Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

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Tim Baker
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Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Tim Baker »

Have you checked out the latest Unearthed Arcana, offering a whopping 13 pages of new class feature variants?

What do you think of it?

Will you use any/all of these features in your own games?

What kind of sourcebook do you think these will appear in?

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by zontoxira »

I have mixed feelings about this. While it certainly is a fresh look at class features, giving more flexibility to the players and taking an alternative view at core abilities (are we looking at a draft for an updated edition?), too much customisation leads to more crunch, more options and combos to think of, and the classes now begin to feel bland and samey. Especially with spellcasters now sharing spells. Too many options isn't always a good thing.
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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by CommanderCrud »

As for the stuff like new fighting styles, that's fine. But I truly despise the stuff that lets PCs swap out skills/spells/etc. with each level or rest.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Dread Delgath »

Yeah. No. I glanced at the article, but I haven't had time to devote a total read-thru.

From what I've seen in this so far, coupled with what I've already experienced with 5e so far, especially swapping abilities is over the top and totally unnecessary.

At this point, WotC might as well do away with classes and have a classless system where each player builds their own character based on the abilities they want - and this is the farthest thing from Dungeons & Dragons that you can get, and I do not want to see this happen.
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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Tim Baker »

The feedback about swapping abilities is interesting. I viewed it as a way to ensure that players don't feel "buyer's remorse" after selecting a spell or ability. It's the type of thing I would allow if a player expressed that they didn't like an option that they'd taken. In previous editions, I believe it was called retraining, and it never caused my group any issues.

Have you experienced problems with players who change options in the past? Or it's more of a concern that it could be abused?

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by pawsplay »

I just feel like retraining options lead to better character options and development, rather than constant swapping. In general, this update looks like a "candy and marshmallows for everyone" approach I don't like.
I do think I might like the options that let multiple domains for clerics choose between melee and blasting.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Tim Baker »

I created a poll to gather information on the community's feelings on the retraining option. Please take a moment to vote and share your thoughts on the topic, if you have a moment.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Dread Delgath »

I hope to get around to reading the Class Feature Variants article completely by the end of this weekend, and then I'll take that poll, Tim. :)
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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Tim Baker »

Dread Delgath wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:10 am
I hope to get around to reading the Class Feature Variants article completely by the end of this weekend, and then I'll take that poll, Tim.
It's worth taking a look at for the variant Beast Master ranger alone. :)

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by timemrick »

I've read it through once, but need to think it over some more before rendering judgment. So far, I'm more inclined towards the options that are simply new choices for existing frameworks (fighting styles, maneuvers) than the ones that radically change how classes work (more spell overlap, trivial retraining, etc).

I foresee needed to devote a bit more space to it than usual in my next "UA and Freeport" blog post.
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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by CommanderCrud »

Fine with more options. Hate the trivial retraining and power creep.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Tim Baker »

CommanderCrud wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:32 pm
Fine with more options. Hate the trivial retraining and power creep.
Which options do you view as contributing to power creep? I think Beast Master ranger will be more powerful if these variants are used, but I already view that sub-class as being below the nearly all other classes, so I didn't take that as a bad thing. I see a lot of flexibility in the variants, but sheer power increase across the board didn't jump out at me. It's quite possible I missed something, as 5e isn't the rule system I'm most familiar with. It's also possible that my group doesn't do much min/maxing, so I don't read things with a critical eye.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by paladinn »

There are two things that are especially appealing to me:

1. The new ranger Favored Foe feature. Finally!! Favored Enemy is so situational it's crazy; and it was nerfed in 5e! Favored Foe is a lot like the PF Slayer's "Studied Target" feature, and is a very good thing. I might actually change my mind about rangers not being a discrete class now:)

2. The sorcerer's Elemental Spell metamagic option. THE reason to consider being a sorcerer, as opposed to a wizard.

Just my $.02

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Dread Delgath »

paladinn wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:45 pm
There are two things that are especially appealing to me:

1. The new ranger Favored Foe feature. Finally!! Favored Enemy is so situational it's crazy; and it was nerfed in 5e! Favored Foe is a lot like the PF Slayer's "Studied Target" feature, and is a very good thing. I might actually change my mind about rangers not being a discrete class now:)

2. The sorcerer's Elemental Spell metamagic option. THE reason to consider being a sorcerer, as opposed to a wizard.

Just my $.02
I like the ranger revisions in this UA. I think these changes are more spot on fixes than the first Revised Ranger patches.

