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  • We've had a load of Unearthed Arcana articles in the last few months, but this most recent one is kind of significant. Not just potential new subclasses, but variant rules for the classes themselves.

    Interested in seeing what everyone thinks. Some initial thoughts:

    -Various iterations of "Spell Versatility" and "Cantrip Versatility", letting characters change what spells and/or cantrips they know, either at a long rest (for classes with Spells Known) or when gaining a level (for Prepared Spells). A very solid quality-of-life improvement, and I was inclined to allow the cantrip changing part already (since it's not fair to saddle players with cantrips they are unhappy with; see also True Strike). Classes with very few spells known - Bards, Sorcerers, and Warlocks - can swap individual spells at the end of long rests. Might actually encourage experimentation or variety, where before the low quantity of spells known biased spell choices towards only the "best" spells (whether mechanically or thematically).

    -For that matter, Classes who get Fighting Styles can choose to swap them upon level ups, and those with Maneuvers (which incidentally, can now be gained from a Fighting Style as well) can swap them out at the end of a long rest. In the former case, I think it's very helpful for a martial character to not be locked into a single way of fighting for the whole campaign. Especially if the character gains access to a magic weapon superior to their own, but which wouldn't match the Fighting Style they chose at char-gen. In the case of Maneuvers, the same applies with spells above. Swapping Maneuvers out regularly is just helpful, especially if the player decides they didn't like what they had and wanted to try something different. If a player isn't having fun, they shouldn't have to wait until some arbitrary point in the future before they can get a more satisfactory option.

    -Like I said, there are new Fighting Styles available, including ones tailored to the Fighter, Paladin, and Ranger classes. The new Fighter one gives access to one Maneuver and a superiority die, same as the Feat (meaning you could load up on all of them and get loads more Maneuvers/Superiority dice). The Paladin and Ranger, meanwhile, get Fighting Styles that give them access to two Cantrips from the Cleric and Druid lists, respectively. Making those two able to act more like spellcasters, in return for not getting the martial bonuses of other styles. Other styles include Blind Fighting, Interception (you reduce damage dealt to allies you are right next to), Thrown Weapon Fighting, and Unarmed Fighting. I think the Fighting Styles are a good design space for martial classes, and so it's good to see it opened up.

    -The spell lists of all spellcasting classes have been added to, giving spells to classes that didn't have them before. Most of these are no-brainers - like giving Wizards access to Augury, Divination, and Speak with Dead - spells that these classes really should have had all along. Druids can finally do things like Ceremony, Revivify, and Augury, making them seem like the kind of rural priests they were always meant to be (as if druidic or shamanistic cultures had no use for seers or wedding/coming-of-age rituals). Other spells are questionable, like giving Clerics and Rangers access to various Smite spells, or letting Warlocks have Animate Dead (after we were all led to believe their frequent refresh of spell slots would break the game). More often than not, though, the spell list expansions are a "It's About Time" thing.


    There are a bunch of other things I didn't cover, because I've been up all night and need my rest. I didn't even cover the Warlocks selection of Invocations, or their new Pact Boon, the Talisman. Or the overhaul of (original) Ranger mechanics. (It's not so much as another iteration of the Revised Ranger, so much as a different direction entirely).

    Suffice to say, though, that I'M very pleased with this article. I struggled to find things I didn't like about it. If I could sum it up, it's "Quality of Life Improvements".


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    • This latest UA is probably my favorite so far. My thoughts:

      Cantrip Versatility is fabulous, and I think every casting class should get it. Spell Versatility for the learned spell casters I’m a bit more conflicted on. On one hand, I think it’s great to offer a retraining option for these classes so that players don’t feel stuck with a spell choice that they don’t find themselves using much. On the other hand, this is an enormous boost to these classes flexibility. Swapping out one spell per long rest seems pretty reasonable while out adventuring, but this also means with maybe a week or two of downtime, a learned spell caster can completely change out their list of known spells, which arguably makes them more versatile than a wizard, who can only access the spells in their spell book and doesn’t have a similar option to swap out spell book choices. That seems like a major side effect of a rules change who’s main purpose seems to be to let players retrain spell choices they regret without having to worry about jerk DMs not letting them. I thought WotC had learned that trying to bad-DM-proof their design was more trouble than it’s worth?

      I love the new fighting styles and fighting style versatility. I do think the Advanced Maneuver style seems a little weak though, which is too bad because Battlemaster Maneuvers are more interesting to me than the more passive bonus type Fighting Styles. Maybe it should grant two or three Maneuvers. The Paladin and Ranger “you get two cantrips” fighting styles are not really my cup of tea, but I think they’re good options to have available.

      The expanded spell lists make sense. No complaints there.

      The ranger changes look pretty good. I am a little concerned they’ll be too “dipable” though. At any table that allows multiclassing and these options, it’ll be hard to justify not taking a level of Ranger for concentration-free Hunter’s Mark. The Sorlock could easily become a Sorangelock. I really, really wish there had been an option to replace spellcasting entirely, and it seems odd to me that their wasn’t since Mike Mearls has played around with the idea on Happy Fun Hour before. I also think the one feature that lets them remove a level of exhaustion on a short rest is WAY too strong, but I’m hopeful that will get caught in playtesting and toned down before going to print.

