One D&D Playtest, Unearthed Arcana: Players Handbook Playtest #8


Unearthed Arcana #8 features updated playtest versions of just 3 classes: Barbarian, Druid, and Monk. We also got some new and revised spells.

The UA document starts with a textual explanation of what is in the document, but just as with UA #7 the “what’s different” sidebars are by section. The document is only 30 pages and roughly 7 of those are the Rules Glossary.

Previous Playtest Rounds

  1. Character Origins
  2. Expert Classes
  3. The Cleric and Revised Species
  4. The Druid and Paladin
  5. Players Handbook #5 (Barbarian, Fighter, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard, introduction of Weapon Mastery)
  6. Players Handbook #6 (Bard, Cleric, Druid, Monk, Paladin, Ranger)
  7. Players Handbook #7 (Barbarian, Fighter, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard)

Rules Glossary v8

There do not appear to be any obvious changes from the previous two rules glossaries.



The Barbarian has struggled to find a new gimmick in the new 2024 rule landscape, and hasn’t shaken some of the problems that plague the 2014 Barbarian. Previous UA versions sought to improve the Barbarian by addressing specific pain points, but the design team wasn’t ready to reimagine problematic features or the Barbarian’s resource management. In this version, the design team is less cautious, and they’ve taken some bigger swings.

The previous UA version of Rage changed the ability from a short-duration combat buff to an all-purpose buff for all of the things that the Barbarian might like to do, and made it considerably easier to maintain Rage. Those changes have been retained. It does feel odd for someone to get so angry that they get sneakier and more observant, but mechanically it’s great. If I didn’t think there’d be a mass revolt, I might suggest they rename the ability Trance or something similar to encompass the new utility.

The big change to Rage in UA #8 is that the Barbarian now recovers a use of Rage upon taking a Short Rest. This solves several design problems. The one that Jeremy Crawford cites in the announcement video is that the Barbarian’s core features didn’t offer a reason to take Short Rests, and they’re trying to make that more consistent between classes. Arguably a large issue within the class, the Barbarian’s limited pool of Rage uses doesn’t scale very much, so at low levels barbarian players are forced to ration their Rages. The ability to recover one use on a Short Rest makes Rage much more readily accessible.

Brutal Critical has long been one of the Barbarian’s biggest problems. Intended to keep the Barbarian’s damage output impactful at high levels, mathematically it just didn’t work, adding less than 1 DPR per additional die when using a greataxe and Reckless Attack.

Crawford discusses the community’s opinion of Brutal Critical in the video, but argues that the interaction was “too subtle for some people” because it wasn’t obvious that Reckless Attack made crits more reliable. Reckless Attack does raise your chance to roll a natural 20 to almost 10%, but a 1 in 10 chance is hardly reliable, and when you consider the average impact on damage, Brutal Critical just doesn’t do what it sets out to do. It’s not subtlety, it’s just vaguely complex dice math.

Regardless of the reasons, Brutal Critical is gone in favor of Brutal Strike. Go open some champagne, because Brutal Strike is going to be a ton of fun.

Brutal Strike allows you to trade the Advantage from Reckless Attack for some bonus damage and a rider effect. This means that you trade reliability for some tactical nuance. You get two effect options at level 9, then two more at level 13. Even better, these effects work alongside Weapon Mastery, allowing you to set up some amazing combination effects, such as launching enemies 25 feet away with Forceful Blow.

  • (9) Forceful Blow: 15 feet is a huge push. Note that it says “directly away”.
  • (9) Hamstring Blow: Reduce your target’s speed significantly. If you can follow up with Forceful Blow, you can easily put yourself and your allies out of reach of enemies who can’t attack at range.
  • (13) Staggering Blow: A massive debuff. At the very minimum, you can pair this with a Topple weapon and impose Disadvantage on the save to avoid falling prone, but more likely you’ll use this to support an ally casting save-or-suck spells.
  • (13) Sundering Blow: The Rage damage bonus isn’t huge, so this is pretty disappointing compared to how amazing the other three options are.

