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.


 
Last edited by a moderator:

log in or register to remove this ad

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.
How would that look in, say, Spelljammer? Ravnica? Theros? Ravenloft?

It's not a one-size-fits-all.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
How would that look in, say, Spelljammer?
Spelljammer is the space between every official setting. Any type of ranger can appear there. And, if you're asking about a Spelljammer-specific Ranger subclass, there could be an aberration-hunting Space Ranger that summons celestial spirits (similar to the ones that appear in the bestiary) to help them track/hunt down these aliens to reality.
 

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.)
If so that goes into the "PICK A LANE!!!" factor.

They need to decide what the 1D&D Ranger is.

All we have in this playtest packet is a goddamn mess. It's not underpowered, really, it's arguably a mechanical upgrade from the current Ranger, but it's a goddamn mess, doesn't fit existing Ranger lore, and doesn't feel at all Witcher-y either, because it has access to exactly ZERO Witcher-style spells (most of which D&D effectively has - Quen = Shield, Aard = Thunderwave, Igni = Flaming Hands - etc. - they're actually pretty good matches!), and relies instead of spamming an incredibly boring spell that slightly increases its damage on a specific target. Does it work, mechanically? Kinda? Does it make any sense or have any style or consistency at all? Absolutely not.

As for Blood Hunters, they're largely popular because they're broken OP. Not slightly OP or "as good as the most powerful normal 5E classes", straight-up broken OP. A lot of the subclasses end up having about 1.5 classes worth of power in them. Some are closer to 2. If they were not incredibly badly designed and OP I don't think anyone would be interested, as the theme-ing is pretty bad.

At this point I'd honestly prefer they leant into Witcher-style antics if they want to make Ranger this serious half-caster and make most of its stuff spells. But by building the entire class around spamming Hunter's Mark (a goddamn spell directly taken from World of Warcraft, by the way, and no it didn't exist before that, except possibly in WC3! A spell so boring WoW largely dumped it too, I note - 1D&D has it work very similarly to the original boring and passive way it worked in early-ish WoW), they've created something that has fallen between two chairs so hard it's in the ambulance on the way to have its coccyx x-ray'd.
 

Remathilis

Legend
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.
WotC doesn't seem keen on introducing a bunch of different magic mechanics anymore. It seems they are standardizing magic to basically be the same from class to class rather than further diversifying them. Add to it the abandonment of any sort of psionics system and you get the feeling WotC wants "magic" to operate using the same mechanics regardless of class. I honestly wonder if "pact magic" will survive or will it be changed to a more traditional spell slots per day system.
 

But I mean, do they? They are skilled survivalist Druidic Gishes, seems less complex in terms of idea space than Warlocks, say.
I suspect the problem is that, at least for me, the core fantasy of the ranger could be described as “fight-y character who excels at the Exploration pillar of play”, and 5e doesn’t have much in the way of mechanics for that pillar of play.
 
Last edited:

WotC doesn't seem keen on introducing a bunch of different magic mechanics anymore. It seems they are standardizing magic to basically be the same from class to class rather than further diversifying them. Add to it the abandonment of any sort of psionics system and you get the feeling WotC wants "magic" to operate using the same mechanics regardless of class. I honestly wonder if "pact magic" will survive or will it be changed to a more traditional spell slots per day system.
I think if WotC does this, they're going to be surprised how very badly the fanbase reacts, especially the 20m+ "new with 5E" players.

So I'm skeptical that they'll actually do that.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I think if WotC does this, they're going to be surprised how very badly the fanbase reacts, especially the 20m+ "new with 5E" players.

