Latest Unearthed Aracana sends us to the Phlogiston (maybe)

With the announced pace of products picking up, we should also expect Unearthed Arcana’s pace to pick up. Today, Wizards of the Coast sent out the latest Dungeons & Dragons playtest document with six new races to play n the game. They have strong flavors of my favorite settings from the days of yore — Spelljammer.

Unlike the foundational settings of D&D Spelljammer has no relationship to the real world or literature. The concept is D&D in space, but an odd kind of space with ships that look like dragonflies and mind flayer heads, all powered by hooking up a magic user to a chair/helm/etc that sucks magic from them. Each “solar system” exists within a crystal sphere, and outside of that is a highly flammable sea of a Phlogiston.

There are prates, even crafter gnomes, space monkeys that can glide, Victorian hippo-people, asteroid trading posts run by beholders, fleets of mind flayers. The whole of the setting is comc book/cartoon joy with themes of exploration similar to Star Trek.

Some of the new races are also part of the Planescape realm and the thri-keen are one of the signature elements of Dark Sun.

Astral Elf

An elf denizen of the Astral Plane who is likely thousands of years old.

What I like

Radiant Soul is a cool way to bounce back from death’s door once per day. That you must be down and making death saves in order to use it connects the mechanics to Astral Elf’s planar nature.

Trance Tools are a non-cultural way to gain proficiency, nifty little mechanic. Maybe my favorite from this drop, which is funny because…

What I don’t like

Don’t know why the world needs another elf, ever. There are a lot in D&D these days, with more to come for every new setting. The Astral Elf, if the feedback is strong, will be the 14th elf within official D&D worlds for Fifth Edition.

Also, just after so many reminders that each playable races is supposed to have a human-like age spectrum, the Astral Elf is even older than normal elves.

Will I play one?

Probably not. Elves and all their permutations are my least played race. The idea of an ancient people viewed as the ideal of sapience has little appeal to me.


A mechanical gnome gifted with free will.

What I like

True Life is a brilliant way to empower healing for living constructs. The Warforged need this in the expected minor racial reworks coming with the three-book gift set.

Built for Success strongly connects the rules of the race to why the race exists. Gnomes created these automatons to be better than gnomes are, at least at certain tasks.

What I don’t like

Sentry’s Rest is another variant on Trances. Having a party with a creature that needs 4 hours, and another that needs 6 hours, and most that need 8 hours adds unnecessary complexity to organizing watches.

Will I play one?

Yep, I love the little people. Also, I enjoy tool users and specialists. These would make strong Rogues.

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A hippo-headed being of impressive size.

What I like

They’re big, really big. Playing a super-sized race that doesn’t have to smush itself through most passages is a great way to feel more powerful than you are in real ife. Hippo Build embraces this.

What I don’t like

Damage Dealer connects more strongly to Rogues and Paladins than the Giff’s traditional role as a Fighter. Also, that’s it. They only have two traits. The Astral Elf, embracing their racial superiority have seven.

Will I play one?

Yep. Absolutely. Anthropomorphic races are cool. The Giff’s traditional Victorian military culture can be fun. There will be a search for another trait that connects to their build, maybe something as boring as Tough Hide which gives them an extra hit point every level.


A highly adaptive simian being who uses winglike membranes to glide.

What I like

The climbing speed and Glide are both great ways to capture their tree glider meets monkey vibe.

Dexterous Feet allowing a bonus action to Use an Object is good, but it doesn’t go quite far enough.

What I don’t like

Dexterous Feet should include the tail, and to enable more fun, should allow the activity via a Reaction too. Yes, that break the standard for Reactions, but it’s cool.

Will I play one?

Maybe. Kinda want to be an Artificer or Wizard, who manipulates their magic components with their feet and tail.


An amoeba-like being.

What I like

These things are bizarre, the oddest playable concept in the game. You have no standard form, as you are an Ooze. Shape Self enables you to look kind of like a person and also lets you grow an ‘arm’ up to ten feet long.

What I don’t like

The mechanics are great, the ability to be one the creatures mentally needs a lot of explanation.

Will I play one?

Not until the lore is revealed. My head needs help wrapping around this concept even more than it does for Lizard Folk.


A six-limbed, telepathic insectoid.

What I like

Secondary Arms is a good solve for how these six-limbed peoples work with the D&D action economy. There is a fun synergy with Two-Weapon Fighting and with light thrown weapons when you have multi-attack or related abilities.

What I don’t like

Sleepless Revitalization reveals another Long Rest variant to confuse the party.

With five racial traits, most with power, they are insectoid elves.

Will I play one?

No, but they are absolutely necessary for the world of Dark Sun, and maybe in my own world (spoiler?).

2 thoughts on “Latest Unearthed Aracana sends us to the Phlogiston (maybe)

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  2. Pingback: Dungeons & Dragons Direct coming Thursday | Full Moon Storytelling

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