Based on feedback that players have submitted, Wizards of the Coast has released 5 subclasses with updated rules in the most recent Unearthed Arcana. These subclasses are being presented for another round of player feedback and according to Wizards themselves, these subclasses and others that were previously presented in Unearthed Arcana may even appear in future D&D books. Instead of writing a comparison of these subclasses with their previous incarnation, I’m just going to dive in and talk about these subclasses on their own.
BARBARIAN – PATH OF THE ANCESTRAL GUARDIAN
The Path of the Ancestral Guardian is really cool and quite unique for the Barbarian. It turns your Barbarian into a great tank, soaking damage and protecting the rest of your party while you are in a Rage. At 3rd level, the first creature you attack every turn is swarmed by the spectres of your ancestors. This confers disadvantage to any attack roll that isn’t against the Barbarian and even provides resistance against the creature’s attacks if they do manage to connect with someone that isn’t the frothing Barbarian in front of them. These protection based abilities continue as your Barbarian gains levels and you are eventually able to reduce damage directed at other party members using your reaction, and the best part is that you eventually master this ability and damage the attacking creature by the same amount of damage that you reduce.
Not to be left of having great utility abilities, the Path of the Ancestral Guardian will allow you to cast the Clairvoyance spell once without using a spell slot. Instead of an intangible orb, you summon one of your ancestors who acts as your eyes and ears. This can only be done once without having to take a short of long rest and keep in mind that going into a Rage will immediately end the concentration required to keep this spell.
BARD – COLLEGE OF SWORDS
Bards of the College of Swords are really interesting to me. They retain all of the basic Bard abilities, including Bardic Inspiration, spellcasting and their other utility abilities. But the College of the Swords focuses on martial performances like sword swallowing , knife throwing, and mock combats. This means that a Bard from the College of Swords focuses on using their familiarity with martial weapons and using it to great effect in combat.
They gain proficiency in medium armour and scimitars, learn a fighting style (dueling or two-weapon fighting) and can start spending their Bardic Inspiration dice to buff their own combat effects. It’s a really interesting take on the Bard because a Bard from the College of Swords wants to be selfish with their Bardic Inspiration so they can fuel their own combat abilities but even this is turned on its head when the Bard reaches level 14 and can fuel their own abilities without spending a Bardic Inspiration dice.
FIGHTER – ARCANE ARCHER
The Arcane Archer is the only Fighter Martial Archetype that focuses on ranged combat. It’s really interesting because unlike Rogues and Rangers, Fighters have heavy armour mastery and as such, this archetype allows you to wear heavy armour and deal death from afar. As an Arcane Archer weaves magic into their physical attacks, you become incredibly deadly with a bow. You add +1 to both your attack and damage rolls, learn special Arcane Shots with various effects (seriously, there are 8 options to choose from), and can eventually use your bonus action to send a missed arrow at a different target.
Combine these incredible archetype abilities with the native Fighter abilities, such as Archery fighting style (duh), action surge and all the extra attacks you generate AS a fighter, and this class easily becomes one of the most frightening ranged classes in D&D.
MONK – WAY OF THE KENSEI
Monks of the Way of the Kensei train relentlessly with their chosen Kensei weapons until they become a natural extension of their body. Monks who choose this Monastic Tradition gain proficiency (if they don’t already have it) with one ranged and one melee weapon.
You also get to do some really cool stuff with your bonus unarmed strike bonus action. If you are wielding your melee weapon, using the unarmed strike as a bonus action confers a +2 bonus to your AC. If you are using your ranged weapon, you can instead use your bonus action to have that ranged attack deal an additional D4 damage. As you continue to level through the Way of the Kensei, you learn to channel your ki through your weapons, allowing you to really push the damage of your monk up, especially as you start to burn through your ki and stack effects.
SORCERER – FAVORED SOUL
The Sorcerer as a class in the Player’s Handbook always felt like it was missing…something. The idea of a spellcaster with innate abilities is interesting, and the Sorcery Points mechanic is probably my favourite magic modifying mechanic in all of D&D but Wild Magic felt uninspired and sometimes I don’t want to have a Draconic Bloodline. Enter, Favored Soul.
This Sorcerous Origin implies that you are either touched by a divine power, either through blood or prophecy, and because of this, provides you with magic that is typically exclusive to the divine focused classes (Clerics & Paladins). Immediately, you see this origin because Sorcerers of this origin can ALWAYS select Cleric spells and treat them as Sorcerer spells. This combination of Cleric spells with Sorcery Points can lead to some really interesting effects.
Additional features of this origin range from the incredibly useful (once per long rest, regain half of your HP total), to the incredibly cool, interesting roleplay elements (Angelic Form).
What is your idea for a unique subclass in D&D? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credits: Wizards of the Coast