D&D: Druid, Fighter, and Wizard Subclasses

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This month, Unearthed Arcana returns with three new subclasses, check them out inside.

Unearthed Arcana is back in a big way with three new subclasses on display. There are a few outside-the-norm mechanics here, so some interesting rules to digest this time around. We have the Circle of Spores for Druids, the Brute Fighter, and the Inventor School of Magic for Wizards.

Each of these subclasses provides an interesting insight into the perspective of these classes. The Circle of Spores in particular is a unique take on the Druid, placing them somewhere between life and death. Let’s dive in and see what each of these classes has to offer.

via Wizards of the Coast

Circle of Spores

First up we have the Circle of Spores Druid. As mentioned earlier, these druids find their place between life and death.

Druids of the Circle of Spores find beauty in decay. They see within mold and other fungi the ability to transform lifeless material into abundant, albeit somewhat strange, life. These druids believe that life and death are portions of a grand cycle, with one leading to the other and then back again. Death is not the end of life, but instead a change of state that sees life shift into a new form.

As you might be picking up on from the fluff there, these druids don’t despise the undead–viewing them as a curious part of the cycle, harbingers of decay who help speed the living to death and a strange sort of life in death at the same time. They still hate undead that would wipe out all life and replace it with undeath, and nobody but wizards love liches–even still it’s an interesting position for Druids to take.

Their powers skew necromantic as well, with bonus spells like chill touch and animate dead supplementing the traditional Druid Spell list. Add in an always prepared blight or cloudkill, and you have a serious magical punch at your disposal.

And the advocate of fungi and beauty in decay is complemented by the two defining class features. First there’s Halo of Spores, which allows you to use your reaction on your turn to deal a fixed amount of poison damage to enemies, starting at 3 and scaling up to 12.

This is a fairly big deviation from the norm–usually reactions are used when it’s not your turn, and this damage is dealt at your whim top a creature within 10 feet of you. No save, no hit roll, no conditions, just damage. Now, it isn’t very much, but the second defining feature of the class helps this hit a little harder.

Symbiotic Entity lets you trade in a Wild Shape transformation to instead awaken the spores that infest your body, empowering your Halo of Spores to deal double damage, granting you temporary hit points, and adding 1d6 poison damage to your melee attacks.

It’s not a bad transformation, and one that requires no concentration. But how much it’s worth the wild shape is debatable. Definitely not as strong as the Moon Druid, but you do get combat prowess and spellcasting, so. The other abilities like Fungal Infestation let you create a 1hp zombie when you kill someone with spore damage, and Spreading Spores lets you hurl a cube of spores at an enemy and create a lingering zone of damage that doesn’t eat up your action. The capstone, Fungal Body, renders you immune to many types of damage and critical hits, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

All in all, this Druid feels pretty cool. Of the three subclasses, this one feels like it introduces the most interesting angle on the class, with the most polished mechanics.


The Brute archetype is all about dealing damage.

Brutes are simple warriors who rely on mighty attacks and their own durability to overcome their enemies. Some brutes combine this physical might with tactical cunning. Others just hit things until those things stop hitting back.

Honestly, the brute feels like an alternative to the Champion, trading in durability for damage dealing. The first thing a Brute gets is Brute Force which adds an extra die of damage to each attack, and like a monk’s unarmed damage, it scales from 1d4 to 1d10. Higher level Brutes can add 1d6 to any saving throw, get an extra fighting style, and with Devastating Critical, they gain their level to damage on critical hits. The capstone gives them regeneration at 5 + Con Modifier per round as long as they’re under half hp, so even more durability.

Honestly this one is fine, but a little underwhelming. The extra damage is nice, but the Brute feels too similar to the Champion–the name puts me in mind of a brawler archetype for fighters. Some kind of Porthos or Fezzig or Samonosuke analogue–sure they’re good with a sword, but they’re tough and will just as readily punch your lights out. There’s one in every movie.

The School of Invention

Finally we have the Inventor Wizard, which presents a very interesting take on the standard idea of a wizard.

The School of Invention claims credit for inventing the other schools of magic—a claim other wizards find absurd. Wizards of this school push magic to its limits. They stretch the known laws of arcane power and strive to reveal important truths about the nature of the multiverse. Adherents of this school believe that innovation is best served through experimentation. They have a reputation for acting first, thinking second. Most wizards are scholars who have mastered their craft through careful study, rigorous practice, and endless hours of repetition. These wizards would rather throw spells together and see what happens.

