How Unearthed Arcana ‘Class Feature Variants’ change D&D Classes


– Yeah, so the Rogue
and the Wizard are both so solid in their base classes and they have pieces that
all need to be there. And with this UA, we wanted
to not force anything. We didn’t want to put in replacements or enhancements just because we could. – [Todd] Yeah. – We really wanted to be targeted. And because of that approach, the Wizard and the Rogue got just enough. (Todd laughs) Wizards are now gonna
have some versatility with their Cantrips.
– [Todd] Right. – There are a few spells that we added particularly to help
the divination sub-class but all Wizards are gonna
be happy to get them if given certain character concepts. The Rogue, they got one, but it’s a biggy. – [Todd] Yeah.
– It is the ability to use their cunning action to aim thereby giving themselves advantage on their next attack
roll on the same turn. The trade-off though,
is they have to give up all of their movement that turn. – [Todd] Yeah.
– They can’t have moved before using it and as soon as they use it their speed drops to zero. So, this really is for the Rogue who is locked toe-to-toe
in malaise with their foe, or the Rogue who is safely ensconced in some sniper position. – [Todd] Right. – And also for the
Rogue, who is in a group, maybe where there are
no malaise combatants to help set Sneak Attack up. – [Todd] Yeah. – Many Rogues are actually
gonna have no need for this. Because many Rogues are in
groups that have a Fighter or a Barbarian or somebody
else who is setting up Sneak Attack for them, round
after round after round. This is really for that Rogue who doesn’t have a malaise buddy, they’re in fights where
there’s nowhere to hide. – [Todd] Yeah. But, by golly, they would really love to be able to use their Sneak Attack. And if anyone’s wondering, oh my goodness, is this overpowered? No, it is not. The Rogue is actually
designed assuming they are using their Sneak Attack almost every single time they take a turn in combat. – It’s the key, well, it’s one of the key features of being a Rogue. And yeah, if you’re going to
have friend within five feet. – Well, but again, if you don’t and there’s no place to
hide, this aim option gives you a way to use your Sneak Attack. We also had other intents for this. The Rogue is designed in many ways to be the agile action hero,
and of all of our classes the Rogue is the person who,
let’s say you knock them prone. And normally when you’re knocked prone, you’re attacks have disadvantage. The Rogue of all people, should be able to line up a shot, while laying on the ground with their hand crossbow and fire. Being able to aim to wipe their disadvantage away from being prone. So, this, this option, it’s one option but its applications are
extremely powerful and appealing. – I love it, it’s like being a Wolverine. But yeah, the term, the saying, a knife
fight in a phone booth, comes to mind (laughs). – [Jeremy] Right, right. – Like this Rogue, that’s what the Rogue should be good at, is
that kind of situation. – [Jeremy] Yeah. – You do all these wonderful things for Rangers and Fighters and
I’m very excited about both. I’m strongly considering
playing a Fighter now. You just keep on giving
goodness to the Warlocks. Which, I like Warlocks, there’s a lot of juicy goodness with the Warlocks. And there’s a theme in this UA, to a certain degree, of helping. I’m seeing this more
and more in your design. Helping everyone else. You’ve got a, now you have a Talisman. And you, primarily the
function of this Talisman for a Warlock, is to help somebody else. To help them with Skill Checks, or– – Well, no, the Warlock
can use the Talisman just to help themselves, but it is true that its full potential is unlocked when you give it to somebody else. – [Todd] Right. – And this arose when we were looking at the Pact Boon options that
are already in the game. And people have let us know, can we at least have another option? ‘Cause even though people
love Pact of the Blade and Pact of the Chain
and Pact of the Tome, it was like, maybe another one. So, we had fun creating the Talisman. – [Todd] We’re never gonna
stop asking for more! – Oh, I know!
