Player’s Handbook Playtest 6: Play the Revised Monk, Druid, and 5 Other Classes

This month, we’re releasing the biggest packet of Unearthed Arcana materials to date. Player’s Handbook Playtest 6 revises seven classes (yes, including the monk!) and introduces new subclasses, including the bard’s College of Dance. 

You can jump right into the playtest materials or click below for highlights on key changes you’ll find in this UA, and insights from Jeremy Crawford, Game Architect of Dungeons & Dragons.

What to Expect in Unearthed Arcana Moving Forward 

To now, the playtest materials you’ve seen for the 2024 Player’s Handbook have represented an experimentation phase. We’ve made big swings in these playtest packets to see what resonates with players and to help us home in on the best ways to improve upon the 2014 Player’s Handbook

Now, we’re moving into a refinement phase. “This is the first Unearthed Arcana in the series that represents a lot of refinement based on the playtest feedback we have been receiving previously in this series,” said Crawford. “Now we’re really focusing on refining those things that are going to end up in the 2024 version of the Player’s Handbook.” 

You may have noticed that some class features from the 2014 Player's Handbook have been absent in previous playtest packets. As we move toward our goal of finalizing player options, you can expect to see a return of these features in this and future playtests. 

Class Changes in Player’s Handbook Playtest 6

Player’s Handbook Playtest 6 updates seven classes: the bard, cleric, druid, monk, paladin, ranger, and rogue. The following table highlights some of the bigger revisions to these classes. Below that, we discuss a few overarching changes you’ll notice across these classes.

Player’s Handbook Playtest 6: Class Revision Highlights 




  • Choose a spell list (Arcane, Divine, or Primal) as your bard spell list at 1st level 
  • New College of Dance subclass 
  • Power word heal and power word kill are always prepared with new capstone 


  • Specialize at 1st level with the Divine Order feature and at 7th level with Blessed Strikes
  • Redesigned Divine Intervention feature is more reliable and requires less DM fiat


  • New Wild Shape is a bonus action, requires you to prepare forms from Beast stat blocks, and allows you to speak
  • Convert Wild Shape uses into spell slots, and vice versa
  • New Circle of the Sea subclass and redesigned Circle of the Land and Circle of the Moon


  • Damage die increase on Martial Arts, plus brand-new class features, including ability to catch ranged spell attacks
  • Redesigned Warrior of the Elements, overhauled Warrior of Shadow, and updated Warrior of the Hand
  • Weapon Mastery feature added


  • Divine Smite is now a spell, most smite spells are paladin-exclusive, and some have been updated
  • Use Lay on Hands as a bonus action
  • Faithful Steed feature grants the find steed spell, and the spell has been improved
  • Weapon Mastery feature added


  • Deft Explorer is now a standard feature
  • Hunter’s mark only works on first attack that hits, but damage scales with spell slot level
  • Conjure barrage is now a ranger-exclusive spell and works with melee weapons
  • Redesigned Beast Master subclass
  • Weapon Mastery feature added


  • Trade Sneak Attack damage for effects that hamper foes with Cunning Strike 
  • Steady Aim is now a standard feature 
  • Weapon Mastery feature added 

Subclass Progression Reverted to 2014 Player’s Handbook

Subclass features follow the same level progression as they do in the 2014 Player’s Handbook, meaning classes will look more like what you’re used to from the 2014 Player’s Handbook. “It was a fun experiment to see how it would work if every class proceeded through their subclass levels at the same time, but that exploration was causing some ripple effects that were then causing other problems in certain classes,” Crawford explained. 

However, there is one exception: Subclasses still kick in at 3rd level across the board. 

Weapon Mastery Added to New Classes

Introduced in the previous UA, the Weapon Mastery feature and Mastery weapon properties were a huge hit, so we’re continuing to playtest them. The following classes get the Weapon Mastery feature in Player’s Handbook Playtest 6: monk, paladin, ranger, and rogue. 

Additionally, the War Domain cleric can access the Mastery property for one weapon. 

Epic Boons No Longer a Capstone Feature

Epic Boon feats are taking a backseat in this playtest packet. Feedback shows that while players enjoy them, Epic Boons aren’t a good substitute for class-specific features at 20th level. So, we’ve brought back capstone class features and, in some cases, introduced new ones. We’ll explore Epic Boons more in a later playtest. 


A Prismari student manipulates the elementals as they dance

The bard is beloved for its flexibility and ability to be a jack-of-all-trades. This can manifest in their features that allow them to pluck spells from other spells lists or mimic some of the martial prowess of other classes. The updated bard in Player’s Handbook Playtest 6 leans into this theme in a big way, in addition to introducing the new College of Dance subclass and updating the College of Glamour, College of Lore, and College of Valor. 

