Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Spirits Bard and Undeath Warlock

We have a new UA release with two subclasses. The College of Spirits Bard is a fortune teller or spirit medium type character with a big random effect table. Meanwhile the Undeath Pact Warlock is a a do-over of the Undying Pact Warlock.

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
It's not really any different than including feats. The base level CR is set kinda low anyway, so there a bunch of reasons you might need to up the ante.
 

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When it comes to new rules, or rules interactions, that I haven't really pulled apart or done some math on, I'll often still let a player use it, with the proviso that it may need to be reigned in if it proves too good. Most reasonable adults are fine with that compromise.

You would think this would go without saying. That's how I generally feel too. I was just saying I don't get the concept of a DM that's afraid to reign their players in if stuff gets too ridiculous.

I get being a people pleaser. I get wanting everyone to have fun. I don't get thinking that has to mean you have to allow you players to do literally anything they want with zero pushback. You can be an enabling and supportive DM without being a pushover who lets problem players dominate the game.
 

ZeshinX

Adventurer
Yeah, that's all true. Still find it annoying that a default positive experience assumes the player's aren't good at the game, but what are you going to do?

I just play with people with similar interests. It's pretty easy for me. I just ask about what types of characters they like to play (which pretty much any D&D gamer is happy to talk about). If I hear more about mechanics and stats and statistical analysis and synergies, I know I'm not likely to enjoy playing with them all that much. If they talk about exploring character and concepts, offering examples of fantasy characters they've read about and how much fun they think it would be to play something like that....they're the ones I want to game with.

It's not so much a question of being "good" or "bad" at the game for me, it's more about finding people to game with that want similar things from the experience as I do. Narrows the field of potential players, sure, but the rewards are worth it (to me at least). :)
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yeah, that's all true. Still find it annoying that a default positive experience assumes the player's aren't good at the game, but what are you going to do?

Their default assumption is that people will come with average ability: better than assuming high ability.
 



I've yet to see anything more game-breakingly powerful than Crossbow Expert + Sharpshooter, really, despite the fact the WotC tends to err on the side of more power with experimental content.

But I have been in a couple open-table games where you have 30 or so players and 2-3 dms - taking extra steps to keep things more balanced would help such games, especially since you can't always get all 30 people to sit down for a session 0 and align expectations among the group. That's where houserules to aid balance really help.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Their default assumption is that people will come with average ability: better than assuming high ability.

And lets the people who are good at the game feel good about themselves.


I guess, but there are also a lot of times that that gets framed by people in discussions as being toxic for the game. Whether they call you a powergamer, a munchkin, a min-maxxer.

And, weirdly but I guess because these people avoid even talking about the extreme examples, the simpler and more obvious the "powergaming" the more push back you get. Built a Polearm-Sentinel Hexblade Paladin and you get a mild shrug. Say that you play rogues who take a race with +2 Dex and you are a monster.

It is weird.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Picture possible character concepts as an index card. Toss some coins on it - those are the classes. Many of the concepts are under a coin - these can be realized by a class. Sometimes coins overlap, and these are concepts like "archer" that can be realized by multiple classes.

There's still a lot of uncovered space on the index card, and it basically falls into to two categories. The larger is the space between coins. Those are concepts that can be made with joining coins together. That's what multiclassing brings us.

I'm skeptical.

Sure, there are combinations of abilities that require multiclassing. And I can easily imagine somebody complaining that "my concept can't be fulfilled without ability X."

But I'm skeptical that there are narrative concepts that can only be realized through multiclassing.

So how about some examples?
 

Kurotowa

Legend
But I'm skeptical that there are narrative concepts that can only be realized through multiclassing.

So how about some examples?

Most of the non-naughty word stories of multiclass character I've seen involve a PC undergoing a major shift in career aspirations or life goal during the course of a campaign. The Fighter or Rogue who finds a holy cause and becomes a Paladin would be the archetypal example. In many respects this treats the levels in the initial class as an extended Background, the prelude before the character reaches their true narrative endpoint.

