Unearthed Arcana #7 features updated playtest versions of 5 classes: Barbarian, Fighter, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard, matching the list from UA #5.
UA #7 also features revised spells, another round of revisions to weapons, revisions to the Ability Score Improvement feat, and revisions to spells.
The UA document starts with a textual explanation of what is in the document, but this time there’s no sidebar explaining what’s different. Mercifully, the document is only 54 pages and only 7 of those are the Rules Glossary.
Previous Playtest Rounds
- Character Origins
- Expert Classes
- The Cleric and Revised Species
- The Druid and Paladin
- Players Handbook #5 (Barbarian, Fighter, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard, introduction of Weapon Mastery)
- Players Handbook #6 (Bard, Cleric, Druid, Monk, Paladin, Ranger)
Rules Glossary v7
Nothing is called out as changed from previous UA documents, but some rules changes have been made and some are called out in sidebars.
A sidebar under the World Tree Barbarian specifies that the 2024 PHB will clarify that you can voluntarily fail a saving throw. The 2014 rules never so much as implied that you could do this, so it’s not so much “clarifying” as “introducing the idea in the first place.”
The terms “weapon attack” and “spell attack” seem to have gone away. In the 2014 rules, all attacks were either a weapon attack or a spell attack. But Unarmed Strikes were updated in very early errata so that they weren’t weapons, which raised the question “do they still make weapon attacks?” The answer is obviously “yes” since they’re not spells, but the confusion is totally understandable. Now things use text like “attack with a weapon or an unarmed strike”, which is much clearer.
The Invisible condition now specifies that the Advantage/Disadvantage effect doesn’t apply if a creature can see you. Weirdly, they still can’t target you with something that requires them to see you, such as many spells.
Danger Sense, briefly removed in UA #5, has returned.
Classes have gone back to listing “Ability Score Increase” in the class features table instead of saying “Feat”. You can still take a feat, but the baseline assumption is still that you’ll take an ASI.
Barbarians previously got Brutal Critical at level 9, then upgraded at 13 and 17. UA #5 changed from additional dice to a flat numerical bonus equal to your barbarian level and moved the feature to level 11. UA #7 has gone back to 9/13/17, adding a d12 at each step. This is effectively what 2014 PHB barbarians get, assuming that you’re using a greataxe.
The 2014 version of Brutal Critical is a bad feature, adding something like 1 DPR (assuming greataxe, Reckless Attack, and two attacks). But at least now you’re not penalized for using something other than a greataxe.
The wording on Reckless Attack is odd, and I’m not sure if it’s intentional. It uses the phrase “extra damage”, which is typically an indicator that something is multiplied on a critical hit. I don’t think that’s the intent here, and if it was they did a poor job explaining it. Doubling the damage bonus from Brutal Critical wouldn’t affect the game much, but it would feel satisfying.
Relentless Rage, which was briefly moved to level 15 in UA #5, has returned to level 11 with a nice buff. Previously it kept you at 1 hit point, but now you reset to double your barbarian level, which might be enough to survive another hit without immediately re-triggering Relentless Rage.
Persistent Rage, missing from UA #5, makes a return with a major buff. In addition to preventing your Rage from ending early as it did in the 2014 rules, you also get a free use of Rage if you roll initiative and don’t have any left. This makes the Barbarian much more sustainable, and now that Rage also improves your skills it makes using Rage purely for skills a much safer choice.
Indomitable Might, briefly missing from UA #5, also comes back with a buff. Previously it gave you a floor on Strength checks; now it applies to both checks and saves.
Primal Champion is back to the 2014 rules. WotC is giving up on the idea of everyone getting an Epic Boon at level 20, so the Barbarian gets their iconic capstone back. Enjoy the floor on your Strength saves being higher than every published Strength save DC (as far as I know).
Path of the Berzerker
Identical to the UA #5 version, which I still like a lot. A big damage boost without the Exhaustion punishment, and Intimidating Presence is an AOE that you don’t need to waste your action every turn to maintain.
Path of the Wild Heart
Formerly Path of the Totem Warrior in the 2014 rules, this is the first appearance of this subclass in the One D&D playtest. The name matches the replacement name in Baldur’s Gate 3. Several individual features have also been renamed. I imagine that it’s to move away from associations with real-world cultures.
The subclass includes a sizable sidebar explaining the changes.
Rage of the Wilds (formerly Totem Spirit) is back to just three options, omitting the new ones added in Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.
