One D&D Playtest, Unearthed Arcana: Player's Handbook #6

One D&D Playtest, Unearthed Arcana: Player’s Handbook #6


Unearthed Arcana #6 brings a lot of exciting things. 5 classes, multiple subclasses for each of them, and tweaks to the exciting new Weapon Mastery system. There’s a lot to be excited about here, and this is the first UA document where the design team could include major improvements to class design based on community feedback, and the resulting changes are immediately apparent.

WotC has once again included sidebars detailing exactly what’s new in each part of the document, so we won’t duplicate that information.

If you’re eyeing the length of this article and feeling a little spooked, I totally understand. We’re going to catch up with the OneDnD playtest on the RPGBOT.Podcast in upcoming episodes.

Table of Contents

Previous Playtest Rounds

  1. Character Origins
  2. Expert Classes
  3. The Cleric and Revised Species
  4. The Druid and Paladin
  5. Players Handbook #5 (the one with Weapon Mastery)

Rules Glossary v6

There were apparently no changes from the previous UA document, which is surprising. This is the first time that has happened.

Spells and Spellcasting

WotC is sticking to the idea of 3 core spell lists which are then complemented by class-exclusive spells. For example: The Ranger uses the Primal spell list, but also gets exclusives like Hunter’s Mark. This enables things like the Bard selecting their own base spell list without accidentally getting class-exclusive spells, which is a thing that’s happening (see below).

Class-exclusive spells and smite spells (there are two on the Divine spell list) will be addressed under the various classes.

  • Elementalism replaces Gust, Shape Water, and Move Earth and isn’t remotely as fun or useful as any of them. Aside from creating a cup of water from nothing, it’s mostly cosmetic party tricks. You can’t even blow out a candle.
  • Hunter’s Mark adds force damage rather than weapon damage, which is usually better but sometimes worse.
  • Power Word Kill is finally good, doing a ton of damage with no save if the target has more than 100 hit points. No more metagaming to guess your target’s hp!
  • Power Word Heal now works at range. It was super weird that it didn’t before because it meant that bards needed to whisper in people’s ears to heal them.
  • Smite spells also work on Unarmed Strikes. This means that they can be used to deal damage when starting a Grapple or Shoving since those are now part of Unarmed Strike!

The wording on Spellcasting for spontaneous casters (bards, sorcerers, etc.) from the previous UA has stuck around. Spells known are now described as “Prepared” but can only be changed when you gain a level. Long-time players will find this change confusing and annoying.


For those just now catching up with the playtest: Ability Score Improvement is now a feat, and feats have seen some other changes. See our response to UA: Players Handbook #5.

New in this doc: Ability Score Improvement now allows you to get an ability score to 22 if you take it at level 19. In the previous playtest you could do this when you got an Epic Boon at level 20.

Fighting Style Feats

These feats now require the Fighting Style feature, which means no more Fighting Style (Blind Fighting) so that your whole party can run around in darkness/fog/whatever. Classes that get the Fighting Style feature now select one of the Fighting Style feats, though your options may be limited by your class. For example: Paladins don’t get Archery.

The specific fighting styles are all identical to the 2014 versions with the exception of Two-Weapon Fighting, which was updated to match the updated two-weapon fighting rules.


Tridents and War Picks got a buff, which is great because previously there was literally no reason to use them. Lances got updated to deal less damage and now that they’re Heavy they’re not feasible for small characters to use.

The Push weapon mastery got clarified to Horizontally away, which solves the issue of hitting enemies 10 feet into the air for free falling damage, but does also make 3-dimensional combat a little silly.

The Thrown property now specifies that you can draw the weapon as part of the attack. This is nice, but it’s also part of the Attack action rules now, so it’s not totally clear how it interacts. It’s possible that you get to do both, so you could stow one weapon, draw a thrown weapon, and immediately throw it all as part of a single attack. I don’t think that’s intentional.

Nets got a major update. They’re now adventuring gear, work out to 15 feet away, and impose a saving throw based on your Dexterity modifier. Escaping the net requires either an Athletics check or destroying the net. It’s not clear why Acrobatics wouldn’t work.

Weapon Mastery remains a highlight, and WotC clearly understands how excited people are about it. It works great in PF2, and it adds a ton of fun for martial characters which 5e sorely needs. Choosing between a Topple weapon to gamble on knocking enemies prone or a Sap weapon to debuff their attacks offers tactical nuance which I’m excited to see in the base rules of the game.


Video about classes: 

Among the changes, the subclass progressions have all (mostly) returned to the 2014 method. Subclasses are still granted at level 3 across the board, but beyond that point classes no longer all get subclass features at the same levels. Apparently this caused too many cascading problems in class design for WotC to fix, so they gave up on the idea. I don’t think anyone really minds, and it makes backwards-compatibility considerably easier.

Class features that previously worked PB/day are no longer tied to Proficiency Bonus. We’ve been complaining about that since Tasha’s because it creates so much multiclass abuse, and WotC has finally listened.

Starting equipment is no longer a flat 100gp, which was briefly the case in the UA playtests. Now each class gets a different fixed number. The number will be higher for classes that depend on heavier armor (paladins) and lower for classes with inexpensive gear (monks).


The Bard returns for the first time since playtest doc #2, and they’ve seen a lot of changes.

Among them, bards lost their smattering of martial weapon proficiencies. It’s unclear why, but it was also unclear why they’ve been proficient with a handful of weapons including whips since at least 3.0.

Bardic Inspiration

Playtest number 2 experimented with how Bardic Inspiration works, making it a Reaction taken by the Bard. Among its pre-existing uses, it also had the ability to heal as a Reaction, which is so good that the Bard was compelled to hoard at least one usage because it’s functionally Healing Word as a Reaction and would be used in the same way: to save someone when they hit 0. The new UA calls out this hoarding issue in the change notes.

The new version of Bardic Inspiration is closer to the 2014 version, but considerably more generous. It lasts an hour (instead of 10 minutes) and it’s used in response to failing a roll, so you can grant inspiration ahead of time, you don’t need to rush to use it, and you don’t need to guess when to spend the die. It’s massively better and more satisfying than it was.


Bards now get their choice of any of the three spell lists, plus the Vicious Mockery cantrip. This makes bards massively diverse, and opens up a lot of interesting character concepts. The Bard’s method for learning spells is the same as the 2014 rules, the terminology is just much more confusing now.

Vicious Mockery got a modest buff, improving its damage die from d4 to d6. This wasn’t super necessary in my opinion, but a lot of players have likely overlooked Vicious Mockery due to the low damage.

UA Playtest #2 restricted bards to enchantment and illusion spells from the Arcane spell list. Back to at least 3rd edition, the vast majority of the Bard’s spells were either enchantments or illusions. Opening up spell schools is adventurous and novel, but it means that the Bard is very conceptually similar to the sorcerer. With such broad access to spell options, the Bard suddenly becomes the easiest character to add to any given party.

Jack of All Trades

Explicitly only works on ability checks where a skill could apply, so no more bonus to initiative or to the Constitution check to march long distances.


Used as a Reaction to trigger a reroll with advantage on saves against charm/fear. I’d be happy with just the reroll. Countercharm has sucked since 3.0, so it’s exciting that it’s finally worth the paper it’s printed on.

Magical Secrets

You get access to all 3 spell lists. With the ability to retrain a spell every time you gain a level, you can gradually shift your spell list to have all of the best non-class-exclusive spells, so after level 10 all bards move toward a hypothetical center of optimization gravity.

Words of Creation

Twin both Power Word Heal and Power Word Kill. Both spells got a buff (Heal works at range now, and Kill deals damage without a save if the target is above 100gp), so this is pretty great.

