Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana October 2017: Fiendish Options

So a bunch of fiendish subraces but only a point of ABS besides Charisma moved to other skills and some Legacy spells swaps, plus some cult spells and features.

It doesn't do much for my game.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I seem to recall MM saying something about needing to stat up an archdevil on twitter a while ago. Now this article.....

If it was just devil-related options, I would say it might lead into next fall's AP (we are about due for a devil-themed one I think), but with the demon stuff too, it makes me think it is for the next winter book o' content.

As for the tieflings/cults, I guess I think of Asmodeus as more fear/control, with fire as secondary, whereas Mephisto (oops, wrong devil) and Fierna are more fire with other stuff secondary, so I probably would have made the PHB tiefling the default one for Mephy, and a more tyrannical one for Assy.
So, imagine a book about Planar threats, rather than Planes per se: Volo's Guide style entries for major Planar types (Devils, Demons, Yuggoloth, Genies, what have you), detailing how they can be low level cult inspirations all the way up to Big Bads. Throw in some Planar PC races, and a bestiary...yeah, I like this idea.
 

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So, imagine a book about Planar threats, rather than Planes per se: Volo's Guide style entries for major Planar types (Devils, Demons, Yuggoloth, Genies, what have you), detailing how they can be low level cult inspirations all the way up to Big Bads. Throw in some Planar PC races, and a bestiary...yeah, I like this idea.

I know I would be interested in such a book.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Swapping out abilities and spells is simple; any DM I have ever seen could do the re-skins with little effort.
I look for something more substantially unique in these articles.
For this one, I would have settled for some differences in appearance among the sub-races (horn, tail, skin-color, etc.) but would really have liked a new feature for most.

What part of the current tiefling's statblock would you then have wanted removed to give you something "unique"? Because you just can't add something unique ONTO the tiefling without removing something else... because that renders the original tiefling underpowered. So what is it? Replacing Hellish Resistance with some other unique ability? What kind of unique abilities do you think you'd get in exchange for removing resistance to an energy type?

And even if they did that... how "unique" are we talking about here? Obviously the exchanging of spells for other spells in Infernal Legacy wasn't enough. Is exchanging one resistance for another enough? Is exchanging resistance for Advantage unique enough? Or exchanging it for a new skill proficiency? Or is it that you are expecting completely new abilities that have never appeared in the game before that you'd consider "unique" and worthy to be in a UA?
 

Elon Tusk

Explorer
What part of the current tiefling's statblock would you then have wanted removed to give you something "unique"? Because you just can't add something unique ONTO the tiefling without removing something else... because that renders the original tiefling underpowered. So what is it? Replacing Hellish Resistance with some other unique ability? What kind of unique abilities do you think you'd get in exchange for removing resistance to an energy type?

Yes, replacing any of those would be a good start.

And even if they did that... how "unique" are we talking about here? Obviously the exchanging of spells for other spells in Infernal Legacy wasn't enough. Is exchanging one resistance for another enough? Is exchanging resistance for Advantage unique enough? Or exchanging it for a new skill proficiency? Or is it that you are expecting completely new abilities that have never appeared in the game before that you'd consider "unique" and worthy to be in a UA?

Most of the UA articles have added something unique to 5e; classes, races, feats -- each of those has added a unique feature. The Mystic UA added tons of them. This doesn't so seems underwhelming by comparison. Even the initiative alternatives have added new ideas. I don't hate this article. I am just disappointed it didn't have more content, but I understand it's playtest and free so am happy that that do UA.
 
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I like the new tiefling subraces a lot, i think tieflings should have been subrace since the start you know? I think the spell selection is pretty spot on, none of them actually seem intrinsically stronger than the others, as they all follow the same pattern. I like that there are dex/ cha options too, opens the door to a more conventional tiefling rogue.

Sent from my SM-G930V using EN World mobile app
 

Dausuul

Legend
Okay then answer me this: What other parts of the Tiefling race needed to be changed for this sub-race to be substantial to you?

