Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Unearthed Arcana (Archetypes Galore)

Hey Game Fans, we’re back for another look at the Unearthed Arcana series from Wizards of the Coast.  We’re a little behind on these, so we’re going to combine the two articles into one review.  Today we are going to look at the Drunken Master tradition for the Monk, the Oath of Redemption for the Paladin, and the Monster Slayer for the Ranger, as well as the Theurgy and War Magic Arcane Traditions.  Like all of the Archetypes, these will modify the way that the base class they are options for, usually either adding a new facet or enhancing another aspect of the base class.  Let’s dive right into the new options and see what trouble we can get into it.  

The Way of the Drunken Master

The Way of Tranquility is a monastic tradition that mixes physical mastery with theatrics and deception.  Drunken antics mask a physical prowess that in as equally capable of any other monastic tradition.  The Drunken Master is a subtle style that is deceptively powerful.

Drunken Technique

At 3rd level, the monk gains proficiency in the Performance skill.  Further, when the Drunken Master uses his or her Flurry of Blows ability, they gain the benefit of the Disengage action, and their movement speed increases by 10 feet per round.

Note:  This ability is an interesting representation of the Drunken movement style, and the ability allows them to hit and move around the battlefield.

Tipsy Sway

At 6th level, the monk’s movements in combat give them an interesting advantage.  As a reaction, when a creature misses the Drunken Master with a Melee Attack, the Drunken Master can have the Creature hit another creature within 5 feet of the Drunken Mastery(except the creature making the attack).  This ability recharges on a short or long rest.  

Note: Interesting ability, but as a once per encounter ability it’s a little weak.  

Drunkard’s Luck

At 11th level, the monk gains the ability to bend fate in improbable ways.  When the Drunken Master is about to make a Saving Throw, he or she can spend 1 ki point to give himself or herself advantage on the Saving Throw.  

Intoxicated Frenzy

At 17th level, the monk gains the ability to make an inordinate amount of attacks against a group of enemies.  When the Drunken Master uses Flurry of Blows, the Monk can make an additional three attacks (for a total of five attacks) provided they attack different targets with each attack.


The Way of the Drunken Master gives the Monk some interesting tactical options on the battlefield.  Theoretically they can adjust their position around the battlefield and hit where they want to.  They’ve got some options for getting here and there, and they are excellent at their highest levels for dealing with swaths of minions or lesser foes.  

The Oath of Redemption

The Oath of Redemption is the oath of the idealist.  The Redeemer believes that people make mistakes, but are capable of redeeming themselves through good deeds and choices.  Only under the most dire of circumstances will they seek to slay a creature that has the potential for Redemption.  The Oath of Redemption has four abilities, gained at 3rd, 7th, 15th, and 20th level.  It also has an augmented spell list that i’ll cover in just a second.  Technically, Oath of Redemption paladins are referred to as Redeemers.

The Oath

The actual tenets of the Oath are fairly simple and straightforward.  

  • Peace: Violence is the final resort, Diplomacy and understanding are paths to long term peace.
  • Innocence:  Lead by example, People learn evil and good from the world around them.  Be the exemplar of good to show the rest of the world the right path.
  • Patience:  Change can take time, and recognizing that fact can empower the greatest changes in others.
  • Wisdom:  Clear hearts and minds can shape the world.  Being able to see when creatures can not be changed is just as important as realizing when a creature can.

Oath Spells

1st Level: shield, sleep
2nd Level: hold person, ray of enfeeblement
3rd Level: counterspell, hypnotic pattern
4th Level: otiluke’s resilient sphere, stoneskin
5th Level: hold monster, wall of fire

Channel Divinity

At 3rd level, the Redeemer  gains two new options for his Channel Divinity ability:
  • Emissary of Peace:  The Redeemer can channel divinity to augment his or her presence.  As a bonus action, the Redeemer can grant himself or herself a +5 bonus to the next Charisma (Perception) check made in the next minute.
  • Rebuke the Violent:  The Redeemer can channel divinity to punish violent behavior around him or her.   As a reaction, when an enemy within 10 feet of the Redeemer deals damage with a melee attack to another creature other than the Redeemer, the Redeemer can force the enemy to make a Wisdom saving throw.  On a failed save, the enemy takes radiant damage equal to the damage it just caused.  On a successful save, it takes half damage.   
Note: This gives the Redeemer a variety of ways to use its channel divinity, and it can improve the successful odds of an interaction, or cause some retributive damage against the Redeemers allies.

Aura of the Guardian

At 7th level, the Redeemer gains an aura effect.  As a reaction, the Redeemer can shield allies from harm at the cost of his or her own health.  When an ally within 10 feet takes damage, the Redeemer can instead take that damage.  This doesn’t transfer any other effects that might accompany that damage.  

Note:  This can be the easiest way a Redeemer can get themselves killed, but it’s a way to save a friend in need.  