(Todd laughs) But it, it was non-interesting to us, to design something that is essentially just like the others, but
with a different aesthetic. I wanted this to be functionally
different in some way. To speak to a different play experience. So that, also Warlocks felt
like they had more options. That if you want to go the
full Spellcaster route, you can often take Pact of the Tome. If you really like the notion
of having a little critter who is helping you out,
whether it’s a little fiendish critter or a fey
critter or something else, well, Pact of the Chain is great. And if you really love
the kind of Warrior Mage kind of aesthetic, well, you
can get Pact of the Blade. What the Warlock was really missing was the more support Warlock. A person who has made a pact, but not necessarily for selfish reasons. And who might be using this magic, whatever its origin, to help
not only themselves but others. And so, the Talisman is a way to do that. That said, we even provided
some support options also for the Tome Warlock by giving you the ability to save a friend from death by having them sign their
name in your Book of Shadows. ‘Cause we wanted to do a
little, some more flavorful things with the Book of Shadows when we were doing this
on Unearthed Arcana. – I love that. It’s almost the opposite
of the Book of Death. If you were a fan of the Death series. – [Jeremy] Right, right.
(Todd laughs) – But yeah, to write your friend’s name down and that will save them once. – [Jeremy] Yeah. – Is lovely, and so narrative, it makes the Book of Shadows way
more interesting to me now. – [Jeremy] Yeah. – The other one I am
totally in love with is the one where you can cast sending. Tell me about that, because that is such rich narrative flavor. – Yeah, so here you can,
again, if someone has signed their name on the special
page in your Book of Shadows that has to do with this
communication, you can communicate with them wherever they are in the world. And you write the message on that page, and they hear it mentally
and then they can mentally respond, and their message
appears on the page. And again, it’s just, the Warlock is such a fertile ground when it
comes to this kind of flavor. – [Todd] Yeah. – Always fun to design for. And also, there are some more invocations as well in this UA, some of which are for the Talisman. Again, there are the ones we’ve just been talking about for the
Tome, and then we even have one for Pact of the Blade. – [Todd] Yes! – Which is the–
– [Todd] Very interesting! – Yes, it’s instantly don a Suit of Armor and be proficient with it. – Yeah, you got that little bit of that Iron Man thing going on. What’s interesting about it to me is, ’cause everyone thinks Hexblade. But Hexblade is, because I’ve played a Hexblade that was eight strength. So, I had a very wispy,
skinny Vincent Price man who could carry a fail fancy sized GRPG sword (laughs)!
– [Jeremy] Right. – ‘Cause you get to use
your charisma modifier. But, so, elder charmer as an invocation. You touch a piece of armor, any armor, and you’re proficient with it. That means Platemail, but Platemail has a strength requirement.
– [Jeremy] It sure does. – So, now you, I see that as an advantage of maybe you wanna play a big,
buff Warlock (laughs), right? – Yeah, yep, yeah. So, you, it’s just providing more options. – [Todd] Yeah. – And that is again what this
Unearthed Arcana is all about. New fighting styles also appear for the Fighter, the Ranger and the Paladin. – [Todd] Unarmed is very interesting. – Yeah, yeah, because people
have, people have told us they’d love to have a
character who’s very effective with unarmed fighting, without
necessarily being a Monk. Because the Monk is our
premier, unarmed fighter. But we decided we would give an option for Paladins, Rangers and Fighters. We also give Rangers and Paladins the option to essentially not
take a regular fighting style, and instead learn Cantrips,
because some Rangers and Paladins really want to delve deeper into the magical
side of their class. And this gives them that option. – The extended spell list also,
again, there’s this theme. The Talisman has this very like, help your party, feel to it. Now the Book of Shadows
has the same thing. You’re helping with communication, you’re helping flat out save their life by having their name in there
and this is the character I tend to like to play, but
I don’t wanna play a Paladin. Right? And now, you’re giving me the option to be the Warlock that actually cares, or is trying to help the party, or has a loved one they want
to make sure is always safe. Ranger now has Warding Bond. I thought that was very interesting because you could be a Ranger who is just shooting arrows,
but someone out there you’re now currently protecting. – Yeah and, we included several buffing spells on the expanded Ranger
list for several reasons. One, I love the classic
concept of the Ranger going all the way back to first edition, of the Ranger essentially
being to the Druid what the Paladin is to the Cleric. – [Todd] Yeah. – And I think you and I
have talked about before. The Ranger originally had to be good. – [Todd] Yes!
– In first edition D&D, there was no such thing as evil Rangers. – Oh yeah, I was a neutral, good Ranger. I showed you my original character. I had wonderful premonition
for an eight-year-old. – And so, I always love it when we have a chance to lean into the
Ranger not just as the person who’s roaming through the wilds, but is roaming with a purpose. They’re roaming to protect,
not only the natural world, but also the people who travel through it and the people who reside there. These buffing abilities are
also there for the Beast Master. A Warding Bond is actually a way for the Beast Master to
protect their companion. – [Todd] Yes (laughs)! – And it is also a nice
option for any Ranger who might use the Animal Friendship spell to befriend and animal and then have that animal as an MPC companion. – [Todd] Right.