- Bear: Pick two damage types when you rage and get resistance to them. Near-universal damage resistance was too powerful, but this will be just as good in almost every case unless you’re fighting spellcasters or Tiamat.
- Eagle: Previously imposed Disadvantage on Opportunity Attacks, which either encouraged you to stand still or to intentionally draw Opportunity Attacks so that your allies could move freely. Now you Dash and Disengage at the same time as a bonus action, so it’s less complicated. You also get to use it when you initially rage, allowing you to quickly move into melee.
- Wolf: Increase the range from 5 feet to 10, making it massively more useful. Previously, it really only appeared in gimmick builds.
Aspect of the Wilds (formerly Aspect of the Beast) got a huge rework. First, it no longer uses the same animals as Rage of the Wilds/Totem Spirit, which previously confused new players who thought that they were obligated to stick to the same animal. Second, it no longer gives weird skill-adjacent benefits; instead, you get proficiency or expertise in a skill. It’s not super exciting, but it works really well.
- Elephant: Athletics or Insight.
- Owl: Investigation or Perception.
- Spider: Stealth.
Spirit Walker is now Nature Seeker, but otherwise hasn’t changed effect.
Power of the Wilds (formerly Totemic Attunement) got a huge buff. The three options are conceptually the same, but work much better.
Path of the World Tree
A new subclass!
Vitality of the Tree heals you and lets you pass out temporary hit points to an ally every turn while raging. The healing disincentivizes healing outside of combat, which is a weird choice. “No, I don’t want to spend another hit die, I’m going to Rage at the beginning of the next fight and that will get me back to full.” Maybe that’s intentional?
With Rage’s new 10-minute duration, this encourages barbarians to rage long before a fight starts so that you can kick in the door with your entire party buffed with temporary hit points. Also, rolling up to 4d6 at the beginning of your turn only to find that your ally has more temporary hit points already might slow down combat in a way that gets annoying. It might be better for this to work one time when you Rage and apply to all of your allies.
Branches of the Tree lets you forcibly summon other creatures adjacent to you as a Reaction. A sidebar included alongside the feature specifies that you can voluntarily fail a save (which was not a thing in the 2014 rules, so the word “clarify” in the sidebar is outright wrong), so you can safely use it on allies, making grapples and other dangerous situations much less of a problem for your party. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a huge pain to use against flying enemies or while you are flying.
Battering Roots is a huge increase to your reach and adds some excellent control options via Weapon Mastery. Be sure to switch to a weapon that doesn’t already have Push or Topple so that you have three mastery options available at the same time.
Travel Along the Tree is going to cause some story problems. Teleportation Circles work a bit like phone numbers: You need to dial the right number to get the one you want, and if you dial the wrong number you either go to the wrong place or you don’t go anywhere. This creates “security via obscurity”, which doesn’t actually work as a permanent security measure, but it’s good enough in a world where brute forcing your way in is gated behind wizard levels and spell slots.
Travel Along the Tree says “close enough” and lets you into other people’s teleportation circles. It’s like if you tried to call a phone number, got an unused number, and your phone just adjusted it to the nearest number and forced a stranger to answer it. Imagine being a person who lives in the City of Brass and having random barbarians pop into your teleportation circle uninvited. You would make it your life’s work to put another teleportation circle closer to the destination just to get all of these barbarians out of your house.
Also, spending 5 uses of Rage to use this again is absurd.
Path of the Zealot
I don’t especially like the published version of the Zealot, which has led to a number of messages from readers disagreeing with me. As much as I value those discussions, this isn’t the place for them.
Divine Fury’s wording was clarified, but the effect is the same. This is the source of the Zealot’s high damage output, and it’s one of the subclass’s biggest selling points because it puts the Zealot’s DPR ahead of basically every other barbarian with no additional effort.
Warrior of the Gods got a buff. In addition to being raised from the dead without a material component cost, it now allows you to get a little bit of extra healing when you’re healed by a spell or a magic item a few times per day. This notably excludes hit dice, Lay on Hands, and other sources of healing. The extra healing isn’t significant and it’s definitely not going to scale. At high levels you’ll forget that it’s there.
Zealous Presence can now be re-activated by spending a use of Rage, rather than it being one round one time per day. As expensive as this is, it’s still a huge buff to the feature.
Rage Beyond Death got reworked. The previous version meant that you were fine at 0 hp as long as you could drink a healing potion right after combat ended, so it effectively meant that you couldn’t be killed by hit point damage, making you the biggest instance of Tank Fallacy imaginable.
