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D&D 5E Two New D&D Books Revealed: Feywild & Strixhaven Mage School

Amazon has revealed the next two D&D hardcovers! The Wild Beyond the Witchlight is a feywild adventure due in September, and Curriculum of Chaos is a Magic: the Gathering setting of Strixhaven, which looks like a Harry Potter-esque mage school, set for November.


The Wild Beyond the Witchlight is D&D's next big adventure storyline that brings the wicked whimsy of the Feywild to fifth edition for the first time.

The recent Unearthed Arcana, Folk of the Feywild, contained the fairy, hobgoblin of the Feywild, owlfolk, and rabbitfolk. UA is usually a good preview of what's in upcoming D&D books.

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Curriculum of Chaos is an upcoming D&D release set in the Magic: The Gathering world of Strixhaven -- a brand new MtG set only just launched.

Strixhaven is a school of mages on the plane of Arcavios, an elite university with five rival colleges founded by dragons: Silverquill (eloquence), Prismari (elemental arts), Witherbloom (life and death), Lorehold (archaeomancy), and Quandrix (numeromancy). You can read more about the M:tG set here.

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You will be able to tune into WotC's streamed event D&D Live on July 16 and 17 for details on both, including new character options, monsters, mechanics, story hooks, and more!


 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Parmandur

Legend
And they massively messed it up! The Lorehold subclass requires one to be a Warlock, Wizard, or Bard, but in D&D terms most of Loreholds casters are Divine Casters (Shamans and Clerics), there isn't a single Lorehold Warlock in the set. Even if you use Bard as a stand in for Shamans, Warlock should be traded for Clerics. Maybe add Artificers too.

Prismari has Sorcerers, Druids, and Wizards. Prismari set had zero Druids in it. Trade Druid for Bard, it's the College dedicated to proformance.

Quandrix does have Druids in the set, but the prerequisites for the Subclass is SORCERER and Wizard. The eco mathematician school is full of Sorcerers, but not Druids. Switch Sorcerers for Druids.

Silverquill's prerequisites make sense, except it needs to add Clerics to the list.

Witherbloom requiring Druids and Warlocks is the only one they really got right.

Instead of subclasses these should be faction based like Ravnica's Guillds. Cool idea, flawed execution.
It's a translation of the themes of the cards, not the names.
 

I'm going to heavily paraphrase Professor John T. Koch's Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia here, as that's a very complicated question. Just a note that he's got 14 pages devoted to the subject in his first volume of the encyclopedia, so this is an overview of an overview.

Bard is a complicated term, like Druid of course. One might distinguish between the the medieval insular Celtic usage of the term to mean a poet versus the functions of the Bard in Celtic societies of Antiquity (let alone what their function may have been, if any , during the rise of Celtic culture in Bronze Age Atlantic Europe and/or Halstatt Central Europe).

The classical antiquity accounts of Gaul spoke of the Bards as professional praise poets who severed the Chieftains directly. Posidonius in 1st Century BCE had first hand experience in southern Gaul and his unfortunately lost History is quoted directly numerously in extant texts. Athenaeus quotes or paraphrases Posidonius as describing them this way:



Diodorus Siculus quotes Posidonius as grouping Bardtogether with Druids and 'seers' (from whence we get the name of the modern Neo-Druid organization OBOD - the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids; vātēs or Ovates is a Latin approximation of the Gaulish word for seer *owātis, akin to Old Norse o∂r "poetry", Old English woth "song", and from which descends Irish fáith "prophet" and Welsh Gwawd "satire" - but which used to mean "inspired verse, song, song of praise."



*presumably this is a reference to what we now call the Celtic Harp.

And Strabo speaks also to the seer/Bard/Druid connection, though he speaks in trichotomy as well, directly using the term vātēs:



In that sense, to Strabo, a D&D Druid would be a Vātē and a Druid would be a D&D Nature Cleric.

Note that etymologically speaking the Vātēs and the Bards are one the same, and from classical accounts there is much overlap between the seer and the Druid - there are may other accounts of receiving prophecies from Druids. This may indicate that Bards and Druids were separate but related roles within a Brahmin-like priestly class, despite the dominance of the warrior class over the political theatre. Julius Caesar speaks quite a bit about the Druids but mentions not the Bards or Vātēs. This could be a suggestion that he conflated the three, but he certainly had an independent account from Posidonius.

The Bardic function of praising the patron and the relationship between Bard and patron survived through medieval into early modern times in Ireland, Wales, and the Scottish Highlands.

