Wizards of the Coast have been hard at work, delivering part 3 of the Unearthed Arcana 2020 Subclasses a few weeks ago. This edition sees new subclasses for the Artificer, Druid, and Ranger!
As always, our Persuasion Check articles are less hardcore analysis and more commentary drawing insights and some direct analysis where needed. If you want a more flavorful approach to opinions on playtest content backed up with some insights, this is the place for you! Now, follow along and let’s dig into these subclasses!
If you’ve read or heard anything about this subclass by now, you know it’s just Iron Man in D&D. I have mixed personal feelings on this; it’s always awesome to see characters inspired by other genres and areas of pop-fiction, but this feels somewhat shoehorned and uninspired to me. I’m just one person and that’s just my opinion, so let’s take a dive into the mechanics of the subclass!
Tools of the Trade, Armored Spell
We see a couple of basic abilities to kick start this subclass. Tools of the Trade very simply gives the Artificer proficiency with heavy armor and smith’s tools (or any other tools if they already have proficiency with them). Armored Spells grants specific spells for the Artificer to know, including defensive spells such as shield, mirror image, and greater invisibility. It also gives some offensive spells like magic missile and shatter to boot!
Not a bad start for the subclass; get all the groundwork and basics out of the way. Nothing good or bad yet, so let’s dive a little bit deeper.
Power Armor & Armor Model
Also at third level is Power armor, which is the start of the substance of this subclass. It allows the Artificer to then a suit of heavy armor into their power armor, which removes any strength requirement for the armor, allows the armor to be used as a spellcasting focus, and makes it so the armor both can’t be removed against you will as well as replacing any missing limbs.
Armor Model let’s the artificer change the features of their armor after a short or long rest, and has two modes. Guardian is the more defensive and melee focused, turning the gauntlets into melee weapons that deal thunder damage and grant disadvantage to enemies. It also allows the Artificer to use a bonus action each turn to grant themselves temporary hit points on each of their turns equal to their Artificer level, and replacing any other temporary hit points they might have.
Infiltrator on the other hand, the other model, is about speed, stealth, and range. Instead of a melee attack, the hands or chest of the armor can shoot lightning at a target, and once per turn can deal extra damage to a target, which comes into play when extra attacks are gained. In addition, the armor doesn’t impose disadvantage on stealth checks and increases walking speed by 5.
I like these options because they allow your to focus your abilities to your playstyle or the playstyle of your group, and adaptability is generally important and possibly lifesaving!
It does what it says on the can, with the Artificer getting an extra attack at fifth level; makes total sense for this subclass.
At ninth level you can modify and infuse your armor further, with the armor breaking out into four parts: the chest piece, the boots, the bracers, and a weapon. This allows each of those four parts to be infused separately, and increases the total infusions you can have at once by two, with the condition that the extra infusions are part of your armor.
This is nice, because it allows the armor to really feel powerful and adaptable with a host of powers. Again, the more options the more ‘superhero’-like you can feel, which to me is a big plus with this subclass.
And the last feature at level fifteen is Perfected Armor, granting additional powers based on model of the power armor. Guardian models get the ability to turn their reaction into a gravitational pull, pulling enemies up to 30 feet away from them up to 30 feet toward them, and allowing for a melee attack as soon as it arrives next to the Artificer.
Infiltrators on the other hand shroud their targets in light when they hit with their Lightning Launcher, granting the next creature that isn’t you advantage to hit and adding 1d6 lightning damage if it hits!
I love both of these options as they really put the super in superhero- being able to pull in enemies who just want to escape and giving them a bashing, or supportive fire that will both shock your enemy and your team as they hit with ease!
I really can’t complain or really see how broken this subclass may be; it’s certainly based off of a very narrow and specific character, but I could see players having fun with it. It offers enough adaptability and variety that most players should have no problem finding a way to make it work. It gets a thumbs up! Also be sure to check out some of the new artificer infusions, some of which were certainly created with this subclass in mind!
Druid: Circle of the Stars
Just like the hit R&B classic “I swear” by All-4-One, we’ve had the Circle of the Moon, and now we have the Circle of the Stars (in the sky). Druids on this path keep detailed notes about the stars and how they affect the world, and can channel that into cosmic energy. Cool concept, so let’s see how it differs from other circles!
Star Map & Starry Form
The Star Map is a map that has come from your studies of the stars, and can be anything from a scroll of living wood to a crystal that projects starry patterns. In addition to serving as a spellcasting focus, it also allows you to cast augury and guiding bolt without using spell slots up to a number of times per day equal to your Wisdom modifier.
Starry Form is a main feature of this class, giving you an alternative to Wild Shape. Instead of turning into a beast when using Wild Shape, you can take on a starry form, which makes your body take on a starlike quality where your joints glimmer and lines connect them to form constellations. When you use this, you can choose constellations like the Chalice, which heals the caster innately while casting a healing spell, the Archer, which grants a bonus ranged spell attack that deals radiant damage, or the Dragon, which helps boon Intelligence and Wisdom checks as well as concentration on spells.
I always like variety, and this is no different. The Dragon constellation seems situational, but I think Chalice and Archer are both solid options depending on what the Druid is trying to accomplish. So far so good!
