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

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
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.

...why not just shelf them for now, and work on truly NEW additions such as ... (3) alternative class features mechanics?

Now that I've thought about it, I think both of these points could easily be on the money. Other than the Beastmaster Ranger, what have been some of the subclasses people have complained about? The Wild Mage Sorcerer... the Champion Fighter... the Four Elements Monk... the Frenzy Barbarian. If WotC discovered through their work in trying to retrofit the Ranger and came to the conclusion it was easier/better to just give alternate class/subclass features rather than create a whole new version of the class out of whole cloth... they could then begin looking at the next wave of subclasses that might need looking at too.

But rather than coming right out with a UA and saying "Hey, here's some alternate features for the Champion, whatcha think?"... and then getting whole heaps of people screaming at them "Why are you working on these?!? The Champion is FINE!" Or "I don't want a Champion, I want PSIONICS!"... they create these subclasses with the barest hint of fluff just so we'd spend time actually debating the mechanics, rather than whether the mechanics were necessary to "help" the subclasses the mechanics were meant for.

Under that light... I think its easier to see what these game mechanics could be used for. The Brute's are possible alternate feature for the Champion... the Inventor's are alternate features for the Wild Mage *and* new mechanics for the Artificer... and the Circle of Spores could actually be its own real subclass since it has the most cohesive theme behind it. And hell, if I didn't know any better... the Circle of Spores has at its essence the theme of death and decay, which is the primary theme of the Children of Winter druidic sect in Eberron. There's been talk that perhaps the Artificer has been moved up while the Mystic has been pushed back... maybe what we're seeing here is the potential previews of what could be April's book of the Five Nations Adventure's Guide?

On the one hand, it seems kind of early to produce a Eberron sourcebook with little to no playtest push on things like the Eberron races and such... but on the other, I've been getting the feeling that they don't intend on producing a single "alternate campaign settings book" with the mechanics for each of them all bundled together... but rather that they're going to dole them out one at a time. And if the spring book isn't going to be a Manual of the Planes type of tome because they're saving that for one of the Autumn books... maybe they decided to use their spring book to do the settings instead? No idea what's true or likely... I'm just trying to divine possibilities from the rumors we've been hearing.

And if we have a new druid subclass that has an Eberron influence, final work being done on the Artificer, and alternate features for the Champion and the Wild Mage to go along with the Beastmaster... they might have enough stuff to actually have some player content to go into an Eberron setting guide. We'll know better come February should they give us a UA with new shifter / warforged / changeling race write-ups. ;)
 
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Shayuri

First Post
I've long wanted a 'magic tech' class or subclass in the game.

This isn't it. It's one of the worst things I've seen in UA. I FEEL like it's the worst, because it hits something I'm personally invested in, but objectively I do think there's been worse things.

But damn. What a whiff.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I love the Circle of Spores druid. I'm a Magic player with a thing for black/green decks, so the spore druid pushes all my buttons. Now if I can convince my group to allow UA material...

The Brute is clearly an effort to fix the issues people have noted with the Champion. They might want to tweak it so that you don't get a big advantage from dual wielding (maybe you don't get the bonus damage on off-hand attacks?). Other than that, it seems fine. Not my cup of tea, but there's nothing wrong with that.

The Inventor... haaah. I quite like the mechanics; but they're not Inventor mechanics! They're chaos mage mechanics. This subclass ought to be the wizard answer to the wild magic sorcerer. Or, hell, just make it a sorcerer subclass, the "fixed wild mage." The whole thing feels much more sorcerer than wizard, anyway.
 
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Raunalyn

Adventurer
But rather than coming right out with a UA and saying "Hey, here's some alternate features for the Champion, whatcha think?"... and then getting whole heaps of people screaming at them "Why are you working on these?!? The Champion is FINE!" Or "I don't want a Champion, I want PSIONICS!"... they create these subclasses with the barest hint of fluff just so we'd spend time actually debating the mechanics, rather than whether the mechanics were necessary to "help" the subclasses the mechanics were meant for.

