Bastions and Cantrips: Build a Base and Test Cantrips in This Unearthed Arcana

This October, we’re bringing you a special treat. While we’re continuing to develop and revise public playtesting material for the 2024 Player’s Handbook, we’d thought you’d enjoy an early look at what we’re cooking up for the 2024 Dungeon Master’s Guide.

The coming Dungeon Master’s Guide will be the biggest of its kind in decades and contain an assortment of new tools for DMs and their tables. In Bastions and Cantrips, we’re showcasing one of these tools, the Bastions subsystem. Dungeon Masters and their parties can use this subsystem to build a home, base of operations, or other significant structure for their characters.

And if you’re raring to test out more character options, we’re also including revisions for 10 cantrips in this playtest packet.

Click below for a peek at what’s in Bastions and Cantrips, with insights from Jeremy Crawford, Game Architect of Dungeons & Dragons.

What Is a Bastion?

Artist: Bayard WuA dilapidated manor on an empty street in Waterdeep

A Bastion can be a home, a base of operations, a place of worship, or something else. It offers respite for when you’re in between adventures, offers benefits such as an income stream or magic item crafting, and grows with you as you level up.

Upon hitting 5th level, you can create your own Bastion, and shape and style it to your liking. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to open your own gambling den to swindle nobles or you need a smithy because rust monsters have a nasty habit of finding you. Or maybe you’re just a druid who wants a private garden for communing with bugs and poppy seeds. (I don’t know, I’m an arcane magic kind of guy.)

If you’re keen on having roommates, you can combine Bastions with your party members to form one large property. You’ll each manage your own individual segments of it. But even if you don’t want your own Bastion, you can still benefit from your friends’. Just be prepared to sleep on the couch.

What’s In a Bastion?

Each bastion contains basic and special facilities, as well as hirelings and Bastion Defenders to maintain and protect it. A basic facility is your typical bedroom, kitchen, or courtyard. They present a roleplaying opportunity and help bring your Bastion to life. Special facilities include such things as an Arcane Study, Demiplane, Gaming Hall, or Guildhall, and there are mechanics and benefits built around them.

You’ll pick and choose which facilities are in your Bastion and even determine the size of your rooms and their layout. “One of the wonderful things about the Bastion system is the high level of customizability,” said Crawford, noting that the Unearthed Arcana materials include guidance to mapping out your Bastion.

As to your hirelings and Bastion Defenders, you are free to customize them as much or as little as you’d like. Their pay is also already accounted for, so there’s no need for bookkeeping between sessions.

Expanding Your Bastion

When you first receive your Bastion at 5th level, it will have two special facilities, and you unlock an additional special facility at levels 9, 13, and 17. Certain special facilities have level or class feature requirements, but they never cost gold or time to construct.

Basic facilities function differently. They can be enlarged or added onto your Bastion with time and money; there are no restrictions on how many basic facilities you can have, barring any angry neighbors.

Managing Your Bastion

Artist: Kent DavisPatrons of a tavern cheerily raise their drinks

Bastion Turns and Bastion Points

Every seven days in the game, you get to take a Bastion turn. This when you issue orders to your hirelings to perform one or more tasks. You can issue multiple orders at once, but the orders you can give are largely dependent on which special facilities you have.

For example, if you have the Gaming Hall, you gain access to the Trade order. When you issue this order, your hirelings turn your Gaming Hall into a gambling den that generates revenue for seven days. At the end of those seven days, you can reissue the Trade order to keep the money rolling in.

There’s more to special facilities, though. “The other thing that happens whenever these Bastion turns occur and you issue an order, is you generate currency called Bastion Points,” explained Crawford.

Each type of special facility generates a random amount of Bastion Points, or BP for short. A Gaming Hall generates 1d6 BP each time you issue the Trade order, for example.

BP can be spent in several ways:

  • Purchase a magic item after leveling up
  • Improve your influence in the region around your Bastion
  • Bring your character back to life
Artist: CoupleofkooksA gold ring has a white stone with a man's head

The Maintain Order and Bastion Events

What happens if you’re out of town and can’t tell your hirelings what to do? In such cases, your Bastion operates under the Maintain order, which basically means your hirelings take care of things in your absence. You can also choose to issue the Maintain order if you’re in town and not in the mood for managing your Bastion.

When you take the Maintain order, two things happen:

  • Each of your special facilities generate 1d4 BP
  • The DM rolls on the Bastion Events table (found on page 20 of the UA)

“One of the entertaining parts of Bastions is that things can happen within and to the Bastion while you’re away on your adventures,” said Crawford. “So when you come back, you can find out what the heck happened.”

Depending on how the DM rolls, during a Bastion event your hirelings may meet with unexpected guests, strike upon a random magic item, or something else. You may even be betrayed or your Bastion may be attacked.

Bastion Defenders

What’s the fun in adventuring if you don’t make a few enemies along the way? Your Bastion may be attacked on occasion. That’s where your Bastion Defenders come into play.

When your Bastion is attacked, you’ll roll die to determine how well your Bastion Defenders protect it and how many are killed in their honorable duty. You have various ways of upgrading your Bastion Defenders to make them more resilient or just cooler, including outfitting them in armor and recruiting creatures.

Start Building Your Bastion

The Bastion subsystem is setting agnostic, and there’s over 20 pages of material here for you to play with today. “This system is designed to stand on its own two feet, meaning you can drop it into a campaign, and it has in itself, everything you need to use it,” said Crawford, encouraging playtesters to try out Bastions in their current games.

The system functions with the 2014 ruleset, and that’s intended. “There are certainly a few things here where a prerequisite might point toward something that’s in the 2024 versions of some of the classes, but you will find that this is ready to go with your 2014 rulebooks,” he added.

So whether you’re running Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk or just getting your feet wet in Sigil with Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse, there’s ample opportunity to start building a home—or just a badass base.

“We’re really eager to find out what people think,” said Crawford.

Revised Cantrips

Quite frankly, we didn’t want to wait until the next round of Player’s Handbook playtests to get these revised cantrips in your hands. Cantrips are an important part of D&D, whether you’re a player whose character is dabbling in the magical arts or you’re a DM preparing encounters with monsters that use them. We want to get them right, and that means making them healthy, fun, and diverse.

In this Unearthed Arcana, you’ll see revisions for 10 cantrips. Some of the biggest changes you’ll see are to true strike. The table below summarizes these changes.

Updated Cantrips

Cantrip Summary of Major Changes
Acid Splash Affects a 5-foot radius sphere and is now an evocation spell
Blade Ward Now a reaction that imposes disadvantage on a melee attack roll
Chill Touch Touch spell instead of ranged and with increased damage
Friends Requires the target to make a Wisdom saving throw and targets are no longer hostile to you after the spell ends
Poison Spray Increased range, requires an attack roll instead of a saving throw, and is now a necromancy spell
Produce Flame Changed from action to bonus action casting, attack range increased, and can now target objects
Shillelagh Improves at high levels and offers the option to deal force damage
Shocking Grasp Stops opportunity attacks instead of all reactions and no longer grants advantage against enemies wearing metal armor
Spare the Dying Now ranged instead of touch, the range increases as you level, and it appears on the druid spell list
True Strike Allows you to make an attack with a weapon using your spellcasting ability, offers the option of dealing radiant damage, and deals bonus radiant damage at higher levels

Submit Your Feedback

Artist: IzzyA robotic librarian sorts books and scrolls back onto the shelf

Whether you’re casually reading through Unearthed Arcana, planning to implement Bastions in your home campaign, or theorycrafting new characters based on these cantrips, 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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