New Unearthed Arcana: Rune Knight, Swarmkeeper, The Revived

Another new Unearthed Arcana! "In today’s Unearthed Arcana, three classes each receive a playtest option. The fighter gets a Martial Archetype option: the Rune Knight. The ranger gains a Ranger Archetype option: the Swarmkeeper. And the rogue acquires a Roguish Archetype option: the Revived."

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TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
Yep. That whole post is a load of...mythology, far as I can tell.
Yaarel is correct on one major point: the Germanic language family is most commonly thought to have originated in Denmark and/or the southern Scandinavian peninsula. However, he is miscontextualizing that point heavily.

Firstly, as I'm pretty sure Yaarel well knows but is choosing not to mention, the people speaking this ancestral Germanic language in Scandinavia were not the indigenous Scandinavians, but descendants of migrants from the southeast carrying with them an Indo-European speech and culture. Germanic language and mythology is unmistakably Indo-European, and very different those from the actual indigenes of Scandinavia, the Sami peoples, who by the way are still around today. Genetically, of course, there was a lot of mixing -- there always is -- and the Indo-European culture had been there for several centuries by the time it began spreading again as Germanic, but nevertheless calling it "aboriginal" would be like calling the culture and language currently spreading around the globe from the United States "Native American".

Secondly, he wants to draw a hard line between the material cultures of the Scandinavian Bronze Age and the Jastorf type. But Jastorf culture was at minimum heavily influenced by Scandinavian Bronze Age culture, and very plausibly represents an expansion of that culture. The fact that it lines up well chronologically with the reconstructed spread of the Germanic languages certainly seems to suggest that this is the case.

Thirdly, Yaarel seems to place some intrinsic value on which tribes spoke what and where "originally", as if the Norse culture we see in the historical record were somehow better or "purer" than the contemporaneous German or Dutch or indeed English culture. But just as much time separates proto-Germanic from recorded Norse as from recorded Old High German. And, note well, the amount is well over a millennium. So to insist on calling it "Nordic" instead of "Germanic", as if the Norse were uniquely close to the ancestral culture rather than separated from it by the same gulf of centuries, simply commits the same error in reverse, and deliberately so, without the excuse of convention. Scholars of Germanic languages, by and large, know full well that "Germanic" is not a great name for the family. I've heard grumbles about it more than once. But it remains the convention; for whatever reason, the standard alternative "Teutonic" (which is in my estimation better) has fallen out of fashion. And as long as everybody knows what they're talking about, it's not a big deal. Notwithstanding Yaarel's frightful warnings, in my personal experience, there is no correlation at all between scholars I have encountered who use the term "Germanic" (100%) and those who subscribe to certain violent racial ideologies (0%).

Oh, yeah, and one last thing: Runic writing is not original to the Germanic/Nordic/Teutonic language family. The script was adapted from those used by the Italic languages to the south, quite separately from and later than the initial spread out of the Scandinavian Urheimat we've been talking about. Just to bring this digression around marginally to the topic of the thread, but also undercut it entirely.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
False on both counts. Stupidity is not a requirement for being a barbarian.
There is far too much IRL going on in this thread already, I would rather talk about D&D, if you don't mind.

According to the Barbarian class description: It's not stupidity, it is purposefully eschewing the trappings and methods of the so-called "civilized world" as a philosophy, which would include the rules of grammar as an elitist institution. In 5e, WotC has decreed that the Giants had a civilization (despite what you might think of Hill Giants) and this runic magic is part of that civilization's legacy, putting it at odds with the Barbarian philosophy.

Ultimately, while it is possible to divorce the flavor from the mechanics in order to make a unique and fun character, it's doesn't really help the brand, which is a thing WotC has to consider when making new subclasses.
 
According to the Barbarian class description: It's not stupidity, it is purposefully eschewing the trappings and methods of the so-called "civilized world" as a philosophy,
The existence of the Norse inspired (and named) Berserker, the dervish inspired Zealot, and the Salvatori inspired Battlerager in 5e already directly contradict that.

which would include the rules of grammar as an elitist institution.
The RULES OF GRAMMAR?!!!! So you define a barbarian as: "someone who deliberately chooses not to talk properly". Yoda the archetypical barbarian believe you?
 

Xenonnonex

Adventurer
There is far too much IRL going on in this thread already, I would rather talk about D&D, if you don't mind.

According to the Barbarian class description: It's not stupidity, it is purposefully eschewing the trappings and methods of the so-called "civilized world" as a philosophy, which would include the rules of grammar as an elitist institution. In 5e, WotC has decreed that the Giants had a civilization (despite what you might think of Hill Giants) and this runic magic is part of that civilization's legacy, putting it at odds with the Barbarian philosophy.

