Thursday, May 4, 2017

Unearthed Arcana and Freeport, Part 5

It's time to review more "Unearthed Arcana" with an eye towards using this material with Freeport: The City of Adventure. This time, I'll catch up on articles from the second half of February through April 2017, which continued to appear once per week. However, with this week's column (5/1/2017), Wizards has returned to their previous rate of only one or maybe two UA columns per month.

Mass Combat (2/21/2017): This article provides an alternative to the Battlesystem rules presented in "When Armies Clash" (3/2/2015). Its focus is resolving large battles quickly and easily so that the game can remain focused on the PCs and their actions. As I said before, mass combat rules are rarely needed in Freeport except in naval battles, occasional riots or gang wars, or in an invasion scenario like that in Black Sails Over Freeport.

Traps Revisited (2/27/2017): This long column expands upon the trap rules in the Dungeon Master's Guide, discussing how to create simple and complex traps and giving several examples of each. If I ever convert The Freeport Trilogy to Fifth Edition, this "Unearthed Arcana" will be invaluable for adapting a certain infamous death-trap in one of those adventures!

The Mystic Class (3/13/2017): This article builds upon two earlier columns (7/6/2015 and 2/1/2016) to expand the mystic class to a full 20-level psionic class, with six mystic orders to choose from. An Avatar manipulates emotions to bolster allies and demoralize enemies. An Awakened mystic reads minds and psychic imprints, and excels at direct mental assaults. An Immortal mystic manipulates his own body to become a living weapon, and become increasingly difficult to kill. Nomads are obsessed with acquiring knowledge and gain improved powers of teleportation. A Soul Knife manifests blades of psychic energy, at the expense of the bonus disciplines that other orders receive. Finally, a Wu Jen is a master of elemental power, and eventually gains some limited wizard spellcasting ability.

In the World of Freeport, psionics are mostly common in Naranjan, the land of the Mindshadows setting. Third Edition psionic classes become much easier to convert to Fifth Edition with this new expanded selection of orders. For psions, use the Avatar, Awakened, Immortal, or Nomad; for psychic warriors, use the Avatar or Immortal; and for soulknives, use the Order of the Soul Knife. Wilders have no obvious equivalent yet, so choose an order that best aligns with the individual's psionic powers.

The Wu Jen hail from the exotic Eastern Empire (see Buccaneers of Freeport), along with the Samurai (see Class Options, Part 1) and the monk class. (Pan'Lo Skree, the Kodath half-orc adept from True20 Freeport: The Lost Island, would be a wu jen.)

Wizard Revisited (3/20/2017): This article presents two arcane traditions for wizards: Theurgy (revised from an earlier column ["The Faithful," 8/1/2016] based on playtest feedback) and War Magic. Both are very well suited to Freeport.

A Trio of Subclasses (3/27/2017): The three subclasses of the title include: the Way of the Drunken Master for monks, the Oath of Redemption for paladins, and the Monster Slayer for rangers. The Drunken Master is a classic martial artist type, suitable for Eastern Empire monks. An Oath of Redemption paladin is dedicated to peace, which is an especially difficult ideal in the rough streets of Freeport.

The Monster Slayer is, per the Wizards site, "a reimagining of the Monster Hunter that we previously released for the fighter" (see "Gothic Heroes," 4/4/2016). DMs will probably want to choose one or the other for their campaign, but not both. Either would make a good choice for converting the Freeport monster hunter class.

Starter Spells (4/3/2017): This article presents several new cantrips and 1st-level spells, providing at least one new choice for each spellcasting class. Many of these are spells from previous editions that had not yet been updated to the current rules set (cause fear, ceremony, snare, virtue), while others are, to my knowledge, new to this article (infestation, puppet, toll the dead, unearthly chorus). All are suitable for Freeport.

Downtime (4/10/2017): This article expands upon the options for characters' activities between adventures that are presented in the Dungeon Master's Guide. It also introduces the concept of foils, NPCs designed to oppose the heroes. These new options can be used to enrich a Freeport campaign by giving the PCs more options for disposing of their ill-gotten gains, as well as getting them more involved and invested in the dynamic nature of the city and its inhabitants. Using complications from downtime activities or foils can help make the introduction of new adventures feel more organic by tying plot hooks to the heroes' own actions.

Feats for Skills (4/17/2017): This document presents 18 new feats, one tied to each of the skills in the Player's Handbook. Each feat gives three benefits: increase the related ability score by 1; gain proficiency in the skill (or if already proficient, add double your proficiency bonus to checks); and gain one other minor ability thematically connected to the skill. All are suitable for use in Freeport.

Feats for Races (4/24/2017): This installment presents 23 new feats with racial prerequisites. Each race in the Player's Handbook receives two or three choices, with some of the elf and gnome options specific to subraces. As discussed in More Thoughts on D&D 5E Freeport, pretty much all of the Player's Handbook races can be found in Freeport, so none of these feats would be out of place.

(However, one comment I should have made back then is that since Fourth Edition, tieflings have become much more inhuman looking than in previous editions. Such obvious "devils" are likely to face heavy persecution in Freeport, where fiendish cults have caused so much trouble in the past. The new Barbed Hide and Flames of Phlegethos feats make this infernal heritage even more blatant.)

Revised Subclasses (5/1/2017): This installment presents five popular subclasses from previous "Unearthed Arcana" columns, with revisions that resulted from playtest feedback: Path of the Ancestral Guardian for the barbarian (11/7/2016); College of Swords for the bard (1/4/2016); Arcane Archer for the fighter 12/5/2016); Way of the Kensei for the monk (12/12/2016); and Favored Soul for the sorcerer (4/6/2015 and 2/6/2017; this third version mixes features of the previous two). All remain just as suitable for Freeport as they were before (see previous installments of my UA reviews for details).


For ease of reference, I've compiled a list of all my previous columns discussing running D&D Fifth Edition games set in Freeport.
Finally, as a side note. I backed Green Ronin's recent Kickstarter for the Fifth Edition version of their classic The Book of the Righteous. When that is released later this year, expect a few columns about combining that material with Freeport!

No comments:

Post a Comment