Age
Alignment
Size
Speed
Languages
Darkvision
Hellish Resistance

Besides the ability score increases and the three spells of Infernal Legacy... that's all you've got to change.
Oh, I didn't realize it was now the Law of Dungeons and Dragons that all tieflings must have a) resistance to a damage type, b) a cantrip, and c) two once-per-day spells granted at specific levels.

I want Unearthed Arcana to display more imagination than that. Swap out Infernal Legacy for a completely different ability. Scrap Hellish Resistance and replace it. Tieflings have been around since 2E, and each edition has given them a different set of abilities; pick over ideas from those older editions, or come up with some totally new ones.
 

phantomK9

Explorer
Don't really hate this one, but it just seems like giving Tieflings that many subraces is kind of pointless and overkill when compared to other races, especially their opposite the Assimar.

I think that Volo's Guide did the Assimar really well, and they are not all specifically aligned with some specific higher being but rather a specific style or dare say role. Tieflings should be done very similarly, and in fact I really enjoyed what was done with them in Sword Coast Guide, a few options, but not overwhelming. Now, I think that the options in SCG can be combined with those in this UA to really allow for complete customization, but then at that point, why not just say, "choose 1 here, choose 2 there, etc".

As for the rest of it, looks good, but mostly just for DMs. Not sure if it is something I would personally use, but seems fairly cool.
 

Oh, I didn't realize it was now the Law of Dungeons and Dragons that all tieflings must have a) resistance to a damage type, b) a cantrip, and c) two once-per-day spells granted at specific levels.

I want Unearthed Arcana to display more imagination than that. Swap out Infernal Legacy for a completely different ability. Scrap Hellish Resistance and replace it. Tieflings have been around since 2E, and each edition has given them a different set of abilities; pick over ideas from those older editions, or come up with some totally new ones.

That's how you end up with a tiefling in name only.
 

Elon Tusk

Explorer
That's how you end up with a tiefling in name only.

I think that's an unfair statement. Look at most of the standard sub-races:
- dwarven toughness v dwarven armor training
- elven cantrip/language v fleet of foot/mask of the Wild v drow magic
- hafling naturally stealthy v stout resilience
- gnomish illusion/speak with beasts v artificer's lore/tinker
 

cbwjm

Legend
Don't really hate this one, but it just seems like giving Tieflings that many subraces is kind of pointless and overkill when compared to other races, especially their opposite the Assimar.

I think that Volo's Guide did the Assimar really well, and they are not all specifically aligned with some specific higher being but rather a specific style or dare say role. Tieflings should be done very similarly, and in fact I really enjoyed what was done with them in Sword Coast Guide, a few options, but not overwhelming. Now, I think that the options in SCG can be combined with those in this UA to really allow for complete customization, but then at that point, why not just say, "choose 1 here, choose 2 there, etc".

As for the rest of it, looks good, but mostly just for DMs. Not sure if it is something I would personally use, but seems fairly cool.
I'd actually quite like the ability to choose (or randomly roll) abilities for a tiefling to represent that they have something in their bloodline but not sure what ancestry they have. Have 3 different tables with different abilities and then roll/choose what you want.

After seeing the reworked aasimar in Volo's I'd also like to see something more interesting than just a few spells.
 

Given that the tieflings are all connected to archdevils, it is probably a bit much to expect them to vary much. They aren't just evil, they are lawful evil, and conformity is a thing, you know.

Now if tieflings linked to demon lords show up, I would expect weirder racial abilities (maybe two heads and can turn your arm into a tentacle for demogorgon, etc.).

It would be interesting if they would do something similar with the aasimar, drawing on the Hebsdomad, Prince Talisid and his buddies, and the Court of Stars, but I think it will be a long time before any of them show up in 5e.
 

the_redbeard

Explorer
What I thought was interesting was the huge variation in the different boons of the Demons and Devils. There's a lot of different kinds of mechanics and recharge rates. I think, besides the notion of customizing common enemies, that the point of the UA was to test how players and DMs felt about different mechanics.

