It’s been a few very busy weeks of not getting to explore Tasha’s Cauldron (not a euphemism or metaphor), but today I’m back to cover druid and fighter content. I mean, you’d think that I could cover more than two classes’ subclasses per article, but ha ha no. Uh, settle in, this is a real long one.
The new druid features are fairly tidy.
Additional Druid Spells adds 16 new spells to the druid spell list. One of the best things about this book is that it remembers that divination is the conceptual province of almost every species of primary spellcaster. (I’m willing to make an exception for bards, but only just.) Notably, divination and cone of cold were previously part of the Circle of the Land’s Circle Spells feature, and now they’re for all druids. In some ways it’s a shame to see the PH druid circles become less appealing; on the other hand, I don’t want those classes to become an albatross around the neck of all druid design for 5e. Taken together, the spell additions here support druid gameplay as “a big AoE caster who can also be your team’s primary healer.”
Wild Companion is the big news of new features. You can expend a Wild Shape to cast find familiar without components, receiving a fey rather than a celestial or fiendish beast. It sticks around for a number of hours equal to half your druid level. First off, I love that druids get to interact with more animals and use more animals for reconnaissance. It probably doesn’t lead to the same sense that this one familiar is an important NPC in your life the way it does with a wizard, but that’s my projection on how the narrative probably works rather than anything in the mechanics. A familiar is no one’s combat pet (dragon’s breath notwithstanding), but this is still a bit of a look back to the animal companions of 3.x druids, and it expends a resource that you’re in no way guaranteed to need if you’re not a Moon druid.
Cantrip Versatility does the same thing here as in other classes – change up a cantrip selection when you receive an ASI. Sure. (For clarity going forward – the wizard gets a different version of cantrip respending that is called Cantrip Formulas rather than Cantrip Versatility.)
Circle of Spores
Much like how I never covered the Order domain because I didn’t write a Ravnica breakdown, I also never covered the Circle of Spores. To be honest, this druid promises to be a fungi but I’m not sure it’s worth the truffle.
- Their Circle Spells feature gives them more necromancy-oriented spells. It’s interesting to see a return to Circle Spells as a feature that both Spores and Wildfire get, since it’s not a thing for Moon, Dreams, or Shepherd druids.
- Halo of Spores gives you a new reaction: you can deal 1dX (starts at 1d4, scales to 1d10) necrotic damage to one creature that moves to within 10 feet of you or starts its turn in that area. They get a Con save to negate it. It is, at least, some potential “free” damage, though it may also be a fair amount of mental overhead.
- Symbiotic Entity lets you dump Wild Shape uses to gain 4 temporary hit points per druid level, double your Halo of Spores damage, and to gain a +1d6 necrotic melee damage kicker. The Halo of Spores damage and damage kicker fade when the temporary hit points run out. It’s great to see a non-Moon druid that isn’t too afraid to mix it up in melee – in fact, needs to get close to deal its aura damage.
- Fungal Infestation at 6th level offers another reaction: a Small or Medium beast or humanoid that dies inside your Halo gets back up as a 1-hp zombie under your control. You can use this Wis modifier times per long rest (potentially a holdover from before the big switch to proficiency bonus uses per day). It’s probably not going to produce a lot of damage for you, but Undead Fortitude could result in a surprisingly durable speed bump. It could last up to 1 hour, so feel free to use it as disposable trap detection.
- Spreading Spores at 10th level is a new bonus action you can use while Symbiotic Entity is active. Instead of an aura around yourself, you move your area of spore damage to a 10-foot cube that is up to 30 feet away. Doing so turns off your own aura. You can use this bonus action each turn to make sure that your enemies are in the area.
- Fungal Body at 14th level gives you a wide variety of immunities: blinded, deafened, frightened, or poisoned, and critical hits while you’re not incapacitated. Hey long-time readers, how do I ever feel about immunities? I wish this were… just about anything else, really.