The 1d10 extra damage increases to 2d10 at level 17, helping to keep the damage boost impactful, and you also get to apply two effects at once, so you can use Forceful Blow and Hamstring Blow to effectively eat 25 feet of a creature’s movement with a single attack without considering the possibility of Weapon Mastery.

I’m actually a little worried about how good this is. The combination of effects, combos with Weapon Mastery, and the fact that the Barbarian can do this 2 or more times per turn means that barbarians can easily lock many enemies out of a fight simply by making it impossible for them to walk back into combat.

The appeal of an additional attack to deliver these rider effects is going to make two-weapon fighting the go-to tactic for barbarians instead of two-handed weapons. Giving up 1d6 damage from your maul to switch to light hammers or something means that you can apply the rider effect plus the 1d10/2d10 damage bonus an additional time, completely outpacing two-handed weapon damage output.

I think limiting this to once on each of the Barbarian’s turns will keep the value of the feature without breaking the game and without invalidating two-handed weapons as a build choice.

Persistent Rage has been updated so you can now use it once per day to regain all of your expended uses of Rage. By this level you have 5 uses, plus whatever you recover from taking Short Rests, so you may actually struggle to use them all.

Path of the World Tree

Vitality of the Tree no longer lets you recover hit points when you Rage, instead granting temporary hit points. Recovering hp in the first round of combat is dubiously useful because players typically walk into fights at full hp. This guarantees that you actually get something.

The ability to grant temporary hit points to allies is unchanged. The benefits are great, but rolling 2 to 6 dice and totalling them before you even act may prove to be annoying in practice.

Branches of the Three’s range increased from 20 feet to 30 feet, making it a bit easier to use consistently.

Battering Roots now limits you to melee weapons with the Heavy or Versatile properties, so you can use it with longswords, but not with short swords. The extended reach also only applies on your own turn. Having incredibly long reach is dubiously useful because enemies can move safely within your reach. Still, if you have Sentinel and Polearm Master, you could keep enemies at incredible distance while still hitting them.

Travel Along the Tree no longer allows you travel between planes, which honestly is more of a plot device than a class feature. Now it’s a combat teleport.


The only changes to the Druid’s core features were to Wild Shape. 

The number of wild shape forms known has improved significantly. UA #6 started players with 3, raising that to a maximum of 5 by level 8. This was extremely restrictive, which would have meant that players were forced into a tiny handful of mechanically optimal choices.

The ability to change the forms on a long rest theoretically meant that you could change them like spells to meet current needs, but with so few known forms it was very easy to pick the wrong options and find Wild Shape unhelpful for the day. This was especially problematic for Circle of Moon, which inexplicably doesn’t increase your number of known forms. The larger cap makes this much less of a problem because you can keep staple forms ready and rotate in situationally useful forms like local animals without specific mechanical advantages.

Wild Shape now grants temporary hit points to all druids equal to your druid level. Circle of the Moon gets triple that number, but for regular druids you can still drop briefly into Wild Shape to mitigate incoming damage, which is exciting.

Circle of the Moon

Circle of the Moon got major updates. With One DnD’s move to make Wild Shape more useful for non-moond druids, Circle of the Moon is struggling to distinguish itself, so each UA version has had major changes.

The OneDnD playtest has been pushing to allow the moon druids to cast spells while in Wild Shape since early days. The decision to move healing spells into the Abjuration school may have been part of this change specifically so that they could cast healing and protection spells. Based on the announcement video, this was too complicated.

Instead, Circle of the Moon now has a small pool of spells that moon druids get prepared for free, and they can cast that limited pool of spells while in Wild Shape. This includes Cure Wounds, replacing the 2014 Circle of the Moon’s ability to burn spell slots to heal. It also includes Starry Wisp for a ranged attack option, Vampiric Touch so that you can stay in Wild Shape for a long time without running out of hp, and a couple others.

Circle of the Moon now has a special AC option, allowing you to use 13+Wis for your AC instead of whatever AC your animal form provided. Beasts typically have terrible AC, which motivated a lot of barbarian or monk dips, so this is a fantastic upgrade. UA #6 attempted to let you keep your own AC, but druids have always had AC problems in 5e, so I think this is better.

