Unearthed Arcana Spores, Brutes, and Inventors: Unearthed Arcana Brings You Three New Subclasses


Chaosmancer

Legend
So, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about most of these.

Spore Druid

First of all, there is one big problem here that is unavoidable. Most of this subclass is poison damage, and poison damage is the "most likely to be immune" victor. Now, I think I'd love to add poison to the Elemental Adept feat and ignore resistance, but that immunity is going to be a huge problem for this character.

After that, I'm not really sure about how the damage stacks up. I like the "triggerless reaction" that's fine with me and kind of a cool thing we haven't seen much of before, and with how very rarely I see reactions used it's cool to see abilities that will utilize them without relying on enemies to trigger OA's. I also like the burn wildshape to gain temp hp, double reaction damage, and gain a bonus to melee attacks.

The zombies... man, I just don't know. 1 hp is super low, so you'll be relying on undead fortitude to keep these things around for more than a turn. But, I love the visual and it is essentially a free rider summon minion. Now, I've currently got a necromancer in our party, so I feel comfortable saying this, Zombies are trash in combat. Maybe it is just her luck, but those things never hit anything and their damage is pitiful. I'm seriously torn on if this ability is good or too restricted. For example, humanoid or Beast would make things way more interesting, but you'd need stats for zombie beasts.

Where I think this subclass gets really interesting is level 10, and talking about synergy. Spreading Spores is a bonus action, not a spell, and benefits both from zombie creation and symbiotic entity, meaning you've got an AOE for 18 poison damage, no save every turn with the chance to make zombie minions on top of it. That is really powerful on top of your normal spellcasting.

So, early levels feel a bit lack luster to me, but late levels this starts to get kind of interesting.


Brute Fighter

The Brute is the Champion 2.0, and so the flavor is lacking and it is just pure streamlined mechanics.

But holy crap are those mechanics a little intimidating. By level 11 the pure Brute is dealing an additional 3d6 damage a turn, if everything hits. I'm not sure yet if I'd go with the static +2 from dueling or go for GWM or even PAM, but if you want pure damage this is a powerful contender. Add in their Devastating Critical and at level 16 you could easily see an attack that does 3d6+2d8+10+16+5, and at 20th it is just insane the damage output we're looking at. Combine that with an improved permanent bless to all saves in Brutish Durability and it is a strong class. Also, I want to thank this subclass for reminding me that death saves are saving throws, so a person under the effects of bless gets to add a 1d4 to them. Good note.

Not really much else to say, except they are probably a lot stronger than champions while also not being as tempting for a 3 level dip


School of Invention

Boy, I want to like this because the idea of Arcanomechanical Armor, but this subclass is definitely not for me. I really distrust and dislike random effects and the biggest thing about this class until 6th level is the ability to randomly cast spells, with a chance of casting two spells and a chance of not doing anything that turn.

Then you get Alchemical casting, which is some of the bits of the Lore Wizard packaged as needing to be channeled thru armor. I... My gut dislikes this ability, because my gut sees that ability to swap elemental types and thinks "Hey, there's that ability we keep asking the sorcerer to have, given to the wizard... again." And that's not completely fair and actually I find it less objectionable because of the armor makes for a cool visual and the force damage makes more sense.


But man the fluff is all over the place with this. You've created this armor to help you with your crazy experiments, it gives resistance to force damage... for absolutely no reason I can come up with. I think other than magic missile none of those spells on those lists even deal force damage, and you don't have an ability that causes you to take force damage if your risks don't pay off, so why force instead of fire or poison, you know, in case you fireball or cloudkill in an area where you can't escape the range. And your experiments are to randomly cast known and documented spells, it just... nothing about it really adds up to invention. It's the Wild Magic Wizard, and that's kind of it.

And, for a final nail in the coffin, why would you bother with random spells? I mean a 10% of getting a specific spell is kind of bad if you really need it, and a lot of the time you'd be better off just casting the spells you've prepared like a normal wizard. I just don't see the appeal here.
 

