The latest Unearthed Arcana hints at a planar confluence with two more subclasses connected to realms beyond the Prime Material.
The Manual of the Planes is one of those recurring tomes–like the Fiend Folio or the Book of Vile Darkness/Exalted Deeds that repeats throughout the editions. Whether you’re looking at the cosmos-defining book in 1st Edition, or the Great Wheel-centered version we see in 3rd Edition, the Manual of the Planes is the definitive guide to all things Planar in the various editions of D&D (excepting 2nd, of course, which had a whole campaign setting).
There’s the 1st Edition book, which details the various planes of existence, as well as the kinds of creatures you’ll find thereupon. Here we learn about the Inner and Outer Planes, including all the various elemental and para-elemental planes that crop up where planes touch each other, the various Heavens and Hells, and of course the big uniting planes, the Astral and Ethereal, both of which feature some truly destructive beasts like our friend the Astral Dreadnought on the cover there.
2nd Edition had Planescape, which redefined the planar cosmology outlined in first edition, placing Sigil at the top of a mighty spire at the center of a Great Wheel–which would go on to define the cosmology in 3rd Edition’s Manual. With 27 different planes and a bunch of player options to choose from. The Manual of the Planes was an important part of the Edition, helping to fuel strange builds as well as the sort of high-fantasy adventures that would see players go from one small corner of the Prime Material on into the wilds of the Outer Planes. This would go on to influence Pathfinder as the Editions split, and help shape things to come.
4th Edition’s Manual of the Planes reinvents the standard cosmology into the World Axis model, which has five standard planar types. There’s the Mortal World at the heart of everything, then there are the two parallel planes, which is where 5th Edition concepts like the Feywild and Shadowfell get introduced, as well as the Astral Sea and Elemental Chaos, both of which are opposed to each other in a strange way–and here’s also where you get some Eberron-inspired planes like the Far Realm and Plane of Dreams.
We mention all of this because the latest batch of Unearthed Arcana offerings touches on planar escapades. You’ll find two new subclasses, the Aberrant Mind, a Far-Realm-touched Sorcerer, as well as the Lurker in the Deep, an elemental plane of Water-themed Warlock with shades of Fjord out of Critical Role Campaign 2.
These two subclasses, plus the previous two–an astrally-based-Monk and a Feywild-touched Barbarian–all seem to indicate that something Planar this way comes. Bear that in mind as we go through the subclasses.
We start with the Aberrant Mind, a sorcerer warped by the alien influence of the strange and distant intellects of the Far Realm. A planar blot or alteration by mind flayers or the influence of an aboleth–whatever the case, these sorcerers are transformed and empowered by the Far Realm and create unique disturbances wherever they go, with a bit of flavor that I love very much.
And the rest of the subclass feels very heavily psionics-influenced. In 5th Edition, the Far Realm is also the domain of the mind–the alien mind. And you’ll see that reflected in the Sorcerer’s class abilities, such as Invasive Thoughts, granted at 1st Level. This feature lets you create a telepathic bond with another creature as a bonus action, while your Psionic Spells feature gives you access to the various Far Realm-themed spells like Arms of Hadar or Compulsion or Evard’s Black Tentacles. You’ll also get Warped Being which is basically like Dragon Scales but you get viscous slime instead of armored scales.
At 6th level, Psionic Sorcery enables you to cast spells off of your Psionic Spells list with Sorcery Points, and when you do so they require no components to activate. Truly it is Mind over Matter, especially since your Psychic Defenses at 6th Level make you resistant to psychic damage and give you advantage on saving throws to resist being charmed or frightened.
At 14th level you can unearth the hidden truth the Far Realm grafted into your body by undergoing a Revelation in Flesh which lets you spend up to 4 sorcery points to transform into an expression of the Far Realms that’s downright eldritch. At 18th level, Warp Reality means that you’re at the heart of a reality-warping anomaly that lets you use your action to turn on a whirling aura of psychic damage that you can end to teleport creatures within it wherever you want to go.
The Lurker in the Deep, on the other hand, is all about forging a Warlock pact with some kind of entity deep in the ocean. These kinds of patrons are primordial, and take a long, strange view of the mortal races. Eat your heart out Fjord.
Well, your sword, anyway.
Your 1st Level Powers give you that sweet fishy flavor, including Grasp of the Deep which lets you summon a spectral tentacle, effectively giving you something like Spiritual Weapon. Or there’s Scion of the Deep which grants you the ability to speak to anything with a swim speed.
Meanwhile Guardian Grasp lets you reduce damage on the fly while Fathomless Soul makes you more of a merperson. Devouring Maw is a mean ability that gives you a continual damage area as the hunger of your patron manifests in the world and deals constant damage to folks in an aura around you and that’s not even getting to your 14th-level ability, Unleash the Depths which lets you summon a manifestation of your patron to smite some foes.
Add to all of this a new, psionic-themed cantrip, Mind Sliver which lets you deal some damage to a target, then debuff them as they reel from your psionic assault.
All of this to say, the last few expansions for D&D we’ve seen have all been someone’s Guide. Perhaps this is time for Shemeska’s Guide to the Planes or maybe WotC will play up the nostalgia angle and this will just straight up be the new Manual of the Planes, but it feels like something Planar is on the horizon for D&D.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!