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UA New UA: 43 D&D Class Feature Variants

The latest Unearthed Arcana is a big 13-page document! “Every character class in D&D has features, and every class gets one or more class feature variants in today’s Unearthed Arcana! These variants replace or enhance a class’s normal features, giving you new ways to enjoy your character’s class.”

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

NotAYakk

Legend
So you now want to nerf 8/12 classes because they are too strong. Imbalanced. Relative to what?!

Balance requires something on the other side of the scale.

What problem, exactly, wouldn't be fixed by patching 2/12 classes or even 4/12 classes simpler than nerfing 8/12?

And game mechanics wise, it is ridiculously easier path to patch up 2-4 classes with their issues than tear 8/12 down.
 

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tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
=
"Too Powerful" can be misleading. Too versatile, or simply imbalanced might be a more nuanced way of putting it.
Or, the 3.5 class Tiers put it succinctly.

But, let's just say...

Should be nerfed: Wizard, Druid, Cleric,
Could be nerfed a bit without undue hardship: Bard, Warlock, Paladin, Monk,
====================================================================
Doesn't need a boost per se, but could be done better: Sorcerer, Ranger
Could use a boost outside it's best tricks: Barbarian, Fighter, Rogue
Needs all the help it can get: Champion, Berserker

Above the line shouldn't be getting any changes unless they rein 'em in somehow. Taking things away (like spontaneous casting from neo-Vanican), or adding back old limitations/restrictions or the like. Below the line could get some new options that improve the design, at least, but even then probably shouldn't increase raw power, at least, not at the things (or thing) it already does well.

So, yeah, a 'rising tide' or overall powercreep, not helpful.
So you are saying that roughly half the classes in the game are drastically underpowered and so devoid of anything that makes them unique or interesting which could be improved upon that the only solution is to nerf the other remaining half? That about right?
 

Parmandur

Legend
You can make definitions do anything you want.

Power creep is a term for when new options increase the overall power of PCs in general, even if leaving some builds behind.

In that sense, nothing printed after the phb is power creep in 5e. Nothing makes characters more powerful than you can be with PHB options. Hell, the PHB still contains the most powerful options in the game.

Increasing the power of weak options isn’t power creep. It’s just a balance patch.

Edit: it’s like the arguments over the Hexblade. A Hexblade Warlock PC isn’t more powerful than a Fiend Warlock PC. They’re about on par in a combat focused game for damage focused players.

For control and utility focused players, Archfey and GOO win over either.

The Hexblade is only “OP” if compared as a patron in the most superficial ways possible. It “gets more”, but it doesn’t actually make a stronger character. It just allows a different type of character than what the class normally allows.

I endorse this post entirely.

Obviously, these options haven't been fully balanced, as this is still a draft (as Crawford got out in front of the multiclass potential of the Ranger abilities). Even so, most of these seem ready for primetime as-is. Even the straight "enhancements" like the Aim use for the Rogues Cunning Action aren't really making the Class stronger, they are just smoothing over a known potential table issue (a Rogue wants to get Sneak Attack, and spends a lot of real time on hiding shenanigans). The most obviously "patch"-like variant, the Ranger replacement features are not even "more powerful" for games that push the exploration rules hard...bit most tables don't do that.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
The most obviously "patch"-like variant, the Ranger replacement features are not even "more powerful" for games that push the exploration rules hard...bit most tables don't do that.
So, I have seen arguments that the Revised ranger is stronger than this variant ranger when you optimize. But I find this variant ranger better written/designed. It fits 5e very well.

It has MC/dip issues, but that is about it.

It is full of Ranger-flavored abilities that fit the class well and don't require piles of extra DM work.
 
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Parmandur

Legend
So, I have seen arguments that the Revised ranger is stronger than this variant ranger when you optimize. But I find this variant ranger better written/designed. It fits 5e very well.

It has MC/dip issues, but that is about it.

It is full of Ranger-flavored abilities that fit the class well and don't require piles of extra DM work.

The "Revised Ranger" is no more, at any rate.

The PHB features are equally viable...in campaigns where they come up. The fundamental mistake was in overestimating how many people would play that sort of campaign, followed up by making several minor ribbon choices immediately.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The "Revised Ranger" is no more, at any rate.

