Curious about what is going on in the new subclasses? Peek behind the screen at what makes these new Warlocks, Barbarians, Wizards, and Paladins tick.
Earlier this month, amid all the furor of the announcement of the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, which Wizards of the Coast released four new subclasses, which will presumably be included in whatever book will be seeing the more planar-focused subclasses (and the UA core class feature variants). They are the Noble Genie patron for warlocks, the Path of the Beast, a lycanthrolicious barbarian subclass, the Way of Mercy, which puts the power of life and death in the palms of your hands (or elbows, or feet or whatever you unarmed strike with), and the Oath of the Watchers, for paladins sworn to defend the world from extraplanar threats.
They’re all incredibly cool and come with a much stronger push into a specific narrative and complementary set of abilities–which is the overall theme of the new subclasses we’ve been seeing. Each subclass has a “story” to go with it. The Revived rogue is someone who came back from the dead once, the Aberrant Mind sorcerer is all about uncovering the power from an aberration in your bloodline. It isn’t enough to be like a main quest, but all of these have hooks that help connect you to the larger world. And they’re a little more specific in this latest batch.
Here’s lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford to talk about the various subclasses. Let’s start with the Path of the Beast.
This is the first sign of new subclasses we’ve had this year, and it makes us hopeful that we’ll be seeing something with the new subclasses sooner rather than later. The Path of the Beast is all about playing to the fantasy of having some kind of animalistic or primal power in your origin. The Rage puts you in touch with your bestial side, and unlike other paths, they manifest their connection to more natural power physically. Compare that to the Totem Warrior which calls on spirits and themes instead of claws and fangs.
The Oath of the Watchers subclass brings focus on the idea of an extraplanar threat. This comes with a built in secret cosmic defense force–and if you take a look at this class and the Horizon Walker, as Crawford confirms, you can get a sense of people who protect the world from incursions of all stripes. With a lot of tools to help banish and face down extraplanar threats, this particular paladin is a super defensive set.
And the Watchers are a class that’s meant to be dropped in wherever–you wouldn’t be surprised to find these roaming the paths between planes either, looking to fight off worlds.
The Way of Mercy monk is a very different monk from the ones we’ve seen before. There’s a heavy plague doctor kind of feeling to these, and as Crawford explains that this class is looking at bringing more “european” influences to the monk, perhaps as an answer to criticisms of the orientalism inherent to the monk’s origin in D&D. Whatever the reasoning behind it, it does feel like something you’d be as likely to see in whatever sort of monastery you imagine when you hear the word.
I love Crawford suggesting that these monks show up as symbols of either triumph or despair wherever they go across the land.
The Noble Genie is one of the most directly connected warlock-patron relationships we’ve seen in 5E D&D. The patron gives their warlocks a special lamp that directly connects to the world, and the warlocks are their agents of influence in the world. It takes the part of the warlock that’s mostly lurking in the background and brings it to the foreground a little more.
To the point where you can banish someone to the court of your patron genie, or collect and sacrifice treasure to them. It’s an interesting idea, and I’d love to see more like this–where the patron is a little more directly involved in the day-to-day of the warlocks.
And while we still don’t have an idea of when we’ll see more like this, or see this in an official capacity, but we’re excited to what else comes down the pipe.