Following Wednesday’s announcement with Jeremy Crawford and Todd Kenreck, we now have the new Unearthed Arcana packet in our grubby little nubbies. Metaphorically, anyway, unless you also printed a copy? It is a heckin’ chonker of a packet, with three classes (one subclass each), a mess of feats and epic boons, the complete PH spell lists, and a hefty new rules glossary that overwrites the previous one.
I know exactly how tempting it is to discuss all of this as if it’s final release text, and to get worked up about it as a result. It’s complicated to write about this material without that assumption, but in any case I’ll try to avoid overheated rhetoric if you will, okay?
I expect I will be very sad to see what gets chopped to make way for 48 subclasses, because let’s be real, 4 for each of 12 is more likely than “some get two, two get eight.” It’s just that I’m really attached to more than four of the Domains and more than for Arcane Traditions! Also… I wonder how long after the PH release we’ll have to wait to get updated versions of the rest of the 2014 subclasses.
Gotta wonder what “new Weapon options for certain Classes” means.
A system for creating a home base – or any kind of shared asset – is a very exciting promise.
(I’m still struggling with the style guide change that capitalizes like a German with a nasty caps-lock fetish.)
Character Origins | Expert Classes
Parts of a Class
Each Class has a primary ability, very much akin to 2e’s prime requisites except that, you know, you could hypothetically play a given Class with a low score in that ability. Only in multiclassing do you have to meet a prereq. Even within this document, the selection of “Dexterity, Wisdom” for rangers is a weird choice – Strength rangers work great, post-TCOE, and I would be dismayed if that changed. What I’m saying is, I don’t think this is as useful a presentation as they need to get to.
Let’s start with the meta. This document includes the three classes of the Expert group: the Bard, the Ranger, and the Rogue. The Artificer isn’t in this document and won’t be in the 2024 PH, but we know that it’ll be an Expert when it’s released. These classes are defined by sharing the Expertise feature – if you’re new here, that means they can pick two or more skills to double their proficiency bonus on.
The 2014 Bard and Rogue already had Expertise features; the 2014 Ranger gets to double their proficiency bonus for all proficient skills in their favored terrain, while the TCOE Ranger replaces Natural Explorer with Canny (Expertise in one skill) at 1st level.
A couple of interesting things about class groups here:
- It has minimal correlation to 4e-like party role. Bards are leaders/controllers who can be strikers with the right subclass picks. Rangers are strikers who can feat their way into defenders. Rogues are strikers through and through. What they do have in common is that they’ll do well in skill-centered situations – let’s talk about that idea again when I get to the Rules Glossary.
- The Expert group doesn’t strictly attach to any of the spell lists – Bards are limited-Arcane (with a somewhat messy splash of spells found only in Divine/Primal), Rangers are Primal, and we can safely assume that Artificers will likewise be limited-Arcane with a splash for healing options.
- We’re going to see a lot of features built around access to a short selection of off-list spells, especially in subclasses that let you get into a different class role.
- Class groups, as we’ll see, strongly inform feat options, though they’re not shy about building in cutouts – as with the Ranger getting inherent permission to buy fighting style feats, or feats belonging to more than one group. I’m predicting that getting locked out of some feats, and thus some character build strategies that were possible in 2014’s rules, will be the enduring legacy of this structure.
The flavor text puts more emphasis on “Bards are more than just musicians” than I think I’ve seen before. I like the idea of the Bard being something special, at least.
- Most of the fundamentals are the same – d8 HD, Dex/Cha as proficient saves, 3 Skills chosen from the full list, three Musical Instruments, Light Armor training.
- Only Simple Weapons, at base; we can assume that Valor expands that. This is borne out later, but we see here that Shortswords are Simple Weapons now.
- Bardic Inspiration is now a Reaction to either add your Bardic Inspiration die to the result of a failed d20 Test, or to heal a creature for that amount when they take damage. Bardic Inspiration uses scale with Proficiency Bonus (hereafter “PB”), which is no surprise, and the die size increases on the 5s (5th, 10th, 15th) as in ’14.
- Switching from Cha mod to PB uses is a net loss for the great majority of play, and probably a wash until 17th That doesn’t feel great, because it’s a core piece of gameplay that is pretty rare for most of the game. I would like this to change back to Cha mod or just be set to 5, I think.
- Spellcasting: Bards are a Prepared Spell class here. The number of spells you can prepare isn’t communicated very clearly right now, but it means “one per actual slot at each level.” Also, you prepare cantrips now. That’s a weird mix of open choice and constraint – made a little weirder by the additional free prepared spells you pick up later on.
- The big deal here is that all (not all, but I’ll get to that) of your prepared spells have to be Divination, Enchantment, Illusion, or Transmutation. Which is why Thunderwave and Shatter got moved to Transmutation, an otherwise nonsensical move to me. (It’s transforming the air into thunder the same way Fireball transforms the air into spontaneous combustion.)
- It’s vitally important that Bards get the full range of Illusion spells, of course.
- Expertise at 2nd level gives you Expertise in two Proficient Skills of your choice.
- Songs of Restoration at 2nd level adds one always-prepped spell to your list at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th Up to this point in 5e, it’s been pretty straightforward to play a Bard as the team’s primary healer; now, it’s much harder to gain access to cure wounds and revivify. You’d need to use Magical Secrets for that. Bardic Inspiration is more helpful on the healing front, but 2d6 damage “prevented” per long rest is very little help in the early game.
- My point here is that I think the Bard’s leader functions are greatly reduced here, without a lot of help elsewhere to carve out a new role for them. I desperately do not want to go back to the 3e days of Bards as nigh-useless gits unless the party already has its major functions filled.
- Note that this replaces Song of Rest, the bardic kicker to Short Rest healing. Short Rest healing is still in the game; they just see it as a waste of a feature to improve it.
- Bard Subclass – I break down Lore below, but I want to take a moment to cheer about Bardic Colleges getting a feature at 10th level now. That 6 to 14 jump always felt bad and made Subclass design for them unnecessarily hard.
- You gain Feats (which can be Ability Score Increases) at 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, amen.
- Jack of All Trades at 5th level is unchanged, other than moving up from 2nd level – add half your PB to Ability Checks that use Skills you’re not Proficient in. The language here is more convoluted, specifically to carve out “does not apply to initiative rolls anymore (because there is no Initiative Skill).” +.5 PB to initiative didn’t hurt anyone, you can give it back now.
- Font of Bardic Inspiration moved from 5th level to 7th Waiting longer for the usage upgrade doesn’t feel great and I’m not sure why it was important. I do like that any roll of a 1 on a Bardic Inspiration die doesn’t expend the die; it does mean that a roll of a 2 is the new worst outcome.
