Here follow my responses to the Playtest 7 survey questions.
I decided to compose them externally again
since I didn’t want to lose anything
in case the survey glitched out.
Minus some minor formatting for this post,
this is verbatim what I submitted.
For more context and my Standard Disclaimer,
check out the introduction to this series.
The Barbarian is cool overall, but it chaps my hide that Warlocks get more attacks than Barbarians. Barbarians should get a third attack (second Extra Attack), and Warlocks should only get a single Extra Attack. Also, while I understand the intent of giving Barbarians some skill buffs, it still baffles me that you can fuel Stealth or Perception using Rage. “HULK STEALTH!” and “HULK NOTICE!” just aren’t part of my fantasy for this class and don’t make a lot of sense.
Brutal Critical: Dissatisfied.
I like having more opportunities to roll d12s, and this will be exciting when it happens, but it’s not nearly as glamorous or dependable as same-level features on non-martial classes.
Peristent Rage: Dissatisfied.
I’m really close to satisfied here – I like the change to ending when Unconscious, and UA5’s addition of ending when donning Heavy Armor makes sense. But in general the “it only works if you’re all out of juice” mechanics annoy me, and I wish it would always restore a spent Rage use, whether you had any left in the tank or not.
Path of the Wild Heart
I really like having each of the features use separate animal names so that it’s clear that you don’t have to pick one and be stuck with it forever.
Rage of the Wilds: Bear got nerfed a little bit, but it seems okay to me. I like the improvements to Eagle (Disengage and Dash is nice!) and Wolf (increased range).
I rated the options as:
- Bear: satisfied
- Eagle: very satisfied
- Wolf: satisfied
Aspect of the Wilds: I appreciate the symmetry of how Elephant, Owl, and Spider are implemented, but Elephant feels a little lackluster compared to the Bear option it replaces.
I rated the options as:
- Elephant: dissatisfied
- Owl: satisfied
- Spider: satisfied
Power of the Wilds: I really like the Lion version circumventing immunity to being Frightened. Falcon’s increased duration is great too. Ram is fine but feels maybe a little too similar to a Battle Master Fighter’s Trip Attack maneuver.
I rated the options as:
- Lion: very satisfied
- Falcon: very satisfied
- Ram: satisfied
Path of the World Tree
After disconnecting classes from real world cultures (phasing out the “totem” terminology, moving away from “ki” points, etc.) it feels strange to introduce a new subclass that’s closely linked to Norse mythology. Something about this subclass just isn’t clicking for me, and I wonder if there are more iconic subclasses that might be a better fit for the core rules.
Vitality of the Tree: Satisfied.
Some free self-healing is always appreciated.
Branches of the Tree: Satisfied.
This definitely appeals to the Mortal Kombat player in me, and it’s also tactically interesting that it can be used to reposition allies as well as opponents.
Battering Roots: Satisfied.
I am Groot!
Travel Along the Tree: Very dissatisfied.
This seems way too situational to be useful in most sessions, and possibly very annoying for a DM to figure out where all the destinations might be for a campaign. It could also let a campaign go way, way off the rails very quickly. And would this even work in Barovia?
Path of the Zealot
This version of Divine Fury is probably how this always should have been – I appreciate the damage type flexibility and that it now works with Unarmed Strikes. I also like being able to activate Zealous Presence additional times by spending Rage uses on it.
Warrior of the Gods: Satisfied.
I like this, though I’m torn about whether I prefer the random d12 roll (as I really like giving the d12 more to do!) or if I’d prefer having something more dependable that scales with Barbarian level.
Rage Beyond Death: Satisfied.
I strongly prefer the new activation mechanic (using Relentless Rage), and the new benefits are cool. Thematically, though, “I’m so mad I’m spooky” doesn’t quite hit the same note as the original “I’m too mad to die right now” version.
I like not giving Heavy Armor training to characters that multiclass into Fighter. I also like that Fighting Styles can be swapped when gaining Fighter levels. Regaining a use of Second Wind during a Short Rest is also a very welcome change, please keep it! The updated Action Surge is solid too, please keep it this way. Please also keep this version of Indomitable!
My main complaint for the base class, I think, is that it takes too long for Three Extra Attacks to come online. I’d much rather see that at 17 and have something more exciting for level 20. Also, I don’t think my previous question about what it will take for Fighters to feel special given so many other classes have access to Weapon Mastery was answered in this UA.
