The magic that Dungeons & Dragons 5E characters use is being overhauled in the Unearthed Arcana playtest documents released by Wizards of the Coast ahead of their inclusion in the upcoming 2024 Core Rulebooks. The latest document introduces big changes for the Paladin spell list and a few nice surprises for the other casting classes.
The new Unearthed Arcana article is called Playtest 6 and can be found for free on the D&D Beyond website. This document introduces new subclasses to D&D 5E and modified versions of seven of the base classes. There are also many changes made to the overall rules, all of which you’re encouraged to test out for yourself and submit feedback based on your experiences.
D&D Spells Changed In Unearthed Arcana
Some of these spells have appeared in previous Unearthed Arcana articles, but those iterations are now considered to be out of date. This is how the spells in Playtest 6 have changed compared to their original incarnations from the 2014 Player’s Handbook.
Banishing Smite: This spell can now be used with an Unarmed Strike or a melee weapon attack. The target now receives a Charisma saving throw against its banishing effect, which it didn’t get in the Player’s Handbook.
Blinding Smite: This spell can now be used with an Unarmed Strike or a melee weapon attack. You can now improve the spell’s damage by casting it at a higher level (4d8 with a level 4 slot, 5d8 with a level 5 slot.)
Conjure Barrage: Instead of making copies of the original weapon, the caster now creates spectral weapons that strike the foe. Conjure Barrage now deals 5d8 Force damage, and you can increase the damage by casting it at a higher level.
Conjure Volley: Like Conjure Barrage, this creates spectral weapons rather than copies of the original weapon. The spell now deals 8d8 Force damage (rather than the weapon’s damage type), and the weapon/ammunition used as a component must cost at least one copper piece.
Divine Smite: This was a Paladin class ability in the old Player’s Handbook, and it has been turned into a spell in Unearthed Arcana. This means it can no longer be used with a spell, severely nerfing the Paladin class.
Find Steed: This spells now requires an Action to cast rather than taking ten minutes, and dismissing it only takes a Bonus Action. The spell description now provides stat blocks and special abilities for the different types of steeds. You can also strengthen the steed by casting the spell at a higher level.
Hunter’s Mark: If you cast this spell using a level 3 or 4 slot, it deals 2d6 damage, and if you use a level 5 slot, it deals 3d6 damage.
Power Word Heal: This spell now has a range of 60ft, no longer requires a Somatic component, restores the Dazed condition, and now works on Undead and Constructs.
Power Word Kill: If the monster passes its saving throw, it now takes 12d12 Psychic damage instead of nothing happening.
Searing Smite: This spell can now be used with an Unarmed Strike or a melee weapon attack. The description no longer specifies that an allied creature can extinguish flames.
Staggering Smite: This spell can now be used with an Unarmed Strike or a melee weapon attack. It now inflicts the Stunned condition on a failed save and can have its damage increased to 5d6 by casting it with a level 5 spell slot.
Thunderous Smite: This spell can now be used with an Unarmed Strike or a melee weapon attack. This spell can be cast with a higher-level spell slot to increase its damage by 1d6 per level.
Vicious Mockery: The spell now deals 1d6 Psychic damage instead of 1d4, and its damage range increases by d6s as you level up.
Wrathful Smite: This spell can now be used with an Unarmed Strike or a melee weapon attack. The attack now deals Necrotic damage instead of Psychic, and the foe gets a free saving throw at the end of their turn, rather than needing to spend an Action to attempt the save. This spell can be cast with a higher-level spell slot to increase its damage by 1d6 per level.
New D&D 5E Spells In Unearthed Arcana
The Playtest 6 Unearthed Arcana article features a brand-new Cantrip for the non-Divine spellcasters and an updated version of a Paladin spell that appeared in a previous Unearthed Arcana playtest document.
Elementalism: This is a brand new Cantrip for the Arcane and Primal spell lists. It has four separate effects, each related to one of the four elements:
- Beckon Air: You create a strong breeze within a 5ft cube that can open/shut things that aren’t properly secured.
- Beckon Earth: You create a shroud of dust in a 5ft cube and can make a single word appear as if it were scribbled on a covered surface.
- Beckon Fire: You create a cloud of embers and smoke in a 5ft cube, whose scene lingers for another minute after it goes out.
- Beckon Water: You create a spray of cool mist that dampens everything in a 5ft cube and fill up a single open container with water. This water evaporates a minute later.
Shining Strike (formerly known as Glimmering Strike): This new level 2 smiting spell for Paladins deals 2d6 Radiant damage and has the effects of Faerie Fire rolled into it, as hitting the foe will end the Invisibility condition on them and attacks against them will have Advantage until Shining Strike‘s one-minute duration ends.
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The biggest beneficiaries of the latest Unearthed Arcana were the Bard and the Paladin, especially as the Bard now receives the Power Word Heal and Power Word Kill spells for free at level 20. The changes to Divine Smite and the smiting spells are also a huge improvement in terms of balance, even if Paladin players won’t be happy about the changes made to their massive critical hit rolls.