The temporary hit points previously limited you to the lower of the beast form’s temporary hp or 3 times your level. This prevented individual forms with a mountain of hp from turning druids into giant bags of hit points (which is a problem under the 2014 rules), but also meant that forms far above or far below the 3xlevel threshold were weaker choices due to the loss of hp. Switching to just 3xlevel isn’t necessarily better, but it definitely makes the optimization decisions simpler, and it does mean that high-damage low-hp forms are much more appealing.

Improved Circle Forms added the ability to add your Wisdom modifier to your Con saves while in Wild Shape. This will make it much easier to maintain Concentration spells like Moonbean and Vampiric Touch.

Lunar Form dropped the ability to move Moonbeam for free in favor of a +1d10 damage boost on your attacks while in Wild Shape. Folks want Circle of the Moon for Wild Shape, not for Moonbeam, so I think this is a much better choice. It also addresses the issue that high-level druids are using the stats of creatures of at most CR 6, which means that their attacks and damage are considerably weaker than the rest of the party.


The Monk has been a design problem since at least 3rd edition, and despite some very interesting subclasses in 5e, the Monk is still generally the worst class and the least satisfying to play. The design team promised that the Monk would see major changes in the 2024 rules, and considering that this is just the second One DnD Unearthed Arcana document featuring the Monk, they’ve had a lot of time to think about things.

UA #6 removed Monk Weapons and gave the Monk Weapon Mastery. This change has been reversed, and monk weapons now include all Simple Melee Weapons and all Martial Weapons with the Light property. This wording is notably different from the 2014 rules, but is effectively additive because it now includes more martial weapons. It does still exclude any ranged weapons of any kind, though you can always throw javelins.

I’m on the fence about monks losing weapon mastery. It’s a powerful tactical option for martial characters, and basically everyone who relies on weapon attacks gets it now except for the Monk. Crawford explained in the announcement video that it felt like “a hat on a hat” (too many things trying to do the same thing), but that didn’t seem to affect Brutal Strikes, so I’m not sure what the thinking is here.

Martial Arts has gotten a major upgrade. The additional Bonus Action unarmed strike is now detached from the Attack action, so you can use that action for other things like casting a spell or using a class feature. Under the 2014 rules, this restriction meant that doing anything except the Attack action meant giving up all of your damage output for the turn (with some exceptions). This also applies to Flurry of Blows.

This also doesn’t conflict with the Nick Weapon Mastery property. If you take a level of a class that grants Weapon Mastery, you could use two-weapon fighting and Martial Arts in the same turn. That might become a problem.

The Monk’s ability to use Dexterity for attacks now extends to Grapple and Shove, meaning that monks can now employ those options without jumping through hoops or playing Way of the Astral Self.

The Martial Arts Die was increased by one step in UA #6, and I’m pleased to see that they retained that change.

Arguably the 2014 Monk’s largest pain point is their poor resource management. Because they get so few points relative to the cost of features, monks are constantly running on empty. To address that, the design team looked for places where they could stop charging points, which we’ll highlight as we go.

Flurry of Blows no longer requires you to take the Attack action first.

Patient Defense now lets you Disengage as a Bonus Action at no cost, similarly to how Cunning Action lets the Rogue do stuff. If you spend a point, you can also Dodge.

Step of the Wind now lets you Dash at no point cost, which means that monks are even more insanely fast than before. If you spend a point, you can both Disengage and Dash, plus your jump distance is double. Of course, with 8 Strength, your jump distance is still pitiful.

Uncanny Metabolism is a new 2nd-level feature. Once per day when you roll initiative, you can heal a bit and regain all of your spent points. This is a massive and much-needed boost, especially if your party isn’t consistent about taking short rests.

Deflect Missiles, long a rarely-used novelty, has been replaced by Deflect Attacks. Deflect Attacks uses the same mechanism to reduce the damage and determine whether or not you can return the blow. However, instead of complicated attack rolls, you now ask for a Dex save and use your own Martial Arts die for damage.

