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


The High Aldwin
That's true of about half of WotC's output (and more than that of TSR's output) for me. Different strokes for different folks. You'd all be very bored if only the stuff I used got printed. I'm sure that's the case for most tables.
LOL, I don't know about how bored your table would be, but our group played strictly PHB only for the first 5 levels (when we were learning the edition) and had a perfectly good time, so... I guess it just depends on the group and what you want to get out of it.

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It still kinda bugs me.

Why can't rangers summon fey spirits. It's a 3rd level spell unlike conjure fey's 6th level. Rangers get 3rd level spells.

What the heck is ranger magic anyway? Is it weak druid magic? Do rangers just shun the fey stuff when they commune? Is it a cobbled together mash of magic they learned from druids, wizards, bards random nature creatures, and smashed magic items?

Why don't cleric's get the undead spirit or the fiendish one? If my cleric can be evil or neutral, let me have the bad guy spells. I get it for the paladin but the cleric? Death clerics are all sad now.


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"

You're probably right that we are. My reaction is based on my own play experience, where no one is very optimized and player control over which higher rarity magic items you get is virtually nil. The rarity doesn't influence if the DM includes them in the adventure as loot and it's not like you can just swap it for one you'd prefer. But again, that's my experience, and you're right that it isn't universal.




What the heck is ranger magic anyway? Is it weak druid magic? Do rangers just shun the fey stuff when they commune? Is it a cobbled together mash of magic they learned from druids, wizards, bards random nature creatures, and smashed magic items?

Ranger magic is nonsense and a hodge podge of random stuff thrown into a badly defined archetype over 30 years.


These spells ought to make players of conjurers pretty happy.

The tattoos are alright I guess, pretty similar to stuff I've seen from 3pp back in the 3.5 days.

Not bad all in all and the imprimatur of WOTC officialdom will make the magic tattoos a bit more popular. I did think it interesting that they require attunement. Its a good balance measure and given that various rarities cover more of the body, it makes flavorful tattooed man , tattoo monk or similar builds easy to do.

I like that quite a bit.

The magical application method is neat too.

Von Ether

Would a dragonborn or tiefling's tail count as a limb? How much coverage does an aarakocra's wing count for?

Seeing as how a tiefling's tail is not even prehensile, it is what it is named, a tail -- and not a limb.

The vibe I get is that these tattoos go mostly on exposed skin, so you could make an argument that aarokacas get NO tattoos.* Or that they only get Uncommons since those can be on the scalp and thus under some sort of hair/fur/feather covering.

At my table, this would go under the usual categories of:
  • Overthinking It
  • Min/Maxing It
  • D&D Corny/Dad j/k Request
Personally, I like my rules to avoid stating every corner case because many times, it just raises as many questions as it tries to answer.

*Which follows the tradition that not every race can access every type of magic for whatever reasons.


Possibly a Idiot.
They should really put the class that the spell can be used by, in the spell description when doing UA. it makes for much easier reference.
Acid Stream
This is nifty! A level 1 line spell that gives draconic sorcerers a bone. Most importantly, it's not necessarily useful for damage, because generally speaking having a lot of your enemies use up their action to scrape the burning acid off their bodies helps your party win the Action Economy war. And if they decide to just tank the damage, it's orders of magnitude better than Witch Bolt.

Otherworldly Form
A way more functional buff than Tenser's Transformation, especially for Clerics. (Seriously, it takes 10 min just to put on heavy armor!)

Spirit Shroud.
A short duration (and short range) super-hex with damage boost that scales with spell slot, that Clerics, and Eldritch Knights can access! Niche appeal, but the niche is real, and they will be thankful for it.

A Forward on the The Summoning Spells: A quote from me about how I would change the summoning type spells;
Every Single Pet (summoning or animating) Spell gets a specific stat block, a limited list of actions, and a hard cap of one thing at a time. Ala the Battlesmith (and the UA class Variants Ranger)
I wrote that on my birthday, so I will egotistically interpret that to mean these were a gift to me, thanks!

I will also note that picking one of three different types of generic monsters is a better compromise than what I was thinking of at the time, so extra kudos for that. Also, in general, having a monster get more buff as you up cast the spell is a more DM-friendly option than getting more monsters.

One nitpick about them all: There is no HD listed. I think the HD mechanic on monsters is mostly vestigial, but there are a few abilities and spells that still interact with them for some reason, so it would be a good idea to list something there.

Summon Aberrant Spirit
Slaadi are from the far realm now? I guess that works.
Summon Bestial Spirit
Comes with an Aquatic beast option, unlike the Class Variant Ranger (which should totally get one). Though it is questionable how you might be able to issue a verbal command while underwater.

Summon Celestial Spirit
Only has two options, but both come with healing, so that's nice I suppose. Extra noteworthy is it's large size, meaning you might be able to convince your DM to give you a flying mount when you cast this.

Summon Elemental Spirit
It's one of the classic four elementals, what more do you want?