I also agree that between the Gith UA and this one that they are testing the popularity of a planar version of Volos.
 

Saeviomagy

Adventurer
It feels like you could just have a planetouched race that was "darkvision, +2 to a stat, +1 to another stat, pick an elemental resistance, choose a cantrip at 1st, a 2nd level spell at 3rd and another one at 5th", rather than iterating out all the possibilities...

I quite like the idea of the cult stuff... but a lot of the advantages are not going to be detectable to players. "Watch out, these guys get +2 damage once per combat!" or "Oh no, he's got advantage and someone else has disadvantage!". That stuff is noticeable when players have access to it, but on NPCs it's going to fade into the background.

I would have liked to see more non-combat things. Previous editions, for instance, had Grazz't cultists under the misapprehension that they were followers of Jodai, a minor god of luck. If the cult benefits are all combat ones, that doesn't really scan.

All up? Like a lot of UAs, feels a bit phoned in.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I think some of the criticisms are valid in an abstract sense, but fall into the category (seen often in these parts) of expecting something from 5e that 5e ain't.

For example, it would be perfectly valid/functional to go a la carte: choose stats that get +1/+2, pick an energy resistance type, pick a cantrip, pick a spell, etc. But this same criticism/suggestion could be made about many aspects of 5e (classes, backgrounds, weapons...). A la carte is not really how 5e does things.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
The Tiefling stuff didn't do much for me. Then I went back to the UA and read the non-Tiefling stuff, and it's excellent! In fact this might be the best concise descriptions of the followers/victims of each specific fiend I've read in a long time. I can see almost an entire corrupt city, with different factions influenced by different fiends, with differing goals. It was really well done, and I like the differences in benefits each cult follower, leader, and boon contains.
 
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Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
Yet another bunch of boring, lazy options. More races with spells instead of imaginative, creative or interesting differences. And yet more power creep. Dex + Cha + minor illusion/disguise self and invisibility, really? That's 10x better than just about any other option aside from winged.

I agree with you. I can sub in and out spells and cantrips like they did. That's lazy design and I expect a bit more from WotC. If tieflings have different subtypes, I'd like to see more change than a stat adjustment and a swapping of spells. Gimme something interesting. Different demons and devils are differentiated by more than just their magic. Some are big and brutish. Others are cunning and subtle. While still others are seductive and devious. Rather than give us new and interesting mechanics to differentiate them, they took the lazy way out and gave us new spell combos. -_-
 

Duan'duliir

Devil of Chance
I disliked the Tiefling 'subraces' presented in this article. They felt like a lazy "Oh we need some player options for this UA or the people will probably riot. Oh I know: Tieflings are a player thing!" attachment to an otherwise good UA article.

IMO, the Tiefling subrace format presented in the That Old Black Magic UA article should have been used. The simple swapping out of spells and +1 ability felt quite cheap and lazy. Certainly, at least Levistus should have given cold resistance rather than fire resistance.
 

ScaleyBob

Explorer
Not a bad UA over all. The tiefling stuff is nice for players who want a bit of difference, although it doesn't quite fit with my ideas on Tieflings, which is based fairly heavily on 4Es Baal Turoth background.
The Fiendish Cults stuff I do like a lot though. Reminds of the old Monster Themes from 4E, with additional or alternate powers/abilities that could allow you to customise any monsters or NPCs quickly and easily. My only complaint about it is that it's all Devils and Demons, and nothing for those of us who like Yugoloths. (Daemons!, don't hold with all this yugoloth nonsense.:))
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I agree with you. I can sub in and out spells and cantrips like they did. That's lazy design and I expect a bit more from WotC.

Then you haven't been paying attention. UA isn't meant to do the work for home brewers, it's to test out new ideas that will eventually get baked into official rules for Adventurer's League.
 

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