Protective Spirit

At 15th level, the Redeemer’s divine presence mends their wounds.  The Redeemer regains 1D6 + Paladin level in hit points at the end of the turn if the Redeemer is below half his or her starting maximum and not incapacitated.

Note: This goes a long way towards making the Redeemer able to use its damage transferring ability.  Being able to regain at least 16 hit points a round when below half can radically change the complexion of an encounter.

Emissary of Redemption

At 20th level, the Redeemer becomes Peace.  The Redeemer gains the following traits.
  • Resistance to all damage dealt by other creatures
  • When a creature deals damage to the Redeemer, it takes half that damage.
  • If the Redeemer attacks a creature, deals damage to a creature, or forces a creature to making a saving throw, neither of the above benefits work against that creature until the Redeemer finishes a long rest.  

Note: These abilities work very well for creating a supportive/tank paladin.  It takes damage meant for other creatures and punishes creatures that attack its allies.  It causes damage to those that attack its allies and shrugs off punishment.  


I like the Oath of Redemption Paladin.  It allows you to create a support character that alternates between tanking and healing, and it does both tasks well.  If it avoids hitting creatures at higher levels, it can shrug off tons of punishment and still cause a little bit of damage.  It’s a neat series of options and choices, and i like the possibilities of what it can put together.  

The Monster Slayer

The Monster Slayer Ranger is devoted to searching out dangerous foes and ending them.  Powerful undead, fiends, ancient wyrms and more are all targets of choice for the Monster Slayers.  They are trained in a variety of methods to deal with these terrible threats,  Let’s take a closer look at their specific abilities.  

Slayer Spells

Ranger Level         Spell
3rd Level:         protection from good and evil
5th level:         zone of truth
9th Level:         magic circle
13th Level:        banishment
17th Level:         planar binding

Slayer’s Eye

At 3rd level, the Monster Slayer gains the ability to determine a creature’s strengths and weaknesses.  As a bonus action, the Monster Slayer can select a creature within 120 feet and immediately learn it’s weaknesses, resistances, and immunities.  The Monster slayer is also aware of any special effects that trigger when the creature takes damage, like regeneration.  In addition, the first time each turn the Monster Slayer hits the studied creature with a weapon attack, the creature suffers an additional 1D6 points of damage from the attack.  This benefit lasts until the Monster Slayer studies another creature, or finishes a short or long rest.  
Note: This ability does two interesting things.  First, it gives characters an interesting way of bringing out of character knowledge into play, with a damage dealing boost.  Second, this ability can just be re-trained on another creature, it does not require rest to re-activate.  I am curious if this ability penetrates illusions, because suddenly finding out the King’s Jester has the same immunities/resistances/weaknesses as a Pit Fiend is awkward and likely to be life ending.  

Supernatural Defense

At 7th level, the Monster Slayer’s training helps them avoid the most serious wrath of their chosen foes.  When a creature that the Monster Slayer has used the Slayer’s Eye ability on forces the Monster Slayer to make a Saving Throw, the Monster Slayer adds 1D6 to the roll.  

Note:  Very thematic way to improve the Monster Slayer’s Defensive abilities while maintaining their focus on hunting down and murdering monstrous foes.

Relentless Slayer

At 11th level, the Monster Slayer’s training allows them to defeat many different methods of escaping the Slayer’s wrath.  If the target of the Slayer’s Eye ability attempts to teleport, change shape, travel to another plane, or turn gaseous, the Monster Slayer can use his or her reaction to force the creature to make an opposed wisdom check.  The Monster Slayer must be within 30 feet of the creature and be able to see the target.  If the Monster Slayer wins the opposed check, the creature’s ability fails, and whatever resource allowed them the attempt (Spell Slot, Daily ability) is used up.

Note: Around this level, the Dungeon Master has access to a host of monsters that can evade or get away from a party of adventurers with regular ease.  This ability goes a long way towards keeping the monster in the fight and giving the adventurers a better chance of finishing the creature off once and for all.  

Slayer’s Counter

At 15th level, the Monster Slayer has a solution for every problem, an answer for every setback.  If the target of the Slayer’s Eye ability forces the Monster Slayer to make a saving throw, the Monster Slayer can use it’s reaction to make one weapon attack against the target.  The Monster Slayer makes this attack before making the save.  If the attack hits, the save is automatically successful in addition to the normal results of the attack.  

Note: Getting a free swing when something makes you make a saving  throw is very handy, and the ability to automatically pass saving throws while tossing damage at the boss/big bad is a very cool ultimate ability.  


The Monster Slayer is a dedicated agent that searches and destroys monstrous influences in the world.  It’s got a host of abilities that encourage it to take the fight to monsters, and between it’s spell selection and abilities, it can make sure that the target doesn’t get to escape its wrath. It’s a neat combination of effects, and i would be curious to see one on a table.   