- Then I started thinking about what “immunity to the blinded condition” really means. This is one of the only cases in the game where you can be immune to the blinded condition without also explicitly having blindsight. So… what happens when you’re immune to the blinded condition and you enter an area that is heavily obscured? Maybe we’ll see errata for this, because I don’t think there is an obvious answer within the text.
Up until that 14th-level feature, this looked pretty good to me. Given that most games don’t reach 14th level, it won’t affect most games. Immunities are just not the way, folks. Getting to dominate encounters so that now your DM wants to deform their encounter-building to make sure that doesn’t happen again is just… steps down a bad path.
Circle of Stars
Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
–“Van Gogh,” by Don McLean
This was an instant favorite for me when I saw it in Unearthed Arcana, because the aesthetics of the constellations and throwing around a bunch of radiant energy is obviously great. Druids with a strong call to astrology, astronomy, and general divination is, likewise, great. These druids would have a practical use for standing stones, is what I’m saying.
- Star Map gives you a Tiny object that is a spellcasting focus, the precise form of which can be randomly determined from a table. The feature gives you guidance, guiding bolt as a bonus spell, and free castings of guilding bolt per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus. It’s not a whole playstyle unto itself, but it’s a great way to get you to spend actions casting guiding bolt without feeling like it’s a waste.
- Starry Form is some very Dream of the Endless content and how could I NOT love that? This is another thing you spend your Wild Shape on – in this case, a 10-minute buff that makes you glow and gives you one of three constellation benefits.
- The Archer constellation lets you use your bonus action to throw a radiant arrow. This is nice steady damage for a class that doesn’t otherwise lean all that heavily on its bonus actions.
- The Chalice constellation lets you cast a 1st-level cure wounds when you cast any healing spell that uses a spell slot. This is incredibly useful, and even if there weren’t a third constellation coming, Archer + Chalice would make this feature the selling point for the whole subclass.
- But there’s also the Dragon constellation, which gives you Reliable Talent for Int checks, Wis checks, and saves to maintain concentration. This brings Starry Form into social and exploration challenges, as well as all of those great concentration spells that druids want to be running.
- Cosmic Omen at 6th level is gives you one of two features – you flip a coin (approximately) to find out which at the end of each long rest.
- Evens (heads, whatever) you get Weal, adding 1d6 to a nearby creature’s attack, save, or check as a reaction.
- Odds/tails, you penalize a nearby creature’s roll by 1d6 as a reaction.
- Whichever you get, you get it proficiency bonus times per long rest. I like how clear this feature is on the timing of when you declare you’re using this. In this case, you declare at the moment of least information (“is about to make”), which means that wasted uses are an expected part of play here. It’s a major check on the power of this feature.
- Twinkling Constellations at 10th level improves your Starry Form – +d8 to Archer and Chalice, because sure, and Dragon gives you a 20-ft flying speed. Also you can change your stance – sorry, constellation – at the start of your turn, instead of making you spend another use of Wild Shape. Good on them for making sure your core feature doesn’t slide into irrelevance as you level.
- Full of Stars at 14th level adds resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage while Starry Form is up. You don’t have any business being in the middle of a fight, but everyone appreciates some extra survivability.
This looks like a ton of fun to play, to me. It establishes its playstyle right out of the gate and keeps scaling in mind. The worst I can say of it is that more in the way of fortune-telling would have been a fun thematic direction. “This could have been a different idea instead” isn’t even a useful criticism – this does deliver, not least of which is because augury and divination finally made it onto the core druid spell list. (It’s going to be a tiny bit weird to play this subclass if for some reason your DM is ill-disposed toward Tasha’s changes to the core druid.)
Circle of Wildfire
This was another instant hit when UA showed it off. I’m excited about phoenix themes for… just about any class, honestly. (Still wish the UA phoenix sorcerer had gotten another pass.) I thought about quoting S.J. Tucker’s “Firebird’s Child” for this, but I’ve linked it instead of quoting the whole thing.
