The first September for Unearthed Arcana brought a video hosted by Dungeon Life’s Todd Kenrick with an interview from D&D lead designer, Mike Mearls. With the release of the Tomb of Annihilation adventure and the upcoming Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, players and DMs expect a vast plethora of options and ideas during the 2017 Fall/Winter season. This latest playtest will undoubtedly be NOT featured in the upcoming products this winter season by Mearls hopes that the new materials will be received well to be published in a future supplement.
The latest playtest material brings two new player races: the Eladrin from the Feywild and the infamous Gith.
You can find a link to the playtest material here.
You can find a link to Mearl’s video here.
These two races are iconic Dungeons & Dragon’s history, the Eladrin were formally statted and given proper lore at the wake of D&D 4th Edition. The Eladrin are an elf subrace what reside and call the Feywild their home. The Eladrin were loosely statted in the 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, but it was a direct translation over across the editions, which according to Mearls’ video, felt lackluster and did not promote the flavor and style of the race.
The Gith are the infamous race with two philosophical, racial branches who’s history stems from slavery under their Illithid masters. The Gith eventually broke free and rebelled against their psionic oppressors and ultimately won. Their rebellion eventually destroyed the Illithid transdimensional empire to a state that it could never reclaim their former glory. After their newfound freedom, the Gith were split between absolute vengeance and spiritually moving on from their tortured past. This division eventually led the species to separate and create two distinct subraces from the warrior-like Githyanki to the spiritual Githzerai.
The Eladrin – The Four Seasons of the Fey
The Eladrin are elves native in the Feywild, which is generally unpredictable and bursting with magic. Just like the Feywild, the Eladrin are influenced by the chaotic nature of the Feywild. Most tend to be of chaotic alignment, emphasizing personal freedom and artistic passions. Often an Eladrin of Good or Evil alignment is the far extremes of their beliefs, while chaotic neutral ones tend to have a small trace of self-interest.
To represent and express their Feywild heritage, these Eladrin have the capacity to attune to the many seasons within the Feywild. Imagine an Eladrin with golden hair and bronze skin one moment, when they become saddened they shift, and their hair becomes raven-black and their skin-tone to a soft blue. A better analogy would be to compare Eladrin to mood rings, but they gain boons and magical powers when they attune to a particular season.
What I really love about the Eladrin having the ability to shift their personality with the changing season would be the personality and flaw traits that can be either rolled or picked whenever the Eladrin player changes their season.
Unlike the Dungeon Master’s Guide iteration, the Eladrin gain the ability to choose to increase either their Intelligence or Charisma score by 1 while keeping the Elf race’s static Intelligence score boon. In short, say you wanted a bard Eladrin character, the extra one to Charisma is a good way to go.
The Eladrin keep their iconic Fey step ability, which was essentially the reworked misty step spell. The ability functions as the spell and can be used after a short or long rest, which didn’t change from the original write-up in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
The Shifting Seasons feature essentially bestows a cantrip to the Eladrin, but it fluctuates and changes depending on the season that the character is attuned to at the moment. This feature triggers at the end of a short or long rest, which is useful when the player needs to choose a more situationally useful cantrip like friends or minor illusion when needed.
My only qualm with the Eladrin and their seasons is the representation of the seasons. Summer and Winter are fine, Spring is equally appropriately themed but honestly Autumn has the odd one. Autumn is written as the season of peace and goodwill due to the harvest, which is partially true. But Autumn is often associated with fear and mischief as well, to discount that is to ignore centuries of pagan lore. With that in mind, friends as a cantrip should’ve went to the Spring season for it brings joy and why not have a friend to tag along? Autumn makes more sense to have minor illusion if you wish to represent more of the mischevious side which still fits along the joy and goodwill of the harvest season.
