, simply not bother.

    • The ranger-as-walking-hate-crime is totally a thing, though the Monster Slayer pointedly doesn’t care about any one type of monster – just “enemies that force saving throws,” which is most of them. Unless you have whole adventures that are literally nothing but weapon attacks (DMs: probably don’t do this, it’s kinda dull), the Monster Slayer will find great uses for their features.

      Beyond that, well, you know my views. 😉

    • crimfan

      I don’t mind the combat aspect of the Slayer. Actually that’s pretty decent. It’s the ability to see through disguises automatically that bugs me. Not “advantage on Insight checks” or whatever, but “sees through.” It creates a lot of unnecessary “irresistible force vs. immovable object” conflict. Make it a check.

  • Is it just me or does it seem like they are just throwing stuff at the wall and see what sticks when it comes to PC classes and sub classes? Isn’t Unearthed Arcana supposed to touch on all aspects of the game? It seems like nearly every one of these is about player class options.

    • Well, a few things.
      1. We know there’s a book of player-facing options coming up in the foreseeable future that won’t be called Player’s Handbook II, but reasonably could be.
      2. They probably don’t feel that spells and magic items generally need testing.
      3. They probably feel that there is more demand for subclasses than for races or subraces. Feats are probably the only granular content that is anywhere near subclasses for demand.
      4. They have given us two new classes and the late, lamentable mass combat rules. There will eventually be additional rules for things to spend money on at high levels, possibly including more downtime stuff.

      In short, then, I don’t think there is any warranty that UA will touch on all aspects of the game, just whatever they feel like exposing to public scrutiny.

    • Hmmm. You are right. I lost sight of the purpose of UA. I agree that archetypes and feats are definitely the most requested character options. We have plenty of races. As a DM, I’m frustrated by the lack of monsters, traps, items, and other game options. I wish UA could help fill that void, but it doesn’t really make sense that it would do so.

    • For traps, we did get a playtest document with new simple and complex traps. More would be better, of course!

      Do you already have Volo’s and Tales from the Yawning Portal? They’re pretty solid on new NPC statblocks and updates of classic traps, I would think. TfYP also has some magic items, and from the looks of things, most new items will be released as part of adventures.

    • I do already have Volo’s. I wish it was more substantial. Tales Of The Yawning Portal coming in soon, looking forward to that. I saw the table of contents on Reddit as a proof of early delivery. It has quite a bit of new monsters in it. I’ve been using Kobold Press’s Tome Of Beasts to fill in some gaps in my game. I find it hit or miss, with a lot concepts repeated in slightly different ways and/or CRs. Homebrewing the rest, but I don’t always have time for that.

    • Okay, I feel like I am telling you how to feel about things, and that isn’t my intent – I hope this comes out as just another perspective. I don’t have insider knowledge here, so you can tell me where to stuff it if I’m being a jerk.

      Volo’s Guide is a really weird book, and if you’re interested in just one element of what it’s doing, it absolutely looks lightweight. It’s a monster book and a race book and a dive into a few narrow bands of game lore. In some ways, it has chosen to have a little content for everyone, and thus a sufficient amount of any one kind of content for no one. For better or worse, I think we can expect to see more broad-spectrum books in the future, because from WotC’s perspective, they’re maximizing the number of people who want a copy of that book.

      I haven’t scraped Tales from the Yawning Portal for all of its traps, and unfortunately it would probably violate fair use to post a compiled document of them if I had. As someone who does a hell of a lot of homebrewed design, though, your reminder that traps and hazards are currently an under-served area of content is super useful.

    • Ha. No I don’t you are telling me how to feel or being a jerk. I absolutely agree with you on all those points. For the most part I like Volo’s and it’s format. Probably even more than the Monster Manual itself. As a content creator myself I think it’s very wise to stock a book with a variety of content types to interest more people and convince them to buy. I personally find it more much more interesting and enjoyable to read.

      As some one who DMs pretty much exclusively in a hombrew setting the most important thing I get out of these for my role in the game, and not personal enjoyment per se, is raw stat blocks and mechanics. While there is a lot of tips and thought-provoking role play materials that are great I need hard game materials to make it happen. So despite my otherwise happiness, I’m still left wanting.

      I am beggining to dip into original hombrewed materials publishing. I’m more homebrew experimenting with plans to publish later. I’m reading/buying a lot of homebrew materials but would be interested in seeing more official examples to learn from. Hope that make sure sense.

    • crimfan

      IMO homebrew (don’t like that term but lack a better one) is fine for DM stuff, but I’d look seriously askance at players showing up with it.

      That’s one of my real frustrations with WotC’s release schedule. They’ve utterly choked a lot of pretty viable archetypes and spells with their “only hardcover adventures” strategy. UA… sure, but as Brandes has shown a lot of what’s released on UA is wonky in various ways.

      I’m better with non-official content that was done by pro designers, but there’s just so much crap on places like DMs Guild, it’s hard to wade through it.