At low levels, this is going to make monks borderline untouchable. A level 3 Monk would be rolling 1d10+6 to reduce incoming damage at a time when most attacks do something like 1d8+3. I love the concept here, but the scaling needs to be rethought now that the feature applies so much more often.

Stunning Strike, one of the Monk’s most iconic features and also their most frustrating, now deals some damage when the target succeeds on their save. It’s a decent consolation prize, which should lessen the sting of enemies constantly succeeding on their saves.

Heightened Discipline is a new 10th-level feature. It upgraded your Monk’s Discipline feature (formerly Ki) so that the Bonus Action options are more effective. Flurry of Blows adds a third attack, Patient Defense grants Temporary Hit Points, and Step of the Wind lets you carry a friend along with you. This will do a lot to help keep the Monk’s damage output impactful at high levels.

Deflect Energy is a new 13th-level feature that upgrades Deflect Attacks to deflect any type of attack. This will allow you to deflect things like Fire Bolt.

Superior Defense, previously introduced in UA #6 as a replacement for Empty Body, has gotten a buff. It no longer requires an Action, which was a necessary balance point for Empty Body but made Superior Defense hard to use. I think making it a Bonus Action makes sense, but they’re also trying to address the Monk’s overloaded Bonus Actions.

Body and Mind is the Monk’s new 20th-level capstone feature. Much like the Barbarian’s capstone, it increases two ability scores by 4. This will raise the Monk’s stats considerably, which will be immediately impactful without adding complexity to a class that already has a lot of buttons to push by level 20.

Warrior of the Hand

Open Hand Technique has added a new option to prevent Opportunity Attacks. You can already use Patient Defense to Disengage, but this allows you to use Flurry of Blows and still move away safely.

The Push option notably hasn’t added the “directly away” restriction. Maybe the design team likes that we can upper-cut people 15 feet into the air? Tyler certainly likes it.

Wholeness of Body no longer consumes Ki. Instead, it’s its own standalone thing. You won’t be able to eat leftover Ki for hit points before resting, and the total amount healed per day is going to be minor. Still, this may be better.

Fleet of Step is odd. If you take any Bonus Action except for Step of the Wind, you get to use Step of the Wind, too. You can still choose whether or not to spend points, but you get Dash for free.

Quivering Palm has been updated so now you can deliver the vibrations in place of an attack and also trigger the damage in place of an attack. You could apply the vibrations, then immediately trigger them within the space of a single Attack Action. The damage has been reduced, but an average of 65 damage for the cost 3 Ki Points and two attacks is a good trade. You probably won’t get that much damage out of Flurry of Blows, and it certainly won’t be this fast.


Ability Score Improvement is listed again, but there are no changes from UA #7.


Weapons and weapon masteries are listed again, but there is only one change from UA #7: The Push mastery now says “directly away” instead of “horizontally away”.

The “away” terminology has been one of my favorite punching bags for a very long time, including using it in obvious abuse cases like our Way of the Open Hand Monk Handbook’s example build, which relies on launching foes into the air repeatedly. I’m excited to see this correction at long last.

I can’t say for certain that the DnD design team reads our work, but this sure does feel like evidence that they do. If you’re one of those designers, send me a message. You’re cool and I’d love to talk.


In the accompanying announcement video, Jeremy Crawford discussed the problems with magical healing in 5e, namely that you could cast a healing spell and immediately have your efforts wasted by a single attack. UA #8 sets out to address that by increasing the amount healed with a spell.

I posted recently on socials asking if doubling healing would be enough to make it more appealing in combat. Most folks who responded agreed that even doubling healing would not be enough. The updated healing spells don’t quite double the total amount healed, and looking at the math, they’re obviously better but still not good enough that healing mid-combat is a good idea unless you have no other choice.

Crawford also discussed the identity crisis of Conjure X spells from the 2014 PHB in the face of the much more usable Tasha’s-era summon spells. The 2014 Conjure X spells have been gutted and replaced with area damage effects which loosely associate themselves with summoning spirits, but mechanically they’re just druid versions of Spiritual Weapon and Spirit Guardians that come online at much higher level.

