Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Unearthed Arcana and Freeport, Part 3 (Class Options, Part 1)

Back in March 2016, 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. I covered the April through August 2016 installments in a later column.

Starting in November, the column started appearing weekly rather than monthly in order to present a slew of new options for each class. This week's "Studded Plate" reviews the first five installments of that series--and the couple columns preceeding them--with the Freeport setting in mind.

The Ranger, Revised (9/12/2016): This piece builds on previous "Unearthed Arcana" articles about modifying the ranger class, which many players have found frustratingly underpowered. This latest iteration includes three archetypes (or conclaves), reworking the two presented in the Player's Handbook as well as the Deep Stalker from "Light, Dark, Underdark!" (11/2/2015). As with previous variants, this ranger could be found in Freeport, either alone or co-existing with the original--with the DM's permission, as always.

Encounter Building (10/10/2016): This column is a DM tool more than a content article. It presents an alternative system to building encounters from that in the Dungeon Master's Guide, but uses the same underlying assumptions and math.

Barbarian Primal Paths (11/7/2016): Freeport sees a diverse mix of barbarians pass through its waters, so these three new primal paths could prove quite useful in making each barbarian culture distinct. For example, The Path of the Ancestral Guardian would be suitable for many primitive islander tribes. Druzhdin barbarians are frequently berserkers or totem warriors, but the cold version of the Path of the Storm Herald also fits their homeland quite nicely. Azhar barbarians are a natural fit for the desert version of that path. Savage humanoids with a strong war-god cult (like the orc god Krom) could be drawn to the Path of the Zealot as easily as to that of the berserker.

Bard: Bard Colleges (11/14/2016): This column introduces two new archetypes for bards. The College of Glamour is designed for bards with ties to the Feywild, and is a natural fit for the elves of Rolland. The College of Whispers focuses on infiltration and leveraging secrets, and is thus perfectly suited for the intrigue-riddled streets of Freeport.

Cleric: Divine Domains (11/21/2016): This installment presents three new divine domains. The Forge domain is appropriate for dwarven gods, as well as fire-based religions like Kizmir's Eternal Flame. The Grave is designed for death-oriented gods who oppose undead, and is thus an excellent choice for the Church of Retribution and its Inquisition. The Protection domain is appropriate for a wide variety of deities, from gods of knowledge to gods of war. (In Pathfinder terms, these domains would roughly correspond to Artifice and/or Fire, Repose, and Protection, respectively.)

Druid Circles and Wild Shape (11/28/2016): Druids are almost always outsiders in Freeport, and usually feel more at home in the jungles of the Serpent's Teeth than in the city. Circle of Dreams is a good fit for wood elves from Rolland, while the Circle of the Shepherd would be a good choice for any druid who wants to protect the islands' native creatures. The Circle of Twilight, on the other hand, are devoted to hunting undead, and will find plenty to keep them busy in the streets and sewers of Freeport itself. (The Circle of Twilight would make a good foil for Inquisition witch-hunters--both seek to exterminate the threat of necromancy, but their training, beliefs, and methods would put them at odds with each other, too.)

Fighter: Martial Archetypes (12/5/2016): The Arcane Archer and Sharpshooter are both good choices for a fighter who specializes in ranged attacks; use the former for a magically-empowered mystic warrior, the latter for a more mundane sniper or scout. The Knight fills a role very similar to the Cavalier archetype ("Kits of Old," 1/4/2016), but is less focused on mounted combat, making it a better fit for Freeport. Buccaneers of Freeport introduced an Asian-flavored Eastern Empire to the World of Freeport, which gives Samurai a place in the setting, too. (The Kodath half-orcs from True20 Freeport: The Lost Island should also be considered samurai.)


For ease of reference, I've compiled a list of all my previous columns discussing running D&D Fifth Edition games set in Freeport.

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