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Unearthed Arcana Articles

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  • Unearthed Arcana
    Unearthed Arcana is a semi-regular column by WotC which introduces playlets material which is sometimes adopted into later books. The first article, written by Mike Mearls, was posted in February 2015, and explored the Eberron setting. Each article contains the following disclaimer:
    WotC said:
    The material in Unearthed Arcana is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your D&D campaign but not refined by final game design. They are not officially part of the game. For these reasons, material in this column is not legal in D&D Adventurers League events.

    Psionics Options Revisited04/14/2020RuesShine with the power of the mind in this installment of Unearthed Arcana! Today we revisit several psi-themed options that we released in the past few months. Studying your feedback on those options, we’ve crafted this new collection of subclasses, spells, and feats.
    Spells & Magic Tattoos03/26/2020Spells & itemsThis document provides a magical miscellany: new spells and a new type of magic item, magic tattoos. Most of the spells focus on an alternative style of summoning: conjuring forth a spirit that assumes a physical form you customize to suit the situation.
    Subclasses, Part 302/24/2020SubclassesContinuing our series of new D&D subclasses in 2020, Unearthed Arcana presents three more for you to playtest: the Armorer for the artificer, the Circle of the Stars for the druid, and the Fey Wanderer for the ranger. Today’s article also includes some new infusions for the artificer.
    Subclasses, Part 202/06/2020SubclassesUnearthed Arcana presents three new subclasses for you to playtest: the College of Creation for the bard, the Unity Domain for the cleric, and the Clockwork Soul for the sorcerer.
    Subclasses, Part 101/14/2020SubclassesUnearthed Arcana leaps into 2020 with four new subclasses for you to try out: the Path of the Beast for the barbarian, the Way of Mercy for the monk, the Oath of the Watchers for the paladin, and the Noble Genie for the warlock.
    Fighter, Rogue, And Wizard11/26/2019SubclassesTheir minds bristling with power, three new subclasses arrive in today’s Unearthed Arcana: the Psychic Warrior for the fighter, the Soulknife for the rogue, and the tradition of Psionics for the wizard.
    Class Feature Variants11/04/2019Class FeaturesEvery character class in D&D has features, and every class gets one or more class feature variants in today’s Unearthed Arcana! These variants replace or enhance a class’s normal features, giving you new ways to enjoy your character’s class.
    Fighter, Ranger, And Rogue10/17/2019SubclassesIn today’s Unearthed Arcana, three classes each receive a playtest option. The fighter gets a Martial Archetype option: the Rune Knight. The ranger gains a Ranger Archetype option: the Swarmkeeper. And the rogue acquires a Roguish Archetype option: the Revived.
    Cleric, Druid, And Wizard10/03/2019SubclassesThree classes each receive a playtest option this week. The cleric receives a new Divine Domain option: the Twilight Domain. The druid gains a new Druid Circle option: the Circle of Wildfire. And the wizard gains a new Arcane Tradition feature: Onomancy, the magic of true names.
    Bard And Paladin09/18/2019Class FeaturesTwo classes, the bard and the paladin, discover new playtest possibilities this week. The bard receives a new Bardic College feature: the College of Eloquence. Additionally, the paladin gains a new Sacred Oath feature: the Oath of Heroism.
    Sorcerer And Warlock09/05/2019SubclassesTwo classes, the sorcerer and the warlock, discover new playtest possibilities this week. The sorcerer receives a new Sorcerous Origin feature: the Aberrant Mind. Meanwhile, the warlock gains a new Otherworldly Patron feature: the Lurker in the Deep. We’ve also included a new cantrip: mind sliver.
    Barbarian And Monk08/15/2019SubclassesTwo classes, the barbarian and the monk, discover new playtest possibilities this week. The barbarian receives a new Primal Path feature: Path of the Wild Soul. Meanwhile the monk gains a new Monastic Tradition feature: the Way of the Astral Self.
    The Artificer Returns05/14/2019ClassIn February, we presented a revised version of a new character class: the artificer, a master of magical invention. Today we return to that class, now with even more content!
    The Artificer Revisited02/28/2019ClassIn a previous installment of Unearthed Arcana, we presented a new character class: the artificer, a master of magical invention. Based on the feedback we received, we now offer a new look at this class.