College of Dance

A breakdance fighting monk bard. Dex to unarmed strikes, 10+Dex+Cha for your AC. When you expend a Bardic Inspiration die as part of an action (meaning Action, Bonus Action, or Reaction), you get a free unarmed strike.

Weirdly, there are very few things which the Bard can do that explicitly “expend” an inspiration die during one of their own actions, so there aren’t many ways to trigger this extra attack. The rules for Bardic Inspiration state that “A Bardic Inspiration die is expended when it’s rolled”, and since that’s not during one of your actions, that won’t trigger the bonus attack. I think the intent is that you could trigger the bonus attack when you award Bardic Inspiration, but that is not what the rules say currently. The intent is likely that granting a die to an ally triggers the free attack, but the way the word “expend” is being used is inconsistent and confusing.

Inspiring Movement lets you and an ally move using your Reaction when enemies end their turns adjacent to your ally. This expends a Bardic Inspiration die, so you get a free Unarmed Strike.

Leading Evasion is Evasion for you and any ally within 5 feet. Grab a paladin (or become one) for Aura of Protection and suddenly explosions get much less scary for your party.

Tandem Footwork lets you boost your party’s initiative rolls.

Irresistible Dance lets you cast Otto’s Irresistible Dance for free once per day. That alone isn’t amazing, but you also get to recharge it with Bardic Inspiration dice. If your DM doesn’t restrict how often you can Short Rest, you can go into almost every encounter ready to start a flash mob.

College of Glamour

Beguiling Magic replaces Enthralling Performance, triggering when you cast a enchantment/illusion spell rather than after performing for a full minute so you can actually use it against dangerous creatures. You can now choose between making targets Charmed or Frightened.

Unbreakable Majesty now causes attacks to miss if the attack fails a save, but no longer imposes Disadvantage on saves against your spells if the target passes their save to attack you.

Other features got updated wording, but didn’t conceptually change. Overall, I think the subclass is better designed, but Unbreakable Majesty is arguably weaker than it was before.

College of Lore

Additional Magical Secrets is now Magical Discoveries. It works the same way for the most part, but also allows you to retrain the spells every level, allowing you to upgrade them over time.

Peerless Skill now works with attack rolls, but I doubt that will come into play often. Maybe if you Polymorph?

College of Valor

Combat Inspiration can now be used like the spell Shield to potentially turn a successful attack into a miss. Unfortunately, you still can’t grant yourself Bardic Inspiration, so you don’t get to use it.

Valor bards get to use weapons as spellcasting foci, so no more dropping your sword to grab a lute or asking your DM if you can use a reinforced lute as a weapon.


No major changes, but lots of fine-tuning to improve quality of life.

Divine Order

While people are generally very happy with the 2014 clerics, WotC wants to give players more choice in how they build a cleric. Previously, your Divine Domain attempted to determine your playstyle, either placing you on the front lines or in the back with the wizards.

Now that choice is left to the player with Divine Order. Defender gets you martial weapons and heavy armor. Thaumaturge gets you an extra cantrip and +Wis to your Religion checks so that clerics can finally be decent at Religion.

Since this is a 1st-level feature, the Cleric remains an easy class dip to get proficiency in heavy armor, but at least we won’t get powerful 1st-level domain features.


Right back to the 2014 rules.

Channel Divinity

In the 2014 rules, clerics got 1, 2, or 3 uses of Channel Divinity per short rest. This was fine, but meant that the pacing of short rests could make Channel Divinity unpredictable.

Channel Divinity has been repeatedly updated throughout the playtest, and one of the biggest changes is the number of uses. The number now scales with your cleric level, you recover one per short rest, and all of them on a long rest. This means that you’re more resilient to unpredictable pacing, but there is still an incentive to take short rests. Assuming two short rest per day, you can get four uses per day as early as level 2.

The first use option is Divine Spark, which provides a little bit of healing or damage as an Action at range. It’s very slightly better than cantrip damage, but it also removes the urge to prepare Cure Wounds. It scales at levels 7, 13, and 18, which are weird levels. Why not 5, 11, and 17 like cantrips?

Turn Undead is very different from previous versions. Dating far back into DnD’s history, Turn Undead has caused undead to flee. Now it mostly halts them in place. It’s different, but it’s also really good.

Smite Undead

At level 5, Smite Undead adds some radiant damage to Turn Undead, which appears to replace Destroy Undead. In all the years I’ve played DnD, Turn Undead basically never mattered because it only affected creatures of too low level to be a threat anyway.

Blessed Strikes and Improved Blessed Strikes

As with the previous UA cleric, you now get to choose between Divine Strike and Potent Spellcasting.

Divine Strike is mostly identical to the 2014 version, but you get to choose between radiant and necrotic damage rather than whatever your subclass gave you, which could mean getting thunder or force damage or it could mean getting poison damage. Regardless, it’s still a bad feature because the scaling is still outright worse than what you could do with Sacred Flame while also requiring you to split your ability score increases.

Potent Spellcasting gives you +Wisdom to damage with divine cantrips. Notably not cleric cantrips, but divine cantrips. This means that if you got divine spells from other places (bard, paladin, etc.) you would add your Wisdom to damage with those, too.

At level 14, when you deal damage with a cantrip you grant temporary hit points to yourself or an ally, which is an amazing upgrade that we absolutely do not need. Potent Spellcasting was already the better choice by a wide margin. I think WotC didn’t want players to feel left out when Divine Strike gets a second die, but by that level cantrips are already dealing 3 dice and your Wisdom modifier damage and have been for 3 levels.

Divine Intervention and Greater Divine Intervention

Divine Intervention is deterministic now and is basically Limited Wish. Cast any divine spell of 5th level or lower, no components, no preparation, as an Action. Ex: Raise Dead. The diamond market is in shambles.

Greater Divine Intervention is Essentially Wish once every 2d4 days, but you ignore the last paragraph. This notably includes the 33% chance of never being able to cast Wish again, which means that you can do things like grant 10 people permanent damage resistance every 2d4 days without issue. That’s literally an Epic Boon and you can just pick yourself and your 9 best friends and hand them out like party favors every 5-ish days.

Still worse, you can use Greater Divine Intervention to cast Simulacrum. Your Simulacrum can then recover use of Greater Divine Intervention because it’s not a spell slot. You can now copy+paste 20th-level clerics for free.

The intent here was to provide an effect which was as strong as Wish but which had a framework of restrictions that players already know and which has already been field tested at length. But they removed the part that makes the most dangerous parts of Wish risky to use and replaced the risk with a 2d4 day cooldown timer. The whole situation is riddled with abuse cases. Sure, some of them come from Wish itself, but adding more doesn’t make that better.

Life Domain

Life Domain got a lot of changes. It’s the iconic cleric subclass, and it has historically been considered extremely boring despite being decently effective.

Disciple of Life has been reworded to try to address some abuse cases like Goodberry and Prayer of Healing. RAW, the 2014 version worked every time those spells healed a creature, making those spells provide a massive amount of low-cost healing. The UA version attempts to rein that in by making the creature regain hit points on the turn that you cast the spell, but doesn’t actually accomplish that. Instead, I can cast Goodberry, declare that it’s going to heal Bob eventually, and Bob gets hit points. Later he can eat some un-boosted Goodberries.

WotC forgot to include that the spell needs to heal a target on the turn that it was cast.

Preserve Life was previously a “oh no! We’re all about to die, and I guess I’d better Cleric” situation. Now it turns Channel Divinity into spell slots for Abjuration spells, which notably now includes healing spells. (Yes, that changed back in one of the earlier UA documents, and yes I have feelings about it.)