Choose Your Spell List

At 1st level, you’ll decide whether your bard will prepare spells from the Arcane, Divine, or Primal spell list. This choice will reflect the source of your magic and can reflect who your bard was before ever adventuring. 

Will you be a bard who found joy in nature and now plays their flute to command swarms of wild animals to attack their enemies? Or did you grow up among nobles and learn to deceive and enchant your way into power? Perhaps you danced in your youth at a temple and found that your art could not only inspire others but heal them of mortal wounds? 

No matter how you approach them, bards are now more flexible than ever. “Bards are all about using whatever tools are available to them to entertain people, to mess with their enemies, and to bolster their friends,” said Crawford. That’s especially true when you get Magical Secrets, which returns to 10th level and allows you to prepare spells from the Arcane, Divine, and Primal spell lists. 

The College of Dance, or Inspiring Your Own Flash Mob

Player’s Handbook Playtest 6 introduces the College of Dance, a new bard subclass that reflects the power in movement. 

“This is a subclass we’ve wanted to do for a long time because dance is an important type of performance,” said Crawford, adding that key features allow the bard to excel at unarmed strikes, maneuver others around the battlefield, and even boost people’s Initiative rolls.

And before you ask, yes, you absolutely get Otto’s irresistible dance.  

Bardic Inspiration Lasts Longer and Is More Reliable

Gone are the days when bards inspire others who either don’t need it or bumble around too long to make use of it. Bardic Inspiration now lasts for 1 hour, rather than 10 minutes, and is used in response to a failed d20 test. You’ll also find the healing aspect we previously tested on Bardic Inspiration has been removed, as it encouraged resource hoarding, which goes against our intended design. 

Font of Inspiration is also back at 5th level, but with an additional perk. You can trade spell slots for additional uses of Bardic Inspiration. Now your friends will never hear the end of how amazing they are. 

New Capstone Feature: Words of Creation

Bards are often masters of the spoken word, and now they can do their best Black Bolt impression—or simply guffaw their allies’ wounds away. With the 20th-level feature Words of Creation, you’ll always have power word heal and power word kill at the ready, and when you use it, you can target two creatures at once. 

This Unearthed Arcana also includes a new version of power word heal. It functions now as a ranged spell, bringing it in line with the other power word spells


The cleric got high marks in surveys following Player’s Handbook Playtest 5, so you won’t find sweeping changes to the class here. Rather, we’re fine-tuning the cleric by offering you more autonomy in how you build them, and making Divine Intervention more of a sure thing. 

Divine Order and Blessed Strikes Allow You to Better Customize Your Build

Formerly known as Holy Order, Divine Order has been moved from 2nd to 1st level. The feature allows you to specialize your cleric by either granting you martial weapon proficiency and heavy armor training, or an additional cantrip and a bonus to Intelligence (Religion) checks. 

This decision was previously built into the cleric’s subclasses. Now, you get to make that choice independent of them. “This an example of us taking something that previously you had no control over, and we’re now letting you decide,” said Crawford, pointing to the 7th-level feature, Blessed Strikes, as another example of this. The feature allows you to decide whether your weapon attacks or Divine cantrips will deal more damage. 

Divine Intervention Doesn’t Require Dungeon Master Input

We’ve received a lot of feedback on Divine Intervention in playtests, notably due to its unreliability.  

“Anyone who has used the 2014 version of the feature knows there is not only an element of randomness in whether the cleric’s deity is even listening, but even if you're successful on your roll, there's a ‘Mother, may I?’ interaction with the DM on the form in which that intervention takes,” said Crawford. 

With this in mind, this UA introduces new versions of Divine Intervention and Greater Divine Intervention. At 10th level, Divine Intervention allows you to cast a Divine spell of 5th level or lower that doesn’t require a reaction without burning a spell slot or needing material components. Raise dead, anyone? 

Greater Divine Intervention at 20th level goes much further, allowing you to cast wish

The Trickery Domain Is Less Tricky to Play

Be sure to check out how we’ve updated the following subclasses: Life Domain, Light Domain, Trickery Domain, and War Domain. Changes to the Trickery Domain’s Invoke Duplicity feature require a callout, as it now works more smoothly. It can be used as a bonus action and it no longer requires concentration, for example. 


There’s a lot to explore with the druid in this playtest. You’ll find new class features, a new version of Wild Shape, the brand-new Circle of the Sea subclass, plus two enhanced subclasses, the Circle of the Moon and the Circle of the Land. 

