With the announcement of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything coming out this November the speculation is finally over: Unearthed Arcana materials are being published in their final forms for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition! That doesn’t mean that Unearthed Arcana is done, however, and June’s release features more revised subclasses and player options for us to peruse. A druid from the Circle of the Shepherd, a Cavalier fighter, a paladin under the Oath of Conquest, and a warlock tied to a Celestial are all ready to playtest, so let’s Meet the Party!
When Xanathar’s Guide to Everything was announced I initially assumed that the Unearthed Arcana articles going forward would be for whatever came next – like the artificer and mystic being playtested via the DM’s Guild, they’d address material that hadn’t quite made the cut yet. That doesn’t appear to be true, at least not entirely, because the Cavalier featured in this release is name-dropped in the Guide to Everything‘s product overview. From that we can reasonably infer that we’re in the equivalent of the last days of D&D Next, and the feedback that some of this material receives will have a direct effect on the upcoming book. Pretty exciting stuff! So, without further ado, let’s see how our revised subclasses shake out.
Atala Rein, Human – Level 20 Circle of the Shepherd Druid
HP: 181 AC: 16
Str: 13 Con: 18 Dex: 16 Int: 10 Wis: 20 Cha: 11
Racial/Class/Background Features: Extra Language, Druidic, Spellcasting, Wild Shape, Druid Circle: Shepherd, Spirit Totem, Speech of the Woods, Mighty Summoner, Guardian Spirit, Faithful Summons, Timeless Body, Beast Spells, Archdruid, Background: Outlander, Extra Language, Wanderer
Gear: Wooden Shied, Scimitar, Leather Armor, Explorer’s Pack, Druidic Focus, Staff, Hunting Trap, Trophy from an Animal, Traveler’s Clothes, Belt Pouch, 10 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Animal Handling, Nature, Athletics, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: Herbalism Kit, Lute
Saving Throws: Intelligence, Wisdom
Atala Rein, as a Druid of the Circle of the Shepherd, specializes in interacting with, summoning, and controlling creatures and spirits. Level 2’s Speech of the Wild grants Atala knowledge of the Sylvan tongue, as well as the ability to speak to beasts. Spirit Totem, also at Level 2, grants a bonus action that summons an incorporeal animal spirit. The spirit in question appears within 60′, and has an aura of 30′ that grants a variety of bonuses depending in whether it is a Bear, Hawk, or Unicorn spirit. 6th Level’s Might Summoner gives any summoned beast or fey additional hit points and magical natural weapons. When those beasts/fey end their turn within the Spirit Totem’s aura, Level 10’s Guardian Spirit heals them. Faithful Summons act an emergency use of the Conjure Animals spell, triggering when Atala is reduced to 0 HP and summoning four CR 2 or lower beasts to protect Atala while she’s down.
Speech of the Wild is an upgrade from the original‘s Beast Speech, which didn’t include knowledge of the Sylvan tongue. Spirit Totem was once Spirit Bond, and the differences there are in the different spirits. The Bear grants some temp HP and advantage on strength checks, which is the same, but the Hawk lets Atala spend a reaction to grant an ally’s attack advantage where it used to grant a party-wide advantage on ranged attacks. The Unicorn has taken the place of the Wolf in name, though it grants advantage to detecting creatures within the aura just like Wolf did. Also, when Atala casts a healing spell any creature of her choice regains her Druid level in HP; the Language for Wolf merely mentioned allies. Mighty Summoner is unchanged aside from language. Guardian Spirit once granted the benefits of the Death Ward spell at the end of every long rest. Faithful Summons remains largely unchanged, although it now specifies that the summoned creatures do not require concentration to stick around and can be dismissed at will.
Some more precise language and some careful improvements have me seeing the new Circle of the Shepherd as a respectable upgrade. Guardian Spirit in particular seems much improved by being more useful for what seems like a dedicated summoning character build. There is the slight caveat that there aren’t very many summoning spells in the Druid’s list, however, and even some of them don’t qualify for Mighty Summoner because they don’t involve beasts or fey. While no doubt fully functional, I worry that leaning too much on summoning spells as they stand as of this writing could end up feeling repetitive.
