Hello everyone! Anastasios here. With Chris away in the army (read here for more details), I’ll be managing the blog. Speaking of, here’s my first contribution – let’s take a look at the latest Unearthed Arcana. It came out a couple of weeks ago, but they were quite busy times so the review got postponed a bit.
We have some very interesting new options in this one. First off, we have a new Divine Domain for the Cleric, focusing on twilight, darkness, healing, and protection.
Extra spells are usually on-point with their theme, and these ones aren’t any different. This list contains only utility spells, nothing with damage, but all of them are quite useful. They allow you to empower allies and control the battlefield quite effectively.
Bonus Proficiencies (level 1)
Proficiency with martial weapons and heavy armor. A welcome bonus, although I think heavy armor would be enough – or perhaps a few specific martial weapons rather than all of them.
Eyes of Night (level 1)
An exceptional feature that gives you darkvision with no range limit. Not only that, but you can also grant this feature to another creature for 10 minutes. This can be incredibly useful for a multitude of scenarios, especially when it comes to stealth. The party can sneak around without having to worry they’ll stumble in the dark. While this isn’t an ability you can spam constantly, each use will definitely be worth it.
Vigilant Blessing (level 1)
Another feature on level 1, and another good one as well. You can grant advantage on a creature’s next initiative roll. Excellent for certain classes like Assassin Rogues, and even better when you consider there is no time limitation, and you have unlimited uses. Of course, since you can only affect a single creature at a time, it’s not like you’ll get your entire team to act before the enemy gets a chance. But still, getting the first spell or attack off is quite important in a battle, especially in the first levels where HPs are low.
Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary (level 2)
Another quite powerful feature, this gives you the ability to create a “bubble” of dim light around you. Creatures that end their turn inside that bubble, you can either grant them 1d8 temporary hit points, or end one effect causing them to be charmed or frightened. This also doesn’t cost an action – it’s automatic, which means that you’re going to be giving out a LOT of temporary HP. Especially in the low levels, this can probably outheal any incoming damage, and even in the higher ones it’s a lot of damage mitigation. The fear and charm removal can also be a very powerful component against certain enemies, negating a large part of their arsenal.
Steps of the Brave (level 6)
Two parts in this feature. First, you have advantage on saving throws against fear. This is a nice bonus, and while your Twilight Bubble from above can also take care of that, succeeding against fear is still better than losing a turn to wait until it’s dispelled. Second, and most important, you can gain a flying speed equal to your walking speed with a bonus action while in darkness or dim light until the end of your next turn. This makes a very good combo with Twilight Sanctuary, allowing you a full minute of flight. It also allows unlimited flight in certain environments, or during the night. While you will need to reactivate it, I don’t think I need to elaborate why flying is such a powerful ability to have.
Divine Strike (level 8)
Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d8 psychic damage with a weapon attack, increasing to 2d8 at level 14. This feature appears in many Divine Domains, with a different damage type depending on the flavor (lightning for Tempest, poison for Trickery, etc), so I’d say this is pretty standard. The martial weapons proficiencies also help with this.
Midnight Shroud (level 17)
You can see through Darkness spells you cast. You can also extend this bonus to a number of creatures equal to your wisdom modifier. This is quite underwhelming for a 17th level feature in my opinion. It could further enhance the spell, like for example increasing its area of effect, or increasing its duration. It could also give you a small number of free casts of Darkness. Still, the rest of the features are quite good, so it’s not like this feature needed to be all that powerful.
Overall, the Twilight cleric has some good abilities that synergize with each other, and have very good thematic cohesion. Although it may seem a bit niche at first glance, it can offer a great deal of utility and battlefield control.
After this, we have a new Circle for the Druids, centered around the theme of rebirth – destruction is merely a part of the circle of life, allowing a new beginning.
CIRCLE OF WILDFIRE
You have a bond with a wildfire spirit, which grants you the Fire Bolt cantrip and extra spells as you level up. Fire bolt is an excellent ranged option, and the rest of the spells aren’t bad either – you get plenty of damage (including the classic Fireball), as well as some utility options. As usual, they fit very well thematically.
Summon Wildfire (level 2)
You can summon the wildfire spirit you have a bond with, by using your Wild Shape feature. WOTC seems to like experimenting with this type of familiar-type allies – we saw it on the artificers, and now we see it here as well. This one isn’t very tanky, but it has a ranged attack and the usual utility you get out of these types of allies, who can Help for advantage on attacks (and pretty much everything else). The interesting part here is that the spirit also has a teleportation ability, that allows you to move multiple willing creatures within 5 feet of it up to 30 feet away. This can prove to be a very powerful tool both to disengage (multiple people, without giving opportunity attacks) and to engage (trap ranged enemies at melee, and force them to either attack with disadvantage or move and provoke opportunity attacks).
Enhanced Bond (level 6)
Whenever you cast a spell that deals fire damage or restores hit points, roll a d8 and you gain a bonus to one roll of the spell equal to that. This is quite good, since you choose where this bonus is applied: the damage roll, the heal roll, or even the attack roll. This also seems to work on Fire Bolt as well, since it doesn’t specify you need to use a spell slot. This is quite the upgrade to your damage, and extra healing is always a big plus. This feature also has a secondary ability, allowing you to cast your spells through your wildfire spirit. Primarily, this extends your range, but it can also allow you to buff allies with touch spells (such as Barkskin) from a distance.
