Unearthed Arcana Spells & Magic Tattoos: New Unearthed Arcana

WotC has posted a new Unearthed Arcana called Spells & Magic Tattoos. "This document provides a magical miscellany: new spells and a new type of magic item, magic tattoos. Most of the spells focus on an alternative style of summoning: conjuring forth a spirit that assumes a physical form you customize to suit the situation."

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Chaosmancer

Legend
Spirit Shroud's upcast scaling needs to be toned down. +1d8 per higher slot level is ridiculous. A 5th-level version of this spell does more damage per hit than actual 5th-level spell Holy Weapon's 2d8, which is already quite good. I will suggest in my feedback toning this down to +1d8 for every two levels higher.

Also, while it's not great for Clerics, they have Spirit Guardians which is still way better than this.

Yeah, my first thought was that Spirit Guardians was better, but this does have some substantial benefits.

The scaling probably should be toned down, but there is also the limit of having to be within 10 ft and only Clerics and Wizards able to get more than 3d8 out of it. Also, Holy Weapon does have the burst on it, but maybe that only compares to the slow speed and prevention of healing...

It's tricky, because I feel like 4th level slot for 1d8 is just not quite good enough, but 3d8 for 5th might be too good.
 

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gyor

Legend
Some good stuff here, and some bad stuff here.

First, a minor rant. Why do wizards always get all the spells? There are only two spells from this list that Wizards don't get. Summon Bestial Spirit and Summon Celestial Spirit. They literally get every other spell here, that sort of thing just annoys me.

Rant over.

Looking over the actual spells, most of them are fine.

Acid Stream is neat, giving us a damage over time effect, it is all or nothing for only 3d4 damage, so maybe it needs a tiny buff? I'm not sure but if it hits and the enemy wastes a turn preventing the damage? That's good. If they don't, that works too.

Otherworldly form is a bit... It feels kind of useless. Clerics, Warlocks and Wizards get it. It gives a medium fly speed, and additional AC which is nice. Some damage immunities which are cool if you can match up to the right type. All of your attacks are magical and use spellcasting is... ok, but 6th level spell means 9th or 10th level. Extra attack could be useful?

So, who wants this spell is the problem. Blade Pact locks already have magical weapons, getting to use their spell attack might be good, but they already have extra attack, and since this is a melee leaning spell, the fly speed is less useful. Clerics? Clerics can get a lot of use out of this really, they generally end up in melee and have good AC that this is buffing, but they either have a good melee option already or they built to not go into melee which makes the extra attack less useful. I don't see many wizards at all thinking this is useful.

Spirit Shroud is similiar. Decent for Paladins and bonkers for Bladelocks, but less so for Clerics and Wizards. I really like the fact that is shuts down healing, and bladelock auto scaling leads to this doing 3d8 extra damage per hit, which is really something. Plus lowers the enemy speed. Heck, even Clerics might like casting this at higher levels and combining this with Spiritual Weapon. Just a great spell.


The summoning spells are hard to nail down, some quicker thoughts.

All the scaling is pretty similiar, so if you cast the spell at the same level, the monster is within 1 or 2 points of each other in all stats. Which makes comparing them easier at least. Also, all of them get multi-attack. 2 attacks for 4th and above, 3 for 6th and up, up to 4 attacks a turn if you cast with an 8th level spell.

Aberrant is amazing. The Slaad regens and shuts down healing, the Star Spawn has an Aura of damage, and the Beholder can fly. Short ranged attack is a problem, but this thing gives some great options

Bestial kind of sucks. They get no special abilities except for the flyby attack or maybe pack tactics. Just very generic.

Celestial is amazing if you use Defender. Hits hard, grants temp hp on every hit, this thing is a massive tank. You can go ranged with the Avenger, but I don't see a great reason to do so

Elemental kind of sucks compared to the others. Some resistance, but they just run up and hit. Nothing really interesting to use them for.

