Unearthed Arcana is back again which means big things are brewing. This week, Paladins get buff, and Bards DESTROY their opponents with FACTS and LOGIC!
There are now six different, all-new subclasses out in the wilds of Unearthed Arcana. Something big is cooking up in the WotC kitchens, especially with the planar focus we’ve seen in the last four examples. These two new subclasses don’t have an explicit tie to one of the other planes… but read on and judge for yourself. There are two more options this time around, the College of Eloquence for Bards, which turns your Bard into a trilby-wearing intellectual who can TEAR APART any argument–or enemy–with UNDENIABLE LOGIC.
And the Oath of Heroism for Paladins, which is all about accepting your heroic destiny, getting huge, and staying huge.
Let’s take a look.
via Wizards of the Coast
First up we have the Bardic College of Eloquence.
Adherents of the College of Eloquence master the art of oratory. Persuasion is regarded as a high art, and a well-reasoned, well-spoken argument often proves more powerful than objective truth. These bards wield a blend of logic and theatrical wordplay, winning over skeptics and detractors with logical arguments and plucking at heartstrings to appeal to the emotions of entire audiences.
That’s right, these Bards as master debaters. Jokes aside, this has echoes of the old Orator kit out of Skills and Powers–and it’s honestly quite fun to see an option that is ostensibly more focused on diplomacy and talking your way into or out of situations. The College of Eloquence does exactly that with its new features. In a nutshell, this class is all about using your Bardic Inspiration to make amazing things happen–it’s a unique take on the mechanic.
To start with you’ll get Universal Speech at third level, which lets you use your Bardic Inspiration to magically speak to any creature, even one that doesn’t have or speak any languages (including animals and animated objects). It’s tongues on steroids, but then you also have advantage on Charisma checks to influence them. Combine that with Soothing Words–your other 3rd-level ability, that lets you cast calm emotions, for free, up to your Charisma modifier times per long rest–and you’ve got the recipe to turn any encounter into a diplomatic encounter.
At 6th Level you gain Undeniable Logic which lets you magically convince anyone that you’re right, even on the internet–target creatures and either give them hit points and advantage on a saving throw OR deal psychic damage and give them disadvantage on a saving throw. This is the “Debate Me Coward” of abilities, and I absolutely adore it. It comes with a built in flexibility that we’re starting to see more of in new subclasses. Each class can lean into a few different playstyles. It’s a trend you’ll see mirrored in the Paladin below, but for now let’s talk about the capstone ability, Infectious Inspiration.
I love this ability. Anytime someone succeeds on a roll using your Bardic Inspiration dice you can use your reaction to Inspire someone else, basically passing the die on without actually spending it. You get [Charisma Modifier] uses per day, so it’s quite helpful. This mechanic lets you pull off the Day of Wolves and Shattered Shields/Today we celebrate the world’s Independence Day speech.
All in all this class feels very strong. It emphasizes Bardic Inspiration in a way the other subclasses don’t–which I love. The other Bardic Colleges seem aimed at making you more of a Fighter or a Wizard, but this one makes you feel like more of a Bard.
The Oath of Heroism on the other hand is for Paladins who want to be awesome. It’s all about wanting to be a hero and trying to make yourself ready for that moment.
The Oath of Heroism is an affirmation of a destined path, one laid out for you by divine hands. For whatever reason, a god or a group of gods has included you in their machinations. You are not a reluctant hero, but one who fully embraces the idea that great deeds are yours to achieve. You train diligently, sculpting your body and refining your skills so you’re ready when destiny calls.
Essentially, if you wanna be a hero kid, this Sacred Oath is the Danny DeVito satyr you’ve been waiting for. But you’ve got to prove you can go the distance, as outlined in the Tenets of Heroism.
This subclass feels very Greek Hero-inspired. It’s all about doing mythic deeds and with a selection of bonus spells that are focused on either buffing you physically (hello expeditious retreat and haste) or making sure you’ve got some ranged power (guiding bolt at 3rd level is a blast for most Paladins), it starts to live up to the name. Your Channel Divinity gets a pretty sweet buff. You can either be a Peerless Athlete, and use your Channel Divinity to augment your athleticism and get advantage on Athletics and Acrobatics checks while you parkour your way across the battlefield. Or, the option you’ll really be using: Legendary Strike which increases your critical hit range from 20 to 19-20, for a minute. That’s pretty stellar.
The rest of the subclass is cool too. At 7th level, Mighty Deed lets you choose between two options whenever you make a critical hit or reduce a creature to 0 hit points (again, the player choice is strong here). You can pick up to your Charisma Modifier in targets and either give them temporary hit points or they make a wisdom save and if they fail they’re frightened of you.
The level 15 feature Glorious Defense is very strong, and it’s sad that most games will never get to see it in action. But it lets you deflect an attack with your inner glory, using your reaction to beef up your AC vs an attack, and if the attack misses you you can make a weapon attack (AND SMITE) as part of your reaction. That and Living Myth, the level 20 feature make this Oath incredible. When you invoke the Living Myth, you can use a bonus action to give yourself a ton of effects:
- Advantage on all charisma checks
- Once per turn, when you miss with a weapon attack, you hit instead
- If you fail a saving throw, you can use your reaction to succeed instead
So for 10 minutes, you’re basically a legendary monster.
Both of these Subclasses look like a lot of fun and add cool new playstyles to their respective parent classes. But you might be wondering, where’s the extraplanar connection? The other four we’ve seen–the Way of the Astral Self Monk and Wild Soul Barbarian and the Lurker in the Deep Pact Warlock and Aberrant Mind Sorcerer have all had a tie to a specific plane. On the surface, these two subclasses don’t seem directly tied to another plane…
But the pure logic and reasoned debate of the College of Eloquence seems like a great fit for the rules of order governing a place like Mechanus, while the legendary Grecian hero vibes of the Oath of Heroism seem like a perfect fit for the wild goodness of Arborea (also called Arvandor or Olympus, depending on which end of the chaotic good spectrum you live on).
We’ll have to wait and see, of course, but keep all this in mind as you playtest. And be sure and leave your feedback on the new Warlock and Sorcerer options below, then let us know what you think in the comments!