A sailor with the rage of the wilds in her heart and the power of the storm and sea at her beck and call. A bard blessed with the gifts of a fey, dangerously persuasive and beautiful. A cheerful cleric of the grave, devoted to keeping the dead at bay and the living on this side of a tombstone – unless it’s their time, of course. A druid wise in the ways of the Summer Court, healing and shielding his allies in the light of the fey. It’s been a busy few months for Unearthed Arcana, the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition column that presents new options for the community to playtest. There are loads of builds for lots of classes, and we’ve got some catching up to, so let’s Unearth some Arcana and Meet the Party!
Since November Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford have been hard at work publishing new builds and rules for players to make characters with – as of this writing they’ve covered nine classes, as well as released a new version of the Artificer, and Mearls has tweeted about a new version of the Mystic too. There’s more material than I can cover in even multiple articles of Meet the Party, but there’s a lot of really cool stuff there so I can’t help but make some characters using it. Let’s meet the first batch: a Barbarian, a Bard, a Cleric, and a Druid.
Jalana Agosto, Human – Level 14 Barbarian
HP: 144 AC: 15
Str: 20 Con: 16 Dex: 14 Int: 9 Wis: 14 Cha: 11
Racial/Class/Background Features: Extra Language, Rage, Unarmored Rage, Reckless Attack, Danger Sense, Primal Path: Storm Herald (Sea), Storm of Fury, Extra Attack, Fast Movement, Storm Soul, Feral Instinct, Brutal Critical (2 dice), Shield of the Storm, Relentless Rage, Raging Storm, Background: Sailor, Ship’s Passage
Gear: Greataxe, Handaxes x2, Explorer’s Pack, Javelins x4, Belaying Pin (Club), 50′ of Silk Rope, Lucky Charm, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch with 10 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Nature, Survival, Athletics, Perception
Tool Proficiencies: Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (Water)
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Jalana Agosto is as dangerous as any barbarian of Level 14 if she can get you in range of her greataxe – more attacks, more damage, and literally Relentless Rage – but her Primal Path makes it dangerous to even get close. The Path of the Storm Herald’s Storm of Fury grants a barbarian a 10′ aura during their rages that is determined by a chosen environment. Having chosen the sea Jalana can lash out at a target within her aura with lightning at the end of each of her turns. Storm Soul grants her innate resistance to lightning damage and the ability to breath underwater, while Shield of the Storm extends that benefit to allies within her raging aura. Finally, Raging Storm calls up roaring winds that can knock enemies that Jalana strikes while raging prone.
Reverence, Tiefling – Level 14 Bard
HP: 73 AC: 14
Str: 8 Con: 10 Dex: 17 Int: 14 Wis: 12 Cha: 20
Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Hellish Resistance, Infernal Legacy, Spellcasting, Bardic Inspiration (d10), Jack of all Trades, Song of Rest (d10), Bard College: Glamour, Mantle of Inspiration, Enthralling Performance, Expertise (Performance, Persuasion, Insight, Deception), Font of Inspiration, Countercharm, Mantle of Majesty, Magical Secrets x2, Unbreakable Majesty, Background: Charlatan, False Identity
Gear: Rapier, Diplomat’s Pack, Flute, Leather Armor, Dagger, Fine Clothes, Disguise Kit, Tools of the Con of Your Choice, Belt Pouch with 15 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Performance, Persuasion, Insight, Deception, Sleight of Hand
Tool Proficiencies: Lute, Flute, Drums, Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit
Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma
Reverence brings the usual strengths of a bard to the table, with a wide variety of spells and skills that she is adept at. Her choice of the Bard College of Glamour, however, takes things in a decidedly Fey direction. Mantle of Inspiration lets Reverence spend Bardic Inspiration to grant her allies temporary hit points (2d10 by Level 14) and allows them to rush to her side without provoking opportunity attacks. Enthralling Performance lets Reverence use fey magic to charm multiple beings at the same time with her music, while Mantle of Majesty grants her the command spell as a bonus action for one minute that no charmed being can resist. Unbreakable Majesty doesn’t just give Reverence an otherworldly, lovely, fierce appearance; it allows her to cast sanctuary on herself. Opponents who fail sanctuary‘s saving throw become more vulnerable to Reverence’s Charisma checks and spells.