- What I like most about their Circle Spells is that there’s more to them than just fire spells – though not including fireball is something of a surprise. Solid damage/healing blend, all the same.
- Summon Wildfire Spirit – you guessed it – uses one of your Wild Shapes. Hoo boy, you give a class two uses of something per short rest and suddenly they think they’re warlocks! (Phoenix warlocks would be rad too. I’m not obsessed, you’re obsessed.) When it shows up, it splashes fire damage on creatures within 10 feet. As a bonus action, or on its own recognizance if you’re incapacitated, you can tell the spirit to shoot something with fire, or to teleport itself and nearby friendlies, splashing more fire damage on anyone it doesn’t take along for the ride. It sticks around for an hour or until you summon another one.
- This is a very involved feature, taking more than a whole page column, but it defines the whole subclass and it offers a lot of choice and play value. And, well, having a small fire elemental to hang out with is great. Note for my editor: please add an obligatory Firefox joke here.
- Enhanced Bond at 6th level adds 1d8 to your fire damage spells and your healing spells while your wildfire spirit is active, and you can use your spirit as the origin point for non-Self spells. By comparing this to the Circle of Stars, you can see some of the +damage/+healing math they’re moving around – there’s not a second feature to scale up the +1d8 of this feature, but your spirit is also kicking out damage for you.
- Cauterizing Flames at 10th level adds an on-death effect any Small or larger creature within 30 feet of you or your spirit… including your wildfire spirit itself: they leave behind a spectral flame. When a creature is in the flame’s space, you can use your reaction to heal or burn that creature. The impressive thing is that you can keep doing it if they stay in that space. You can use this reaction a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus.
- So, 8d10 + (4 x your Wisdom bonus), scaling to 12d10 + 6x… that is pretty great even by the standards of high-level play.
- Blazing Revival at 14th level kills your wildfire spirit (“kills”) to restore you to half of your maximum hit points when you fall to 0 hit points, once per long rest. Any fire-themed “get back up when you fall to 0 hit points” feature is going to have some shade of phoenix to it, but this doesn’t go for a big point-blank burse of flame. And it still triggers Cauterizing Flames, so that’s fun.
Thematically and mechanically, I’m all about this and it’s going on my list for characters to play. I really like how druids are getting to be a best-of-both-worlds between sorcerer and wizard big damage/control spells and strong healing output. It’s something we haven’t tended to see from them in other editions (hey did you know I wrote a whole History of the Druid here on Tribality?).
While I’m out here industriously linking other Tribality articles (That’s me, master-class SEObro! Anal-retention isn’t the only retention I’m good at), here’s the History of the Fighter that I wrote two years back. Spoiler, but important for what’s coming up: I love Battle Master fighters.
Anyway, there are three new things going on for fighters as a whole, two of which have a lot of bite-sized pieces for us to devour with our mimosas this fine morning.
Fighting Style Options introduces five new fighting styles that fighters can choose. Paladins and rangers are going to get a subset of these, while everyone can draw on the full list with a feat later on in the book. WotC’s earliest attempts at additional fighting styles were disastrous (go home, Tunnel Fighter, you’re drunk). More recently, the UA Class Feature Variants was – in my opinion and apparently everyone else’s – the single best thing UA has yet released, and that is saying something. We wound up with just five of that document’s styles, but here they are.
- Blind Fighting grants 10-ft blindsight. That’s just straight-up incredible. Also I rewatched Rogue One last night, because yeah I wanted to watch that right after the season finale of The Mandalorian, so… Chirrut Îmwe (and Donnie Yen for that matter) is the freakin’ greatest.