Under that light... I think its easier to see what these game mechanics could be used for. The Brute's are possible alternate feature for the Champion... the Inventor's are alternate features for the Wild Mage *and* new mechanics for the Artificer... and the Circle of Spores could actually be its own real subclass since it has the most cohesive theme behind it. And hell, if I didn't know any better... the Circle of Spores has at its essence the theme of death and decay, which is the primary theme of the Children of Winter druidic sect in Eberron. There's been talk that perhaps the Artificer has been moved up while the Mystic has been pushed back... maybe what we're seeing here is the potential previews of what could be April's book of the Five Nations Adventure's Guide?

Now that you've mentioned it, I think this might be a good solution. I like the idea of having one or two cohesively themed options for subclasses; at a level where your subclass receives a feature, you can choose either to choose the Brute's extra damage or the Champion's improved critical (just to use them as examples). This allows for more interesting customization for your classes.

I am also curious if WoTC is thinking this as well.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
The Brute is clearly an effort to fix the issues people have noted with the Champion. They might want to tweak it so that you don't get a big advantage from dual wielding (maybe you don't get the bonus damage on off-hand attacks?). Other than that, it seems fine. Not my cup of tea, but there's nothing wrong with that.
I think dual-wielders should get a bone somewhere. :)
 

Dausuul

Legend
I think dual-wielders should get a bone somewhere. :)

Dual-wielders dominate at levels 1-4 and are competitive (barring GWM/Polearm Mastery shenanigans) from 5-10, where most play takes place. It's only from level 11 onwards that they start to struggle. Perhaps the 10th-level option could include an alternative: Instead of choosing another fighting style, you can apply your Brute Force damage to off-hand attacks.
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Has anybody done a numerical analysis of Champion vs. Brute?
Unless you mix Champion 3 with something like Booming Blade or sneak attack or something else to add bonus dice, Brute wins and it's not close. Champion would add 2d6 (assuming greatsword) to 5% of all attacks, which is about 0.35 extra damage per attack., and less if you switch to other weapons. Brute adds 2.63 average damage per attack, and scales more quickly.
 


Irda Ranger

First Post
I'm looking at these sub-classes from a number of angles.

Circle of Spores
Overall Rating: 4/5

Thematic: Fantastic. The standard Druids we have seen so far are "animal kingdom" druids. Let's have a fungus druid. It's great. Lots of themes to work with.

Rules: Some great ideas.

Circle Spells
Extra prepared spells are always nice. Good mix too. It's weird to me they get Chill Touch instead of Poison Spray though. I understand not wanting to be overly reliant on poison damage, but Poison Spray is really too perfect for the theme, whereas Chill Touch seems off.

Halo of Spores
This seems a bit wonky to just get some extra damage per turn.

Symbiotic Entity
I love that this turns Wildshape into a more generic resource, like Channel Divinity is for clerics. If they were rewriting the PHB they should change "Wildshape" to "Channel Nature".

Fungal Infection
1 HP seems weak, but it's a "free" ally. The main problem I see is the need to kill the enemy with your Halo of Spores. What are the odds you'll ever get the killing blow with those 6 HP of damage? It doesn't seem like you'd actually get to use this often unless you have a bound prisoner to HoS until they're dead (which is dark). If the designers intend to ever see this get used it should be someone you'd damaged with HoS within the last minute.

Spreading Spore & Fungal Body
Both nice.

Brute
Overall Rating: 3/5

Thematic: Meh. None of the abilities really matches the name of the flavor text at the beginning (they apply to Finesse and Ranged as much as Str). It's even more than one-dimensional than Champion.

Meta-Design: If this is supposed to be Champion 2.0, I'd much rather they were honest about that. Just say you're fixing the Champion. Don't make new players choose between two similar sub-classes, especially if one of them is really better than the other (which a new player won't be able to judge for themselves, to it's essentially a gotcha). The whole design ethos of 5E was supposed to be "Clearly distinguished sub-classes, no bad choices". Brute breaks that. (I have the same complaint about Hexblade; just fix the Blade Pact)

Rules: They're fine. You want a survivable fighter that does boatloads of damage? Check.