Fey... also kind of sucks. They get a melee attack only, and their specials only activate when they teleport. Furious grants 1 attack advantage (woo?), Deciet gives 1 space of darkness every time they teleport, Joyous is actually interesting for giving charmed, which prevents someone from attacking them, but they just don't get anything else to make summoning them worthwhile compared to the other spells.

Fiend is amazing. 1st, all of them get magic resistance which nothing else gained. So, the basic plan is Devil. The Devil sight is probably not worth much, but fly and hurl fire is solid damage, especially at 2d6+9 and three attacks. Second plan is demon, run it, hit harder and then blow up for damage. But, yugoloth is sneakily amazing. Only hitting for 1d8+9, but after every attack they can teleport 30 ft, so they can bounce around the battlefield like crazy. I'm not sure it is powerful enough to stand against the benefits of the other two combined, but it is a solid ability to hit so many different targets in succession.

Shadow hits like a truck with 2d8+6. The scream is meh. Fury gives you advantage if you use the scream or build for it, but that is going to be unlikely unless you really work for it (best sysnergy would be with a Conquerer Paladin which can't get this spell). Fear gets stealth which is nice, but Despair slowing any humanoid by 20 ft for being next to it is just a massive stickiness factor that I love. You probably can't actually escape a Despair Shadow, because if you dash for 20 ft of movement they just catch up and hit you again, while also getting an attack of opportunity. They are scary good.

Undead again has some nice things. The Ghost is incorporeal, flies, and can frighten on every hit. The Putrid can poison if you start near it, and then paralyze you if you were poisoned and fail when it hits you, turning every other attack into a crit. Which is brutal. Skeletal gives you a hard hitting ranged option, but is probably the weakest of the three. Still, one of the only ones with as many cool options as Abberrant.

Also, quick list of who gets what.

Aberrant (Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard)
Bestial (Druid, Ranger)
Celestial (Cleric, Paladin)
Elemental (Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard)
Fey (Bard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard)
Fiendish (Warlock, Wizard)
Shadow (Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard)
Undead (Warlock, Wizard)

So, Warlocks and Wizards are the big winners here, with Clerics having a nice option or two. Oh, and the other classes got participation awards (Sorcerer is actually in the running, getting Aberrant and Shadow, but missing out on Fiend hurts)


Tattoo magic is nice, I like the idea of getting multiple effects counting as one attunement, and some of them are really good. Absorbing can be tide turning if you take the immunity and healing at the right time. A lot of good ones actually.

The only one that seems actually bad is the Barrier tattoo. They essentially give you studded leather, half plate, or full plate but only if you don't wear armor. So, the same sort of calculations go in, and since half-plate is way cheaper (and most monks are going to have a better wisdom than 14) most of these options are just not good for most characters.

The Fey can teleport every single round as a bonus action meaning they basically have at will misty step with a bonus effect. This isn't just usefully for combat either, I can see alot of utility in this. A deciever teleports beside someone, grabs some thing of value and then leaves for example. Or they teleport to a loctation is hard to reach.

And the big winners are Sorcerer's in my opinion, because aside from Divine Souls stealing Conjure Celestial from the Cleric, and Shadow Magic's Hound of Ill Omen they had no minion summoning abilities, so getting to summon aberrants, shadows, elementals, and Fey is huge for Sorcerers and with Extend Spell they can make more of it then other casters.

Also good to note you can cast Planar Binding on the Fey, Fiends, Celestials, and Elementals, to get them to serve you for longer, but Beasts, Aberrants, Shadows and Undead aren't effected by it. This really makes the Sorcerer the best at summoning Aberrants and Shadows.

Circle of the Shepard will love adding the Summon Fey and Summon Beasts to its arsonal.
 
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Chaosmancer

Legend
The Fey can teleport every single round as a bonus action meaning they basically have at will misty step with a bonus effect. This isn't just usefully for combat either, I can see alot of utility in this. A deciever teleports beside someone, grabs some thing of value and then leaves for example. Or they teleport to a loctation is hard to reach.

