Newest 5E D&D Unearthed Arcana Conjures Up Folk of the Feywild
Full transparency as I’m getting started with this at least a tiny part of my motivation is seeing if I can publish a post before there’s two or more Nerd Immersion videos on the latest fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons playtest document Unearthed Arcana 2021 — Folk of the Feywild. Like Unearthed Arcana 2021 — Gothic Lineages this one presents new race options for 5E D&D. There’s a lot to unpack including a big detail from the last sentence I wrote. So let’s get into it.
Feywild race options for 5E D&D
I’m a huge fan of fey related stuff whether it’s 5E D&D, another tabletop roleplaying game or just in general. In my games the Feywild is called the Dreaming World and it’s even more fantastical than the Waking World of the Material Plane where most adventurers spend the majority of time. It took nothing more than the title to get me excited about Unearthed Arcana 2021 — Folk of the Feywild. At this time the material is not yet included at D&D Beyond.
Like its predecessor Gothic Lineages this document includes a Design Note sidebar about managing 5E D&D race options with Customizing Your Origin and Custom Lineages found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. I don’t have strong feelings on this topic but it is worth noting the Folk of the Feywild are called race options, which indicates Wizards of the Coast hasn’t completely eliminated the concept from new material. I like to see they’re expanding and building on the previous Design Note rather than removing. This Unearthed Arcana content follows the model that race options in 5E D&D won’t include the Ability Score Increase, Language and Alignment traits — only physical or magical traits like darkvision or innate magical ability. And these Folk of the Feywild are nothing if not magical!
Exactly the sort of purely magical being you might expect this race option absolutely filly a niche many, many 5E D&D players will be thrilled to see. A selection of suggested Fey Characteristics brings to mind the same kind of evocative roleplaying opportunities most post-launch character options include and anything to encourage this kind of imaginative approach without crunchy benefits score a big win in my book.
A Fairy character might be Small but their racial traits leverage this as a feature not a bug with a flying speed, the ability to hover and squeeze through narrow spaces. And you could not ask for more perfect Fairy features than being able to cast druidcraft to their Fey creature type heart’s content and faerie fire once per long rest or with any of their spell slots.
Hobgoblin of the Feywild Feyfolk
I really appreciate how designers Taymoor Rehman, Ari Levitch and Jeremy Crawford approached this one. Hobgoblins are a classic staple of D&D with a default portrayal as a disciplined militant culture. For this race option Unearthed Arcana touches on this portrayal as one interpretation of a greater connection to the Feywild’s rule of reciprocity, which creates a mystical bond between the giver and the receiver of a gift.
In the mechanics department this 5E D&D race option does a terrific job evoking the kind of folklore quality of hobgoblins I dig very much. Gaining a special bonus to a failed attack roll, ability check or saving throw based on the number of nearby allies is super cool but it’s signature Fey Gift puts them over the top. I’m not sure how I feel about gaining a Roguish Archetype’s special feature as a race option but aside from this using the Help action as a bonus action is awesome and they do the Mastermind one better through a variety of additional benefits to their Help action starting at 3rd level.
I must admit a strong bias looking at this one since Humblewood so amazingly captures what I imagine avian feyfolk to be particular as regards owlfolk. Have you seen that adorable illustration? At any rate animal analogous humanoid creatures abound whenever my 5E D&D games wind up in the Dreaming World so owlfolk and the last race option in this Unearthed Arcana batch are just the tip of the iceberg for my taste.
The design of this race option naturally takes inspiration from owls in our own real world so their soundless flight translates into proficiency in the Stealth skill along with a terrific feature to safeguard them from a fall incorporating their flight. But owlfolk also speak to the folklore aspect of owls too and this manifests as the innate ability to see magic via the detect magic spell — but only when they take the time to deeply focus.
One of the sources for a lot of my love of fey things is Changeling: The Dreaming, an RPG by White Wolf way back in the day. In the game one of the character options is a pooka, a shapeshifting Kith with a definitively rabbitlike connection. I already mentioned how I’m totally on board for animal analogous humanoids and for feyfolk in particular this rabbitfolk conjures powerful nostalgia.
The punster in me appreciates this race option’s Hare-Trigger feature giving them proficiency on initiative rolls (whoa!) and Perception proficiency is universally useful. I notice the roll a d4 and add to a failed check of some sort mechanics showing up a lot more often lately, which I’ve noticed gets a bit awkward during play sometimes. It has been for the warlock I play on Tuesday nights who goes all in with her Pact of the Talisman anyway. Rabbitfolk enjoy a similar benefit for failed Dexterity saving throws and of course their jumping power gets a boost too.
Unearthed Arcana 2021 — Folk of the Feywild final thoughts
If it indicates more Feywild content coming down the pike I’m so board for this. Truth be told there’s so much 5E D&D content out there considering official sources, Dungeon Masters Guild products and tremendous amounts of third party material — our own included! — that I don’t get as enthusiastic about new stuff from WotC as I used to. But I’m still a D&D fanboy who loves fey folklore so if they want to put together an entire book of fey content I’m 100% behind the effort.
To some extent the games I run set in the Material Plane take enormous liberties and players probably feel like their characters are in the Feywild already. Staying on top of my Dreaming World game means walking a line between keeping things fresh and cleaving to the old ways so important to feyfolk so I’m always on the lookout for new ingredients to throw into the mix. The Fey Wanderer Ranger Archetype does a great job capturing the tone I dig for this sort of 5E D&D content and I’m on board with the direction it moves with Unearthed Arcana 2021 — Folk of the Feywild.
What do you think? If you haven’t yet checked out Unearthed Arcana 2021 — Folk of the Feywild I recommend seeing what these race options can add to your 5E D&D games and share your thoughts and perspectives. Go get to it and as always, stay nerdy!
*Featured image — The Feywild, also called the Plane of Faerie, is a land of soft lights and wonder, a place of music and death. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]