Tactical Mind: Satisfied.
I like that this gives Fighters a taste of other classes’ multi-use resource pools, and it’s nice for utility outside of combat.
Tactical Shift: Satisfied.
I really like the option to reposition without provoking Opportunity Attacks; it feels very similar to the UA7 Barbarian’s Eagle option for Rage of the Wilds, as well as the Rogue’s Cunning Action Disengage. I think the challenges here will be that moving only 15 feet away might not be enough to be useful/interesting, and that we need more encounters that are designed to give front line folks good reasons to move around.
Master of Armaments: Dissatisfied.
I really like being able to change all Mastery properties at the end of a Long Rest, but I dislike only having a single Mastery property on a given weapon. When I play a Fighter, I’m rarely switching weapons, so while it’s simpler to have fewer in-the-moment choices, it would still be more fun to have those choices.
Studied Attacks: Satisfied.
I like how this helps make up for a bad roll by offering increased future chance of getting a good roll. It seems like it would be really great if you didn’t already have Advantage for some reason.
I’m positive on most of the maneuver changes. In particular, Commander’s Strike, Disarming Attack, Distracting Strike, Menacing Attack, Parry, Precision Attack, Rally, Riposte, Sweeping Attack, and Trip Attack are nicely improved; please keep them this way!
I’m sad to see the Brace maneuver removed; I really liked it.
The new Lunging Attack is mechanically fine, but it absolutely must be renamed – no one can “lunge” for ten or more feet. This is more of a “Charging Attack” since it’s built around Dashing.
Evasive Footwork might need some editing to make its duration clear, as the design notes said “end of YOUR turn” while the text says “end of THE turn”.
While I appreciate being able to change a maneuver when gaining a Fighter level, it’s still going to be difficult for the average Fighter to try most of them during their career. What if a maneuver could be replaced after a Long Rest?
Student of War: Satisfied.
This is definitely more practical than the PHB version.
Know Your Enemy: Very satisfied.
I strongly prefer this over the PHB version, as it’s much more immediately useful in the moment. I worry that it steps a little bit on the Ranger’s Hunter’s Lore feature, but for parties without a Ranger this should be pretty handy.
Relentless: Very satisfied.
I generally dislike the “only recharge a resource if you’re all out” mechanics, so this is a lot better than the PHB version in my estimation. This is a good way for the Battle Master to keep its fun happening, albeit not at full strength.
I really like that Commander’s Strike has less action economy cost now. Please keep this version!
I like Evasive Footwork, but it might need some editing to make its duration clear, as the design notes said “end of YOUR turn” while the text says “end of THE turn”.
The new Lunging Attack is mechanically fine, but it absolutely MUST be renamed – no one can “lunge” for ten or more feet! This is more of a “Charging Attack” since it’s built around Dashing.
I like the increased flexibility of Rally, which will allow some better differentiation in character ability scores – so the Battle Master doesn’t necessarily have to step on the Paladin’s toes as a Charisma user.
I rated the maneuvers:
- Commander’s Strike: very satisfied
- Evasive Footwork: satisfied
- Lunging Attack: dissatisfied
- Rally: very satisfied
I don’t feel like this implementation lives up to the subclass’s potential. It seems interesting from a roleplaying standpoint but the mechanics presented here just don’t get me that excited for it.
Unarmed Expert: Dissatisfied.
The larger dice for Unarmed Strike are okay, but nothing to write home about as it just makes them as good as other basic weapons, and they’re still outpaced by Heavy Weapons (or even a longsword wielded with both hands). It’s also better in levels 3 and 4 than the UA6 Monk’s Martial Arts die, despite Monks having so much identity rooted in Unarmed Strikes.
Improvised Expert: Satisfied.
The basic concept is fun, but it doesn’t quite “sing” to me. It’d be interesting to make these decisions “in the moment” to tap into the Jackie Chan fantasy of creative use of environmental props.
Grappling Expert: Satisfied.
This seems situationally fun, but doesn’t get me excited to play this subclass.
Dirty Fighting: Dissatisfied.
This should come on sooner, either as part of Grappling Expert or even part of the base Grappling mechanics. As a level 10 feature, it’s really uninspiring.
