Unearthed Arcana Review: The Ranger, Revised

Yeah, it’s a new blog post after 3 months of silence. Deal with it.

So Mike Mearls and the D&D Crew have officially released another version of the Ranger in this month’s Unearthed Arcana, attempting once again to create the perfect version of the class. Or at least the version that satisfies the majority of people. And I mean that, by the way. This is very obviously an attempt to satisfy as many people as possible. I’ll get to why that is in a bit.

Did they succeed in that? I don’t know. Only time, playtesting, and surveys will tell if it satisfied the majority of people. I can’t answer for them. I can only answer for myself. So, did the new ranger satisfy me?

In a word: no. But I’m rarely complacent with just writing a single word. So, what’s going on with this Ranger? Why can’t I just be happy with what I’m given?

Read the ranger for yourself HERE!

Continue reading “Unearthed Arcana Review: The Ranger, Revised”

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It’s Time to Talk About Superiority Dice

I decided not to review the new Unearthed Arcana. It’s fine, and while it’s more beefy than a few prior versions (the tiefling document, in particular), it’s still a bit scant, and definitely skews toward player options, which is something I’d like to see them get away from with these documents. Especially since they’re only coming out with 6 each year, now.

One thing did strike me, though, while I was reading it (LINK so that you can follow along). The Monster Hunter archetype for the fighter, like the Scout and Cavalier that came out earlier this year in their Kits of Old document (LINK), uses superiority dice in a very unique way to help shape the flavor of the class and offering a variety of options linked through this one system.

I liked this idea back in the Kits of Old doc, and I like it here. However, there are some issues that I would like to discuss regarding the way these superiority dice are being used. What makes superiority dice great (and they really are great), and what parts could really be improved? Continue reading “It’s Time to Talk About Superiority Dice”

[UPDATED!] Return of the Ranger: Alpha Version 2.2

UPDATE!: Due to feedback given by valuable readers (which can be viewed below, in the Comments section), I have made minor adjustments to the class, updating it to version 2.2. I added the Adrenaline Surge feature at 6th level, in order to grand added survivability, and replaced the Nature’s Ward feature of the Seeker path with the more expansive Spirit Guide.

So, finally, I have a Ranger Alpha which I am comfortable handing over to you. Because, let’s be real, guys. The last alpha was a bit of a mess. It was rushed and sloppy: a product of my own attempt at biting off WAY more than I could chew. The various features which were designed to make use of the Bonus Action mechanic in 5e actually just created a major limiting factor for the class: it had a lot of cool shit to do, but not enough actions to do it all. I’ve mitigated that by getting away from the original “bonus action playground” mentality of version 1.0. Instead, I’ve gone with more of a streamlined approach, primarily focusing around triggered abilities and passive benefits.

I’ve also distanced myself, thematically, from the “wandering mystic” version of version 1.0, and have focused instead on a more general survivalist idea. And I played with the concept of the ranger being more of a warrior than it was before, specifically focusing on skirmishing tactics.

The good news of is that this is a decidedly better version of the ranger than the last version I put out (and, if I’m being bold, I would say that it’s better than the core class).

The bad news is that what I’m presenting here is only a 6 level build. It’s small because I’m working my way up. I have a general layout for a full 20-level build, but I’m not sure how all of the pieces fit together (and my recent attempt at building and playing a level 11 version for playtesting resulted in kind of an overload of features, so things are still very much in flux).

I’m not going to go point-by-point with this version of the ranger. I have a few design notes, but nothing significant.

Why Six Levels?

I decided on six levels, rather than five or ten, because I wanted to give enough for a ranger that’s just starting out, but also allow you to play the low-level ranger to its fullest potential. In order to do that, it needs to have its Strider feature, which allows it to maneuver through difficult terrain. And that comes at level 6. And, besides that, if I only included 5 levels, then you’d really only be getting 3 levels of content, since levels 4 and 5 are taken up by an Ability Score Increase and Extra Attack respectively, and those features are a dime-a-dozen.

You can download a PDF copy of my new ranger playtest here: The Ranger: Alpha v2.2

Continue reading “[UPDATED!] Return of the Ranger: Alpha Version 2.2”

Treasure Type Z: Armored General Archetype

GilliamThis week, we continue our exploration of Fire Emblem subclasses by introducing the Armored General. This is a version of the General class from Fire Emblem. However, the term “general” in a standard fantasy system is generally more of a leader, marshal, or warlord, which is NOT the point of this subclass.

The point of this subclass is to be a defensive bulwark. They are nearly impenetrable, heavily armored badasses that, just like the swordmaster, are probably 100% overpowered. But, again, I’m kind of okay with it. This is about delivering the spirit of the class, rather than something that’s viable for Adventurer’s League play.

