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Dungeons & Dragons’ new free playtest subclasses let you make a pact with a genie

My wish is your command.

The latest Dungeons & Dragons Unearthed Arcana - which covers work-in-progress content that can be tested out by players - has added four new subclasses for 2020, including: a bestial barbarian, a merciful monk, a paladin who specialises in beating up extraplanar creatures and a warlock who has made a pact with a genie.

All material included as part of D&D Unearthed Arcana - whether that’s mechanics or lore - is in draft form and free to download. So while it’s usable, it has not been finalised and is not an official part of the game - although it may be eventually.

First up, there’s the Path of the Beast Barbarian - a beefy fighter who can do extra damage by going into a rage. They draw their power from a deeply-held bestial power. The source can originate from anything, but suggested examples include a werewolf or a fey spirit - among others.

As such, you are able to literally sprout claws, mandibles, a tail or a snout when rampaging. You'll pick one of the previous options each time you go into a rage, transforming you into a beastly shape. At level 6, you’ll be able to call on the feral spirit for wild new abilities which include breathing under water, getting a souped up jump, or being able to climb upside down on ceilings.

Beyond level 10, you can curse a target with a rabid fury that can force them to either make an attack or to take a nasty chunk of psychic damage. Meanwhile, ability Call the Hunt grants your allies reckless attack and extra temporary hit points.

Next, there’s the Way of Mercy Monk subclass - effectively a grim healing monk. They’ve learnt to manipulate the life force of others. You might have picked up your powers as part of a religious commune, or maybe you are a masked bringer of “macabre mercies”. You can pick your own creepy mask too, with suggestions including a raven head or a laughing visage.

As well as learning proficiency with wisdom-based skills and a range of kits that can heal or poison, you’ll also be able to use ki points - the monk’s additional power points - to heal or inflict necrotic damage. At later levels you’ll be able to create a toxic miasma, end conditions like poison and potentially keep any creature in a state of suspended animation.

Meanwhile, a new paladin subclass is also available to playtest. Known as the Oath of the Watchers Paladin, folks who take this oath are sworn to protect our realm from the extraplanar creatures that live beyond the stars - like djinn, titans and elementals. As part of the deal, you swear to be vigilant of otherworldly threats, loyal to the cause and disciplined.

You’ll get to pick from a list of specialised spells - as is usual with any sacred oath a paladin takes. In addition, as part of your channel divinity, you can castigate unworldly beings - including fey, fiends and aberrations - and also have powers that can give your party advantages on a myriad of different saving throws.

Later level features will grant you extra initiative, nasty reaction damage and at level 20, truesight and advantage on all attacks against your otherworldly foes.

Last but not least, is the Noble Genie Warlock - a warlock that has made pact with a genie. Among all the types of genie, the noble kind are one of the rarest. Genies come in all types of elements; for example, an efreeti is bonded to fire, while a marid controls the foamy deeps. These entities rule over parts of the Elemental Planes and wield influence over elementals. While all have their own unique motications, they are ultimately always collectors: whether that’s knowledge, creatures or just straight up treasure. Odds are, the genie will want you to expand their collection somehow.

A warlock pact with a genie will grant you a range of strange spells that screw with reality, like sleep and polymorph. They’ll also give you a magical vessel with which you can bind a creature - adding more to that cursed menagerie. Unsurprisingly, one suggestion for the form this takes is a lamp. You’ll also be able to use this to tether unsuspecting creatures to you, which will net you a few bonuses.

Among other spells, the 10th level Genie’s Entertainment is particularly fun. It lets you send a creature you can see to your genie’s court in the Elemental Planes. While there, the target is stunned and your patron marvels at it. They won’t harm it, but it’ll definitely amuse them - capricious entity that they are.

If you’re still getting to grips with Dungeons & Dragons, take a gander at how to get started with Dungeons & Dragons 5E as a player and what to buy if you want to play Dungeons & Dragons 5E.

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