- Countercharm is gone – a loss almost unnoticed, because it never came up enough and I expect a lot of Bards forgot they had it. Also, an Action to grant advantage on fear and charm saves is no great shakes.
- Expertise Part 2: The Expertisining is at 9th It’s the same feature as before, but more.
- Magical Secrets at 11th level gives you two wildcard spell preparation choices, which both have to come from the same spell list (Arcane, Divine, Primal). This is how you get either big blasting spells or some of the healing options you’ve been missing, like revivify and raise dead.
- It’s way too long to wait for those, if you’re the party’s primary healer, and if you’re not the party’s primary healer, why bother? It feels like having to work a lot harder to get to a concept that was robustly supported in 2014.
- You can change out the spells every time you take a long rest, you just can’t change the list they’re taken from.
- Further Magical Secrets at 15th level lets you choose another spell list and grab two spells from it. See previous.
- Superior Bardic Inspiration at 18th level refreshes two uses of Bardic Inspiration when you roll initiative. You don’t have to be out of uses anymore, and it restores twice as many. It’s fine? I guess I prefer not saying “you need to empty the well to get anything back.”
- Epic Boon at 20th level gives you an Epic Boon, from the Feats section. This is paying you for sticking with a single class all the way to 20. (Otherwise, you… just get on the Epic Boon train 30,000 xp later or whatever? Less than it took to get from 19 to 20, anyway.)
I think this moves the Bard back toward a buff/debuff/crowd control situation, with some healing and some damage; then they can choose to specialize in either direction with Magical Secrets and Feats. The idea of performance is very muted within the class as we see it here. I’m reserving some judgment until we have seen a few more Subclasses, but my strongest opinion right now is that the early game is brutal for Bards. They take too long to get enough uses of their core stuff to have a satisfying adventuring day – I’d like to see roughly PB + 2. Also, making Bardic Inspiration rest on Reactions is dangerous – for instance, the Bard needs to choose between helping you succeed a saving throw and healing you from its effects.
College of Lore
The flavor text isn’t particularly different here.
- Bonus Proficiencies gives you Proficiency in Arcana, History, and Nature, or something else if you already have those. It’s a shame the Subclass isn’t otherwise rewarding you for having high Intelligence. It would create some multiple attribute dependency, but the primary/secondary split was fairly satisfying in 4e.
- Cutting Words lets you use a Reaction and a Bardic Inspiration to turn an enemy’s successful Attack or Ability Check into a failure, maybe. It can’t reduce damage anymore.
- More ways to use something you don’t have enough of is not that great, but turning a hit into a miss is probably better than healing damage after the fact.
- Cunning Inspiration lets your Bardic Inspiration target roll twice and take the higher result. The overall power is modest, but it’ll feel good when it pays off.
- Improved Cutting Words at 10th level inflicts your Bardic Inspiration die result + Cha modifier as Psychic Damage when you use Cutting Words to penalize a creature. This is roughly equal to one free hit with a melee weapon. It’s a definite nice-to-have, but it also means you really don’t want to use your Bardic Inspiration for anything else.
- Peerless Skill at 14th level lets you use Bardic Inspiration on your own Ability Checks, and you don’t expend the Bardic Inspiration if you don’t succeed.
Cunning Inspiration and Improved Cutting Words combined are only arguably as exciting as the 2014 Lore bard’s Additional Magical Secrets at 6th. Especially now, getting your intended playstyle up and running at 6th rather than 11th seems like a big deal. As a whole, Lore is 90% about Bardic Inspiration, and that’s just too much to hang on a feature that is 2 or 3 per Long Rest for the first six levels.
What I think I’m seeing so far is them trying to rein in power levels, compared to 2014. Getting fans excited about putting toothpaste back in the tube won’t be easy, if I’m right about that.
Here again, minimal change in the flavor text.
- d10 HD, Str/Dex as Proficient Saving Throws, three skills from about the same list, Simple and Martial Weapons, no tools, Light & Medium Armor, and Shields. No surprises in that.
- Expertise in two of your Proficient Skills. Interesting that you can’t choose Tools for this anymore.
- Favored Enemy formalizes more of the Favored Foe situation from TCOE, so that it’s actually the Hunter’s Mark Spell now. It’s a spell you now always have prepared and don’t need to concentrate on.
- That second part is huge for every Ranger, but especially melee Rangers. I… guess you can run two Hunter’s Marks at the same time, since you don’t concentrate on them? You also don’t get any free uses per day the way you did in TCOE, but if you don’t need to concentrate and it can still switch targets, that’s probably okay.
- Rangers also being a prepared spells class makes me feel less-than-great about the future of the Wizard Class. If Sorcerers are an Arcane class that prepare spells from the full Arcane list, uh, what are wizard spellbooks for, please? Wizards not having a reason to seek out and acquire spells is one of the few hard lines that would make me walk away from the 2024 revision; it’s the most disappointing thing about playing a wizard in 13th
- Rangers are now spellcasters from 1st level. My, how things have changed. Also, they can use Druidic Foci for spellcasting. They cast Primal Spells from any School of Magic except Evocation, which explains why all of the healing Spells moved out of Evocation.
- Also, Rangers get cantrips here – recall that they had to pay for the privilege in TCOE.
- Fighting Style at 2nd level lets you pick one of three Fighting Style Feats (these are 1st-level Feats, see below): Archery, Defense, Two-Weapon Fighting. Also, you have explicit permission to buy more Fighting Style Feats with your Feat slots.
- I am concerned, with the way 1st-level Feats are explicitly weaker than 4th-level Feats, that you’re committing to a build trap if you do this. Why mess around with that? Just go ahead and let Rangers buy any Fighting Style Fighters can buy. If Shields are good enough for Aragorn son of Arathorn sometimes, and both hands on the hilt at other times, then it’s not too soon to support the Protection and Great Weapon Fighting Styles.
- If kicking is good enough for Walker, Texas Ranger…
- Ranger Subclass – see the Hunter, below. You gain features at 3/6/10/14. If this becomes standard across all Classes, I’ll mostly only feel weird about Clerics, Sorcerers, and Warlocks. (And a little weird about Paladins – being powered by the Oath you haven’t yet taken, during a discernment period, is odd even in 2014.)
- Feats at 4/8/12/16/19, of course.
- Extra Attack at 5th
- Roving at 7th level gives you +10 speed while not in Heavy Armor, and a Climb Speed and Swim Speed equal to your Speed. Moved up from 6th level in TCOE, and +5 ft to the Speed boost.
