There’s a certain charm to the newest edition. It’s almost intangible. Although I find all of it very enjoyable, in a couple instances, it could be considered… lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it's just as easy to pour your heart and soul into a character as it’s always been. I just feel like there a few holes to fill. This is probably just my way of coping with the fact I can't take exotic weapon proficiencies and make everything strange for the party. Here are a few things I feel could be spiced up a bit.
Who doesn’t like having an extra layer of steel between you and the creatures trying to kill you? No one. That's who. No one and that jerk at the table whose chaotic neutral to be genuinely evil without the official label. D&D 5e seems to be a little lacking in the shield department, this time around. Especially considering how useful they were in historical combat, and the plethora of styles and materials that have been used throughout history.
Things like bucklers and tower shields would be great to see implemented. For example: bucklers could increase AC by a lower amount, say +1, but could have some sort of striking feature where you could make an attack with it for minimal damage. Tower shields could give +3 to AC but have a disadvantage if you’re carrying it without a certain strength, as well as the ability to plant it in the ground for cover. Hell, even them being made of wood or other metals could have an effect on the player. Sure this is something you could work out with your DM, but isn’t it nice to have the source material give actual stats and features for these types of things?
I’m not saying maneuvers are boring (although more of them would be beautiful). Quite the opposite. I think MORE classes should have maneuvers as an option. For those of you who are unsure of what maneuvers are, they are located on page 74 of the PHB, as part of the battlemaster subclass for fighters. Other than that, they never show up! They add a dynamic to the game that’s so intriguing and interesting. It just feels a little underdeveloped. I know there's a feat for extra maneuvers, but not everyone does feats and it's a rather miniscule amount of maneuvers instead of having a subclass built around them.
Combat based rogues would benefit greatly from maneuvers. Sadly, there’s no subclass for the resident sneaky badass who fights as good as he steals. The monk falls victim to this too! The monk's martial arts feel like they could have been explored more. Maneuvers could have made the monk feel more, uh… “Whachaaaa,” if you catch my meaning. Long story short, maneuvers are glorious, why can’t they be everywhere? Paint the walls with maneuvers, even if it would make combat longer.
3- Subclasses (In certain instances)
Yes yes, take my silly concerns and shove them up my (Upper management has reduced Jarod’s non-existent pay due to subject matter complaints in this sentence) because unearthed arcana already offers a billion and a half extra subclasses. If you ask me a few classes could use a little more variety in the base books. Such as sorcerers. They only have two subclasses and one might argue only one of those subclasses is worth playing, but that’s a subject for another day. This seems like a comparably low amount to the Cleric and Wizard’s cornucopia of subclasses. Other classes that suffer from this include the Ranger, Barbarian and Druid (the woodland people are getting the short end of the stick here) along with a few other classes.
My major point here was supposed to be how race specific subclasses could come into play if you are using a class that compliments the race nicely. High Elf wizard subclass that lets you memorize extra spells or get extra spell slots. Mountain Dwarf fighters that can enter a battle frenzy-like thing where they get an extra attack per round for 5 rounds. Lightfoot Halfling rogues that get massive bonuses to their stealth rolls but have to sacrifice something… what? I can’t be charming and creative constantly.
I don't mean to deFEAT (Editor's note: We take no responsibility for injuries due to extreme eye-rolling. -VP Quinn) the purpose of the unearthed arcana pages but I feel like it should’ve been released in the core books. Just more. I want more, damnit. Sorry. Reigning it back in, a few extra feats would bring a joyous tear to my eye. Something to give more unarmed attack bonuses like the Tavern Brawler feat. Maybe play around with the martial arts feature with the monks. Make tool proficiencies more interesting by playing around with that tinker ability for the Rock Gnome.
In reality, it might be a little overwhelming to drop so many feats into the core books, so it's understandable. We all have limits and deadlines. I’m not harping on this too badly I hope. I mean, compared to the other points in this article, even I feel like this is a little ham-fisted. Which could actually be an awesome name for another feat dealing with unarmed attacks.