School of Invention
Overall Rating: 2/5

Thematic: What is going on here? They invent stuff? Doesn't every wizard invent stuff? Aren't all wizards high-INT mad scientists? The abilities don't really match the idea of "Invention" either. See below.

Rules: Mixed bag here.

Tools of the Inventor
I feel like this one could really define the class if the player leverages all the extra rules for crafting in XGE. Or it's nothing, if they don't.

Arcamechanical Armor
This feature plus Tools of the Inventor come together to tell me "This sub-class should be called the Artificer and we should rename the Artificer something more accurate, like Bomb-Thrower". Thematically, TotI and AA give you an Iron Man vibe.

But if you're going for an Iron Man vibe, the armor needs to be better. Especially since it takes one of your attunement slots. It's worse than Mage Armor, never improves, and reduces the number of magic items you can attune to by one. What?? The theme is cool but the execution is hot garbage.

Reckless Casting
WTF?? How desperate would you have to be to ever use this? You have zero guarantee the spell you'll get will be useful, and it might be harmful. What if you're surrounded by allies and get Thunderwave? A reasonable selection of spells prepared would never leave you with worse choices than rolling randomly. This is the dumbest idea ever.

Also, thematically, how is this Invention? This is basically Wild Magic but even more dangerous to the caster and allies.

Alchemical Casting
This should be a Metamagic Ability. Buring a spell slot to change damage type seems really dumb, especially when wizards can swap out spells daily. A reasonably prepared wizard will never have only one damage type of spells prepared.

Prodigious Inspiration
Nice ability. Makes both Alchemical Casting and Reckless Casting even more pointless, as you're that much less likely to ever be witout the spell type you need.

Controlled Chaos
Not "Invention". And if you get a bad result you end up doing even more damage to yourself or your allies. Puke.
 

Dausuul

Legend
1 HP seems weak, but it's a "free" ally. The main problem I see is the need to kill the enemy with your Halo of Spores. What are the odds you'll ever get the killing blow with those 6 HP of damage? It doesn't seem like you'd actually get to use this often unless you have a bound prisoner to HoS until they're dead (which is dark). If the designers intend to ever see this get used it should be someone you'd damaged with HoS within the last minute.
Keep in mind that Symbiotic Entity doubles your Halo of Spores damage output. Killing something with 6 points of damage is unreliable at best, but 12 points is a lot more likely.

And if you're fighting a crowd of weak foes with 12 hp or less, it will get really out of hand, because Halo of Spores has no miss chance and no saving throw, and neither Halo of Spores nor Fungal Infestation has any usage limit. Every round, you'll make a free zombie. The zombies have Undead Fortitude, too, so that 1 hit point is not as fragile as it seems.
 

Irda Ranger

First Post
Keep in mind that Symbiotic Entity doubles your Halo of Spores damage output. Killing something with 6 points of damage is unreliable at best, but 12 points is a lot more likely.

And if you're fighting a crowd of weak foes with 12 hp or less, it will get really out of hand, because Halo of Spores has no miss chance and no saving throw, and neither Halo of Spores nor Fungal Infestation has any usage limit. Every round, you'll make a free zombie.
I guess. You're still limited to 10' range on the HoS though, so if you're zombies start killing people (which is the point, right?) you don't get those as allies.

Anyway, free ally. I'm not against the idea. I like it! I guess I'd have to actually run a playtest for a while before deciding how useful it is.

The zombies have Undead Fortitude, too, so that 1 hit point is not as fragile as it seems.
Oh, for sure. I understood that part.
 

flametitan

Explorer
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.

I can see it working for An artificer, as a table of "unintended side effects." Say you're making a balm to coat on your fighter's sword for additional fire damage. It does that, but what if it also seems to feel soothing to the touch, to the point that you're certain it has the effects of calm emotions as well?
 

