Take a look at the revised Circle of the Shepherd Druid, the Oath of Conquest Paladin, the Celestial Warlock, and new Eldritch Invocations.
As Wizards gears up for the release of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, we’re getting a much better shape of how the classes will play out. The feedback that Wizards gets from these playtests is going to help them find the final versions. After all in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, we’re going to see the best of the best of Unearthed Arcana, so take a look at these Revised Options, playtest them, and get your feedback in. The way things are shaking out has me pretty hopeful for what the final versions will look like.
Circle of the Shepherd Druid
These Druids have undergone a subtle shift from their last incarnation. Now they are all about communing with the spirits of the forest–animal and fey alike. Mechanically not much has changed, a few things have been added here and there. Beast Speech has become Speech of the Woods and now grants Sylvan as a bonus language in addition to communicating with beasts (because you can talk to animals and fey). The Wolf Spirit that previous Shepherd Circle Druids could summon is now a Unicorn spirit, reflecting the Fey aspect of this class, and Guardian Spirit is now more worthwhile an ability. Its effects changed from giving you a Death Ward to making it so that creatures you summon regain hit points while within your Spirit Totem’s aura–this cements their role as summoners a little more and helps keep the class focused.
Cavaliers get a fairly substantial change to the way they work. They are still very much about mounted combat, but they are no longer exclusively about mounted combat–this is a change I think they desperately needed. Otherwise all they were was a one-trick pony (sorry*), who could do more damage with a lance. Now they specifically have superiority maneuvers that they can use on or off their mount. They gain access to Precision Attack and Trip Attack, as well as two Cavalier-unique Combat Maneuvers. The new one Warding Maneuver is a great way to protect your allies–it grants them a bonus to AC and resistance even if the attack hits. And it’s not specified as melee or ranged, or even a weapon attack–so it might be a little more powerful than they intended–but right now I feel like that’s a good draw for a fighter who wants to keep their allies safe and still have access to the increased damage other fighters can draw on.
Oath of Conquest Paladin
More meaningful-but-subtle changes abound in this revision. They’re made a little broader than before. Their Channel Divinity options are much better than before–instead of being a single target fear effect, Hellknights can now inspire terror in all their foes. Similarly their Aura of Menace has gotten mean. Now instead of giving creatures disadvantage on saves vs. being frightened, it reduces their speed to 0 and damages them for being in your aura. Scornful Rebuke replaces the old Implacable Spirit, swapping out an immunity to charm that was functionally useless (Paladins almost never fail saves) for the ability to deal your Charisma modifier in psychic damage to anyone that hits you with an attack. This one is incredibly powerful–and can be especially punishing for people dependent on multiple attacks.
Celestial Patron Warlock
Replacing the idea of the Undying Light (which I always thought was too generic), these Warlocks make their pact with a powerful being like an Empyreal, a Solar, a Ki-Rin, or a Unicorn. And right away we run into a problem, because why would you ever pick anything but a beautiful, glorious Unicorn as your patron. It makes any game immediately better, because now a wonderful magical horse is telling you what to do. Besides this ontological shift, Warlocks of the Celestial Patron had a fairly significant overhaul. Their healing has been moved up to the front of their class. Now instead of the 15d6 pool of healing that they got for hitting for 14th level, they instead get a Healing Light ability at 1st level and have a scaling pool of d6s that they can use Lay on Hands style. Their spell list has been expanded, giving them two new spells at each level. The way they shift the characters around feels much more at the pace you’d want–all in all I am glad to see this Archetype get an overhaul.
And speaking of Warlocks, the batch of new Eldritch Invocations included in this Unearthed Arcana is fantastic. A big critique was that too many of the Eldritch Invocations they were proposing were Patron-dependent. That’s been changed. Now your choice of Pact matters a lot more. Many of the “deal X damage to people you’ve cast Hex on” have changed as well. So now you’re able to affect anyone you’ve cursed with either a spell or class feature, and the extra damage you can deal has been made uniform across the invocations. Kiss of Mephistopheles remains the second-best invocation in the game (second only to the Invocation that lets you add your Charisma to the damage of Eldritch Blast), because every Eldritch Blast should come with a side of fireball.
At any rate, Wizards is listening. So fill out those surveys and put these things to the test!
I’m a Circle of the Shepard Druid, and this is my favorite Circle on the Citadel.