- Expertise at 9th level gives two more Expertise skills. Every Expert character having 4 Expertise skills by 9th level means they’re operating very differently from non-Experts in Skill use situations – maybe increasing pressure for more Wizards to pick up Keen Mind, just so the Rogue isn’t better at Arcana than they are?
- Tireless at 11th level (compared to 10th in TCOE’s optional Ranger features) gives you 1d8+PB temp HP at the end of any Short or Long Rest, and reduces Exhaustion by 1 when you finish a Short Rest.
- If you’ve read my commentary for any length of time, you know that my primary reaction to this and Font of Bardic Inspiration is oh thank goodness, they’re not completely doing away with Short Rest benefits. The temp HP aren’t really enough extra survivability to matter all that much, but I guess they’re nice to have? Dumping Exhaustion faster might be great, or might leave you wishing you could share it with allies who aren’t willing to keep going today.
- Nature’s Veil at 13th level (moved up from 10th, where it replaced Hide in Plain Sight in TCOE) now also costs a Spell Slot (of any level), rather than having its own pool of uses per day. It’s a fairly substantial nerf.
- Feral Senses at 15th level gives you 30-ft Blindsight. This Ranger won’t be caught off their guard. Unless the enemy can shoot them from 35 feet away I guess. It simplifies the text of the 2014 Feral Senses (which is 18th level), except that makes you go look up Blindsight. I’m going to guess with confidence that 80+% of users can’t accurately cite Blindsight without taking time to look it up.
- Foe Slayer at 18th level becomes +1d10 damage rather than +1d6. It’s a clear nice-to-have, and by this point, not having to make concentration saves to keep Hunter’s Mark running is a real saving grace.
- Epic Boon at 20th level grants exactly that.
Looking at the suggested Prepared Spells… the Ranger has an easier time getting those essential healing spells than a Bard does, even if they have far fewer slots. Revivify? Still 11th.
Overall, this Ranger is… fine? They’re slightly toned down in some areas from the TCOE Ranger, but they get Expertise in a lot more Skills and not having to concentrate on Hunter’s Mark is huge. One of the hidden (that is, it shows up much later in the document) benefits the Class receives is that everyone is a Ritual Caster if the spell has the Ritual tag, so Primal Awareness (which replaced and greatly improved on Primeval Awareness) is no longer necessary. My concern going forward is that they still rely on individual subclasses to solve their damage output problems in the 10th-11th level range (the way they do in existing Ranger Archetypes).
Oh, huh, they’re not called Archetypes or Conclaves at all, they’re just Subclasses. Hrm.
- Hunter’s Prey gives you, in essence, Colossus Slayer from the 2014 Hunter. That’s good, it was always the best of the three options (though Horde Breaker at least was also pretty good).
- Hunter’s Lore at 6th level reveals Immunities, Resistances, and Vulnerabilities of your Hunter’s Mark target, if any. I wouldn’t be sorry to see this feature also grant, say, one free use of the Spell each Long Rest? I dunno, just a little worried about having too much riding on your very small pool of Spell Slots.
- This fits into the same general power level that my Ranger in Tomb of Annihilation picked up Multiattack Defense. That feature was so much fun, because on the fairly rare occasions that I was targeted by a lot of attacks from a single enemy, my AC went through the roof. It’s more exciting than Hunter’s Lore, if also more fiddly; it made ranger tanking pretty viable, and that felt good.
- Multiattack at 10th level is… not a good name for that feature, since Multiattack has a formal usage on the monster side, and because this is a Spell. You can cast Conjure Barrage, it’s always prepared for you, and you can downcast it with a 1st– or 2nd-level slot, at -1d8 per slot level below 3rd.
- This is a thematic breach for melee rangers (Conjure Barrage requires you to fire an arrow or throw a weapon), and Conjure Barrage’s 3d8 in a huge cone just… isn’t that good. If you have a ton of enemies in that cone, then your total damage output is lovely, but that doesn’t come up much (just as the 2014 Hunter’s Whirlwind Attack and Volley were almost never useful). I’d like to see this rewritten from scratch.
- Superior Hunter’s Defense at 14th level gives you Uncanny Dodge (use your Reaction to halve damage – you don’t even have to see it coming) and lets you redirect the other half of the damage to another creature, not including the attacker, within 5 feet of you. That redirect visual is only okay, to me, but… I won’t be mad if this makes it into the final.
I loved the a la carte nature of the 2014 Hunter, but I recognize at the same time that there was a best option at every level. I’d like to see that 2-3 choice structure come back, but with more care in the balance. That said, my one serious issue with this is Multiattack rarely a good idea, when what you need is something to welcome your damage totals into Tier 3 and beyond. Downcasting Multiattack at that level is almost certainly a full-on wasted action. I’m obviously assuming no further changes to Conjure Barrage.
Rogues, gotta love ‘em. What I want for this class but don’t expect to get is something that refreshes on a Short Rest or otherwise rewards Short Rests. They’re a class where it’s not even obvious what that would be.
- d8 HD, Dex/Int saves, four skills from a fairly classic list, Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons with Finesse, Thieves’ Tools, Light Armor. This is probably chopping some of the Weapons that Rogues could use but shouldn’t (because they couldn’t Sneak Attack with them).
- Expertise in two Proficient Skills. No surprise here. If you’re not picking Stealth for one of yours, you may have done it wrong… but changes to the hiding rules in this document may force me to reassess that. We’ll get there.
- Sneak Attack has a super subtle but super important change. “Once on each of your turns…” rather than “Once per turn…” means that Rogues can’t Sneak Attack during their off-turn – for example, as an Opportunity Attack. In 5e as it is now, figuring out how to reliably attack and possibly Sneak Attack during your off-turn is one of the best things you can do for your damage output, and this blocks that off. That takes away something I really liked for Rogues in exchange for nothing, so I’m not a fan of this change.
- Thieves’ Cant is quitter talk and I won’t have it he… hmm? Oh. Sorry. No, it teaches you the language of Thieves’ Cant and, because that’s an argot rather than a language, you also learn one more language from the Standard and Rare Languages list.
- Cunning Action at 2nd level is unchanged.
- Rogue Subclasses get features at 3/6/10/14. Would be interesting to see if this leads to… maybe a Subclass that any Expert can take? Rogues getting rid of their weird 3/9/13/17 progression is long overdue, that was such a mess.
- Feats at 4/8/10/12/16/19. Check them out, slipping in one extra Feat.
- Uncanny Dodge at 5th level is unchanged, except that here the text reminds you to round down.
- Expertise at 7th level is the earliest that any Expert gets their second round of Expertise, but pushed up one level from the 2014 PH.
