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Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Mages of Strixhaven

An Unearthed Arcana playtest document for the upcoming Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos hardcover has been released by WotC!

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"Become a student of magic in this installment of Unearthed Arcana! This playtest document presents five subclasses for Dungeons & Dragons. Each of these subclasses allows you to play a mage associated with one of the five colleges of Strixhaven, a university of magic. These subclasses are special, with each one being available to more than one class."


It's 9 pages, and contains five subclasses, one for each the Strixhaven colleges:
  • Lorehold College, dedicated to the pursuit of history by conversing with ancient spirits and understanding the whims of time itself
  • Prismari College, dedicated to the visual and performing arts and bolstered with the power of the elements
  • Quandrix College, dedicated to the study and manipulation of nature’s core mathematic principles
  • Silverquill College, dedicated to the magic of words, whether encouraging speeches that uplift allies or piercing wit that derides foes
  • Witherbloom College, dedicated to the alchemy of life and death and harnessing the devastating energies of both
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Sure. But then the PCs kill the dragon. They win in the end. If it's not a win then it isn't the end. Winning has a cost. in this case the cost was the destruction of the village.

Sometimes Thanos snaps his fingers. In which case the heroes win in the sequel.

Game of Thrones is the prime example of "how do you bring a narrative to a satisfactory conclusion without the protagonists winning?" The answer is, you can't. Either the heroes win or the conclusion is unsatisfactory, or in the case of GoT, both.
That is a very Hays Code informed view of fiction.

A tragedy is just a comedy told from the point of view of the villain. In Macbeth the good guys win in the end.
That is not how Shakespearean tragedy works...

Hamlet? Hamlet is ostensibly the "good guy" when compared to Claudius, but only just; and all of his struggles throughout the story, and ultimately his own doom, are of his own making by refusing to commit to killing Claudius until the very last moment. And Ophelia, perhaps the only innocent person in the play, kills herself sfter hearing of her father'a death.

What about King Lear? Complex web of political machinations that collapses in a domino effect due to Lear's own incompetence with regards to his two elder daughters. And the play ends with only Edgar and Albany still alive; are they the "good guys" by mere virtue of survival then?

Othello? Iago succeeds in ruining Othello's life through his manipulations, albeit at great cost to himself.
 

I mean, I don't know if I can, if you think Kinetic Artistry wouldn't be useful lol! Because good grief, it most certainly would, especially the lightning one. I mean Dash as a bonus action alone is pretty great.
It's great if you are a melee fighter, but this is for casters. I find they don't often move about that much. "Do you want to move?" "Nah, I'm okay here". The lightning version is okay, but the fire one is garbage if you are not a melee character.
I literally can't understand how you don't see that stuff as useful if you actually play D&D 5E. The same for Functions of Probability, which is literally a free d6 bonus/penalty (the bonus to be applied after a roll, too!) whenever you cast a damn slot spell lol. How is that "of little value in actual play"? I mean what?!?!?!? That's just confusing.
It's such a faff I doubt my players would remember to use it. It's a prime example of something that looks good on paper but is unfun in practice.
 
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Parmandur

Legend
It's great if you are a melee fighter, but this is for casters. I find they don't often move about that much. "Do you want to move?" "Nah, I'm okay here". The lightning version is okay, but the fire one is garbage if you are not a melee character.

It's such a faff I doubt my players would remember to use it.
The point is to give the character a reason to move, nay, dance around the field of battle.
 




Depends on the build, and the point of this is to encourage just such a build.
Then it needs to come with some way to increase the character's hp and/or AC, or they will just get splatted. It's not as if bards can take this subclass. Look at me! I have an AC of 15 and d6 hit dice! But you can't hit me because I can bonus action dash!
 

Parmandur

Legend
Then it needs to come with some way to increase the character's hp and/or AC, or they will just get splatted. It's not as if bards can take this subclass. Look at me! I have an AC of 15 and d6 hit dice! But you can't hit me because I can bonus action dash!
Sorcerers and Wizards already have solutions for those concerns, if built for it.
 


It's great if you are a melee fighter, but this is for casters. I find they don't often move about that much. "Do you want to move?" "Nah, I'm okay here". The lightning version is okay, but the fire one is garbage if you are not a melee character.

It's such a faff I doubt my players would remember to use it. It's a prime example of something that looks good on paper but is unfun in practice.
Casters don't move because it isn't safe to do so. Even though it would frequently be helpful. The lightning one makes it safe to do so. I mean dude, it allows you to effectively Disengage as a bonus action and move up to 60ft straight through the people trying to melee you, and through any PCs in the way without losing movement to squeezing. I don't know how much better you would want an ability to be.

The Fire one is at a dead minimum, free AOE bonus damage, to the tune of 1d4+mod, for a bonus action, PB times/day. That is not rubbish. Sorry, it isn't. Yeah not every caster wants to be in melee, but my last Druid had AC17 at level 1. He rarely had a use for his bonus action - not only would this got him into position faster, but it's extra damage.

The water one lets you potentially prone a BUNCH of people by moving around them - you don't even have to provoke OAs, if you do it right. Even if you do move away, if they were prone'd, the OA is at Disadvantage.

EDIT - Also, you understand that you get ALL THREE, right? You're not picking one permanently. You choose every time you use the bonus action. So you use the one appropriate for your situation.

As for "Oh no-one will care about a 1d6 bonus to save or attack!", I mean good god dude. You must have some very different players to any I've ever played with. Will people sometimes forget? Yeah but not often - people sometimes forget Bless or Inspiration, doesn't make them not awesome. I've played Bards and people with Bless a ton, and the amount of positive feedback I get from Inspiration and Bless is huge, so like, trying to tell me it's "unfun" design, just strikes me as incredibly false.
Dancing around in the middle of a battle is fine if you are a fighter or a rogue, but if you are a caster you want to stand at the back.
I feel like you saying this is telling me you haven't played/run 5E all that much. Because it's just not true, and it's not like enemies are never getting to casters, unless you have just a whole bunch of Fighters with very specific Feat choices. The ability to bonus action Disengage alone is huge. All the other stuff? That's gravy.