    • (With tongue in cheek…) Fortunately, http://www.brandesstoddard.com is here for you with top-flight subclasses, spells, feats, monsters, and just generally whatever I haven’t posted on Tribality or sold to EN5IDER instead. 😉

    • Unexpected Dave

      Once again, Brandes, let me say how much help your columns have been at helping me think critically about homebrew content, and helping me decide what “unofficial” content I want to allow at my table.

    • I am, as always, pleased and flattered to hear that my work is so useful to you. =)

    • crimfan

      For better or worse, I think we can expect to see more broad-spectrum books in the future, because from WotC’s perspective, they’re maximizing the number of people who want a copy of that book.

      Yeah I end up getting their stuff and feeling really used in the process.

      “Something for everybody” means that chances are very good a lot of the book will be wasted content. Volo’s is good enough to be worth it, but I’m not scraping pennies from the couch to get by like I was, say, fifteen years ago.

    • crimfan

      I have gotten a lot of use out of Tome of Beasts and the other Kobold Press material. It’s hit or miss, to be sure, but there are some critters with really great and inspiring concepts and the scenarios in Lairs and Prepared are pretty good as starting points. I rarely run them as written but use them as seeds of an adventure.

      I do highly recommend taking a careful look at their powers, though. A few can be a bit wonky and some of the monsters have contradictory builds compared to the cleaner WotC stuff.

    • How the hell about that, we get a big pile of spells this week! Neat.

    • Ha, yea. I’m interested to see what you think. Not to be an eternal negative-nancy, but I was a little disappointed in these. The game is aching for new spells, and there is some cool stuff in there, but most of these were super boring.

    • My breakdown: http://www.tribality.com/2017/04/04/ua-starter-spells-breakdown/

      The Teal Deer version (all hail the Order of the Cerulean Stag) is that I liked a lot of what went on here. There are a few glaring issues, including the sorcerer kind of getting the shaft, but overall I like that there are new attack cantrips kicking around, I am happy to see ceremony return even if there are implementation issues, and I’m glad this isn’t Official Final Rules Text.

  • Shane

    I don’t like anything about any of these, to be quite frank.

  • Jackson Gorny

    When I heard oath of redemption I had thought it would be more of an oath breaker that isn’t evil. I thought what if a paladin didn’t listen to his deities commands for moral reasons. An example could be a god who commands their followers to kill all orcs, but the paladin finds a community of peaceful pacifistic orcs and is commanded to kill them but refuses. This paladin might not want to repent because of his morals and wouldn’t become an oath breaker. I was hoping for kind of a gray Jedi kind of thing

    • That’s… not entirely unlike where I was going with my concept of the Oath of Redemption – I wanted to have paladins who were working to redeem their own honor or someone else’s, in the sense of trying to convince a single powerful, more-or-less-immortal bad guy to repent (fallen angels are what I had in mind here).

  • Leon

    I think there’s some potential with Tipsy Sway, it just is turned into a ‘silly’ skill by virtue of it being on the designated joke class. Since the class is inherently lighthearted, it just tone shifts the game. Maybe as a variant on the Tranquil Monk, since they have a tone of seriousness (a pacifist shouldn’t really be mocking their foes mid-battle). Possibly as a replacement for Douse the Flames since it’s kind of in a weird place where it runs contrary to what your group might want.

    • Sure, redirecting attacks is totally a thing we see in other areas of content, especially other subclasses. Maybe it’s the mood I was in when I read this, maybe it’s really what the text suggests, but THIS case feels like making a joke of the enemy where some others feel like swashbuckling heroics. (On a reread of my own article, I kind of oversold my objection to Tipsy Sway, as I was building up a good head of steam for the later subclasses in the document.)

    • Leon

      Like I said, I think it’s the fact that the Drunken Master is basically a joke. By being perpetually drunk, it feels like you aren’t taking the story as seriously as you need to. As for the other subclasses, there are a lot of goodies in the Oath of Redemption that could either be cannibalized for another subclass or fixed by changing some of the problematic portions of their class. Monster Slayer has some neat ideas (I’m a fan of Slayer’s Eyes, though I agree with you on the story-breaking potential) but Slayer’s Counter and Relentless Slayer are beyond unacceptable.

  • Lilfut

    I can’t help but feel like you’re fundamentally misunderstanding what the Oath of Redemption is *for*. It’s for players and groups that have a mutual understanding that your pacifism is a genuine character goal, as part of your roleplaying, and that your mechanics should reflect that. I agree it’s probably busted as hell in a hardcore big-tactics campaign, but that’s just fundamentally not what the archetype is there for – and any sane DM running that sort of thing would be entirely right to veto it. But for a roleplay-heavy campaign where debating whether you should be killing these goblins is an accepted part of the game flow? It’s a great fit, and allows the paladin to just stand there and let the villain beat on him while he tries to talk them out of their foolish plots.