- Evasion at 9th level pushes the feature up two levels and clarifies that it can’t be used while Incapacitated. To me, this feels like a long time to wait, since I was around for 3.x where they got it at 2nd
- Reliable Talent at 11th level has been slightly reworded, but works essentially the same.
- Subtle Strikes at 13th level is a new feature – it’s basically Pack Tactics. Not only do you want to attack people near your allies because of Sneak Attack, now you… should just never make an attack that doesn’t have Advantage.
- I’m guessing about why this is here, but – the Rogue damage progression is very smooth and steady from 1st to 19th, as they pick up another d6 every odd-numbered level. This gives them something extra, in the form of an accuracy kicker, for Tier 3 and 4. You deal a ton of damage – try to never end your turn without dealing that damage.
- Slippery Mind at 15th level grants Proficiency in Wisdom and Charisma saves, as well as Int. There’s so little narrative consistency to distinguish effects that force Int, Wis, and Cha saves that the theme of the feature meant you should get Proficiency in each.
- Elusive at 17th level – ah-ha! A double negative (in the feature’s sentence construction) is proof positive! – moves the same feature down a level, from 18th. No other changes.
- Stroke of Luck at 18th level lets you change the natural result of any d20 Test to a 20, once per Short or Long Rest. The change here is that now you can turn a failed attack into a Critical Hit, which was previously carved out as a thing you couldn’t do.
- Epic Boon at 20th level does, you know, Epic stuff?
Other than the change to Sneak Attack, the Rogue is mostly better off than they were before. When you take the change to Sneak Attack into account, I feel like there’s more room to fail than to shine? They have a simple, tight gameplay loop, but anything that interferes with it might be a serious problem, and they need their Subclasses to introduce variation.
Also, note the absence of Aim from TCOE.
Why aren’t you issued a helpful but trouble-making monkey as part of this Subclass?
- Fast Hands adds Search and Sleight of Hand to your Cunning Action options. This entry for Sleight of Hand is the first clear signal that in One D&D, you use Dex (Sleight of Hand) to disarm traps and open locks, rather than just for picking pockets and poisoning drinks.
- Which further means that Rogues only need to choose Sleight of Hand as one of their Skills to always have Advantage on opening locks and disarming traps – because all Rogues are Proficient in Thieves’ Tools, and you probably don’t even get to roll if you don’t have Thieves’ Tools in hand.
- Retaining any tension in a check to pick a lock or disarm a trap is going to be damn hard with Expertise and Advantage going together (and eventually Reliable Talent, too). By the time you get this feature, you probably have +7 or +8 and permanent Advantage. Historically, DMs don’t keep including content that has no tension in it – see also, once your Ranger with Survival shows up, DMs don’t make their foraging shine, they just stop tracking food completely.
- So please, figure out a way to protect the tension in this content.
- Also, the Use an Object Action is missing from this feature and this document, and there’s no clear sign that the Object Interaction action is still part of your turn in One D&D.
- Second-Story Work gives you a Climb Speed equal to your Speed, and you can Jump using your Dex modifier rather than your Strength modifier for the Athletics check.
- Supreme Sneak at 6th level gives you permanent Advantage on Dex (Stealth) Checks, as long as you aren’t in Medium or Heavy Armor.
- Use Magic Device at 10th level is the surprise stand-out of the Subclass. In the 2014 PH, you probably forget you even have this feature unless you’re great at planning around magic items – permission to use more kinds of magic items doesn’t come up that much. In this draft, it both grants you a fourth attunement slot, it gives you a 1-in-6 chance to not expend a charge when you use a charged magic item, and it lets you use Spell Scrolls. Cantrip and 1st-level spells always work, while higher-level Spells require an Int (Arcana) check. There’s a ton of great utility in 1st-level Spell Scrolls, though!
- Thief’s Reflexes at 14th level is toned way down from the previous 17th-level version: rather than giving you an extra whole TURN on the first round of a fight, you gain another Bonus Action once per turn, for a number of turns equal to your PB. The Bonus Action has to be used for a Cunning Action option. You regain expended rounds when you finish a Long Rest.
- This stretches out the benefit over more rounds in an adventuring day. I assume it’s recognizing that especially in late tier 3 and all of tier 4, a smaller number of larger encounters are the standard adventuring day at many tables.
- But of course, taking another turn was also a key way to Sneak Attack twice in one round.
Overall, I’m okay with where the Thief is. This has always been the utility rather than combat-focused Rogue option, and this version doubles down on that. I would like to understand their plans for replacing or recapitulating Object Interaction options, though.
Feats, feat. Epic Boons
Epic Boons would be a great rapper name, is what I’m saying.
There are an absolute ton of Feats and Epic Boons, so I’ll have to stay fairly light with these. One really interesting thing: they use “Proficiency with Any Martial Weapon” as a prereq in quite a few of these. So Rogues yes, Bards no (though Valor will presumably have Proficiency in all Martial Weapons); as currently written, Monks don’t qualify for any of these, because Shortswords moved to Simple Weapons, and that was previously their only Martial Weapon. It’s an interesting way to test for “did we mean for you to be serious about Weapons, or… are you kidding yourself here?” Locking out Clerics other than War Clerics is an odd move in many cases.
Ability Score Improvement is now listed as a Feat, rather than as an alternative to a Feat. Good presentation move here.
Actor requires 13+ Cha (well, that explains why I didn’t get into advanced Drama class) and grants +1 Cha, Impersonation, and Mimicry. Impersonation used to grant advantage on Cha (Deception) and Cha (Performance) checks to protect your cover; now it’s just Performance, but that might be clarification of the intended check. Mimicry is the same as before, except now it’s against DC 15 rather than a contested Skill Check.
I already miss contested Skill Checks. They sometimes needed some help to clarify what happens on a tie, but other than that, they capture the sense of a struggle better than fixed DCs.
Athlete requires 13+ in Str, Dex, or Con, and grants +1 to Str, Dex, or Con; also you gain a Climb Speed equal to your Speed (seems like they’re handing that out a lot these days), you can stand with only 5 feet of movement, and you might as well Jump (because you gain Advantage on Checks to do so). These benefits are a light rewrite of the original.
Charger requires Proficiency in a Martial Weapon and grants +1 to Str or Dex. When you Dash, your Speed increases by 10 ft for the round. Charging no longer has to include the Dash action (as in the original, awful Charger feat). Instead, 1/turn, you can either deal +1d8 damage or push the target 10 feet. This is going to see a huge boost in popularity, especially in the Barbarian crowd that it was always intended for.