The PHB features are equally viable...in campaigns where they come up. The fundamental mistake was in overestimating how many people would play that sort of campaign, followed up by making several minor ribbon choices immediately.
And overvaluing HP as compared to damage and healing, as Mike noted on the happy fun hour.

This one seems to be okay in that regard, though I’d still almost rather have less easy healing of it and more HP so it can more reliably survive standing near the PCs in a fight.

But yeah, the PHB ranger is “fine” in terms of balance in a travel heavy game.

Though, it still has trouble measuring up to the Paladin, which is an unavoidable comparison, because the Paladin just has so much more Spellcasting freedom and versatility.

Honestly, my only remaining house rule (other than treating the ranger replacements as enhancements bc in our games those features in the phb are ribbons) is to give the ranger prepared casting like the Paladin.
 

Parmandur

Legend
And overvaluing HP as compared to damage and healing, as Mike noted on the happy fun hour.

This one seems to be okay in that regard, though I’d still almost rather have less easy healing of it and more HP so it can more reliably survive standing near the PCs in a fight.

But yeah, the PHB ranger is “fine” in terms of balance in a travel heavy game.

Though, it still has trouble measuring up to the Paladin, which is an unavoidable comparison, because the Paladin just has so much more Spellcasting freedom and versatility.

Honestly, my only remaining house rule (other than treating the ranger replacements as enhancements bc in our games those features in the phb are ribbons) is to give the ranger prepared casting like the Paladin.

I was speaking primarily about the Deft Explorer and new Favored Enemy features: the base PHB options are comparable in utility assuming the full use of the Exploration rules in the book, but that's an unfortunate assumption in retrospect (and they are too fiddley with choices to no particular advantage).

I'm not entirely sure yet bout the new Beast options, but locating the problem in the stat blocks may be a stroke of genius.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
But yeah, the PHB ranger is “fine” in terms of balance in a travel heavy game.

I strongly disagree with this because it has a lot of problems, in no particular order
  • the official 5e books pretty much lack any meaningful amount if rules beyond things like travel speeds for travel. Sure there are fan made suppliments that improve on that & other things by giving actual interesting rules for travel, but you need to look at how the ranger actually handles it.
  • In most cases a ranger is no better or worse than a druid or something with survival.
  • If the Ranger's favored terrain & such kicks in for that travel, the effect is that you just automatically succeed & remove that part of the game. This is the fun equivalent of a fighter instantly killing any caster baddies & a wizard instantly killing any martial baddies.
  • When a ranger might shine in the case of food & water during travel... the outlander background just automatically succeeds. Given that outlander gives athletics, survival, & a language you hve even or better odds of one or more outlanders in the party.
  • Even if you do have a lot of travel, and have interesting rules/mechanics for travel, and rework outlander, and rework the ranger travel related mechanics*... There are still settings with things like well marked roads & maps.
*all of those & more are done in this & it really makes a difference.
 

=

So you are saying that roughly half the classes in the game are drastically underpowered and so devoid of anything that makes them unique or interesting which could be improved upon that the only solution is to nerf the other remaining half? That about right?
Nah, they can totally meet in the middle.
 



doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don't have to twist and kludge anything, I just have to call everything I summon "Pikachu"
Works for you, good for you.

It’s a total kludge for a lot of us. It’s not a big deal to let the game have a true summoner that doesn’t have to reflavor everything from bears to dryads to elementals as the same creature.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
Works for you, good for you.

It’s a total kludge for a lot of us. It’s not a big deal to let the game have a true summoner that doesn’t have to reflavor everything from bears to dryads to elementals as the same creature.
So what casting features are you suggesting that the full caster warlock should be sacrificing to be equal to ranger/artificer half caster pet archetypes?
 


Ashrym

Hero
It doesn't seem to be. They're obviously trying to buff Pact of the Chain a bit, but I don't think this goes far enough yet. Right now the Chain pet is good for scouting and the Help action and that's about it. Really, I think they have to go all-in on one of those supplied stat blocks to be able to offer up a viable combat pet option. It works well enough for the Artificer and Ranger, Warlock is the logical next step.

It's not actually the artificer and ranger. It's the battle smith and beast master. The homunculus available to all artificers is a lot more like the chain familiar, and vice versa. The difference is one is meant to fill the role of a servant while the other is meant to be an extension of combat.