    Sidekicks12/17/2018RulesIf you’ve ever wanted an animal, a town guard, or another creature to join you on your adventures, this month’s Unearthed Arcana is for you. It gives you a straightforward way to turn a creature into your sidekick and have that companion level up with you.
    Of Ships and the Sea11/12/2018RulesShips, officers, crew, and hazards on the high seas—those are the focus of this month’s Unearthed Arcana.
    Magic Items of Eberron10/08/2018ItemsThis month's Unearthed Arcana looks at the magic items that are part of everyday life in the world of Eberron. Arcane focuses, enchanted clothing, warforged components, and more are all common sights for the citizens of the Five Nations.
    Dragonmarks09/10/2018Subraces, FeatsThis month, we explore how to make a character who bears a dragonmark, a mystic sigil that appears on the skin. The mark is a source of magical power and enhances the bearer’s ability to perform certain tasks. In the world of Eberron, each mark is tied to specific bloodlines. The families that carry these marks joined together to form the Dragonmarked Houses, powerful forces that dominate different industries. Even though these marks are associated with Eberron, you could explore using them in other worlds as well.
    Races of Ravnica08/13/2018RacesA group of races from the world of Ravnica have arrived in Unearthed Arcana: loxodons, Simic hybrids, vedalken, and viashino. While native to Ravnica, these folk could potentially be used in any D&D world.
    Races of Eberron07/23/2018RacesRaces from the world of Eberron return to Unearthed Arcana this month, with the kalashtar joining revised versions of the changeling, shifter, and warforged.
    Giant Soul Sorcerer06/11/2018SubclassIn the age of myth, giants bestowed magical blessings upon smaller folk whom they especially favored. Now sorcerers can playtest descendants of those folk, using the Giant Soul subclass.
    Centaurs and Minotaurs05/14/2018RacesCentaurs gallop into Unearthed Arcana this month—a playtest option for when you choose your character’s race. Another type of character from Greek myth joins them: minotaurs. We first showed off minotaurs in a 2015 installment of Unearthed Arcana, and we present revised versions of their traits today.
    Order Domain04/09/2018SubclassToday we present a new playtest option for clerics: the Order Domain. An early draft of it appeared on the Twitch show The Mike Mearls Happy Fun Hour. We’ve refined that draft into the version available here.
    Into the Wild02/12/2018Variant RulesThis month, Unearthed Arcana wanders into the wilderness, with new ways to approach outdoor exploration.
    Three Subclasses01/08/2018SubclassesWe kick off 2018 with three new subclasses to try out in Unearthed Arcana: the Circle of Spores for the druid, the Brute for the fighter, and the School of Invention for the wizard.
    Elf Subraces11/13/2017SubracesAfter the positive response to the eladrin a couple of months ago in Unearthed Arcana, we decided to explore four more elf subraces: avariel (winged elves), grugach (the wild elves of Greyhawk), sea elves, and shadar-kai (deathly servants of the Raven Queen).
    Fiendish Options10/09/2017SubracesIn time for the lengthening shadows of autumn, we present a collection of fiendish options for you to playtest: new subraces for tieflings, ways to customize diabolical cults, and demonic boons that wicked NPCs can receive from the denizens of the Abyss.
    Race Options: Eladrin and Gith09/11/2017Race and SubraceTwo race options debut in this month’s Unearthed Arcana: eladrin (an elf subrace) and gith. This eladrin is an alternative to the version of the subrace that appears in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
    Three-Pillar Experience08/07/2017Variant RulesThree pillars of adventuring make up the D&D game: exploration, social interaction, and combat. But when it comes to earning experience, the combat pillar often supports most of the game’s weight. With all three pillars in mind, Mike Mearls presents an alternative system for awarding experience points, offering a streamlined XP process based in equal part on defeating monsters, exploring dangerous sites to claim the magic and wealth found there, and interacting with NPCs to shape the flow of the campaign.
    Greyhawk Initiative07/10/2017Variant RulesAs anyone who’s been playing Dungeons & Dragons long enough knows, there’s more than one way to get into a fight. Mike Mearls introduces an alternative initiative system, inspired by AD&D and the journey to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin—the birthplace of D&D—for Gary Con 2017. While the initiative rules in fifth edition D&D are great for keeping the action moving and being easy to use at the table, the Greyhawk initiative variant takes a different approach. These rules add complexity, but with the goal of introducing more drama to combat.
