Unearthed Arcana Review: Encounter Building

The newest Unearthed Arcana is actually for Dungeon Masters! And it’s a fix for one of the fiddliest systems in the game: encounter building! WOOO! Sound the alarms, or the dubstep or something! I don’t know! This never happens, I’m not sure how to react! Where’s my party horn? I need a hat. And confetti. And another hat! This is a momentous occasion, and must be celebrated as such!

Except…wait. It’s basically just a series of over-done tables? And its attempt at quantifying complications in combat is to…not quantify complications?

Guess I’ll put away my party hat and get out my keyboard. It’s time to go to work.

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Unearthed Arcana Review: That Old Black Magic (plus a new Tiefling!)

So…this Unearthed Arcana is only three pages long. It’s a new tiefling variant and a few spells and…well, actually, that’s it. But that’s okay. I get it. It’s the holiday season. Not only is the team probably quite busy working on 2016’s lineup of products, but it’s that time of year where you cuddle up in front of the fire with your family and hibernate until The Flash comes back on January 19th.

Frankly, that’s why I’m reviewing a 3-page document at 11 o’clock Thursday night instead of writing something interesting or enigmatic for you guys to puzzle over. I’m damn busy, people! Why do you think I outsourced my Monstrous Mondays?

Anyway, onto the UA. That Old Black Magic. Great title, if nothing else…

Jesus, am I really talking about the title? Gods, this is terrible. Okay, folks. Let’s dig into this. It’ll be a short one this week. I promise I’ll make up for it next week.

Download the Unearthed Arcana HERE. Continue reading

Unearthed Arcana Review: Light, Dark, Underdark!

Well, would you look at that? What’s that on the task bar, there? Is that…is that a Downloads button? Huh…wonder what could possibly be there. Might be worth checking out. Just a thought.

Anyway…

So, that was pretty quick. Originally, I was going to do a class analysis today. But the new Unearthed Arcana came out, and It’s actually pretty interesting.

I’ve always found the underdark to be an intriguing idea. A world beneath where all of the scariest, nastiest, most alien monsters live. It’s like the land-version of the deepest parts of the ocean, where our understanding of what organic life is has to adjust. In that way, it’s one of the most interesting places to travel as an adventurer, and it’s one of the most fun toolsets to play with as a DM.

That said, it’s not all perfect. Everyone has their own idea of what the underdark SHOULD be, and my experience is that far too many people think of one thing when they think Underdark: Drow. There’s nothing inherently wrong with drow, but they just do NOT fit with my perspective of the underdark as a strange and confusing place. Drow are…bland. And so are Duergar and Svirfneblin, frankly. Not as a rule, but compared to mindflayers, aboleths, beholders, and the other terrifying alien monstrosities that lurk in the shadow.

All of this has no bearing on the most recent Unearthed Arcana, however. It’s just a lead-in so that I can explain my feelings on the matter. And while this UA is connected to the Underdark, it’s all about the PCs, and how they interact with it.

A quick note before I begin. Brandes Stoddard’s Lantern Bearer archetype would fit perfectly among the options presented here.

Before we begin, you can download the PDF HERE. Continue reading