Deliberately Bad Unearthed Arcana

Hey there adventurers. Listen, I know all my articles here are tagged “comedy” so it’s hard to take me seriously. But hear me out: I’d really like to hop on board this whole “Unearthed Arcana” thing and reinstate things that essentially ruin the game.

“But Dan,” you might say, “I am playing this game for enjoyment, not punishment!”

To this I say two things:

1) Have you never played a Dark Souls game? Well, I have, and according to the people who make those games, fun is supposed to hurt sometimes. I’m just following their lead, man.

2) Please never take anything you read on the internet literally.

Now, that said, here are some horrible things that are law again, in the name of Unearthed Arcana!

True Encumbrance

Players have not been taking enough advantage of the handy rule of encumbrance, a rule designed to make you do a lengthy and valuable form of pretend math while everyone else is waiting to go kill something. Who looks smart now? Not you murderers, no, the guy counting how much all of bat guano weighs is the cool guy!

In order to hold the group accountable, you must also exercise to maintain your encumbrance maximum in a realistic fashion. Meaning you must lift weights and do cardio approximately 6 hours a day.

Bonus encumbrance can be awarded to any creature who joins a local gym for 300 gp a month, but then these creatures cannot leave the immediate area and go on a vacation or “adventure” or they will lose their bonus. Because nobody actually uses hotel gyms when they’re travelling. Gross.

Everyone Gets Web

Also, web is always a cantrip. 

It’s just too fun to use, and we were holding you back.

Don’t forget to set it on fire after you cast it on something.

Two Hair Options For Characters: Mullets Or Perms

We collected data on every type of haircut in all of our original illustrations over the years, and the only conclusion was clear. These are the only haircuts a hero could want. 

Either your character has some kind of fantasy hair spray holding up an insane pile of hair, or they’ve got business in the front and a party in the back. 

There are only two exceptions. 

Werewolves can have one of these two types of haircut on top of their head and the other type elsewhere on their body.

Also if you succeed on a DC 76 Charisma check, you can get a He-Man pageboy haircut from a barber, if your Dungeon Master allows there to be a barber. 

All Warforged Look Like The Weird Robots From Expedition To Barrier Peaks

You know, like shop vacs with dangly tube arms. You’ll get used to it.

Aboleths Look Like Dustbusters Again

Speaking of vacuum cleaners, remember when an aboleth looked a lot less like terrifying beings from the Far Realm and more like a shovel?

Well, one time one of us (the author of this piece) woke up in the middle of the night and when he went to the bathroom he saw a dustbuster in the middle of the kitchen floor and it looked like an aboleth that he saw in a book, and so he screamed and ran into the front yard at 2AM.

Pretty scary, right? 

We agree. Look at that illustration of the fifth edition aboleth. Too cute!

So aboleths once again look the way they were always meant to look, like a sturgeon with pipe cleaners stuck to it. You’re welcome.

THAC0 Is Back, Baby

We’re not telling you how it works. You have to go buy a copy of the Second Edition Player's Handbook and figure it out yourself. Sorry. Them’s the brakes, kid.

Barbarians Can’t Wear Shirts, Only Leather Straps

Have you seen the old art of these guys? No shirts, just chunks of leather that sort of look functional but would actually just be really itchy. If you’re feeling modest that’s okay, remember what we said about not taking this literally! Just wear 300 pounds of leather straps so no skin is showing. Also you are encumbered now.

Also, once a day you have to bathe and have use a short rest to take the straps off because they got gross. It’s leather, you have to take care of it.

This should also balance the player-created tradition of never letting druids wear shirts. According to a formal poll we conducted at a few parties, nobody has let a druid wear a shirt since 1997.

You Need Diamond Dust To Have A Long Rest

To be more specific, you need 500 gp worth of diamond dust. This is meant to counterbalance long rests, an over-powered mechanic that players have been abusing for a long time.

Paladins Can’t Smite Anymore

We decided it was a bad idea.

All Coins Are Replaced With Diamonds

We’ve been playtesting and it turns out we nerfed long rests too hard.

So all cp, sp, gp, and pp are now replaced with fist-sized diamonds. 

We don’t exactly have time to playtest this new balance but we feel pretty good about this one, because diamonds are nice to look at.

Look at the coins in the accompanying illustration.

Are they even coins? Too many shapes!

Diamonds will bring characters together, and force them to learn to mend clothes when the sharp edges of them shred all of their purses.

You First Have To Be Level 20 In Three Other Classes To Be A Bard

First Edition made it very clear that learning to become a singer-songwriter should be the most arduous, difficult, and unpleasant character choice a player could make.

But perhaps more importantly, the writer of this piece lives in Los Angeles, California and has seen his share of reality TV programming. And let the writer of this piece tell you, people should be putting a lot more time into this craft! 

So unless you slay Vecna, The King Who Crawls, Tiamat, that formless evil thing from the first arc of The Adventure Zone, and maybe a living moon with a big halberd the size of a mountain or something, you don’t have enough experience points to become a bard. The way your parents did it. Wait, why are you saying “Okay boomer” in the comments?

Dan Telfer is the Dungeons Humorist aka Comedy Archmage for D&D Beyond (a fun way they are letting him say "writer"), dungeon master for the Nerd Poker podcast, a stand-up comedian, a TV writer who also helped win some Emmys over at Comedy Central, and a former editor of MAD Magazine and The Onion. He can be found riding his bike around Los Angeles from gig to gig to gaming store, though the best way to find out what he's up to is to follow him on Twitter via @dantelfer.


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