The new version lets you fly and negate an attack against you as a Reaction. Both of those things are neat, but you need to use Relentless Rage to trigger it, which means that either a fight needs to be going very badly for you or you need to walk into a fight injured. Players might go huge periods of time with this feature going unused, which is extremely unsatisfying.
Fighting Style can now be retrained whenever you gain a Fighter level. Locking yourself into one way of fighting is often fine, but when you’re built for dueling and find a Flametongue Greatsword, it hurts. This is an improvement.
Second Wind now uses the same recharge rules as Channel Divinity: You get X uses per day, then get one back on a Short Rest. This allows you to use them all at once or meter them out over the course of the day as your needs dictate. It’s also being used as a resource pool similar to Channel Divinity.
Action Surge was heavily restricted in UA #5, and they’ve loosened those restrictions. In the 2014 rules, two levels of fighter for Action Surge was often a better choice than the last two levels of a full caster class (wizards especially), and to combat that, Action Surge can be an action except the Magic action, so it’s very clear that this is there to nerf spellcasters dipping into fighter.
Compared to UA #5, the Fighter’s maximum number of Weapon Masteries increases to 6, so they get 2 more than other martial characters rather than just 1.
The Fighter’s additional ASIs/feats have returned to their levels in the 2014 rules. UA #7 briefly put the two extra at levels 5 and 15.
Tactical Mind is a new feature allowing you to spend a use of Second Wind to add 1d10 to a failed ability check. Considering that fighters have such limited capability with skills, this is an exciting addition. People thinking “Grapple/Shove” are going to be disappointed since those things are not part of Unarmed Strike, but your fighter might be able to do something interesting with skills outside of combat now.
Tactical Shift is another new feature. It’s not super exciting, but getting past Opportunity Attacks can get you out of a dangerous situation or at least into a better position to fight from without cutting into your Action.
Indomitable got another update. UA #5 reduced it to just once per long rest (it previously scaled to 3/long rest) unless you spent a use of Second Wind, but added a bonus equal to your Fighter level because rerolling a save and failing again feel awful. UA #7 has returned the 2014 additional uses progression.
Weapon Expert, introduced in UA #5, has been renamed to Master of Armaments and moved to level 9. This is the one that lets you change a weapon’s Mastery property. Unfortunately, Weapon Adept (the one that gets you two properties on one weapon) has been removed.
Studied Attacks is a new feature which is going to make fighters much more accurate so that your 2 to 4 attacks don’t turn into 2 to 4 misses. You can also combine this with the Vex mastery property so that you get Advantage on your next attack whether you hit or miss. You might immediately think “Great Weapon Master”, but from what we’ve seen in the One DnD playtest, GWM’s attack/damage trade is going away. Instead, think Elven Accuracy.
Many of the maneuvers from Tasha’s are now included, and many individual maneuvers were buffed.
Several of the maneuvers now work with any type of attack, which means that they work with spell attacks. I don’t know if this is intended, but it does mean that you can do things like use Goading Attack with Eldritch Blast.
Another new subclass! Back in 3.x, there was a long-standing joke that the best way to play a monk was to play an unarmed fighter (I say “joke” because it was funny, but it was also true). Here WotC has given us an unarmed fighter.
Unarmed Expert is just Fighting Style (Unarmed) without the bonus grapple damage. It’s fine. You’re going to spend most of your time using improvised weapons instead.
Improvised Expert turns improvised weapons into something awesome. They still only deal 1d4 damage, but you can set their properties and pick between three Weapon Mastery properties each time you hit, making them extremely versatile.
Grappling Expert lets you Grapple or Shove as a Bonus Action. If you’re not using the Grapple/Shove combo, you need to start. This also brings back the bonus grapple damage from Fighting Style (Unarmed) but limits it to one creature per round.
Dirty Fighting gives you Advantage, but whatever you’re grappling should also be Prone (remember: Grapple/Shove combo), so in practice this may not have much impact.
Improvised Specialist is a massive jump in power. The damage bonus is fantastic, but applying two Weapon Mastery properties at the same time is just crazy.
Unarmed Specialist feels absolutely useless all the way up here at level 18 when you can take off your glove and slap someone for 1d4+PB+Str.
WotC reworked big parts of Champion in UA #5, and they’ve taken another swing at it here. All of the newly-introduced features in UA #5 have gone away.
Improved Critical is functionally the same.
