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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Gennaro

Unearthed Arcana gets Gothic

Dungeons & Dragons got a bit darker with the release on Gothic Lineages in Unearthed Arcana, the playtest material for Fifth Edition.

In Gothic Lineages, players are given expanded racial options to further customize their characters. They can now test out the newly created Dhampir, Hexblood, and Reborn races.

Each of the three Lineages has a specific theme to it. If you are looking for a way to play a vampire, look no further than the Dhampir, a character defined by its uncontrollable hunger; if you prefer dark ties to fey magic then the Hexblood may be your preference, as it's a race tainted by witches and hags; lastly, if you had ever wanted to play a character that has already died, but mysteriously held on to the land of the living, the Reborn will suit you perfectly.

What player hasn’t thought about playing as a vampire before? The dark themes associated with vampiric lore are appealing to many D&D players both new and old. The Dhampir lineage finally gives fifth edition players a way to play vampiric inspired characters without having to homebrew content. Unearthed Arcana nails the flavor of this race, even down to the abilities it innately possesses. The Dhampir can use its bite to drain HP and use its Spider Climb ability to walk along walls or ceilings effortlessly.

If you ever felt like raining arrows or spells down upon enemies while conveniently remaining out of reach, you might consider pairing up with this lineage.

If Fey magic is more your style you may consider the Hexblood. The Hexblood is a racial lineage tied to the magic of hags and witches, but the intricacies of that mystical bond are left up to the player to decide. The origins of this racial lineage are flexible. A character could have been raised by a coven of witches, or cursed by a hag, but whatever way you choose, your character is left imbued with innate magic abilities. As part of your racial features you can bestow curses through a Hex or disguise your appearance with magic.

For any backstory where the character has died but continued to go on living, the Reborn lineage will allow you to carry on, but as a construct or undead. This race may be particularly useful for any type of survival campaign where resources are scarce, as it does not need to eat, drink, sleep or even breathe. Kinda creepy right? The Reborn also gains temporary bonuses to ability checks thanks to the recollection of memories from a past life. This racial lineage is thematically well executed (pun intended), and players are encouraged to take creative liberties with previous memories and the origins of how the character originally met its end.

These Gothic Lineages are the first to exclude racial attribute bonuses and proficiencies like languages. The supplement describes the exclusions as "any...trait that is purely cultural."

Tasha's Cauldron of Everything substantially revised how racial traits apply in fifth edition; in fact, they change the game, as we covered here during the book's launch. Gothic Lineages are the first character options that follow the new system introduced in Tasha's.

D&D committed to making their game more inclusive by making races less determinative and allowing more customization. The Gothic Lineages is the first supplement that matches that commitment.

Overall, the new Gothic Lineages are a welcome expansion to D&D 5e. The Dhampir and Reborn allow players to finally play as an Undead, while the Reborn has an option to play as either Undead or Construct. Additionally, the Hexblood is aligned with the Fey race. These are racial firsts for 5e and allow players greater opportunity for customization and achieving the visions they have for their characters. At the end of the day a huge part of D&D is about depicting your imagination through character creation, and so I will always be happy to see more options that empower players creativity.



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