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G

Guest 6801328

Guest
The spore druid reaction mechanic is wacky. It should be a bonus action since it doesn't appear to be a reaction to anything and can only happen on your turn.

I noticed that, too. Makes me wonder if it's a typo. Otherwise very strange.
 


Elf_flambe

Explorer
Brute... Both the name and write-up make me think this is an attempt at replicating video game brutes. Which are non-bosses, but boss-like, encounters that are tough to kill. Kinda... mini-mini-bosses.

This subclass reminded me of The Princess Bride.

"I'm on the Brute Squad."

"You ARE the Brute Squad!"

He's there to just wade into a combat and bash heads, shrugging off damage that would fell others. Yup, sounds like Andre the Giant! :D
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I agree with Chaosmancer pretty strongly. I adore the concept of the spore Druid, but I think it’s a little underpowered until 10 - poison damage is thematic, but not super reliable. I really like the spore damage as a reaction, though I kind of wish it could be used off-turn. The 10th level feature is awesome, but seems like it comes really late for such a key part of the subclass’s synergy. The zombies are really cool in concept, but zombies already suck, giving them 1hp and limiting their actions to attacking seems overly cautious. Using Wildshape uses to do something other than wildshape is a great use of design space, and I’d love to see it used for more things. Overall a really strong concept in need of another couple of passes to fine-tune.

Brute, while poorly named, is clearly just supposed to be a fixed Champion. Seems like a bit of an overcorrection to me though, that’s some seriously high DPR potential. Could stand to be toned down just a tad. Otherwise, not much to see here. Just another super generic Fighter.

I just don’t even know with the Invention Wizard. It’s just a total miss for me on every level. In general, Wizard subclasses don’t excite me because they already have so many. Then the flavor seems like something that wants to be an Artificer but they don’t have one yet. The mechanics are all over the place... Just not for me all around.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Saying "reaction on your turn" makes me pretty sure it's intentional. You wouldn't need to specify "on your turn" for an action or a bonus action.

So it's like a bonus action, but it consumes the reaction instead?

If that's really what's intended, it's kind of hilarious in light of MM's frequently expressed misgivings about bonus actions. So they added another one?
 

cbwjm

Legend
I sometimes think people worry too much about damage types and how much they are resisted. The design team apparently doesn't worry about it when designing spells, makes sense they wouldn't when designing class abilities either.

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
I wonder if using a ‘Reaction on your turn’ instead of a ‘Bonus Action’, is an experiment to see if it is possible to remove all Bonus Actions from the game.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I sometimes think people worry too much about damage types and how much they are resisted. The design team apparently doesn't worry about it when designing spells, makes sense they wouldn't when designing class abilities either.

Sent from my [device_name] using EN World mobile app

They definitely do worry about it when they design spells. That’s why spells that deal fire damage tend to deal more than spells that deal damage of other types - it’s the most resisted damage type.
 

cbwjm

Legend
They definitely do worry about it when they design spells. That’s why spells that deal fire damage tend to deal more than spells that deal damage of other types - it’s the most resisted damage type.
Apparently they don't. I think it was in an AMA that it was mentioned. After all, you never know what will be released, could be a number or thunder or force resistant creatures that come out in later books.

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Apparently they don't. I think it was in an AMA that it was mentioned. After all, you never know what will be released, could be a number or thunder or force resistant creatures that come out in later books.

Sent from my [device_name] using EN World mobile app
Ehh, I get the impression spmeone thought about it, or we wouldn’t have ended up with things like Cantrip damage generally being in d8s, except the fire one (the damage type with the most combined resistances and immunities after poison), which does d10s, the poison one (the damage type with the most total resistances and immunities, and heavily weighted towards immunities), which does d12s. Oh, and Eldritch Blast, the spell that only shows up on the list of the one spellcasting class that recovers spells on a short rest basis, and does d10s.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Apparently they don't. I think it was in an AMA that it was mentioned. After all, you never know what will be released, could be a number or thunder or force resistant creatures that come out in later books.