As stated earlier, I miss exotic weapons. Sure, they’re a little unrealistic but someone out there is probably flying around on a carpet with a magic blade you named “Kitten-slasher.” So you can get off my back about me missing a massive double-ended axe. From what I’ve seen in the community, I’m not the only one who misses having the massive array of weapons and gizmos attached to them in their armories. They were the backbone of some of my more interesting characters. You will be missed Rhagar. RIP.
Exotic weapon proficiencies aren't the only way to spice up this category. Direct your attention to something actual blacksmiths always have to consider: Material. It may make things a little more tedious in shopping scenarios but the differences between an iron, steel or mithril blade were astounding. Although, mithril is not a real metal. If it were, it would probably break science. I like to think that Wizards of the Coast encourages us to play with the materials of our weapons. Things like adamantine and silver are things you can make weapons and armour out of, after all. Wouldn’t you like to take a little extra time to draw up a sword? With a special crossguard, a niftier handle and a certain blade shape? I feel like it would make the whole roleplaying experience just a little better. I happen to feel passionately about this point in particular because it’s freaking awesome to pounce on someone with a double-ended sword-spear.
“How dare you question how the gods have had mortal man exist since the dawn of time,” I hear you typing in the comment section, “Curse your blasphemy! Curse your children! Curse your dice” Now that everyone’s done being mad at me (for now), you should hear me out. The alignment system D&D has been used since the very first system (with the odd awkward stage I like to call D&D’s puberty period where everyone tried a new name on and joined Tumblr) but perhaps, after it being so long since things have started, we could try to mix things up? I know it’s hard to find fault in Gygax’s masterful creation that is the alignment system we know and love. Perhaps we shouldn’t look for faults as much as we should imperfections.
True Neutral back in the day went all Isaac Newton on your ass. Essentially for every good action you have to commit an evil one, or at least you tried to live in an exact balance between good and evil as well as law and chaos. For a casual player, or even an experienced player, this sounds like a fresh hell in either definition. An example straight up given in the books, from what I can remember, was that a druid saving a village from gnolls might switch sides halfway through the fight to prevent the gnolls from being completely wiped out. Something like that could get you killed by your party if they don’t want to put up with that crap. If you consider that druids in AD&D were required to be neutral, you could see where restrictions and requirements could be a pain to any party. While it may be pointless to look back and say, “Things were bad,” especially in an article where I’m talking about 5e not older editions, I felt it was important to include to make the point for 5e.
I feel like there’s no “selfish” alignment. I know, I know; chaotic neutral or neutral is the way to go, or even dip into the evils. However, with each “chaotic” or “lawful,” you place yourself into a more limited spectrum. You restrict your choices. You can’t kill the man who killed your father because as lawful good, you’re supposed to think deep down there's hope. You can’t save your own mother because there's nothing in it for you, you chaotic evil bastard. I know these are extreme and unlikely with an average DM but if there's even a chance that your alignment would prevent you from doing what is human (or elven or dwarven or…) for you then maybe we should consider expanding our options a little.. What comes naturally to the person you have carefully crafted and developed is what should be considered. Not some super-strict ancient system. Isn’t it worth considering that alignments could be changed? I just feel like describing who you’d want to be would be quicker. Chaotic Evil doesn’t always mean “Jerkish Dipwad.” Lawful Good doesn’t always mean “Stick Firmly Planted in Butt.”
Maybe I’m just rambling crazily. After all I haven’t seen the sun in 72 hours after locking myself in the basement again.
But things are as they are. I mean 5e is still really good. The extra material Wizards of the Coast has released has been good, great even, which, after 4e, is refreshing. Just remember, the Shardmind will always be there. Watching. Waiting for someone to open that book and say “I should adapt this.” Then, each and every individual circle of hell will unravel to make way for Psionics once again in this once-safe world.
Jarod Lalonde is a young role-player and writer whose passion for both lead him here. He’s often sarcastic and has a +5 to insult. Dungeons and Dragons is his favorite platform. Although he’s not quite sure if it’s Call of Cthulhu whispering to him in the small hours of the night, or just persistent flashbacks to the Far Realm.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.