So I'm skeptical that they'll actually do that.
Yeah, based on what they are laying down, I don't think they will do anything that would create such a big disjunction with 5E material, or they would have made some more wild choices with the Expert Group.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Yeah, based on what they are laying down, I don't think they will do anything that would create such a big disjunction with 5E material, or they would have made some more wild choices with the Expert Group.
I tend to agree: the changes so far are more revision than reinterpretation. But pact magic has some big design issues:

1. It's focused on short rest recharge of very limited slots, and WotC seems to be moving away from short rest recharges as a balancing system.
2. The wording is very confusing for new players, as most new players don't realize they have auto-upcast spell slots and wonder how they cast hex once they have 2nd level spells.
3. It's very wonky with multi-classing, both in terms of how it adds to other classes and how it breaks other classes resources (like smite).
4. It breaks down at higher levels, resulting in the feature Mystic Arcanum to provide high level spells to the warlock.

Now I don't think they will turn the warlock into a wizard style caster, but I do think they are going to make it resemble other casters more.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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.

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).
I gotta say, I hate the “Pokémon trainers” reduction so intensely that it’s hard to even read the rest, but I’m trying.

Anyway, I think it’s a good thing that the Ranger has archetypes like the Rogue rather than thematically minor subclasses that are all the same category of thing.
The class doesn't know what the subclasses should be.
Sure it does. Types of rangers.
Cleric Domains are based on what god/concept the clerics worship.
Kind of, but it’s thematically a small thing with little nuance (gods have multiple domains), but that’s only the tip of the “the cleric is terrible and the game would improve by its removal” iceberg.
Paladin Oaths are based on a promise/ideal they swear to keep.
And their oaths are barely subclasses. And they don’t feel like different orders most of the time, or different kinds of holy knights in any really meaningful way.
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.
And Rogue, Fighters, Monks, Barbarians, and Rangers, are all “types of [class]”. Also the wizard has mostly been “how they use magic” outside of the PHB schools.
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.
It’s not a problem, it’s a strength.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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).
Sure, but I’ve seen no evidence that suggests they aren’t going to square that before playtest’s end.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Druidic Gishes" isn't a thematic identity. It's a mechanical one. It's the role they fill in the game.
No, it’s both mechanics and lore.
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".
They’re Rangers in the same sense as the Dunadain, Old West rangers, and yeah sure witchers and Dragon Age grey wardens, in a world where the wilds are very supernatural and there is a whole kind of magic about it.

That is just as much “justification” for having magic as any other Spellcasting class. 🤷‍♂️
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I gotta say, I hate the “Pokémon trainers” reduction so intensely that it’s hard to even read the rest, but I’m trying.
Okay, what about "Summoner" or "Pet Master"? Because that's what they are. They summon monsters to fight for them. "Pokemon Trainer" is the main pop culture version of this.
Anyway, I think it’s a good thing that the Ranger has archetypes like the Rogue rather than thematically minor subclasses that are all the same category of thing.
I like how the Rogue subclasses work. They're internally consistent and logical different types of "jobs" a rogue could use their skillset for. Thievery, Assassinations, Detectives, Swashbuckling Sailors/Pirates, Magical Thieves/Tricksters, and Scouts.
Sure it does. Types of rangers.
That is so extremely vague that it could mean absolutely anything. "A hunter that plays a flute" could be a "type of ranger". That doesn't mean that it would warrant a subclass or that the subclass system should be based on different types of musical instruments.
Kind of, but it’s thematically a small thing with little nuance (gods have multiple domains), but that’s only the tip of the “the cleric is terrible and the game would improve by its removal” iceberg.
You think the cleric is terrible? What in the world?
And their oaths are barely subclasses. And they don’t feel like different orders most of the time, or different kinds of holy knights in any really meaningful way.
But they're consistent. Redemption, Revenge, Protecting the Weak, Serving the Crown, Protecting the Wilds, and "Might Makes Right" are all sensible oaths that a knight could make. Sure, the subclasses could be expanded mechanically and the lore could be added upon, but the subclasses are internally consistent and help you understand why the different subclasses exist.
And Rogue, Fighters, Monks, Barbarians, and Rangers, are all “types of [class]”. Also the wizard has mostly been “how they use magic” outside of the PHB schools.
Yeah, and the Wizard subclasses that break the pattern are my least favorite ones. At least basing them off of magic schools (and hybrid/variant types of casting) makes sense. Order of the Scribes doesn't. Bladesinging barely justifies itself.
It’s not a problem, it’s a strength.
Maybe not to you. But it is to anyone that wants to homebrew new Ranger subclasses and doesn't have a clue what a subclass of Ranger is even meant/able to be. Could there be a Dragonslayer subclass? Or is that too small of a niche and have too much overlap with Favored Enemy? Could there be a Shadowfell Ranger? Or does the Shadowfell not count as "nature" while the Feywild does? Or is the Gloomstalker the Shadowfell and Underdark Ranger?