- Interception is the fighting style I’m most excited about. I’ve been harping on the problems with the Protection fighting style for (oh mercy) four years now, and this is the solution. It’s a reaction declared after a hit to reduce the damage the target receives, and you can perform it with any weapon (doesn’t require a shield). Reducing damage by 1d10 + your proficiency bonus is amazing early, but the scaling is minor at best. On the other hand, PC defenses – including ways to gain resistance to damage types – picks up sharply over the course of your 20 levels, so functional double effect comes along through a different vector. Anyway, great option, and it would be a clear go-to for me for any tanking fighter I cared to build.
- Superior Technique grants one superiority die and one Battle Master maneuver. A cool move once per short rest might not be my go-to, but this does also mean you can spend a feat to get this on top of Martial Adept, if that’s your thing. If you don’t otherwise have superiority dice, you get a d6; otherwise it’s bumped up to whatever your superiority dice are.
- Thrown Weapon Fighting solves the draw-speed limitation on thrown weapons (you can now draw as part of the attack, so you get your Extra Attacks), and you gain +2 damage with thrown weapons. Solid – though unless I were building someone who was first and foremost a thrower, this would need to be a second fighting style.
- Unarmed Fighting makes your unarmed attacks deal 1d6 damage, or 1d8 if your off-hand is empty and you can do a James T. Kirk patented double-fist assault. (Or maybe it’s supposed to be a kick, what do I know.) Also you deal a free 1d4 bludgeoning damage when you’re grappling a creature at the start of your turn.
- I think this is super cool – but y’all know that the 4e Brawler fighter was my single best fighter experience in all of D&D. The only improvement I’d make to this fighting style is making it legal for two-weapon fighting, so that it can behave a bit like the off-hand shortsword that its damage resembles.
- This fighting style has drawn a lot of commentary online because your single-attack damage passes a monk’s single-attack damage at 1st Folks, if this is your objection, you’re not thinking it through. First off, a fighting style where the fighter is doing less damage than a longsword, in one hand or two, and has no path to improvement with magic items other than the insignia of claws from Tyranny of Dragons… it’s a step down. Second – the monk should be doing 1d4/d6/d8 + Dex, then 1d4 + Dex with their bonus action, and if you don’t see how that’s better than a single 1d6/d8 + Str I don’t know how to help you.
- All told, then, not all of these are instant must-plays for me, but that’s not a reasonable standard in the first place. They’re all worthy additions to the existing spread of fighting styles. Considering the support that Battle Masters are about to get (!), extra fighting styles are de facto support to keep Champions in the game a bit.
Martial Versatility seems an odd way to characterize the Roman poet who wrote 1,235 of his 1,561 epigrams in the same format of elegiac couplets. That said, his work is still pretty funny in translation, so that’s got to count for something.
Right. Well, this lets you cycle out fighting styles and Battle Master manevuers whenever you gain an ASI. Seems fine – the worst I can say is that with any of the versatility features, I just do not care about making a player wait to fix something in their build that makes them unhappy. So, you know, this is for tables other than mine. It’s fine.
Maneuver Options offers seven new Battle Master maneuvers.
- Ambush lets you add your CS die to Dex (Stealth) or initiative. That comes out to “about the same as the bonus of Expertise” or “balancing out the disad of heavy armor.”
- Bait and Switch is a castling maneuver – you trade places with an ally within 5 feet, and either you or the other character add the die result to AC until the start of your next turn. It’s sort of Evasive Footwork but moving two people? Since you’re a fighter (or someone who cares enough to buy fighter content), let’s assume you’re the rook in this scenario. Hugely helpful tanking fighter move.
- Brace is in the sense of “set spears against a charge,” and lets you attack when a creature enters your reach, adding the CS die to damage. This is great for any melee fighter, and a strong feat option for any rogue as well. (Because rogues go wild for getting to attack as a reaction, that is.)
- Commanding Presence adds your CS die to Intimidation, Performance, or Persuasion. I love seeing CS dice show up in social interactions and helping fighters engage in more pillars of play. It’s so good. I don’t know how many people will be willing to spend a precious Maneuver slot on this, admittedly.