Sent from my [device_name] using EN World mobile app
Ehh, I get the impression someone thought about it, or we wouldn’t have ended up with things like Cantrip damage generally being in d8s, except the fire one (the damage type with the most combined resistances and immunities after poison), which does d10s, the poison one (the damage type with the most total resistances and immunities, and heavily weighted towards immunities), which does d12s. Oh, and Eldritch Blast, the spell that only shows up on the list of the one spellcasting class that recovers spells on a short rest basis, and does d10s. Even if the designers don’t take damage type into account, evidently the playtesters must have done.
 

cbwjm

Legend
Ehh, I get the impression someone thought about it, or we wouldn’t have ended up with things like Cantrip damage generally being in d8s, except the fire one (the damage type with the most combined resistances and immunities after poison), which does d10s, the poison one (the damage type with the most total resistances and immunities, and heavily weighted towards immunities), which does d12s. Oh, and Eldritch Blast, the spell that only shows up on the list of the one spellcasting class that recovers spells on a short rest basis, and does d10s. Even if the designers don’t take damage type into account, evidently the playtesters must have.
Although when looking at the cantrips, most if those that deal less have something more than damage going on. If ray of frost only dealt cold damage and didn't slow then I wouldn't be surprised if it used d10s instead of d8s for damage.

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Although when looking at the cantrips, most if those that deal less have something more than damage going on. If ray of frost only dealt cold damage and didn't slow then I wouldn't be surprised if it used d10s instead of d8s for damage.

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Frost is the damage type with the most Resistances, and third-most total between resistances and immunities after fire. ;) But, point taken. Produce Flame also does d8s, for another example of this. Still, I do think someone in the development process is taking these things into account, even if it’s not a major factor. If nothing else, playtest feedback is sure to play a role, and as Unearthed Arcana is meant as a means of gathering open playtest feedback, I’m going to mention the poison damage being thematic but weak due to being such a common immunity in my feedback when they put the poll up for this one. I encourage others to whom such things are a concern to do the same.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
Ehh, I get the impression spmeone thought about it, or we wouldn’t have ended up with things like Cantrip damage generally being in d8s, except the fire one (the damage type with the most combined resistances and immunities after poison), which does d10s, the poison one (the damage type with the most total resistances and immunities, and heavily weighted towards immunities), which does d12s. Oh, and Eldritch Blast, the spell that only shows up on the list of the one spellcasting class that recovers spells on a short rest basis, and does d10s.


It's not about damage type, it's about a formula:

d12 - cantrip with a drawback
d10 - base cantrip damage
d8 - cantrip w/ a rider
d4/d6 - multiple attacks or strong rider

If damage type were more of a concern then Eldritch Blast would be d8 and Sacred Flame would be d6 because Radiant is the best damage type followed by Force.

I am sure damage type was a consideration, but not a balance one. Fire is iconic so the vanilla cantrip is fire. Other damage types have certain themes to them so realizing those themes with various effects dumps them into certain damage categories.

The spells were written before the MM. The # of monsters with resistances and immunities also doesn't tell the entire story. Most of the fire ones are fiends. I think the only damage type that is meaningfully weaker than the rest is poison. Even then, most full casters will have 2 attack cantrips each with its own damage type. In practice the damage type matters very little.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
New year, new subclasses!

Lets get down to it.

Circle of Spores.

The plant druid, finally. Only it's not really about plants, not because fungi are their own kingdom of life (in D&D, all fungi counts as a plant), but rather because they are the druids of rot and undeath.
And by that I mean they are kinda OK with undead things, but not really? That's going to cause some lore headaches. I can't help but wonder if this is going to supplant the Circle of Twilight.

Circle Spells

Extra spells without preparation are always nice, but some of these are questionable.
Gentle Repose kinda goes against the lore of wanting things to rot and not stay the same.
Confusion Comes out of left field for a reason that I assume to be a joke about "magic mushrooms".

Halo of Spores
And now for something completely different: Here we have an example of bending the action economy to the absolute limit. By trading in your reaction (which is something that a caster Druid isn't going to have much use for outside of Absorb Elements), you get to deal automatic poison damage to a target of your choice.

