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Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Starter Spells; Plus UA Returning To Monthly & Sage Advice Returning

Chaos Bolt is the first Sorcerer-only spell. Interesting. What I've read so far looks really good. I like the idea of Ceremony quite a bit, but some of the effects (Investiture!) might be a little overpowered.

Chaos Bolt is the first Sorcerer-only spell. Interesting.

What I've read so far looks really good. I like the idea of Ceremony quite a bit, but some of the effects (Investiture!) might be a little overpowered.

Tony Vargas

as DM, I was very aware of the fact that the happy result was almost pure coincidence and would almost never happen. I'm pretty sure the players wouldn't have been happy if I'd just said, "Nope, he's slightly stronger than you, you lose, have a nice quest." But 5E doesn't really support any other resolution mechanisms either
There's roll d20 vs DC, of course, that's it. But, there's a number of ways to use that (shy of inventing your own).

le'see, dramaticized arm-wrestling could include:

Intimidate Check to 'psych out' your opponent
STR check to beat him quickly
CON check to wear him out as you struggle
Bluff check to feign weakening so he makes a final push while you're still able to handle it.
STR check to put it to bed.

By spreading it out over 5 checks, you can even out the swinginess of an opposed check, and ratchet up some drama.

OK, in a sense that's a complexity 1 skill challenge for a single character, or 3e 'complex skill check,' just using different skills, but whatever. It's shy of making up your own resolution systems, it's just applying the d20 resolution system in more detail.

I'm still evaluating what 5E and AD&D each bring to the table. So far it seems to me that 5E has more exciting combat but AD&D has better pacing.
Better pacing? You mean because 5e lets a long rest re-set just about everything very simply, rather than resting so many hours to memorize such level spells, then 15 or 10 minutes/spell level to actually memorize them - or, alternately, if none of you are casters, up to 6 weeks to get all your hps back?

One question is, is it easier to fix 5E's pacing or AD&D's combat dynamics?
It might be easier to talk your players into GURPS.

5E's pacing is baked pretty deeply into the system-- ... to rewrite all of the 5E classes that are oriented around an "adventuring day" as the unit of play.
5e is vaguely balanced around this semi-mythical 6-8 encounter / 2-3 short-rest 'day' (24 hr period in which you are allowed one long rest). Were it not for the short rest mechanic, that would just be a simplification of AD&D's complicated system of memorization and mostly-superfluous coverage of natural healing too slow to matter, that mostly just (IMyouthfulX) boiled down to ' we're outta spells & low on hps, - we go back to town and rest.'

I can see the dissatisfaction with the former, but not so much the appeal of the latter as a 'better pacing' alternative.

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Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Some of these spells are just godawful......
Some of them are very cool.
Cool Spells: Chaos Bolt, Guiding Hand, Hand of Radiance, Puppet, Toll the Dead, Unearthly Chorus, Virtue, and Zephyr Strike.
The others are pretty lame and would be a waste of page space... Even among the good ones their are amateurish rules that bog them down.
Virtue should be ranged, otherwise make it a d6. Zephyr is somehow underwhelming, Puppet using Con is weird, Hand of Radiance should do extra vs undead and fiends and hit 'all' creatures and not just enemies.

I thought these were professional developers? Seems like common sense stuff.

Well let's go through it. Here are the spells you include n your "pretty lame and would be a waste of space"

Cause Fear: As others have said, it's extremely useful. It has no repeat saves, unlike just about every other Frightened effect in the game.
Ceremony: You seriously can't think of anything useful to do with the Investiture ability? Find Familiar? Hex? Hunter's Mark? Passing off your concentration check to a fighter-type? Self-buffs?
Healing Elixir: You don't see the advantage of using this at the end of the day to burn out the rest of your spell slots for use the next day?
Infestation: I like it for the random movement but I can see not liking it.
Primal Savagery: It's the replacement for Shillelagh, because it turned out most druids couldn't effectively use their own spell (other classes could), but they can effectively use this one.
Sense Emotion: I like the out-of-combat utility of the spell but I can see not liking it.
Snare: It's an alarm spell. It works fine for what it is, don't you think? You see no use to alarm spells?
Sudden Awakening: It's situational, but causing everyone to stand for free as a bonus action surely has it's uses. But I can see not wanting to choose this spell.
Wild Cunning: It's an exploration spell. I can see not liking it if you don't do much of that wilderness exploration.