The inventor gets all kinds of disparate features, starting with Arcanomechanical Armor, which is a transmogrified suit of studded leather that requires attunement and gives you 12 + Dex to AC, and resistance to Force Damage. Which is cool, but very costly, and it feels out of place for it to come from leather armor. And cool name aside, this armor, which gives a worse AC than Mage Armor and can’t be upgraded, isn’t even a key feature of the class. That’s all it ever does.

Reckless Casting is the backbone of the class, giving wizards the opportunity to cast a spell they don’t have prepared by expending a slot and rolling a d10 on a chart. There’s a chance you’ll cast one or two spells chosen at random from the charts which can include Fireball, Lightning Bolt, or, say Feign Death. No guarantee you’ll get what you want, or something useful out of it. But still, there’s a chance for something cool and unexpected to happen.

At 6th level you can expend extra slots for more damage or the ability to swap one kind of elemental damage for another, and the capstone ability keys you trade spell slots up for randomness.

This one feels like its got a cool idea at the core of it. There’s definitely room for a wizard who plays fast and loose and tries to improvise–and the armor feels like it could fit am Eberron campaign especially. But it all feels a little scattershot.

As is, the armor feels like a mechanic for the artificer, the reckless casting like it wants to be a wild magic sorcerer on steroids, and the spell empowering stuff feels more like a Sorcerer. Still I like this idea and would want to see it try and get a rework. Maybe a wizard could use their prepared spells to create some variant effects depending on the spell school used in the slot, giving wizards access to a little of each of the schools as needed. I’m not sure, but that feels a little more like what makes a Wizard a Wizard, you know?

At any rate,  a survey will be sure to follow, but in the meantime you can find the entire document here.

Read the Unearthed Arcana

Happy Adventuring!

  • Aurion Shidhe

    I really hope that I’m seeing a pattern here. The druids remind me of the Children of Winter and the mage may be a refinement of the artificer sub-class they released earlier. Could we be seeing the early draft of a 5e Eberron book? I hope so.

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      We are definitely getting Eberron at some point, so it only makes sense to start working the mechanics out now.

      • Aurion Shidhe

        What I would really like to see are solid psionic rules and race profile for kalashtar. We’re still playing in Eberron but have to fudge heavily when it comes to psionics. the mystic UA is okay for now but it is still obviously a work in progress.

        What I DON’T want them to do is mess with the timeline in Eberron. Keith Baker was very specific when he wanted the timeline to freeze two years after Thronehold. He wants Eberron to stay a big sandbox with no “canon” that players and GMs can freely use.

        • Red_Five_Standing_By

          I felt that way when the 4E rulebook came out because Eberron was still so young and fresh.

          Now? Ehhhh. I wouldn’t mind a year or two time skip. Not necessary but not wholly unwelcome. We know WotC has detailed plans for a 2-ish year time jump, as they were originally going to advance the time line back in 4E (until the D&D forums went ballistic and WotC backed off the idea).

          I remember back in the day, Keith Baker talked about how the seas and oceans were, in his original treatment, broken up into independent Sahuagin kingdoms. The idea had to be cut for space but it was something he always wanted to see re-added.

          • Aurion Shidhe

            You should check out the Manifest Zone podcast. Keith is an active contributor and adds quite a bit to the Eberron conversation.

            As far as advancing the storyline, I’m not so sure. The reasonable outcome of storyline advancement is that war will break out again. If they spend 6 years looking and no one figures out who or what caused the mourning then they will most likely start fighting for the ultimate crown again.

            Keith has also said that he has extensive treatment ready to go on the Planes of Eberron. that would be an interesting read.

    • Kabal1te

      I think the artificer is going to remain its own class as per the last play test of it rather than a sub school of wizard. This inventor wizard looks more like a rebuild of the lore wizard from a previous UA.

      • Aurion Shidhe

        Good point. I would assume that the artificer would stand on its own, but they’ve swung both ways so far. I’d like to see it distinct.

        • Kabal1te

          The artificer was a wizards school in ad&d 2nd edition, but 3.x forward it has been its own full class. Personally I greatly dislike the artificer concept as its last play test iteration which looks more like a fusion of pathfinder’s alchemist and gunslinger than what an artificer ought to be. For what it is worth and as controversial as it may be to say I think 4th editions artificer did the best job at portraying what am artificer ought to be able to do.

          • Aurion Shidhe

            I agree with you. I DO NOT like the alchemist/gunslinger version of the artificer. In our group, we still run with the artificer as released in the Eberron UA. It’s not perfect by any means, but it works for us.

            I am one of those odd fans of 4e. I very much liked the artificer presented in that edition.