Unearthed Arcana — Class Feature Variants remains the gift that keeps on giving this week. We took a look at the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons ranger a few days ago with an eye towards creating a spellcaster focused ranger character and had a lot of fun exploring those ideas. So while Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discuss the drunken tactician character build for Adventurers League over on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel, I’m going to dive back into Unearthed Arcana and see what we’ve got available there for this character concept. More fighter tactics? More monk drunkenness? Let’s get into it and find out.
Unearthed Arcana Drunken Tactician for 5E D&D
Fighters and monks got some nifty character class feature variants in the most recent Unearthed Arcana playtest material. In both cases, the variants are all enhancements, not replacements. This means if you’re including all of this Unearthed Arcana content in your games we don’t have to swap out any class features from the fighter or monk. Instead, we’re only going to enhance what we’ve already got. And we know all that from our Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and the video.
What new toys are we playing with?
There’s a lot to work with here! Fighters get a new Fighting Style, Superior Technique. Now fighters with any Martial Archetype can learn a Battle Master maneuver, adding a bit of flair with a special technique a fighter can bring to bear against opponents. Since our Drunken Tactician leans heavily into their maneuvers already, I’d definitely swap this Fighting Style for the Dueling choice. And since the Unearthed Arcana presents seven new maneuvers, there’s some tasty options. Bait and Switch sounds like a fun one for our drunken tactician.
“Bait and Switch.When you’re within 5 feet of an ally on your turn, you can expend one superiority die and switch places with that ally, provided you spend at least 5 feet of movement. This movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks. Roll the superiority die. Until the start of your next turn, the ally gains a bonus to AC equal to the number rolled.”
Next up, the fighter gets Maneuver Versatility and holy moley we’re really cooking now. A fighter who knows any maneuvers can replace one with a different one after a long rest. Yes, please. With enough long rests our drunken tactician could completely change their loadout of maneuvers, and along the way shake things up one maneuver at a time.
Then we come to the new maneuvers. Ambush, Bait and Switch, Brace, Restraining Strike, Silver Tongue, Snipe and Studious Eye offer some unorthodox options. Any of these would fit thematically with our drunken tactician character. One of the inspirations for the character is Jackie Chan, and I can totally see this character using any of these tactics to simulate Jackie’s unique fighting style in movies like not only the Drunken Master series but also films like First Strike.
From start to finish, Unearthed Arcana — Class Feature Variants gives our drunken tactician a stupefying array of new options on the fighter side of things.
Not as robust as the Unearthed Arcana fighter enhancements, but still there’s four new class features to make our drunken tactician more versatile. I would make one little tweak to really push the flavor of this character concept over the edge.
“Monk Weapons. You can use this feature to define your monk weapons, rather than using the definition in Martial Arts. You practice your martial arts with specially chosen weapons, which become monk weapons for you. You can choose a number of weapons to be your monk weapons equal to 5 + your Wisdom modifier (minimum of five weapons). The chosen weapons must each meet the following criteria:
• The weapon must be a simple or martial weapon.
• You must be proficient with the weapon.
• The weapon must lack these properties: heavy, special, or two-handed.”
For a drunken tactician character, I’d modify this monk class feature enhancement to say improvised weapons are considered monk weapons, full stop. I like to imagine this character doesn’t carry any traditional weapons at all. Instead, they rely on their Martial Arts and whatever objects happen to be laying around. Now we can really recreate that ladder fight scene from First Strike!
Ki-Fueled Strike is the next Class Feature Variant for monks, and while making one unarmed strike as a bonus action if you spend 1 or more ki as part of your action on your turn doesn’t do much for the Drunken Master specifically, you can do things like use Patient Defense or Step of the Wind and make get an extra strike in there, which is super cool and useful.
Finally there’s two new uses for your monk ki points, and they’re both fantastic — especially with our tweak to Monk Weapons. Whenever your drunken tactician zings an object at an enemy, they can chuck it further without attacking with disadvantage. Turn those tavern plates into deadly long range frisbees! Along with Distant Eye, you’ll pick up Quickened Healing. Now you can take a swig from your wine jug and spend 2 ki points to get some liquid courage in the form of healing! (That’s how I’d flavor it anyway.)
What do you think? Are you ready to mash up the Battle Master fighter, Drunken Master monk and Unearthed Arcana — Class Feature Variants to make your drunken tactician turn into Jackie Chan? I love the idea of a character who turns their surroundings into a deadly arsenal! Which new Battle Master maneuvers are your favorites? Do you think making improvised weapons into Monk Weapons is a great idea, or the greatest idea?