D&D: Sword Bards, Zealot Barbarians, and Gloomy Rangers
Three more Xanathar’s Guide to Everything previews for you today, a subclass for Bards, Barbarians, and Rangers.
The Xanathar’s Guide to Everything previews keep rolling out of the station, so we’re gonna hop that train before it picks up too much does, just mind the railroad bulls. A tin can you can use for a hat will be provided once we’re underway.
First up, we have the Bard College of Blades, which could also be called the swashbuckling bard. This subclass is an homage to the old Blade lot from 2nd Edition, which presented the Bard as a daring, charismatic swordsman who could use their sword to perform instead of singing.
That’s still present–the last time we had an update to the playtest rules, the College of Swords Bard had been given an overhaul with a focus on action economy. Their signature move, the blade flourish, is used in place of an attack action, with Bards gaining an extra attack at 6th leven as long as they’re blade flourishing. You get some special abilities, including the ability to damage nearby enemies, the ability to give yourself extra movement (while pushing your foes), or you can ‘fight defensively.’ In personally hoping the final version sees a few more Blade Flourishes included along with the aforementioned three. The subclass feels so very near to being done, another option or two would really finish it up nicely.
Next up, we have the Barbarian Path of the Zealot. This one is my personal favorite of the batch, it’s got this classic sword and sorcery, slightly larger than life feel to it that just feels right. Barbarians of the Zealot work well as player characters or villains–they are champions, warriors blessed by the gods.
Mechanically, these Barbarians have a damaging aura that surrounds them as they range, and their abilities are both offensive and defensive–they can expend their rage to protect themselves, they can give their allies advantage–though, it’s worth noting, of the previews we’ve seen so fat, the Zealot hasn’t yet been featured in a revised subclass listing, so it’s entirely possible it’s changed fairly significantly between its previous version and this one.
Finally, we have the Gloom Stalker Ranger. They are vengeance, they are the night. They are Batman.
Seriously though, they are a character who uses the darkness to fight the creatures of darkness. They are masters of stealth and terror, who have the unique ability to hide from Darkvision, which means there’s always one behind you, and use the magic of darkness to inflict terror and attack their foes.
And I think it’s fantastic. This is quite a unique Ranger option, they could easily have just doubled down on the Ranger off the Underdark we saw when this was the Deep Stalker, but, I’m glad for this change. It really spews the creativity at work in these subclasses. Right away, you know how to play this character, and have probably started dreaming about how to best multiclass with Monk for the full Batman experience. But that’s what a good set of rules/lore does, it makes you want to go out and play.
We’ll have more Xanathar’s Guide Previews as they come out–but for now, of the subclasses we’ve seen, which are you most excited to play?