A new Unearthed Arcana introduces some powerful new updates for some of D&D’s “weakest” player options–check out new Dragonborn and Kobolds.
When it comes to the different creatures you can play in D&D, Dragonborn have always been one of the coolest–but mechanically they’ve been lacking. In a pre-Tasha’s Cauldron world, their stats were a little all-over-the place for many classes, and their abilities were a little lackluster. Which is sad, because you wouldn’t think playing a dragon-person is something that could be considered lacking in luster, but here we are.
A new Unearthed Arcana looks to change that. Tited, Draconic Options, this new UA reimagines Dragonborn, with new archetypes that make them feel more like all the other race options in D&D, as well as a reimagined Kobold that propel WotC further down the path explored with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Check them out.
First things first, the reimagined Dragonborn. The text opens up with clarification that the PHB version of the Dragonborn will still exist–so this doesn’t feel like 5.5 or 6E is here yet (though I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re not working on what will become the newest iteration of D&D in the background right now). But it does specify:
The dragonborn race in the Player’s Handbook is one way to reflect a character with dragons somewhere far back in their ancestry. This document offers three variant dragonborn races you can choose instead, if you want a character with clearer connections to a specific draconic ancestry, as well as a new version of the kobold race.
These options are also good if you want to play Dragonborn that don’t feel shoehorned into one or two very specific niches thanks to their design. The reimagined dragonborn have much more power in their toolkit now. Like all post-Tasha’s player races, you get to choose between either a +2/+1 stat increase in any of your ability scores, or +1/+1/+1 to three different scores, a language that would be “appropriate for your character” since not all elves grow up speaking elvish (and also elvish as a language is kind of a weird outdated vestigial sac that will proooooobably phase out alongside alignment in this weird loose 5.25E we’re currently in).
There are three different kinds of dragonborn now: Chromatic, Metallic, and Gem. Here’s how they work.
The biggest change here is to Breath Weapon, which now no longer takes your entire action to deal 2d6. Instead, whenever you take the Attack action, you can replace one of the attacks with a breath weapon attack, which is an important distinction that makes it scale a lot better as you level up. You can also use it a number of times equal to your proficiency proficiency bonus instead of once/short rest.
Additionally, the new breath weapon deals 2d8 of whatever energy type, and it scales to 3d8 at 5th level, 4d8 at 11th level, and 5d8 at 17th level; also all chromatic breath weapons are a 5-ft wide, 30-ft long line now.
The other two features that round out chromatic dragonborn are Draconic Resistance, which is resistance to an energy type depending on your ancestry, and Chromatic Warding, which lets you take an Action to become immune to the damage of your ancestry for 10 minutes once per long rest. Which is huge for any kind of character.
Much like their Chromatic counterparts, the biggest change for metallic dragonborn is to their Breath Weapon. Now it’s a 15-foot cone with the same overall rules as the above example (2d8 damage that scales, takes the place of an attack during your attack action). Draconic Resistance is still in place, but metallic dragonborn also gain a Metallic Breath Weapon which grants you an additional breath weapon you can use once per day. This 2nd breath weapon gives you two options:
- creatures make a strength save or be pushed 20 feet away from you and get knocked prone
- creatures make a constitution save or get incapacitated until the start of your next turn.
Both are great options, though being able to incapacitate multiple foes for your party to then coup-de-gras is fantastic.
The newest, shiniest dragonborn on the block, these belie the presence of gem dragons in whatever book these will appear in, gem dragonborn are awesome. They deal the more rare damage types:
And much like their counterparts, they too gain a Breath Weapon, which is a 15-ft cone that deals 2d8 damage, and uses all of the same rules as the other breath weapons we’ve seen, indicating that WotC understands how much of a bummer it is to use your action for a subpar attack.
In addition to Draconic Resistance, gem dragonborn gain a feature called Psionic Mind, which allows them to speak telepathically with any creature they can see within 30 feet, and my favorite Gem Flight which summons “an array of spectral gems” in the shape of wings, and lets you fly/hover for 1 minute, once per long rest. It’s very cool.
Kobolds have also been reimagined, and though they are still the awesome cowardly, spiteful little weird creatures with delusions of grandeur they’ve always been, there’s a little more to them now. They have Darkvision as well as a Draconic Legacy, which can manifest in unpredictable ways for a kobold:
- advantage on saving throws vs. fear
- pick a cantrip from the sorcerer spell list, decide whether it’s int, wis, or cha-based
- gain a tail slap that deals 1d6 + str as an unarmed attack
But on top of that, they also gain a Draconic Roar, which can express a range of emotion from anger to resolve to elation or fear–not a roar to frighten opponents, but a roar to signal that you are terrified. Which feels very kobold-y.
The Draconic Roar is a bonus action that grants you and your allies advantage on attack rolls against any enemies within 10 feet of you who can hear your roar.
Pack tactics and grovel kind of got folded into this ability, which makes Kobolds work out well.
It seems a big new dragon book is brewing, perhaps a revamped Draconomicon? Later today we’ll be covering the new feats and spells introduced in this UA as well. Check ’em out below.