Unearthed Arcana: Subclasses, Part 2 Analysis

We have finally caught up!

I would have said if a new Unearthed Arcana installment hadn’t been released a few days ago. But, still, we’re getting there. And for today, three more classes are here and we’re ready to talk about them. This time we’re blessed with subclasses for the Bard, the Cleric, and the Sorcerer. Let’s go!

College of Creation

Bards of this college believe in the Song of Creation, which is comprised of the harmonies that created the multiverse. That’s not a bad flavour for a Bard college. In fact, it vaguely reminds me of something. I wonder what it could be

Note of Potential (3rd-level College of Creation feature)

Your Bardic Inspiration is augmented, with different effects depending on the purpose it is used for. When adding the die to an attack roll, the creature using it can deal that much thunder damage to all creatures within 5 feet, if they fail a Constitution saving throw. If used on a saving throw, the creature gains that many temporary hit points plus your Charisma modifier. Finally, if used on an ability check, the creature can reroll the Bardic Inspiration and choose which roll to use. While these are minor bonuses, they will definitely stack up in due time, considering how often you use Bardic Inspiration.

Animating Performance (6th-level College of Creation feature)

As an action, you can bring an inanimate nonmagical item to life for 1 hour. It shares your initiative, and you can use a bonus action to command it, automatically taking the Dodge action if you do not. You can also have only one animated object active at a time, and you can command it as part of your Bardic Inspiration. It has an AC of 16, HP scaling with your Charisma modifier and 5 times your bard level, a melee attack dealing 1d10 + your Charisma modifier force damage and using your spell attack modifier, and also takes the Dodge action as a bonus action after an attack. Even at level 6, that’s close to a CR 4 creature, which is quite respectable. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you take a long rest – but you can also use it by expending a 3rd level spell slot. This fits with the subclass theme, and while the item lacks versatility, it can possibly tank a lot of attacks with its constant Dodge.

Performance of Creation (14th-level College of Creation feature)

As an action, you can create a nonmagical item with a value of up to 20 times your bard level and a size of Large or smaller. You must use your action every turn to keep the item in existence until you reach 1 minute, whereupon the item will persist for a number of hours equal to your bard level. You can have only one such item in existence, and you need to either take a long rest or use a 5th level spell slot to use this feature again. Obviously this feature is limited only by your imagination – you can create weapons and tools to adjust to a difficult situation, you can create fake gems or gold to cheat people (although at level 14 you probably won’t need to, 280 gold is a pitiful amount), and while I’m not sure if it would be allowed, I imagine you would also be able to conjure food, drink, or medicine if the situation was dire enough.

I really like the flavour of this subclass. It has some really good ideas and it allows you to get creative, which is something I’d expect from a subclass like this. To be honest, I could see this one return with a lot of changes, because the theme allows them, but I definitely want to see it make a return.

Unity Domain

A cleric archetype focused in the concept of unity (obviously), teamwork, protection, et cetera. Obviously, this archetype will focus on buffing and protecting teammates rather than dealing damage, and I think it succeeds at this goal quite handily.

Domain Spells (1st-level Unity Domain feature)

The classic extra domain spells, in this case all of them being buffs to teammates, as is befitting the archetype.

Emboldening Bond (1st-level Unity Domain feature)

You can create a bond between two creatures. For one hour, and as long as they are within 30 feet of each other, they can roll a d4 and add it to an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw once per turn. A very strong ability, essentially a Bless (one of the best spells in the game in my opinion) along with a Guidance, lasting for one hour, with no concentration. As if that wasn’t enough, even though you can use it once per long rest, you can also use it again by expending a spell slot – no level restriction, so even 1st level spell slots are enough. And it also stacks with Bless, so that’s a +2 to +8 bonus at level 1. I don’t think I need to say anything more.

Channel Divinity: Shared Burden (2nd-level Unity Domain feature)

When a creature within 30 feet of you takes damage, you can use your reaction to choose a number of creatures equal to your Wisdom modifier and distribute the damage among them however you want. Besides the obvious use of protecting a squishy member of the party from getting sniped, you can also shunt off the damage to summoned creatures – e.g. raised zombies, conjured elementals (who might also have immunity to the type of damage dealt), or someone’s familiar, although that’s a bit cruel.