The Gith – the Sundered Race
Once the race known as the Gith overthrew their illithid masters, there was a great division between the Gith people. Ultimately, the vision between the two Gith leaders caused the seperation stemmed largely from idelogies. One side was bloodthirsty and wanted to hunt down their illithid overlords as vengeance while the other side thought that such actions would only lead to more bloodshed and sorrow. The story of the Gith are rich and have stemmed into the lore of D&D since their original appearance in the Fiend Folio and the Dark Sun campaign setting.
The Gith inherently have an increase in Intelligence. Githyanki has a definite +2 to Strength scores to emphasize their dedication to combat and war. Since the Githyanki roams the Astral Plane and resides in a timeless city, they have the opportunity acquire a skill proficiency, tool proficiency, and a language. The Githyanki also gain proficiency in medium armor and martial weapons. This makes them great Eldritch Knights though I can easily see Githyanki wizards being something terrifying. If you include the Artificer or the Mystic into the mix, the Githyanki is a synergistic choice. You can have very martial characters with a wide variety of spells and features to make them fearsome. Finally, due to the race’s prolong servitude with the mind flayers, they have some psionic potential. Mage Hand, Jump, and Misty Step are useful spells for a physically centric character, these necessarily focus on movement and having the Githyanki reach their targets or to help escape if necessary.
The Githzerai essentially Gith who tried to suppress and contain their bloodthirst with meditation within the Plane of Limbo, a world of absolute chaos. The Githzerai are the epitome of inner peace. Githerazi gain a +2 bonus to their Wisdom score, making them ideal monks, clerics, druids, and rangers. Due to their monastery training, the Githzerai acquire a bonus to their Armor Class while not wearing armor or using a shield. This bonus actually stacks if the Githzerai character is a monk. It’s a substantial encouragement to play a Githzerai monk, even worthwhile to multiclass.
Since the Githzerai are less prone to violence and aggressive behaviors, their Psionics deal with protection and openness in the form of shield and detect thoughts. Granting the shield spell is a great boon that makes the Githzerai monk a solid tank choice, detect thoughts also allows some interesting social interactions and recon use as well.
Overall, the Gith are well represented from their Monster Manual versions while bringing a fresh approach for players as character options.
The Eladrin overhaul was the most astonishing and enjoyable aspect out of the playtest materials. It reminded me of the Abyssal Tiefling but with less randomness and more player control. I highly encourage watching Disney’s Inside/Out to get some ideas on how to play emotional extremes quickly and readily. It’ll be a lot of fun to roleplay, even I want to play one now. The features for the Shifting Seasons may need some flavor adjustments but overall the idea is solid.
The Gith is splendidly translated from the Monster Manual into a playable race. Dealing with Githzerai pilgrims or exiled Githyankei can be interesting characterizations. The psionic abilities reflect the philosophical attributes of the two subraces well. Both races have features that emphasize a syle of play but honestly there is room for variety for players. A Githzerai wizard can be very engaging, but a Githerzai Mystic is one combination I would love to playtest. Take some time to enjoy these races and find out the cool combinations you can develop in your next campaign or adventure.
But wait, what does all this mean? Mike Mearls said they have been delving into the Feywild lately. Where? The Unearthed Arcana materials have mentioned Feywild materials for a while, could we be seeing a new Feywild supplement in the near future? Could my dreams be coming true? Possibly. We could see a new “Heroes of the Feywild” sort of supplement or perhaps we could see a “Heroes of the Planes” sort of supplement. More options and choices for playing races and classes from the different planes like the Feywild or the four Elemental Planes. The prospect sounds exciting and I love for it to be true. Even better if it was a Planescape supplement, and there have been speculation about more Planescape material since Sigil has never really left the minds of R&D in Wizards of the Coast. Stay tune for more information in the future but in the mean time, let’s just have fun with these ideas.
Again, you can find a link to the playtest material here.
Here is the link to Mearl’s video here.
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Great point about the Autumn season for personality and spell – I’ll scribble that down for when someone wants to play one!