Upcoming One D&D: Unearthed Arcana 'Expert' Classes (Bard, Ranger, Rogue)

WotC has posted a video describing the upcoming Unearthed Arcana playtest document which will feature three of the core character classes, each with a single subclass.


This document is the second in a series of Unearthed Arcana articles that present material designed for the next version of the Player's Handbook. The material here uses the rules in the

2014 Player's Handbook, except where noted. Providing feedback on this document is one way you can help shape the next generation of D&D!

Inside you'll find the following content:

Expert Classes. Three Classes appear in this document, each one a member of the Expert Group: the Bard, the Ranger, and the Rogue. Each Class appears with one Subclass. More Subclasses will appear in Unearthed Arcana in the months ahead.

Feats. Feats follow the Class descriptions, particularly feats available to the classes in this document.

Spell Lists. Three Spell lists-the Arcane, Divine, and Primal lists-are featured here. The Ranger uses the Primal list, and the Bard potentially uses all three, thanks to the Magical Secrets feature.

Rules Glossary. In this document, any term in the body text that is underlined appears in a glossary at the end. The glossary defines game terms that have been clarified or redefined for this playtest or that don't appear in the 2014 Player's Handbook.


 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Historically, UA drops have very similar verbiage to final releases, other than mechanical refinements. If anything, I expect the final product will be more conservative than anything so far.
Other than playtests. The UA for future books is like that. The 5e playtest saw wildly different results from a lot of the playtest packets when 5e was released.
 

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darjr

I crit!
Which is my point. The current Ranger debate is like the "lite" version of the Psionic debate. People don't agree on what the Ranger should be, which is why people perceive WotC's versions of the class as having an identity crisis. This isn't actually a WotC problem, it's a community problem.
Ah. I get you.

I do think they've tried to satisfy the niche but it isn't called the Ranger.

My conjecture and guesses about the unhappiness of the Ranger follows.

Also that non-ranger class can be a little more complex to play or build and keep focus, for some. For some it seems like it's too difficult to explain to new players too, I guess. For others I think the mechanics for those non Ranger Rangers isn't enough or aren't exclusive enough or as powerful in the niche as the actual Ranger class, which can steal their schtick.

For many it seems like spells carries enough other baggage that it clashes with their idea of a Ranger, either mechanically or in flavor.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
That's also a Pokemon Trainer/Drizzt Do'Urden (Drakewarden, Beastmaster). That's also a master archer (see most of their combat spells). That's also a Forest Ranger that protects the wilds from civilization and civilization from the wilds.
Not really. The core class isn’t a beast master, and “forest ranger” is part of the basic concept. “The Witcher” isn’t accurate exactly because witchers don’t give a damn about the wilds except that they sometimes produce monsters.

There’s nothing difficult to understand about the Ranger. They’re the Rangers of The North in Middle-Earth, except in a world with fireballs and color coded dragons. They’re expert trackers and hunters who range over areas of land seeking out potential threats, safeguarding places that need safeguarding, and acting as the tip of the spear against the worst of what can dwell in the wilds.

Hell, give US Park Rangers military combat training and license to shoot poachers, mutate some wildlife and then train them to keep people safe from the mutants, and you’re most of the way there.

Put all that in a world with D&D levels of magic, and you get…the D&D ranger. 🤷‍♂️
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Not really. The core class isn’t a beast master, and “forest ranger” is part of the basic concept. “The Witcher” isn’t accurate exactly because witchers don’t give a damn about the wilds except that they sometimes produce monsters.
I meant that they're D&D's version of Witchers in the sense that "Magical Monster Hunters" is a core part of their identity. There's two subclasses devoted to it and Favored Enemy enforces that concept.
There’s nothing difficult to understand about the Ranger. They’re the Rangers of The North in Middle-Earth, except in a world with fireballs and color coded dragons. They’re expert trackers and hunters who range over areas of land seeking out potential threats, safeguarding places that need safeguarding, and acting as the tip of the spear against the worst of what can dwell in the wilds.

Hell, give US Park Rangers military combat training and license to shoot poachers, mutate some wildlife and then train them to keep people safe from the mutants, and you’re most of the way there.

Put all that in a world with D&D levels of magic, and you get…the D&D ranger. 🤷‍♂️
I mostly agree. I overall think 5e's version of the Ranger is better than the "nonmagical" version that a lot of people seem to want for some reason. However, I do think that the class does have a bit of an identity crisis, especially when it comes to the subclasses and what they do. Some of the subclasses are actually Favored Terrains (Fey Wanderer, Gloomstalker), some of them are monster hunters (Hunter, Monster Slayer), some of them are Pokemon trainers (Drakewarden, Beast Master, Swarmkeeper).