Ultimately, while it is possible to divorce the flavor from the mechanics in order to make a unique and fun character, it's doesn't really help the brand, which is a thing WotC has to consider when making new subclasses.
Nerds gotta nerd.
 

Bitbrain

Adventurer
I would rather the Rune Knight stay a Fighter subclass personally.

It fixes a few shortcomings I’ve noticed with the fighter from behind the DM’s Screen.

Obviously the Haug Rune’s resist bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing should be replaced (as it steps too much into the barbarians territory). I personally will be replacing it with the following:

In addition, when you hit a creature that is of large size or smaller, you can invoke this rune to knock the target prone. Once you invoke the rune, you cannot do so again until after you finish a short or long rest.
 
I would rather the Rune Knight stay a Fighter subclass personally.
I don't have a problem with it being a fighter other than it already occupies a concept space that already feels crowded.

Whereas the barbarian lacks a magic option (that isn't stupid).

Obviously the Haug Rune’s resist bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing should be replaced (as it steps too much into the barbarians territory). I personally will be replacing it with the following:

In addition, when you hit a creature that is of large size or smaller, you can invoke this rune to knock the target prone. Once you invoke the rune, you cannot do so again until after you finish a short or long rest.
So, instead of stepping on the barbarian's territory it steps on the battlemaster's territory.
 

Hussar

Legend
I likes me the Rune Knight. Very cool. And FINALLY a fighter with TONS of out of combat options. This is a pretty solid skill monkey fighter. Very cool. And, yeah, sure, runes=magic, but, for me, they're just different enough from standard spells that it passes my personal sniff test.

Very well done. Look forward to seeing the polished version. Definitely something I'd like to play.
 

Hussar

Legend
Something I did think about though with the Rune Knight, you can only put one rune on a single item. So, your armor gets one rune, your shield gets one rune (or your offhand weapon) and your weapon gets one rune. What do you do with a fourth and eventually fifth rune?

I mean, they specifically use the language "wearing or carrying" an item inscribed with a rune. Does that mean carrying it in my hand, or simply carrying it on my person? If I have 4 runes, - armor, shield, weapon and weapon, do I need to put away one weapon to use the other weapon's rune?

It's not entirely clear. And it could lead to some pretty weird situations at high level where I'm pulling out weapons, invoking the rune, tossing the weapon and pulling out another weapon just to use another rune the next round. Which is going to run into issues when the fighter doesn't want to chuck his flaming longsword to pull out his non-magical axe just to invoke a different rune.
 

Bitbrain

Adventurer
I don't have a problem with it being a fighter other than it already occupies a concept space that already feels crowded.
I respectfully disagree. It feels different and unique in my opinion.

Whereas the barbarian lacks a magic option (that isn't stupid).
UA Storm Herald was plenty magical. My dad playtested one to 9th level and thought it did a great job being the “untamed” magic barbarian (and he usually doesn’t like D&D magic, aside from Druids and Bards).
Then Xanathar’s came out and nerfed it...

So, instead of stepping on the barbarian's territory it steps on the battlemaster's territory.
Yes. Because again, just as the Monster Slayer fixes some of the shortcomings of the Ranger, the Rune Knight fixes some of the shortcomings of the Fighter that I have noticed from behind the DM’s screen.
 

MarkB

Hero
Actually, to me the Rune Knight feels like a refugee from the Artificer Class, indeed sort of a "multiclass" Subclass to get an Artificer-like Fighter. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Rune Mage Artificer proper at some point.
I had the same impression. I'd be tempted to make an adapted version as an Artificer subclass, and allow it to share the love by runing other peoples' items.
 
Something I did think about though with the Rune Knight, you can only put one rune on a single item. So, your armor gets one rune, your shield gets one rune (or your offhand weapon) and your weapon gets one rune. What do you do with a fourth and eventually fifth rune?

I mean, they specifically use the language "wearing or carrying" an item inscribed with a rune. Does that mean carrying it in my hand, or simply carrying it on my person? If I have 4 runes, - armor, shield, weapon and weapon, do I need to put away one weapon to use the other weapon's rune?

It's not entirely clear. And it could lead to some pretty weird situations at high level where I'm pulling out weapons, invoking the rune, tossing the weapon and pulling out another weapon just to use another rune the next round. Which is going to run into issues when the fighter doesn't want to chuck his flaming longsword to pull out his non-magical axe just to invoke a different rune.
I've noticed language that was a bit woolly on several of these new subclasses. In this case the intent appears to be that you can only have three runes active at any one time (or two if you use a 2H weapon) and you are expected to swap your gear about. That's one of the things I meant when I described the ability as "too complicated".
 