Crossbow Expert has been changed to lock out spellcasters – we see you, Warlocks – from using its second bullet point to cast Eldritch Blast at melee range. Spell Sniper now covers that. It also requires Proficiency in a Martial Weapon, which… seems like a weird place to just cut out Artificers? But it grants +1 Dex that it didn’t before, and it provides your ability score modifier to offhand attack damage if your offhand TWF attack uses a Crossbow with the Light property. (Recall that the Light Crossbow doesn’t have the Light property; for that you want only the Hand Crossbow.)
I think it’s for the best that people don’t “need” to take this feat for just one of its three bullet points.
Defensive Duelist is unchanged except that it now grants +1 Dex.
Dual Wielder now requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon – sorry, Monks – and grants +1 Str or Dex rather than +1 AC; a change in how TWF works generally means that where the Feat originally allowed both weapons to not be Light, this now allows one to not be Light. If you’re committed to fighting with two Weapons, this is still pretty compulsory for Quick Draw. The language of “One-Handed Weapon” has been replaced with “lacks the Two-Handed property.”
Durable now requires Con 13+, grants +1 Con as before, and doesn’t rely on Short Rests anymore. Instead, it grants Advantage on Death Saves and lets you more-or-less regenerate – you can spend Hit Dice to heal as a Bonus Action. I think that second part might be too good, but in a way that pushes you to be untouchable in one fight per day but then immediately need to take a Long Rest. Maybe two days’ Long Rest? What I’m saying is, this is pushes the pacing toward a single big fight and a 5-minute adventuring day.
Worth noting: unlike Short Rest healing, you can’t add your Con modifier to this healing… which is weird, given how Con-centric (heh) this Feat is.
Elemental Adept grants +1 Int, Wis, or Cha, and is otherwise unchanged. It’s not a great Feat, because Fire is the only Damage Type with enough Spells at enough different levels for this to stay useful, and this Feat does nothing about Fire-immune creatures.
A note from the Management: For the next thirteen Feats, please substitute in a suitably intense movie-trailer-voiceover voice. Thank you.
So that I don’t have to keep saying it, assume that every EPIC BOON requires 20th level.
EPIC BOON OF COMBAT PROWESS (Expert/Warrior) lets you turn a miss to a hit, 1/combat. This gets an “oh is that all?” from me.
EPIC BOON OF DIMENSIONAL TRAVEL (Expert/Mage) lets you cast Misty Step 1/Short Rest, Long Rest, or combat. Nice to have a very reliable trick up your sleeve, sure.
EPIC BOON OF ENERGY RESISTANCE (Expert/Mage) lets you pick one Damage Type other than Force or B/P/S to gain Resistance to, and you can change it as part of a Short or Long Rest. Though at 20th level, from what we have seen in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, the interesting fights all involve Force Damage replacing B/P/S damage anyway. This seems like a weird place to lock out Priests.
EPIC BOON OF FORTITUDE gives you +40 max hp (this part is identical to the 1st-level Feat Tough), and 1/round when you regain Hit Points from anything, you can also add your Con modifier. Nice to have, but for the difference between a 1st-level Feat and a 20th-level one, surprisingly slim.
EPIC BOON OF IRRESISTABLE OFFENSE (Expert/Warrior) lets you ignore enemy Resistance to Damage. I’m sure I don’t know why Mages or Priests are locked out of this. Paladins want to deal damage too.
EPIC BOON OF LUCK (Expert only) lets you add +1d10 to a d20 Test… apparently before finding out if the roll has succeeded or failed? Once per Short Rest, Long Rest, or Combat. It’s better than the Lucky Feat, but hard to pin down how much better, and it lacks Lucky’s defensive function.
EPIC BOON OF THE NIGHT SPIRIT (Expert or Mage) lets you turn Invisible when you’re in Dim Light or Darkness, as an Action, and you stay Invisible until you use your Action or a Reaction. It’s better than the One with Shadows Eldritch Invocation in that you can move, and only sometimes as good as the Shroud of Shadows Eldritch Invocation, which can target other characters.
EPIC BOON OF PEERLESS AIM (Expert/Warrior) is the same as the EPIC BOON OF COMBAT PROWESS, but for shootin’.
EPIC BOON OF RECOVERY lets you regain half of your max hp as a Bonus Action, 1/Long Rest, and you only fail Death Saves on a 1. It’s a clear upgrade of Durable, with strong burst healing but much less total healing done in a day.
EPIC BOON OF SKILL PROFICIENCY makes you Proficient in every Skill. Which means, perversely, that it’s less useful if you’re an Expert or took the Skilled Feat.
EPIC BOON OF SPEED (Expert/Warrior) increases your Speed by 30 feet. It’s more extra speed than the Speedster Feat, but it kind of depends on how much you even need more Speed at 20th level.
EPIC BOON OF UNDETECTABILITY (Expert) makes you also Invisible and Silent while Hidden. As we’ll see when we get to the rules for hiding, that’s… kind of a confusing addition.
EPIC BOON OF THE UNFETTERED (Expert/Warrior) lets you Disengage as a Bonus Action, and this automatically ends the Grappled and Restrained Conditions for you. Because it just works, this might be one of the most actually-epic of the boons, to me.
Overall, the Epic Boons look like more hype than substance. Too many of them are barely better, or only sometimes better, than 1st or 4th-level Feats. Also, why would y’all leave Priests completely out in the cold? Their options are very narrow. At first blush, it seems like Epic Boons are there to reward you for sticking with one Class for 20 levels, but as it turns out… they’re only okay, for what they are.
Fighting Styles: Archery, Defense, Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting, and Two-Weapon Fighting: No changes, except that they’re now Warrior Feats, which opens them to Barbarians and Monks.
Fighting Style: Protection no longer turns on Disadvantage. Here’s a rundown on why the old version wasn’t great. In this version, it uses your Reaction, triggered by an adjacent creature getting hit by an Attack Roll. You reduce the Attack Roll by 2, which might make it miss (here it matters a lot whether your DM is in the habit of announcing monster Attack Roll results). This Fighting Style requires a Shield, and… maybe it’s a shame it doesn’t scale if your Shield has a +1 or higher bonus to AC. This fixes several of the issues with Protection and I am reasonably happy with it.
Grappler requires Str or Dex 13+ and does three more things for you. When you’re Grappling a creature, you gain Advantage on attacks against them; you can move a creature you’re Grappling without becoming Slowed if they’re your Size or smaller; and 1/turn when you use an Unarmed Strike on your turn, you can both deal damage and Grapple them. Assuming you also bought Tavern Brawler or you’re a Monk, that goes a long way toward covering the 4e Brawler fighter that I loved so much.
Oh, I should mention that the 2014 version of Grappler didn’t work, one of its bullet points got cut in Errata, and it’s one of the worst official Feats in the game.