Blessed Healer and Supreme Healing have not changed.

So the only big change is Preserve Life, which makes it easier to cast low-level Abjuration spells more often. It’s fine, but the subclass is still pretty boring.

Light Domain

Light Domain’s spell list got reworked; it now emphasis both fire and divination as opposed to just fire.

Warding Flare now gets the benefits of Improved Warding Flare all at level 3 instead of waiting until level 6 to help your friends.

Revealing Light lets you cast a fancy version of See Invisibility once per day.

Corona of Light now also imposes disadvantage on saves against Radiance of the Dawn, which is a nice, modest upgrade.

Overall, very minor improvements, but the subclass was already great and the improvements still feel better without going overboard.

Trickery Domain

Trickery Domain is conceptually hard. Clerics aren’t typically built with high Dexterity or Charisma and they don’t get access to skills like Deception or Stealth from their class options, so building a cleric that can hang out with bards and rogues can be hard.

Blessing of the Trickster can be used on yourself, now! This was a huge limitation in the 2014 rules because it meant that your only option to be sneaky was to cast Pass Without Trace or to look beyond your class. But it’s also a very tempting multiclass dip for rangers and rogues now. Even with Expertise, permanent, free Advantage on Stealth checks is really good. There’s a reason people like cloaks of elvenkind.

Invoke Duplicity now works as a Bonus Action, and no longer requires the image to stay within 120 feet of you. This means that you can activate it and cast a spell or attack in the same turn, which was one of the feature’s biggest limitations: There was never a good time to use it.

Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows (which was awful) has been replaced by Trickster’s Magic, which lets you quicken illusions spells a few times per day. The Divine spell list doesn’t have many illusions, and even the Trickery Domain spell list only has a few, so this might not see much use.

Improved Duplicity now gives you two illusions and turns them into easy Advantage for your entire party. Absolutely fantastic.

Overall, three levels of cleric for Trickery Domain is a fantastic dip for stealthy characters like rogues. Permanent Advantage on Stealth, Pass Without Trace, and Invoke Duplicity are all amazing.

War Domain

War Priest now gives clerics access to Weapon Mastery in addition to the bonus action attack. The bonus action attacks also recharge on a Short Rest now, so you can use them enough times per day to justify carrying a weapon around. The tiny pool of uses was my biggest problem with War Domain, so this is an exciting change.

Channel Divinity: War God’s Blessing has been replaced, but they kept the name. Now it’s just War God’s Blessing, it’s not a Channel Divinity option, and it lets you cast Shield of Faith on yourself and an ally at the same time. It’s neat, but it’s a 1st-level spell and you get the feature at level 6 when you should be startin to cast Spirit Guardians if you want to be on the front lines.

Avatar of Battle is nearly identical to the 2014 version, which was already awesome, but now it resists all b/p/s damage rather than just non-magical b/p/s.



Druids have long had proficiency in simple weapons, scimitars for some reason, and medium armor. Dating at least back to 3rd edition, we’ve been left to ask “why scimitars?” The prohibition on metal armor and shields dates back even further, and has long raised the question “why is a metal scimitar okay?” There has never been an answer beyond real-world tradition dating back to the Druid’s first appearance in the game.

Among other changes, druids have lost both the prohibition on metal and medium armor proficiency. WotC’s taking some big swings here.

Primal Order

The equivalent to the Cleric’s Divine Order. “Magician” (oof, they couldn’t have come up with a cooler name?) gets you another cantrip and +Wis to your Nature checks so that you’re not worse at your most iconic skill than the party’s Wizard.

Warden gets you proficiency in medium armor and martial weapons. You’re still not on even footing with the cleric, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Wild Companion

Introduced as an optional class feature in Tasha’s, Wild Companion is now on the base class and you can use either a spell slot or a use of Wild Shape. It’s an awesome feature both mechanically and thematically, and I’m excited to see it sticking around.

Wild Shape

Wild Shape has been hard to use since at least 3rd edition, and every rules attempt has sought to make it both interesting and approachable, which is a hard line to hard. The previous UA version was almost universally panned as bland and upsetting, though some players did appreciate that it was finally approachable.

The previous UA also gave the Druid “Channel Nature” similar to the Cleric’s Channel Divinity to fuel Wild Shape and other features, and the recharge mechanic worked similarly: a scaling number of uses, recover one on a Short Rest, and all of them on a Long Rest. The concept of Channel Divinity has been recharged, but the mechanic remains. So we’re back to the 2014 option of spending Wild Shape uses on other things. It’s mechanically the same, but I did think that Channel Nature was conceptually the right idea.

This version of Wild makes several big changes. First, Wild Shape is a Bonus Action for all druids, allowing everyone to use it meaningfully in combat.

The new approach to keeping Wild Shape manageable is to limit your number of known forms. You start with 3, and eventually get 5. The historical urge to plumb the Monster Manual for the perfect form for the situation frequently ground the game to a halt (unless someone had done the work for you already), and analysis paralysis was very real. Limiting you to a handful of your favorite options seems like a good compromise between flexibility, accessibility, playability, and the desire to have the real animal stats rather than a generic stat block. It also removes the question of how a druid has a perfect encyclopedic knowledge of all beasts larger than a mouse without being proficient in Nature.

The rules while transformed are considerably clearer and more explicit. You explicitly get to keep your species traits, your class features, and your feats, among other things, so you can explicitly do things like use your dragonborn breath weapon and use things like Martial Arts. Your equipment functions as normal, and you can even choose whether or not it melds into your new form. I’m excited to see what we can do to optimize all of this if it goes to print as-is.

Notably you no longer adopt the beast’s hit point pool. This does make Wild Shape less of an effective defense, but you can still stay in your Wild Shape form even if you take a few hits. It also makes Constitution much more important for Wild Shape users, which makes a lot of sense.

Oh, and you can talk.

Wild Resurgence

Convert a spell slot into a use of Wild Shape once per turn. This means that you can use Wild Shape a ton and never cast a single spell.

You can also convert a use of Wild Shape into a 1st-level spell slot, but only once per day, which doesn’t feel like enough of an impact to even write the feature.

Elemental Fury and Improved Elemental Fury

The Druid’s answer to the Cleric’s Blessed Strikes. Potent spellcasting adds Wisdom to your cantrip damage. Primal Strike adds 1d8 damage when you attack with a weapon or a beast’s natural weapons while using Wild Shape once per turn. It’s elemental damage, but you get to pick from four options each time that you hit.

Commune with Nature

You get Commune with Nature prepared for free. Neat.


Bottomless uses of Wild Shape was always neat, but never amazing for anyone except Circle of the Moon and maybe Circle of Spores. The new version of Archdruid is more tailored to the Druid’s general capabilities, but it’s still underwhelming for a 20th-level feature.

If nothing else, you can turn a bunch of Wild Shape uses into another 8th-level spell slot

Circle of the Land

The nominally iconic druid that absolutely no one played, Circle of the Land got a major rework.

Within the subclass, the 2014 version required you to select a type of land to represent, which got you Circle Spells. Optimization concerns often meant that your druid would be far from their preferred terrain for no explicable reason.

The new version of the subclass offers just four varieties of land grouped by climate and allows you to change land types every long rest. The spell lists are small, but include some great spells from outside the Primal spell list.

Land’s Aid lets you spend a Wild Shape use to create a small damaging AOE and heal one target in the area. It’s conceptually similar to the spell Wither and Bloom. The damage isn’t amazing and it’s on a Con save, but it does scale and the 10-foot radius is decently large so I do think this will see use from time to time. It’s notably not a spell, so you can use it while in Wild Shape.

