Hot off the exciting new options given in Gothic Lineages, Wotc marches on with some new, mostly-unique races from or, at least, influenced by the Feywild. And, before we talk about the details, there some already wondering, like myself, since we got the Gothic Lineages leading into Van Richtensteins Guide to Ravenloft, whether we’re about to get a Feywild sourcebook later in the year.
Now, if you’ve read any of my articles on The Queen of Air and Darkness, you’ll know that I’m ready for a book like that. Although I’m sure Wotc will be ‘bare-bones basic’ with the info and, as 5E has been developed to do, leave all of the details up to the DMs. But, as long as we get more than the slight spattering we got in the Swordcoast Adventurer’s Guide, I’m ok with whatever Wizards is willing to give us.
But just looking at these options inspires me to more characters and NPCs and isn’t that what good Unearthed Arcana is supposed to do?
First off, I have a quandary. Is it me or does Wotc have a real problem regulating their races and flying speeds? This is one of these ‘cool’ abilities that players clamor for. But their development of playable flying races seems to know no real rhyme or reason. The Aarakocra and the Avariel were already available with built in fly speeds. But the only other thing Aarakocra get is a natural claw weapon. And, besides the cool elf stuff, Avariel get nothing more really.
Now we get two more races with fly speeds. But they both seem to far outclass the former two in more ‘cool factor’ abilities.
The Owlfolk bring to the table a lot of amazing abilities that make good for a number of Classes. As would be expected, they have darkvision and, as I already stated, can fly. They have arms and legs AND wings. They have this cool reaction to stop them from falling and revert to flying. But the other two abilities really make this race attractive.
This racial option would be optimal for a Rogue as they naturally get proficiency in the Stealth skill. On top of that, they carry with them a nifty little caveat of being able to cast detect magic as a ritual. This makes it quite handy for a little thief to assess his own stolen baubles and trinkets.
Yes, I said Fairy. You are Fey, not humanoid. So, right off the bat, you can’t be affected by charm or hold person. You are small. But not just small. You can squeeze through any opening as small as 1 inch. Once again, I thought this was a great option for a Rogue.
But, besides the advantage of flight and the ability to cast Druidcraft and Faerie Fire(both once per long rest), there’s not much more to this choice. But, again, Faerie Fire aids the Rogue in basically spotlighting an enemy and giving said Rogue advantage. Pretty Useful.
Hobgoblin of the Fey
Yes, I said Hobgoblin. Now, although I think this to be sort of a wasted slot, they bring some interesting options.
Although they are medium, do not fly and are humanoid, not fey, they do have the fey ancestry. This is the typical advantage to saving throws to being or breaking charmed spells. They also get a typical Hobgoblin plus to attack rolls and ability checks as this race is self-conscious about failing in front of their peers and otherwise. And you get this bump equal to your proficiency bonus.
Then we come to Fey Gift that gives you the Help Action as a Bonus Action the number of times equal to your proficiency modifier. Now this is already a bonus in that it’s a bonus action, but it also highlights a little used ability. Now, I’m about sure you can’t help an ability check of a party member or distract an opponent AND pull off one of the three cool ‘gifts’. But even if you drop the three listed below and simply use the Help action as a Bonus action, you can aid your Rogue or whomever by distracting your opponent and giving them advantage.
But that’s not the intended use of this gift of help actions. There are three add-ons given. One gives you and a target extra HP. Another gives you both bonus movement. And the last on is where I have questions. When you assist another with a help action and they hit an attack, that creature has disadvantage on an attack roll made within a minute of the former hit. SO, maybe we can distract and pull one of the three at the same time? I’m asking Sage Advice even as I’m writing this article, so we’ll see.
I saved the best for last: Rabbitfolk. These creatures are as nimble and quick as they’re supposed to be.
First of all, this racial option is given something I haven’t seen in all of 5E: the ability to add your proficiency bonus to your initiative. It’s called ‘Hare-Trigger’ (nice one Wotc) and could give your character the ‘jump’ on its opponent. On top of this, they get proficiency in Perception which makes them quick of mind and eye as well as foot.
They have ‘Lucky Footwork’ where they can add their proficiency bonus to a failed Dexterity check. And a “Rabbit Hop’ that gives them a D12 jump in the middle of their move action.
I’m thinking a Rabbitfolk Monk with a boost to Dexterity, obviously.
IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU START
True to the new paradigm, Wotc has shied away from giving these options concrete Ability Score Increases; instead leaving this up to the player and/or DM. I can’t say I hate this move. This way you could bump the Rabbitfolk’s Strength a +2 and go Barbarian. Or maybe give a +2 to the Owlfolk and go wizard. I’m a fan of options and, boy, doesn’t this give us options.
Basically, you chose either one attribute to give a +2 and one a +1 OR just give three attributes a +1. I intend to play with this concept some and see what can come of it.
So that’s it. Some real unique options. And, although they’re just playtest material, I see a lot of moves in the right direction. As stated above, these are far more flavor rich than, say, the Aarakocra and the Arviel. But both of these were published in a adventure supliment and an early UA. So, I think we can see a progression of Wotc’s evolution in 5E that is both favorable and promising.