Great Weapon Master requires Proficiency with any Martial Weapon. It grants +1 Str, a Bonus Action attack when you crit or drop an enemy to 0 hp (do you know, I had forgotten that the original triggered on a crit, because the Barbarian in my game who has this Feat crits so rarely… sorry, buddy), and instead of the -5 to hit/+10 damage of the original, you now add your PB to the damage you deal on a hit, 1/turn. Nice to have, but nowhere near as exciting.
Heavily Armored is the same as before, except that the ability score bonus can go to Con.
Heavy Armor Master grants its ability score bonus to Strength or Con now, and instead of a flat 3 damage off every incoming B/P/S attack, it’s your PB. B/P/S damage is replaced with other Damage Types by a lot – I would say most – monsters you face in T3/T4, so this Feat still winds up disappointing.
Inspiring Leader now requires and boosts Wisdom or Charisma – helpful for Clerics and Druids – and happens at the end of a Short or Long Rest rather than whenever you have 10 spare minutes (but creatures couldn’t receive the bonus again until they finished a Short or Long Rest). The temp hp that you grant are now better at low levels and much worse at high levels, because they scale only slightly. The move to stop using ability score modifiers wherever possible undermines the mechanic in this Feat – wiser or more charismatic leaders have no advantage at all over someone who barely meets the requirements.
Keen Mind has dropped all of its odd minor benefits, as a personal attack on Liam O’Brien, and now requires Int 13+. It either grants Proficiency in Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, or Religion, or grants Expertise if you’re already Proficient. Good way for Wizards to keep up with Experts. It also lets you use the new Study Action as a Bonus Action, and that is a problem in itself.
Once a Feat grants something like that, the DM can’t just decide to drop Study down to a smaller unit of action (Free, Object Interaction, or Bonus), because that devalues the Feat. What you get from the Study Action is so vague that it’s hard to say it’s ever worth giving up your Action during combat. Out of combat, of course, Study being an Action doesn’t matter, so this Feat doesn’t matter either.
Lightly Armored has absorbed the Moderately Armored Feat completely, now granting Light, Medium, and Shield Armor Training.
Mage Slayer requires a Martial Weapon (sorry, Monks) and grants +1 Str or Dex (sorry, Hexblade or Hexblade-likes), Concentration Breaker, and Guarded Mind. The free attack when an adjacent creature casts is gone, maybe because they’re pivoting away from enemies actually casting spells being all that common? Concentration Breaker is the second bullet of the original Mage Slayer, and Guarded Mind is a 1/Long Rest Legendary Resistance that only applies to Int, Wis, or Cha saves. Looks solid and very usable to me.
Medium Armor Master cuts out Medium Armor no longer imposing Disad on your Dex (Stealth) Checks. Which makes me wonder if Disad on Stealth from Medium Armor is just going away? (It only applies to a few Medium Armor types anyway.) If you’re interested, I have more commentary on Medium Armor in D&D over in Harbinger of Doom.
Mounted Combatant requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon; there’s probably going to be at least one melee Cleric out there who is locked out by this. It grants +1 Str, Dex, or Wis, and you gain Advantage on Wis (Animal Handling) to interact with horses or other mountable (yikes) Beasts. Mounted Strike, Leap Aside, and Veer are all identical to the bullet points of the 2014 version. Nothing here is going to help at all if your campaign doesn’t focus on outdoor combat while mounted, but I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to ask of this feat.
Observant now requires Int or Wis 13+ and grants +1 Int or Wis. Lip-reading is gone as an explicit function, but it now grants Proficiency or Expertise (as Keen Mind did) in one of Insight, Investigation, or Perception, and you can Search as a Bonus Action. I’m well aware that Search has been an Action in 5e since the beginning, but I’m not sure I’ve ever needed it in combat, so Quick Search comes pretty close to a non-feature.
Personal story time: I think this ability prereq is a mistake. They’ve cut Dungeon Delver, and I get why – that Feat wasn’t good enough for any but the most trap-and-secret-door filled campaigns. That said, it was life-changing for my Ranger in Tomb of Annihilation, who picked it up at 8th level. I was already so pigeon-holed as a Ranger by having 12 Wis that being locked out of Observant – the obvious best stand-in for Dungeon Delver – would have been salt in the wound and would have pushed build planning in a way that I find deeply undesirable.
Polearm Master again requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon and is more explicitly about Reach than the previous version was. Pole Strike is similar, but doesn’t work with Quarterstaffs or Spears (but does now work with Pikes) and doesn’t use your Bonus Action. Reactive Strike similarly no longer works with Quarterstaffs or Spears, and the Attack you make is no longer flagged as an Opportunity Attack, in case that matters.
Resilient: perfect, don’t change it. (They didn’t.)
Ritual Caster now works with Cha 13+ as well as Int or Wis 13+. The function is a bit different and not expansible as it was before. You learn two Ritual spells from one Spell List; those are now always prepared for you, and you can cast them with your Spell Slots. (Remember, because they have the Ritual tag, you can also cast them as Rituals without limit.) Quick Ritual lets you ignore the extra time cost of a Ritual (so basically you cast one Ritual spell without expending a spell slot), 1/Long Rest. Getting rid of Ritual Books makes me both sad and very worried for my beloved Wizard Class.
Sentinel requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon (sorry, Monks and probably a few melee Clerics), and grants +1 Str or Dex, and Halt is unchanged from the original. Guardian is essentially just the other two bullet points rolled together, except that it only triggers on a hit and doesn’t care if that target also has Sentinel. It’s explicitly an Opportunity Attack in both cases now, so Halt also applies. Other than the ability score adjustment, this amounts to a minor net loss of power, since two-Sentinel parties aren’t that common.
Sharpshooter requires Proficiency with a Martial Weapon and grants +1 Dex. You ignore all but Total Cover, you don’t have Disad when firing at adjacent opponents (I… don’t like this, I don’t really want archers to treat their Bows as viable Melee Weapons), and you don’t have Disadvantage for Long-Range shots. I never liked the part about ignoring Cover, because once a PC has that, DMs are going to stop using Cover to make that feature shine (unless they play monsters as being unable to understand that Cover is no help whatsoever). Cover-shooter play isn’t a big part of D&D, but this makes absolutely sure of that. The -5 to hit/+10 to damage that made this Feat a popular 1st-level choice is gone.