The way the Rune Knight works pretty much confirms how the original idea of a prestige class (or a feat) was much better than a Fighter archetype. The runes aren't particularly more useful to a Fighter than other classes, or require to be a Fighter to take advantage from it. I can totally see anyone from any class having this archetype and putting it to good use.

The Revived also could have been the same... why does it have to be Rogue-specific?

Also, once again these UA articles seem to have the purpose to add two of the things I hate most when DMing: pets and factotum abilities. This week is the latter's turn: the ability to gain ANY skill or tool proficiency on a given day. For some DM, this is just a dumb bonus anyway. For me, proficiencies are also the way I control who gets to roll what during an adventure.
 
My suspicion as this started as an idea for turning sneak attack into a ray, the past lives fluff came after.
Haven't thought of that... I was rather under the impression that they forced a couple abilities to link with cunning action only to nail the subclass with Rogue. I mean, why should "Bolt from the Grave" be activated by cunning action for no other reason than because it's a Rogue subclass ability?

Also... isn't sneak attack already usable at range?
 
The Revived makes perfect sense to me as a rogue subclass. Who better to literally cheat Death than a rogue?
Mmm.. a Wizard? A Warlock? A Sorcerer? A Cleric of a dark deity? :)

Also it's not necessarily about cheating death here, as the narrative implies you're sent back. So it could also be a Paladin (just so say someone that is in many ways opposite to a Rogue) being sent back to finish her quests and fulfill her oath.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
At the end of the day for the runes, there seems to be a simple compromise: Just make up completely new Giant rune names and don't use actual Norse words. Doesn't that pretty much solve the problem? 99.9% of the gaming population wouldn't know if one of those names was an actual Norse word anyway, so no one should care if the words are fictional and just written in the style of the Norse language.
 
Haven't thought of that... I was rather under the impression that they forced a couple abilities to link with cunning action only to nail the subclass with Rogue. I mean, why should "Bolt from the Grave" be activated by cunning action for no other reason than because it's a Rogue subclass ability?
Yes, I said it was weird, and looked like they where treating Cunning Action as if it where a limited resource.

Also... isn't sneak attack already usable at range?
Yes, but not as a bonus action (unless you have crossbow master).

Things you could do with this ability:

* Shoot a light crossbow at a target ineligible for sneak attack, Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Total damage 1d8 + 2 x dex bonus + sneak attack.

* Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Move into melee range and attack with a longsword held two handed. Total damage 1d10 + strength bonus + dex bonus + sneak attack.

* Pick up martial weapon proficiency from feat, race or multiclassing. Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Move into melee range and attack with a 2H sword. Total damage 2d6 + strength bonus + dex bonus + sneak attack.

* Pick up martial weapon proficiency from feat, race or multiclassing. Attack with a reach weapon. Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Total damage 1d10 + strength bonus + dex bonus + sneak attack. or 1d4 + 2xdex bonus + sneak attack.

* Pick up Fire Bolt via feat, race or multiclass. Cast Fire Bolt. Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Total damage 1d10 (increasing with level) + dex bonus + sneak attack.

* Pick up shield prof via feat or multiclass. Get +2 AC without loosing your second chance of a sneak attack.

* Multiclass to warlock. Watch multiverse implode.
 

RSIxidor

Explorer
Yes, I said it was weird, and looked like they where treating Cunning Action as if it where a limited resource.


Yes, but not as a bonus action (unless you have crossbow master).

Things you could do with this ability:

* Shoot a light crossbow at a target ineligible for sneak attack, Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Total damage 1d8 + 2 x dex bonus + sneak attack.

* Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Move into melee range and attack with a longsword held two handed. Total damage 1d10 + strength bonus + dex bonus + sneak attack.

* Pick up martial weapon proficiency from feat, race or multiclassing. Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Move into melee range and attack with a 2H sword. Total damage 2d6 + strength bonus + dex bonus + sneak attack.

* Pick up martial weapon proficiency from feat, race or multiclassing. Attack with a reach weapon. Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Total damage 1d10 + strength bonus + dex bonus + sneak attack. or 1d4 + 2xdex bonus + sneak attack.

* Pick up Fire Bolt via feat, race or multiclass. Cast Fire Bolt. Dodge and fire a grave bolt. Total damage 1d10 (increasing with level) + dex bonus + sneak attack.

* Pick up shield prof via feat or multiclass. Get +2 AC without loosing your second chance of a sneak attack.

* Multiclass to warlock. Watch multiverse implode.
You can't dodge with cunning action. You could hide but then you'd immediately lose it. You could disengage, which helps with the being ranged in melee issue with something like a crossbow. Dash is useful for ranged as well, especially since you need to be somewhat close to use the special attack, and you'd rather be farther away when firing your weapon.
 

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