This is a fairly niche purpose. One that, at least on Internet forums, gets completely eclipsed by optimized builds that mix classes simply to cherry pick ability combinations and give zero narrative consideration to what you're drafting. Is it worth putting up with the latter to preserve the former? I'm not so sure it is. The new UA multiclass lite feats seem a much better fit for a PC who wants to dabble in a different field. As for the PC who has a life changing experience... for that, maybe it's better to just tear up the old character sheet and convert them to a PC of the new class of the same level and ability scores. It's a bit of an extreme change, but that's what we're talking about isn't it?
 

ZeshinX

Adventurer
As for the PC who has a life changing experience... for that, maybe it's better to just tear up the old character sheet and convert them to a PC of the new class of the same level and ability scores. It's a bit of an extreme change, but that's what we're talking about isn't it?

The one time dual-classing from 2e would be useful. ;)
 

ZeshinX

Adventurer
I guess, but there are also a lot of times that that gets framed by people in discussions as being toxic for the game. Whether they call you a powergamer, a munchkin, a min-maxxer.

And, weirdly but I guess because these people avoid even talking about the extreme examples, the simpler and more obvious the "powergaming" the more push back you get. Built a Polearm-Sentinel Hexblade Paladin and you get a mild shrug. Say that you play rogues who take a race with +2 Dex and you are a monster.

It is weird.

The Polearm-Sentinel Hexblade Paladin (shudder) takes a significant amount more thought to recognize as "powergamey" than a simple +2 attribute bump, at least when it's just surface thought (of course exceptions always exist, especially among those with significant system mastery...or just good memories).

I suspect it's more "eye rolling", at first glance, when taking a race that offers a +2 to "prime" attribute relevant to their class...because that's just easy and typical. The Polearm-Sentinel Hexblade Paladin (shudder) comparatively, takes a little more effort to put together (how much more will vary from player to player) and is more "eye crossing" than "eye rolling", again, at first glance.

Once you get past the initial reactions of eye roll (+2 att) and eye crossing (Polearm-Sentinel Hexblade Paladin...shudder), it becomes a lot more apparent the latter is clearly the more "powergamey" than the former (to most players I suspect).
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Most of the non-naughty word stories of multiclass character I've seen involve a PC undergoing a major shift in career aspirations or life goal during the course of a campaign. The Fighter or Rogue who finds a holy cause and becomes a Paladin would be the archetypal example. In many respects this treats the levels in the initial class as an extended Background, the prelude before the character reaches their true narrative endpoint.

This is a fairly niche purpose. One that, at least on Internet forums, gets completely eclipsed by optimized builds that mix classes simply to cherry pick ability combinations and give zero narrative consideration to what you're drafting. Is it worth putting up with the latter to preserve the former? I'm not so sure it is. The new UA multiclass lite feats seem a much better fit for a PC who wants to dabble in a different field. As for the PC who has a life changing experience... for that, maybe it's better to just tear up the old character sheet and convert them to a PC of the new class of the same level and ability scores. It's a bit of an extreme change, but that's what we're talking about isn't it?
The UA feats, IMO, cover any narrative needs that are currently handled by multiclassing. I don't think we need another reason to shoot down new content.
 


Iry

Hero
Power gaming is just another way to have fun. There's nothing a powerful character can do to threaten the DM. You always have more monsters and more skill challenges in your back pocket. The only real danger is another player who feels bad or useless.

Multiclassing is just another tool to have fun. I have no problem with it as a general concept, but I have seen players severely hamper themselves. That's why I allow class retraining over time.

Class retraining let you correct mistakes, and enables concepts like the rogue turning paladin mentioned above.
 



But I'm skeptical that there are narrative concepts that can only be realized through multiclassing.

So how about some examples?
A character who changes jobs would be the obvious example - and is generally the only situation when I allow multiclassing.

