• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

D&D (2024) 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...

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.


 

log in or register to remove this ad


log in or register to remove this ad

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Yup, they don't get wizard spell anymore. They only learn from druids now.
No, the lore in 5e just says that they "learn magic in a way similar to druids" and that they might have connections to druid circles. It doesn't say why they can wear metal armor, or why they aren't just druids, or that druids "teach them spells" somehow. Rangers need an excuse for being magic that isn't tied to Druids, just like Paladins have an excuse that isn't tied to Clerics.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
No, the lore in 5e just says that they "learn magic in a way similar to druids" and that they might have connections to druid circles. It doesn't say why they can wear metal armor, or why they aren't just druids, or that druids "teach them spells" somehow. Rangers need an excuse for being magic that isn't tied to Druids, just like Paladins have an excuse that isn't tied to Clerics.
That's what I said.

The original ranger learned druid and magic user spells straight up exactly like druids and wizards except they could wear metal.

WOTC keeps shortening the lore explanation.

So you're coming up with an original idea based on previous edition game mechanics. Fair enough! But not official lore.

The original ranger learned druid and magic user spells straight up exactly like druids and wizards except they could wear metal and didn't get druidic.

The lore was that rangers could supernaturally track and heal. You needed to be a magic user to one and a divine caster to do the other in the Olden Times. No exceptions.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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.
Most people just call it a pet class. Especially since the BM doesn’t summon their pet, they find it and train it. In the wild.
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.
That’s…the same thing.
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.
“Different types of ranger” just isn’t…vague. Idk where to even go from here, because if we can’t agree on that I doubt we will agree on any aspect of this we haven’t already covered.
You think the cleric is terrible? What in the world?
What is it? The closest it has to a meaningful identity is just a description of the paladin with the acolyte background.

Make a priest or don’t. Great Value Van Helsing ain’t it.
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.
But they don’t. Different oaths don’t justify a subclass. They have tried to make them different archetypes with more recent oaths, but the subclasses just can’t actually differentiate until the second subclass feature level, at best.
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.
Consistency isn’t some unalloyed good. The game is better for having stuff that’s “messy”.
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?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone make this complaint before. I also don’t think it’s really a problem. Every ranger subclass ranges between the wilds and civilization using whatever tools they need for the job. Some are defined by how they do that, others by where, but they’re all rangers. 🤷‍♂️
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I was skeptical of how compatible Classes would be until this drop, bit now itnia clear that when they say backwards compatible, they mean business.

I do think the final version will have more clear guidelines (like changing when old Subclass options drop, or covering dead levels with a Feat), but that will come after nailing down the new Core options.
Absolutely.
Rangers just have "IDK, they're like Druids"
I literally gave the justification in the post you’re quoting.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Most people just call it a pet class.
I've heard several people describe it as a "Pokemon Trainer" before. Especially since most of their "pet" abilities summon them out of nowhere.
Especially since the BM doesn’t summon their pet, they find it and train it. In the wild.
Not since Tasha's, they don't. They get to summon it. Like a Pokemon Trainer.
That’s…the same thing.
No. The Rogue has "jobs" (up until TCoE, at least). Rangers have "IDK, anything remotely nature-y and hunter-y". They don't have a uniting theme besides their mechanical niche of "primal half-caster".
“Different types of ranger” just isn’t…vague. Idk where to even go from here, because if we can’t agree on that I doubt we will agree on any aspect of this we haven’t already covered.
"Type" is vague.
What is it? The closest it has to a meaningful identity is just a description of the paladin with the acolyte background.

Make a priest or don’t. Great Value Van Helsing ain’t it.
I don't like that they all automatically get proficiency in armor and weapons. If I were in charge of making D&D, I would change that to make a bigger niche for paladins and to base Clerics off of real-world priests more. But everything else in the class is decent, IMO. The subclasses are mostly designed well. The fact that they get their magic from belief and worship empowers gods is good. The fact that the subclasses are so different while also sharing a core theme and underlying mechanics is good, IMO.
But they don’t. Different oaths don’t justify a subclass. They have tried to make them different archetypes with more recent oaths, but the subclasses just can’t actually differentiate until the second subclass feature level, at best.
In a game where Paladins literally get their magic from swearing an oath, then the differences between oaths that are sworn do justify the subclasses. According to the lore, Paladins get their magic because they swear an oath. Different oaths exist, so different subclasses based on those oaths exist.
Consistency isn’t some unalloyed good. The game is better for having stuff that’s “messy”.
Hah. No. I don't like games that are "messy". A game can be just as creative and well-designed as a "messy" one if it is internally consistent. And internal consistency helps with expanding on the core rules and giving a basis for worldbuilding off of the system.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone make this complaint before. I also don’t think it’s really a problem. Every ranger subclass ranges between the wilds and civilization using whatever tools they need for the job. Some are defined by how they do that, others by where, but they’re all rangers. 🤷‍♂️
I'm not saying that some of the subclasses "aren't rangers". I like most of the subclasses and think that their niches should be included in the class. I just think that it's confusingly designed.
I literally gave the justification in the post you’re quoting.
No, you didn't. I gave the justification from the PHB. The PHB says that rangers get magic "in similar ways to druids". They have the worst official justification for their magic.