      The Warlock talisman pact boon is a very cool concept, but feels a bit weak. The armor invocation for bladelocks is exactly what they needed, vastly preferable to the Hexblade in my opinion. In general, these new invocations are quite cool, I like them.

      Cunning Action Aim is going to make Sharpshooter a very strong option for rogues, where it had been suboptimal for them before. When I first read it I thought it was going to be too strong, but on further reflection I think it’s actually pretty reasonable.

      Love the Barbarian alternate features, and wish there had been more options like these for other classes. Most of the options in this UA are straight upgrades, and I’d have liked to see more of these side-grades where you can swap out a class feature for a similarly-powerful but different-feeling feature, PF1 style. I also feel like the Barbarian’s instinctive pounce could do with allowing an attack as part of the reaction to give it just a bit of extra kick, but it’s hard to say if it’s needed without testing.

      One thing that I notice is that quite a few of these changes open up short rest recharge healing options, which is VERY strong in 5e. I’m not sure how I feel about that without playtesting them.
      Last edited by Charlaquin; 11-07-2019, 02:20 PM.


      Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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      • With the Pact of the Talisman, I see it as a more variable form of the Bard's "Jack-Of-All-Trades" feature (add half Proficiency bonus to any ability you don't have proficiency with), but you have the added benefit of giving it to anyone in the group, not just you. It's part of what I see in the latest UAs of having more class/subclass features that benefit the whole party, not just the character in question. As for the effect itself, it's a passive, always-on Guidance for anything the wearer isn't already good at.

        It's certainly not as flashy or impressive as three free cantrips, a buffed Familiar, or a magic weapon. But I think it works. What I'd like is if the Talisman also acted as an Arcane Focus for the Warlock, so in lieu of those flashier pact boons the Warlock is never without their magic. (And the Warlock can still keep a regular Arcane Focus for when they're not wearing the Talisman themselves).

        Of course, the big draw for the Talisman is the Invocations associated with it, which are pretty strong. The ability to teleport to the wearer (or the wearer teleport to the Warlock). Giving the wearer a buff to saving throws. The ability to deal psychic damage to anyone who hits the wearer. There's probably far more that can be done with Talisman Invocations, since we've established the precedent of giving the benefits of one's pact to someone else (let alone keeping it for oneself, which is always an option).

        The non-Talisman Invocations are also great, especially since they give a lot more options to the existing pact boons. For Chain, having buffs to the Familiar, or being able to have them make attacks on your turn (most Warlocks aren't using their Bonus Actions for much, anyway), make the Familiar more useful as a combat weapon. Especially if the Familiar is poisoning or putting creatures to sleep using YOUR spell save, rather than their native one.

        Tome Warlocks get a lot of fun stuff, including two Invocations that incorporate the written, textual nature of their boon in a practical and, more importantly, thematic way. Far Scribe just gives you unlimited Sendings to up to five people of your choice (that's most adventuring parties right there). I can imagine a high level Warlock NPC that uses their tome as a magical relay for keeping in communication with allies half the world away, or even on other planes. Whereas Gift of the Protectors enables the Warlock to designate up to five people (note, it does not specify other creatures, meaning the Warlock herself could potentially benefit from it), and the first person to drop to 0...doesn't. It's a free Half-Orc racial feature to whomever falls down first. That it doesn't apply to everyone is at once disappointing, but also a necessary balancing measure. So I don't begrudge it too much.

        Finally, Eldritch Mind - giving Tome-locks advantage on concentration saves - opens up so many possibilities for them. Hex becomes harder to disrupt. Conjured Elementals slip their leash less often. Even Vampiric Touch becomes more viable as a strategy, if the Tome-lock can get up close without losing the thread of the spell.


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        • Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
          With the Pact of the Talisman, I see it as a more variable form of the Bard's "Jack-Of-All-Trades" feature (add half Proficiency bonus to any ability you don't have proficiency with), but you have the added benefit of giving it to anyone in the group, not just you. It's part of what I see in the latest UAs of having more class/subclass features that benefit the whole party, not just the character in question. As for the effect itself, it's a passive, always-on Guidance for anything the wearer isn't already good at.

          It's certainly not as flashy or impressive as three free cantrips, a buffed Familiar, or a magic weapon. But I think it works. What I'd like is if the Talisman also acted as an Arcane Focus for the Warlock, so in lieu of those flashier pact boons the Warlock is never without their magic. (And the Warlock can still keep a regular Arcane Focus for when they're not wearing the Talisman themselves).
          Ooh, allowing the talisman to work as an arcane focus is a good idea! Maybe add an Invocation that lets you treat the wearer of the talisman as the origin point for your spells.


          Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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          • The one and only feature rogues got is... disappointing. Another way to score sneak attacks isn't really what the class needs. I also feel like it helps ranged rogues more than melee ones, and the former also don't need the extra help.