“One of the things that we’re exploring throughout this version of the druid is fully supporting either the Wild Shape-focused druid or the spellcasting-focused druid,” said Crawford. One of the best ways of seeing this in action is by checking out the Primal Order and Elemental Fury class features. 

Primal Order and Elemental Fury Allow More Customization

Similar to how the cleric’s Divine Order and Blessed Strikes features offer you more opportunities to build your character as you want, the druid gets two features that take you down different build paths. 

The 1st-level feature Primal Order allows you to either lean more into the spellcasting aspect of a druid and boost your Intelligence (Nature) checks or pick up martial weapon proficiency and medium armor training. The latter choice is important for Circle of the Moon druids, as they can now choose to use either their own Armor Class (AC) or that of their beast form’s while in Wild Shape. 

At 7th level, Elemental Fury gives you a similar decision to make. You’ll choose between two options, Potent Spellcasting and Primal Strike. The former boosts the damage dealt by your cantrips, and the latter allows you to deal extra damage once per turn while using a weapon or making an attack in Wild Shape. 

Wild Shape Refines the 2014 Version

“Looking at the playtest feedback, it was clear that even though many people loved the new version of the druid that appeared in the previous druid playtest, there were more people who wanted the version of Wild Shape that they had in 2014,” said Crawford. “So, what we've done is taken the 2014 version of Wild Shape and refined it.” 

Here are key changes: 

  • Wild Shape only requires a bonus action. 
  • You’ll use Beast stat blocks for your forms. 
  • You’ll know a select number of Wild Shape forms but can swap one out at the end of each long rest. 
  • You can speak even while in Wild Shape form. 
  • You no longer get a separate pool of hit points based on your form, but you can remain in Wild Shape as long as you aren’t incapacitated or die. 

You’ll also find that the druid’s 5th-level feature, Wild Resurgence, allows you to expend spell slots in order to get additional uses of Wild Shape, and vice versa. “This is a design theme we’ve been exploring for years,” Crawford explained. “It’s something you can see in the druid subclasses in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything—using Wild Shape uses to do something other than turning into a beast.”

A gray wolf with a bloody mouth

Circle of the Moon Leans Into Its Lunar Themes

On the subject of Wild Shape, the Circle of the Moon subclass was updated, not only to better suit its name but also to account for the changes to Wild Shape. 

Here are a few things you’ll notice as a Circle of the Moon druid: 

  • You can choose whether to keep your AC or use your new form’s AC when you Wild Shape. 
  • You gain temporary hit points whenever you Wild Shape. 
  • You can cast abjuration spells in Wild Shape form so long as it doesn’t require a material component. 
  • You always have moonbeam prepared and you can cast it without material components while in Wild Shape form. 

You’ll find features such as Improved Circle Forms and Moonlight Step make you feel more like a druid that’s empowered by the moon. 

Circle of the Sea Brings in a New Type of Druid

Over the years, we’ve noticed that the druid’s subclasses were missing one key thing: a circle based on the oceans. Player’s Handbook Playtest 6 introduces the Circle of the Sea, which offers always-prepared spells such fog cloud, lightning bolt, and ice storm

The subclass not only prepares you for the dangers of the open waters but also allows you to emulate the storms that bring ruin to ships.  


An orc monk fights two goblins in burning town.

We’re delighted to show off changes to the monk in Player’s Handbook Playtest 6. Not only do we address the class’s lagging damage, but we bring in a new feature that has long been requested, and update subclasses, notably the Way of the Four Elements (now known as the Warrior of the Elements). 

Like several other classes in this UA, the monk also gets Weapon Mastery at 1st level, allowing you to explore new tactical combos. 

Monks Now Punch Harder

For quite some time, we have been concerned about the monk’s damage output relative to other classes. This UA, we’re giving the class a damage buff. Martial Arts die progression is up one die across the board, up to a maximum d12 at 17th level. 

Catch Fire Bolts, and More!

An oft-requested feature is for the monk to be able to deflect and redirect more than just projectiles like arrows. Now, we’re giving you the option to take greater control of the battlefield by allowing you to punch, kick, and headbutt away any ranged attack, including ranged spell attacks. 

Deflect Energy is a new 13th-level monk feature that upgrades Deflect Missile. It replaces the Tongue of the Sun and Moon feature, which was one of the lowest-rated monk features. 

So go ahead, catch that eldritch blast and show Cthulhu who’s boss. 

“It’s super fun, super cinematic, and really leans into the monk having this fine control not only of themselves but the battlefield,” explained Crawford. “That fine control is a theme here. It’s why we now call their main resource discipline points, because monks are all about this self-discipline that allows them to pull off these supernatural effects.” 