    Revised Class Options06/05/2017SubclassesIn this month’s Unearthed Arcana, we revisit class material that appeared in previous installments: four subclasses for various classes, along with Eldritch Invocations for the warlock. The updated subclasses are the druid’s Circle of the Shepherd, the fighter’s Cavalier, the paladin’s Oath of Conquest, and the warlock’s Celestial (formerly known as the Undying Light).
    Revised Subclasses05/01/2017SubclassesTo kick things off, we looked back at five of the subclasses from the recent series: the barbarian’s Path of the Ancestral Guardian, the bard’s College of Swords, the fighter’s Arcane Archer, the monk’s Way of the Kensei, and the sorcerer’s Favored Soul.
    Feats for Races04/24/2017FeatsToday we're offering another batch of feats to playtest. This time, the feats are associated with the races in the Player’s Handbook.
    Feats for Skills04/17/2017FeatsThis week we introduce new feats to playtest. Each of these feats makes you better at one of the game’s eighteen skills.
    Downtime04/10/2017Variant RulesSometimes the weeks between adventures are as eventful as the time on an adventure. This installment of Unearthed Arcana explores that in-between time by offering new and revised downtime activities for DMs to playtest in their campaigns.
    Starter Spells04/03/2017SpellsNew spells have been unearthed this week, a collection of cantrips and 1st-level spells for characters to choose from at the start of their spellcasting careers and beyond.
    A Trio of Subclasses03/27/2017SubclassesThree classes each receive a playtest option this week. The monk gets the Way of the Drunken Master. The paladin gets the Oath of Redemption. And the ranger gets the Monster Slayer, a reimagining of the Monster Hunter that we previously released for the fighter.
    Wizard Revisited03/20/2017SubclassesAfter releasing the 28-page mystic last week, we have a short Unearthed Arcana installment this week: two Arcane Tradition options for the wizard. The Theurgy tradition has appeared in Unearthed Arcana before, but this time we’d like to gather playtest feedback on it. War Magic is an option we’re exploring after reading your feedback on Lore Mastery and seeing interest in a war mage option.
    The Mystic Class03/13/2017ClassThe mystic class, a master of psionics, has arrived in its entirety for you to try in your D&D games. Thanks to your playtest feedback on the class’s previous two versions, the class now goes to level 20, has six subclasses, and can choose from many new psionic disciplines and talents.
    Traps Revisited02/27/2017Variant RulesTraps—how to design and survive them—are the focus of this week’s Unearthed Arcana, which expands on the trap rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
    Mass Combat02/21/2017RulesThis week Unearthed Arcana switches gears, going from character options to a rules option for the DM: mass combat. We’ve touched on mass combat before in this column and have created these new rules after receiving your feedback.
    Warlock and Wizard02/13/2017Subclasses, Class FeaturesThe warlock and the wizard reach new arcane horizons this week. The warlock receives two playtest options for the Otherworldly Patron feature: the Hexblade and the Raven Queen. That class also gets a collection of playtest options for its Eldritch Invocations feature. Meanwhile, the wizard receives a playtest option for the Arcane Tradition feature: Lore Mastery.
    Sorcerer02/06/2017SubclassesThe sorcerer unearths new magical possibilities this week. The class receives four playtest options for the Sorcerous Origin feature: Favored Soul, Phoenix Sorcery, Sea Sorcery, and Stone Sorcery.
    Ranger and Rogue01/16/2017SubclassesTwo classes—the ranger and the rogue—discover new playtest possibilities this week. The ranger receives two Ranger Archetype options: the Horizon Walker and the Primeval Guardian, both of which work with the Player’s Handbook ranger and the Unearthed Arcana ranger. The rogue receives one Roguish Archetype option: the Scout, which joins the other options the rogue has gained in Unearthed Arcana.
    Artificer01/09/2017ClassUnearthed Arcana greets 2017 with a new character class: the artificer, a master of magical invention. In a previous installment of Unearthed Arcana, we experimented with the artificer as a subclass of the wizard. Now the artificer stands on its own, based on the feedback we received about the previous experiment.
