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.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
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. -_-

Except, yah know, if you read the rest of the UA. Where they give you something interesting to differentiate demons and devils by more than just magic.
 

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Elon Tusk

Explorer
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.

You seem to be needlessly condescending; just because someone doesn't have the same reaction to something as you, doesn't mean they aren't paying attention.

Most of the UA do have new ideas and features instead of just substitutions.
And where are you getting that UAs are only for AL?
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
And where are you getting that UAs are only for AL?

Oh, that's not what I meant (and I admit it was poorly phrased). I was using AL as a notation for "official content". So meant for everybody, but also AL-legal.
 


Elon Tusk

Explorer
So is the phrase "lazy design", which is what I was responding to. Just because MM and JC work for a big company doesn't mean it's ok to denigrate them.

I see why you make that analogy, but I do think there is a difference.
One is a criticism of an idea while the other is directed more pointedly at the person.

MM and JC work for a company that we like to buy products from. They post ideas for us to test for them so they can try to keep us happily buying their products. Saying that one of the many things that they share in this way is "lazy design" because it mainly shuffles pieces around instead of adding in new pieces is criticism but something ultimately that they would want us to share.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
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.

Hey, I have been paying attention and I know exactly what UA is meant to do. That doesn't give them a pass on putting out material that is boring and uninspired. They could have easily given us a paragraph about switching out tiefling spell-like abilities and giving a single example rather than trying to pass these off as unique subrace options. UA is meant for experimental mechanics like the adjusted ranger, the two different versions of the artificer, prestige classes such as the runesmith, and the new feats that have been previously presented. Those are new and interesting (even though they may not always work), and since they have established a pattern of putting out such content in UA I absolutely have the right and duty to call them out when they pad their page count and lead off their latest UA with garbage. Give us a paragraph, an example, and move on to the more interesting and new mechanics (or even better, lead off the article with THAT and label the tiefling stuff as tieflings options rather than subraces). And so yea, I am negatively criticising them, but I am also providing my argument and reasoning.

[MENTION=2525]Mistwell[/MENTION] I agree that is the most interesting part of the UA. They should have led with that rather than padding 2 pages of their UA and misleading us who thought we would get fleshed out subraces rather than simple substitution tiefling options.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Hey, I have been paying attention and I know exactly what UA is meant to do. That doesn't give them a pass on putting out material that is boring and uninspired. They could have easily given us a paragraph about switching out tiefling spell-like abilities and giving a single example rather than trying to pass these off as unique subrace options. UA is meant for experimental mechanics like the adjusted ranger, the two different versions of the artificer, prestige classes such as the runesmith, and the new feats that have been previously presented. Those are new and interesting (even though they may not always work), and since they have established a pattern of putting out such content in UA I absolutely have the right and duty to call them out when they pad their page count and lead off their latest UA with garbage. Give us a paragraph, an example, and move on to the more interesting and new mechanics (or even better, lead off the article with THAT and label the tiefling stuff as tieflings options rather than subraces). And so yea, I am negatively criticising them, but I am also providing my argument and reasoning.

The vibe I get from this argument (the part in bold just being the most clear example) is that UA is a product we are entitled to, or one that we paid for.

The Tiefling variants are not the most amazingly cool thing I've seen yet out of UA, but for people who prefer to strictly adhere to "official" rules they are a nice option.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
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.

Yea, there's so much for them to work with. If the bloodlines are based on specific demon/devil lords, then give us a mechanic for a tiefling of Demogorgon to have two heads or be able to act while under a mind influencing effect. Give us a subrace for Jubilex tieflings with somewhat amorphous anatomy or a power with acidic slime.

If we going with the types of demons/devils, give us a Balor tiefling that can summon a fire whip, a bone demon with a spiky carapace, or a Balgura tiefling that is really big and strong.

So to the haters above, this is another reason I call their design lazy with regards to these tiefling "subraces." With so much material to draw upon to create something new and experiment (what I thought was the whole purpose of these things) they give us a simple swap out formula that they pass off as related to the different demon/devil lords.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
The vibe I get from this argument (the part in bold just being the most clear example) is that UA is a product we are entitled to, or one that we paid for.

The Tiefling variants are not the most amazingly cool thing I've seen yet out of UA, but for people who prefer to strictly adhere to "official" rules they are a nice option.

We aren't entitled to it, and I don't perceive it as such. But when you put something out publicly and purposely to invite criticism, then they are I'm sure prepared to take it. And also, as a free product, they have no reason to put out any particular amount of material or pages. This is not like a pdf we pay for and expect a certain amount of bang for our buck. So why include it at all if it was lackluster to begin with? So yea, just because it's free does not give them a pass. They don't even need to release it at all. They don't need a certain page count or content quota. So why pad their page count at all? Either they think this is on par with the other stuff they've released (it isn't) or they believe they need to hit a specific word count and are not as concerned with the quality of the mechanics and options they release. Either of those is a concern to me, as someone that fiercely loves this game and hobby and 5e in particular. I believe this team can do better, and by not calling them out when I see that, then I invite the lackluster content bloat we've seen in previous editions.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
So is the phrase "lazy design", which is what I was responding to. Just because MM and JC work for a big company doesn't mean it's ok to denigrate them.

"Lazy" does appear to be the insult du jour for "a product not made exactly how I want it". It's used against movie-makers and manufacturers and TV studios and - it seems - game designers.

I agree; it's pretty condescending. Creating product requires the exact opposite of laziness.
 