Shield Master now grants +1 Str and fixes Shield Bash’s timing to occur 1/turn immediately after you hit with a Melee Weapon Attack; it’s a Shove in all but name (since Shove is now explicitly an Unarmed Strike). It no longer uses a Bonus Action. You also get “Shield Evasion” that costs your Reaction, but you don’t apply your Shield’s bonus to AC to your Dex save, so most users (Fighters, Paladins, a rare few Barbarians) might want to look to Resilient (Dex) also.
Skulker now grants +1 Dex, gives you Blindsight 10 feet, gives you Advantage on in-combat Stealth Checks to Hide, and (as before) you aren’t revealed if you miss with an Attack while Hidden (but now that can be a Melee, Ranged, or Unarmed Attack, in principle at least). This is still only useful to Rogues and a few Rangers, though.
Speedster is a rename of Mobile – I’m not attached to Mobile but I’d like to see some less superhero-flavored name here. It requires Dex or Con of 13+ and grants +1 Dex or Con. You have +10 ft Speed, now only when not in Heavy Armor and you ignore Difficult Terrain when you Dash. There’s nothing about not provoking Opportunity Attacks to give you the hit-and-run dynamic of the previous version, and I thought that was neat – folding Disengage into an attack, in essence.
Spell Sniper requires Spellcasting or Pact Magic and grants +1 Int, Wis, or Cha. You ignore Cover (see previous) and Disadvantage for casting Ranged Attack Spells while within 5 feet of an enemy, and you add 60 feet to the range of your Ranged Attack Spells, if their Range is at least 10 ft. This is specifically future-proofing relevant to the errata released for Green-Flame Blade and other Eldritch Knight/Bladesinger/Bladelock-oriented spells.
War Caster is unchanged except that it now grants +1 Int, Wis, or Cha.
Weapon Training is a Feat you’d only take if you’re one of those Clerics or Monks I’ve mentioned that has a very specific build plan to get a feat that requires a Martial Weapon. It’s a mechanical patch only, but still grants +1 Str or Dex.
And that brings us to the end of Feats. If you’re still with me after 8500 words, uh, wow. Congratulations I think? Not that we’re done with the document – perish the thought.
There are a couple of big stories to see here. Eldritch blast is still missing from the Arcane list, as in the previous UA, strongly suggesting that it’s a Warlock class feature (and blocking Bards from grabbing it with Magical Secrets). Hex is still there on the Arcane list, and Bards do get that.
Healing, categorically, has moved from Evocation to Abjuration, and friends, that is not where I would have put it any day of the week. I was fine with Evocation; I would also accept Necromancy (life & death energy) or, somewhat more of a stretch but 3.x did it first, Conjuration. Now, I’m 100% sure that this is about wanting to give classes access to, say, “all Divine spells of the Abjuration school,” rather than all Divine Evocations. That’s fine, as far as it goes, but can we please talk about what an ugly mess that is when you’re trying to understand a class and its capabilities?
Basically, you need to mentally reconstruct (or retype, for the overachievers out there) your class’s individual spell list, and filter out things you don’t get, each time you prepare spells. If there’s not some kind of presentation-side fix that we aren’t seeing yet, this promises to make spell prep take a LOT longer.
Other than the healing thing, there are only a small number of school changes that are about either Bards or Rangers (probably sometimes both). We don’t yet know much at all about further mechanical changes to the spells, save for the two in the Rules Glossary.
It’s way beyond me to deliver meaningful analysis on what popular or important spells Bards and Rangers have lost from this packet, other than what I’ve noted above. (I won’t cry about Bards losing Leomund’s Tiny Hut, though.)
As with the first UA release, this is where the really contentious stuff lives. I do expect to fully skip a few of these entries, especially if they didn’t change from the previous packet.
Ability Checks establish that they use your Action by default, but DMs can sometimes waive this. This was perfectly fine in 2014, but Quick Search and Quick Study make that an untenable position now. It was fine for DMs to never waive or shorten the Hide Action, you know? That’s an active part of a Rogue’s combat – you wouldn’t shorten that (and cut into Cunning Action) any more than you’d move the Attack Action down to a Bonus Action. I’m going to get into this for individual Actions as I go along, but this is not in a good place now.
The style guide for Ability Checks has changed again – now it’s Strength Check (Athletics), which is terrible because a DM reading that needs to rephrase it for the players to understand them. Please don’t do this. Every day we drift further into full legalese and away from natural language.
They did get rid of autofail/autosuccess on 1 and 20. Those were only a problem in corner cases, but 1 and 20 are inherently corner cases, so.
Attack Roll: They’ll explain it again in a minute, but this packet reverts to 2014 PH Critical Hit rules. At least in my corner of the world, there was much rejoicing. I’d like to see explicit handling for easy critical hits for DMs that use average monster damage.
Barkskin was kind of a hacky spell before, since its amount of benefit varied in a way that had no narrative base. Now it’s Heroism but slightly more temp hp and a much longer duration, but no immunity to Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners or their favorite Condition. Certainly improves the odds of it seeing use.
d20 Tests – you now gain Heroic Inspiration from a natural 1 rather than a natural 20. The DM has explicit permission to disallow Tests, presumably where success or failure shouldn’t be possible.
Exhausted is now the same part of speech as other Conditions, so that’s nice. The levels of drawbacks are gone, replaced with a 10-level track where you subtract that value from your d20 Tests and your Spell Save DCs. The latter quite surprised me when I saw it, but I like that spellcasters don’t have an easy workaround that warrior-types lack. You die at Exhausted 11+.
The cool thing about this change is that PCs might reasonably keep adventuring even with 1 or more levels of Exhausted. It’s just a penalty to your roll… why not press your luck? Like the original Exhaustion, it’s also a longer-term consequence, in this case maybe taking up to 10 days of rest to get rid of. Or you could beg your healers for some greater restoration, with the associated diamond dust cost.
I expect it will lead to a huge increase in enemies inflicting Exhausted with their attacks, and with DM’s Guild supplements recommending levels of Exhausted as a consequence of receiving a Critical Hit or getting dropped to 0 hp.
Fly Speed – this is a nitpicky change, but the Prone Condition doesn’t knock you out of the air anymore. I always felt like that was too likely to trivialize dragon fights, so I like this change.
Grappled – this hasn’t changed, but I want to point out something about it that I had previously missed. Because there isn’t a way to use your Action to Escape before the end of your turn (short of Shoving or casting a Spell that Incapacitates or pushes the enemy), you’re quite likely to break out by succeeding your Saving Throw, then immediately get Grappled again when the attacker hits you. That feels… odd? Like busy-work rolling, maybe?
Guidance has been changed to fit how it actually gets used at the table – as a Reaction after a failed Check. No more Concentration, so that’s nice; but also a creature can only receive this Spell once per Long Rest, even if they roll the die and it doesn’t help.
