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D&D: Unearthed Arcana Unleashes Four New Subclasses

6 Minute Read
Jan 15
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Proving that it’s not all Critical Role all the time, Wizards of the Coast has released four new subclasses for Monks, Paladins, Barbarians, and Warlocks.

Hot on the heels of the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount and amid mounting concerns that the Critical-Role sponsored book was somehow responsible for delaying the release of the Unearthed Arcana material that has seen at least one new archetype for every class, as well as a host of proposed changes to the core class features of the main eleven, and finally everyone wants to know what is going to happen with psionics. Where, the demand goes, is my Dark Sun.

The latest announcement from WotC isn’t necessarily a panacea, but it’s proof that there is in fact balm in Gilead. And today’s balm comes not in the form of a helpful raven, but as four new subclasses that you can playtest. If it helps though, they are all still somehow like a writing desk, but I leave you to figure out the particulars of that. Let’s take a look.

via Wizards of the Coast

There are four new subclasses all in all. The Path of the Beast for the Barbarian, the Way of Mercy for the Monk, the Oath of the Watchers for Paladins, and for Warlocks, a Noble Genie patron.

Barbarians who walk the Path of the Beast are sure to get in touch with their wild side. They might be descended from lycanthropes, legendary druids, or just good friends with an animal spirit, but whatever the case, whenever they rage they transform into a Form of the Beast. This takes the form of a natural melee weapon: a bite that restores hit points, claws that let you make extra attacks, or a tail that hits like a greataxe but with reach. And that’s pretty much all you really need, but as you level up you also gain Bestial Soul which allows you to swim, climb, or make incredible long jumps that could possibly go well beyond your normal allotted movement, depending on how well you roll.

At 10th level Infectious Fury means your melee attacks cause different status effects, either turning your target into an unwitting dupe and making them attack another creature of your choice as a reaction, or dealing extra damage to them. Finally at 14th level you can Call the Hunt which allows you to summon up a rage in your companions, giving everyone in your party who wants it Reckless Attack, while you gain 5 temporary hit points for each creature that takes the benefit.

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All in all this feels like a bestial barbarian. If you wanted to play some kind of werewolf or vampire, this is a great way to do exactly that.

Monks who follow the Way of Mercy are a revamp of the old Way of Tranquility, which was a monk that focused on peace and healing. The Way of Mercy is more about balancing the forces of life and death They hold healing and necrotic death energy in the same hand, which now that I’ve typed it out loud means you’re basically Moira from Overwatch but with masked plague doctor elements thrown in.

At 3rd level your big feature are the Hands of Healing which let you spend a ki point to touch a creature and restore your Martial Arts die + your Wisdom modifier. And they say touch, but we all know it’s a healing punch–especially since you can replace one of the strikes in your Flurry of Blows with a Healing Strike but without having to spend any extra ki.

On the other side of the equation are Hands of Harm which allow you to spend a ki point whenever you hit someone with an unarmed strike to deal your martial arts die in extra necrotic damage (and this stacks with a Flurry of Blows). If your target is incapacitated or poisoned, you roll three dice instead. This stacks perfectly with the 6th level feature, Noxious Aura which lets you spend 1 ki point to create a 5-foot aura of poison around you. While Healing Technique at 11th level lets you remove a single disease or status effect. At 17th level Hand of Mercy lets you spend 4 ki points to force a creature to make a Con save or fall into suspended animation. While they are out, they are also completely immune to any damage, curses, diseases, or poisons–though they do seem dead to all outward inspection and magical spells used to determine a creature’s status.

I like it. This feels like a niche that Monks have been needing to branch into. More damage-dealing healers, please.

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The Oath of the Watchers paladins are all about protecting the world from Extraplanar creatures. Elementals, feys, fiends, aberrations, and the like are their sworn foes–though notably celestials aren’t on the list. The Watchers are all about fighting evil by moonlight, and they gain bonus spells that are about warding and detecting eldritch horrors. The whole class feels very Bloodborne.

You gain two different Channel Divinity options: Abjure the Extraplanar which is situational but it lets you basically turn any elemental, fey, fiend, or aberration as if you were a Cleric turning undead. But the real star of the show here is Watcher’s Will, which lets you give your friends advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws. This stacks with the Paladin’s Aura of Protection meaning that if your friends are close, they have advantage AND add your Charisma modifier to their saves, so say goodbye to ever failing a save again.

At 7th level Aura of the Sentinel gives you and your allies a boost to Initiatives, and then at 15th level you get Vigilant Rebuke, which is my new favorite ability. Whenever you or a creature you can see within 30 feet of you succeeds on a saving throw against a spell, you can use your reaction to deal 2d8 + your Charisma modifier force damage to the spellcaster.

Note that the caster doesn’t have to be within 30 feet of you, just their intended target. At 20th level Mortal Bulwark turns you into an aberration fighting machine. You gain advantage on aberrations, elementals, fey, and fiends, truesight within a 120 foot radius, and all of your attacks that deal damage automatically banish a target if they fail a Charisma saving throw.

Warlocks get The Noble Genie for a Patron. These are powerful genies who rule over vast fiefs on the Elemental Planes and seek to wield influence and, more importantly, gain treasure through their mortal instruments: you. The big feature is Collector’s Vessel which gives you a magical vessel like an oil lamp that you can use as a spellcasting focus to create a magical tether that connects to other creatures (allied or not) and grants you a bonus to your perception and lets you cast spells through their space. It ends if they move more than 100 feet from you, but is otherwise pretty cool.

At 6th level Elemental Resistance protects you from an elemental damage type of your choice at the end of each long rest. If you make it to 10th level, you can use Protective Wish to swap places with a tethered creature, either taking a blow for it or making it take the blow for you. Genie’s Entertainment lets you banish a foe to your genie’s court, while Collector’s Call lets you call on your patron for more direct aid, either granting powerful healing, dealing disadvantage, or casting legend lore. You can also sacrifice treasure to your patron in exchange for the ability to use this more than once per day.


What do you think of the new subclasses? Let us know in the comments!

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