Comparing the warlock to the artificer or ranger is a mistake. The spell advancement is very different while pact magic plus arcanum is clearly meant to be in line with full spell casting.

One is that it feels like the Chain Pact is weaker than the other two. The Chain familiar isn't better enough than the normal Find Familiar results a Tome Pact Warlock can get to justify giving up the spell library that Tome Pact gets. I don't think I've ever seen someone suggest a Chain Pact character outside of a pure flavor build.

That spell library is just a few cantrips.;) The pact ability find (special) familiar is comparable to the pact ability add 3 cantrips. Find familiar is generally considered one of the better rituals and chain pact gives a better list of those familiars, plus a few way to improve them.

Book of Ancient Secrets is an invocation. That invocation spent by tome is just a different invocation than the one spent by chain. Rituals are useful but there are several other useful invocations for the chain warlock to take in it's place.

Don't mistake the pact feature for the invocations. It's not a valid comparison.

The other is that some people just really want to be a Warlock Pokemon master, standing back lending support and encouragement while their magical pet does a lot of the fighting. And I'll agree that it's a major character archetype that 5e doesn't currently offer elsewhere. Beastmaster Rangers are a completely different type of character. So those people are hungry for options that let them promote the Chain pet to an actual combatant.

If that's what they want then they are barking up the wrong tree. Familiars are servants, not combatants. That's why the find familiar spell says "A familiar can’t attack, but it can take other actions as normal". Using them for the help action or to deliver a touch spell covers the typical familiar.

Chain warlocks can forgo an attack so that the familiar can attack for them but that doesn't change familiars from servants to combatants. The familiar's role hasn't actually changed.

If a person wants a magical pet that does all the fighting creating a class based on it makes more sense than turning familiars into something they are not.

Completely different character archetype. The Summoner is more akin to the Necromancer, throwing waves of disposable minions at your foes. It's the opposite side of the coin from having a single powerful magical pet that has a fixed identity and personality that you bond with and fight along side. Also the summoning rules are a complete PITA.

The summoning rules and pet rules are a PITA to control action economy. If a person ever expects to see the class you are looking for I would say it's probably going to be designed with the action economy in mind.

As the Shepherd Druid is to the Beastmaster Ranger, so the Conjuration Wizard is to the Chain Warlock. At least, in theory. In practice the Chain Warlock has never satisfied in that role, and that's why some people are looking for a way to upgrade it to fit.

That's also not a valid comparison. The warlock spell progression would need to be patterned after the ranger spell progression, arcanum would need to be removed, and all those SLA's would also need to be removed as options.

The warlock familiar would also have been needed to be designed differently from the ground up. Beast masters actually do bond with a pet that can easily have a fixed identity with whom they fight alongside. What you need is something more like that but possibly an altered spell and class list.

And anyone who claims they know if the current artificer is "too powerful" isn't reliable, so I'll leave that one out.

But they do have some interesting toys to play around with so far. ;)
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
Miss me with this garbage rhetorical trick.

Try again when you want to engage genuinely.
No I was completely serious because you seem to be seriously trying to argue that chain pact warlock.familiar should stand even with the companion/construct of the beast master ranger/battles moth artificer. Do you not accept that w
Base warlock has a number of design choices that are far too powerful for such a powerful pet to be included?
 

I was thinking that if I designed a warlock familiar on the same basis as the primal beast it would have to be quite a bit squishier.

Maybe 3 hp per level + Con + Cha.
 

Depends if the character fantasy you're trying to realize is "Dedicated Pokemon game completionist" or "Ash and Pikachu". The latter is the image that has more demand, and the one that Chain Warlock comes closest to satisfying. It still comes up short, but then that's what people are asking for changes over.

Really, I don't see why you're so opposed to the idea. It's not like Chain Warlocks are particularly popular as they are right now. Why not make this an option, especially if it's genuinely optional in the form of Invocations you can take or pass up as you please?
Because the image conjured up by "Ash and Pikachu" is one in which your companion does most of the fighting rather than you.
As such, it would have to have combat stats close to a martial player character, since the Beastmaster and Battle Smith's (both only half casters) companion seem to be regarded as too weak for that archetype.
Thus attaching a more powerful companion to a more powerful full caster chassis doesn't seem like a good idea, unless the character is actually having to use those spell slots - for example as a Shepard
Druid or Conjuration wizard would.