Natural Recovery gives you one free circle spell per day, plus the ability to recover some spell slots on a Short Rest. The recovery part was in the 2014 version as a level 2 feature, but the free spell is new. Moving this to level 6 feels odd because it’s not a stunningly powerful feature. Still, I think it works fine.

The new version of Nature’s Ward drops the condition immunities against fey in favor of more damage resistance. You’re immune to poison, but can still take poison damage, which feels super weird but I see what they’re trying to do with it.

Nature’s Sanctuary got a huge rework. It no longer protects you from beasts and plants, instead giving you and your allies a cube of half cover and shared damage resistance. It’s useful in every fight, and it’s not a spell so you can both cast it while in Wild Shape and without breaking Concentration on another spell.

Circle of the Moon

Combat Wild Shape previously let you Wild Shape as a Bonus Action and also spend spell slots to heal (which no one did). Now Wild Shape has new limitations, so Combat Wild Shape changed to suit. It now grants temporary hit points, lets you retain our own armor class if it was higher (go grab that breastplate, folks), cast abjuration spells in wild shape (which includes healing spells now), and cast Moonbeam.

The math on the temporary hp is interesting. Previously, Wild Shape’s pool of beast hit points could make you impossible to kill despite having an AC of 11 or something simply because beasts have a mountain of hp and garbage armor class. This method makes those huge pools of hp much less of a balance issue, but you still get a nice pad of temporary hit points.

Improved Circle Forms absorbs Primal Strikes. It still gives you the same CR progression, but notably no longer lets your attacks deal damage as though they were magic weapons. Instead, you can choose to deal radiant damage, which sidesteps resistances to non-magical b/p/s.

Elemental Wild Shape has been replaced by Moonlight Step, which lets you teleport a short distance and make your next attack with Advantage, adding some welcome mobility.

Thousand Forms is replaced by Lunar Form, which makes it easier to move Moonbeam and bring a friend along when you use Moonlight Step.

The announcement video discusses Circle of the Moon being able to make non-flying forms fly, but I don’t see that anywhere in the text.

Circle of the Sea

Not content to be Circle of the Land with Aquatic as your chosen land, the sea gets its own subclass now.

Wrath of the Sea gives you a small aura that lets you damage a creature and knock them away each turn without an action. It conveniently forgets the “horizontally away” or “directly away” restriction, so we’re back to launching creatures into the air for free falling damage and to knock them prone.

Aquatic Affinity makes it easy for non-aquatic species to play underwater. It also adds a swim speed to non-swimming beasts, you can cast Water Breathing and swim around as a giant scorpion or something.

Stormborn gives you a permanent fly speed and three damage resistances. Keep in mind that it’s a class feature, so that sticks around in Wild Shape. Flying, swimming scorpions!

Oceanic Gift lets you share Wrath of the Sea so you can put it on your party’s Defender (or on a poorly-positioned friend in a bad spot).

Altogether it feels like Circle of the Sea wants to work well with Wild Shape, but without Circle of the Moon’s improved CR progression that’s just not a thing people are going to do in combat.


The problem child since at least 3.0, the Monk has long struggled with its own identity both mechanically and thematically. In Crawford’s own words, “The monk’s damage output has not been where we want it to be relative to other classes”.

The Monk has long been pointed to as culturally problematic. WotC is giving the class a really hard look, and they’re working to portray monks in a way that looks beyond tropes about east asian cultures. Many features have been renamed, and subclasses have moved away from “Way of X” to “Warrior of X”.

In all, the Monk has been a problem for a very long time and WotC is trying to finally fix it.

The Monk’s proficiencies no longer include short swords, but they do include an artisan’s tool or musical instrument, so monks can have hobbies outside of fighting.

Absolutely nothing has been done about the Monk’s long-standing problem with resource scarcity. They continue to be starved for Discipline Points, severely limiting how often they can use the features that make them fun to play.

Martial Discipline

Martial Arts has been renamed and the damage die has improved.

I’ve advocated for a long time that monks should use a spear two-handed because that boosts your damage output until level 11 when Martial Arts finally catches up. The slow scaling on the damage die is one of the 2014 Monk’s many problems. The UA version raises the damage die one step, so your spear is now only an improvement until level 5.

Weapon Mastery

Martial Arts also no longer applies its damage die to weapons if it’s a larger die, so no d12 damage with a shortsword at high levels. Instead, the Monk now gets access to Weapon Mastery, so you can use weapons to trade additional damage for a secondary effect when it’s tactically useful, encouraging monks to switch between weapons and unarmed strikes to suit the needs of the moment. Combat is no longer a race to punch things as fast and as often as possible.

Unlike the Fighter, the Monk gets Weapon Mastery with just two weapon types, and only with Simple Weapons. Simple Weapons also have fewer Mastery effects; Graze, Sap, Topple aren’t available. Martial Arts also don’t work with two-handed weapons, so monks will struggle to get the Push option.

Martial Discipline

Martial Discipline replaces Ki. It’s mechanically identical, but the name change is welcome. Ki Points are now Discipline Points.

Similarly, Ki-Empower Strikes was renamed to Empower Strikes. Diamond Soul is Disciplined Survivor.


Purity of Body has been replaced by the ability to remove Charmed/Frightened/Poisoned and you no longer need food or water. No more immunity to disease/poison, though.

Deflect Energy

Deflect Missiles almost never comes up because so few creatures use ranged weapons. Deflect Energy now works on any attack, so you can deflect stuff like Guiding Bolt or Eldritch Blast.

Perfect Discipline

The 2014 Monk’s Perfect Self, formerly a disappointing capstone, is now a 15th-level feature with a new name.

Superior Defense

Replacing Empty Body, Superior Defense no longer makes you invisible and no longer gives you Astral Projection. Instead, for 4 Discipline Points you gain resistance to all damage except Force.

If you miss Empty Body, Warrior of Shadow’s 17th-level feature will get you the parts that you’re missing.

Defy Death

The Monk’s new capstone, you can spend 4 Discipline Points to not drop to 0 hit points. The cost scales in a way that lets you use it repeatedly if you’re reserving points, but it’s expensive.

Warrior of Shadow

Shadow Arts has been reworked, removing both Darkvision and Pass Without Trace. The cost has been reduced to 1 point, and you can now move the area of darkness each turn without an action. You now get permanent Darkvision and can see in your own magical darkness, which was a huge limitation for the 2014 Way of Shadow.

Shadow Step is unchanged.

Improved Shadow Step allows you to use Shadow Step’s teleportation without the darkness requirement for the cost of 1 point. You also get a free unarmed strike when you do so.

Cloak of Shadows moves to level 17 and changes quite a bit. It’s no longer free, but the effects are better. You become invisible for 1 minute, you become ethereal enough to pass through walls and other creatures, and you can use Flurry of Blows for free. It’s like Empty Body except it costs 1 less point and also you get Flurry of Blows for free. It’s very powerful.

Warrior of the Elements

The lowest-rated subclass in the PHB, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone who played Way of the Four Elements and had fun with it. Among many issues, the abilities cost too much to use, and the fact that half were spells was extremely confusing.

Elemental Attunement gets you the new Elementalism cantrip, and you can spend 1 point to expand your reach by 10 feet, and when you hit you can do elemental damage instead of bludgeoning damage and push or pull your target 10 feet.

Environmental Burst is a decent damage AOE and you get to make one unarmed strike as a Bonus Action. At a cost of just 2 points, it’s a great way to handle crowds that monks really need.