I don't really care for the precedent that this sets. This effectively turns your reaction into a second bonus action. There has to be a better way to do this.

Symbiotic Entity
Instead of wildshaping into an animal (or whatever) you get poison spores. Which double your Halo of Spores damage and ups the damage of your melee weapons.
This ability is confusing, and kind of bad. Did they forget that only Moon Druids can use a bonus action to Wildshape? Why does it not work with Primal Savagery or Thorn Whip? Oh but for some reason, it works with Shillelagh + whatever Blade cantrip you can get I guess. Not working on melee spell attacks seems like a mechanic oversight. Also of note, the extra weapon damage doesn't scale, which kind of sucks if you wanted to actually use the ability at higher levels. As a final nail in the coffin for this lackluster spin on a melee power, you only get temp hp as a defensive padding instead of anything that will actually up your front-line staying power. And lets make no mistake, to use this kind of Druid effectively, you are going to be right next to the frontline, if not on it.

Fungal Infestation
Well, this is probably the entire reason this subclass exists. You get to make your own zombie minions from things you kill. That sounds like fun. But there are lots of restrictions, too many imo. First and foremost, it only happens when you, yourself, land the killing blow on a humanoid with Halo of Spores. Yeah, good luck with that. Secondly, the Zombie never scales. It always has 1hp, and always does the +3 to hit for 1d6+1 damage Slam attack once per turn. Undead Fortitude can make the thing last a lot longer than it has any right to, but why a zombie in the first place? Why not make it a vegepygmy? Or maybe scrap it as a creature entirely, because minion armies are a headache, and make it an scaling exploding spore cluster that the Druid has some control over? And once you do get rid of the zombie making, you can also remove Animate Dead from the spell list and make this subclass all about controlling the battlefield with spores instead of having to pay lip service to undead.

Spreading Spores
Now this is interesting, at level 10, they drop the pretense of being a melee subclass (because that was going to fail anyway with no real scaling) and give the druid some ranged Area Denial ability. It's really weird to switch up a character's role in the party like this. I get the feeling that this what Halo of Spores was supposed to be all along.

Fungal Body
It's a level 14 capstone, so it was never going to be as cool as some of the other subclass capstones. Immunity to blind, deaf, frightened, and poisoned. Frightened is a bit out there, I guess your brain has rotted at this point. But immunity to poison is the real confusing part. Fungi aren't immune to poison, if anything you should be immune to disease. In fact, why aren't you immune to disease?

Thoughts.
This subclass is probably the result of a late night b-horror-movie watch, and as a result, has a haphazard collection of mechanics and themes. It's the Melee Druid who eventually won't be able to keep up in melee combat. It's a zombie horde master who doesn't like the idea of zombies staying around for more than an hour at a time. There also isn't any ribbons, which is kind of perplexing. Maybe they should just make an undead druid to get it out of their system. In the meantime, I will be waiting for the real plant-focused Druid to come along.

Brute
The Fighter's Fighter, perhaps even moreso than the Champion. This may, or may not, be a testbed for the subclass-swapping features that they talked about when discussing how they are going to fix the Ranger. Of note, this subclass heavily implies a strong Character, but nothing about the subclass uses STR.

Brute Force
Extra damage on every weapon attack. Because that's totally what the Fighter was lacking, melee damage :p. This works with any weapon you know how to use, which means Hand Crossbow Snipers are going to be even more in demand than they used to be. Additionally, the extra damage scales, even though it doesn't actually have to, because Fighters get more and more extra attacks as they level up, it's like double-dipping for scaling. Eat that Spore Druid!

Brutish Durability
Whenever you roll a saving throw, you get a 1d6 bonus to it. That's better than Bless, which is regarded as one of the best Cleric Spells (yeah, that's because of attacks, but work with me here) Also it stacks with Bless, and Aura of Protection. And should breaking bounded accuracy over your pinky finger fail you somehow, you can even throw in an Indomitable. Holy smokes, I thought Fighters were supposed to be weak against magic?