- Grappling Strike lets you follow up a successful melee attack with a grapple check as a bonus action, adding the CS die to your Strength (Athletics) check. Goes great with the Unarmed Fighting style.
- Quick Toss lets you throw a thrown weapon as a bonus action, adding the CS die to the damage. Obviously, this is outstanding with the Thrown Weapon Fighting style, but it also goes well with any weapon-and-open-hand setup – for instance, if grappling is otherwise part of your playstyle.
- Tactical Assessment lets you add your CS die to any Int (Investigation), Int (History), or Wis (Insight) check. Great for all of the same reasons as Commanding Presence – I’d want at least one of those two on just about any Battle Master I could build. Entering a short rest with CS dice unspent is a sign that you could have been having more fun.
- In case it wasn’t clear, I love all of these Maneuvers. The competition for your precious few Maneuver slots just got a lot tighter.
This is one of the three psionic subclasses in this book, and thus one of the three end-point-so-far states of the last six years of development and playtesting of psions, mystics, and the like. Yeah of course I have a History series on that too. Anyway, here’s The Fighter One.
- Psionic Power gives you a Psionic Energy die pool, which starts as a d6 and grows to a d12 by 17th The pool is twice your proficiency bonus, so that’s a growth curve from 4d6 to (le wow) 12d12. You regain all dice when you finish a long rest, and once per short rest you can spend a bonus action to regain one. This feature also gives you three ways to spend them:
- Protective Field is a reaction to reduce damage to one creature from one effect by a PE die roll + your Int bonus. Very pure tanking content.
- Psionic Strike increases the damage of one of your successful hits by your PE die roll + your Int bonus. There’s a key once-per-turn limit that keeps this from being truly explosive amounts of damage, but it’s certainly solid.
- Telekinetic Movement lets you move objects or willing creatures up to 30 feet, horizontally or vertically. That’s a lot of free movement in combat, and it’s great for circumventing dangerous exploration challenges as long as they’re 30 feet or less in size. This one works a tiny bit differently in expenditure of PE dice as well. You get one use per short rest for free, and you can expend dice to get additional uses. It works this way in part because nothing in the rest of the function ever causes you to roll the PE die.
- Especially if you’re a freelance or hobbyist subclass designer, I hope you’ll take a hard look at how this class and all of the subclasses have one central, critical feature right at the start of the subclass that defines the subclass’s gameplay loop as something slightly different from the base class.
- …also there are one or two official subclasses out there that could have used this memo, but who’s counting? Yeah, not so fast, Archfey warlock. You know what you did.
- Telekinetic Adept at 7th level gives you two new telekinetic options.
- Psi-Powered Leap is, well, your classic leaping-Jedi, wuxia business. You gain a flying speed that is double your walking speed for the turn as a bonus action (you weren’t going TWF with the Psi Warrior anyway, don’t lie). Here again, one free use per short rest, then you refresh it by burning a PE die.
- Telekinetic Thrust adds a 10-foot knockback to your Psionic Strike. This doesn’t cost an extra PE die, it just adds a use option to your Psionic Strike.
- Guarded Mind at 10th level grants resistance to psychic damage, and you can expend a PE die to end all sources of the charmed or frightened conditions currently on you. It’s a great solution to a traditional fighter weakness… like Jedi mind tricks!
- Bulwark of Force at 15th level lets you share out half cover (+2 AC unless your enemy can ignore cover for some reason) to a number of nearby creatures equal to your Int modifier, possibly including you, which lasts for 1 minute. You get one free use, and can reset by burning a PE die. All AC boosts are a Big Deal, including this.
- Telekinetic Master at 18th level gives you the telekinesis spell, and while you maintain it you can make one attack as a bonus action. You get one free use, and can burn a PD die for more. This is very cool – I mean, that has to be one of the most versatile spells in the game, even if it has a weight limit far under that of an X-Wing.
This all looks great to me. Definitely hard to kill, and great at controlling the battlefield within weapon-reach. In a sense, it’s a lot like Battle Master through other means until the highest levels of play. Would play.