Fair, except they can't take anyone with them, so getting somewhere difficult to reach is of limited use. They don't have very good stats after all so leaving them alone to complete a puzzle or something is an iffy proposition.

And teleport next to someone, then get attack, then leave. Unless they can teleport, magical darkness the person next to them and run. I suppose that could work, but again, it just feels a little more limited than it should be. Especially since that darkness only lasts until the end of their next turn.

How many places can you teleport to that a different spell summoning a minion that could fly could not also reach is another good question. You could use that 3rd level slot for undead and get a ghost, flying and incorporeal, and fear effect on every attack. The Fey does more damage and is a little faster base speed.

I don't know. I just want more out of it, something that really pops and make me think "wow, now that is a fey".
 

gyor

Legend
Btw the Acid attack spell felt weirdly out of place with all the summoning spells, which makes it interesting. It likely means something, why was it there, it doesn't fit the theme, its the odd man out. So likely it ties into something else, but what?

And what is all this UA stuff form.
 

gyor

Legend
Fair, except they can't take anyone with them, so getting somewhere difficult to reach is of limited use. They don't have very good stats after all so leaving them alone to complete a puzzle or something is an iffy proposition.

And teleport next to someone, then get attack, then leave. Unless they can teleport, magical darkness the person next to them and run. I suppose that could work, but again, it just feels a little more limited than it should be. Especially since that darkness only lasts until the end of their next turn.

How many places can you teleport to that a different spell summoning a minion that could fly could not also reach is another good question. You could use that 3rd level slot for undead and get a ghost, flying and incorporeal, and fear effect on every attack. The Fey does more damage and is a little faster base speed.

I don't know. I just want more out of it, something that really pops and make me think "wow, now that is a fey".

I personally get a huge Fey Eladarin vibe off them honestly, although you can make them look like whatever Fey you want.
 


Kurotowa

Legend
Or, Mage armor (13 + Dex) and Shield spell, which will get similiar for only the cost of two 1st level spells

So, it can be good. Sure, 18 AC on a wizard seems decent, but compared to what else you could get for a Very Rare Item attunment slot? It just doesn't seem good enough to make it worthwhile compared to other choices.

Edit: Talking about Gishes for a second. Warlock Hewblade in Breastplate with a shield is also no str, no stealth penalty, and is AC 18. For a Very Rare slot I could grab a Pact Rod +3 to give a +3 bonus to my spell DC and attacks, or I could get to take off my armor and use a two-handed weapon for +1 damage.

Am I misreading you, or do you somehow have the idea that Barrier Tattoo doesn't let you use a shield? Because it specifically says you can. Also there's a big difference between having AC 18 and having AC 18 for one round when you spend a spell slot.

Anyway, you're talking white room theorycraft where you have free picks from the entire magic item list, not what PCs might be happy to find as loot. But even if we assume you can build your character with the certainty of getting this magic item... you're looking at it from the wrong end. It's not an item for boosting the AC of a melee focused character. They tend to have pretty good AC naturally. It's an item for boosting the AC of characters who don't typically have good AC because they don't come with heavy armor prof or high Dex.
 

MarkB

Legend
The tattoos seem like something you'll want to go all-in on if you go for them, in order to take advantage of that shared attunement slot.

I like the idea that they can be essentially found as magical items, bound into a needle (or other body-modification implement), but I'm not entirely keen on the fact that they don't appear to require any particular skill or artistry to apply - you effectively just tape the needle to your arm for an hour and then it just turns into ink and paints itself onto you. Tattoos are such an artistic endeavour and personal statement that this seems like a very unsatisfying way of acquiring one.
 





NotAYakk

Legend
So you have 17 "units" of skin.

Uncommon takes 1 unit.
Rare takes 2
Very Rare 4
Legendary 12

Not quite, because the torso is only usable for VRare/Legendary.

Scalp (Uncommon)
4 Limbs (2 Uncommon each, 1 Rare, or 0.5 Very Rare)
2 Torso (Very Rare, or 0.5 Legendary (also requires 2 limbs))

That is more specific.

