Unearthed Arcana: A Trio of Subclasses Analysis

This week the D&D team provides three subclasses, each for a different class.

We get  a Monastic Tradition, a Sacred Oath, and a Ranger Archetype.


Monastic Tradition  – Way of the Drunken Master

The name says it all. The idea of the Drunken Master can be found in older D&D editions but also in various other material.

  • Drunken Technique. Because of the nature of your techniques you gain proficiency with Performance. I like the reason behind this, it adds to the flavor of the subclass. Also, when you use your Flurry of Blows you get a free Disengage and your speed increases by 10 feet. This gives you the ability to apply hit and run tactics. Not bad.
  • Tipsy Sway. At the cost of your reaction, you can take advantage of an enemy missing you with their attack by redirecting it to another creature that is within 5 feet of you. You can use this once per short or long rest. The way I read it, this is a guaranteed hit which makes it quite a helpful feature.
  • Drunkard’s Luck. You can give yourself advantage on a saving throw, by spending 1 ki point. The only restriction is that you must decide if you want to use the feature before rolling. I believe that’s a powerful feature, and that’s why it’s not granted on level 11 and not sooner.
  • Intoxicated Frenzy. You can do up to three extra attacks with Flurry of Blows(which takes the number of Flurry of Blows up to five), provided that each of them targets a different creature. This feature shines if there are multiple opponents relatively close to each other. Moreover, Drunken Technique lets you go in, hit, and go out without getting hit by attacks of opportunity.

Overall, I like the Way of the Drunken Master. Its features are straightforward but they look fine-ish. Also, they fit the flavor of the subclass quite nicely. I look forward to seeing a more refined version of it.


Sacred Oath – Oath of Redemption

So, these Paladins try to bring the good out of almost everything. To be honest, the description of this Sacred Oath did not really spark my interest. Also, this pursuit of non violence reminds me of the Way of Tranquility we saw in Unearthed Arcana: Monk Monastic Traditions.


  • Tenets of Redemption. The tenets are pretty straightforward and match the description of the class. Patience is probably the one that will cause the most problems for a player.
  • Redemption Spells. The spell list is actually pretty good. It’s a collection of defensive spells and ones that neutralize threats in a non deadly way.
  • Armor of Peace. I could call this a variant of Unarmored Defense. This one doesn’t let you use a shield but your base AC is 16 and you also add your Dexterity modifier. Normal Unarmored Defense may grant a higher AC because you can use a shield but without one this one fares quite well. Also, you need to worry about only one ability score instead of two.
  • Warrior of Reconciliation. This one works only if you wield a simple weapon that deals bludgeoning damage(clubs, greatclubs, light hammers, maces, quarterstaves, and slings). When you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, you get the choice to charm it for 1 minute instead. I guess it kinda fits the flavor of the subclass but I can’t come up with a reason why this would be useful. Maybe the usefulness comes from the advantage in the social interactions with the charmed creature, but the effect lasts only 1 minute.
  • Channel Divinity. An expected feature. Like every Oath, this one gains two Channel Divinity options.
    • Emissary of Peace. You can give a +5 bonus to the next Persuasion check you make the next minute. I guess, it could go well with the Warrior of Reconciliation feature.
    • Rebuke the Violent. This could be a powerful one. As a reaction you can reflect damage damage dealt by an enemy within 10 feet of you to a creature other than you. The damage must be dealt by a melee weapon attack in order to use this feature. The enemy makes a Wisdom Saving Throw and takes half damage if they succeed. While this is limited by the number of Channel Divinity uses and the damage requirement, it could end up dealing quite a lot of damage.
  • Aura of the Guardian. Using your reaction you can absorb the damage dealt to an ally within 10 feet of you. That’s fine. There are two notes for this feature I want to make. It’s stated that any other effects accompanying the damage are not transferred to you, which may not be always important but it could potentially be. Secondly, since this also requires a reaction, it cannot be used at the same round with Rebuke the Violent.
  • Protective Spirit. I think I’ve said that before but the bloodied mechanic should have been implemented into 5th Edition. If you end your turn with less than half your hit points, you are healed for 1d6 + half your Paladin level. This one has good synergy with Aura of the Guardian, because you can more or less tank damage for your allies, and then heal it.
  •  Emissary of Redemption. This is another powerful feature, but it may be a bit confusing so I’ll try to explain it a bit. First of all, while the Paladin’s 20th level feature usually has a time restriction, this one doesn’t and is always active instead.  However, if you attack a creature, deal damage to it, or force it to make a Saving Throw, that creature is not affected by this feature anymore, until you finish a long rest. Now time to talk about the benefits themselves:
    • You have resistance to all damage dealt by other creatures. So this does not apply to damage not dealt by creatures, for example traps.
    • When a creature deals damage to you, it takes damage equal to half the damage it dealt to you. A note here is that this damage is not considered to be dealt by you so you don’t lose the benefits against the creatures that hit you. Also, a question I have is how does this feature handle the damage you take from Aura of the Guardian?