I think that Salthorae's suggestion is probably the best bet, using the conjure spells but ask the DM to generate higher-CR versions of your creature as you access the higher-level spells, rather than summoning random varied creatures.

An alternative would be to generate a Fighter or maybe Monk, ask the DM to refluff it as your monster of choice, and use the Retainers background option to represent your noncombatant trainer perhaps?

Or perhaps a Beastmaster or Battle Smith but use your spells, infusions etc to buff your companion?

So you now want to nerf 8/12 classes because they are too strong. Imbalanced. Relative to what?!
Relative to the other classes and the amount that, other factors being equal, a player of those classes can contribute to the story in all of the pillars.

Balance requires something on the other side of the scale.
Or the line. If it help to understand the point that he is making, think of it this way: There are classes that are much "heavier" in power to achieve things for the party, and there are classes that have less power, or are "lighter".

What problem, exactly, wouldn't be fixed by patching 2/12 classes or even 4/12 classes simpler than nerfing 8/12?

And game mechanics wise, it is ridiculously easier path to patch up 2-4 classes with their issues than tear 8/12 down.
I'm guessing that Tony would be fine with buffing up the other classes to match the top tier.
But until that happens, I think it likely that he will oppose most buffs to the classes above the line that would make them even more powerful than the ones below it.

So you are saying that roughly half the classes in the game are drastically underpowered and so devoid of anything that makes them unique or interesting which could be improved upon that the only solution is to nerf the other remaining half? That about right?
I'm pretty sure that the "devoid of anything that makes them unique or interesting" hyperbole is just something you made up.
Personally as long as the rest of the game keeps up, I'd be fine with buffing the other classes rather than nerfing the overly capable ones.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
No I was completely serious because you seem to be seriously trying to argue that chain pact warlock.familiar should stand even with the companion/construct of the beast master ranger/battles moth artificer. Do you not accept that w
Base warlock has a number of design choices that are far too powerful for such a powerful pet to be included?
That’s a lot of assumptions you’re pulling outta your hat, bud.

Show me where I said any of that.

And maybe try to proofread your posts? Other people shouldn’t have to piece together what you probably meant to type.
 

I've seen this kind of a statement a few times in this thread and others.

What is so wrong with Pact of the Chain being only good at scouting, help, and support roles? Why do they NEED a combat-capable pet??


One is that it feels like the Chain Pact is weaker than the other two. The Chain familiar isn't better enough than the normal Find Familiar results a Tome Pact Warlock can get to justify giving up the spell library that Tome Pact gets. I don't think I've ever seen someone suggest a Chain Pact character outside of a pure flavor build.

For me this is it, I love my Chain pact warlock, and until I'd actually played with my invisible sprite, I had underestimated how powerful it was.

But, looking at the Invocations, I don't get a lot of good options to buff my Pact Boon. Sure, Tome before this UA had only one invocation unique to it, but considering it is one of the best invocations in the game, that was fine.

But, most of the Chain invocations are kind of crappy. Chains of Carceri is far too limited, and Voice of the Chain Master is something I never felt the need for in my game, because 100 ft was plenty of distance for everything I wanted to do.

I don't think it has to be a combat buff for the Chain Master, but I don't think they can buff the Exploration aspect, and they seemed to be trying to make it more combat viable, which is why I looked at it through that lens.

That spell library is just a few cantrips.;) The pact ability find (special) familiar is comparable to the pact ability add 3 cantrips. Find familiar is generally considered one of the better rituals and chain pact gives a better list of those familiars, plus a few way to improve them.

Book of Ancient Secrets is an invocation. That invocation spent by tome is just a different invocation than the one spent by chain. Rituals are useful but there are several other useful invocations for the chain warlock to take in it's place.

Don't mistake the pact feature for the invocations. It's not a valid comparison.

True, but I don't think Chain has any Invocation that is comparable to Book of Ancient Secrets. And, since Find Familiar is so good, most Tomelocks take it, and it provides 90% of the utility that Chain gets. The familiar attacking is not the point, so Chain getting that isn't helpful, and I think it is fair to look at this and see Tome getting a large chunk of Chain's cake at the moment.
 

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