This week, Wizards of the Coast released their newest Unearthed Arcana (pre-released rulesets intended as a reception and beta test before official publication). The last was a collection of options from Spelljammer and Dragonlance, anticipating the announcement of official supplements for those settings later on.
This release, Giant Options, doesn’t really hint at a future setting release. Instead, it’s a collection of subclasses and feats inspired by the lore and abilities of giants in the Forgotten Realms.
Giant Options Subclasses
What it Includes
Giant Options includes 3 subclasses.
Barbarian: Path of the Giant
A barbarian subclass that allows you to grow in size and channel the elemental abilities of the giants, powered by the primordial forces that they spring from.
Druid: Circle of the Primeval
A druid subclass that emphasizes the ancient nature of the giants, focusing on summoning the spirit of a long-extinct creature as a massive companion and ally in combat.
A wizard subclass that revolves around the drawing and invocation of giant runes to channel the magic of the primordial.
What Stands Out
Despite all being inspired by the same species, the subclasses presented here have a good variety of abilities and character types. Instead of emphasizing size changes and becoming a giant in each one, druids and wizards take inspiration from the lore and history of the race.
They’re all pretty powerful as well, and have abilities which make them strongest in one-to-one combat, instead of area-of-effect (AOE) abilities. They’re also great for players who like options and variety in their playstyle, giving you a variety of effects at their higher levels (or a variety of effects to choose from).
What Needs Work
For the most part, my problems with these subclasses comes down to wanting more specific wording about how each feature works. Here are a few specific questions and concerns that I have:
- If you are activating a feature that has a list of effects (like Scourge of the Ancients) are you selecting one of the effects to apply, or are you applying all of them? The latter might be a little overpowered.
- When you become Large or Giant while raging, does your armor class (AC) change accordingly? Larger creatures generally have lower ACs, since they are much easier to hit.
- The ability to change your elemental damage type with a bonus action feels a little bit overpowered since it allows you to circumvent some fairly common tactics and spells for granting resistances within a single turn. I would prefer if you selected the elemental damage type for the duration of your rage.
- The Primeval Companion is especially powerful, combining the abilities of both familiars and animal companions. It’s also much more powerful and effective than Wild Shape. This is fine, except that, unlike both of those, it can be resummoned during a single combat, exponentially multiplying its effective hit points if a druid forgoes Wild Shaping of their own (which they are likely to do, as its more powerful). I would prefer the ability to be limited to once per short rest. That way you can bring it back after a combat for the next one, but not during the same combat.
- Do the Scourge of the Ancients benefits all apply, or do you choose one? The latter feels a little overpowered, and the former underpowered. I’d hope for better balance on publication.
- How do Runes interact with anti-magic and abjuration spells? Can a rune be counterspelled? Do you lose the ability to use rune abilities if you enter an anti-magic field?
- What exactly makes this giant-specific? There are runes here without elemental inspiration, and plenty of other species use runes other than giants.
Giant Options Feats
What It Includes
Giant Options includes 8 feats.
Learn either druidcraft or Thaumaturgy, and grant yourself an elemental-inspired ability for a single turn.
Gain several benefits of Large or Giant sized creatures, including proficiencies, carrying capacity, and resistance to being knocked prone, while maintaining your normal size.
Rune Carver Apprentice/Adept
Draw runes to temporarily learn a variety of spells. The number of runes you can draw goes up if you later take the Adept version of the feat.
Abilities of the Elemental Giants (collection of various feats)
Resist damage of an elemental type, and gain an additional ability inspired by a particular species of giant.
These include: Ember of the Fire Giant, Fury of the Frost Giant, Guile of the Cloud Giant, Keenness of the Stone Giant, Soul of the Storm Giant, and Vigor of the Hill Giant.
What Stands Out
I am always excited for more feats in 5e DnD. I’m of the opinion that 5e greatest weakness in comparison to older editions is the lack of customizability (you get only 4 or 5 major choices to make when building your character, and most of those are done early on in initial creation or at a maximum of 3rd level for subclass), which an increase in the number of feats helps alleviate somewhat.
And these are pretty good! The Abilities of the Elemental Giants features really specialize your character into excelling a specific environment, while Elemental Touched, Rune Carver, and Outsized Might are more general, and grant you a variety of benefits when you take them.
I also appreciate that the Rune Carver Adept feat as the Apprentice feat as a prerequisite – feat-trees and buildable playstyles are a lot of fun if you’re willing to be patient!
What Needs Work
My only real complaint with the feats is that none of them allow small creatures to wield heavy weapons without disadvantage. That disadvantage limits the effectiveness of any small character trying to use a number of feats, which is a restriction that feels out-of-place in 5e, which mostly tries to allow any class/race combo to be playable.
Let halflings wield greataxes!
Have you played with any of these additions yet? Do you disagree with any of my thoughts/questions/concerns? What do you think about them? Let us know in the comments below!