The class doesn't know what the subclasses should be. Cleric Domains are based on what god/concept the clerics worship. Paladin Oaths are based on a promise/ideal they swear to keep. Warlock subclasses are based on the patron they've made a pact with. Sorcerous origins are based on how they got their powers. Wizard Schools are (with few exceptions) a type of magic they choose to practice above all others. Ranger Archetypes are . . . Pokemon Trainers, three different flavors of monster hunters, and expanded Favored Terrains. There's something inherently flawed with what the Ranger's subclass identities are/should be. Other classes definitely have this problem too, but Rangers have it quite noticeably.
 

JEB

Legend
In fact all the available evidence suggests that older subclasses will play naturally with new base classes.
For most classes, this is true, but the change in the number of subclass slots does create issues for the bard (three slots in 5E vs. four slots in 1D&D). @Parmandur has a workable solution, with the bonus feat, though it lacks subclass flavor (unless specific feats are recommended). If four subclass slots is standard for all classes in 1D&D, that also affects the cleric and fighter, which have five slots in 5E (so either their 1D&D subclasses will have fewer features than the 5E versions, or they'll get more features per slot than other classes to keep continuity with the larger number of 5E features).
 

JEB

Legend
Re: the ranger and its debatable Witcher-ness, I wonder if that may be a response by Wizards to the popularity of the Blood Hunter on D&D Beyond. Since the Blood Hunter is basically a D&D Witcher.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
That's also a Pokemon Trainer/Drizzt Do'Urden (Drakewarden, Beastmaster). That's also a master archer (see most of their combat spells). That's also a Forest Ranger that protects the wilds from civilization and civilization from the wilds.
The Beastmaster is one archetype, and I fail to see how the rest of that contradicts the Witcher hypothesis. The Witcher is a pretty significant Fantasy archetype all by himself at this point.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Re: the ranger and its debatable Witcher-ness, I wonder if that may be a response by Wizards to the popularity of the Blood Hunter on D&D Beyond. Since the Blood Hunter is basically a D&D Witcher.
I mean, the Witcher as a popular figure predates the 5E take on Rangers, and the WotC survey data on Rangers predates the Blood Hunter (which was derived from a ripoff of the Witcher).
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
The Beastmaster is one archetype, and I fail to see how the rest of that contradicts the Witcher hypothesis.
There are 3 "Pokemon Trainer" subclasses: Beast Master, Drakewarden, and Swarmkeeper. And there's the summoning spells that Rangers get access to. Clearly, controlling animals is a pretty big part of the 5e Ranger identity.

And, I'm not saying that 5e Rangers don't have a lot of common elements with Witchers. I agree. I just think that 5e Rangers have a lot more than that, and a lot of them are kind of contradictory/"too much" for a single class to have in their "core identity".
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
There are 3 "Pokemon Trainer" subclasses: Beast Master, Drakewarden, and Swarmkeeper. And there's the summoning spells that Rangers get access to. Clearly, controlling animals is a pretty big part of the 5e Ranger identity.

And, I'm not saying that 5e Rangers don't have a lot of common elements with Witchers. I agree. I just think that 5e Rangers have a lot more than that, and a lot of them are kind of contradictory/"too much" for a single class to have in their "core identity".
But I mean, do they? They are skilled survivalist Druidic Gishes, seems less complex in terms of idea space than Warlocks, say.
 

JEB

Legend
Oh, Rangers have been 5e's "Witchers" (as in "Magical monster hunters") since before Blood Hunters. The Hunter subclass was in the PHB. The Monster Slayer was in XGtE.
I mean, the Witcher as a popular figure predates the 5E take on Rangers, and the WotC survey data on Rangers predates the Blood Hunter (which was derived from a ripoff of the Witcher).
Sure, but I meant that the popularity of the Blood Hunter - a more Witcher-y class than the core ranger - may have led them to intensify the 1D&D ranger's fundamental Witcher-ness, specifically. (I don't really have a dog in this fight, to be clear, just throwing it out there.)
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Sure, but I meant that the popularity of the Blood Hunter - a more Witcher-y class than the core ranger - may have led them to intensify the 1D&D ranger's fundamental Witcher-ness, specifically. (I don't really have a dog in this fight, to be clear, just throwing it out there.)
Oh, sure and the continued growing success of the Witcher 3 and the Witcher TV show.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
But I mean, do they? They are skilled survivalist Druidic Gishes, seems less complex in terms of idea space than Warlocks, say.
IMO, yes. And, Warlocks have a more clear niche/identity than Rangers do (especially when it comes to their subclasses). Warlocks are people that made a pact with a powerful non-deity magical entity. All of their subclasses follow that identity, except the Hexblade. Ranger subclasses don't have a single unifying identity like that. They could have. Their subclass could have been their Favored Terrain. They could have gotten bonuses that would benefit them in any favored terrain (damage resistance, additional movement types, additional senses, additional spells, etc), but Favored Terrain isn't the unifying theme of the Ranger subclasses, even though there are some subclasses that have "Favored Terrain, but more!" as their identity (Fey Wanderer, Gloomstalker).