Improvised Specialist: Dissatisfied.
Getting the d12 here is nice, but it feels late for adding the Proficiency Bonus into the mix for damage. It feels like this should be baked into the way Improvised Expert scales (much like how Martial Arts scales) and that a new, more interesting feature belongs here.
Unarmed Specialist: Dissatisfied.
This feels really bland for the final subclass benefit. I’d prefer to see this baked into scaling rules for Unarmed Expert and have a new, more interesting feature here.
I think this subclass is shaping up nicely. I think it could be a lot of fun if I want a break from a more complicated setup. I do miss having Superior Critical and Survivor come online at earlier points as they did in UA5 though.
Remarkable Athlete: Satisfied.
I like that this version provides Advantage on Initiative rolls. Granting this for Strength/Athletics checks make sense too, but I think it’d also make sense on Dexterity/Acrobatics.
Heroic Warrior: Very satisfied.
Given how many campaigns top out around level 10-12, this feels like a fun, achievable, and practical reward. Please keep it!
This Eldritch Knight seems all right, but I just don’t think I vibe with this subclass. I’ve never been compelled to play one, and that hasn’t changed with this version.
The increased cantrip and spell selection flexibility is appreciated, as is the ability to use an Arcane Focus.
War Magic: Satisfied.
I like being able to open up the Bonus Action for other uses.
Improved War Magic: Satisfied.
This is cool, but the design notes say this should be a level 1 or level 2 spell, while the actual text only restricts the spells to those with a casting time of an Action. This should get tightened up to reduce confusion.
Aberrant is a great subclass to include in the PHB (though I would have liked to see some light refresh for it), but I struggle with Clockwork being appropriate iconic for inclusion, at least without some kind of renaming and re-theming. It’s also weird as heck that as pointers to the Tasha versions, these subclasses would still get features at level 1, as well as still getting extra spells known that Draconic and Wild Magic Sorcerers don’t!
It’s a little disappointing that the base class has twelve levels between receiving any creative/novel features. It’s an improvement on the PHB version, but it still feels very under-designed.
It’s also disappointing to see SUCH a huge difference between the Sorcerer and Wizard spell lists. I get that Wizards get defensive about this, but they get nearly double the selection that Sorcerers get!
The new Twinned Spell is better, but the name still doesn’t feel like it matches the effect to me, since it’s now about using a Sorcery Point to upcast. The number of spells eligible for Twinning is also disappointing – I’d really like to see how this will be expanded, as the current changes eliminate 69% of Twinnable spells!
Since Sorcerers have magic “stamped into their being”, they should be able to replace a cantrip or spell after a Long Rest rather than at level increases, so that they can better keep up with Wizards and Clerics who can both change their entire loadouts daily!
Furthermore, they should be able to replace metamagics after long rests (as they could in UA5) and either start with a third metamagic or gain more sooner. Since most campaigns top out around level 10-12, this version of a Sorcerer will basically be stuck with the two best metamagics for most of the game and will never get to experience others since the cost of switching is too prohibitive.
Finally, I like the adjustments to Arcane Eruption, but I’m iffy on the new Sorcerous Burst, because it reduces the chance for the “exploding dice” effect, though it could be more exciting when it does.
Innate Sorcery: Satisfied.
The concept of an “Arcane Rage” is really fun. I’d like to see the number of uses per Long Rest scale with Sorcerer levels, the way that a Barbarian’s Rages scale.
Sorcerous Restoration: Dissatisfied.
Being able to regain Sorcery Points during an adventuring day is good, particularly when it encourages Short Rests, and I love that this arrives at level 5 instead of level 20, but I strongly dislike mechanics that only do anything if you’re all out of a resource. I also noticed that the way this scales, it’s now worse in levels 15 through 19 than it was in UA5, which is also disappointing.
Sorcery Incarnate: Satisfied.
I like that this arrives two levels sooner, that it doesn’t require a 5th level spell slot, and that it leverages the Innate Sorcery “Rage” mechanic. The sorcery point cost makes me more dissatisfied with Sorcerous Restoration though.
Arcane Apotheosis: Very satisfied.
Being able to use metamagic so freely is very very cool, and speaks to it being the Sorcerer’s special sauce. A “Peak Sorcerer” should absolutely get to do its special thing all the time.
This is a modest improvement over the PHB version that I would be glad to re-spec my existing character into.