This – and Bardic Inspiration – get very deep into one of the problem areas of Skill use in D&D. DMs have their own ways of using these rules that are absolutely not standardized from one table to the next, and more rarely that’s an explicit part of the rules. Sometimes a roll is a simple pass/fail situation with a set DC, and Bardic Inspiration and Guidance work fine. Other times, you have grades of success, as I talk about in this Twitter thread. There’s no failure trigger available for, say, XGTE’s Downtime Activity rules that have defined results for everything north of negative-number outcomes.
There are also times when the DM can’t reveal at the time of the roll whether the result is a failure, or there was nothing to find. For example, a Wisdom Check (Insight) to determine if someone is lying to you, or a Wisdom Check (Perception) to find traps. You don’t announce a failure on that roll, because that is indistinguishable from giving the result of a success. You say “you don’t sense [thing]” and move on.
Help now requires Proficiency in the relevant Skill for Ability Check Assistance. That’s interesting.
Heroic Inspiration isn’t lost for taking a Long Rest anymore, and the 1 that grants it has to be the result that you use, not a discarded result (from Advantage or a reroll mechanic). Good fixes.
Hidden is the first part of the new Stealth and Perception dynamic – the Hide and Seek Search Actions also factor into this strongly. The point of this, as far as I am aware, is to cut out contested Ability Checks. The Hidden Condition rejects a character being Hidden from one enemy but not another – any enemy finding you reveals you to everyone.
Concealment from spellcasting (or other “that you can see” effect) enemies is a familiar effect. Surprise is now codified into granting Advantage on Initiative rolls, which I like – it’s a slightly better chance for ambusher NPCs to catch the PCs in disarray, or vice versa. Attack Rolls from Hidden gain Advantage, and Attack Rolls against Hidden have Disadvantage – the qualifications to even make the latter kind of attack might need some clarification? Do you have to know the space they’re in even if you can’t see them, or…? A bunch of things break the Hidden Condition: noise, verbal components, you making an Attack Roll (you have Advantage, then the hiding ends), or your Obscurement or Cover go away.
The last is “an enemy finds you,” which is explained to some degree in the Hide Action. “You aren’t Heavily Obscured or behind any Cover” can happen from just… an enemy moving around the wall you’re behind.
Hide sets a DC of 15 for your Dexterity Check (Stealth), and you also have to be Heavily Obscured or behind Three-Quarters or Total Cover and out of any enemy’s line of sight. The DC here is weird because you also set a DC for the enemy’s Perception check, but you need something you can concretely fail (see above, under Guidance). The Action gives you the Hidden Condition, and your check total becomes the Wisdom Check (Perception) DC (that is, for the Search Action), unless the enemy can physically find you.
Oh, huh. I guess it now matters, in a real way, that PCs don’t make noises of pain when they take damage. Otherwise you could try to break Hidden with a Fireball or a dragon’s breath weapon.
Influence is an Action to let you talk during combat, and making it use your Action is a deeply wrong-headed idea right from the start. Yes, you should fail a Persuasion attempt if you’re still attacking, but the game should take pains to encourage banter and possibly de-escalating the fight into a negotiation. This doesn’t need to be an Action and, as much as possible, you shouldn’t have to wait for your turn to interact.
This Action has the same problem social mechanics always have (they’re just complicated enough to be in the way), with the added issue that it’s honestly just not that hard to get to a situation where your worst roll on a d20 still beats a DC 20. Glamour Bards do this by 3rd level. These rules resemble the social interaction rules in the 2014 DMG that almost no one has read, and that adventure writers have habitually ignored.
Jump – well, I’m already talking about things that don’t need to be Actions, so. This one has a lot to dislike. I’ll start with “you jump like an MMO character” – a 5-ft vertical jump is a failed roll. You can jump 5 feet or less as Difficult Terrain, and that part is okay, but why is this carved out of an ordinary Move? Also, you’ve got two different fail states going on in this Action, but only one triggers Bardic Inspiration or Guidance – the base DC of 10. You can succeed that and still disastrously fail to make that 6-foot leap.
The good part is that there are rules at all for a Strength (Athletics/Acrobatics) check, rather than jump distance being fixed by your Strength score for all time. This creates the possibility of tension in a platforming traversal challenge. Action heroes need to be able to leap and attack in the same turn, I’m gonna say.
Light – this Weapon property is the long-awaited fix for Two-Weapon Fighting eating up all your tasty Bonus Actions. It does this by moving that extra attack into your Attack Action, and now both of your Weapons have to be Light. That’s the most viable simple solution. The one lingering problem is that a TWF mechanic that can’t support rapier-and-dagger fighting is missing the fundamental image. The Dual Wielder Feat gets you that, but it’s a long way to go.
Long Rests no longer restore only half your expended HD. Not a fan – please leave some cost or consequence to a hard day of adventuring!
Magic is the Action name that used to be Cast a Spell; it also covers using Magic Items or casting Spells with casting times of more than 1 minute. My main objection is that Magic is the wrong part of speech. Can I buy a verb?
Move wants you to choose one movement type for your Move on a turn. That seems like a really weird requirement, to me. Please let movement be dynamic?
Ritual Casting – if it has the Ritual tag, you can cast it as a Ritual, full stop.
Study seems to me like it should be more reflexive? I mean, if we’re trying to figure out what I know about this enemy right in front of me – which the Action strongly implies as a major way to use it – that probably doesn’t need to take my Action for the round. For the great majority of monsters, there isn’t going to be sufficiently useful information to reveal to make that feel good. If you need to manipulate a mechanical or magical device or something, okay, fine, but that’s an ad hoc “yes, an Action is appropriate here” situation, not a default. If you’re using this outside of combat, of course, making it an Action doesn’t matter, so setting it as an Action in combat is counterproductive.
The one thing I like here is that Investigation is getting retasked into a wider variety of applications. Its name is getting less accurate to what it does, but its pitch for why you’d want to be Proficient just got a lot better.
There’s nothing new in the last several entries, so that wraps it up.
One, I hope that future documents are… not 37 pages long. My brain is toast.
Two, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, even if you disagree with every single word I said. Including the article headline.
Three, as I said in the beginning, let’s focus on this as one development snapshot, not the preordained future. D&D Next demonstrated how fast and completely they could pivot when they wanted to.
Four… I’m unhappy with more of what’s here that I’m happy with, and I think in several cases they’re trying to simplify things but wind up doing the opposite (Spell Lists most of all). Getting gamers to enthusiastically embrace things that tone down character power is the challenge they’ve set for themselves. Most of all I would like to see less emphasis on standardizing Actions that will implicitly apply to a huge variety of situations.