You learn giant runes or, I dunno, maybe you want to reskin them as dragon runes from Skyrim. Neither I nor WotC will judge you for that, though Annam All-Father may give you the stink-eye.
- Bonus Proficiencies teaches you to use smith’s tools and the Giant language. Obviously necessary for theme, yep.
- Rune Carver is the core feature of the whole show. You start with two runes from a list of six, and at 15th level you learn your fifth and final. Each rune is themed around one of the Big (sorry) Six types of giants – which makes me really want to write runes for all the other canonical kinds, from ogres and trolls to spacesea giants. When you use a rune, you paint it on an object, and it stays there until you take a long rest. Each rune grants a minor (well, minor-ish) passive benefit and a solid once-per-short-rest benefit. Your save DCs for all of these come from Con.
- Cloud Rune grants advantage on Sleight of Hand and Deception checks, and once per short rest you can redirect an attack from one creature to any other within 30 feet, other than original attacker. Those skills probably aren’t your specialty as a fighter, but advantage does cover for a lot of sins. That redirect power is serious stuff, of course.
- Fire Rune doubles your proficiency bonus for any tool-based check. Once per short rest, when you hit someone you can put them in freaking fire shackles, which is awesome – they deal modest but steady damage and, more importantly, restrain the target. There are mechanics to break out of these, of course, but even one solid round of restraint is just incredible debuffing.
- Frost Rune grants advantage on Animal Handling and Intimidation checks. Once per long rest, it boosts your ability checks and saves that use Str or Con by +2. Honestly kinda surprised to see flat adds from a duration-limited effect – that’s incredibly rare in 5e. It can be hard to know when you’ll need a +2 to specific saves, but with a 10-minute duration, that can handle some kinds of exploration challenges for you.
- Stone Rune grants 120-ft darkvision and advantage on Insight check. Once per short rest, as a reaction when a creature ends its turn, you can charm it and put it in a sleepwalking kind of stupor – speed 0 and incapacitated until it succeeds a save or 1 minute passes. That’s serious crowd control, if you can land it in the first place.
- Hill Rune requires you to be 7th level or higher, and it is a bit unusual to me that the lowest giant of the Ordning is one of the last runes you can pick up (because its power is so good), but that’s fine. Its passive benefit is advantage on saves against poison and resistance to poison damage, while its per-short-rest effect is resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage for 1 minute, activated as a bonus action. Thematically, I get that it’s about brutish toughness. With such straightforward powers, though, it’s odd that the rune grants a list of things hill giants explicitly don’t have. Still, this is an incredibly useful rune by any measure.
- Storm Rune also requires 7th level, and grants advantage on Arcana checks (a real corner-case use for fighters even in comparison to other runes’ benefits) and immunity to surprise. Once per short rest, you can gain a 1-minute effect where you can use your reaction to make any roll made by a creature you can see have advantage or disadvantage. The theme here is storm giants and prophecies.
- Overall, this is a whole lot of feature with a very mix-and-match approach on what your gameplay will actually be like. I get why we (WotC and 3PP) don’t design a ton of subclasses like this. They’re hard to write (because you create so much extra) and hard to balance (because you have to study more interactions than a pharmacist). But I gotta tell you, I’m drawn to them (not you, Four Elements Total Landscaping monk).
- Giant’s Might, also at 3rd level – a surprise given how MUCH there is in Rune Carver – provides a variant enlarge, bringing you up to Large even if you started off Small. It lasts for 1 minute, and during that time it grants advantage on Strength checks and saves (explaining some of why the Frost Rune works the way it does) and adds 1d6 damage to one weapon or unarmed attack on your turn. You can Get Swole proficiency bonus times per long rest.
- Runic Shield at 7th level gives you a new reaction, allowing you to force a reroll on an attack that hits a creature within 60 feet. This too is proficiency bonus times per long rest, so I think you’re saving this to negate crits.
