They might be giants, a new Unearthed Arcana

A big, hefty Unearthed Arcana was released in late May. Giant Options hints at a something massive — the book could be a Giant version of Fizban’s, the First World’s war between giantkin and dragons, or a new set of player options with this just being the first of a series.

Some of these will be immediately available to players in my campaign. Others need more work before I would allow them. Overall they are strong and I’m encouraged by more flavorful Feats being added to the game.

Archetypes/Subclasses

Barbarian: Path of the Giant

“Barbarians who walk the Path of the Giant draw strength from the primal forces that are the Giants and their elemental ilk. Their rages surge with elemental power and cause these barbarians to grow in size, transforming them into avatars of primordial might.”

What I like:

The Giant Power cantrip makes perfect sense. Connecting rages to growing in size and throwing things is excellent. Elemental Cleaver is basically Thor’s ability, so that will be very popular. Adding a ruleset for the fastball special fits this concept, but I’m hoping to see more mooks used as ranged weapons than friends.

What I don’t like:

Unless a campaign uses culture rather than language, learning the language of Giant just because you turn into one makes no sense.

Will I use it in play:

Yes. Every mechanic fits the build except for the odd way D&D embraces languages.


Druid: Circle of the Primeval

“The Circle of the Primeval teaches that, though the land may change over time, it never truly forgets. By tapping into the timeworn memory of the earth, these druids summon and bond with the spirit of a primeval behemoth — a hulking creature that once ruled the ancient world alongside the giants.”

What I like:

While there are other abilities, the main reason you want to play this Druid is for the Primeval Companion. Similar to the new Beast Master Ranger beasts, the Primeval Companion has very light flavor. Want it to be an ankylosaurs or wooly mammoth or a velociraptor? You can. It just starts a bit small than those first two were, but that’s easy to call an adolescent. It’s nice that it can avoid your overflowing blasts, because your dino-companion is probably in the fray while your druid is back a layer. Scourge of the Ancients comes on in the late game, giving 1st level spells purpose.

What I don’t like:

Nothing.

Will I use it in play:

These fit Mehmd, in my home campaign, very well.


Wizard: Runecaster

“Runecrafter wizards enhance their spellcasting through the ancient power of runes. Though the tradition originated with the giant rune casters of old, runecraft magic has expanded to encompass countless languages and practitioners across different worlds.”

What I like:

Like most of the non-school Wizards, the Runecaster feels more powerful, especially so in a campaign that ignores material components and spell inscribing costs. The runes themselves have interesting riders when combined with spells — cast a magic missile and boost the health of ally with a Life Rune for example.

Overall the narrative of the runes is strong and fills a hole in the game.

What I don’t like:

Rune Maven is a complicated recovery mechanic. Thankfully Think DM broke down how it works.

There’s also a disconnect between the narrative and the mechanics. The runes are being cast in less than 6 seconds, but when you think of a runemaster those runes should take time.

Will I use it in play:

I’m undecided. It is a bit complicated above level 9. I also must get over my frustration about crafting a rune taking a time


FEATS

A few of the feats are meant to be taken at first level, the kind of powers a character might be born with or that inspires them to go out adventuring. Others are clearly too powerful for 1st level and so are gated at 4th or 8th level, which makes sense unless the character is a fighter who gets their second feat at 6th level. These 4th and 8th level feats also don’t make narrative sense. Why would the powers of a giant manifest based on adventuring?

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Feats: Rune Carver Apprentice and Rune Carver Adept

The two rune feats are meant to be taken in a series. Apprentice first and than at 4th level or higher after taking Apprentice a character make take the Adept.

What I like:

Unlike the Runecaster Wizard, these runes are inscribed during a long rest – lovely! Unlike other spellcasting feats, the Rune Carver feats offer a high level of versatility. There are 19 different spells that one may have available. Just one at the Apprentice level and from two to six as an Adept.

