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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!

strixhaven-school-of-mages-mtg-art-1.jpg


"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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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Whoops, you're right. Problem of spell level vs class level nomenclature, sorry, got turned around. You understood my point though - they're too high a level to use. But if he can't cast them until the end of his career, then the subclass is actually UNDERPOWERED for the Paladin, since its granting features that are supposed to kick in twice as fast as he's actually getting them.
Yeah, I don't forsee Subclasses applying to all Classes...that didn't work in the Next playtest fir some good reasons. But making Subclasses that fit bands of Classes..that is interesting.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I didn't consider it at the time, but my friends said that it was, and now in hindsight I know that it was. It wasn't as BIG a shift as 3.0 -> 3.5e; it didn't invalidate my PHB and require me to buy everything over again (I did need to download errata for 2008-2009 books to bring them into continuity with 2010-2012 books, though). I think this is similar. It may open the floodgates and redo subclass design into D&DNext style thematic design for the rest of 5e. I don't think they will issue errata for past subclasses to make them open to various classes; instead, they'll have soft replacements like The Undead was for The Undying patron. They'll probably create multiclass subclasses that step all over the toes of previous subclasses, to my chagrin, like they're doing with Silverquill stepping all over the Order of Scribes and doing what Scribes should have done in the first place (well, I still think Artificer should have access to it, but Strixhaven subclass design doesn't work with non-full casters).

I DO think this points the way to what the design process is looking like internally for 6e. I'm still dubious that that's going to be 2024, though - I don't think there's enough development time to do a full turn over, and I don't think 5e is unpopular enough to do a hard right turn just because it's the 50th anniversary.

We might get a decade or more of design like this before a refresh of the game in 2034 that FINALLY retires the 2014 books and starts over with something more like this for every class archetype in time for the 60th anniversary. And I wouldn't be surprised if we get a Rules Cyclopedia in 2024 that collates rules like sea battles from Ghosts of Saltmarsh, planar effects from Tasha's, lineage feats from Xanathar's, optional class features from Tasha's, custom lineages and supernatural gifts, patrons, etc.
I guess I just cannot agree with defining a new edition or half edition or whatever as anything less than rewriting the existing classes and saying, use one or the other but not both. I never saw a single game that used Essentials but didn't allow the rest of 4e. Essentials was just part of 4e, especially in hindsight, IMO. After essentials came more content of both types, and stuff influenced by the entirety of 4e. To me it's absurd to think of Essentials as being in any way separate from 4e.
 

Hold on let me see: Well there is

(Kaladelsh Plane Shift PDF is the origin source)

I would've put Poisoner down, but it seems like it is ignoring resistance to Poison.

(oh what the sam goody.)

Flesh Rot option

Energy Vulnerability option
Pyromancer is the only one of those four that say anything about immunity being treated as resistance, and it's not official material.

I myself have used "ignore resistance" in conjunction with "immunity is now just resistance" for a homebrew subclass or two, though. I went with the following wording structure for that:

"Any spell or magical effect you create that deals necrotic damage ignores resistance to necrotic damage and treats immunity to necrotic damage as resistance to necrotic damage."
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah, I don't forsee Subclasses applying to all Vlasses...that didn't work in the Next playtest fir some good reasons. But making Subclasses that fit bands of Classes..that is interesting.
Yeah, making subclasses that fit any arcane full caster is one thing. Making a subclass that works for all 13 classes would necessarily be a very limited idea.

They won't rework the subclasses to work like this generally, they'll just add subclasses that work like this.
 


Zaukrie

New Publisher
I love the concept, and don't care about balance, so this works well for me as mechanics that support fluff, which is great. I'm intrigued by this book.
 

DnD Warlord

Adventurer
As I said in the other thread:

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 would love a dualist that was for any class or even an assassin.

the only issue would be giving generic “Use the eldritch knight/arcane trickster chart for spellcasting sub classes of non spell casting classes”
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, making subclasses that fit any arcane full caster is one thing. Making a subclass that works for all 13 classes would necessarily be a very limited idea.

They won't rework the subclasses to work like this generally, they'll just add subclasses that work like this.

It straight won't work.