Your justification that "nature is magic, so people connected to nature are magic" is something I agree is a good starting point. I made the same suggestion in another thread. But that's not the official lore, and doesn't help designing subclasses or worldbuilding.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I've heard several people describe it as a "Pokemon Trainer" before. Especially since most of their "pet" abilities summon them out of nowhere.
Irrelevant. It’s needlessly reductive.
Not since Tasha's, they don't. They get to summon it. Like a Pokemon Trainer.
Yes, they do. They can, optionally, find and train a spirit instead of a mundane beast. The default is still very much not summoning.
No. The Rogue has "jobs" (up until TCoE, at least). Rangers have "IDK, anything remotely nature-y and hunter-y". They don't have a uniting theme besides their mechanical niche of "primal half-caster".
Except that is completely false. Rangers range, in the context of protecting, and in relation to the wild places of the world. This is true of all rangers in 5e.
"Type" is vague.
Good thing “type of ranger” is distinct from “type”, primarily in that it’s much more specific.
I don't like that they all automatically get proficiency in armor and weapons. If I were in charge of making D&D, I would change that to make a bigger niche for paladins and to base Clerics off of real-world priests more. But everything else in the class is decent, IMO. The subclasses are mostly designed well. The fact that they get their magic from belief and worship empowers gods is good.
Literally the worst lore widget in 5e.
The fact that the subclasses are so different while also sharing a core theme and underlying mechanics is good, IMO.
Symmetry is for buildings.
In a game where Paladins literally get their magic from swearing an oath, then the differences between oaths that are sworn do justify the subclasses. According to the lore, Paladins get their magic because they swear an oath. Different oaths exist, so different subclasses based on those oaths exist.
And yet, all paladins are basically the same thing.
Hah. No. I don't like games that are "messy". A game can be just as creative and well-designed as a "messy" one if it is internally consistent.
No, it cannot. Forced Symmetry, which is all the sort of consistency that demands all subclasses work the same is, is the assassin of creativity.
And internal consistency helps with expanding on the core rules and giving a basis for worldbuilding off of the system.
If kept in check and used where necessary, sure. If focused on as a design goal, it leads to terrible design like Bitopia, and all the other crap in D&D that exists because someone said, “the existence of a lawful good place implies the existence of a chaotic evil place” and no one had the good sense to laugh.
I'm not saying that some of the subclasses "aren't rangers". I like most of the subclasses and think that their niches should be included in the class. I just think that it's confusingly designed.

No, you didn't. I gave the justification from the PHB. The PHB says that rangers get magic "in similar ways to druids". They have the worst official justification for their magic.

Your justification that "nature is magic, so people connected to nature are magic" is something I agree is a good starting point.
That isn’t quite what I said. Someone who ranges through the wilds to protect the wilds and people, is going to reflect the wilds through which they range, and that reflection will to varying degrees be about the terrain, what endangers that terrain, and what tools and methods the ranger needs to deal with those threats. It makes sense that some rangers focus harder than others on adapting to the darkness that many monsters use to hunt in, while a ranger that protects places tied to the Feywild would have Fey glamours and the like, and that some rangers focus harder on a given type of tool, such as tactics for fighting a broad type of monster or training a creature or spirit to help them fight and hunt.

It makes more sense than “all subclasses are like Domains” style classes, especially in the specific case in question.
I made the same suggestion in another thread. But that's not the official lore, and doesn't help designing subclasses or worldbuilding.
They don’t need any special justification. It’s built into the whole premise of the class.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Irrelevant. It’s needlessly reductive.
Noted. Is this dumb semantics argument done now? I'll call them "Pet Classes" if it's really that important to you.
Yes, they do. They can, optionally, find and train a spirit instead of a mundane beast. The default is still very much not summoning.
I can guarantee you that will change when we get to see the OneD&D Beast Master.
Except that is completely false. Rangers range, in the context of protecting, and in relation to the wild places of the world. This is true of all rangers in 5e.
How do Gloomstalkers protect the wild? Or Rangers that choose Beasts as their favored enemies? How do the rules enforce "protecting the wild"? How is the Ranger version of protecting the wild thematically different from the Paladin way (through Oath of the Ancients)?
Good thing “type of ranger” is distinct from “type”, primarily in that it’s much more specific.
You're being purposefully dense here. "Type of ranger" is no more specific than the "type" of any other class. The Wizard subclasses from the PHB are different types of wizard that focus on different spell schools. The subclasses that make a different type of oath that grants them different features. The subclasses of Rangers are just "different types of Rangers". They're different types of Rangers for any purpose.
Literally the worst lore widget in 5e.
Not a fan of Discworld, I take it. Or Theros. Or Planescape.
Symmetry is for buildings.
I didn't say "symmetry". I said "consistency". Things can be consistent without being symmetrical.
And yet, all paladins are basically the same thing.
No, they're not. They all act very differently based on their oaths. Conquest Paladins are terrifying conquerors that subjugate the weak and often side with Devils. Ancient Paladins protect nature and use its powers to protect their allies and harm others. Redemption Paladins are pacifists that believe humanoids can be redeemed and shouldn't be killed unprovoked, but that demons and other monsters should be exterminated. Vengeance Paladins swear a sacred oath to get revenge against those that wrong them and avenge those that have been wronged. Oathbreakers have broken their oaths and made pacts with unholy monsters.

