Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Unearthed Arcana and Freeport, Part 2

Back in March, I reviewed the first year or so of "Unearthed Arcana" columns on the D&D website with an eye for how to use them in a Fifth Edition Freeport: The City of Adventure campaign. This week, I'm doing the same for the April through August 2016 installments.

Gothic Heroes (4/4/2016): The material in this column is designed for a gothic horror campaign such as Ravenloft, but it would also be a good match for the cosmic horror elements of the Freeport setting.

The revenant is a new subrace that represents a character whose unfinished business won't let them stay dead for long. At the GM's discretion, a character who dies during play might return as a revenant, replacing their original subrace with the new subrace's abilities. (I wish that I had had a ready-made option like this when I ran the original Freeport Trilogy under the v.3.0 rules. I had to improvise a way for two fallen characters to complete the final act of the adventure, and this solution would have been far more elegant--and better balanced--than the one I devised.)

This column also includes two new archetypes: the monster hunter for fighters, and the inquisitive for rogues. Both options are good choices for heroes attempting to root out the many evil things hiding in Freeport.

May Dungeon Master's Guild Review (5/9/2016): As with the March 7th column, this one reviews some of the best material being produced through Dungeon Master's Guild (the 5E version of the OGL), rather than offering new material itself. I will just mention one of those offerings here: The Circle of the Beast gives a druid the benefit of an animal companion, an option that was sadly missing from the core rules.

Feats (6/6/2016): This column gives some insight into what makes a good feat in Fifth Edition by giving both bad and good examples of new weapon mastery feats. It then offers some tool-related feats to help give those proficiencies some added interest. All are suitable for Freeport (particularly the Burglar feat!).

Quick Characters (7/25/2016): This column provides tables for quickly rolling up a random 1st-level character, in case you're pressed for time. Except for backgrounds, it limits the options to those given in the Basic Rules to keep things simple as possible. That imposes some definite limits on how useful it would be for a setting like Freeport, which has a rich mix of unusual races and classes.

The Faithful (8/1/2016): This column presents two new options for arcane spellcasters whose faith in the divine is as important as their spellcasting abilities. The Seeker is an otherworldly patron for warlocks who seek knowledge or forgotten lore. Theurgy is an arcane tradition that grants access to a clerical domain, making these wizards just as suitable as priests of gods of magic as a cleric would be. In Freeport, you're bound to find Seeker warlocks and theurgist wizards among the clergy of the gods of knowledge and magic (the latter might not even have, or need, clerics), and possibly in the Wizard's Guild as well.

If Wizards' R&D team continues to deliver columns as intriguing as "Gothic Heroes" and "The Faithful" (not to mention "Waterborne Adventures" and "That Old Black Magic" from my previous review), I may seriously consider converting The Freeport Trilogy--or at least Death in Freeport--to Fifth Edition.  (As if I didn't have enough on my GM plate already!)

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