The subclasses and what they do are poorly defined. There isn't a cohesive theme/identity between them. That makes it harder for the game-designers, homebrewers, and world-designers that want to introduce different factions based on the subclasses of different classes (which is easy for Druids, Paladins, and Rogues, but harder for Rangers because there's nothing connecting them besides "Ranger").
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
That is just as much “justification” for having magic as any other Spellcasting class. 🤷‍♂️
In 5e, different spellcasters have lore justifications for having magic. Clerics get it from worship, Druids have a magical bond with the spirits/gods of nature, Bards tap into the "Words of Creation", Paladins make a magical promise, Warlocks make a bargain with an eldritch entity, Sorcerers are Mutants, and Wizards study magic until they tap into the Weave.

Rangers just have "IDK, they're like Druids". That's easily the weakest justification for magical powers in 5e. And don't get me wrong, I like Rangers being Half-Casters. I just think that the lore could be a bit better thought out and that this could be used to make a cohesive theme amongst the different subclasses. Like I said in an earlier post, they could have a mystical bond with a nature spirit that would make them the "Pet Class", where every subclass gets a different kind of monster companion (from beasts to dragons to elementals to fey). Or they could have got magical powers from killing so many magical creatures that it somehow gave them magic, which could make it so all of the subclasses has the features of different monsters and benefits for fighting against them. Or they could have a symbiotic relationship with incorporeal nature spirits tied to different locations/biomes, giving them supernatural abilities based on their subclass (extra movement speeds, supernatural senses, boosts in certain terrains, damage resistances/immunities, etc).

Rangers don't have a good justification for their magic and don't have a cohesive theme between their subclasses. They have a mechanical niche, but not a thematic one. And subclasses thrive on theme.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
In 5e, different spellcasters have lore justifications for having magic. Clerics get it from worship, Druids have a magical bond with the spirits/gods of nature, Bards tap into the "Words of Creation", Paladins make a magical promise, Warlocks make a bargain with an eldritch entity, Sorcerers are Mutants, and Wizards study magic until they tap into the Weave.

Rangers just have "IDK, they're like Druids". That's easily the weakest justification for magical powers in 5e. And don't get me wrong, I like Rangers being Half-Casters. I just think that the lore could be a bit better thought out and that this could be used to make a cohesive theme amongst the different subclasses. Like I said in an earlier post, they could have a mystical bond with a nature spirit that would make them the "Pet Class", where every subclass gets a different kind of monster companion (from beasts to dragons to elementals to fey). Or they could have got magical powers from killing so many magical creatures that it somehow gave them magic, which could make it so all of the subclasses has the features of different monsters and benefits for fighting against them. Or they could have a symbiotic relationship with incorporeal nature spirits tied to different locations/biomes, giving them supernatural abilities based on their subclass (extra movement speeds, supernatural senses, boosts in certain terrains, damage resistances/immunities, etc).

Rangers don't have a good justification for their magic and don't have a cohesive theme between their subclasses. They have a mechanical niche, but not a thematic one. And subclasses thrive on theme.

Ranger needs to slay dragon.
Ranger wants fire resistence to help slay dragon.
Ranger either has a wizard, druid, or fey girlfriend teach them endure/absorb elements.
 






Related Articles

Visit Our Sponsor

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top