Dausuul

Legend
For the invention thing, I think a better approach would be to allow you to roll twice at the end of each long rest, and the spells you roll are added to your prepared spells until your next long rest. That seems more interesting, and also more inventor-like, than casting a random combat spell.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
School of Invention is half of the old Lore Mastery wizard subclass. Alchemical Casting has bene toned tone a touch, but Prodigious X is the same. This other parts are new. i like the casting - seem like someone who wants wild magic without quite so much chaos and a bit more ooph. The arcanamechanical armor on the other hand is not a feature. Sure, it replaces casting mage armor for "only" the cost of 1 AC and one of only attunement slots, forces it to be non-magical armor it will never improve, and requires you wear it for another class feature to work. It's weakening the class.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
The more I think about it, the more I think a modified version of reckless casting would have been a better defining trait for sorcerers than metamagic: my idea is that sorcerers still get the same spells and slots, but if they run out of spell slots or don't want to use a slot, X number of times per long rest (where X increases as the levels of sorcerer go up), they take their chances and reach out into the Weave for a spell (out of the reckless list or maybe a list for each subclass). It becomes a hail mary play, but the sorcerers would cast noncantrips more than other classes, and the issue of # of spells known would diminish. In terms of power, the loss of control would largely even out the extra power from more casting.
 

There are classes (warlock) and subclasses (berserker barbarian, college of whispers bard, etc.) that seem to exist as much for DM's as for players. The brute (which I think maybe ought to be renamed the slayer) fighter and the spore druid seem to fit those bills, although the druid's bit about wildshape not being used for wildshape is pretty innovative (kind of like a paladin being "spell less" by pumping all the spell slots into divine smite, a "wild shape less" druid could pump all the wildshapes into something else; how long before the "rageless" barbarian appears?). I would have preferred a subclass feature that allowed the spore druid to get access to plant shapes for wild shape, but this is certainly more daring.

I have mixed feelings on the invention wizard. Some people on the threads have described wizards as fearless pioneers pushing magical boundaries, but mechanically, nothing could be further from the truth: wizards are basically magical auditors who spend their time stealing magic that they know will work from other wizards. So it would be nice if there was a subclass that did that. On the other hand, reaching out into the Weave and casting some random spell seems pretty sorcerer to me.

It's almost like there's a subclass for the sorcerer that is precisely designed to be just that: chaotic and random...or a base sorcerer mechanic in place that let's them tweak and adjust their spells using a daily replenishing resource...but that would be crazy right? God forbid the wizard not be able to out sorcerer a sorcerer.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The Brute extra damage seems to be half the damage of the battlemaster... is that intentional? Because it's pretty damn good...
 

gyor

Legend
Circle of Spores is cool and I like it.

Brute is well designed mechanically, but thematically isn't inspiring.

School of the Inventor, interesting idea, do not like that actual features. It seems like it doesn't know what it wants to be, the Lore Wizard, the Artificer Wizard, or a Wild Magic Sorceror, it's mechanics are all over the place.
 

gyor

Legend
It's almost like there's a subclass for the sorcerer that is precisely designed to be just that: chaotic and random...or a base sorcerer mechanic in place that let's them tweak and adjust their spells using a daily replenishing resource...but that would be crazy right? God forbid the wizard not be able to out sorcerer a sorcerer.

I'm fine with a Wizard subclass that can dip into what Sorcerors do, it wouldn't be the first subclass to barrow something from another class, Divine Souls borrow Cleric Spell list, Eldrich Knights and Arcane Tricksters barrow spells from wizards, Bladedancers borrow fighting ability from fighters, the College of Blades borrows access to fighting styles, and so on.

I just don't like the execution of the idea here, changing damage type is something that should have been a straight up metamagic sorcerors can get, it's better then empower damage, but the Wizard gets it instead. I'm fine with the 2D10 bonus damage one.

Still the whole subclass feels slap dashed together from various themes and parts from other Wizards.

If they want this style of Wizard, just have a subclass that grants a few sorcery points and 2 metamagic, but can't be used to make more spell slots. Done, it's better then giving the Wizard a form of metamagic that is BETTER then regular metamagic. They could then just make changing one damage type into another a Sorceror metamagic, and the wizard subclass would still benefit.
 

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