Additional Fighting Style
At this point, it's basically +1 AC. A bit boring, but that's the [-]Champion[/-] Brute for you. Huh, I just noticed this subclass also lacks a ribbon. I expected some kind of advantage or expertise in Athletics checks at least.

Devastating Critical
Instead of Critting more often, you crit harder. Something that was already true mind you, thanks to Brute Force getting extra dice damage on a crit.

Survivor
Cementing the idea that this is a replacement for the Champion, here is their capstone to provide insult with that injury.

Thoughts
Between the Brute and the Champion, I would have rather had the Brute at the start of 5e. Not only is it more interactive by virtue of rolling more dice, but it has a real theme behind it.
My nitpicks: I haven't ran a damage calculation yet, but I suspect that Brute Force may scale too much. Also, you can probably drop the second fighting style, move Brutish Durability up to level 10, give out some kind of expertise in STR checks at level 7, and this subclass will be basically perfect for what it is.

School of Invention
So the Artificer and the Wild Mage had a baby, that stole some of the Loremaster's stuff. I am a bit mad now. And right after the feelgood high of the Brute too.

Tools of the Inventor
The first Ribbon of the document, and it does next to nothing for the subclass that it supports. Yeah, they are inventors and alchemists, but why? There is no ability here outside of this one and the next that remotely supports those ideas.

Arcanomechanical Armor
This is horrible. You get to wear light armor as a Wizard and resistance to force damage. That sounds ok, at first, until you realize this eats an Attunement slot, and you will never be able to use a real magical suit of armor or a robe unless you want to lose access to half of your subclass abilities. What? Why? How? If you want to be an armored wizard, just go for the Warmage, or better yet, the Bladesinger.

Reckless Casting
You cast a random magic spell, or two of them, or none of them. Unless you are legitimately trying to play Presto from the D&D cartoon, there is no point to this.
This ability is bad. For many many reasons.
Firstly, it's not comparable to Wild Magic Surge. Wild Magic Surge lets you cast a spell, then have some random and wacky thing happen. This is just "make a random thing happen." Which means Wild Magic is less chaotic than this. Figure that one out.
Secondly, it can cause itself to fizzle out. Not just by rolling two tens, but anytime you roll for two concentration spells, the first one is kaput. Also, random spells mean random ranges, and random effects, and random everything. There is no guarantee that you will even be able to use the spell that you roll for.
And finally, it happens whenever the player thinks it should happen. Which means it can go off all of the time (which is a headache) or none of the time (which is pointless and a wasted ability)

Alchemical Casting
Oh I remember this. This ability is almost entirely dissimilar to it's previous incarnation, other than using low level spell slots to power up other spells. Also it's bad now.
Firstly, it requires you to wear that Arcanomechanical Armor.
Secondly it only changes acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage. And only into another damage type on that list. And only if you sacrifice a 1st level spell. It's the anemic doppelganger of Spell Secrets. You can't change Poison, or Necrotic damage, for reasons. Good luck if you are suddenly fighting undead (which is a good reason to want this kind of ability).
Thirdly, you can sacrifice and entire 2nd level spell slot for a whopping 2d10 extra force damage (Why can you suddenly deal force damage?) to one target of that spell, for one turn. Is this even worth the effort? Probably not.

Prodigious Inspiration
Why does this subclass have this ability? Other than the obvious "We are killing the loremaster and taking it's stuff" I mean? Yes I like this ability for wizards, but this subclass has no reason to have it based on the subclass alone. It is neither random, nor particularly inventor-ish.

Controlled Chaos
More like "Heightened Chaos", this ability does nothing to eliminate any kind of randomness or potential problems that exist with Reckless Casting.
Your Reckless Casting gets a level boost. Whoop-de-do. Did I mention, you can't use Reckless Casting to get a spell above level 5? Because you can't. You can't even upcast the spells when you cast them with that ability. So using a level 6 or above spell slot results in a level 5 spell. Is using a level 1-4 spell slot to get a random 2-5th level spell worth it as a capstone? It's mathematically more powerful, but I doubt it's worth it in terms of action economy, or in terms of actually staying alive in an encounter at t3+ of the game.