Protective Bond (6th-level Unity Domain feature)

Your Emboldening Bond is improved; the bonded creatures can use their reaction to grant their partner resistance to all damage for one turn, if they take damage. An even better Bond isn’t something I can complain about – this can block some serious damage, especially with it being spammable.

Potent Spellcasting (8th-level Unity Domain feature)

Nothing special here, the traditional Divine Strike/Potent Spellcasting that all clerics have.

Enduring Unity (17th-level Unity Domain feature)

Emboldening bond now has no range limit, as long as the two partners are in the same plane of existence. When one of the two drops to 0 hit points, the other gains the following bonuses for 1 minute, or until the downed creature regains hit points:

  • The creature has advantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.
  • The creature gains resistance to all damage.
  • As an action, the creature can touch their bonded partner to expend and roll any number of Hit Dice. Their bonded partner regains a number of hit points equal to the total rolled.

This essentially allows you to get the bonuses of Emboldening Bond even when your partner is down, and also gives you the ability to “revive” them. The range limit removal is of course quite nice, but I don’t think the second (and main) part of the feature will come into play often. I think that’s fine though, Emboldening Bond is quite powerful on its own.

Emboldening Bond is obviously the defining feature, and I’d say it’s pretty strong (as I repeatedly stated earlier). I don’t think it’s too strong (besides the 1st level), although I would like to see it gain more “partners” as you level up. However, maybe then it would get a bit too good.

Clockwork Soul

The Clockwork Soul archetype is almost the opposite of the Wild Magic Sorcerer. Instead of the absolute chaos of the latter, this one is about complete order, with your magic originating from the plane of Mechanus; the home of Modrons.

Clockwork Magic (1st-level Clockwork Soul feature)

The standard feature giving you extra thematic spells. I’m not sure if some of these ones fit the whole clockwork motif, but I suppose there aren’t always enough options for some of the more specific themes.

Restore Balance (1st-level Clockwork Soul feature)

When a creature with 60 feet of you rolls with advantage or disadvantage, you can prevent the roll from being so. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier, regaining all uses after a long rest. A nice utility to have, either helping allies or hindering enemies, which is also quite easy to trigger.

Bulwark of Law (6th-level Clockwork Soul feature)

As an action, you can expend 1 to 5 sorcery points. A creature you choose gains that many d8s, until you finish a long rest or use this ability again. Whenever they take damage, they can use their reaction to roll a number of these dice and reduce the damage taken by the total rolled. That’s a lot of damage reduction, and it also gives you a sink for your sorcery points.

Trance of Order (14th-level Clockwork Soul feature)

For one minute, attacks against you can’t benefit from advantage, and whenever you make an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can treat any 9s or less of the d20 as 10s. In order to use this ability again, you need to take a long rest or expend 5 sorcery points. A nice – if conditional – layer of defense, along with a very powerful ability that will most likely guarantee you succeed on most of your checks, attacks, or saving throws.

Clockwork Cavalcade (18th-level Clockwork Soul feature)

You summon a swarm of spirits in a 30-foot cube centered on you. In that area, you can restore 100 hit points divided as you choose to any number of creatures, all damaged objects are fully repaired, and all spells of 6th level and lower end on creatures and objects you choose. The item repair is quite situational (although from what it seems you can repair magic items as well), but the healing is substantial, and the spell “defusal” can take care of some nasty debuffs your party might have. You can use this once between long rests, or by expending 7 sorcery points.

Overall, certainly a unique theme for a sorcerer, which might also work nicely for a warlock. The features definitely fit, and they’ll probably see a lot of use without being broken.

And that’s all for this Unearthed Arcana installment. I am quite pleased with this one. The idea of the Song of Creation is something that I find quite intriguing and wanted to write something about it. And don’t get me started about Mechanus and its Modrons. It’s one of my favourite planes and Modrons are simply the best. The Cleric was cool too. For a moment it reminded me of a tanky version of the Warlord from 4th Edition.

My question for you is about the College of Creation. How would you imagine a subclass that has to do with the creation of the multiverse? How deep or meta would you go?

You can read the full article here, and download the PDF here.

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