Classes like ranger and fighter get huge combat bonuses from subclasses whereas rogues and paladin use subclasses more often to lean outside of combat and do tweaks if they stay in.

It'll be unlikely we see a lot of this outside of full casters.
 

I like those.

I think I'd let any class with the spellcasting/pact magic features takes those, in my games.

Sure it removes a lot if the weight behind the classes, but it moves it to the subclasses, making it the important part of the character's theme.

Want to be a Witherbloom paladin? Go ahead, make sense of it in game!
YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!! This is the one true way for this. I am totally gonna put that in the survey. Heck, this maybe my fave house rule in regards to this UA. I see no probs with this and its awesome!
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I guess I just cannot agree with defining a new edition or half edition or whatever as anything less than rewriting the existing classes and saying, use one or the other but not both. I never saw a single game that used Essentials but didn't allow the rest of 4e. Essentials was just part of 4e, especially in hindsight, IMO. After essentials came more content of both types, and stuff influenced by the entirety of 4e. To me it's absurd to think of Essentials as being in any way separate from 4e.
Well, the problem with that definition is that 2E wouldn't be a new Edition, nor any of the interactions of Basic, maybe not even 1E? People showed up with Basic and 1E characters, and DMs used material interchangeably without major issues.
 

AmerginLiath

Adventurer
I'm honestly fairly annoyed by the "Multiple classes can take this subclass" design. Primarily because 5e has been really -big- on the idea of "Creating and maintaining class identity". Druids are naturalist in tune with primal magic. Warlocks traffic with dark powers. Sorcerers have an innate magical spark.

Or they sit in the same school as Wizards and Bards and learn spells in the exact same way as any Hogwarts character...

It's right up there with all magic, Divine, Arcane, Primal, Etc, being "The Weave". It washes away variety and depth.

I find that somehow freeing and also frustrating. 'Cause the reason we don't have 2 dozen different classes is because they tried to break everything down to it's most core archetype. Heck, Jeremy Crawford has implied there may not be a Psionicist because it would need to hold both a narrative and functional niche.

But apparently that is going out the window with these subclasses, which wash away narrative and mechanical niches.
This is I’ve disliked about the recent design trend in the game, a filing away of the various silos in which a player keeps the large design chunks of their character. D&D has always been built largely on the engine of “get your Ability Scores, pick your Race, pick your Class,” with those determining in large the mechanical structure of the character by mixing and matching collections of gathered options. The introduction of Proficiencies, Feats, Skills, and such have helped add edge options, but your Elven Fighter was still mainly built around the things determined for an Elf and a Fighter. Even Kits or Subclasses were largely a way of adding more class choices that happened to just be very similar to other choices (while still giving you a set template). Whether that was good or bad, that’s been D&D for fifty years, and (along with the level system this was all built around) differentiated it from other games like Rolemaster, GURPS, World of Darkness, or the explosion on small modern systems.

Starting with removing Race as a real determinant for the character build (without the initial Ability Score changes, Race/Lineage becomes more of a feat package of sorts), the current generation of designers — influenced by other sorts of games — is apparently now making Class very DIY. I’m not a power-gamer/build sort of guy, and I wouldn’t really consider myself a grognard (as much as I grew up reading and rereading Gygax’s 1st edition DMG), but I’ve always liked how D&D (even when it batted for the fences with 4e) remained unabashedly itself in structure; lose that structure, you lose the game and all you have is a brand. That’s not to say the things being done here aren’t fascinating (change often is; I remain convinced that the 4e engine should be built into a new Chainmail war game, for example), but it strikes me as going too far in ways that aren’t foreseen.

I know that making this argument isn’t popular and I’ll probably be disparaged in numerous slights against my alleged beliefs for doing so, but someone had to introduce the point where a lot of us are: the game-structure, if for the best of cultural intentions, is being shifted in a way that is going to potentially cause certain chaos as the old question of “What is D&D?” comes back to the fore, albeit with new aspersions to cast on those disagreeing with the new game.
 

It feels weird that bards can't be in Prismari. I get that they don't have a ton of elemental spells, but the tone of Prismari seems perfect for them.