Stride of the Elements gives you a fly and swim speed for 10 minutes at the cost of 1 point. It’s really good.

Elemental Epitome is weird. It gives you a damage resistance which you can change each round, and that’s fine. Destructive Stride deals guaranteed damage when you move adjacent to creatures similarly to Ashardalon’s Stride. Combined with Step of the Wind and Unarmored Movement you can race around the battlefield and deal a lot of guaranteed damage when there are multiple enemies to damage, but the 1d12 damage isn’t going to win fights on its own. Finally, you get a small once-per-turn damage boost to your unarmed strikes.

There is still room for improvement here, but it’s certainly more functional than Way of the Four Elements.

Warrior of the Hand

Open Hand technique is borderline identical, but the three effects have been given names and now the one that prevents Reactions allows a save.

Wholeness of Body has been reworked. It now consumes a Discipline Point, can be used Wis/day, and heals much less. It’s also a Bonus Action so you could feasibly use it in combat, but in-combat healing is rarely the right choice.

Fleet Step gives you Step of the Wind for free, which means a ton of extra mobility on turns when you don’t need to attack a whole bunch.

Quivering Palm works the same way, but got a major damage boost and deals Force damage now.

Warrior of Mercy

We’ve been told that it will be in PHB, but we don’t have rules for it yet.


Paladins didn’t fare well in the previous UA, but the changes that people didn’t like have swung back much closer to the 2014 rules. The new changes have made some major quality of life improvements.

Lay on Hands

It’s a bonus action now, so it’s much easier to use in combat, including on yourself. This is going to make it very difficult to kill paladins, who were already famously difficult to kill.


The OneDnD playtest has done some experimenting with the Paladin’s spellcasting. In the previous incarnation, they got cantrips similar to the Blessed Warrior Optional Class Feature from Tasha’s. The cantrips have been removed in favor of Weapon Mastery, and paladins now get spellcasting at level 1 instead of level 2.

I called out in our response to the previous UA paladin that the Paladin needs to be more of a warrior and less of a diet cleric, so I’m excited to see this change.

Easy to miss: The Paladin can now only change one prepared spell per long rest. This is an interesting change and I’m curious to see how it works out in play.

Weapon Mastery

Paladins get Weapon Mastery with two types of weapons. You might choose your favorite melee weapon and a ranged weapon, and that would be perfectly fine, or you might choose two melee weapons and switch weapons mid-combat as your needs change.

You can change your masteries on a long rest, so you’re not locked into longswords and javelins because you thought they were cool at level 1.

Paladin’s Smite

The previous UA’s approach to smite was widely disliked. Among other issues, RAW it didn’t multiply on a critical hit, which was one of the most singularly satisfying experiences a paladin could ever have. Still worse, clerics got access to all of the same smite spells, making them outright better at smiting than paladins. The new version has cleaned up some of that mess.

Paladins could also smite with ranged attacks in the previous UA, but that change has been reversed. You can still smite with Unarmed Strikes, though.

Paladins now get a list of smite spells permanently prepared for free, and can cast one of them for free every long rest. Divine Smite, your bog standard 2014 smite option, is now a spell. Everything works mostly like it did in the 2014 rules, but now smite spells are activated as a Bonus Action when you hit with an Unarmed Strike or an attack with a weapon.

These changes have some interesting implications. The choice of which smite to use now comes down to whether you want more damage (Divine Smite) or a rider effect. You can no longer combine a smite spell with Divine Smite. You no longer need to concentrate on a smite spell to use it, so you can concentrate on other stuff like Compelled Duel. Making Divine Smite a spell means that it can be countered.

Searing Smite and Wrathful Smite remain on the Divine spell list, but clerics are no longer outright better at smiting than paladins.

Channel Divinity

Like the Cleric, the Paladin’s Channel Divinity has been updated. A pool of uses per day, recover one on a short rest, recover all of them on a long rest.

The multiclass entry details that if you get Channel Divinity from multiple sources, you use each pool to fuel that pool’s abilities, but it doesn’t address recovery on a Short Rest.

Channel Divinity: Divine Sense

Divine Sense got a huge upgrade. Previously, it was an Action and lasted one round. Now it’s a Bonus Action and lasts 10 minutes. But it also became a Channel Divinity option rather than having its own pool of uses. Still, it was borderline useless before, so I think it’s an improvement.

Faithful Steed

Find Steed has been revised again. In the 2014 rules it was a paladin exclusive, but also a great option for Magical Secrets. In the previous UA, Find Steed was on the Divine spell list, which made the Cleric able to get Find Steed much earlier than the Paladin.

Now Find Steed is a paladin exclusive, the spell level was dropped down to 2, the casting time was reduced to one Action, and the rules text has been clarified. Paladins get to cast Find Steed once per day for free, but can still also cast it as a spell. It’s good, it’s clear, the rules make sense, the mounts are interesting, and no one gets to steal the Paladin’s horse.

Aura of Protection

The only change from 2014 is that the aura stops working while you’re Incapacitated. This means that if you drop to 0, you don’t get to use the aura on your death saves, and spells and effects which make you Incapacitated can really mess you up.

For example: Being Paralyzed makes you Incapacitated, so if you’re hit with Hold Person, you lose Aura of Protection. Status effects are going to make paladins much more vulnerable if something slips past your initial save.

Abjure Foes

Introduced in the previous UA, Abjure Foes got a minor rules update and no longer has an effect if foes pass the save.

Radiant Strikes

Previously the confusingly-named Improved Divine Smite, Radiant Strikes hasn’t changed since the previous UA.

Restoring Touch

Introduced in the previous UA, Recovering Touch lets you remove some status conditions with Lay on Lands. Remember that Lay on Hands is a Bonus Action now, so it’s much easier to remove conditions during combat.

Oath of Devotion

Sacred Weapon was changed to be a Bonus Action in the previous UA, and remains a Bonus Action. It’s a huge DPR increase.

Aura of Devotion is functionally unchanged from the 2014 version.

Smite of Protection is new to the subclass, and grants Half Cover to you and your allies when inside your Aura of Protection for one round after you smite. Half Cover is getting used for a lot of things in the playtest to avoid stacking AC bonuses.

Holy Nimbus got another tweak that brings it closer to the 2014 version.

Oath of Glory

Oath of Glory was introduced in Theros before being reprinted in Tasha’s, and we’ve rated it orange. The UA version has gotten extremely modest changes.

Inspiring Smite now works with any smite spell. Not really a buff, but it does make this portion of the subclass continue to function with the changes to the class.

Peerless Athlete got a buff and now lasts an hour, so you can reasonably keep it running in every fight. That would make the grapple/shove combo much easier under the 2014 rules, but with the current version of grapple and shove, Peerless Athlete is borderline useless.

Oath of Glory basically didn’t change, and arguably the most redeeming quality of the subclass is negated by changes to the rules.

Oath of the Ancients

Nature’s Wrath got a great buff. Previously it could be hard to decide when to use it because it cost an Action, but now that it allows multiple targets and has a bigger range, it’s a fantastic crowd control option.

Aura of Rewarding got reworked. It no longer covers spells, and instead covers necrotic, psychic, and radiant damage. Damage resistance to those types is really hard to find, and it’s definitely an upgrade over resistance to damage from spells. Spellcasters aren’t ubiquitous, and a lot of harmful spells don’t deal damage.

Undying Sentinel got a buff and now heals you a bit in addition to preventing you from dropping unconscious when you fall to 0 hp.