- Possibly I’m being a bit unfair, but at this point in reading, I feel like we’re putting a little more pressure on reactions and bonus actions than I necessarily want to see. Two runes use reactions (once per short rest, but still) and three use bonus actions, while Giant’s Might is fairly greedy for bonus actions, since you’re using that several times per day.
- At 10th level you get Great Stature, or as I like to call it “Don’t Skip Leg Day.” You get taller, by 3d4 inches, and honestly if you’re a hobbit with an overdeveloped sense of competition, this feature is already overpowered. But okay, for a treat, it also increases the damage bonus die for Giant’s Might from 1d6 to 1d8. Realistically what happened is that you deal one additional point of average damage per round; I think I can safely say that this is one of the least impactful 10th-level features for any fighter subclass, but – good lord, have you seen the REST of this subclass?
- Also, because I haven’t been spelling it out, you do get another big Thing from the subclass at this level – your fourth rune.
- Master of Runes at 15th level lets you use your runes’ per-short-rest effects twice rather than once. It’s phrased just a little bit oddly for technical-parsing reasons, but the throughput here is “2/short rest rather than 1.” At the same moment that you get your fifth per-short-rest rune use, you suddenly jump to ten per-short-rest rune uses.
- Perversely, this just increases pressure on your reactions and bonus actions.
- Runic Juggernaut at 18th level is a heckin’ amazing name, so I’m invested before I know what it does. It increases your Giant’s Might damage die to 1d10, and when you Hulk out, you can become Huge rather than Large (which sometimes you won’t want to do for ceiling-clearance or structural-integrity-of-the-floor reasons); if you do, your reach increases by 5 feet.
Overall, this subclass has a hell of a lot going on. It looks hyper-frontloaded, because of how much text Rune Carver uses and how flashy Giant’s Might is. The reality is that Rune Carver is its own separate scaling function that runs, in a sense, in parallel to the rest of your new features. Two per-short-rest things? Nice to have, but you really might only get two uses in the whole adventure. Ten? You might not use them all up by the time you take a short rest. With so much to manage, this subclass won’t be for everyone, but I know many players who would be instantly in love.
One of the most striking things: so many features and whole subclasses have veered toward “proficiency bonus uses per long rest” that I’ve wondered if short rest feature resets had fallen out of fashion with the design team’s thinking. Psi Warrior and Rune Knight answer that with a resounding No.
Battle Master Builds
The section on fighters here closes out with a discussion of how to leverage the Battle Master, feat selection, and fighting style selection to build a wide range of fighter concepts. In a sense it’s saying, “here why we won’t be releasing this array of fighter subclasses.” Early in UA development of fighter subclasses, they tried Battle Master remixes – here’s three Maneuvers to be a Scout/non-spellcasting ranger (it was the height of that rehashed debate), here’s three to be a Cavalier, and so on. That approach withered on the vine, which I personally find regrettable because I like the CS dice approach fun. Also because I watched every step of that development in D&D Next. There absolutely was at least one packet in which CS dice were the beating heart of the base fighter class.
Anyway, there are twelve fighter concepts spelled out here: archer, bodyguard, brawler, duelist, gladiator, hoplite, lancer, outrider, pugilist (isn’t this just a synonym for brawler?), shock trooper, skirmisher, and strategist. A minor error slipped past editing, and sure to get errata’ed – no fighter could ever have any business taking the Weapon Master feat. They could have done a bit better by the Archer, in terms of Maneuvers and feats, but looking to Outrider or Skirmisher takes care of those gaps in short order.
Overall, I like this section a lot. It’s a rare case of advice rather than new rules. Champion and Battle Master don’t have any particular story of their own as subclasses – they’re Rorschach blots.
That brings us to the end of the fighter’s section, and of this insanely long article. If you’ve stayed with me through it, thank you! Even if you had to go make a pot of coffee to do it.