The Proto-Celtic term is reconstructed as Bardos; this seems derived from PIE root *gwer(a) meaning "to raise the voice, to praise, to extol, to welcome." This same root gave rise to Sanskrit jaritár "singer, praiser", Avestan aibijaretay "laudator", and Latin grātēs "thanks".

So from this early Celtic context of praise poetry in service of a patron warchief, we have semi-separate medieval evolution of the Bard in the Gaelic and Brythonic traditions. In medieval Wales (which covered everywhere northwest of a diagonal line from Gloucester to the Humber and south of the Firth of Forth), you had the Gogynfeirdd in the 12th and 13th Centuries CE that produced nearly 13k lines of extant poetry, most of which eulogizes princes, noblemen, and less often, the daughters of said nobles.

Cynddelw tells Rhys ap Gruffudd that 'without me, no speech would be yours' - that is, it' is the verse of the Bardd that creates history and a lasting legacy for the warrior, otherwise he is forgotten. The ability to craft a narrative around the deeds of a great hero or a great villain speaks to the fundamental function of the Bardd in medieval Cymric society.

St. Gildas ap Caw, the famous monk who wrote of Arthur's 12 battles with the Saxons and Picts (and whose Goddodin/Votadini/Pictish father is traditionally seen as an enemy of Arthur), spoke that the wicked Prince Maegwn Gwynedd preferred to listen to the 'empty praises of himself from mouths stuffed with lies and foaming phlegm' than to the praises of God, clearly casting the Bards praise of the petty rulers in contrast to the monastic orders' songs to their deity. Remember, however, that most Celtic deities are conflated with human warleaders, druids, and their allies; whether they were humans first elevated to the role of deities on virtue of sheer prominence of their deeds in the bardic cycles or whether they were gods worshiped by the druids diminished by Christianity into pagan heroes or Christian knights of the round table etc, or whether they were bit of both, the Bardic tradition is essentially perfunctory to the role of the divinity. The Heroes and the Gods do not have a clear distinction. A hero who is heroic enough may be worshiped as a god, much as Heracles was in Greece and Rome. It is the Bards who create that narrative of heroism. But this account also shows the growing rift between respect for the Bards and disdain for the Bard, something we see with spoonyisms to this day in D&D.

After the fall of the last native Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in 1282, the cymric poets continued to compose eulogies and elegies for the honour of the gentry, but despite a continuity of theme and form, their vital importance to the social fabric faded given the fading of their patron's power.

Then there's not much of a satirical tradition recorded in medieval Wales, though this may be due to the art of praising having a purpose for the history books while the art of the insult… not so much. There is also the idea that arose in the late medieval period that the maligning and discrediting and satirizing poetics is a lesser form of entertainment and not the true poet. This stands in contrast to the power of the bard in early medieval poetry to discredit the patron who slights the Bardd, suggesting that the nobility eventually took that power away from the Bards. Finally, by the late medieval period you have arising a formalized Bardic Order, or guild of poets, standing in contrast to the household Bards devoted to a single patron.

Perhaps chief of the terms one might want to understand with with the Welsh Bardd is the Welsh term "awen" - the spirit of prophecy and spark of inspiration that the Bard Taliesin acquired from sipping form the cauldron of the witch/druidess Cerridwen, leading him to be the most celebrated of Bards and counselors to Kings like Arthur.

In medieval Ireland, on the other hand, you have a distinction between the high poet file and the inferior poet bard. But the bardic functions of eulogy, elegy, praise poetry, and most importantly satire lasted longer in Ireland and served incredibly important functions. It seems that the filid got their education in the Christian monasteries and are a development of the later Christianized poetic traditions that diminished the earlier bardic ones. Much of what we know of the Irish cycles of mythology and heroes and invasions come from bardic oral traditions that eventually were written down by Christian scribes. And a true Bardic Order professional guild had emerged as early as the 8th Century CE. The education of the bard would be that of apprenticeship, usually patrilinial, until the 14th Century when schools of poetry were established.

We could also speak to the Bard baile of Highland Scots, the village poet working within a defined locale and compoising in a generally traditional form to relate specifically to that community. This would mostly be performed in a local public house dedicated to music, dancing, the telling of tales, and the trading of information. This type of Bard's function were entertainment and social commentary, but also as an intermediary between the village and the changing world around them.