Pavel Kulenov, Human – Level 14 Cleric
HP: 114 AC: 18
Str: 16 Con: 16 Dex: 9 Int: 11 Wis: 18 Cha: 14
Racial/Class/Background Features: Extra Language, Spellcasting, Divine Domain: Grave, Heavy Armor Proficiency, Circle of Mortality, Eyes of the Grave, Channel Divinity (Path to the Grave), Destroy Undead, Sentinel at Death’s Door, Divine Strike, Background: Folk Hero, Rustic Hospitality
Gear: Mace, Chain Mail, Handaxe, Priest’s Pack, Shield, Holy Symbol, Brewer’s Supplies, Shovel, Iron Pot, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch with 10 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Religion, Animal Handling, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: Brewer’s Supplies, Vehicles (Land)
Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma
Pavel Kulenov, as a cleric of the Grave Domain, is exceptionally skilled at both thwarting and dealing out death. His Domain spells include things like revifify and vampiric touch. Circle of Mortality maximizes his healing when used on someone with 0 HP, and lets him use spare the dying as a bonus action. Eyes of the Grave lets Pavel detect undead creatures up to a mile away. His Path to the Grave use of Channel Divinity lets him make a target vulnerable to the next type of damage dealt to them, or temporarily strip away a resistance or immunity. Sentinel at Death’s Door lets Pavel turn a critical hit against himself or an ally into a regular hit, while Divine Strike wreathes his own attacks in necrotic energy for increased damage. Pavel, as a cleric, is actually the only member of the party who gets something from his ‘build’ choice past Level 14: at 17 he’ll get Keeper of Souls, letting him use the deaths of enemies to heal himself and allies.
Ulfgar Ungart, Hill Dwarf – Level 14 Druid
HP: 142 AC: 14
Str: 8 Con: 19 Dex: 12 Int: 10 Wis: 19 Cha: 13
Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Dwarven Resilience, Dwarven Combat Training, Stonecunning, Dwarven Toughness, Druidic, Spellcasting, Wild Shape, Druid Circle: Dreams, Balm of the Summer Court, Hearth of Moonlight and Shadow, Hidden Paths, Purifying Light, Background: Noble, Extra Language, Position of Privilege
Gear: Shield, Scimitar, Leather Armor, Explorer’s Pack, Druidic Focus, Fine Clothes, Signet Ring, Scroll of Pedigree, Purse with 25 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Animal Handling, Nature, History, Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: Brewer’s Supplies, Chess
Saving Throws: Intelligence, Wisdom
Ulfgar Ungart, being a druid of the Circle of Dreams, is a lot like Reverence in that he has a prominent connection to the fey. That’s more or less where the resemblance stops, however. Balm of the Summer Court grants Ulfgar a ‘pool of fey energy’ that is 14d6 by 14th Level. As a bonus action he can spend up to half his druid level of those dice to heal an ally, grant them temporary HP equal to the number of dice spent, and a boost to their speed. Hearth of Moonlight and Shadow grants the party a perception bonus during their rests, and hides their campfires from prying eyes. Hidden Paths allows Ulfgar to teleport himself or an ally up to 30′, once every 1d4 rounds. Finally, Purifying Light lets him tack dispel magic onto healing spells, curing allies of negative magical effects at the same time as he heals them.
I built these characters at Level 14 because, with the exception of the cleric, the features of each build cap out at that level and I wanted to show off everything they had to offer. Overall I think these are solid character builds. The Storm Herald barbarians remind me of certain 4th Edition barbarians who gained similar auras when they raged. The bards of Glamour are . . . pretty interesting, if a little nefarious and definitely representing the dangerous side of the fey. The Grave cleric domain drops right in with the rest of them, I feel, and does a good job at balancing offense and healing. The Circle of Dreams druid, in comparison to the Glamour bard, does a good job of representing the benevolent side of fey and is a darn good healer to boot with some interesting tricks. There are, of course, a lot more where those came from: Ancestral Guardian and Zealot barbarians, Whispers bards, Forge and Protection clerics, and Shepherd and Twilight druids. There are also some new rules for druids when it comes to gaining forms for their Wild Shape, which I recommend giving a look.
Who They Are
Jalana Agosto has always been drawn to the sea, the daughter of sailors who knew since as far back as she could remember that she’d be one too. It wasn’t until her first voyage as a sailor was attacked by pirates that she realized the sea was drawn to her in turn. It took a few more incidents of repelling boarders in storm-like conditions with lightning cutting across clear skies before the crew realized Jalana was the source, and while they appreciated her efforts they recommended she go learn more about this ability before she destroyed the ship. Taking to the road and shipping lanes as an adventurer Jalana eventually mastered her anger and her powers, falling in with some other adventurers along the way. She’ll go wherever the journey takes her, but she treasures every moment she can spend on the sea.
Reverence wasn’t born with that name, but chose it as a ‘virtue’ name sometime in her adolescence. However, while some tieflings choose such a name to represent some divinely-inspired devotion, this tiefling chose it as her birthright. Fleeing from the death of her family and the persecution of others as a young child, Reverence stumbled across the border between planes and ended up among the fey. To the fey’s endless delight, the young tiefling proved an apt pupil, and when she returned to the world she was a master of song and story and no small number of her listeners. Every step on the road since has been to gather her namesake from the world around her, and if they don’t give it willingly she will command it.