Anyway, onto the Armored General. Continue reading “Treasure Type Z: Armored General Archetype”

Dungeon Master’s Guild Review: The Swordmage

I chose the Swordmage as my first DM’s Guild review for a reason: these kinds of spellsword classes have always had a special place in my heart and in my games. Going way back to the Eldritch Knight of 3rd Edition, I was consistently enamored with these kinds of classes, and sought them out wherever I could. Bladesingers, Rune Knights, Spell Swords, Abjurant Champions, Daggerspell Mages, Duskblades, and even the blade magic of the Tome of Battle enraptured my early D&D years. My friends and I even tried to create our own class: the Arcane Swordsman (the original idea must be credited to a friend whose name I won’t reveal without permission, but you know who you are). And once I moved from D&D to Pathfinder, that love followed me. Whether it was the divine Inquisitor or eventually the Magus, I definitely have a type.

Except the Spellrager. I have an inherent and irrational dislike for the Spellrager.

So, of course, when I saw the Swordmage on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, I had to have it. It’s unfortunate that the class is so…underwhelming. Continue reading “Dungeon Master’s Guild Review: The Swordmage”

Treasure Type Z: Swordmaster Archetype

I really enjoy the Fire Emblem series of games. I have ever since I was a kid and I first played Sacred Stones on the Game Boy Advance.Lucia_Artwork_(FE10)

My favorite class in the games has always been the Swordmaster. I always loved their speed and penchant for critical hits. So, in honor of the new Fire Emblem: Fates, which I’ve been playing for the past couple of weeks, I decided to take a crack at making a Swordmaster martial archetype for the Fighter.

It’s pretty basic, and probably 100% overpowered. But I don’t really care, because I think I captured the magic of the Fire Emblem class. Go ahead, test it out and have a good time.

Continue reading “Treasure Type Z: Swordmaster Archetype”

Why the Mystic is Bad at Eating Cake

So, round 2 of the Mystic finally came out. I never analyzed the mystic’s first appearance on this blog, which serves me just fine. It was five levels, so I didn’t really have much to analyze. And although I think it’s a really ambitious class, I don’t think I lost anything by NOT analyzing it. Especially when there are others who do it on a regular basis, and are, frankly, really good at it.

However, now the second round is out. It’s got ten levels, instead of five, and we now have a whole host of disciplines to look at, instead of just the few that were included in the five-level build.

But I’m still not examining it. Not in a traditional sense, anyway. If you want a point-by-point breakdown of the class, then go ahead and take a gander at Harbinger of Doom’s review. It’s really quite thorough and he has a better head for class balance than I. Instead, I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about a topic that’s definitely related to the Mystic, but is definitively more broad in scope.

I want to talk about incentives. Specifically, mechanical incentives in game design. This isn’t going to be a topic about placing incentives in adventures to get players to do things. Rather, it’s going to be about the various different incentives that are placed in classes, races, and feats that encourage certain styles of play. Continue reading “Why the Mystic is Bad at Eating Cake”

RPG Rant: I Am a Selfish Designer

Sometimes, I really miss Pathfinder. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Pathfinder just as much as I used to, and some distance from it has really softened the edges of the system a bit (I even have a kind of appreciation for the glut of classes it currently has). But 5e has become my game of choice, and I genuinely love almost everything it has to offer. It’s a much more streamlined system that plays like a beautiful merger between the Old and New schools of game design. Monsters have never been easier to build, the magic item system allows you to maintain elegance and mystery in your items, and the staged class design makes designing alternate class features and subclasses much easier and more fun.

But…I guess I just miss designing for Pathfinder. Why? Let me explain.

The primary reason I left Pathfinder behind was the number crunching. Things just got too big and unwieldy. Even by level 10, characters could (and often were) swinging around big +20 attack bonuses and Armor Classes that shot way past the reasonable. Characters were lit up like Christmas trees with all of the “required” magic items. All in all, it was very much the antithesis of 5e’s design.

Whoa. I just realized that I’m writing about Pathfinder like it’s dead. And it is very much not dead. Continue reading “RPG Rant: I Am a Selfish Designer”

Treasure Type Z: The Revised Hunter

So, I’m working on an updated and revised version of my Ranger class right now. I can’t make any promises as to when it will arrive. Unlike last time, I’m not working toward a deadline. I’m just going to work on it when I can (this season is hell on my free time) until I’m done. Until then, however, I do have something to share.

See, one of the things I was rather disappointed with last time was how I was unable to do a complete write-up for the Hunter subclass. Of course, the Hunter already exists in the standard ranger, but I wanted to change things up and make something a bit more active and focused on battlefield control, rather than the oddly-situational benefits that the normal hunter gets.

Therefore, I have created THIS version of the archetype. It’s intended to be used with my upcoming version of the ranger, but can definitely function with the existing class in the Player’s Handbook.

I’m not going to give a whole lot of analysis or justification for this. It’s a Treasure Type Z article, so it’s just supposed to be new stuff. But I still wanted to give a bit of a preface to this, considering the odd situation. Also due to this odd situation, I will not actually be including a pdf link for this subclass until my updated ranger is complete.

And, without further rambling, here’s the revised Hunter archetype for the ranger class. Continue reading “Treasure Type Z: The Revised Hunter”

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