Elder Champion got several changes which are easy to miss. First and most obvious, it’s now activated as a Bonus Action rather than an Action, so it’s much easier to use in combat. Second, the Disadvantage effect works within your Aura of Protection rather than being limited to within 10 feet, so enemies within 30 feet are now affected. Third, (and this one is called out in the changes sidebar) all of your spells are quickened instead of just your paladin spells.

You might reasonably say “okay, but I’m 20 levels in Paladin. Where else am I getting spells?” Your species and potentially feats. That won’t be a lot of spells, of course, but it could be a few and they could be impactful.

Finally, you can recharge Elder Champion with a 5th-level spell slot.

Overall, the buffs aren’t huge, but I think Ancients is in a great place.

Oath of Vengeance

Vengeance may have been hit very hard by some things that changed around it. Hunter’s Mark was removed from the subclass spell list because it’s absolutely exclusive to the Ranger now, and the limitation on one smite per turn makes a hyper-aggressive paladin playstyle less threatening.

Vow of Enmity now lets you move your vow to another creature (for no action cost) if the previous creature was reduced to 0 hit points before the duration of the feature ends, and the feature’s range has increased from 10 feet to 30 feet. This is a huge buff, and you can now justify using Vow of Enmity in encounters with big groups of enemies because it won’t evaporate after you drop your first target.

Relentless Avenger got a major buff. Previously it allowed you to move half your speed, which might let you block off wherever an enemy was trying to go, but most of the time enemies could still just walk around you. Now it grants a Sentinel-style effect that reduces the target’s speed to 0.

Soul of Vengeance is largely the same, but now specifies that it happens when the attack hits or misses, which means that your Reaction attack takes places after your opponent’s attack is done rather than you making the attack before their attack is resolved.

Avenging Angel got some modest changes. It now lasts 10 minutes instead of an hour, but you can activate it as a Bonus Action so there’s less incentive to activate it ahead of time instead of once combat starts. You can also recharge it with a 5th-level spell slot, so you’re much more likely to use it in combat on a regular basis.


The second UA document presented an update to the ranger which made them incredibly powerful to the point that rogues simply couldn’t compete, but at the same time also made some changes to the Ranger which the community really didn’t like. WotC has taken another big swing at a class which has been a design challenge at least as far back as 3.0.

Notably a lot of the Ranger’s features now work Wis/day, making the Ranger even more MAD than it was before.

Deft Explorer

The Ranger’s source of Expertise got yet another name change. Easy to miss: You’re now limited to Expertise in the Ranger’s class skills, so no Expertise in whatever you got from your Background.

WotC has also brought back some semblance of the Favored Terrain feature. Now you get to pick 2 terrains (4 at level 9, and you can change one on a Long Rest). The features are minor, but they also feel like things that rangers need to be naturally good at, so I think they hit the mark here.


Like the Paladin, the Ranger previously had cantrips, but they were removed in favor of Weapon Mastery, and now the Ranger gets spellcaster at level 1 instead of level 2.

Some of the Ranger’s iconic spells (Hunter’s Mark, Conjure Barrage, Conjure Volley) are now granted as class features. They’re Ranger-exclusive spells, and they have a useful niche in the Ranger’s capabilities.

Hunter’s Mark once again requires Concentration, and it does force damage. But, as in the previous UA, it still only applies once on each of your turns. This is a major setback for the Ranger, dramatically reducing their damage output. The spell’s damage now scales with spell level, which is intended to make up the difference while also preventing heavily-optimized rangers (looking at you, Tam Bush) from dramatically exceeding expectations. I’m worried that they’re both lowering the ceiling and the floor, which is going to result in many players struggling to play rangers effectively. Still worse, you don’t get it until level 2.

Conjure Barrage got a major buff, adding 2d8 damage (from 3d8 to 5d8) and changing the type to Force. Conjure Volley now does Force damage, but is otherwise unchanged.

Weapon Mastery

Just like paladins, rangers get Weapon Mastery with two types of weapons and can change masteries on a long rest.

Hunter’s Mark

The Ranger’s signature damage boost. You get to cast it for free Wis/day, which I think is intended to replace Favored Foe. Keep in mind that it’s still at 1st level when cast this way, so at high levels you might ignore this feature most of the time.


The Optional Class Feature of the same name, but now it improves your speed by 10 instead of by 5.


Another Optional Class Feature now in the core class. The PB/day usage for the temporary hit points was changed to Wis/day.

Nature’s Veil

Yet another Optional Class Feature now in the core class. The only change is moving from PB/day to Wis/day and moving from 10th level to 14th level.

Feral Senses

What was once Blind Sight with extra steps is now just Blind Sight. Good.

Foe Slayer

The wording here is… bad. Let’s be polite and just say “bad”. Here’s better words:

You gain +Wis to attack rolls against the target of your Hunter’s Mark, and when you hit them with an attack you deal +Wis extra damage.

It notably doesn’t specify what type, so assume that it’s the same as your weapon.


The subclass that was so simultaneously cool and disappointing that it poisoned the whole community against rangers for 5+ years. The design team is taking another swing at making it work.

Primal Companion makes a return: Beast of the Land/Sea/Sky is basically unchanged. Just as in Tasha’s, you can both command it with a Bonus Action and sacrifice an attack during the Attack action to make your companion attack, making them very powerful at low levels.

This presents an interesting comparison alongside Wild Shape. The design team tried to take Wild Shape in a direction that matches Primal Companion, and the community hated it. But at the same time, the community (including me) is happy with Primal Companion. Of course, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison because the Beastmaster doesn’t get better companion options as you gain levels.

Exceptional Training got two very minor changes. First, you can command your companion to Dodge. It would Dodge on its own if you didn’t command it, of course, so that’s usually a better idea. Second, your companion can deal Force damage instead of making its attacks magical.

Bestial Fury is updated to now trigger Hunter’s Mark once per turn. This appears to stack with your own once-per-turn damage boost, so there’s a great incentive for you and your companion to both attack your target. Of course, casting Hunter’s Mark is a Bonus Action, which means giving up commanding your companion for a turn to cast it or change targets.

Share Spells is unchanged.


Dread Amnusher has been nerfed significantly. The extra attack is gone and replaced by 1d8 psychic damage and frightened on a failed save which you can use Wis/day.

Umbral Sight is still unchanged and amazing.

Stalker’s Fury adds more benefits to the Frighten option of Dread Ambusher. You can now get an additional attack against another target adjacent to the first, or you can cause a small fear AOE. The benefits aren’t good enough to only work Wis/day.

Iron Mind is unchanged.

Shadowy Dodge now also lets you teleport when you use your Reaction to inhibit an attack.


The previous UA ranger was an attempt to simplify the subclass. The design team understood that some of the options within the class were traps, so they locked everyone into the best option at each decision point. Unfortunately, this didn’t work as well as intended, and people didn’t like the result. Instead, they’ve given us two sets of options (one offense, one defense), and you get to pick twice from each of them as you gain levels. So we still get fun decision points and room to customize, but we’re also not forced to pick bad options.

Hunter’s Prey has the same three options as the 2014 Ranger, but Giant Killer now works on enemies of any size (a massive improvement) and is renamed to Retaliator.

Hunter’s Lore appeared in the previous UA ranger, and drops from 6th level to 3rd. It lets you know the resistances/immunities/vulnerabilities of the target of your Hunter’s Mark.

Defensive Tactics now gets the Superior Hunter’s Defense options from the 2014 rules. The old Defensive Tactics options weren’t very good.

Superior Hunter’s Prey and Superior Hunter’s Defense now allow you to pick a second option from each of the lists of three.


