Persuasion Check: Unearthed Arcana – Cleric, Druid, and Wizard

Unsurprisingly, Wizards of the Coast has done it once again! Another two weeks, and another two- no, wait this time three new class options! This time we’re getting some options for Clerics, Druids, and Wizards!

This edition brings us an interesting trio of options. First is the Twilight Domain for Clerics, that promises them to be the light in the darkness. Secondly is the Circle of Wildfire for Druids who know destruction is necessary for creation. And lastly, the Tradition of Onomancy for Wizards who understand the power of true names.

Cleric: Twilight Domain
The Twilight Domain seeks to blend light and darkness in a unique way that makes a lot of sense; the Clerics of this domain see themselves as the light in the darkness that keeps the dangers of the dark at bay, though they themselves must often find themselves in the dark to do so. Plenty of deities could grant this domain as it encompasses a fair amount of areas such as healing, travel, bravery, and the night.

Domain Spells & Bonus Proficiencies
Twilight Clerics have a pretty thematically appropriate list of Domain Spells, including such selections as sleep, darkness, invisibility, and dream. Because Twilight is also supposed to represent safety and rest, Leomund’s tiny hut also makes an appropriate appearance on the list, really driving home the description of the domain. Like many Cleric domain, they gain bonus proficiency with heavy armor and martial weapons as well.

Eyes of the Night & Vigilant Blessing
Two additional 1st-level abilities make the Twilight Domain unique, the first of which is Eyes of the Night. This gives the Cleric darkvision, except it has no maximum range, making it a useful feature for even those races that already have darkvision of their own. But even better than that, as an action the Cleric can grant the same darkvision to any number of creatures within 10 feet of them as an action. The limiter here is that you can only do so a number of times equal to the Wisdom modifier once per long rest, so it may not always be possible to go an entire dungeon granting darkvision to the whole party.

Vigilant Blessing on the other hand allows the Cleric to give a creature advantage on their next initiative roll, including themselves. No limiter on this other than only one creature may benefit from this at a time, so whether it be the Cleric themselves, their raging barbarian companion, or their sneaky rogue, they should be able to ensure that what they want to happen first happens first.

Along with the domain spells, I really like both of these abilities from both a flavor and mechanical aspect. Flavor, seeing in the darkness and being able to react quickly both hit that “light in the dark” theme, and being able to extend those to the rest of the party only furthers their role as a shepherd through the dark. Mechanically, neither ability seems all that broken to me while maintaining usefulness. Depending on how strict you or your DM is, it’s possible Eyes of the Night doesn’t have quite as big of a benefit as it should. Vigivlant Blessing though, should allow for some strategic discussion before entering dangerous areas or known battles and gives the party a potential leg up.

Channel Divinty: Twilight Sanctuary
Twilight Sanctuary is the unique Channel Divinity option gained at level 2, and it’s like a non-broken version of the druid spell healing spirit. For one minute, a 30-foot radius sphere of dim light is centered on the Cleric. Any a creature, including the Cleric itself, ends its turn in the sphere the Cleric can choose to either give them 1d8 temporary hit points or end one effect causing the creature to be charmed or frightened.

Because it grants temporary hit points instead of healing, the ability to abuse the ability is much lower than spells like healing spirit, and also means that it doesn’t hurt to turn it on right before kicking in the door on that lich you’ve been hunting. I wish it scaled up to at least 2d8 at a higher level, but alas the ability the ability to end a charm or frighten effect maintains its usefulness.

Steps of the Brave
At level 6 is the 6th level ability that grants Clerics two benefits. The first benefit is passive, giving the Cleric advantage on saving throws against being frightened. The second is while the Cleric is in dim light or darkness, they can use a bonus action to give themselves a flying speed equal to their walking speed until the end of their next turn.

The first benefit is what it is- thematic in the sense that the Twilight Domain also encompasses bravery. The second though is a little more interesting. I like it but I don’t see really how it ties in directly with the rest of the flavor of the class, unless it is supposed to represent traveling by shadows or the like. Either way, only needing to use it every other turn is nice and makes it more than just twice as useful than if it needed to be used every turn.

Divine Strike
At 8th level, Divine Strike is nothing new for Clerics. Once per turn when they hit with a weapon attack, they can deal an additional 1d8 psychic damage, eventually bumping up to 2d8 at level 14.

Not a lot to say about this; it’s bonus damage on weapon attacks. I like that it is psychic damage as opposed to radiant damage since I can see it being instilling the fear of the dark into their enemies rather than bathing them in holy light.