Other Changes to Base Features

The monk sees a lot of other changes to its class features. 

Step of the Wind now combines the Dash and Disengage actions, for example, and Empowered Strikes (formerly Ki-Empowered Strikes) allows you to deal force damage with your unarmed strikes. 

In addition to Deflect Energy, you’ll find a few other new features, including a new capstone for the monk. 

Warrior of the Elements Lets You Tap Into the Elemental Planes

The Warrior of the Elements subclass reimagines the Way of the Four Elements, the lowest-rated subclass found in the 2014 Player’s Handbook

“We completely went back to the drawing board,” said Crawford, noting that one of the main challenges of the Way of the Four Elements was the cost of their features. These high costs often left players with little more to do than make standard attacks against enemies once their resources were expended. In contrast, we found that monks of other subclasses, which see their points go further, were able to continue to make use of their distinctive features throughout the adventuring day. 

The Warrior of the Elements addresses this with less-expensive features that enhance their unarmed strikes, extend their reach, and even create explosions of elemental energy. We hope that you’ll find this subclass can stand side by side with other monk subclasses while creating a new and delightful play experience. 

Warrior of Shadow Refines What You Already Love

The Warrior of the Hand (formerly Way of the Open Hand) sees an update in this playtest packet, but the Warrior of Shadow is worth a callout here. Formerly known as the Way of Shadow, this UA redesigns the Shadow Arts feature, among other things. 

You can now cast darkness using fewer discipline points, can see through the effect, and can even move the field of darkness around. This gives the monk more flexibility to use the darkness spell as a tactical advantage. 


The paladin in the previous UA was well-received, so we’re looking to refine and improve upon what you saw there. For one, the class picks up Weapon Mastery, which gives the class additional tactical opportunities, and the Oath of Devotion, Oath of Glory, Oath of the Ancients, and Oath of Vengeance subclasses have seen tweaks. 

But the focal point for the paladin in this playtest is changes to Divine Smite (now Paladin’s Smite) and the class’s suite of smite spells. 

Smite Foes in More Ways, More Often

At 2nd level, the Divine Smite feature has been replaced with Paladin’s Smite. This feature ensures you always have a suite of smite spells prepared. In fact, by 17th level, you’ll have all but two of the smite spells prepared at all times. Aside from searing smite and wrathful smite, all smite spells have also become paladin-exclusive. 

Further, paladins could previously cast one of their Oath spells without expending a spell slot once per day. But that’s changed here. “We’ve now instead moved that free casting into the Paladin’s Smite feature. The reason we’ve done that is, we put the free casting in Oath spells because paladins use so many of their spell slots on smites. We realized that rather than putting this feature in every subclass, we could just put it once in the base class,” Crawford explained. 

Divine Smite Is Now a Spell

Divine Smite has always been the paladin’s bread-and-butter for damage. In this playtest, we’re turning the feature into a spell that is available under the new Paladin’s Smite feature. This new spell will also bring back the bonus damage to Fiends and Undead. 

Why the change? Feedback has shown that people wish the various smite effects worked in a more consistent way. By tweaking the various smite spells and bringing divine smite into the family, we can now offer a menu of smite options together.  

Lay on Hands Is a Bonus Action

We heard through playtest feedback that players wish they could interweave attacks and Lay on Hands. So, we’re seeing how Lay on Hands performs as a bonus action rather than as an action. 

Customize Your Mount with Find Steed

The quintessential spell for mounted paladins, find steed, is seeing changes in Player’s Handbook Playtest 6. Not only do paladins always have it prepared starting at 5th level, but the spell itself only takes an action to cast and gives you options for customizing your mount. 

When you cast the spell, you’ll choose whether your steed is a Celestial, Fey, or Fiend. Your choice affects the particular bonus action your steed will be able to take. The Celestial steed, for example, can use a bonus action once per long rest to heal another creature, while a Fey steed can teleport itself, along with its rider, up to 60 feet. 

A nightmare with a flaming mane rears


The ranger wins the award for most improved class, but that doesn’t mean we’re done refining it. Like other classes found here, the ranger now receives Weapon Mastery at 1st level. This new feature replaces cantrips for our favorite survivalists. We’re also testing out Deft Explorer—which replaces Expertise at 1st level—an updated Favored Enemy, as well as the new Beast Master subclass, plus changes to the Gloom Stalker and Hunter subclasses. 

Be a True Survivalist With Deft Explorer

The Deft Explorer feature is a nod to a feature of the same name that appears in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. It replaces the Expertise feature at 1st level but includes Expertise for one skill in addition to granting bonuses to Intelligence (Nature) and Wisdom (Survival) in two types of terrains. (You can swap out one of these terrains after each long rest.) 