Pavel Kulenov serves a deity of death, but you wouldn’t know it from talking to him. Orphaned by an undead attack at a young age he was rescued by a traveling cleric who had come to purge the affronts to her deity, and the cleric took him in. Since becoming a full cleric himself and striking out on his own Pavel has done much to serve his god, preserving lives that are at risk before their time, ending other lives according to the grand plan, and hunting down every undead abomination he can find. He does all of this with a friendly demeanor, easy smiles, and a certain amount of flirting that has gotten him into ‘harmless’ trouble now and again. Death is final, after all, but nobody said you had to fear it.
Ulfgar Ungart was the third son of a commoner, but that life vanished into mist when he wandered into the wrong – or perhaps the right – forest in his travels. He walked out of the forest a day later, having spent years trapped among the fey, learning their ways and using his common sense and wisdom to gain a position of nobility among them. That he was able to tap into primal power was almost as surprising to his family as the signet ring and fancy clothes. His eyes long since opened to a wider world, Ulfgar has become the successful but eccentric youngest son, wandering the world, adventuring, and acting as something of an ambassador for the Summer Court in the world of mortals. He still writes home often.
How They Interact
Jalana is wary of Reverence, having seen how easily the bard turns the minds of others and having been enraptured by her magic herself more than a few times. Reverence is always friendly, but Jalana has always wondered how much of that is real. Pavel’s an actually, no-bones-about-it friendly sort, and he’s saved her life more than once. She’s always been glad to return the favor, and has done so more than once. It helps that he stopped flirting with her once she made her disinterest quite clear. Ulfgar is her closest friend in the party, as they met relatively early on and the druid helped her to understand her path as a Storm Herald. After all their travels they still haven’t visited the realm Ulfgar represents, but Jalana made him promise to take her sailing on fey seas one day.
Reverence thinks Jalana is the absolute best, the perfect lackey – er, friend to have around when someone refuses to bask in the bard’s gloriousness and needs a greataxe upside the head. She does everything she can to stay in Jalana’s good graces but senses the barbarian’s wariness. Pavel is her biggest fan, he said so himself, and for once Reverence didn’t have to put any magic into the effort. She knows that he’s a bit of a flirt, but he’s honest about it and she gets amusement from seeing him try and one-up himself. Ulfgar is a strange one, gaining his abilities from roughly the same place as Reverence with a result that probably couldn’t be more different. He’s kind, and doesn’t fall for many of Reverence’s tricks, so she knows it’s real. She’d never say it out loud, but she considers him as family, the quirky uncle she had to find on the road.
Pavel likes everyone who isn’t an undead abomination or, in his worlds, ‘a total prat’, so it doesn’t surprise anybody who knows him that he cares about everyone in the party. Jalana’s amazingly strong, he learned that firsthand when she put him through a window (no hard feelings), and she’s got an admirable sense of adventure. Reverence is, wow, amazing, but Pavel figured out a long time ago that a lot of her current behavior covers old wounds. He does what he can to make her feel better about everything. Ulfgar is wise, and kind, and soft-spoken, and handsome, and oh dear when did this go from the usual flirting to something more? Well, Pavel will have to change his game up a little, but if he can convince Ulfgar it’ll be worth it.
Ulfgar helped mentor Jalana in her abilities for a time, and couldn’t be more proud of how far the barbarian has come. He’s hesitant to bring her to meet the fey (even the Summer Court is dangerous), but he thinks she’s just about ready. Reverence is his opposite number in a way, and a good reminder that the place and beings they each draw power from can be excessively fickle. Reverence herself is a decent, hurt person under all the glamour and songs, and Ulfgar hopes she’ll get what she truly needs someday. Pavel’s deity baffled Ulfgar for a time, since the druid is so tied to life. Once that passed, Ulfgar moved on to being baffled by Pavel himself. He’s sharp enough to have noticed some recent changes, though, and Pavel’s picked up the habit of throwing in little gifts with his flirtations. If it’s genuine . . . well Ulfgar certainly wouldn’t be opposed.
With all of this material coming out, it seems like there’s a pretty big push from WotC. Will we be getting another Player’s Handbook or Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide-style book? What will these various character builds look like in their final form? As for our heroes, it sounds like they’ve already been through a lot together, and have plenty of adventures ahead. At the very least it sounds like there’s a trip to the land of the fey in their future. How will they fare? All of this is, as always, up to you (and your dice) to determine!
Do you have feedback after using this batch of characters? How about a system you’d like to Meet the Party for? Speak up in the comments or give me a shout on Twitter @HungryHalfling. If you want to support Cannibal Halfling Gaming, please let your friends know about us and/or become a Patron!
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