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            • Originally posted by Morty View Post
              The one and only feature rogues got is... disappointing. Another way to score sneak attacks isn't really what the class needs. I also feel like it helps ranged rogues more than melee ones, and the former also don't need the extra help.
              From what Jeremy Crawford has said in D&D Beyond interviews, it seems like the intent of these alternate and enhanced features is basically to fix perceived problems with the classes as originally written, without invalidating the player’s handbook. (He didn’t say that, but it’s pretty easy to infer from what he did say.) Evidently pretty satisfied with the rogue as-is, but felt that ranged rogues needed a slight boost. Presumably because melee rogues can use their bonus action to get a second chance at sneak attack damage via two-weapon fighting but ranged rogues can’t. Hence, an addendum to Cunning Action that allows you to give yourself advantage as a bonus action if you don’t move on your turn.
              Last edited by Charlaquin; 11-08-2019, 09:24 PM.


              Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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              • Also, Aim helps melee Rogues too. Note the description says nothing about attacks made at range or melee. It's ANY attack. That it turns off movement keys into the idea of the Rogue standing their ground.

                Another thing explained in the Crawford interviews is that Aim is meant just as much for Rogues stuck in melee, as it does for Rogues at range. Especially if the Rogue is fighting alone, without any allies to key their Sneak Attack off of. (It does happen, whether because the party has no other melee fighters, or because the Rogue is away from the rest of the group for any number of reasons).


                Comment


                • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                  From what Jeremy Crawford has said in D&D Beyond interviews, it seems like the intent of these alternate and enhanced features is basically to fix perceived problems with the classes as originally written, without invalidating the player’s handbook. (He didn’t say that, but it’s pretty easy to infer from what he did say.) Evidently pretty satisfied with the rogue as-is, but felt that ranged rogues needed a slight boost. Presumably because melee rogues can use their bonus action to get a second chance at sneak attack damage via two-weapon fighting but ranged rogues can’t. Hence, an addendum to Cunning Action that allows you to give yourself advantage as a bonus action if you don’t move on your turn.
                  If I were to point to a problem with the rogue class as it is, not enough ways to get sneak attack wouldn't be one of them. The class being a one-trick pony in combat certainly would be, and Aim doesn't exactly help here. Ranged rogues can easily get sneak attack while staying at a safe distance from the fighting, so I really don't think they need help. Being able to dual-wield is the only advantage melee rogues have. Aim does help them, but it helps ranged rogues more, as they no longer have to move around and hide - they can just sit in place and shoot.

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                  • Originally posted by Morty View Post
                    If I were to point to a problem with the rogue class as it is, not enough ways to get sneak attack wouldn't be one of them. The class being a one-trick pony in combat certainly would be, and Aim doesn't exactly help here. Ranged rogues can easily get sneak attack while staying at a safe distance from the fighting, so I really don't think they need help.
                    I don’t know what to tell you, man. WotC clearly disagrees.

                    Originally posted by Morty View Post
                    Being able to dual-wield is the only advantage melee rogues have. Aim does help them, but it helps ranged rogues more, as they no longer have to move around and hide - they can just sit in place and shoot.
                    Yeah, I think that’s the design intent behind aim.


                    Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                    • So as it has been around a year since my campaign has started, I think that the setting has more or less reached a stable state, which has brought me to decide to start writing down a detailed version of all the races, classes, nations, faiths, etc in the settings (so a setting guide, actually). It would probably take awhile, but currently I enjoy it, and would help to give me a better idea for how the plot is going to evolve (that is, unless my players would almost destroy the world, again...).


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                      "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

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                      • Oh, a new Crap Guide to D&D is up.

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                        • While we're on the subject, is anyone else sad that the Archivist subclass of Artificer got cut from the official release of the class?

                          Because I am. I'm not burning with anger, just slightly disappointed.


                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                            While we're on the subject, is anyone else sad that the Archivist subclass of Artificer got cut from the official release of the class?

                            Because I am. I'm not burning with anger, just slightly disappointed.
                            I’m quite confident it will be in whatever book all the recent UAs have been leading up to. Still thinking it’s going to be a manual of the planes kind of book.


                            Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                            • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post

                              I’m quite confident it will be in whatever book all the recent UAs have been leading up to. Still thinking it’s going to be a manual of the planes kind of book.
                              I would love for the next book to be Manual of the Planes and unlock Planescape.


                              Freelancer (He/His Pronouns): CofD - Dark Eras 2, Kith and Kin, Mummy 2e, Oak Ash and Thorn; Scion - Mysteries of the World

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                              • Originally posted by Second Chances View Post
                                I would love for the next book to be Manual of the Planes and unlock Planescape.
                                That’s my prediction. Could turn out to be something else, but to me it seems like the best fit for all those subclasses (including the psionic ones), and the class feature variants, and the gem dragons, which we know are coming soon too.

                                Some folks on ENworld have been speculating that it might be an MTG crossover, but I think they might be reaching a bit.


                                Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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