This latter benefit brings in more of the flavor of the 2014 ranger—which was requested—but in a way that can be used more broadly. 

Hunter’s Mark Deals More Damage, But Less Often

Hunter’s mark is now ranger-exclusive and deals more damage if you use a higher-level spell slot to cast it. The damage from the spell only triggers once per turn now, however. 

“We've known for quite some time that hunter's mark, if its extra damage is exploited too many times on a turn, it actually causes it to be more powerful than it should be for a 1st-level spell. We made a similar change to the hex spell in the previous Unearthed Arcana.” 

Conjure Barrage Is Now Ranger-Exclusive

When you’re playing a ranger, there are few things more exciting than bombarding enemies with an impossible number of attacks. Conjure barrage, now a ranger-exclusive spell, is always prepared once you hit 9th level, and it now works with melee weapons and deals more damage. 

“I think rangers are going to have a lot of fun using it to spray magical blades or arrows or whatever their weapon of choice is across the battlefield,” said Crawford. 

Beast Master, Gloom Stalker, and Hunter See Updates

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced alternative versions of beast companions for the Beast Master subclass, which modified the Beast Master. In this UA, we unveil changes to the rest of the subclass. 

The Gloom Stalker from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything also sees enhancement in this playtest, but you’ll find bigger changes for the Hunter subclass. “The main feedback we got on the new version of the Hunter was that people wanted to see some of the feature options return that appeared in 2014,” said Crawford. Although we’ve done that here, we’ve avoided options from the 2014 ranger that were suboptimal. 


A thief in a cloak holds a lyre aloft as they leap from a tower chased by a monster.

With subclass leveling progression reverting to the 2014 standard, the rogue has room to explore some new features. In Player’s Handbook Playtest 6, you’ll find ways rogues can spend Sneak Attack damage dice to add effects to their attacks. They also gain Weapon Mastery at 1st level. 

We also revisit the Arcane Trickster, Assassin, Swashbuckler, and Thief subclasses.  

Expend Sneak Attack Die to Hamper Foes

Rogues now get Weapon Mastery at 1st level, but that’s just one new toy they have for combat. The 5th-level feature Cunning Strike and the 14th-level feature Devious Strikes allow rogues to forgo one or more Sneak Attack dice to add hampering effects to their attacks. 

“You could forgo 1d6 of your Sneak Attack damage to knock someone prone or to poison them,” Crawford explained. “It in play has been fantastic, because there are times where … it’s far more advantageous to use your Sneak Attack to knock a person down.” 

One of the most exciting effects is the Devious Strikes option to knock a target unconscious for 1 minute, allowing you to more easily live out your fantasy of playing a thieving rogue who isn’t interested in killing their way to treasures. 

Fans of the Arcane Trickster will also discover fun interactions between Cunning Strike and their mage hand

Assassins More Reliably Able to Assassinate Targets

The 2014 Assassin subclass faced a big challenge: getting opportunities to trigger the benefits of the Assassinate feature. This UA introduces a new version of Assassinate. It now grants advantage on Initiative rolls, and you no longer need to surprise your target to deal extra damage—just act in combat before them. The attack is no longer an automatic critical, however. Instead, you’ll deal bonus damage equal to your rogue level. 

Another challenge facing the 2014 Assassin subclass is more thematic. They gain proficiency in the poisoner’s kit, but their features don't make use of it. That’s changed in this UA, with the new Assassin now able to deal additional poison damage when using the Poison option of Cunning Strike. 

The Thief Is More Handy

The Thief subclass has a few updates in this UA, the most notable being for the Fast Hands feature. You can now use a magic item as a bonus action, so long as the item’s normal activation requires an action. Drink a potion as a bonus action or use a wand of fireballs to deal some serious damage in a pinch. 

Your Feedback Matters

A mechanized library assistant with four arms pulls books and scrolls from bookshelves

Whether you’re casually reading through Unearthed Arcana, theorycrafting new character builds based on it, or taking these materials straight into your games, your feedback is paramount to the 2024 core rulebooks.

The best way to get us your feedback are the UA surveys we regularly release. Keep an eye out in the future for a survey on this particular playtest packet. When the survey opens, let us know what you dislike, and if you love something, tell us why!

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Michael Galvis (@michaelgalvis) is a tabletop content producer for D&D Beyond. He is a longtime Dungeon Master who enjoys horror films and all things fantasy and sci-fi. When he isn’t in the DM’s seat or rolling dice as his anxious halfling sorcerer, he’s playing League of Legends and Magic: The Gathering with his husband. They live together in Los Angeles with their adorable dog, Quentin.


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