Remarkable Athlete has been moved from 7th level to 3rd, which is a big improvement since it’s such a minor feature. The first half of Remarkable Athlete was updated so that being proficient in Athletics didn’t negate most of the feature. Of course, Athletics is almost useless thanks to the changes to Unarmed Strikes, but at least you get Advantage on initiative.
Additional Fighting style moved from 10th level to 7th.
Heroic Warrior is new, and lets you get Heroic Advantage at the start of every turn. You can reserve it for saves, or you could use it to get Advantage on your first attack and turn that into a cascade of attacks with Advantage using a Vex weapon. Or you could do something else. I’m not your mom.
WotC kept the changes to Survivor from UA #5, so in addition to regenerating hit points, you’re really good at death saves.
The Eldritch Knight’s spellcasting loses the 2014 version’s restriction on spell school. You start with 3 spells, two of which must be abjuration or evocation, but you can retrain those later so there’s basically no point to the restriction.
I still hate the new “prepared” wording for casters that know spells permanently.
Weapon Bond has been renamed to War Bond.
War Magic got a massive buff. Previously you could cast a spell as an Action, then move one attack as a Bonus Action, so your damage wasn’t much better than a wizard using a cantrip unless you used things like Booming Blade. This allows you to more easily fit cantrips into your regular attacks, and still leaves your Bonus Action free for other cool stuff.
Eldritch Strike is unchanged, but the context around it has changed. Now that you can use War Magic and Improved War Magic during your Attack action, you no longer need to hit an enemy and then wait for your next turn to capitalize on Eldritch Strike. Now you can hit them, cast a spell with Disadvantage on their save, then go right back to hitting them.
Arcane Charge is unchanged.
Improved War Magic got a massive buff similar to War Magic. Now you can trade one attack to cast a cantrip or trade two to cast a leveled spell. The sidebar says “one or two attacks” and mentions 1st-level and 2nd-level spells, but the text of the feature has no such restriction.
There is no text prohibiting the use of War Magic and Improved War Magic during the same action, though I’m sure that’s the intent.
The Eldritch Knight may be the only character that can use Action Surge to cast spells.
Innate Sorcery was introduced in UA #5, but nothing has been kept except the name. It’s now a 1-minute buff which makes your offensive spells more effective. It’s a decent buff, especially once you get Sorcery Incarnate at level 7.
Font of Magic no longer requires a Bonus Action, so you can much more easily get yourself a spell slot as-needed. Previously you couldn’t do things like Misty Step on the same turn, which meant that spell slots were usually only created outside of combat.
Sorcerers now get a total of 6 known metamagics, rather than 4 as they did previously, which adds more versatility and more room for those metamagic options which are only situationally useful.
Sorcerous Vitality, which briefly appeared in UA #4, is gone. It was a weird spell.
Sorcerous Restoration was briefly moved from level 20 to level 15 in UA #4 and has been moved once again, this time down to level 5. In addition, it works both when you roll initiative and when you take a Short Rest. That’s right, the 2014 Sorcerer’s capstone feature is now a level 5 feature and got a buff, which says a lot about the 2014 version.
I’m concerned that Sorcerous Restoration is going to lead to abuse if DMs don’t watch for it. With enough low-stakes combats, a sorcerer could refill all of their spells slots of 5th level and below, creating a Coffee-lock situation.
Sorcery Incarnate was introduced in UA #5, but only the name has been kept. It now allows you to use two metamagic options on the same spell while Innate Sorcery is running, allowing you to make your spells crazy powerful by burning through resources very quickly. You can also use two Sorcery Points to activate Innate Sorcery more than twice per long rest.
Metamagic options got a few adjustments. Most of the changes are identical to the UA #5 options.
Twinned Spell got reworked again. In UA #5 it resembled Echoed Spell from 3.5. Now it’s back to adding additional targets, but the spells to which it can apply are extremely limited. No more Twinned Haste.
Aberrant Sorcery & Clockwork Sorcery
The document says to see Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything for these two. I think that means that they’re going to go into the 2024 PHB, which raises some questions.
Aberrant Mind and Clockwork Soul both include a list of additional spells known as well as mechanics for retraining those spells, both of which are a massive power boost for the Sorcerer. Are those going to stick around?
Draconic Sorcery and Wild Magic Sorcery don’t get expanded spells known, and while they’re improved compared to the 2014 PHB they are nowhere near as good as Aberrant Mind and Clockwork Soul.
Draconic Resilience is identical to the UA #5 version: 1 hp per level and 10+Dex+Cha AC.