Flames of Life (level 10)
When a creature dies near you or your Wildfire spirit, you can cause flames to erupt from its corpse. When a creature touches them, you can either deal 2d10 + your wisdom modifier damage, or restore as much life to them. This can occur a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier. Assuming a Wisdom score of 20, that’s up to 10d10 + 25 healing, which is the main attraction. Damage is also good, but healing is much rarer and thus more valuable. However, since the flames disappear when a creature touches them regardless of whether you want it to, DMs can “metagame” a little bit and have enemies deliberately take the damage, to deny healing for the party.
Blazing Endurance (level 14)
Once per long rest, prevents you from falling unconscious when you drop to 0 HP – provided you don’t die outright. Then, you gain temporary HP equal to five times your druid level (so from 70 up to 100), and deals fire damage (2d10 + your druid level) to everyone around you in quite the range (30 ft). These types of abilities that prevent unconsciousness generally seem very situational for me, but in this case the other effects are quite powerful, and the theme fits excellently. This can also allow you to be much more aggressive, since you have a “guarantee” of survival backed with further insurance from the temporary HP.
Overall, this archetype has an interesting theme, which is realized in a very appropriate way. It has a good balance of offense, defense, and utility, allowing it to fill any role in the party – perhaps not as good as a dedicated class, but definitely good enough to work in a pinch.
Finally, we have the most interesting one: A wizard arcane tradition called Onomancy. It revolves around the knowledge and usage of true names. A relatively common trope in fantasy, true names of people (and objects) allow you to affect them in a much more direct way.
Bonus Proficiencies (level 2)
You learn an extra language, and gain proficiency with calligrapher’s tools. Fits nicely with the theme, although I think you could learn two languages – it wouldn’t be that powerful.
Extract Name (level 2)
I expected True Names to be an awkward mechanic, but it’s as simple and straightforward as it gets. You target a creature, it makes a WIS saving throw, and if they fail you learn their true name (if they have one). There are still 2 issues though: If the target succeeds on the saving throw, you cannot try again, ever – at least according to the wording as is. There could be a softer limitation there, like a day, or a month – as long as you want it to, but not forever. Second, there is no mention of how many names you remember at any point. I assume you remember all of them forever – not an unreasonable mechanical decision to streamline the process, but it would make sense to limit them. For example, you remember a number of true names equal to your Intelligence Modifier plus your Wizard Level. If you learn more, you choose which one to forget. Alternatively, you can write down more True Names in your spellbook, but it costs you something – such as gold and time, similar to writing more spells. Obviously, this makes things a bit more complicated – but it also helps the player actually remember what names they have gathered, otherwise they’d constantly ask themselves if they know this or that character’s name, and if they already tried to learn it.
Fateful Naming (level 2)
You learn and always have prepared the Bless and Bane spells. Both are excellent – I consider Bless to be one of the most powerful level 1 spells in the game. In addition, You can cast them without expending a spell slot if you target at least one creature whose true name you know. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier between long rests. Wizards in general have all the spell slots they need, but who’s going to say no to more?
Resonant Utterance (level 6)
You learn words of power that you can use against creatures whose true name you know, empowering your spells. You learn two Resonants at level 6, and can use them a number of times equal to half your wizard level, recharging at a long rest. You have a good variety here, although some will probably be far more useful than others. Your options are:
- Absorption, giving you 3d6 temporary hit points, increasing by 1d6 at levels 10 and 14
- Devastation, giving the target disadvantage on the spell’s saving throw – if it has one.
- Dissolution, dealing an extra 2d8 force damage to the target, increasing by 1d8 at levels 10 and 14
- Nullification, allowing you to know what spells are affecting the target and attempt to end one of them
- Puppetry, allowing you to move a target up to 10 feet, or knock them prone
- Sympathy, allowing you to target the creature even if you cannot see it or it has total cover.
Most of them require the spell to deal damage to the target before taking effect. I’d say that this gives you a great deal of utility. Personally, I think Nullification and Devastation or Puppetry would be the best options: Nullification allows you not only to end buffs on enemies, but also to remove debuffs from allies – it doesn’t require damage to be dealt like the others. Devastation is an obvious candidate, and Puppetry can knock people down without a saving throw – use a Magic Missile for guaranteed damage, and you can reliably get a creature prone every time. It should be noted that only one true name is used for Resonants – you can’t apply the Resonant effects on multiple creatures, even if you know all of their true names. This is a reasonable and expected balance limitation.
Inexorable Pronouncement (level 10)
You learn two more Resonants. That’s all. Nothing too fancy, an expected feature, but still a very good expansion of your arsenal.
Relentless Naming (level 14)
When you cast a spell that deals damage to a creature whose true name you know, you can make the spell deal force or psychic damage to it instead of the normal damage type. An interesting ability that is excellent for bypassing immunities and resistances, I expect it will see heavy use against certain opponents who have such features.
Overall, a very interesting archetype that I would say is well-designed. I would like some further elaboration on the Extract Name feature, but it is perfectly usable as is. It requires a bit of setup in combat to use effectively, since you need to try and learn true names, so it’s not as powerful in a standard dungeon crawl type of encounter. However, if you have a persistent opponent that you battle again and again, or if you have time to research and prepare – stalk your targets and try to discover their true names before the fight – you could do some serious work during battle, both in terms of damage with Relentless Naming and utility with your Resonants.
This was a very interesting Unearthed Arcana. The classes all had a nice theme and were well implemented. What do you think about them?
You can read the full article here and download the PDF here.
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