Finally, we can speak to the Romantic Celtic revival interest in Bards, which leads us directly to the D&D Bard. The function emphasised in these modern periods is the casting of a spotlight on others, and in the Romantic period to present day, the Bard often has become the protagonist of the story int eh sense of being the character whose lens we see the tale through. Unlike the hero, who may live or die per the needs of the story, the Bard must survive to tell the tale to the audience, but who may grow old and ached with much loss. The bard is a bearer of the nostalgia in their elegies to the lost heroic age.

The prominence of Oisín in the understanding of the Bard in Romantic stories is not without note; in the story of Oisín in Tír naNog, the famous bard-son of Fionn macCumhail falls in love with a fairy princess, travels to the Otherworld, but out of desire to see his home and family again returns back, only to find that centuries have passed. The moment he steps off his magical horse, he ages into a decrepid old man, the actual centuries catching up to him, though he had only experienced it as a few months. He passes the tales of the Fenian Cycle onto St. Patrick, and dies, in hopes that the world will remember his father and their companions deeds. This tale predates the Romantic period, but James MacPhersons Scots Ossian cycle was composed in the Romantic period and became one of the defining influences on Celtic revivalism. The rise of the Merlin figure from the Myrddin Wyllt (aka Lailokan), Myrddin Emrys, and Taliesin stories fulfills a similar role in the Romantic stories; so much so that that by TH White's The Once and Future King, Merlin is living his life backwards, a world seeped in loss.

The ancient bard becomes a figure of knowledge and wisodm, a visionary or occult being. He is a solitary being with a burden of sorrow, distracted from the present struggles of the world by the loss of his family and firends in the centuries that have passed. This reverential treatment created a cognitive dissonance with the earlier pragmatic view of the bard as the whip of the Celtic insurgents, pirates, and raiders. And then we have the Celtic romantic forge artists, like MacPhearsons but also like Iolo Morgannwg's forged Welsh triads and tales, and you have a sort of fall from grace of the literary Bard.

And thus we have the most enduring legacy of the Bard - a tale of contrasts between the praise and demonisation, between elegance and reverence and spoonyism and spoofery. Of conservatism and loyalty to an old order, and the progressivism and irreverentism that the Bard's chaotic satire brings. And all the while, the 'druidic' traits of the Bard have proved remarkably resilient, the Bard as seer. This is the role of the Fool card in Tarot: the fool IS the only one who can speak truth to the monarch. It is the journey of the fool to become the sage. The Bard develops into the Druid with age. That is the modern archetype of the Bard, and it continues to this day in popular media.
okay the bard has a place in modern d&d clearly but what we have is so different, also where would it even be as a class?
This makes me think that subclass structure should have been built to be able to trade around between classes from the beginning - like Heroic Themes, Paragon Paths, and Epic Destinies in 4e.

Obviously many if not most subclasses should be specific to a class, but this opens up a world of options within that layer. Why couldn't a Purple Dragon Knight be both Fighter and Paladin? Why can't Eldritch Knight be both Fighter and Artificer? Arcane Archer be both Fighter and Ranger?
I have been thinking about hacking one mechanic from 5e book into a sort of extra thing you can stack onto your character to open up more abilities but do not take up class levels.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester
And they massively messed it up! The Lorehold subclass requires one to be a Warlock, Wizard, or Bard, but in D&D terms most of Loreholds casters are Divine Casters (Shamans and Clerics), there isn't a single Lorehold Warlock in the set. Even if you use Bard as a stand in for Shamans, Warlock should be traded for Clerics. Maybe add Artificers too.

Prismari has Sorcerers, Druids, and Wizards. Prismari set had zero Druids in it. Trade Druid for Bard, it's the College dedicated to proformance.

Quandrix does have Druids in the set, but the prerequisites for the Subclass is SORCERER and Wizard. The eco mathematician school is full of Sorcerers, but not Druids. Switch Sorcerers for Druids.

Silverquill's prerequisites make sense, except it needs to add Clerics to the list.

Witherbloom requiring Druids and Warlocks is the only one they really got right.

Instead of subclasses these should be faction based like Ravnica's Guillds. Cool idea, flawed execution.
Then give that feedback in the UA survey.

I'd argue that D&D Warlock ≠ MtG Warlock. In fact, I've often seen the Warlock with a hypothetical "The Primal Spirits" patron as the best answer to the 4e Shaman class (as we've been discussing, Bard is a great option too). The Celestial patron is a great example of a Warlock that is very much divine.