Thoughts.
I fear the Loremaster is dead and beyond hope of seeing the light of day at this point. Which is a shame, especially if it gets replaced by this mishmash of a arti-sorcerer. I could imagine this is a substitution for the Wild Mage, but that would be silly, because all of it's chaotic abilities are worse.
 
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Li Shenron

Legend
On a second reading, these subclasses are even worse than I thought. They are simply taking the whole edition in the wrong direction.

Some of these seem to be an attempt at "fixing" something that isn't broken, in the worst case just slightly below par. But by fixing it with a boost, it just becomes power creep, because then you'll have the other options become below par.

The Inventor subclass partly takes the Wizard towards the chaos mage, stealing a bit from the the Sorcerer subclass. And then it makes it even more versatile than the Wizard already is, putting the final nail in the coffin of the Sorcerer, which is overall the least developed class. If they didn't intend to support the Sorcerer, why did they even put it into the PHB? We've heard a lot of cr4p from WotC about how it was wrong to make Sorcerer subclasses grant bonus known spells because they would remove the main limitation of the Sorcerer and then make it too good, yeah right... so by the same logic the Inventor which removes the main limitation of the Wizard (sticking to prepared spells) is just as wrong. If you make the Sorcerer know a few more spells it's wrong because it steps on the Wizard's, but if you make the Wizard cast more flexibly (and that includes also the ability to change spells details such as damage type) it steps on the Sorcerer's, so how is that not just as wrong?

Then we have total disassociation of mechanics from narrative. The Inventor's Armor is presented with a special name to make it sounds like it's the core idea of the subclass. But besides the resistance to force damage, it's worse than Mage Armor, and it grants... metamagic? :/ Had they called it any other object, it would have made no difference.

Last but not least, these subclasses have nearly nothing else than combat boosts (mostly just damage, really), and half of these mechanics are overly complex. As if we didn't already have plenty of damage boosts everywhere. This means that if you play these subclasses you're just doing the same thing as usual, just with more complicated rules.

Honestly this article just tells me that now that we got a lot of subclasses in XGE, it's time for WotC to focus on something else than subclasses for a while! They are out of ideas, both narratively and mechanical. I know that there is still room for more subclasses, by apparently they are out of inspiration at the moment, why not just shelf them for now, and work on truly NEW additions such as (1) psionics, (2) mass combat rules, (3) alternative class features mechanics?
 

akr71

Hero
meh... More subclasses is exactly what I did not want out of an Unearthed Arcana document this month. I'm still trying to process all the classes XGE & Xanathar's Lost Notes put out. I know XGE was basically 'polished' versions of a bunch of the subclasses we saw last year, but if no one at the table wants to give a new subclass a try, we don't really get a feel for it just by reading it.

The school of invention wizard sounds cool, but I rarely play casters and the those at my table that do would unlikely to be swayed from an Evoker.

I would have liked another crack at mass combat rules or weapon feats
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
So it's like a bonus action, but it consumes the reaction instead?

If that's really what's intended, it's kind of hilarious in light of MM's frequently expressed misgivings about bonus actions. So they added another one?
I imagine it's a trial balloon for both at-will auto damage and granting an at-will on turn reaction ability.
 

I really want to like the Spore Druid; I love the idea of a shape-shifterless Druid or even an evil themed druid...but the implementation is a bit meh. Their spore aura is weak and is commonly resisted. Their replacement to shapeshifting is an ability that grants temp HP and extra damage, but no where near as much as a shapeshift (maybe at higher levels...need to read through it again). Their level 6 ability, I actually like (spore zombies....YAY!!!!). The rest of their features were so meh that I don't remember anything about them.

The Brute, I actually like. Yeah, it's generic, but it's an alternative to the champion. Where the champion is more focused on those critical hits, the brute just wants to hit really hard. I do like the mechanics behind their level 7 ability!

The technomage...er "School of Invention" was extremely disappointing to me. A weak armor that takes one of your valuable attunement slots *that never improves.* Oh, and if you decide you don't want to use it, you lose several of your class features. Yeah...no thanks.
 

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