Likewise, it feels weird that wizards are excluded from Witherbloom. Necromancers seem like the obvious fit here.

Several of these feel very good. I especially like Silverquill, Quandrix and Witherbloom.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester
It straight won't work.

Classes like ranger and fighter get huge combat bonuses from subclasses whereas rogues and paladin use subclasses more often to lean outside of combat and do tweaks if they stay in.

It'll be unlikely we see a lot of this outside of full casters.

Oh I think it'll get a lot of use for things that are of like-build: [Artificer, Paladin, or Ranger] OR [Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard], or [Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, or Rogue] OR [Artificer, Bard, Ranger, or Rogue] OR [Fighter, Paladin, or Ranger], etc.

But it's got to be subclasses that fit together. Even some of the options above are not quite right, as I'm just looking at groupings by Spellcasting level, Expertise, Fighting Styles, and those cut across lines that don't always work.

But some work really well, and could be quite effective without being overpowered. I think, we'd need a new edition to rebalance and redelineate the structure of base classes if we wanted full on themes replacement subclasses, though.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It feels weird that bards can't be in Prismari. I get that they don't have a ton of elemental spells, but the tone of Prismari seems perfect for them.

Likewise, it feels weird that wizards are excluded from Witherbloom. Necromancers seem like the obvious fit here.

Several of these feel very good. I especially like Silverquill, Quandrix and Witherbloom.
Guildmasters Guide to Rabnica had extensive advice on how different Subclasses from the PHB and Xanathar's would fit into the ten Guilds. I expect we will see that for the Colleges here, too, so that Bards will be part of Prismari...but this Subclass allows non-Bards get some Bardic flair.
 


DnD Warlord

Adventurer
Maybe more a 6e dream
Classes like ranger and fighter get huge combat bonuses from subclasses whereas rogues and paladin use subclasses more often to lean outside of combat and do tweaks if they stay in.

It'll be unlikely we see a lot of this outside of full casters.
 


This is I’ve disliked about the recent design trend in the game, a filing away of the various silos in which a player keeps the large design chunks of their character. D&D has always been built largely on the engine of “get your Ability Scores, pick your Race, pick your Class,” with those determining in large the mechanical structure of the character by mixing and matching collections of gathered options. The introduction of Proficiencies, Feats, Skills, and such have helped add edge options, but your Elven Fighter was still mainly built around the things determined for an Elf and a Fighter. Even Kits or Subclasses were largely a way of adding more class choices that happened to just be very similar to other choices (while still giving you a set template). Whether that was good or bad, that’s been D&D for fifty years, and (along with the level system this was all built around) differentiated it from other games like Rolemaster, GURPS, World of Darkness, or the explosion on small modern systems.

Starting with removing Race as a real determinant for the character build (without the initial Ability Score changes, Race/Lineage becomes more of a feat package of sorts), the current generation of designers — influenced by other sorts of games — is apparently now making Class very DIY. I’m not a power-gamer/build sort of guy, and I wouldn’t really consider myself a grognard (as much as I grew up reading and rereading Gygax’s 1st edition DMG), but I’ve always liked how D&D (even when it batted for the fences with 4e) remained unabashedly itself in structure; lose that structure, you lose the game and all you have is a brand. That’s not to say the things being done here aren’t fascinating (change often is; I remain convinced that the 4e engine should be built into a new Chainmail war game, for example), but it strikes me as going too far in ways that aren’t foreseen.

I know that making this argument isn’t popular and I’ll probably be disparaged in numerous slights against my alleged beliefs for doing so, but someone had to introduce the point where a lot of us are: the game-structure, if for the best of cultural intentions, is being shifted in a way that is going to potentially cause certain chaos as the old question of “What is D&D?” comes back to the fore, albeit with new aspersions to cast on those disagreeing with the new game.
Yeah, I kinda share this concern. D&D has always been a strongly splat based game; that is part of its identity. And sure, being able to customise your character is nice, but at certain point having the splats in the first place just becomes awkward and superfluous. Ultimately if you want a great amount of customisation, then you shouldn't have splats, you should just have some sort of point system for building your character, buying traits and features you want.
 
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