Draconic Speech was reworked. UA #5 allowed you to communicate with all creatures of the Draconic creature type, but if Sam the dragonborn baker wanted to talk to you in draconic, you were out of luck. Now you get the draconic language as in the 2014 rules and can also communicate one-way to creatures with the Dragon type, so you could give verbal instructions to a dragon that wasn’t smart enough to speak a language.
Elemental Affinity is the same as UA #5: persistent damage resistance rather than spending a Sorcery Point to get it for one hour, and +Cha to damage hasn’t changed from 2014.
Draconic Exhalation from UA # is gone.
Dragon Wings went back to the 2014 rules, but with a minor change so that the wings don’t require a debate about destroying your clothing.
Draconic Presence no longer requires Concentration, but otherwise matches the 2014 rules.
Wild Magic Sorcery
The Wild Magic table is unchanged.
Wild Magic Surge no longer requires DM permission, which is already a massive improvement. Previously, players would ask “can I enjoy my subclass, please?” and the DM could say “absolutely not” and the player was left to cry into their character sheet and wish that they had played something else. Now you can decide to roll for chaos whenever you want!
Tides of Chaos is extremely difficult to read. Replace the second paragraph with this: “Any time that you cast a Sorcerer spell with a spell slot before you regain the use of this feature, you roll on the Wild Magic Surge table. You then regain the use of this feature.” Yes, I basically just chopped out the “with the DM’s permission” clause from the 2014 text.
The change to Tides of Chaos means that you can easily recharge Tides of Chaos whenever you cast a leveled spell, meaning that you’ll have it available almost constantly.
Bend Luck’s cost was reduced from 2 Sorcery Points to 1, which is awesome.
Spell Bombardment (which was basically pointless) has been replaced by Wild Bombardment, which allows you to pick an option from the Wild Magic table once every 1d4 long rests. Considering that one of the options is to restore all of your Sorcery Points, that’s pretty great.
UA #5 changed the Warlock to a half-caster matching the Paladin and the Ranger, and people (including me) hated that, so WotC went back to Pact Magic. They still want people to have access to their warlock spell slots more often, which we can see in Magical Cunning.
Warlocks now get an invocation at level 1, and warlocks get a total of 10.
Magical Cunning is a new feature, allowing you to recover some spell slots in 1 minute rather than on a Short Rest, meaning that the Warlock has more access to their leveled spells without constantly begging the party to take a nap. You might notice that this is a watered-down version of Eldritch Master, the Warlock’s capstone.
Pact Boon is no longer a core feature of the class. Instead, pacts are Invocations and you can take more than one.
Contact Patron is a new feature. It lets you talk to your patron via the Contact Other Plane feature once per long rest.
Mystic Arcanum is the same as the 2014 rules.
Eldritch Master upgrades Magical Cunning, so effectively it’s the same as the 2014 rules.
Most of the changes were minor updates to existing invocations, such as lowering level prerequisites which were absurdly high in the 2014 rules. There are some standouts which justify more examination.
Agonizing Blast now works with any damaging cantrip. That’s not going to change much for most warlocks, but walking into a crowd and using Agonizing Blast with Sword Burst suddenly sounds really cool.
Lessons of the First Ones gets you a feat and you can select it any number of times. Two levels of warlock can get you three feats. This is a bad idea. You are restricted to feats with no prerequisites, which does limit your options, but not by enough.
Considering that One DnD is intended to be backwards-compatible with 5e and many amazing 5e feats don’t have prerequisites, I think this is going to become a huge problem on a class that’s already notorious for class dips. Imagine a character taking two levels of warlock to get Crusher, Polearm Master, and Sentinel. That’s a thing that you can do.
Pact of the Blade lets you add Charisma to attack and damage, and you can take it at first level, so lockadins are once again the go-to multiclass abuse. To make it worse, you can also change the weapon’s damage type.
Pact of the Chain requires you to be 2nd level and has 6 familiar options instead of just 3 as it did in the 2014 rules.
Pact of the Tome is basically the same, but you also get an extra free 1st-level spell per day. Perfect for Hex!
Thirsting Blade now improves automatically at level 11, adding a third attack and telling Fighters to pound sand. Compounded with Lifedrinker and spells like Hex, bladelocks are going to be scary.
The “Expanded Spell List” feature which is a component of all patrons has been renamed to “Patron Spells”, and rather than just expanding your spell list you now get those spells prepared permanently rather than needing to spend some of your previous spells known to get them.
This means a large increase in your spellcasting options. Hitting 3rd level and getting your subclass is going to be huge. Archfey gets 5 new spells at level 3.
