In the first month of the year the Unearthed Arcana series give us three new subclasses.
I’m a bit late to the party but I’m here now to take a look at the goodies of this Unearthed Arcana. We get three subclasses, one for the Druid, one for the Fighter, and one for the Wizard. Without further ado let’s just jump into it.
Circle of Spores
This Circle opens the path to Necromancy for Druids. The theme focuses on fungi and decay which kinda makes sense. However, not all forms of undeath are okay for these Druids, as they accept only the ones that are part of the natural cycle. I’d like to see an explanation here because, while I understand the role of death in the cycle, I can’t seem to see how the undead play a role in it, apart from being fertilizer with feet. Anyway.
- Circle Spells. You get the Chill Touch cantrip. The Circle Spells list does contain mostly Necromancy spells so I’ll give it an overall pass.
- Halo of Spores. I have two notes for this. Firstly, I find the idea of using the reaction interesting. It’s not used that often by the Druid so, from that perspective, it gives more functionality. Secondly, the damage may seem much at first. That was my first reaction. However, you need to take into consideration that this is guaranteed damage. The only prerequisites for a target to take that damage is to be within 10 feet of you and not be immune to poison damage. That said, the numbers will most probably be changed before we see this subclass again.
- Symbiotic Entity. This one tries to give you a boost when you go into melee mode. You get 3 temporary hit points per Druid level, you deal an extra d6 poison damage when you hit someone with a melee weapon attack and, finally, the Halo of Spores damage doubles. The cost is an action, since it replaces the Wild Shape transformation, which I’m not sure it’s worth it. Maybe a bonus action is better. The amount of hit points you get is less than the ones you’d get from actually transforming, but this form allows you to cast spells. This feature pushes for a two weapon fighting play style, because there’s no limit to how many times you get to deal extra damage per turn.
- Fungal Infestation. This is an idea I like. It brings back the concept of minions from 4th Edition. For those who don’t know what that is, minions are monsters with 1 hit point. Without giving you a significant meat shield, you get two benefits in battle. The first one is that you have an extra source of damage and the second one is that, even if it has only one hit point, the enemy will probably have to deal with it eventually and that will make them waste a turn. Now let me tell you why this brilliant idea is executed horribly. It needs you to be the one that kills the target. But wait, it gets worse. It needs you to kill the target with the Halo of Spores. It’s too limiting to ever become relevant. There are more elegant ways to create something like this. For example, an enemy that dies within 1 minute after being hit with Halo of Spores can rise as a zombie. Then you can limit the amount of Zombies the Druid can control. I’d like your opinion about this one.
- Spreading Spores. It upgrades the Halo of Spores, giving it more versatility. You can now make an area of effect attack that deals guaranteed damage. This feature has probably some wording errors. It should probably be something like “As a bonus action, you hurl fungal spores up to 30 feet away, where they swirl around in a 10-foot cube for up to 1 minute.” otherwise it would be a bit awkward.
- Fungal Body. That’s too much. Four status immunities and crits against you don’t work? Yeah…no.
Let me say that, the way it is right now, this subclass doesn’t get a pass. However, I like some of the mechanics I saw, even though they are still unpolished, so I’d like to see the Circle of Spores again in the future.
Brutes deal damage and are durable. That’s every Fighter and Barbarian out there. Even Druids can be described this way.
- Brute Force. You get to deal more damage when you hit with weapons you’re proficient with. The damage scales with level and applies to every attack that hits. There’s not much to say about it.
- Brutish Durability. This one adds a d6 to your saving throws. That’s actually pretty good, even without mentioning the part about death saving throws.
- Additional Fighting Style. That’s okay. You can also find that in the Champion.
- Devastating Critical. You deal extra damage when you crit. Okay.
- Survivor. This is another Champion feature. Regeneration is nice. Even if at 18th level the amount healed isn’t that much, it stacks up little by little.
I’m not that intrigued by this subclass. Let’s put aside the two Champion features for a second and check out the rest of them. It doesn’t have anything that distinguishes it as a Fighter. When I was reading it I was thinking this could be a different way to design a Barbarian class. The features aren’t bad but there’s no flavor.
School of Invention
Let me tell you a secret. That’s actually a second version of the Lore Mastery Arcane Tradition. I had found that subclass interesting and now I got this one as a late Christmas present.
- Tools of the Inventor. Proficiency with two tools. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything has made tools a bit more interesting(I wanted to say relevant but I’m not convinced yet).
- Arcanomechanical Armor. Resistance to force damage is nice and fits the theme perfectly. However, this armor limits your options, while also taking up one of your attunement slots.
- Reckless Casting. Wild Magic Surge but for Wizards. I love it. Does it have a lot of potential? Yes, it does. Is there a chance you’ll get to cast two spells by only paying for one? Yes, there is. Also, it goes so well with the flavor of the subclass. What’s not to like?
- Alchemical Casting. This is a combination of the Lore Master’s Spell Secrets and Alchemical Casting features. You can spend spell slots to change the type of damage your spells will deal and increase the damage to one target by 2d10 force damage. I have two issues with this feature. Firstly, I don’t understand the need to be attuned to your Arcanomechanical Armor. Secondly, having the second part of the Spell Secrets feature would have make this one much better. Other than that, this feature becomes more useful at higher levels, when low level spell slots are more and not that useful.
- Prodigious Inspiration. Another Lore Master feature. I like it because it gives more versatility, even if you can use it once per a short or long rest.
- Controlled Chaos. That’s an interesting way to upgrade Reckless Casting in order to keep it relevant at higher levels. And there’s always the chance to cast two spells which would make a player feel badass. Bonus points for the name.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I like this subclass. Of course, it needs work but I like the concept as a whole. The thing that bothers me the most is the Arcanomechanical Armor feature. The idea of arcane armor is cool but the feature should be reworked.
Overall, this is an okay Unearthed Arcana. The Circle of Spores and the School of Invention look promising but I was not impressed by the Brute. The fact that it has no particular flavor becomes clearer since it comes next to two quite flavorful subclasses. I really want to see the Circle of Spores and the School of Invention soon and I hope the Brute gets some changes.
And until next time, have fun!
P.S: Due to a lot of pressure from other responsibilities the blog won’t be that active until early February. I’m sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for understanding.