    Paladin: Sacred Oaths12/19/2016SubclassesPaladins have two new Sacred Oath options to ponder in today’s Unearthed Arcana: the Oath of Conquest and the Oath of Treachery.
    Monk: Monastic Traditions12/12/2016SubclassesTwo new Monastic Tradition options arise for the monk in today’s Unearthed Arcana: the Way of the Kensei and the Way of Tranquility.
    Fighter: Martial Archetypes12/05/2016SubclassesThe fighter faces four new Martial Archetype options this week: Arcane Archer, Knight, Samurai, and Sharpshooter.
    Druid Circles and Wild Shape11/28/2016Subclasses, Class FeaturesNew options sprout for the druid this week: three new Druid Circle options and an optional rule for gaining different beast shapes for Wild Shape.
    Cleric: Divine Domains11/21/2016SubclassesClerics are blessed with new Divine Domain options in this week's Unearthed Arcana: the domains of the Forge, the Grave, and Protection. We invite you to read their descriptions, make characters with them, and see whether you like them.
    Bard: Bard Colleges11/14/2016SubclassesBards receive new Bard College options in this week's Unearthed Arcana. The College of Glamour and the College of Whispers are ready for their debut!
    Barbarian Primal Paths11/07/2016SubclassesBarbarians receive new Primal Path options in today's Unearthed Arcana.
    Encounter Building10/10/2016RulesThis edition of Unearthed Arcana introduces an alternative set of encounter-building guidelines for D&D. Though this approach uses the same basic math underlying the encounter system presented in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, it makes a few adjustments to how it presents that math to produce a more flexible system. These guidelines will be of interest to DMs who want to emphasize combat in their games, who want to ensure that a foe isn’t too deadly for a specific group of characters, and who want to understand the relationship between a character’s level and a monster’s challenge rating.
    The Ranger, Revised09/12/2016ClassOver the past year, you’ve seen us try a number of new approaches to the ranger, all aimed at addressing the class’s high levels of player dissatisfaction and its ranking as D&D’s weakest class by a significant margin. Those two factors combined to put us on the path to this revision. Though the revised ranger retains many of the elements of the existing class, a lot has changed, so it’s best to simply dig into the new material to get a sense of how it feels. But at the same time, the release of this revision gives us a chance to talk about how a revised class can best be implemented as part of the D&D game—and how the game will evolve in the future.
    The Faithful08/01/2016SubclassesThis month, Unearthed Arcana presents two new options that allow arcane casters to express their faith in the gods. For warlock characters, the Pact of the Seeker defines a bond to a mysterious, inscrutable deity dedicated to gathering knowledge and lore. For wizards, the Theurgy arcane tradition creates a magic-user whose arcane instruction is guided by the teachings of a deity, and who gains the benefits of a divine domain.
    Quick Characters07/25/2016RulesSometimes you need quick characters for a D&D session. Whether you’re running an impromptu game with limited time for character creation, you want to get a new player into an established game quickly, or you need a new PC to replace a dead adventurer, these optional rules are for you.
    Feats06/06/2016FeatsBased on feedback from our surveys and a number of requests on Twitter, this month’s Unearthed Arcana introduces new feats for fifth edition D&D. In addition to those new feats, this installment also talks about feat design and the place of feats in the game. Using design examples, we highlight what we want new feats to accomplish—and what they need to avoid, so as to not slow things down or interfere with the DM’s ability to run the game.
    Gothic Heroes04/04/2016Subrace, SubclassesThis month, Unearthed Arcana takes a look at a few new character options appropriate to gothic horror. The revenant subrace provides an interesting way to bring a character back from the dead—a useful option if you’ve lost a character in the mists of Barovia. The Monster Hunter and the Inquisitive are two new archetypes for the fighter and rogue, respectively, well suited to the challenges of Ravenloft or any other gothic horror campaign.
    March 2016 Review03/07/2016This month, Unearthed Arcana takes a break from giving the D&D design team a chance to introduce new material for your games. Instead, we’ll take a look at some of the most interesting and fun new material to appear on the Dungeon Masters Guild.
    Psionics and the Mystic – Take Two02/01/2016ClassThis month, Unearthed Arcana returns to the mystic character class and the rules for psionics.