All of the spells previously gained at 1st level are moved to third level and Misty Step is added to the list.
Steps of the Fey is a new feature, allowing you to cast Misty Step a few times per day without spending a spell slot, and whenever you cast Misty Step (whether or not it’s using the free uses) you get a cool rider effect. It’s fun and I like it a lot.
Misty Escape has been reworked. It’s no longer a standalone feature, instead requiring you to cast Misty Step as a Reaction. It works in conjunction with Steps of the Fey and adds 2 new options, allowing you to use any of your now 4 options when you cast Misty Step either as a Reaction or normally. The original version of Misty Escape is now one of the four options, so this is a purely additive change.
Beguiling Defenses no longer lets you redirect the Charmed condition. Instead, it mitigates damage and returns some of it to an attacker. That’s going to be more consistently useful since damage is much more common than Charm effects.
Dark Delirium was replaced with Bewitching Magic. Dark Delirium was thematically very cool, but fuzzy on rules and generally hard to use. Bewitching magic is much more consistently usable. The restriction to enchantment and illusion spells is going to have interesting implications for build choices.
The Bonus Cantrips feature has been rolled into Patron Spells.
Healing Light and Radiant Soul are unchanged. The changes to Agonizing Blast might tempt people to put Agonizing Blast on Fire Bolt so that you can add Charisma to the damage twice, but Eldritch Blast+Agonizing Blast matches that DPR at the very least and beats it once you hit level 11.
Celestial Radiance’s effect is unchanged, but now also triggers when you use Magical Cunning.
Dark One’s Blessing now triggers on two things: either you last-hit something, or an enemy dies within 10 feet of you. Much easier to trigger; it encourages melee builds.
Dark One’s Own Luck works Cha/long rest rather than once per short rest, but can only be used once per roll. UA #5 allowed it to be used multiple times on one roll.
As in UA #5, Fiendish Resilience is no longer bypassed my magic or silver weapons.
Hurl Through Hell’s damage is reduced from 10d10 to 8d10, but can be reused by spending a spell slot, so it’s more readily available.
Great Old One Patron
The Patron Spells have some changes. Sending is dropped in favor of Hunger of Hadar, Dominate Beast is dropped in favor of Confusion, and Dominate Person is dropped in favor of Modify Memory.
Awakened Mind is no longer one-way and now allows you to establish a connection which lasts a few minutes so you no longer need to keep them within 30 feet.
Psychic Spells is a new feature which lets you switch spell damage types to psychic and lets you cast illusions and enchantments without somatic/verbal components. Both parts are great.
Entropic Ward is replaced by Clairvoyant Combatant, which is similar but definitely not the same feature. This allows you to target a creature with Awakened Mind and force them to make a save. If they fail, they have Disadvantage to attack you and your have Advantage to attack them. Against big single foes, this is really good.
Thought Shield is unchanged.
Eldritch Hex is new and amazing. You get Hex prepared for free and can impose Disadvantage on saves of the ability you chose when you apply Hex, allowing you to combo very effectively with your allies. A lot of those scary but unreliable Constitution save effects suddenly look much more appealing. Just remember that casting another Concentration spell ends your existing one, so you can’t capitalize on this debuff by yourself with another Concentration spell.
Create Thrall has been totally reworked. It now lets you cast Summon Aberration, which is a fine spell, but it won’t scale because your spell slots stop scaling.
Wizards got a lot of experimental changes in UA #5, most notably the ability to create your own spells by modifying existing ones.
Spellcasting is mostly unchanged from the 2014 rules, but you can now change one cantrip on a long rest and your number of prepared spells is no longer dependent on your Intelligence modifier.
Arcane Recovery is back to level 1 and matches the 2014 rules.
Scholar is a new feature, giving the Wizard Expertise in one choice from a short list of Intelligence-based skills. No more rogues being better at these checks than wizards just because they took Expertise.
Memorize Spell is new(ish). In UA #5 it was a spell that let you swap one prepared spell for another. Now it’s a free prepared spell that you can change by spending one minute to do so. This allows you to swap situational utility spells in and out outside of combat, making the wizard considerably more versatile without needing to take a long rest to change spells. As a wizard enthusiast, I absolutely love this.
Spell Mastery now only works with spells cast as an Action, but you can also change the spells on a long rest. According to the sidebar, “Allowing at-will casting of non-action spells, such as Shield, was too powerful.” Yes, that’s objectively correct. I’m still sad, but honestly it’s for the best.