Conjure Animals


This is basically Spirit Guardians, but at range and without the speed reduction. The damage timing benefits from all of the same shenanigans as Spirit Guardians, so plan to have allies drag or shove enemies in and out of the area to re-trigger the damage.

Conjure Celestial


Possibly a replacement for Spirit Guardians at high levels. The spells 8d12 damage will easily outdo 7th-level Spirit Guardians’ 7d8, and won’t require you to march into your enemies. The damage timing benefit forms all of the same shenanigans as Spirit Guardians, so plan to have allies drag or shove enemies in and out of the area to re-trigger the damage.

The healing is neat, but not impactful.

Also, note 5e’s profoundly stupid rules for cylinder spell areas: they’re required to be on the ground or start exactly the cylinder’s height from the ground, making them extremely difficult to use in the air.

Conjure Elemental


A very interesting area control option. It’s not clear if the cube is opaque, so I don’t know for sure if it blocks vision or attacks, but I would assume that it does. A 10-foot cube of earth should be hard to see through.

Placing the cube essentially dares creatures within its reach to move. If you place the cube to block their line of sight, an enemy might be unable to participate in combat unless they willingly Move and trigger the attack. If you can then Restrain an enemy inside the cube, they’re at a massive disadvantage and take ongoing damage. For many enemies, that’s functionally a death sentence.

The attack doesn’t eat your Reaction, either, so enemies might provoke numerous attacks from the cube as they move, especially if you can force them to run past it with things like Command and Dissonant Whispers. However, the cube’s 5-foot reach won’t be enough unless you’re in tight quarters.

I think this is going to be fantastic in tight quarters like dungeons and caves, but borderline useless in open areas.

Conjure Fey


This falls somewhere between Spiritual Weapon and the Tasha’s-era summoning spells. It’s not a creature, so it can’t be attacked, and the movement and attack mechanics are similar to Spiritual Weapon. The fact that it teleports also means that you don’t need to worry about barriers, which is nice.

For comparison, let’s look at Summon Fey, which is apparently going into the 2024 PHB. If both spells are cast at 6th level, Summon Fey gets 3 attacks, each dealing 2d6+mod, while Conjure Fey deals 3d12+Mod. Summon Fey wins there, but there’s a ton of nuance between Conjury Fey applying Frightened and whatever rider effect you choose from Summon Fey.

If you upcast both spells, Summon Fey only gets an additional attack at 8th level, but Summon Fey gets +2d12 damage for each spell level. Comparing 8th level with a +5 spellcasting modifier, Summon Fey’s 4 attacks deal 2d6+5 (avg. 48) each compared to Conjure Fey’s 7d12+5 total (avg. 50.5). That’s roughly even.

There’s some nuance in which spell will be more effective in a given situation, but there’s no outright winner here, which is exactly what we want in my opinion. Similar spells should offer interesting differences rather than one just being outright better based on the math.

Conjure Minor Elementals


A massively upgraded version of Spirit Shroud. 10 times the duration, double the damage scaling, better range, difficult terrain, and the range scales with spell level. Upcast those and start spamming Scorching Ray.

This would be awesome on a warlock, but they likely looked at Eldritch Blast and saw a problem. You might be tempted to take a feat or a level dip to pick up EB, but remember that OneDnD’s EB doesn’t scale unless you’re actually straight-classing Warlock.

Conjure Woodland Beings


This is literally Spirit Guardians, but worse and a different damage type.

Cure Wounds


Base healing increased from 1d8+mod to 2d8+mod. This means that at level 1, you’re likely to get your target from 0 to max hp, and through low levels the healing is enough to do more than repair a single hit worth of damage.

Even better, the scaling is now 2d8 per spell level rather than 1d8, so there is actually a decent reason to upcast this.

Fount of Moonlight


For a weapon user, I would rather use Elemental Weapon, so there’s little appeal here for the Bard. But for the Druid, this could be a great boost to Wild Shape damage output.