Midnight Shroud
And lastly, Midnight Shroud rounds out the Twilight Cleric at 17th level. Simply, now whenever the Cleric casts darkness they can choose up to their Wisdom modifier in creatures, including themselves, that can see through the darkness.

I have to admit, I’m a bit underwhelmed with that one. I’m sure there’s plenty of practical uses, but comparing it to some of the other abilities that other domains get at this level, it’s not up there. Of course, I’m of the mind that once you get to that level of gameplay nothing is balanced anymore.

Overall, however, I’m quite pleased with the Twilight Domain. I think it’s a unique twist on the idea, and mostly great execution on the abilities both on how they work and how they tie back to the theme. I’d allow this in my game right away, so a big thumbs up from me!

Druid: Circle of Wildfire
Destruction promotes creation in the eyes of the Circle of Wildfire. These druids bond with destructive primal spirits so that they may wield their power with both controlled destruction and divine restoration to affect the world around them. It’s a nice if not entirely unique twist, but I’m glad to see a druid option that truly explore the idea of balance between creation and destruction, as nature has a tendency to do both.

Circle Spells & Summon Wildfire
When a Druid joins the Circle of Wildfire at 2nd level, they get a nice mix of Circle Spells that encompass both fire and healing. This includes such selection as fireball and scorching ray, as well as plant growth and aura of life. It fits the theme, and with one spell for each side of the proverbial coin each time they become relevant, it continues to drive the main idea home. Also, druids get fire bolt as a cantrip which is just a nice little addition.

They also get Summon Wildfire, which gives them a a small elemental Wildfire Spirit companion, which they describe as potentially looking like a wooden humanoid covered in flame or a beast wreathed in fire. Personally, I’ll imagine mine as a small, sassy fireball voiced by Billy Crystal (bonus points if you get that reference). Mechanically, it takes an action and a use of Wild Shape to summon it, and when it does every creature other than you within 10 feet of it when it appears takes a Dexterity saving throw to avoid fire damage. It has an alright stat block for what it is, and like most companions the Druid must use their bonus action to have the Wildfire Spirit take an action. For starters, it can throw flame up to 30 feet for a small amount of fire damage. But also once per short or long rest, it can teleport itself and every willing creature within 5 feet up it up to 30 feet away, leaving a wake of flame and causing another saving throw to avoid dire damage.

At this point, I like the idea of the Wildfire Spirit thematically though I’m typically skeptical of the application of companions. I like that it has a short range teleport that it can use to bring up to about 8 others, and that it can throw flame. For a Druid’s bonus action, at lower levels I can certainly see the usefulness, but I think it fades away a bit at higher levels.

Enhanced Bond
And just like that, at level 6 the Wildfire Spirit maintains being useful with Enhanced Bond. While the Wildfire Spirit is out, spells that the Druid casts that either deal fire damage or restore hit points get to add a d8 as a bonus to one roll of the spell to the number rolled. And like most familiars, at this point spells with a range of self can also originate from the Wildfire Spirit.

I both like this and don’t like it. Mechanically, it’s great. Add a d8 while it is out, getting some good bonuses for its hour long duration and prolonging the usefulness of it. At the other, I’m not sure I like the flavor at work here. I get that the spirit is supposed to be representative of the bond with primal energy, but it just seems slightly contrived if I’m being honest. It’s not bad, just a bit of a stretch, and overall I like the mechanics enough to overlook it.

Flames of Life
Flames of Life is a truly interesting feature that the Druid gets at 10th level. Whenever a small or larger creature dies within 30 feet of the Druid, they can use their reaction to cause flames to come up from the body, which last for 1 minute or until touched. Whenever a creature touches the flames, the Druid can choose to either deal fire damage or restore hit points equal to 2d10+Wisdom modifier. Not bad as I’m a fan of the versatility in general, and even more so because it fits the flavor of the option so well. It can only be used a number of times equal to the Druid’s Wisdom  modifier before a long rest so it doesn’t see that much abuse potential at all.

It has flavor, it has usefulness, it could potentially confuse more intelligent enemies who witness it healing the party into touching it and taking damage- I’m a fan. You could also kill the minions in a line and light them up to creature a wall of fire since each use of it doesn’t end another, giving the Druid a lot of saved potential healing since a party member could walk into 3 in a row, for example.