In the last 3 years of playing 5e, only one of my players have ever played a wizard character, the other two players with spellcasting characters prefer sorcerer. I didn't understand why until I asked them why no-one wanted to play a wizard.

Bluntly, the sorcerer is written with none of what my players consider huge drawbacks that is built into the wizard class from the very beginning. They despise Vancian magic and the implied rules system that supports that trope in D&D. At this point, I'm wondering if the wizard class has any place in future editions of D&D, and I feel that is a great loss to the game.
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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by paladinn »

Well no classes have Vancian casting anymore in 5e (RAW), so that's not really an issue. Sorcerers are severely nerfed compared to wizards in terms of spells known/prepared. Metamagic is supposed to even that out, but it hasn't lived up to that.

I think Elemental Spell gives a lot of flexibility. Just learn Firebolt and change the element type on the fly, if you need to in a pinch. Frostbolt, Acidbolt, Shockbolt.. Cool stuff!

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by CommanderCrud »

I would rather play a wizard over a sorcerer any day. Speaking of RAW or this UA.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by paladinn »

Hmm I wonder if you could do an airbolt (since it is "elemental spell") that could do force damage. Probably not. It'd be cool tho, and not very resisted :P

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Dread Delgath »

paladinn wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:08 pm
Well no classes have Vancian casting anymore in 5e (RAW)
Vancian Magic in D&D defined via Wiktionary, TV Tropes, and Stack Exchange all confirm that 5e wizards still conform to the Vancian Magic system by means of knowing particular spells, studying, preparation, and casting of said spells.

The Sorcerer and Warlock classes are still slotted and prepped by level, etc., but they are not necessarily "fire and forget", although they must still abide by daily casting limitations for gamist reasons.

Any class that requires a spellbook to prep spells (wizard, eldritch knight, arcane trickster) uses Vancian magic. :cool:
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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Tim Baker »

paladinn wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:45 pm
There are two things that are especially appealing to me:

1. The new ranger Favored Foe feature. Finally!! Favored Enemy is so situational it's crazy; and it was nerfed in 5e! Favored Foe is a lot like the PF Slayer's "Studied Target" feature, and is a very good thing. I might actually change my mind about rangers not being a discrete class now:)
I agree. One of the players in my 5e game is a beast master ranger, and she struggles with the mechanics not aligning with her expectation for the class. If our DM agrees, she's going to try these options out. If that happens, I'd be happy to report back here on how it goes.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Tim Baker »

Dread Delgath wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:24 pm
I like the ranger revisions in this UA. I think these changes are more spot on fixes than the first Revised Ranger patches.
Yeah, these variants capture the feel of the "traditional" ranger better. The previous attempts to update the ranger felt like very different archetypes.
Dread Delgath wrote:
Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:24 pm
Bluntly, the sorcerer is written with none of what my players consider huge drawbacks that is built into the wizard class from the very beginning. They despise Vancian magic and the implied rules system that supports that trope in D&D. At this point, I'm wondering if the wizard class has any place in future editions of D&D, and I feel that is a great loss to the game.
That's an interesting take. I've yet to see a sorcerer played in my 5e game—at least since the D&D Next playtest. A few players have selected the wizard, and enjoyed the game play. The use of spell slots to "power" spells from the wizard's spellbook strikes a balance between capturing some of that Vancian feel but with a lot more flexbility, as you could cast the same spell all day long, as long as you have the spell slots available. Being able to refresh some of your spells on short rests is viewed as a plus at my table as well.

What drawbacks do your players see that make the class so unattractive to them?

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by Tim Baker »

Dread Delgath wrote:
Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:35 am
The Sorcerer and Warlock classes are still slotted and prepped by level, etc., but they are not necessarily "fire and forget", although they must still abide by daily casting limitations for gamist reasons.

Any class that requires a spellbook to prep spells (wizard, eldritch knight, arcane trickster) uses Vancian magic. :cool:
I think you already answered my question from your previous post. I agree that warlocks are significantly different in their casting mechanics, and I probably wouldn't call that Vancian magic. But the lines are blurred between sorcerer and wizard. Both power spells known with spell slots that recharge on a long rest. There are differences in how they learn spells and how many spells they know, but the mechanic is still similar. I hadn't put as much emphasis on whether or not there's a spellbook. That's certainly a difference, but wasn't one that I'd viewed as core to their casting mechanics.

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Re: Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants

Post by timemrick »

From my blog:
Unearthed Arcana and Freeport, Part 13: Class Feature Variants: A brief overview of this month's hefty release.
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