Scalp: 1 unit
4x Limb: 2 units
2x Torso: 4 units each, only for VRare or Legendary

Alternative.

Or base it off these two Loads:
Legendary, 5 units of other
2 VRare, 9 units of other

That looks simplest.

U: 1
R: 2
VR: 4

Anyhow, you can stack BloodFury, Claw and Rare Barrier.

18 AC unarmored, +1 magical fists, 19-20 crit range, 4d6 crit bonus damage (plus temp HP), reaction melee riposte when damaged.

That is a crazy strong single attundment.

Swap the AC for a silver absorbing tattoo (psychic) on a bear totem barbarian and go to town. Advantage, +3[w]+4d6 crits, 19-20 crit range, riposte reaction, half damage from everything period.
 
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Dausuul

Legend
Spirit Shroud's upcast scaling needs to be toned down. +1d8 per higher slot level is ridiculous. A 5th-level version of this spell does more damage per hit than actual 5th-level spell Holy Weapon's 2d8, which is already quite good.
I'm not so sure it needs the nerf. It's an excellent spell, don't get me wrong, but it has some major drawbacks compared to holy weapon:
  • You can't put it on somebody else. Holy weapon can be cast on the deadliest weapon-wielder in the party; give it to a PAM fighter or a frenzying berserker, and watch them go to town. Spirit shroud can only be used by you, the caster, which means you have to a) be an effective melee combatant and b) have 5th-level spell slots. This is not impossible, but you're not going to get as much mileage out of it as a dedicated martial.
  • It's a concentration spell that forces the spellcaster into melee. The risk of losing concentration is high. With holy weapon, you have the options to put it on someone else or use it with a ranged weapon, allowing you to stay in the back rank.
  • The duration is capped at 1 minute, so even if you do hold concentration, you will never get more than one combat out of it. Holy weapon, with a 1-hour duration, can be sustained through multiple battles.
 

MarkB

Legend
So you have 17 "units" of skin.

Uncommon takes 1 unit.
Rare takes 2
Very Rare 4
Legendary 12

Not quite, because the torso is only usable for VRare/Legendary.

Scalp (Uncommon)
4 Limbs (2 Uncommon each, 1 Rare, or 0.5 Very Rare)
2 Torso (Very Rare, or 0.5 Legendary (also requires 2 limbs))

That is more specific.

Scalp: 1 unit
4x Limb: 2 units
2x Torso: 4 units each, only for VRare or Legendary

Alternative.

Or base it off these two Loads:
Legendary, 5 units of other
2 VRare, 9 units of other

That looks simplest.

U: 1
R: 2
VR: 4
Would a dragonborn or tiefling's tail count as a limb? How much coverage does an aarakocra's wing count for?
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Am I misreading you, or do you somehow have the idea that Barrier Tattoo doesn't let you use a shield? Because it specifically says you can. Also there's a big difference between having AC 18 and having AC 18 for one round when you spend a spell slot.

Anyway, you're talking white room theorycraft where you have free picks from the entire magic item list, not what PCs might be happy to find as loot. But even if we assume you can build your character with the certainty of getting this magic item... you're looking at it from the wrong end. It's not an item for boosting the AC of a melee focused character. They tend to have pretty good AC naturally. It's an item for boosting the AC of characters who don't typically have good AC because they don't come with heavy armor prof or high Dex.

I understand that, they also don't generally come with Shield proficiency. In fact of the "most likely to want this instead of armor" list I can think of.. only the Barbarian and Hexblade can use shields.

But, I think we are talking past each other to a degree. I'm looking at this as "how does this stack up to other items of similar values"

The Uncommon is invisible studded leather that does not require proficiency. Essentially any class I can think of can do better than this. Maybe Sorcerers would like it, but it is really not worth an attunement slot.