What I don’t like:

The Apprentice assumes that versatility is more significant than a cantrip and ASI or two cantrips, which every other 1st level spell granting Feat has. My solution would be to add one of the general cantrips as a choice or even more broadly, every cantrip tagged with Utility on DnDBeyond.

Will I use it in play?

Absolutely. I love these. I have no idea where they fit in my world, but they belong.


Feats: Elemental Touched; Outsized Might

These are the other two feats that don’t have level requirements. Both could connect a character to the primordial or the Giants. One thing that latter-stage D&D does is strongly connect the Giants to elements, but not in the same ways as dragons.

What I like:

The spell-like abilities granted by Elemental Touched are perfectly flavored, like Top Chef finale quality flavor.

Outsized Might is excellent for grapplers and other martial artists. It is also story-full. Imagine a Stout Halfling that carries more than strong Humans. That’s great as a rare ability granted by a Feat.

What I don’t like:

The versatility of Elemental Touched removes strong flavor potential. Being touched by every element is part of what went wrong with the Four Elements Monk and it continues to be poor story here.

Outsized Might overlaps heavily with a few races (Orc, Bugbear, Centaur, Firbolg, Goliath, Loxodon), which isn’t as fun. There’s no practical way for Powerful Build to stack. While the Feat is still useful, there may need to be a way to make up for that.

Will I use it in play?

Elemental Touched may be tweaked to connect to a specific element while granting an additional use.

Outsized Might isn’t great, but I’d allow it.


4th Level Feats: Fury of the Frost Giant; Keenness of the Stone Giant; Vigor of the Hill Giant

The three lower power common giants are bundled together and locked in as something a character would take just before they enter tier 2 play. This makes some sense as there are more and more ways to have a Feat at 1st level (my campaign allows a Feat for every 1st level character).

What I like:

Keenness of the Stone Giant has a strong connection to their lore as wizened leaders who tend to be less into the violence of other giants.

Vigor of the Hill Giant is perfect — 100% perfect. The lore of the Hill Giant is wrapped in mechanics that directly connect the character to the big, dumb oafs that use trees as clubs and use hills as pillows.

What I don’t like:

Frost giants make you afraid, more than other giants? I don’t get the narrative justification.

Will I use them in play?

If a player asked, probably. But I’d have to come up with a story for Keenness and Fury. The core D&D assumptions about Giants aren’t present in my world. I would allow Vigor right out of the box.


8th Level Feats: Ember of the Fire Giant; Guile of the Cloud Giant; Soul of the Storm Giant

These big hefty feats are overly delayed for Fighters. They’re powerful, probably the most powerful Feats of 5e and unchained. You don’t have to start with Outsized Might to somehow develop a connection to Giants. Maybe you should. Maybe these should be three-feat chains that include Elemental Touched and Outsized Might.

What I like:

The flavor of Ember of the Fire Giant is well done.

Misty Form from the Cloud Giant is very powerful, a non-concentration casting of blur is encounter changing. It also fits the narrative.

What I don’t like:

An attack at 8th level does more damage than Ember of the Fire Giants does, and while there’s an area of effect it isn’t big enough to mitigate the reduction in damage. I might throw on one of the fire cantrips to increase versatility.

A soft caution on adding a lot of divination to the game must be given. It’s one of the thought spells that can dramatically change the genre of play.

The Storm Giant grants a defensive bonus, which feels unusual for a giant. How hard can it be to hit a 40′ tall human-like representation of a thunderstorm? But, it’s a great ability. So much so that I wanted to list this as a like, even though my narrative first thoughts are that I don’t like it.

Will I use it in play:

I like these, all of them. Even the weak Fire Giant ability is a lot of fun.

Overall many of the Feats add 5′ and 10′ ranged abilities. These ranges are very tactical and hard to do in Theater of the Mind. I’ve come to thinking that TotM works better with abilities that are 5/15/30 rather than 5/10/20/30.

One thought on “They might be giants, a new Unearthed Arcana

  1. Pingback: Inkling as a Warlock familiar | Full Moon Storytelling

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