E.g. a warrior or rogue who "finds religion" multiclasses to cleric, druid, or monk. A character who assists an archfey during an adventure and they give the player some of their power as a reward - the player takes level(s) of warlock to represent this, etc
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Hey! Anyone remember how the War Mage is basically a mix of the Evocation and Abjuration schools of magic for wizards? If they moved the Spirits bard subclass to the Wizard, it could be a Necromancy/Divination based subclass, so we could actually have another subclasss that takes two schools of magic and merges them into one.

Anyone else like this idea? I personally wish they made more subclasses like this, that merge two schools of magic (Hypnotism from Illusion and Enchantment, Shadowfell from Illusion and Necromancy, Limbo-Mages from Conjuration and Transmutation, Fleshwarpers from Necromancy and Transmutation, etc).

You mean I could potentially make an Ace Attorney style Spirit Medium in 5e?

If that's the case then sign me up.



Y'know, that's not a bad idea. Find a theme for mixing up the spell schools, and turn those themes into subclasses for the Wizard.

Could even come with mixed school spells, if they want to play around with that idea. The simple rule for that would be "The count as both spell schools for purposes of the _____ Savant Wizard subclass features (reminder: they let you scribe spells of that school into your book in half the time and I believe price.) and for the purposes of Detect Magic".

Could certainly be played that way. That sounds cool.

Yeah. There are a lot of themes that could be explored beyond the current subclasses by doing this:
  • Order of Magicians with Conjuration and Illusion, summoning doves and rabbits and performing illusions.
  • Necroblaster (would need a better name) with Evocation and Necromancy, that shoots people with necrotic energy and uses souls of the deceased to attack others upon death.
  • Phaser as Conjuration and Evocation, where you can cause attacks to go through solid objects and flesh, warping the space around you to give resistance to creatures for certain damages, etc.
  • Transitor, Illusion and Transmutation to create objects that aren't really there, but can be interacted with, and so on.
There's a lot of ideas they could play with if they leaned more into this way of designing subclasses for wizards, starting with the Spirits bard becoming a wizard subclass (or having both).

I like the idea of using dual schools of magic to create a theme for a magical tradition. I've thought of a few different traditions (mostly just names) but spiritualist didn't occur to me. I think two of them might have been your hypnotism (mind-bender) and shadowfell (shadow). I like the sound of fleshwarper, makes me think of the Phyrexians from magic the gathering but with undead instead of mechanical pieces.

Honestly, I prefer "Beguiler" for the Enchantment/Illusionist option - it's got history via the 3.5e PHB 2 (and Ruty Rutenberg & team made a version of it in Xanathar's Lost Notes going that exact way, as a mix of schools, though I'm not wedded to anything in guild content at this time).

I've thought about how Graviturgy and Chronurgy might actually be dual schools themselves, but they don't QUITE fit the mold when you look at each of their new spells that were designed for the traditions. In general though, Gravity magic is a mixture of transmutation and conjuration - making things heavier or lighter or summoning forces to weigh you down, like a freakin black hole. Chronurgy is in general Necromancy + Divination - you do the Doctor Strange thing and see multiple future pathlines (divination), plus you can age and kill things with time magic (necromancy).

Both of the schools have some evocations though, if I recall, and this gets back to my issue that several of the schools overlap in ways that don't really make sense as separate schools (Evocation and Conjuration are the most clear ones, but then there are necromancy spells that act more like evocations (finger of death) or act more like conjurations (animate dead) or more like divinations (speak with dead), etc, and there's heavy overlap between transmutation and enchantment and illusion and enchantment.

But this just gives us more options for dual school traditions.

So Necromancy + Illusion = Nethermancy (4e tradition for Essentials wizards), for example.
I'd love to see a tradition for each combo, plus other non-standard ones like the Bladesinger that take a bite out of other classes' ideas.

Wizard had the most subclasses out of the original book, but without going dual, it felt like it had the least room to grow (compare the similarly large PHB Cleric Domains list, where they could grow ad nauseum infinitum).
 

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