The newest addition to Unearthed Arcana has been released, and I think it’s safe to say that this one will create quite the buzz. This UA gives us three subclass options: the artificer armorer, the star circle druid, and the fey wanderer ranger. What exciting features to they bestow? What kind of story can we tell through them? Are they even good? Let’s delve deeper and find out.
The first subclass to tackle is the armorer for the artificer. This will undoubtedly be the most talked about subclass of this update, for the sole reason that you can become Iron Man. This subclass focuses the artificer’s skill in enhancing items on their own armor, creating literal power armor. These artificers get some nice mechanical bonuses like heavy armor proficiency and a fantastic spell list, but the real meat of the subclass comes with its power armor feature.
The armor itself is great; removing strength requirements, acting as a focus, and even replacing missing limbs! That last bit seems particularly ripe for story ideas. My mind immediately goes to Rhodey from the end of Civil War as an example: using the tech to help propel his legs. Your character could even be wheelchair bound, using the armor to be mobile during combat. Another fun idea that you could work out with your DM is the possibility of losing a limb to a particularly devastating blow. This could create a dramatic moment for the table, without the worry of a long standing condition. Right away this subclass is teeming with possibilities.
You gain your choice of two armor types. If you want to wreck on the frontlines, you can choose the guardian model. This model lets you jump into the fray with thunder fists that draw attention towards you, as well as a boost of hit points each turn. The other option is the infiltrator model, which gives you lightning blasts like Iron Man. On top of that, you can make the armor lightweight, meaning you can take plate mail and remove the stealth disadvantage on it. Both of these models act as great bases to build off of.
As you level in this subclass, you gain the ability to infuse different parts of your armor. This is one of my favorite parts of this subclass, as it gives you so many customization options that feel personal. The cap of this subclass gives some strong abilities, my favorite of which is the guardian’s pull ability. This is one ability that is as cool as it is effective. Being able to shoot someone with a grappling hook and pull them into your fist sounds worth the fifteen levels to me.
The next subclass is the circle of stars druid. These druids use the natural strength of the stars to fuel their spells. This subclass has so much going for it. Firstly you get a new way to use your wild shape: you change into a starry form. I love new ways to transform, and this subclass delivers well. You even get a choice between three forms when you change, allowing for more utility.
The next big feature is oozing with flavor; by reading the stars you can look for omens of weal and woe. Depending on what you find, you can aid your allies or hinder your enemies. Using the natural positioning of the stars in this way can lead to some very cool character interactions. Imagine a soothsayer who acts as an tool to enact the will of the stars. You could even take this one step darker and make a pact with a celestial being, becoming a vessel for something beyond the stars.
The capstone for this subclass is the ability to harness the power of a star. You can remove your allies from an area, and then blast that area with blinding light. While it does sound cool to drop a star on the battlefield, I’m not so sure that this is potent enough to be worth the investment on its own. Still, there are plenty of reasons to see this class until the end. Being able to become a star being permanently sounds like an awesome payoff.
The final subclass for this update is the fey wanderer ranger. This ranger straddles the boundary between the material plane and the Feywild. This subclass seems good from a power standpoint, but it’s really lacking in flavor for me. None of the abilities seem to tie directly to the Feywild, save for the capstone. You start with an extra proficiency and advantage on charm and fright saves, as well as a boost to weapon damage. As you level further you gain a more focused version of a paladin smite. This ability seems good, except for only being able to use it once per turn. At that point you might as well dip into paladin for the smite.
The next feature allows you to redirect mind altering magic, in a sense. You can actually only activate it when a creature saves, and even when it does you just get to subject another creature to a different ability of yours. A lot has to line up for you to use this feature, and even then the payoff isn’t quite worth it. I’d love to see this ability be buffed up a bit; whether it be activated when you see a charm or fright effect, or just redirecting the effect that was cast.
The capstone for this subclass actually seems in line with what they set out to make. You can erase yourself from a creature’s vision by altering their mind. By doing so, you become invisible to the creature for an entire day. This seems like a fantastic way to screw up the BBEG without repercussion, and a great stealth tool for important missions. It could be said that greater invisibility does the same thing, but that spell doesn’t hide your sounds from them. That’s the biggest boon of this feature. Overall this is a subclass that falls flat thematically, but is mostly mechanically sound.
So what do you think of this new Unearthed Arcana? Are you excited to play any of the subclasses? Do they give you any inspiration for a new character? Let me know down below!
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