Elon Tusk

Explorer
"Lazy" does appear to be the insult du jour for "a product not made exactly how I want it". It's used against movie-makers and manufacturers and TV studios and - it seems - game designers.
I agree; it's pretty condescending. Creating product requires the exact opposite of laziness.

There's a significant difference between "not made exactly how I want it" and "made without much effort/creativity."

See SNL: Papyrus for an example.
 


Elon Tusk

Explorer
And yet “lazy” still remains an inappropriate and condescending way to refer to creators.

I was initially pointing out a condescending remark between forum users and that there is a difference in calling an idea "lazy" and a person oblivious - ad hominem attack and all that.

"Lazy" would probably not be a word I'd use anyway.
 

Everytime there's a bunch of Tiefling options presented, I always have to bring up the tables from 2e's Planewalkers Handbook. It's roughly what they've should have been using for Tieflings from the start.

In addition to rolling on the tables for abilities, there's also rolling on the table for different appearance traits since it needs to be pointed out that Tieflings have a wide variety in their appearance from some subtle features like ominous shadows cast to very obvious ones like vestigal limbs, unlike their 4e counterparts.

As for those "subraces" mentioned in that article, none of those bloodlines even suggest how that could influence a Tieflings appearance, they're also really playing it safe with just the secondary ability bonus and different sets of spells. It's disappointing it's limited to only Arch-Devils, when they could very much also included a bunch of bloodlines that are Demon, Yugoloth, Gehreleth, Night Hag and more inspired. And even among the Infernal bloodlines, they should have also had ones based on types of Devils like Osyluths or Barbazus, with things like a sting attack or tendrils.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Aside from the tiefling subraces, this was quite an excelent installment of UA.

As far as the tieflings go, I dislike that everything was predicated on the Archdevils rather than having influence from any other lower-planar creatures. Also, I don't like the subrace approach to tieflings at all—I'd rather have an expansion upon the sort of options provided in SCAG. That way, tiefling could be customized and reflect the randomness of the race for those of us the prefer to run tieflings closer to how they were originally presented in Planscape.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
And yet “lazy” still remains an inappropriate and condescending way to refer to creators.

I also made other remarks such as uninspired, not interesting, lackluster, and not on par with their previous work. But also, I described the design as lazy. I never said that about the creators. They have, can, and should do better as they are professionals and get paid to do that. I won't say I've never done it, but I generally try to be more constructive in criticisms of others that post content for review on the forums because its polite and because we do not get paid to create the content we post (though some may use the feedback to put up 3rd party material through Dmsguild or whatever).

And while the words I used may have been harsh, I also supplied alternative directions they could have gone rather than a substitution a la cart method of creating new "subraces" (I don't view these as subraces. They are player options, which I view differently). I did not say anything without basis for my viewpoint and constructive ways they could have gone about creating new mechanics that could have been more experimental, fun, flavorful, and enticing.
 
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Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
Aside from the tiefling subraces, this was quite an excelent installment of UA.

As far as the tieflings go, I dislike that everything was predicated on the Archdevils rather than having influence from any other lower-planar creatures. Also, I don't like the subrace approach to tieflings at all—I'd rather have an expansion upon the sort of options provided in SCAG. That way, tiefling could be customized and reflect the randomness of the race for those of us the prefer to run tieflings closer to how they were originally presented in Planscape.

I agree. They could have completely left out the bit about the tieflings and this would be a really great UA. But that they not only included it, but introduced the article with these supposed subraces cheapened the whole thing. I started with the tieflings, saw what they did, and it made it really hard to not just delete the document right there. And that's part of the problem. If you start a UA, article, TV show, or whatever it may be with garbage, some people may not stick around long enough to appreciate the rest of it. Which goes back to something I said before. Either they believe what they did with the "subraces" was on par with or better than most of their content (which it clearly isn't), or they were looking to pad their article with content implying they cared more about quantity than quality. And I know they have delayed publishing their UA in the past when their content wasn't yet up to snuff. So I have no idea what they were thinking.

Alternatively, they could have just gone hard on the a la cart design of the tiefling. Establish that tieflings are not like other races because of the weirdness of their bloodlines, and just push out several tables with all of the possible substitutions. Incorporate the options presented in the previous Black Magic UA, the options in SCAG, and lay out a clearly defined method for developing a tiefling mechanically, as well as superficially (tail, weird shadows, extra eyes, and more exotic looks). You could even assign a point cost to all of the individual spell like abilities to swap out maybe your once a rest spells for an additional cantrip or other unique abilities. Maybe even a chart for Bonds, Ideals, and Flaws to really cement it. If they did that, it might make it salvageable. But as it is, it's a half measure. These are not different subraces. They are just one ability the tiefling has rearranged a bit, and a slightly different stat mod.
 
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Mephista

Adventurer
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.
Umm... ? This is in line with the 4e Bael Turathi background. There were several different variations off the base tiefling race due to the fact that multiple
different types of devils made the Pact Infernal. You saw them pop up mainly in the tiefling Dragon mag. articles, admittedly, but its still there.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I also made other remarks such as uninspired, not interesting, lackluster, and not on par with their previous work. But also, I described the design as lazy. I never said that about the creators.

So, if...purely hypothetically...I described your forum posts as 'moronic', you would understand I was saying it about your writing and not about you?

I'll have to remember that.

And while the words I used may have been harsh, I also supplied alternative directions they could have gone...

Ah. So, in other words, it's ok that you denigrated them...I mean, their work...because you also gave them some valuable tips. For free, no less.
 

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