So I'd say your dismissal of 5 of these 9 spells might be premature?
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I hopped on anydice to find an average damage for a first-level chaos bolt: http://anydice.com/program/b3ac

You can play with the maximum function depth to control for the number of potential targets. Once you get above four explosions, the gains are pretty slight, with the mean damage settling in a little above 9.6 and the mode (and probably median) never leaving 9.

Note that this assumes that all attacks hit without critting. In fact, I don't really know how this spell functions on a crit.

Edit: Never mind. That gives 1 and 2 as possible results. I'll have to tinker with it some more.
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I hadn't thought of it until you mentioned it, but this is a real kick in the teeth to any character who has a priestly background but not the cleric class. Sorry, you can't marry people or do other rites because you don't cast cleric or paladin spells.

I really wouldn't rule that to be the case, at least not in my worlds.
Generally things that are covered by a Cleric's or Acolyte's duties should not be magical in nature. They are a reason for the community to come together and share well-wishing. No need to invoke a god's favor. Some one who either knows the words by heart or has the book can preside over these ceremonies. They happen every day and don't always require a Cleric (capital C).

Remember that a Cleric as defined is not just someone who follows the religious ideals of a particular god, but someone who has devoted their entire life to living those ideals and spreading them to others. These guys are out in the world adventuring, finding the heretics and bringing their god's light (or darkness) to them (as opposed to Paladins who smite their foes through strength of arms as well).

If a Cleric happens to be in town, maybe they can preside over a ceremony and actually entreat their god's favor over the proceedings, but they could just as easily just say the words from the holy book and be done with it. The existence of the Ceremony spell does not preclude anyone, Cleric or not, from performing the day-to-day functionalities of the clergy.


Regarding the marriage ceremony.... there are things I would much rather be doing during the first 24 hours of marriage, and none of them involve AC. Well maybe...

To be fair, the bonus to saves might come in handy come the time for Exhaustion checks, and the AC bonuses could help out if the new couple gets adventurous...


Really liking this UA, it is one of the very few where I have thought about adding into my game immediately.
Like many others, my biggest red flag would have to be Healing Elixir, just the very concept of allowing Wizards to cast a healing spell (however "reskinned" it might be) doesn't sit well with me on a thematic level.

A few of these spells could use a few tweaks here or there, but most of them are pretty good.

Sadly, the biggest take away I'm feeling from this is that I even more simply wish that the Ranger and Paladin simply had access to the Druid and Cleric spell listed, respectively, rather than having their own unique lists. Then take all the unique spells for them and cordon them off into their own bonus spells or perhaps special abilities.


Robert J. Schwalb is stated as one of the authors of this UA (something unusual given that most time the UA articles are under Crawford and Mearls names). Anyone can identify his influence?

Robert J. Schwalb is credited as a writer in the original 5e Player's Handbook. Maybe they've brought him back to help write "Midway."


I like it! Stealing that!

Enjoy. If you get it to a working point, I would be happy to steal from you in return since that is pretty much all I have right now. I know all of the "Patron" spells would be potions in my version, giving the warlock a good number of potions to pick from. There would also need to be poisons involved, as not all Potion masters will be the nice type. Probably something simple like "Use parts from a creature in your poison, this potion deals XdY extra Poison damage to that type of creature."

Sure, but it's just as appropriate for the eldest child when you rescued the kidnapped children of the village and you tell him he needs to be responsible for keeping the rest of them together as you escort them back.

But is anyone actually going to be rolling for this stuff? To the point where it needed to be a spell and not a one off, hand waived effect?

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