I agree that Prismari should have Bards and Quandrix should have Druids and I am making said comment. I also think Witherbloom could have Sorcerers to round out the section.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
okay the bard has a place in modern d&d clearly but what we have is so different, also where would it even be as a class?

I have been thinking about hacking one mechanic from 5e book into a sort of extra thing you can stack onto your character to open up more abilities but do not take up class levels.
I feel like the D&D class we have in 5e is the natural evolution of everything I wrote out above. I see it as one of the few classes WotC hit the nail on the head with in 5e.
 

Bard, but in D&D terms most of Loreholds casters are Divine Casters (Shamans and Clerics),
Well, the Bard is, in a way, the stand in for the Shaman. The idea uses 5E's concept/encouraging of refluffing the details. Since Bards in 4E(I know I know but hear me out) were Primal in power source, that means they could use/call upon the Primal Spirits. Loreholds' Ancient Companion feature is basically just that: a Primal Spirit in a way. Even the statue that is used made me think of a Totem automatically once I read it.

Meaning that the Bard/Shaman can summon a Primal Totem/Spirit and command its use. And then once its done/runs out of HP, said Spirit returns back to where it was summoned from. Plus the Ancient Companion, once your Bard reaches a PB score of 6, has a Passive Perception score of 24. Which to me, seems like a neat thing cuz I would expect a Primal Spirit to be a better sentry/spotter of things than the dumb Bard PC wasn't able to see cuz they were too busy trying to hook up with the pretty Tavern Girl serving the table.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
Nice! This really does look awesome. It's great that it is so focused on Tier 1 & 2 play, that's frankly super useful.

Actually, during the Next Playtest, that is how Subclasses originally were: you could pick the Class of Fighter, and the Theme of Necromancer if you wanted to. People wanted tighter flavor, however.

The advantage of this new take, is that it opens up the Subclasses so you don't even to design separate options for a concept for each Class, but it can be limited to appropriate Classes, so Necromancer Wizaards & Sorcerers, not Fighters...
This is basically the same approach they took to spells going into 5e from 4e. They spent so much time designing specific powers for each class when it was obvious that Clerics, Paladins, Bards, and Druids all should be able to cast Healing Word. Now they're realising that it doesn't make sense to keep reinventing the wheel for character themes. And that's something they WERE doing in 4e and D&D Next, yes, but moved away from in 5e. I'm glad it's coming back too.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
Well, the Bard is, in a way, the stand in for the Shaman. The idea uses 5E's concept/encouraging of refluffing the details. Since Bards in 4E(I know I know but hear me out) were Primal in power source, that means they could use/call upon the Primal Spirits. Loreholds' Ancient Companion feature is basically just that: a Primal Spirit in a way. Even the statue that is used made me think of a Totem automatically once I read it.

Meaning that the Bard/Shaman can summon a Primal Totem/Spirit and command its use. And then once its done/runs out of HP, said Spirit returns back to where it was summoned from. Plus the Ancient Companion, once your Bard reaches a PB score of 6, has a Passive Perception score of 24. Which to me, seems like a neat thing cuz I would expect a Primal Spirit to be a better sentry/spotter of things than the dumb Bard PC wasn't able to see cuz they were too busy trying to hook up with the pretty Tavern Girl serving the table.
You mean Shamans in 4e were Primal. Bards were Arcane.
 



Faolyn

Hero
Actually, during the Next Playtest, that is how Subclasses originally were: you could pick the Class of Fighter, and the Theme of Necromancer if you wanted to. People wanted tighter flavor, however.
Really? I wasn't playing D&D during the playtest period so I didn't know that. That sounds like it would have been pretty cool.
 




Parmandur

Legend
Really? I wasn't playing D&D during the playtest period so I didn't know that. That sounds like it would have been pretty cool.
No joke: they got very experimental in the playtest, and got to where they ended up after a lot of feedback. I think the problem they had with universally applicable Themes was that they were somewhat watered down, so that every Class could use them. 5E Subclasses ended up much meatier in the end. But, this approach could open up design space pretty well.
 




TwoSix

Unserious gamer
It's a translation of the themes of the cards, not the names.
And it always going to be difficult to do exact mappings from MtG concepts to D&D concepts, especially when the combinations in this set are enemy colors. Like Clerics generally align to White and Warlocks to Black, but the White-Black school (Silverquill) has thematics that scream out for Bard. There's no perfect way to square that circle. Going by thematics instead of trying to map MtG mechanics to D&D ones is exactly the right choice.
 

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