– So, some of these additions are achieving multiple goals for us. There’s again the broader
narrative of the Ranger as this nature-flavored protector but then also helping Rangers who have beasts who are traveling with them and they want to give those
beasts a chance to survive. – That’s what I love about this UA. And all of the UAs that
have been coming out. There, there is some great, juicy strategy that you are introducing into the game, but they have narrative and role-playing consequence at the same time. You’re getting all of it at the same time. Giving a Ranger Warding Bond has so many implications like you just mentioned. And it’s lovely, I mean, you also have the Talisman has an ability, if you’re a Warlock and you use that and you give it to maybe a Fighter, not a Spellcaster, you,
they attack that person who’s wearing the Talisman and they can get shocked for psychic damage. And then knocked back 10 feet. If you’re putting that on a Barbarian I mean, that’s just a
nightmare (chuckles)! You’re just making him
even more of a tank. – [Jeremy] Yeah. And it’s more of this
players working together to form this cohesive group
and I adore all of it. It’s so flavorful and fun and leads you down a much
more role-playing path. – And that, that interaction between characters, those role-playing options
also are behind the options that we provided in the
Bard and the Barbarian. The Bard now has an option to enhance Spellcasters’ spells
with Bardic Inspiration. – [Todd] Yeah. – ‘Cause, baseline Bardic Inspiration isn’t really doing anything for a spell that doesn’t involve an attack roll. And so, this provides an option for the Bard to assist their,
say their Wizard friend or their Cleric friend or somebody who’s primarily casting spells that don’t involve attack rolls in combat. The Barbarian really gets
a role-playing option for one of their features,
which is the ability to get rid of danger
sends, to instead become and expert in a couple of skills, allowing the Barbarian
player to lean more into a Barbarian who maybe
is more than their rage. – [Todd] Yes. And I know most of us who
like playing Barbarians, and I love playing a Barbarian, are all about and love
that they’re rage machines. But also sometimes a person
wants another concept. And so, that’s here. Similarly, with the optional
replacement of fast movement, this is giving the Barbarian a chance to interact with a tactical situation in a way they can’t with
just a straight speed boost. We know not everyone
is going to want this. It is the nature of the
replacements in this Unearthed Arcana that people
are going to, in some cases, want to keep what’s in
the Player’s Handbook. That’s fine, we designed them that way. – [Todd] Right. – We designed them so that you could have a person at your table who’s using the Player’s Handbook
version of a feature, next to a person using the replacement version of that same feature. And they’re both going to perform well. Again, that’s part of these replacements. They are not like, once and for all replacing what’s in the
PH, it’s a new option. And as is again, this entire buffet that we’ve been talking about. – [Todd] Is there anything
that came out of this that is a particular favorite of yours? Personally, or are you not
allowed to play favorites? – Ah, so, I am so often the parent who loves all their children,
and so there is stuff I love in every single
one of these classes. And, I mean we have been working
on these for quite a while, tinkering with them,
revising them, deleting. I mean, there are actually a lot of things that died on the cutting room floor. And that’s the nature of design. And so, this set of options
that we’ve presented honestly, if I had the
time, I would love to play a character who gets to enjoy using everyone of these
enhancements or replacements. – Yeah, what do you think that, have you already started to see feedback? Because this is a big UA,
this is like an event UA. – So far people have
been very excited by it. And I’m looking forward to getting the survey feedback so that we can dig in. My hope is that people love them enough so that we can take
these to the next level. Because again, just as
a DM and as a player, I would love to see these as a part of DMs toolkits. That when they’re creating a campaign and they’re considering what’s going to be special about this campaign? What options are available
in this campaign? I think this set of
options are just gonna be another great tool for DMs to consider. Particularly to ease pain points, to bring new smiles to
peoples faces about characters that they might’ve been
like, I’ve been there, done that with Clerics or Bards or Rangers, but now suddenly see these new options as like,
wow, I thought I was done playing that class, but
now I’m all about it! So, it really it, I’m hoping these will bring fresh excitement for people about these classes
that they already love.

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