They could have had Favored Enemy be their unifying subclass identity, too. They could have had Dragonslayers, Giant-Killers, Urban Bounty-Hunters, Doom-based Fiend-killers, and so on. But they didn't. There's a few subclasses kind of like that (Horizon Walker for hunting extraplanar invaders, Hunters for a generic "hunter" subclass, Monster Slayers for generic "monster slayers").

They also could have attached Ranger subclasses to different kinds of natural creatures that they draw on and have had all of the subclasses be "Pokemon Trainers". There could be Elemental, Fey, Awakened Beast, Plant, Dragons, swarms of insects, and Shadowfell-based Ranger subclasses. Instead, there are 3 subclasses that are kind of like this (Swarmkeeper, Beast Master, Drakewarden), but there's no justification for why some druids focus on having magical pets bound to them and the others just don't.

"Druidic Gishes" isn't a thematic identity. It's a mechanical one. It's the role they fill in the game. However, they don't have lore-based justifications for their powers, besides "well, they live in the wilderness, so I guess they should have nature powers".
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Sure, but I meant that the popularity of the Blood Hunter - a more Witcher-y class than the core ranger - may have led them to intensify the 1D&D ranger's fundamental Witcher-ness, specifically. (I don't really have a dog in this fight, to be clear, just throwing it out there.)
I don't think there is any increased "witcher-ness" in the 1D&D ranger compared to the 5e one. This was just a discussion about the Ranger's identity crisis in 5e, from my viewpoint. Sorry if I wasn't clear.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The ranger has a identity.

WOTC just doesn't want to design something that matches the lore they and TSR both wrote.

For example.

Hunters Mark is a thing. Do you think anyone at WOTC pondered what Beastmaster's Mark, Dragon Slayer's Mark, or Horizon Walker's Mark is?
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Gotta admit, I’ve never been able to quite figure out what the Ranger’s niche should be, but “magical monster hunter” is the best I’ve heard.

I just would prefer it not be standard spellcasting mechanics (slots, prepared, etc.).

Maybe something more like Warlick invocations, with plenty of choices that are spells, and plenty that aren’t.
 

IMO, yes. And, Warlocks have a more clear niche/identity than Rangers do (especially when it comes to their subclasses). Warlocks are people that made a pact with a powerful non-deity magical entity. All of their subclasses follow that identity, except the Hexblade. Ranger subclasses don't have a single unifying identity like that. They could have. Their subclass could have been their Favored Terrain. They could have gotten bonuses that would benefit them in any favored terrain (damage resistance, additional movement types, additional senses, additional spells, etc), but Favored Terrain isn't the unifying theme of the Ranger subclasses, even though there are some subclasses that have "Favored Terrain, but more!" as their identity (Fey Wanderer, Gloomstalker).

They could have had Favored Enemy be their unifying subclass identity, too. They could have had Dragonslayers, Giant-Killers, Urban Bounty-Hunters, Doom-based Fiend-killers, and so on. But they didn't. There's a few subclasses kind of like that (Horizon Walker for hunting extraplanar invaders, Hunters for a generic "hunter" subclass, Monster Slayers for generic "monster slayers").

They also could have attached Ranger subclasses to different kinds of natural creatures that they draw on and have had all of the subclasses be "Pokemon Trainers". There could be Elemental, Fey, Awakened Beast, Plant, Dragons, swarms of insects, and Shadowfell-based Ranger subclasses. Instead, there are 3 subclasses that are kind of like this (Swarmkeeper, Beast Master, Drakewarden), but there's no justification for why some druids focus on having magical pets bound to them and the others just don't.

"Druidic Gishes" isn't a thematic identity. It's a mechanical one. It's the role they fill in the game. However, they don't have lore-based justifications for their powers, besides "well, they live in the wilderness, so I guess they should have nature powers".
Any fluff for such a class would have to be setting-specific, and WotC doesn't really do setting-specific anymore.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Any fluff for such a class would have to be setting-specific, and WotC doesn't really do setting-specific anymore.
How would it have to be setting specific? "You are the protector of both nature and civilization. You hunt down those that pervert the balance between the two, and use tamed nature spirits to do so." That's setting agnostic fluff that could easily give a unified identity between Rangers and all of the subclasses.
 

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