Signature Spells was briefly gone in UA #5, but is back and identical to the 2014 rules. I have always thought that this feature was less exciting than Spell Mastery, and I don’t think the nerf to Spell Mastery changes that.
Tyler Plays a Tiny, Sad Fiddle
Each class is getting exactly 4 subclasses in the 2024 PHB. This is… fair. But I’m accustomed to the long history of DnD having a mountain of cleric domains and one wizard school for each school of magic all crammed into the PHB to cover all of the core concepts for those classes. I’m sad to see that change, even though I fully understand why it’s happening.
I guess we’ll wait for splat books to get conjurers, necromancers, and transmuters.
Abjuration Savant now gives you free spells known rather than cutting the cost to add abjuration spells to your spellbook. This was a frustrating design choice in the 2014 PHB because you were incentivized to use your free spells for anything except your favorite school, and I think this is a significant improvement over that version. The same change has been made to the other four schools presented. We first saw this in UA #5 and I’m happy that it stayed.
Arcane Ward now requires you to spend a spell slot, so no more using Armor of Shadows to fill the ward for free. You can now also burn a spell slot to feed the ward, which creates a sort of coffee-lock situation where you can dip into warlock and take a bunch of short rests to refill the ward. This is not worth the effort, but it is technically possible.
The fact that healing spells are now Abjuration spells has some interesting implications. I imagine that there will be a lot of Abjurers dipping into cleric.
Improved Abjuration has been replaced by Spell Breaker. It now doesn’t interact with Counterspell due to the massive changes that spell received, but you can cast Dispel Magic as a Bonus Action and you still get to add your Proficiency Bonus to the ability check.
Spell Resistance is the same.
Projected Ward is unchanged.
Portent, Expert Divination, and Greater Portent are unchanged.
The Third Eye is now a Bonus Action so you might actually use it in combat.
Sculpt Spells is moved to level 6. It was level 2 in the 2014 rules and level 3 in UA #5. You’re going to have to spend a few levels trying to avoid killing your party before you get it.
Potent Cantrip is moved to level 3 from level 6 in 2014, and like in UA #5 it now works with attack rolls instead of just saving throws as it did in 2014.
Empowered Evocation is unchanged.
Overchannel is unchanged.
Improved Minor Illusion and Malleable Illusions are unchanged.
Illusory Self can now be used again by spending a 2nd-level spell slot.
Illusory Reality now requires you to spend a spell slot, so the Misty Visions invocation no longer breaks things.
The Arcane/Divine/Primal spell lists are gone. The weird combination of spell lists and class-exclusive spells was confusing and annoying, and I’m happy to see the change reversed. It works in PF2 because Focus Spells cover the class-exclusive spells. The parallel playtest for
Tales of the Valiant is going for Arcane/Divine/Primal/Wyrd, and I’m curious to see how class-exclusive spells like Hunter’s Mark and Hex will be handled there, but that’s a different article.
Changed from a Con save to a Dex save, but otherwise the same as the previous UA. Basically Fireball, but you trade some damage for a semi-random, short-lived status condition.
This one is going to be controversial. The changes here are complicated.
According to the accompanying sidebar, “The spell’s previous design failed to account for the capabilities of the target, which is rectified by the new design.” I agree with the first part, but I’m not convinced of the second part.
The spell being countered must be cast with components, which clarifies that Subtle Spell does actually make it impossible to counter most spells. Material components still count and Subtle Spell doesn’t affect those, but that’s also a minority of spells. So you could counterspell Subtle Fireball (it has a material component), but not Subtle Psychic Scream.
The target of your Counterspell makes a Constitution Save. This is the part that supposedly makes Counterspell account for the target’s capabilities, but considering that most full casters aren’t proficient in Constitution saves, countering spells is going to be considerably easier for enemies than it was before, and I don’t know if that’s intentional.
This also means that Resilient (Constitution) or a level in barbarian/fighter/sorcerer are much more impactful than before (and much better than Warcaster because it’s explicitly not a Concentration save), and I don’t know if that’s intentional either.
Counterspell now no longer eats the target’s spell slot. It clarifies that the actions spent are wasted, but the target keeps their spell slot and they’re free to cast the spell again on their next turn. It’s a lot better for players, who are more likely to be on the receiving end of Counterspell now that monsters no longer use spell slots. I think this is an intentional consolation to players so that having your highest-level spell slot countered no longer leads to hurt feelings.