I do still miss having Draconic Resilience at level 1 and 2 to be slightly less squishy in the opening game, but it still ends up better at higher levels than it was in the PHB version, so I’m not too upset here.
I really like the updated Elemental Affinity and I’m glad to see it unchanged from UA5. Please keep it this way.
I am a little disappointed that Draconic Exhalation has been removed. It seemed fun and so thematic!
Dragon Speech: Very satisfied.
I’m glad to see this return to providing fluency and literacy in Draconic, as well as being understood by all types of Dragon type creatures. Please keep this version going forward.
Dragon Wings: Dissatisfied.
It’s disappointing to lose the magic attack component, but I do like that it’s back to being a plain Bonus Action and that it provides the choice of physical or spectral wings, and that it permits hovering. My main dissatisfaction – which I cited in the 2021 survey as well – is that this arrives so late in the game that most players will never get to experience it.
Draconic Presence: Satisfied.
I definitely prefer this version over the PHB version – all the changes are positive. But I’m on the border with being dissatisfied because this would have been a great place to also include a draconic breath weapon.
Wild Magic Sorcery
This version of the subclass is a very nice improvement on the PHB version, however the Wild Magic Surge table desperately needs to be revised. Besides having numerous effects that aren’t that interesting or fun, the self-targeted point-blank Fireball is a disaster – I don’t see a point in playing this subclass, and I won’t play this subclass, while there’s a 2% chance of TPKing my party in lower levels. It sucks to have no way to prevent it before level 14!
Wild Magic Surge: Dissatisfied.
This is better now that it doesn’t require the DM’s permission. I wish that the Wild Magic Surge table had been updated though; many effects aren’t that interesting, and the point-blank Fireball is still a wildly inappropriate effect in low levels.
Tides of Chaos: Satisfied.
This is better now that it doesn’t require the DM’s permission.
Bend Luck: Satisfied.
This is much better now with the reduced cost. Thanks!
Wild Bombardment: Satisfied.
I wish this could be used more often, but it’s definitely more fun and/or thematic than the PHB version of this feature. With the current Wild Magic Surge table, there are only 10 effects that can be selected, but that may be okay to keep the game from getting bogged down.
I really like how customizable this Warlock is, and all four subclasses offered are iconic and interesting. I like the return to Pact Magic for casting spells, and the updates to it here are positive changes. Moving the Pact Boons into the Eldritch Invocations is interesting, and I want to like it, but I suspect that certain combinations are going to be so good that they overshadow other options.
I like Contact Patron moving to level 9. Keep it there.
I liked being able to select which attribute was used for spellcasting in the previous UA version, so going back to Charisma-only casting is disappointing.
I also noticed that the multiclassing sidebar cited Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma as the Warlock’s primary abilities, even though the main text says that it’s just Charisma again. (You should probably fix that?)
What I don’t like here is reverting Eldritch Blast so that it scales with the ambigous “level” instead of “Warlock level”, which invites disagreements when multiclassing is in play. A character with one level of Warlock and 19 levels of something else should NOT be able to EB as well as an all-in level 20 Warlock.
I also don’t like reverting Hex; it basically makes it a better version of a Weapon Mastery effect. Combined with Pact of the Blade and Thirsting Blade, this is too much of a “must-have” spell – the kind of must-have that we were told the 2024 version would be trying to eliminate.
Magical Cunning: Satisfied.
I don’t like “it only works if you’re all out” mechanics, but this is otherwise okay. Warlocks need SOME way to be able to cast spells more often.
Eldritch Invocation Options:
The customizability of Agonizing Blast and Eldritch Spear is cool, and I like being able to change it from time to time.
The updated Fiendish Vigor is nice, but fails to specify at what level False Life is cast at – which is important since that determines the maximum temporary hit points that are granted!
I like that Gaze of Two Minds can now work with non-humanoid creatures; reining in the ability to cast from the other creature’s space feels like a fair compromise.
I like Lifedrinker’s flexibility on damage types, but even though it can now restore more HP that the UA5 version could, I really liked how thematic the 1:1 exchange rate of damage to healing was. Spending your own hit dice in mid-combat also isn’t nearly as much fun as DRINKING THE HIT POINTS FROM YOUR FOES. Like, not even close.