Sutha, Half-Orc – Level 20 Cavalier Fighter
HP: 221 AC: 21
Str: 20 Con: 20 Dex: 8 Int: 10 Wis: 19 Cha: 12
Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Menacing, Relentless Endurance, Savage Attacks, Fighting Style: Defense, Second Wind, Action Surge x2, Martial Archetype: Cavalier, Bonus Proficiency (Animal Handling), Born to the Saddle, Extra Attack x3, Ferocious Charger, Combat Superiority (d12s x6), Indomitable x3, Relentless, Background: Soldier, Military Rank
Gear: Warhorse, Plate Mail, Lance, Shield, Longsword, Javelins x2, Explorer’s Pack, Insignia of Rank, Trophy Taken from a Fallen Enemy, Deck of Cards, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch, 10 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Perception, Athletics, Intimidation, Animal Handling
Tool Proficiencies: Deck of Cards, Vehicles (Land)
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Sutha is a literal knight in shining armor, born to fight in the saddle. Speaking of which, at Level 3 she gains Born to the Saddle, which grants her advantage on rolls to avoid falling off of her mount; even if she fails and falls, so long as it’s not more than 10′ she’ll land standing up. Sutha also only needs to spend 5′ of movement to mount or dismount, instead of half of her total speed. Level 3 also grants her a Bonus Proficiency in one of a number of skills or a new language. Combat Superiority, gained at Level 3 and upgraded over the course of several levels, grants Sutha dice she can use on a number of Maneuvers: Control Mount, Precision Attack, Trip Attack, and Warding Maneuver. Level 7’s Ferocious Charger grants additional benefits to Trip Attack, letting her spend additional superiority dice to add to the damage roll and inflicting disadvantage on the target’s attempt to remain standing. Relentless, finally, grants Sutha a superiority die if she rolls initiative and has no such dice remaining.
When the Cavalier first came out in the Kits of Old the Born in the Saddle and Bonus Proficiency traits were much the same, although instead of a potential lanuguage proficiency there was a potential tool proficiency. The different maneuvers weren’t named back then, and they’ve changed somewhat. What would become the Trip Attack was restricted to use with a mount and with a lance, and what is now Warding Maneuver was restricted to yourself and your mount, instead of any creature within 5′. Ferocious Charger was restricted to use with a lance, and wasn’t explicitly tied into the proto-Trip Attack despite doing so in practice. The various improvements to Combat Superiority, as well as Relentless, remain unchanged.
Naming the different maneuvers makes things a lot clearer in this version of the cavalier. The changes do mean that, aside from Born to the Saddle and the Control Mount maneuver, few of the build’s traits actually have anything to do with being a mounted fighter. Still, I think that’s an improvement. The extra speed alone is plenty of benefit for being able to ride a mount well, and the changes increase the diversity of cavaliers you’re likely to run into. While Sutha sticks close to the archetype, there’s nothing to prevent you from making a mounted Archery fighter using this build!
Kriv Turnuroth, Red Dragonborn – Level 20 Conquest Paladin
HP: 163 AC: 18
Str: 20 Con: 15 Dex: 8 Int: 10 Wis: 12 Cha: 20
Racial/Class/Background Features: Draconic Ancestry (Red), Breath Weapon (Fire), Damage Resistance (Fire), Divine Sense, Lay on Hands, Fighting Style: Great Weapon Fighting, Spellcasting, Improved Divine Smite, Divine Health, Sacred Oath: Conquest, Oath Spells, Channel Divinity (Conquering Presence, Guided Strike), Extra Attack, Aura of Protection, Aura of Conquest, Aura of Courage, Cleansing Touch, Scornful Rebuke, Invincible Conqueror, Background: Noble, Extra Language, Position of Privilege
Gear: Greatsword, Glaive, Javelins x5, Explorer’s Pack, Plate Mail, Holy Symbol, Fine Clothes, Signet Ring, Scroll of Pedigree, Purse, 25 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Intimidation, History, Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: Deck of Cards
Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma
Kriv Turnuroth has taken an Oath of Conquest to crush all who oppose him, and he’s certainly equipped to do it. His Oath spells are all of the nastier bent, while his Channel Divinity abilities focus on being scarier and deadlier: Conquering Presence can frighten enemies who fail a saving throw, while Guided Strike grants a +10 bonus to an attack roll. Aura of Conquest, at Level 7, further punishes frightened enemies within the aura by reducing their speed to 0 and dealing psychic damage equal to half of Kriv’s paladin level for every turn they start there. Scornful Rebuke kicks in at Level 15 and deal Charisma-modifier-based psychic damage to any who strike Kriv with an attack. At Level 20 Kriv gains Invincible Conqueror, which can turn him into an avatar of conquest: for 1 minute he resists all damage, can make an additional attack as part of the Attack action, and scores a critical hit on a 19-20.
There have been a fair few changes to the original Conquest Paladin; Invincible Conqueror is really the only trait that hasn’t changed in some way. The build ditched Blight from it’s 13th Level Oath Spells in favor of Stoneskin. Instead of Conquering Presence there was a Strike of the same name, which was limited to the target of a melee attack instead of every creature of your choice within 30′. Aura of Conquest inflicted disadvantage on enemy rolls to avoid being frightened instead of increasing the effects of being frightened. Scornful Rebuke completely replaced Implacable Spirit, which made the Conquest Paladin immune to being charmed.
Flavor wise the Conquest Paladin remains the same, a dangerous opponent who revels in scaring their opponents. Mechanically, it’s much better at doing so. It’s more efficient at frightening more enemies, takes advantage of that with the new version of Aura of Conquest, and ditches a highly situational immunity to be a target that punishes you for hitting it. I think it’s definitely a solid step towards full publication.