Hunter’s Mark and Hex
Both have returned to their 2014 versions. The UA versions experimented with reducing their damage bonuses to once per turn, but scaling the damage by spell level. They also experimented with removing the Concentration requirement. People weren’t happy with any of those changes, so back to the beloved 2014 rules.
I’ve poo-pooed the Jump spell since 3.0. It’s basically never been useful in a game where flight was a possibility and climbing isn’t especially difficult or dangerous.
I might actually cast this now. It’s still not an amazing go-to spell, but the ability to put it on an ally (or multiple allies) when you need to move quickly or get around difficult terrain means that Jump finally has a tactical niche. It doesn’t even require your target to have high Strength!
It does mean that nonsense like beast barbarians jumping into the air to land on enemies no longer works, but I don’t think that was ever intentional in the first place. I’m curious to see how Boots of Striding and Springing change.
Newly-introduced in UA #5, Sorcerous Burst is a new Sorcerer-exclusive cantrip. It’s basically Fire Bolt, but you choose the damage type and it has exploding dice (Rolled max number? Reroll and add it to the total). UA #7 increases the damage die from d6 to d8, which will be less likely to explode but more likely to deal consistent damage, and consistency is crucial.
A sidebar specifies that characters at level 20 can get a feat or an Epic Boon for every 30,000 xp past level 20. I think WotC may have thrown up their hands and decided that people don’t like the Epic Boons enough to make them a core part of the game, which is tragic because some of them are amazing. The issue is that they’re not all amazing.
Ability Score Improvement
You can now get your ability scores to 20 until level 19, then to 22 after that. This is going to change the math on a lot of multiclass builds, and it’s going to mean that builds with few feat needs don’t have a blank space for their 19th-level feat.
The changes to the Heavy property mean that Small characters can now use Heavy weapons effectively. Previously, Heavy locked Small characters out of longbows, greataxes, and similar weapons, so being Small limited your options for front-line melee builds.
Now we can build greataxe-wielding gnome barbarians!
The “Flex” property is gone. Previously, it let you use a Versatile weapon’s larger damage die while using the weapon one-handed. This was intended to be the low-complexity option for players that didn’t want the added crunch of Weapon Mastery, but the pittance of additional damage simply wasn’t as good as any of the other masteries.
Push now has a size limit and prevents you from launching enemies into the air. As much fun as I’ve had doing that, it was definitely an abuse case and I’m glad WotC patched it.
Sap has been updated to work for weapons with the Versatile property or with no properties. Exactly three weapons have no properties: the flail, the mace, and the morningstar. In UA #5, this made those weapons appealing for the first time in the 5e era. Now that the longsword, warhammer, and warpick get Sap, why would you ever use a flail or a morningstar?
The spear now has the Sap property, which is interesting because that violates Sap’s prerequisites.
Thoughts From the RPGBOT Team
I’m very grateful that they’ve leaned into player agency everywhere as a core design philosophy and I think that they’re gradually figuring out how to make many martial archetypes more interesting… although I wouldn’t actually call most of them better than the current state of martials, just more satisfying. That’s, at least, progress.
The Warlock, as a whole, feels too powerful in this version. The subclass changes are thematic and satisfying, but some of them (mostly GOO) feel too strong. Also, Paladin 1, 3 levels of bladelock grabbing the feats Tyler mentioned above, and you’re a fully completed 10-foot range defender at level 4, the time when most builds are getting their first combo piece unless they started as a custom origin or variant human.
The new sorcerer changes mean that you should only play elf sorcerers and you should take Elven Accuracy at level 4 and you just go crit fishing with a draconic sorcerer spamming scorching ray to dunk on all your martials trying to deal damage.
I love the new Barbarian subclass and am enjoying the class’s solidified place as a provider of several good Defender options without magic.
This does feel like they’re settling pretty close to how they want to print things, so I’m curious who snuck this awful change to counterspell in at the last second to see what people thought of it. We’ve talked at length about Con saves being statistically monster’s best save by far, and even spellcaster NPCs usually have a higher Con than most character spellcasters do.
Overall, though, I’m excited by this packet and I look forward to the next one.
I like a lot of the changes in this one. It feels like we’re rapidly approaching what could be final versions of things. I think Weapon Mastery still needs a tiny bit of fine-tuning and the Warlock’s invocations still need balancing. It would be nice if the Wizard got something new and novel, but they’re also the best class in the 2014 rules (I will die on this hill) so it’s fine that they’re staying mostly unchanged while everyone else gets new toys to play with.