The Rare (taking up an entire limb for tattoo) is invisible half-plate, also does not require prof and does not give stealth penalty. Sure, for a wizard with a 14 dex, suddenly having a 17 AC is pretty nice. Certainly wouldn't turn my nose up at it if I had a free attunement slot. For any non-caster class who actually has the armor... just better to have the armor in most cases. Because, if we assume you get this Rare item that costs attunement, maybe you could instead get a different rare item that costs attunement. And that item is likely to offer you a better bonus, like a Ring of Spell Storing for a random example. That item can offer a lot of flexbility for a caster.

For example, a Monk with an 18 Dex and 16 Wis (not unreasonable) has the same AC that this tattoo provides already. Getting a Rare Ring of Protection gives them better AC and Better saves. 14 Wis and it is equivalent AC and better saves.

Also, in my estimations, not penalizing stealth is only as valuable as your stealth score is anyways. If you only have a +2 for stealth, rolling normally or at disadvantage isn't making a massive difference, because you are likely not stealthing anyways.

And we run into the same thing with the Very Rare (takes up entire torso or two limbs) invisible plate. Again, for a monk or barbarian, hardly worth the attunement slot. For a caster like a wizard, it could be quite nice, but it is a Very rare item. This is supposed to be equivalent to a Staff of Power, which gives +2 to hit, damage, stacking +2 Ac, and 20 charges for casting a variety of spells.

Sure, not all items of the same rarity are made equally, but "make my wizard have armor" is a meh item at best. Especially since, lest we forget all of our magic items, Elven Chain is a rare armor that does not require attunement. Everyone is proficient with it and gives a 14+ max 2 dex, so it is quite comparable to the first two levels of this tattoo in terms of benefit without preventing you from using other items.

I'm not so sure it needs the nerf. It's an excellent spell, don't get me wrong, but it has some major drawbacks compared to holy weapon:
  • You can't put it on somebody else. Holy weapon can be cast on the deadliest weapon-wielder in the party; give it to a PAM fighter or a frenzying berserker, and watch them go to town. Spirit shroud can only be used by you, the caster, which means you have to a) be an effective melee combatant and b) have 5th-level spell slots. This is not impossible, but you're not going to get as much mileage out of it as a dedicated martial.
  • It's a concentration spell that forces the spellcaster into melee. The risk of losing concentration is high. With holy weapon, you have the options to put it on someone else or use it with a ranged weapon, allowing you to stay in the back rank.
  • The duration is capped at 1 minute, so even if you do hold concentration, you will never get more than one combat out of it. Holy weapon, with a 1-hour duration, can be sustained through multiple battles.

I had forgotten about the hour long duration of Holy Weapon, that is a really good and salient point.

Also the fact that this is a self spell instead of a touch spell, but I think that part was understood.
 


I'm not so sure it needs the nerf. It's an excellent spell, don't get me wrong, but it has some major drawbacks compared to holy weapon:
  • You can't put it on somebody else. Holy weapon can be cast on the deadliest weapon-wielder in the party; give it to a PAM fighter or a frenzying berserker, and watch them go to town. Spirit shroud can only be used by you, the caster, which means you have to a) be an effective melee combatant and b) have 5th-level spell slots. This is not impossible, but you're not going to get as much mileage out of it as a dedicated martial.
  • It's a concentration spell that forces the spellcaster into melee. The risk of losing concentration is high. With holy weapon, you have the options to put it on someone else or use it with a ranged weapon, allowing you to stay in the back rank.
  • The duration is capped at 1 minute, so even if you do hold concentration, you will never get more than one combat out of it. Holy weapon, with a 1-hour duration, can be sustained through multiple battles.
There is, however, one other notable advantage to Spirit Shroud. Holy Weapon only works on a single weapon, so it doesn't help dual-wielders. Spirit Shroud, on the other hand, buffs all of the character's attacks and thus does work with dual-wielding. So, a dual-wielding Paladin or Bladelock is going to get a lot of burst damage mileage from this spell, while still adding an extra +1d8 with a 5th-level slot over what Holy Weapon gets. IMO, that's a bit much.

I would not be opposed, however, to buffing the base 3rd-level damage to 1d10, while still nerfing the upcast to an extra die/2 levels.
 

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