Thirsting Blade needs to be nerfed. A Warlock doesn’t need more attacks than Barbarians and Monks get. I’d almost say it should be removed entirely!
I like the updates to One with Shadows, Otherworldly Leap, Master of Myriad Forms, Visions of Distant Realms, and Whispers of the Grave, and the updated Pacts are all good as presented here.
A few options removed language from UA5 about not needing material components (Armor of Shadows, Ascendant Step, Misty Visions) which seems like an important enough change to have gotten mentioned in the design notes.
I rated the options as:
- Agonizing Blast: Satisfied.
- Eldritch Spear: Satisfied.
- Fiendish Vigor: Satisfied.
- Gaze of Two Minds: Satisfied.
- Lifedrinker: Dissatisfied.
- One with Shadows:
- Pact of the Blade:
- Pact of the Chain:
- Pact of the Tome:
- Thirsting Blade: Very dissatisfied.
This subclass wasn’t all that interesting to me in its original version, but this updated version makes a lot of thematic sense and seems pretty fun. I’m definitely interested in trying it out!
Patron Spells: Satisfied.
The spell list is good and thematic, and adding Misty Step to it is proper. Having the spell list aligned to the Warlock level is also easier to parse, so thanks for that!
Steps of the Fey: Very satisfied.
This seems useful and fun to me. I’m in favor of more mobility in combat, and extra hit points are always nice too. I also like that this scales with the Charisma modifier, which seems very appropriate.
Misty Escape: Very satisfied.
I like that this builds on the Steps of the Fey mechanics and provides additional options. Dreadful Step is especially cool.
Beguiling Defenses: Very satisfied.
This seems more useful in more situations than the PHB version. I like it!
Bewitching Magic: Satisfied.
This maybe isn’t as creative as trapping a foe in the illusion of being lost in a misty realm, but it seems a lot more practical, and it encourages both casting and repositioning.
This subclass was pretty solid to begin with, and the changes here, while minor, are all positive. I’d say just keep it like this.
Patron Spells: Satisfied.
As with the Archfey, I appreciate that the spells granted are always prepared.
Celestial Radiance: Satisfied.
I like that this can now be activated using Magical Cunning in addition to finishing a Short Rest or Long Rest. Keep this version please! It looks like the name was changed at some point? My PDF of UA7 calls it “Celestial Resilience” which might be an easier name to understand.
Great Old One Patron
This subclass seems like it has a lot of overlap with the Aberrant Sorcery Sorcerer. These subclasses share roughly half of their bonus spells (the GOO Warlock’s Pact Spells and Aberrant Sorcerer’s Psionic Spells). Further, the GOO’s Awakened Mind is identical to the Aberrant’s Telepathic Speech, and the GOO’s Psychic Spells is very similar to the Aberrant’s Psionic Sorcery. I think these are both fine, but I maybe wouldn’t want to have both subclasses in the same campaign, as it sure looks like they were copying each other’s school work. I do see the distinction though – C’thulu gave the GOO Warlock psychic powers, while the Aberrant Mind Sorcerer just is psychic.
On a related note, it feels like Intelligence would be an appropriate primary attribute for this subclass instead of Charisma.
Since it’s not called out in the survey otherwise, I do want to give a thumbs-up of approval to Psychic Spells.
Patron Spells: Very satisfied.
This is a solid, thematic lineup of spells.
Awakened Mind: Satisfied.
I’m not sure I love the requirement that both parties must share a language – that’s a departure from the way telepathic communication has worked historically. Otherwise this is cool; I like that it’s a two-way connection.
Clairvoyant Combatant: Satisfied.
Weaponize your psychic connection? Cool. I like that it’s also rechargeable.
Eldritch Hex: Satisfied.
A nice little bonus buff for Hex. It could be pretty mean to do on a DM’s pet boss monster though.
Create Thrall: Satisfied.
I like the updated mechanics, but making it summon something instead of bending an already-present creature to your will is a pretty big flavor change that doesn’t seem aligned with the name – you’re not creating anything with this version! I’d be fine keeping this version as long as the name got changed to something more appropriate.
I’m VERY glad to see Modify Spell and Create Spell removed. As a DM, I am now breathing a huge sigh of relief.
I’m not 100% sure I like replacing a cantrip after a Long Rest, but I guess I can accept it.
