Unearthed Arcana expands playable dragons – lacks playable dungeons

The latest drop of Unearthed Arcana is another exploration of Draconic options – this time lineages, feats, and spells. Previously the Dungeons & Dragons team explored a Monk: Way of the Ascendant Dragon and a Ranger: Drakewarden.

The UA also reminds readers that everyone gets a floating +2&+1 or three floating +1 with two languages (Common and one other being recommended).

This review of UA will include bolded statements of what I like, what I would change, and what I dislike but can’t think of how to fix.

Dragonborn

Fifth edition D&D already has two sets of Dragonborn, one in the Player’s Handbook and another in Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, the Critical Role book. Soon, there will be even more Draconic races, as the new set splits Dragonborn into the subsets – chromatic, metallic, gem. This Unearthed Arcana is also an expansion of Kobold options, as they were previously released in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

For all three there is a small boost in power for the breath weapon. This was needed. The PHB Dragonborn breath weapon wasn’t able to be used enough for it to serve a purpose. Having it be an attack replacement grants some great options for martial players after tier 1 play. Rather than 1 bonus action per rest (short or long) the UA version gets proficiency bonus number of uses per long rest. This is true for all three of the new subraces. They also increase damage from 2d6 with tier scaling to 2d8 with tier scaling. I like this.

Chromatic

Their breath weapon is a line, which is a switch for green and red dragonborn.

At third level they gain the ability to be immune to the energy connected to their draconic origin. This ten minutes at once ability can help ahead of a combat encounter, but is also quite handy for some exploration challenges. It’s a fun little bit of story creep too. I like this.

Metallic

Their breath weapon is a cone, which is a switch for brass, bronze, and copper.

Their third level boost is a secondary breath weapon that they can use once per long rest. There is a choice of two effects – a push and or kind of knock-out gas that incapacitates targets. These are both fine.

Gem

Previously gem dragonborn weren’t a thing, and as someone who didn’t get into gem dragons, this section is a lot of new ground. The various gems connect to new damage types (force, radiant, psychic, thunder, necrotic). As all gem dragons are connected to psionics these dragonborn gain the ability to telepathically communicate with a single creature within 30′, as long as they share a language. I like this cool boost.

At third level they get this weird ability to fly by being surrounded by spectral gems. I don’t like this.

Kobolds

The kobolds in Volo’s have two negatives – their strength is reduced and they have sunlight sensitivity. The new draconic versions of kobolds suffer from neither of these.

But the new kobolds also don’t get Grovel, Cower, and Beg (ok), nor do they get Pack Tactics (boo).

The draconic versions get to choose between three abilities.

  • Advantage on saves versus fear. I like this.
  • A sorcerer cantrip. I like this because it connects them to the Volo’s monster kobold sorcerer.
  • An unarmed strike with the tail. I would change this strike to be finesse, so that dex builds could benefit.

They also can roar. I don’t like this.

I would rather the playable kobolds lean into the variant kobolds like dragonshields, winged, and inventors. Further connections between kobold culture and playable kobolds would be wonderful.

Feats

The new feats are about granting non-dragonborn a small lean into the powers and abilities of various dragons. This part is cool, but because they are each a different feat that means your character could take each feat once picking up a bit of chromatic, gem, and metallic. I don’t like this.

Spells

There are seven new spells that range from level 2 to 7. Four of them are named spells, with three carrying iconic names from the Forgotten Realms and one from Dragonlance. All are available to sorcerers and wizards, with a few being open to other casters.

Draconic Transformation is a way to be nearly a dragon.

Fizban’s Platinum Shield is a potent protective spell.

Flame Stride is a movement boost that burns people as you pass them.

Icingdeath’s Frost is a cone blast that covers the target in an ice shell.

Nathair’s Mischief is a cube (yuck) that is rather fey in its behavior.

Raulothim’s Psychic Lance is a piercing blast that has an interesting known name twist.

Summon Draconic Spirit follows the new summons from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, and is a dragon.

I like the story behind the spells and hope that Awf can add the Icingdeath’s Frost and Flame Stride to his known spell list. A Bladesinger running through traffic with flaming feat is a great image.

Overall there’s a lot of flavor in these, but similar to the Fey UA, there is a clear need to fold the earlier releases and this next book together. There are competing versions of Orc, Hobgoblin, Dragonborn, and Kobold now. These would make more sense as subraces in a book, or digital version, that is consolidated with all the changes, shifts, and combinations.

2 thoughts on “Unearthed Arcana expands playable dragons – lacks playable dungeons

  1. Pingback: Lore Collage: Dungeons and Dragons movie gathers cast | Full Moon Storytelling

  2. Pingback: Lore Collage: Previewing the Mists of Ravenloft | Full Moon Storytelling

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