EDIT - I'm re-rereading through this because I was unsure if I'd missed weak stuff but I'm just seeing more eyebrow-raising powerful stuff for the most part. These are strong subclasses. Not perfect but like, strong and solid. Like the super-familiar the first guys get - the healer one for example can give out INFINITE 1d8+PB temporary HP blasts. Every time between combats, that lil guy can make sure every PC had 1d8+PB THP. Depending on the length of the adventuring day, that may compete with the Twilight Cleric and Artillerist in terms of OP subclass abilities. Again too it's flexible - you can change which companion you're using.

As an aside there are a ton of things here which work in a slightly novel way and I can basically hear the DNDBeyond staff screaming in terror from here as they try to implement them...
 
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ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
You don't, but you also can't pretend that at least the Fiend patron is directly using that story in the lore. They just dont back it up.
Well, the bad ending for the warlock need not even occur in the main story arc, either, right?

I think the removal of ability lockouts for paladins means the same treatment for warlocks was the right call.

Being locked out of class features would be even worse for the warlock than the paladin!
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
I've had a couple convention dms get annoyed when a warlock used a cantrip (guidance) or at-will spell (false life) a lot, saying that the patron would get annoyed at the constant requests for power, and thus denying the use of the cantrip or at-will ability.
And this is why a mechanic for a warlock losing patron gifts doesn’t exist, because too many DMs would pull stupid crap like that.

The patron is fluff, for crying out loud.
 

Remathilis

Legend
That is a very Hays Code informed view of fiction.


That is not how Shakespearean tragedy works...

Hamlet? Hamlet is ostensibly the "good guy" when compared to Claudius, but only just; and all of his struggles throughout the story, and ultimately his own doom, are of his own making by refusing to commit to killing Claudius until the very last moment. And Ophelia, perhaps the only innocent person in the play, kills herself sfter hearing of her father'a death.

What about King Lear? Complex web of political machinations that collapses in a domino effect due to Lear's own incompetence with regards to his two elder daughters. And the play ends with only Edgar and Albany still alive; are they the "good guys" by mere virtue of survival then?

Othello? Iago succeeds in ruining Othello's life through his manipulations, albeit at great cost to himself.
Classical tragedy still required catharsis; even if the good guys do not win, the bad guy still loses. Claudius still dies. Iago is arrested. Oedipus blinds himself for hubris. We are given an ending were the bad guy still receive Divine Justice. To quote General Hux, "I don't care if you win. I need Kylo Ren to lose."

What is being argued here is that in D&D, you can create a scenario where Kylo Ren DOES win. The heroes are crushed, the villain triumphs, and nobody can now oppose them and their plans. Sauron has the One Ring. The Death Star blows up Yavin. Loki becomes King of Earth. Game over man, villain wins.

THAT is arguably bad narrative form. Outside of some very nihilist science-fiction or horror, it's very rare and usually not very popular. It's very non-controversial to say D&D is closer to the Lord of the Rings (victory, sometimes at great price) model than the Manos, the Hands of Fate model (where all that oppose the Master are crushed and the trap resets for the next group of victims).
 



To be fair, your probably going to need spoilers to make sense of what is going on in that movie anyway.
ROFL yeah that does sound likely.

Just thinking about the scenario I was remembering that in the great d20 boom of the early 2000s there was a setting which was basically "badguys won", that being Midnight, which was actually extremely successful, to the point where not only did they sell books for a long time, but FFG made a board game of it, and even a movie intended as a TV pilot for it.

I'm actually kind of surprised it hasn't been brought back for 5E, it seems like the sort of thing which would sell. I suspect it's just down to FFG being a bit weird about RPGs these days. Still, FFG are selling Dawnforge (Yawn-forge more like, am I right?) which is literally and explicitly less successful than Midnight.
 

Remathilis

Legend
ROFL yeah that does sound likely.

Just thinking about the scenario I was remembering that in the great d20 boom of the early 2000s there was a setting which was basically "badguys won", that being Midnight, which was actually extremely successful, to the point where not only did they sell books for a long time, but FFG made a board game of it, and even a movie intended as a TV pilot for it.

I'm actually kind of surprised it hasn't been brought back for 5E, it seems like the sort of thing which would sell. I suspect it's just down to FFG being a bit weird about RPGs these days. Still, FFG are selling Dawnforge (Yawn-forge more like, am I right?) which is literally and explicitly less successful than Midnight.
Midnight was kinda an odd scenario as I view it like Ravenloft; it's a setting of small victories and slowing the tide. You won't necessarily win the war, but every battle helps win another day of respite. I kinda view most zombie apocalypse stories in the same vein. Again, it's about the perseverance against odds that make the story great. YMMV of course.
 

ehren37

Adventurer
A good chunk of D&D games end in the PCs losing.
Citation needed (on the good chunk part). I mean, the DM can just kill the players any time they want. This isn't an asymmetrical board game where the DM is expected to "win" often.

The skill for DM'ing is not doing that, and keeping up the illusion so players don't feel compelled to think too hard about what's going on behind the curtains.
 
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Casters don't move because it isn't safe to do so. Even though it would frequently be helpful. The lightning one makes it safe to do so.
Yes it does. That one is useful, the others are garbage. It's like the monk's stun, it's so much better that the others might as well not exist.
I feel like you saying this is telling me you haven't played/run 5E all that much.
I don't really play at all, I'm suck being the DM. I merely report how my players act.
 

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