October is here, and Wizards of the Coast recently announced that going forward Unearthed Arcana will always be the second Monday of the month. Well, it’s the second week of the month, and that means we’ve got some new playtest material to review! This month’s Unearthed Arcana brings up a wonderfully thematic look at fiendish options for your D&D world.
These are broken out into 3 main categories, each of which has an option for each Lord of the Nine Hells or the demon lords! The three categories are new tiefling subraces (with Asmodeus retaining the original tiefling as their subrace), Diabolical cults (each that come with their own devil flavored evil), and ending with Demonic Boons (that can enhance your NPCs or tempt your players). That said, while I won’t highlight every option present, let’s take a look at some of these new options!
As I stated above, the default Tiefling in the PHB is now considered the Asmodeus subrace, and the only changes between each new subrace is the ability score given a +1 (each retains the +2 to Charisma) as well as what innate spells they now have access to. You can easily tell that a lot of these were designed with a specific class or character type in mind, which I think is good as it makes tieflings much more versatile and interesting. Here are two that I really enjoyed:
First off, Dispater screams rogue or other sneaky character. Unsurprisingly, it gives you a +1 to Dexterity, but then follows it up with the Thaumaturgy cantrip, Disguise Self once per long rest at level 3, and Invisibility once per long rest at level 5. Even a silver-tongued and subtle bard could make great use of this subrace!
Second is Zariel, who grants a +1 to strength and surprisingly has a bit of a Paladin tinge to it. Thaumaturgy is also the cantrip here, but Searing Smite is granted at 3rd level and Branding Smite at 5th. While this could augment a Paladin nicely, I would love to see a Fighter, or dare I say, a Barbarian well? Have you ever been smote by a Barbarian? That itself sounds scarier than the Nine Hells…
What I like about both of these (and the rest of them; I don’t think any one of them is bad) is they are actually useful for a variety of classes, either bolstering class abilities or enhancing classes without them. I’d welcome a Tiefling of any origin at my table; thumbs up.
Spoiler: I love this. I’m a HUGE fan of using cults in my campaigns for a variety of reasons (reasons that I’ll save for another time, as that could be its own article or two). That said, I was very happy to see some ideas for cults dedicated to each of the Lords of the Nine Hells with a good mix of information on each, including goals for the cult, signature spells to assign or swap out on NPCs, as well as what NPCs (as found in the back of the Monster Manual) you could commonly find serving the cult. Follow that up with a brief paragraph or two talking about the flavor of the cult, and then boons granted to members that affect their stats, and you have nine ready made cults or factions to throw into your game.
On top of all that, Asmodeus once again is overarching and grants his own boon to leaders and high ranking officials of all the cults as a way to strengthen them and make them stand out. I’m only going to highlight one cult here as there is a lot to digest (and once again, they are all good), and that cult is the Cult of Mephistopheles. Their goal is a simple one: magical power to crush enemies. Their followers include the Archmage, mage, priest, cult, and cult fanatic NPCs, but also makes mention of magic-using monsters such as Storm Giants and Oni. Oh, and the signature spells are all fire. Literally. Firebolt, Burning Hands, Flaming Spehere, and Fireball. But what I truly love about this are the two boons that can be granted to followers.
The first boon is Spell Shield. Basically they have advantage on saving throws against spells, and whenever they succeed the saving throw they gain temporary hit points equal to the level of the spell. Magic users beware!
The second boon is Spell Leech, which can be interesting and useful at the same time. As a bonus action the creature can target an ally within 30 feet, and steal their lowest-level spell slot. I like this because if a Mage is about to go down, fellow mages can on their turn steal a spell slot so it’s not lost once their comrade dies. This is so good, I may have to find a way to implement this into my current game, either as an item or something else! It should go without saying: Thumbs up.
And lastly, we move from devils to demons and their boons. Unlike the overarching Asmodeus and the order of the Nine Hells, the Abyss is a place of chaos, and as such demons just hand out boons like Halloween candy. And much like Halloween candy, be sure to check it before committing to it, as accepting a demonic boon corrupts the soul and drives people towards chaos.
Each of these boons can grant a bonus to one or more ability score sassociated with the demon (though sometimes with a penalty elsewhere), has signature spells that can be granted to spellcasters, some traits or features that can also be granted, as well as a quick one or two sentence write up of who or why gets these traits and features. There’s even a section at the end for other demons, such as Balor or Goristro, and what boons they can grant when trying to start a cult of their own.
I feel like I’ve already bombarded you with enough information, so I’ll save highlighting any one of these here, but I will say check out Yeenoghu and Zuggtmoy; both look awesome alongside the rest of the options here. Thumbs up!
So that’s it for October’s Unearthed Arcana. Be sure to go check it out yourself to see all of the fiendishly good options to use in your next campaign or for your next character! Are you feeling as good (or evil) about these options as we are, or were you hoping for something a little more heavenly? Let us know in the comments and on our social media!
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