Healing Word


Base healing and increase per level when upcast increased from 1d4+mod to 2d4+mod. An extra 2-ish hit points doesn’t make this spell notably better beyond very low levels, but at least at level 1 your target is now slightly more likely to survive their next hit. It does make upcasting feel more useful though, as you’re getting an additional 5hp per spell level on average instead of 2.

Mass Cure Wounds


Base healing increased from 3d8+mod to 5d8+mod, which is a decent buff, but it’s still not nearly enough. 3rd-level Fireball’s average damage is 28. With 20 Wisdom, Mass Cure Wounds heals for 27.5. You’re not even countering a lower-level spell’s damage output.

Mass Healing Word


Base healing increased from 1d4+Mod to 2d4+mod. An extra 2-ish hit points doesn’t make this spell notably better.

Power Word Fortify


120 temporary hp divided between up to 6 targets. It’s a 7th-level spell, so casting this is expensive, but without a specified duration you could pre-cast this to protect your party’s front line before walking into a big fight.

Starry Wisp


Intended to boost the Bard and the Druid’s poor ranged damage cantrip options. Starry Wisp does decent damage on a ranged spell attack, makes the target glow, and prevents them from benefiting from invisibility. It’s decent, and Bards appreciate having a damage cantrip that actually keeps up with other classes. Definitely more interesting than Produce Flame.

Thoughts from the RPGBOT Team


I think the Barbarian swung too far. As soon as Brutal Strikes comes online, people are going to set up combos with Weapon Mastery which take enemies out of fights without allowing a saving throw. Anything relying primarily on melee attacks will be unable to retaliate. The impact of the on-hit effects will also mean that two-weapon fighting is so much better for the Barbarian that using two-handed weapons will be totally unappealing.

The changes to Wild Shape are an improvement, but I think there’s some lack of direction about what people want Wild Shape to be for non-moon druids. Adding temporary hit points won’t make Wild Shape a combat form, and I think there are some people expecting that for some reason. There’s a lot of appeal to briefly jumping into Wild Shape to move around, to solve a specific problem, to find invisible foes, etc., but no one except moon druids should be actively fighting while in Wild Shape.

The new Monk is definitely an improvement. It’s much easier to play, the resource strain is less frustrating, the damage output is more impactful. I’m sad to see Weapon Mastery go, and I expect that many monk builds will involve a dip into fighter.

The new spells are fine, but don’t feel quite right. Giving druids equivalents to Spiritual Weapon and Spirit Guardians is a weird choice. I don’t play a druid so that I can play a hipster cleric. The spell lists should feel different.

Also, I think it’s really weird that the design team is pushing the druid so hard toward radiant damage. Why? That’s the cleric’s thing. Go back to elemental damage. I want druid spells to rain fire or stones or turn my dog into a popsicle and deal cold damage. I don’t want low-budget Spirit Guardians on a druid. If the best we can do to update the Druid’s spells to plagiarize the Cleric, we need to think a lot harder.


I agree with Tyler’s assessment of the new Barbarian changes. I had a note in the draft of this document talking about the new subclass teleporting someone next to them which sets move speed to zero, then on your turn gutting their move speed and throwing them back was way too good.

I actually think that World Tree is overtuned in general, especially when held up to the other heavily Defender-focused path: Ancestral Guardians. It still has defensive power for your team, defensive power for you, and it adds Reaction-based utility that it absolutely doesn’t need. It even reminds you that you can teleport your friends by talking about people voluntarily failing saves and having the move speed loss be optional. I would struggle to find any other melee Defender to hold up as equally optimizable with little effort, and that’s never good for build diversity.

I like where Moon Druids are now, though I agree that the spell changes are just… weird. None of the Druid’s spells had anything comparable to Spirit Guardians, but they had a lot more utility and area control. Now they just… also have Spirit Guardians, but worse.

I’m excited to see what this new Monk can do. I don’t think they need weapon mastery with all the tactical choice points they already have to deal with, though I agree that many optimizers will likely pick up a level of a class that gets it to make sure they have as many buttons as possible. Knocking someone prone so you can Flurry them with advantage is definitely an appealing use of not-Ki.

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