One of the new Wizard options that’s introduced is a specialist who blends arcane and divine magic.Theurgy, as this Arcane Tradition is named, is the study and practice of this blend of magical influences.  This is an Arcane Tradition that’s built to blur the lines of what arcane and divine magic are.  Let’s take a closer look at these abilities.

Divine Inspiration

At 2nd level, the Theurgist chooses a domain from the list of domains their god has access to.  The document suggests the Knowledge and Light Domains as being superbly appropriate, i think the Arcana Domain from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide would work very well.

Arcane Initiate

At 2nd level, The Theurgist gains a limited ability to add divine spells to their spell book.  Whenever the Theurgist gains a level, the Theurgist can replace one of their wizard spells with a cleric domain spell of the domain chosen for Divine Inspiration.  The spell has to be from a level the Theurgist has spell slots for.  Once the Theurgist has all of the Domain spells for his or her chosen domain, they can choose to add any cleric spells to their spell book.  They are all considered wizard spells for the Theurgist.  

Note:  This is an interesting approach to blending arcane and divine magic.  The Theurgist can end up with 15 cleric spells added to his or her spellbook by the end of their natural progression and that opens up a lot of nuanced decisions for spell selection.  

Channel Arcana

At 2nd level, The Theurgist gains a limited ability to channel divine energy to fuel magical effects.  The Theurgist has two options, Divine Arcana, and the Channel Divinity option granted by the 2nd level domain power of your chosen domain.  When the Theurgist channels Arcana, they choose which effect to generate.  Beginning at 6th level, the Theurgist can use this ability twice between short and long rests.  At 18th level, this increases to 3 times.  

Channel Arcana: The Theurgist can channel energy to alter the flow of magic around himself or herself.  The next spell cast by the Theurgist gains a +2 bonus to its attack roll, or increases its Spell Saving Throw DC by 2.  

Note:  This completes the hybrid hat trick, giving the Theurgist the ability to channel divinity, and cast cleric spells.  

Arcane Acolyte

At 6th level the Theurgist gains access to the Domain Power of the Domain they selected at level 2. Additional proficiencies are not gained.  

Note: This continues the hybridization without completely giving away the Domain abilities.  

Arcane Priest

At 10h level, the Theurgist gains the 6th level Domain Power from their chosen Domain.  

Arcane High Priest

At 14th level, the Theurgist gains the 17th level Domain Power from their chosen Domain.


This one’s a little weird, because blending Arcane and Divine Magic along the Domain lines means you can end up with some weird hybrid options, especially with the Arcana Domain, or the Trickery Domain.  It’s an unusual blending, but i would have to see it on the table to make a more precise judgment.  

War Magic

One of the new Wizard options that’s introduced is a specialist who turns the practice of arcane magic to the pursuits of war and devastation.  This is a powerful combination of evocation magic to destroy the War Mage’s enemies, and abjuration magic to shield the War Mage.  Let’s take a closer look at the War Mage’s abilities.  

Arcane Deflection

At 2nd level, the War Mage learns to channel magical power to shield themselves from harm.  When hit by an attack, the War Mage can use his or her reaction to increase his or her armor class by 2.  Alternatively when the War Mage fails a constitution saving throw, they can use their reaction to add +4 to their die roll.  When the War Mage uses this ability, they are unable to cast spells other than cantrips until the end of their next turn.  

Tactical Wit

At 2nd level, The War Mage adds his or her intelligence bonus to his or her Initiative checks.

Note:  Two interesting low level abilities that allow a War Mage to act first, and increases survivability with Arcane Deflection.  

Power Surge

At 6th level, the War Mage’s spells that target multiple foes become even more powerful. The War Mage can increase the spell’s number of damage dice by 2 if the spell targets more than 1 enemy. The Damage boost only lasts for the first round of the spell, if it is a multiple round duration.   This ability recharges on a short or long rest.

Note: This ability can certainly throw enough extra damage to radically alter the complexion of an encounter.

Durable Magic

At 10h level, the War Mage learns to draw power from the spells they cast.  While the War Mage is concentrating on a spell, they have a +2 bonus to Armor Class and saving throws.  

Deflecting Shroud

At 14th level, the War Mage powers up his or her Arcane Deflection ability.  When the War Mage uses this ability, they can choose any number of creatures within 10 feet to take half his or her wizard level in force damage.


This is a neat Archetype that blends arcane power with combat efficiency.  It’s got several abilities to protect itself and has the ability to end fights early with power surge.  Durable Magic and Deflecting Shroud at higher levels make the War Mage harder to hit, and should discourage foes from getting closer to the Wizard, a traditional issue that wizards have.  

Archetype Shuffle

And those are the five archetypes we’ve picked up in the last two weeks.  There are some interesting options and choices to play test, and we’ll spend some time taking them apart and bashing monsters in the face.  Now we just saw something about new spells fly across the desk, so we’ll take a look at those next week.  Game on, Game Fans.

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