The Rogue got twice as much video discussion time as every other class, and I think that was justified because the Rogue got a lot of changes. It was widely popular in the surveys leading into the OneDnD playtest, and the UA changes were… considerably less popular.


Rogues are now proficient with all Simple weapons and all Martial weapons with the Finesse property. This notably adds whips as an option, but omits hand crossbows.


Unlike the Ranger, the Rogue gets Expertise in two skills and isn’t restricted to their class skill list. You can no longer select Thieves’ Tools for some reason.

Sneak Attack

The previous UA nerfed Sneak Attack to the point that the Rogue’s skill ceiling collapsed to the point that it was indistinguishable from the skill floor. You literally couldn’t optimize usage of Sneak Attack beyond “I take the Attack action”. The community did not like this. Still worse, since you couldn’t use Sneak Attack outside of your own Attack action during your turn, depending on which version of the One DnD two-weapon fighting rules you used you weren’t able to deliver Sneak Attack while two-weapon fighting.

Sneak Attack is mostly back to the 2014 rules, but the paragraph describing the damage is worded very strangely. It’s no longer clear if you multiply Sneak Attack on a critical hit because it doesn’t use the term “extra damage”.

Thieves’ Cant

Thieves’ Cant is now just a language like any other. You also get another language for some reason.

Weapon Mastery

Mastery in two weapons, and you can change weapons on a long rest. Some of the Mastery options were clearly designed with rogues in mind, such as the Nick property which allows you to use two-weapon fighting without giving up Cunning Action. Vex looks very tempting, but you also get Steady Aim at level 3.

Steady Aim

The Optional Class Feature of the same name is now in the class.

Cunning Strikes and Devious Strikes

DnD 3.5 had alternate class features which allowed rogues to trade some of their Sneak Attack damage for a rider effect on their attack. Pathfinder 1 did the same thing. Now 5e joins them in allowing the Rogue’s attacks to do something more interesting than just damage.

You get a total of 7 options between the two features, and the effects are mostly great. The more powerful ones cost more dice, so the cost/benefit is balanced to some degree. There are some options that are only situationally useful, but since you get every option it doesn’t matter. Disarm is there for when it matters, and the rest of the time you can trip/poison/knock out your targets.

Knock Out is a noteworthy option. Sure, it costs 6d6, but it’s a save-or-suck and you can do it every turn. The fact that it’s on a Con save makes it a big gamble, but it’s still really tempting. In a lot of cases it’s worth the gamble to possibly one-shot a foe, but deal negligible damage if you don’t.

Reliable Talent

Dropped from level 11 in the 2014 rules to level 7.

Slippery Mind

Previously just proficiency in Wisdom saves, now proficiency in Wisdom and Charisma saves.

Stroke of Luck

Updated to use the new terminology, but a buff snuck in. Previously you could turn a missed attack into a hit or an ability check into a 20. Now you can turn a d20 test into a 20, which means attacks and saves are included. Enjoy your guaranteed critical hit once per rest.

Arcane Trickster

Spellcasting got some changes. First, it uses the annoying new wording. Second, there is no longer a restriction on the school of spells that you learn.

Mage Hand Legerdemain was reworded. The three bulleted items which you could do with the hand in the 2014 rules have been removed, but I think you could do those things already.

Magical Ambush now requires you to be invisible rather than merely hidden.

Versatile Trickster got reworked. Since you can now get Advantage on attacks from Steady Aim, it was mostly useless. Now you can use it to duplicate the effects of Cunning Strike (Disarm) and Cunning Strike (Trip) on a second creature. This doesn’t require an action, which means that you have your Bonus Action free to move the hand into position to do this, which was a huge limitation on the 2014 version of Versatile Trickster.

Spell Thief is unchanged. It’s going to be less useful in the future as 5e minimizes how many actual spells enemies cast. If you look at the NPC stat blocks in Monsters of the Multiverse, spellcasters are much more reliant on magic actions which feel like spells, and you can’t steal those.


Assassinate, the subclass’s signature feature, got reworked. Previously, it was very hard to trigger Assassinate, and required careful planning and a combination of optimization and lucky rolls. Assassinate is now much easier to trigger, but the benefits are also greatly reduced and much less exciting for multiclass dips. Automatic critical hits are gone.

Infiltration Expertise was also reworked. No more building yourself a fake identity, but its benefits were combined with Impostor, so you now get Advantage on Deception checks while pretending to be someone else and can unerringly mimic someone’s speech and handwriting. It’s much easier to use than the 2014 version.

With Impostor rolled into Infiltration Expertise, the Assassin now gets Envenom Weapons at level 13. It adds a small damage boost to the Cunning Strikes (Poison) option. If the target isn’t outright immune to poison damage, using the Poison option now deals more damage than using a straight Sneak Attack.

Death Strike is mostly unchanged, but now only requires you to Sneak Attack during your first turn.

Overall, the Assassin is much more playable than it was before, but the changes to Assassinate arguably make it less powerful.


A long-standing crowd favorite, it’s exciting to see that the Swashbuckler will be in the PHB.

Fancy Footwork and Rakish Audacity remain unchanged and excellent.

Panache was reworked to function through Cunning Strikes. Instead of consuming your Action, you now spend one Sneak Attack die to trigger the Goad effect. Curiously, Goad prevents the target from making Opportunity Attacks anyone except you, but thanks to Fancy Footwork they likely can’t make Opportunity Attacks against you, either.

Panache also adds a new Awe option, allowing you to charm creatures within 30 feet. Weirdly, this can also apply to the target of your Sneak Attack. Imagine stabbing someone and having them think you’re so cool that they can’t bring themselves to attack you in response.

Elegant Maneuver was replaced with Dashing Strikes, which adds another two options to your Cunning Strikes. Parrying Stance adds a d6 to your AC until your next turn, while Invigorate lets you buff a friend with a d6 to their attacks and saves until the end of their next turn. If you have a friend who’s about to do something cool (fighter about to drop Action Surge) or trying to fight off a difficult effect (paralysis, petrification, etc.) that d6 can be a huge buff.

The flavor of the subclass is still intact, but the high-level features from the Xanathar’s version of the subclass have been abandoned in favor of more Cunning Strikes options. In some ways, the Swashbuckler now feels conceptually similar to the Battle Master Fighter.


The Thief got some changes in the previous UA that attempted to make Fast Hands less of a confusing rules oddity, but instead made Fast Hands basically pointless. The new version swung the opposite direction, choosing to expand what you can do with Fast Hands. Now you can take both the Use an Object action and the Magic action with a magic item. This means that you can use both mundane items like caltrops and magic items like wands, which is extremely exciting when you also get Use Magic Device.

Second-Story Work is mostly the same as it was in the previous UA, but also allows you to briefly climb across ceilings. The text is confusing, so hopefully they improve that, but the function is really cool.

Supreme Sneak was reworked, and it’s much more interesting now. In the 2014 rules you got Advantage on Stealth checks if you moved slowly. Now it adds an option to Cunning Strikes which lets you remain hidden after you attack. However, it requires that you end your turn in ¾ or total cover, so you can’t use it while Heavily Obscured. I’m not sure if that’s intentional.

Use Magic Device uses the same text as the updated Thief from UA #2. No more ignoring class/race restrictions on items (so no Holy Avengers for you), but you can attune to 4 items, you have a chance to retain item charges when you use an item, and you can use spell scrolls. It’s arguably weaker than the 2014 version, but I don’t think anyone really used the 2014 version because it required a deep understanding of the rules and also required you to stumble upon one of the handful of items restricted by race or class.