    Kits of Old01/04/2016SubclassesThis month, Unearthed Arcana converts a few of the more popular kits from that era to new class options for the bard and fighter—and wants to know what other classic kits you’d like to see converted to fifth edition.
    That Old Black Magic12/07/2015Spells, SubracesTaking a new look at the tiefling race, this article breaks down the Player’s Handbook tiefling into a modular variant, allowing players to create tiefling characters tied to either a diabolic or a demonic ancestry. Additionally, a new suite of conjuration spells allows casters to call forth demons to do their bidding.
    Light, Dark, Underdark!11/02/2015SubclassesTwo new fighting styles for fighters, paladins, and rangers; the Deep Stalker ranger archetype; the shadow sorcerer; and the warlock pact of the Undying Light all offer exciting options for adventuring in the endless gloom of the Underdark.
    Prestige Classes and Rune Magic10/05/2015Prestige classes build on the game’s broad range of basic options to represent specialized options and unique training. The first of those specialized options for fifth edition D&D is the rune scribe—a character who masters ancient sigils that embody the fundamental magic of creation.
    Ranger09/09/2015ClassThis installment of Unearthed Arcana presents a revised design of the ranger that builds on the class’s unique traits, creating a new set of class features for 1st level to 5th level. These features are designed to make the ranger feel distinct and interesting while still remaining true to its identity within the game.
    Modern Magic08/03/2015Spells, SubclassesA few months ago, Daniel Helmick described his adaptation for d20 Modern in a Behind the Screens article. He expanded on the rules for using firearms and explosives in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Now, what if we extended the D&D rules to cover a campaign not only touched by, but actually set in a modern era? The newest iteration of D&D features various archetypes, traditions, domains, and other options for the base classes, all of which present opportunities for customization. With that in mind, this article presents new rules for expanding the repertoire of spellcasting characters in a modern setting.
    Awakened Mystic07/06/2015ClassThis month, Unearthed Arcana goes big with a look at the first draft of psionics rules for fifth edition D&D. This article provides a quick overview of how psionics works and presents a new class - the mystic. Similar to how the cleric represents a wide variety of divine magic users, the mystic encapsulates a variety of characters who wield psionic power.
    Variant Rules06/08/2015Variant RulesThe latest Unearthed Arcana article by Mike Mearls presents variant rules for your game, including players making all rolls, a vitality variant for hit points, and custom alignments.
    Waterborne Adventures05/04/2015Race, Subclasses, Class FeatureThe new character options presented in this month’s Unearthed Arcana showcase a simple design approach to adventure on the high seas. These rules include new options for the Fighting Style, Roguish Archetype, and Sorcerous Origin class features, as well as a playable minotaur race from Dragonlance’s world of Krynn. Created to be specifically useful for nautical D&D campaigns, these rules are general enough that they can be useful in any campaign.
    Modifying Classes04/06/2015Class, SubclassWotC's Rodney Thompson takes a look at how to customize and modify character classes in the latest Unearthed Arcana article, including an example of a spell-less ranger similar to Lord of the Rings' Strider (an often asked-for class option). There are also notes about each of the other classes, discussing what to be careful about changing.
    When Armies Clash03/02/2015RulesThe D&D combat rules in the Player’s Handbook are designed to model conflict between small groups—an adventuring party of perhaps three to six characters against monster groups that rarely exceed a dozen creatures. Combat on this scale keeps the focus squarely on the adventurers. In some D&D campaigns, though, the story might hinge on battles involving dozens or hundreds of monsters and warriors. In this second installment of Unearthed Arcana, we build on the standard combat rules to model conflict on a much larger scale, allowing players and DMs to control whole armies. At the same time, these rules for mass combat allow individual adventurers to lead an army’s charge against an enemy regiment, rally dispirited soldiers to rejoin the fray, or defeat powerful enemy monsters or leaders.
    Eberron02/02/2015Races, Subclass, FeatsAs promised, the Unearthed Arcana article series on the official D&D website has launched! The first in a monthly series, an article by Mike Mearls takes a look at the Eberron campaign setting, with rules to help you convert your Eberron campaign to D&D 5th Edition. So, what do you get? A 6 page PDF which includes new races - Changeling and Warforged, the Artificer wizard tradition, action points, and dragonmarks.
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