At 6th level, things get interesting. Cosmic Omen can change every long rest, and though the idea of its two abilities are similar, they can end up being quite different. Whenever you take a long rest, you roll a d6- roll an even number and Weal takes effect, while odds cause Woe to take effect. Both need a reaction to use but function similarly.
Weal allows the druid, with a reaction, to give a creature within 30 feet of them a d6 and add it to their attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. Woe, on the other hand, subtracts a d6 from a creature doing these same actions. So Weal helps where Woe hinders, and the fact that it can change daily is cool. My only concern is tracking and remembering after each long rest whether or not you want to roll or keep it the same. But. I love the idea, so thumbs up.
Full of Stars
Simply, from 10th level onward, being in Starry Form gives the Druid resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage since it makes them slightly incorporeal. It’s fine, it’s somewhat thematic, and it’s a nice passive buff. Thumbs up.
Lastly, we come to Star Flare at 14th level. Once per long rest, an additionally when using a spell slot of 5th level or above, you can conjure a burst of light in a 30 foot radius and teleport each willing creature in the sphere to a space within 30 feet of it. Any creatures left in the sphere after the others have been teleported to safety must take a Constitution saving throw, suffering radiant damage and being blinded for a turn. It’s a cool trick, made more reliable by the fact spell slots can be used after the free one per day is used. I’m not super excited about it, but it’s fine enough to get a thumbs up.
That’s it for the Circle of the Stars! I like what I saw, but I feel like it’s a little uninspired. I felt like it came out swinging with the theme, but then sorta just became focused on light. I’m not sure what I would have replaced Star Flare with; on its own it’s a fine ability, but just lacking a little thematic oomph for me.
Ranger: Fey Wanderer
Ever vigilant, Fey Wanderers guard the boarder between the Feywild and the Material Plane, helping those list in the Feywild out and keeping dangerous fey from crossing over into the Material Plane. Living this life requires and understanding on the denizens of both worlds, which is no easy feat, so often these Rangers are blessed by some fey ally.
Fey Wanderer Magic, Cunning Will, & Dreadful Strikes
A trio of abilities kick off the Fey Wanderer at 3rd level. Fey Wanderer Magic gives the Ranger certain class spells as they level, and include charm person, misty step, and banishment as examples of planar/fey-like spell choices. Cunning will gives the Ranger advantage against being charmed or frightened, and also boosts their own silver-tongue, granting proficiency in either Deception, Performance, or Persuasion.
Dreadful Strikes allows the Ranger to, as a bonus action, imbue their weapons with magic, dealing an extra 1d6 psychic damage and waking the weapon count as magical. Not a bad boon each turn, especially at lower levels. This never scales so it never comes out of balance, but part of me wonders if it begins to fall behind. Overall, I’m not complaining, and so far I’m liking this subclass!
Blessing of the Courts
At 7th level the Blessing of the Courts confers two bonuses to the Ranger. First, they can add their Wisdom modifier whenever they make a Charisma check. Second, is once on each of their turns when they hit with a weapon attack they can expend a spell slot to add 3d6 psychic damage as well as frighten the target if they fail a Wisdom saving throw.
Again, not bad, but also doesn’t scale with spell slots or anything else. It seems strange to me that for a lot of subclasses featured there is some scaling, but I guess those are usually for dedicated spellcasters and Rangers have limited spells. The ability itself reminds me of a Paladin’s smiting powers, so gotta give it a thumbs up!
Now this is a strange, albeit thematic ability for the Fey Wanderer. Whenever a creature they can see within 120 feet succeed on a saving throw against being charmed for frightened, they can either force a different creature within 120 feet to take a saving throw to be charmed or frightened of them, or deal 3d10 psychic damage. Combine this with the Blessing of the Courts and other magic they have, this can really add up and cause some chaos!
Perhaps, since this is not limited by spell slots or per day usage, where the class begins to shine, at level 11. Nothing broken, but now beginning to seem more fun due to the synergy this has and how it follows the flavor of the class.
Finally at level 15 the Fey Wanderer gets Misty Presence, which gives them a bonus action to force a creature to take a Wisdom saving throw. If they fail, they can’t hear or see the Fey Wanderer for 24 hours, only repeating the save if they Ranger hits them within an attack, deals damage, or forces them to make another saving throw. This is a once per day ability, but a spell slot 4th level or higher allows for further use, which isn’t saying much for the Ranger’s spells per day.
Now, yes, this is what the feywild is all about for high jinks and shenanigans. Going invisible, messing with people. Love it, thumbs up!
I definitely love the flavor of this subclass and some of the later level abilities. It makes sense, for as much as I’d love to get to what I consider the meat of this class option, they are more powerful abilities that could create major problems at low levels. Overall, I’d certainly allow it at my table, so thumbs up!
While I feel like these have been even more, great options for players, I have to admit I’m starting to get burnt out on subclasses. I feel like we went through the wringer on these already last year with the introduction of the Artificer, new subclasses for it, and another new subclass for every other class- just to do it again now! I imagine we will be getting Part 4 in short order, and as great as I’m sure it will be, I’m hoping for something different, and perhaps a short break from future Unearthed Arcana content.
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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