While I do not really like the flavor of the class, it has some very interesting and powerful features, some of which have very good synergy. However, there are a few issues. Like with Way of Tranquility, creating pacifist classes for a game whose main aspect is combat(there are many things to explore in D&D but combat is a big part of it) is hard. I applaud the D&D team for trying and I hope they will manage to refine both the Monk and the Paladin subclasses into a fun to play option. Moreover, the wording was a bit wonky in this subclass, which is something that should be fixed. Overall, I’d say it’s an okay option but I expect more from it.


Ranger Archetype – Monster Slayer

So, have you ever thought about playing as the Witcher in D&D? Well, that’s probably a subclass you should consider choosing.

  • Slayer’s Mysticism. You gain an extra spell at levels 3, 5, 9, 13, and 17. The list is kinda nice, offering a variety of effects.
  • Slayer’s Eye. That’s pretty much an upgraded Hunter’s Mark spell, since it does not require Concentration and also provides information about the enemies. The information can be about possible weaknesses and resistances. While I like the Hunter’s Mark part, I don’t think it’s a good idea giving players this kind of information this way. It could easily mess with the DM’s plans. I’m not totally against giving information about enemies to the players but it should be done with an interesting and rewarding way.
  • Extra Attack. If you’re using the Ranger from Unearthed Arcana: Ranger Revised, then you get an extra attack at level 5.
  • Supernatural Defense. You add a d6 to any Saving Throw the target marked with your Slayer’s Eye forces you to make. Since Slayer’s Eye costs you only a bonus action, instead of a spell slot that Hunter’s Mark costs, you can make good use of this feature.
  • Relentless Slayer. Oh well, another feature that messes with the DM and their plans. When an enemy tries to use teleporting or shape changing abilities, you can make a contested Wisdom check. If you succeed, the effect is negated and the target loses any action they used to activate it. I believe it’s quite clear why this can do more damage than good to a campaign. You can’t safely show off your BBEG anymore. And even though I made this statement as a joke, it does contain a hint of truth. Oh, and I should mention that there’s no limit to the times you can use this feature, it just costs your reaction.
  • Slayer’s Counter. I’ll just say this from the beginning. This feature is powerful, overpowered even. When the target of your Slayer’s Eye forces you to make a Saving Throw, you can make a weapon attack against it, using your reaction. If the attack hits, then the Saving Throw automatically succeeds and you also apply any effects the attack would normally generate. In case of failure, you still get to roll an extra d6 to your Saving Throw. The cost to this is, again, a reaction. There is no other limit to the number of times you can use this feature. Well, you could also count the fact that you have to make a weapon attack as a requirement, but this doesn’t even limit your range since it does not ask for a melee weapon attack. As I said in the beginning, this is really powerful.

The Monster Slayer pretty much overshadows solo monsters and other characters alike. It’s powers negate a lot of abilities that classic BBEGs have and this cannot really be good. Yes, this boosts the Ranger a lot but not in a good way.

This week we got three interesting concepts but I believe they haven’t been implemented correctly. The concept of the Drunken Master and the Monster Slayer intrigue me quite a lot but I believe they need work, with the Slayer needing much more than the Drunken Master. The Redemption Paladin, while I don’t like it’s flavor, I liked its features and how they work. It does, however, need work as well. Overall, I’m pleased by the ideas presented and hope their next versions will be even better.

You can check out the full article here and download the PDF here. And don’t forget, the survey about last week’s Arcane Traditions for the Wizard can be found here.

3 thoughts on “Unearthed Arcana: A Trio of Subclasses Analysis

  1. Holy cow, with the Monster Slayer (I LOVE Witcher 3, btw, and would love to be able to play a class like that) not having daily limits on how many times they can do something, it’s so OP! Almost *all* other classes have limits on their features. I would probably home-rule a 1/LR for Slayer’s Counter and Relentless Slayer, and justify it by saying it takes a lot of concentration and willpower to complete those feats in battle. Further, how would you describe the mechanics of Relentless Slayer in the game world? The Slayer sees a monster casting a teleport spell, and then *thinks real hard* and stops them from succeeding??? I don’t like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe the next version of the Monster Slayer will have some needed fixes. Also, because of the Slayer’s Mysticism feature you can say the Monster Slayer has some magical abilities. This could be the reason they can do things like what the Relentless Slayer feature provides.

      Liked by 1 person

      • True, but still, I might again want to limit that to a certain range. Like within 25ft or something like that. To be able to cancel out a teleport or shape-shifting ability like that just on a whim and from anywhere on the battlefield is crazy. I’ll look forward to those fixes from WOTC!

        Liked by 1 person

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