How in the world are "all paladins basically the same thing"?
No, it cannot. Forced Symmetry, which is all the sort of consistency that demands all subclasses work the same is, is the assassin of creativity.
By that argument, the classes shouldn't exist. If classes demand internal consistency or "forced symmetry", then they're overly restrictive, harm creativity, and should be removed from the game. By this point, I think that the game has proved that creativity can thrive under restraints. And restraints can help make creativity easier.
If kept in check and used where necessary, sure. If focused on as a design goal, it leads to terrible design like Bitopia, and all the other crap in D&D that exists because someone said, “the existence of a lawful good place implies the existence of a chaotic evil place” and no one had the good sense to laugh.
The Great Wheel is a victim of alignment, which is a nonsensical system that should not have been mapped on an afterlife/cosmological system. Eberron has the constraint of all of its major topics (moons, planes of existence, dragonmarks, nations on Khorvaire) coming in sets of 13-1. It has restrictions on the number of planes and other major factors of the world, but doesn't suffer for it. Alignment (and the in-between alignments) are the main problems with the Great Wheel. Not "internal consistence".
That isn’t quite what I said. Someone who ranges through the wilds to protect the wilds and people, is going to reflect the wilds through which they range, and that reflection will to varying degrees be about the terrain, what endangers that terrain, and what tools and methods the ranger needs to deal with those threats. It makes sense that some rangers focus harder than others on adapting to the darkness that many monsters use to hunt in, while a ranger that protects places tied to the Feywild would have Fey glamours and the like, and that some rangers focus harder on a given type of tool, such as tactics for fighting a broad type of monster or training a creature or spirit to help them fight and hunt.
Then the lore should have said that! If Rangers get their magic from protecting a certain part of nature (Fey Forests or the Underdark, for example) and their version of magic is specific to the part of nature they protected that is how the subclass system should have worked. Change Natural Explorer to be what the subclasses are based on in that case. Have an Arctic Ranger subclass, a Desert Nomad, a Deepsea Stalker, Fey Wanderer, Underdark Explorer, and Rangers of all other types of terrain! That would have been good class design! Then, whether the Ranger has a Pet, monster-hunting specialization, or some other primal feature could have been the Ranger's version of the Warlock's Pact Boons! That is an interesting design for the Ranger class!

But that's not what we got. We have Environment Rangers (Feywild, Underdark/Shadowfell, Planar Traveler) as some subclasses, Monster Hunters (Monster Slayer, Hunter) as other subclasses, Pet Summoners as other subclasses (Drakewarden, Beastmaster, Swarmkeeper). The subclasses don't share anything besides the Ranger class! The lore doesn't unite them and explain why the different types exist! That is a flaw in the design of the Ranger! Under this theoretical design of the Ranger, all of the different "types" you would want a Ranger to fill could still be playable. But the class would be better designed because you would have an ounce of understanding of why the different subclasses exist and what different types could exist in the future!
It makes more sense than “all subclasses are like Domains” style classes, especially in the specific case in question.
In what world does "I get different magic based on what different god/concept I worship" make less sense than "I get any random nature-y nonsense that the designers feel like giving me because my subclasses don't make sense"?
They don’t need any special justification. It’s built into the whole premise of the class.
The whole premise of the class poorly explains it. Mages/Spellcasters in D&D do need explanations for their magic. That was clearly an intended part of the design of 5e classes. Rangers fail at that goal because it just says "you're kind of like a druid in how you get magic". It doesn't say why they get that magic, just that they're connected to nature in some unexplained unique way compared to Druids/Nature Clerics and that they use magic to help hunt enemies. Every other class has at least a serviceable explanation.

Warlocks explain why they have magic. Powerful demigod-like entities give it to them. Their subclasses change based on these "demigods". They get different benefits specific to the pact they make with this demigod (Pact Boons). Warlocks are one of the best-designed classes in 5e because of this.

Rangers could be like that. They could have a good lore explanation for their magic and it could enhance their class features. It could make them more versatile and compelling characters.
 

Remove ads

Remove ads

Top