In August, Wizards of the Coast started a new D&D playtest around subclasses for the monk and barbarian. In September they got spooky new options for sorcerer and warlocks. Then, in October the playtest expanded with subclasses for fighters, rangers and rogues.
Now, in November, they’ve gone even further and provided 13-pages of download for class feature variants.
In this test, Wizards of the Coast are using some of the class features already surfaced and are working out whether or not they could or should replace or enhance the class features that currently exist in the rules.
You can download the new Unearthed Arcana class feature variants from Wizards here.
As a whole, the experiments seem popular. Freelance game designer Bryan CP Steele described the class variants to me as;
A great deal of fun, and an excellent way to spice up your game.
Austin Chaudoin of Distractions Media noted how common tinkering with official classes had become.
Rehauling the Ranger is becoming a trend. Beast Master may need to be its own class.
I’ve commented on the increased tempo of these Unearthed Arcana tests and how some of these new rules change the feel of some of the classes. The new wizard and sorcerer rules, for example, feel especially Lovecraftian to me.
Steele saw the thematic options in the new fighter rules, adding;
The Rune Knight; it allows for an awesomely Nordic or high fantasy dwarven hero. I love the imagery.
At the same time, Chaudoin singled out the monk as a favourite.
The monk class. It makes monks feel more like anime ninja. I can play Sasuke Uchia now.
The question is… what are Wizards of the Coast doing? Dungeons & Dragons 5e was published in 2014 and so next year will be the edition’s sixth anniversary. Six years after the release of D&D 4e, Wizards of the Coast released D&D 5e.
I’m not suggesting that D&D 6e is coming, just that D&D 5e will soon become one of the longest-lasting editions. Wizards may be looking to do a dramatic refresh.
In 2009, only a year after the launch of D&D 4, Wizards published Player’s Handbook 2.
I asked Austin Chaudoin why WotC might be ramping up their playtesting.
Oh yea for sure! I think we’re about to get the sequels to the PHB and DMG
Steele agreed, adding;
I think we might be getting a published hard copy collection of these classes and such in 2020, and they want to make it worth everyone’s money.
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