I didn’t mind other classes sharing the Arcane spell list in previous UAs. Were Wizard players really so insecure about needing the biggest spell list in the game?
I liked Academic, but this seems all right for the most part. I’m a little iffy about classes outside of the “Expert Group” getting Expertise though!
Memorize Spell: Dissatisfied.
I prefer this as a feature instead of a spell, but despite the text saying that you “expend mental and magical effort” its only mechanical cost is now time. So what magical effort was expended? There should be some kind of cost here besides just flipping through your spellbook for a minute.
Spell Mastery: Very satisfied.
This needed to be nerfed to avoid free casting of Bonus Action and Reaction spells. This is a good change, please keep it!
The changes to this subclass aren’t flashy, but they’re a nice refinement.
I like this newer naming scheme for the Wizard subclasses too. It’s more concise and approachable.
Abjuration Savant: Very satisfied.
This is a nice way to unlock and try out more spells, which seems more fun.
Arcane Ward: Satisfied.
I appreciate the clarifications that this feature only works when a spell slot is used to cast a spell, and being able to recharge the ward using a Bonus Action and a spell slot, without casting a spell, seems like it will come in handy during combat.
Spell Breaker: Satisfied.
This seems very handy.
This started in a good place, and ended up in a slightly better place. Ship it.
Divination Savant: Very satisfied.
This is a nice way to unlock and try out more spells, which seems more fun.
The Third Eye: Very satisfied.
I like all the tune-ups here, and it also eliminates a weird loophole. Let’s keep this version!
I like all the tune-ups here, and I appreciate the clarification of Illusory Reality, which should now cause fewer arguments at gaming tables about the meaning of “directly harm”. Ship it!
Illusion Savant: Very satisfied.
This is a nice way to unlock and try out more spells, which seems more fun.
Malleable Illusions: Satisfied.
I like this new version that uses a Bonus Action instead of an Action. Nice!
Illusory Self: Satisfied.
I can see the increased flexibility coming in handy in a pinch since you should be able to burn the spell slot in the exact moment that you need to automagically avoid taking a bad hit. Cool.
Counterspell: Very satisfied.
This seems all-around more fun. I like the tightening of the rules about when it can be used. I like it moving the burden of success to the targeted caster to make it more distinct from Dispel Magic. I think the move to a Constitution save against the counterspeller’s spell casting DC is likely to speed up gameplay slightly. And I really, really like it not wasting the target’s spell slot when a spell is successfully countered – this lets everybody – players and DMs – have another chance at casting something big and fun.
Jump: Very satisfied.
I like making this a Bonus Action to cast. I appreciate that the target creature now has to consent. I also appreciate the explicit clarification of how it works, to avoid having to go look up the jumping rules. And I like that it can be upcast to target additional creatures, therefore becoming compatible with Twinned Spell. This is a solid set of changes, and I hope to see more like it in a future update.
Sorcerous Burst: Satisfied.
I like the increased die size, but I’m iffy on this version because it reduces the chance for the “exploding dice” effect… though it could be more exciting when it happens? This update makes me feel like I’d always want to use Empowered Spell to get a better shot at triggering the exploding effect. I’m voting “Satisfied” here optimistically.
The new version is more inclusive (and aligned with the background and species revisions from earlier in the play test process), but it will lead to some absolutely comedic visuals. D&D handwaves away problems with magic weapons and armor not being the right size for a character by just saying that these magic items become the right size for their user. But no such accommodation is available for mundane weapons, so bring on the halberd-wielding fairies!
Inter-class balance is getting better, but isn’t quite there yet. Warlocks seem a little TOO good relative to Fighters and Barbarians. Wizards are always going to be great, and they have the advantage of having started out in a much better place than many other classes did, but at least their worst UA5 offenses were removed. I would like to see Fighter get more love – maybe it should get its third Extra Attack at level 17, and a more exciting capstone at 20. It also stinks that a Warlock will end up with more attacks than a Barbarian, and that the silly one-level Warlock dip is viable again. It should be possible to capture a player’s desired character fantasy with the combination of class, subclass, and feats without having to allow multiclassing and all the weird combinations and imbalances and accommodations it leads to.
As always, thanks for all your hard work and for giving us a voice in the future of the game. I’m still feeling optimistic about the process, and I’m looking forward to the 2024 release!