Blazing Endurance
Lastly, at 14th level the Druid gets Blazing Endurance, turning the Druid into somewhat of a phoenix. Once per long rest, whenever the Druid drops to 0 hit points without dying outright, they instead drop to 1 hit point and gain temporary hitpoint equal to 5 times their druid level (which, at level 14, is 70- not bad!). Additionally, every creature the Druid can see of their choice within 30 feet takes fire damage equal to 2d10+the Druid’s level, no save allowed.

I love this thematically. Cleansing flame, rebirthed in fire, rising from the ashes- whatever you want to call it, it fits the theme pretty well. The temporary hit points and the fact the Druid stays in the fight is enough for me to give this a pass, so the bonus damage is gravy on top. Nothing exceptionally strong, but definitely useful even into later levels.

Overall, I like the Circle of Wildfire. Just about everything fits the theme and none of the abilities seem weak or wasted, while none break the game either. Just like the Twilight Domain, Circle of Wildfire gets a pass and a big thumbs up!

Wizard: Tradition of Onomancy
Would a rose by any other name smell just as sweet? Depends on if the Onomancer knows the rose’s true name! Onomancers understand that names make something unique in the universe, and that knowing it allows their magic to penetrate the defenses of their targets while making sure to protect their own true names. This reminds me greatly, assuming it’s not directly inspired by, A Wizard of Earthsea, which if you haven’t read I strongly suggest you do.

Bonus Proficiencies, Extract Name, and Fateful Naming
Unsurprisingly, when a Wizard chooses to become an Onomancer at second level, they gain proficiency with one language of choice and calligrapher’s tools- things you imagine would help with the study of language.

Extract Name is the core mechanic of an Onomancer, using a bonus action to get the creature to divulge its true name on a failed Wisdom saving throw (or learn that it doesn’t have a true name). However, failure means that you can never use this feature on that creature again, giving you only once chance to force the creature to tell you its name, adding some real weight to when and how an Onomancer uses this.

Once a true name is known, Fateful Naming allows the Onomancer to begin affecting that creature. They gain bane and bless as spells known and always have them prepared, and additionally if they can cast either without using a spell slot on a target they know the true name of a number of times equal to their Intelligence modifier, regaining uses on a long rest. I like this, because it shows the Onomancer beginning to shift the fabric of reality slightly with true names- ripples that may turn into tidal waves as the Onomancer gains power.

Resonant Utterance
At 6th level the Onomancer learns how to weave true names into their spells, adding effects to those spells. They learn two resonants from a list of 6 with a wide array of effects, reminding me somewhat of a sorcerer’s metamagic or a warlock’s eldritch invocations, as they include gaining temporary hit points, dealing extra damage, and pushing creatures away. Every levels they can change one out, and they can use these a number of times equal to half the Onomancer’s level, rounded down each long rest.

For only six options, there is a nice array of options, rather than just “deals additional damage” reskinned a few times. However, as the main component of the class once the true name is known, I’m a bit underwhelmed that this is it. Reality is supposed to bend and shift when using true names, and these don’t give me that feel. So mechanically, they’re pretty nice, but thematically I’m left wanting just a bit.

Inexorable Pronouncement
At 10th level, an Onomancer learns two more resonants. That’s, uh, that’s it. They now know 4 out of 6, giving them more options at any given time, which is nice. It is what it is.

Relentless Naming
And finally, Onomancers gain Relentless Naming at level 14. Whenever they cast a spell that deals damage and speak the true name of the creature it is targeting as part of it, they can choose for the damage to be psychic or force instead, as a way to bypass traditional resistances.

Again, somewhat underwhelmed. I get that it is meant to be a way to bypass the defenses of the creature, but I’d almost prefer the changing damage type to be a resonant, and then Relentless Naming allow a spell to add two resonants to a single spell for the price of one. That’s my two cents, because as much as I love the theme of this class, I don’t think the mechanics match the flavor. That’s not to say I think it is bad mechanically- it certainly isn’t the best but it ain’t bad- but I’m just not feeling it.

Overall, I find no flaws with the mechanics of the class so I’m going to give it a thumbs up, though I wish there were some modifications that would make the flavor make more sense. My experience with true names in fiction is that they can truly change and affect the subject of the true name, not just deal extra force damage or give it disadvantage.

At the end, all three options get the green light and if my players so choose I’d let them use them in my campaign. I think the Twilight Domain is the clear victor here, followed by Circle of Wildfire and then Onomancy. Some tweaks here and there would be nice but not particularly needed in my opinion, so I’m interested to see what the rest of the community thinks.

Be sure to give these class options a try and give Wizards of the Coast your feedback with their usual post-Unearthed Arcana surveys so that these options can get refined and added to the game!

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