Varis Starflower, Drow– Level 20 Celestial Warlock
HP: 162 AC: 16
Str: 8 Con: 16 Dex: 19 Int: 12 Wis: 10 Cha: 20
Racial/Class/Background Features: Superior Darkvision, Keen Senses, Fey Ancestry, Trance, Sunlight Sensitivity, Drow Magic, Drow Weapon Training, Otherworldly Patron: Celestial, Pact Magic, Expanded Spell List, Bonus Cantrips (Sacred Flame, Light), Healing Light, Eldritch Invocations (8), Pact Boon: Pact of the Blade, Radiant Soul, Celestial Resistance, Mystic Arcanum, Searing Vengeance, Eldritch Master, Background: Acolyte, Extra Language x2,
Gear: Rapier, Arcane Focus, Dungeoneer’s Pack, Studded Leather Armor, Daggers x3, Holy Symbol, Prayer Book, Incense x5, Vestments, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch, 15 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Perception, Arcana, Nature, Insight, Religion
Tool Proficiencies: N/A
Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma
Varis Starflower is a warlock who has made deals not with capricious fey, cunning devils, or squamous horrors, but instead with a glowing celestial being of the upper planes. His Expanded Spell List borrows a lot from the cleric spell list, and his bonus cantrips are Sacred Flame and Light. Healing Light grants Varis d6s equal to his warlock level +1, per long rest; he can expend a bonus action by touching a creature and spending dice up to his Charisma modifier to heal the target the rolled amount. Level 6’s Radiant Soul makes Varis resistant to radiant damage, and adds his Charisma modifier to the damage of one target hit by any of his radiant and fire damage spells. Starting at Level 10 Varis gains temp HP at the end of every short and long rest thanks to Celestial Resistance, and he even bestows a smaller amount of temp HP to up to five chosen creatures. Finally, starting Level 14 and once per long rest, when Varis would make a death saving throw Searing Vengeance lets him regain half his HP and both blind and deal radiant damage to enemies near him.
The Celestial Warlock actually started as the Undying Light warlock, and the name isn’t the only thing that’s changed. The Undying Light was powered by energy from the Positive Plane rather than a Celestial being, and had a smaller Expanded Spell List and some flavorful quirks (Undying Light Flaws) that were ditched for the new version. A fair number of the other changes are organizational in manner. Radiant Soul was originally at Level 1, did the extra damage to all targets instead of just one, and encompassed the Bonus Cantrips. Searing Vengeance was at Level 6, oddly enough, and Celestial Resistance was called Radiant Resilience. The equivalent of Healing Light was at Level 14 instead of Level 1, and suddenly gave you access to 15d6 of healing dice instead of a leveled amount.
I think moving Healing Light to Level 1, and letting it get stronger as the Celestial Warlock levels, was a really important (and wise) decision. It makes the build a healer up front instead of something suddenly dropped in the character’s lap at Level 14, giving it a stronger personality. I like the literally Expanded Spell List, and the new version of Radiant Soul is tweaked to keep the added spells from being too potent. I do miss the Flaws, however, and while being tied to a Celestial is stronger narrative-wise than just juicing up on the Positive Plane it’s also no longer as appropriate for someone who has made a pact with the Undying Court of Aerenal. Hey, I’m an Eberron DM, sue me. That being said, it’s all flavor anyways, and can easily enough be tweaked to suit your needs.
Our Revised heroes are at Level 20 because Paladins do so love to have their last feature at that level, and because really why not? I did tweak a few bits of gear for Sutha, Kriv, and Varis. Better armor, for one, and a few different weapon choices (like the Rapier for Varis to take advantage of his Drow Weapon Proficiency).
Also included in the latest Unearthed Arcana is another crack at new Eldtrich Invocations for the warlock. There have been a number of changes to them since the last time they debuted, and while I’m not going to dig into them all here I will point out one big change: none of them are restricted to a specific Pact anymore. This prevents railroading players into choosing certain invocations (which brought back not-very-fond memories of 4th Edition’s warlocks when they first got started) and I approve of that, but some of the invocation names are still . . . very specific. I’m not sure Varis would feel comfortable taking Kiss of Mephistopheles, for instance. Not a mechanical issue by any means, just a niggling flavor problem.
So! It’s only a comparatively few short months before Xanathar’s going to be telling us about, well, everything. Will we hear about the Circle of the Shepherd, the Cavalier, the Oath of Conquest, or the Pact of the Celestial? If we do, how will what we hear compare to what we’ve got with Atala, Sutha, Kriv, and Varis? It’ll all depend on how the playtesting and the survey results go, and as always that’s for you (and your dice) to determine!
Like what Meet the Party has to offer? Want to see ready-to-play characters for a system and/or setting of your choice? Let us know @HungryHalfling, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or here in the comments! And remember, Patreon supporters get first dibs!