Using spell scrolls above 1st level does require an Arcana check, but with proficiency in Arcana, Reliable Talent, and either Expertise or high Intelligence, you can make these checks guaranteed to succeed.

Thief’s Reflexes remains unchanged from the 2014 rules. Two turns in round 1!

Thoughts from the Team


Having just spent the better part of an hour this morning arguing about ways to let martials have something approaching as good a time as casters, wow does this UA give them a lot. Unfortunately, with more fun comes less accessibility (still looking at you Weapon Masteries), but I think overall we’re still well on the more player-friendly side of that equation than something like PF2. On the one hand, I don’t love that it comes at the expense of some of the ways we could use edge cases to generate a whole lot of power (Tam Bush just straight up doesn’t do much of anything now), but I think they mostly gave everyone a lot more fun at the expense of removing power from the top 10% of optimizers and that’s exactly what you should do.

Removing the bonus action healing with class-based resources feels a little bad man, but I like that at least Cleric kept the ability to use Channel to heal. 

Most things feel like they got the fun tuned way up to 11 (sometimes with the power to boot), which makes the things that didn’t fall pretty flat. Hunter Ranger is unimpressive. Glory Paladin doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore given that the main reason you would use Peerless Athlete was for advantage on Grapple checks which don’t exist anymore.  Swashbuckler feels like they tried to lean into the new Cunning Strikes feature too much, but the class changes and the subclass itself are already good enough to probably carry that.

Overall, this is a very exciting UA and I am very much relishing the opportunity to optimize this version of Bard, particularly College of Dance.


WotC needs to drop the DC 15 base DC to do anything with skills. That’s going to make low levels extremely unpleasant. With 5e’s bounded math, a 20th-level character with a +11 to Stealth will still completely fail to hide 15% of the time. You’re functionally a superhero, and you can still fail to hide from a blind person.

I’m still confused why you can grapple as an opportunity attack, too. That’s absolutely going to cause problems.

I hate the new wording on spellcasting for spellcasters that know their spells permanently. It’s too similar to classes that prepare their spells daily, so it’s hard to tell which class/subclass does which and when you can change your “prepared” spells.

The Bard is too powerful. Historically, the Bard has had more limited spellcasting options than the Sorcerer or the Wizard, but made up for their limited spell choices with better skills, armor, weapons (sort of), and capabilities like Bardic Inspiration. Now the Bard gets access to a much larger spell list, so they’re competing for space both conceptually and within a party against Druids and Clerics, in addition to being comparable to Rogues, Sorcerers, and Wizards.

College of Dance needs its rules text re-examined. Great concept, but Random, Rocco, and I spent most of an hour debating the meaning of the word “expend” in relation to the free unarmed strike feature.

Considering they’re supposed to be an “expert” class and fill a role similar to the rogue, it’s confusing that they Bard can be a fully-capable expert while also being a fully capable priest and/or mage. We’re in danger of the Bard, the iconic support class and force multiplier, becoming a soloist who plays the game by themselves while everyone else watches.

The Cleric feels much more customizable than it was before, which was the goal for the changes to the subclass. Aside from the changes to Divine Intervention, it didn’t really get a buff, but I think that’s good since clerics were one of the two best classes in the game.

I love the changes to the Druid, especially the new Wild Shape. It’s a perfect compromise. I’ve long suggested limiting Wild Shape options by some mechanism (I’ve suggested nature check, fixed list, whatever’s native to your homeland, etc. since before 5e released), and having a limited number of known forms addresses one of the feature’s biggest headaches. The changes to hit points and action economy also make Wild Shape more useful for non-moon druids while simultaneously fixing the biggest balance problem which the moon druids brought to the table.

The Monk still needs more help. The improvements are excellent, and I’m glad to see that the cost to use PHB subclass features has been reduced, but the Monk simply doesn’t get enough points to function consistently, especially at low levels. Adding your Wisdom modifier to your number of points would be a massive improvement, but if the design team is worried that that’s too much, they could try Wis+⅔ Monk Level. That would front-load the Ki points, making the Monk more playable at low levels but still keeping the Cap of 20 points at high levels.

I think the Ranger is in a good place. The updated Hunter is great. The Gloomstalker got nerfed too hard, though.

I love Cunning Strike. It’s a ton of fun, and the combos with Weapon Mastery are going to give rogues a ton of buttons to push in combat, but since it’s all opt-in complexity, new players won’t feel like they absolutely need to use any of them.

The Assassin feels underwhelming. There are some cool ideas there, and I love that it’s so much more playable, but there’s nothing in the subclass that makes me excited to play it. I love the other subclasses.

Thoughts from the RPGBOT.Discord

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Bard: Really like that Bardic Inspiration no longer depends on your party remembering that you gave them a die 30 seconds ago, now you can make sure it gets used (as long as you can remember). It’s nice that you can choose which spell list the Bard uses, makes me want to play a gregorian chant bard with the cleric spell list. While Counterperformance got a nice buff, its a shame that it doesn’t work on reoccurring saves anymore (unless I am reading that wrong). College of Dance makes me want to play Kevin Bacon’s character from Footloose except he got into karate. I like that College of Valor feels like it will actually make a bard capable in melee combat.

Cleric: I really like how customizable the Cleric is now in comparison to before. Before, the only big differences between clerics were their subclass and whether they decided to use the heavy armor proficiency from their subclass. Now, there are a ton of decision points, with them not being tied to your choice of Divine Order being a great decision. Turn Undead and Smite Undead now seem actually useful, since it doesn’t depend on CR at all. I’ve always liked the concept of Limited Wish, and I am glad it replaced the more vague, unreliable and DM dependant Divine Intervention. For the Life Domain cleric, Disciple of Life notably was nerfed to only work on the turn the spell was cast, but that means I can see a lot of Cleric/Druid multiclasses scarfing down 10 berries in a single handful. The Light cleric’s Radiance of the Dawn notably is no longer blocked by Total Cover, so it can work as a fun breach and clear tool or just to confuse a group of people when they get hit by a very painful flash of light with no discernable source.

Druid: Druids now gain the ability to talk to animals at all times, which I am honestly surprised wasn’t there in the first place (Does this mean Animal Handling can be dumped entirely for Persuasion?). Magician is an unfitting name for a druid feature, perhaps Shaman would fit better, Sage if you want something less culturally charged. I’m a bit saddened that my knowledge of the monster manual and a phone with easy access to online statblocks is somewhat less useful with the limited number of known forms, but I understand that the change is probably for the better in terms of newbies. I really like Wild Resurgence, as it really allows you to make a true Master of Many Forms, or at least it would without the known form limits.

Monk: I think in the pursuit of de-stereotyping the Monk, I think they stopped at an unhappy medium where it is still clear what the class still is and thus limiting rp as anything but a kung fu monk. Try explaining why a boxer can run up walls. I did like the buffs to the class and subclasses but mechanically the monk still feels like it doesn’t perform as well as the other martial classes.

Paladin: Paladin is as cool as ever, I like the changes to Smiting where it’s more tactical than just nuking whenever you crit. Oath of Vengance continues to be the star of the show with the buff to Vow of Emnity, but the fact that Soul of Vengance triggers on a hit or miss with an attack rather than just right after the attack is made bothers me. When will an attack neither miss nor hit?

Rogue: The changes to the rogue are my favorite in this entire run of UA. From the disastrous version of Sneak Attack previously, we now have Cunning Strike which makes playing as a rogue infinitely more interesting in combat, like a Battlemaster Lite.


This is the most promising UA we’ve been since the OneDnD playtest started. It’s certainly not perfect, but nothing here is so upsetting as some of the major changes in the previous UA documents.


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