Summon Fey Spirit
This is where the summons get interesting. Sure, the fey spirits can stab things with a sword, but they also teleport around and cause an effect while they do so, which sets this spell apart from it's (non-celestial) cousins which are mostly divided up into combat roles and/or terrain types.

Summon Fiendish Spirit
The Highest level of the Summoned Spirits, and as such it's a bit underwhelming due to the slightly mundane options of brute/skirmisher/archer with an emphasis on being tanky. There are some quirks (like Devil's Sight) but they seem a little light. Of note, no Succubus/Incubus, which would be nifty for a control option. At least it is another large spirit, so there might be an option to ride it.

Summon Shadow Spirit
In contrast, this spirit is inherently a controller, which can get some stealth for extra spooky goodness.

Summon Undead Spirit
Now for arguably the most creative of the lot. This spirit has oodles of potential. Except for the Skeletal option, which is just a no-frills archer. Give the Skeleton some love~

Magic Tattoos
A new magic item that shares cribs from the shared attunement slot gimmick that prosthetic have. While incorporating a new gimmick where size=rarity. Also apparently they are transmitted via magic needles, which somehow magically reappear when you loose your attunement. Unfortunately you need skin to make the tattoos work, which is a problem for some races.

Absorbing Tattoo
Are you tired of your bear totem barbarian taking full damage from psionic attacks all the time? Well we have just the look for you! Also lets you eat the elemental damage once per day to regain some HP, which is an underexplored mechanic.

Barrier Tattoo
It's armor in your skin, without having to actually use armor, or even have proficiency in it. Particularly useful for Druids.

Coiling Grasp Tattoo
Well, it's significantly better than a net. Still wouldn't rely on it for long.

Eldritch Claw Tattoo
Great for Monks (because there isn't much of anything outside of that one adventure to enhance unarmed strikes), but it won't work for Beast Barbarians (from a Previous UA). Requiring a Bonus Action to use is a bit of a bummer, as Monks really want to Flurry for maximum use of the tattoo.

Blood Fury Tattoo
Well that's certainly Legendary. It's basically a Paladin Subclass Capstone as an always-on item.

Illuminator’s Tattoo

Lifewell Tattoo
Relentless Endurance and necrotic resistance for everyone!

Ghost Step Tattoo
At first glance, it sounds really good: You can phase through objects and people like a ghost for a turn as a bonus action. Then you realize that it doesn't say your carried equipment also becomes incorporeal...

Masquerade Tattoo
The trendiest of fashionistas demand a tattoo that changes with their whims. Also lets you disguise self once per day, but really that's a minor benefit in comparison.

Spellwrought Tattoo
Take a spell scroll, embed it into your skin, and cast it even if it isn't on your spell list. And best of all it doesn't even require an attunement slot!

Shadowfell Brand Tattoo
Permanent advantage on stealth checks, and once per day you gain resistance to a single source of damage. It's Very Rare, which I suppose makes sense if you don't consider rarity to have a direct correlation to power.

So what do races covered in fur or feathers do in lieu of tattoos? Inquiring Aarakocras want to know...
Fur is easy - shave, get the tat, the fur grows back.

Feathers are more problematic, and it would depend on how the DM has decided the tats are obtained. They might rule that the magic ink can be injected into the base of the feathers, or use one of the Variant: Body Modification suggestions.


Ranger magic is nonsense and a hodge podge of random stuff thrown into a badly defined archetype over 30 years.

yeah it's

Druidic Magic but only the plants and animals parts.
but no fey or elemental magic
Except they get elemental weapon magic
just not elementals
plus Argaon's magical healing and mastery of divination
But not Aragorn's Army of the Dead and crystal balls
plus the primary feature of some famous supernatural nature guys in media
but no Tarzan yell
plus water magic
but not desert nor the arctic magic because rangers never go there and they hate sand and snow
and sometimes they punch a wizard and steal a spell or two
"Goth." The word you're looking for is "goth."

Hey. I was trying to be inclusive and include metalhead clerics.


The High Aldwin
I didn't know that D&D should cater only to you.
Well, it should. :p

Seriously though, it would be nice if they did at least once in a while... But it caters to the 60% rule and we all know it. Fortunately, the game plays fine if you remove things you don't like and many tables remove things as well as add homebrew/houserules. Even with the UA content our table has approved of, none of it has seen game play. We don't even have that much that used to be UA content, but made it into a book (e.g. the Samurai sublcass in XGtE) that has seen play at our table.

I would rather see UA content that I would use and pay for if published in a book than crap like this then I never would. If this stuff makes into a book, I won't buy it and just be disappointed yet again as they appease the 60%.

To me the problem becomes one of buyer's remorse. If 90% of the material in a release is something I don't want, it would suck to shell out 30-50 dollars for the 10% I do.

Maybe they will eventually release a revised and compiled UA book with all the accepted material after playtesting? If they do, hopefully enough of it will be worth buying to more than 60% of us. :)

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