One D&D Playtest 3 – The Cleric, and updated Ardling, Dragonborn and Goliath

This is my next post in the series looking at the 10th Anniversary next edition of D&D, which Wizards are playtesting bit by bit.

As before, you can sign up to the playtest via D&D Beyond and download the new proposals. Playtest 3 started on the first of December, and feedback is now open, running (at time of writing) until 20th January 2023. And again as before, they are marked as Unearthed Arcana, so “aren’t officially part of the game and aren’t permitted in D&D Adventurers League events, nor are they available for use on D&D Beyond.”

The first playtest covered the first parts of character creation – races and backgrounds – plus various rules (mostly) associated with that. The second playtest moved on to the updated expert classes (bard, ranger, rogue), a large revision of feats, and various rules updates.

Playtest three introduces the updated Cleric class, along with updates to the Ardling and Dragonborn species updates introduced in the first playtest, and an updated Goliath species, and a few rules updates as well.

Wizards have also started talking about revisions to the Open Gaming License, which has raised a lot of controversy, but as yet we are waiting for detailed text.

I will start by looking at the changes to the Cleric.


So what has happened to the Cleric? Tweaks like Bard, major change like the Ranger, or something in between?

As before, I’ll start with the things which remain roughly the same. Hit Dice are still 1d8+CON, Armour Training is still Light and Medium Armour and Shields, and Saving Throws are still Wisdom + Charisma. As with the other classes, the set of Skills to choose from is still the same, though they have recommendations (Persuasion and Religion in this case). They still have proficiency in Simple Weapons, and gain no Tool proficiencies. As with the other classes, the Ability Score Increases at levels 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19 become Feats (one of which is Ability Score Improvement). The Primary Ability (for subclassing) is Wisdom – no surprise there – and it is part of the “Priest” group for spellcasting and other features.

Like the other classes, Starting Equipment removes the choices and just chooses a Priest’s Pack (no more Explorer’s Pack), chain shirt, shield, mace, holy symbol and 7gp, and if you choose to buy your own equipment you get a flag 110gp instead of the previous 5d4x10 (50-200, average 125).

Also like other classes, prepared spells now match the available spell slots, so no mix-and-match of level, but the spell slots are unchanged. They offer a set of recommended spells to prepare, which helps the inexperienced player get up and running. Unlike the Druid and Ranger this is a completely free selection – there are no “always prepared by all” spells.

The class features change immediately.

Channel Divinity is now classified as a “Magic Action” and has changed quite a bit.

  • It becomes available at level one (back to what happened in BECMI), and the number of times it is available is tied to your Proficiency bonus, meaning it scales naturally with level without needing to be called out explicitly in the feature table. This means it is also available roughly twice as many times per rest compared to 5e (twice at 1st level, three times at 5th level, four times at 9th level, five times at 13th level and six times from 17th level, rather than once at 2nd level, twice at 6th level and three times at 18th level); on the other hand, it now requires a long rest rather than just a short rest to recharge. So that provides more uses up front, but may work out slightly fewer over a busy adventuring day.
  • Turn Undead now uses the new half-way-house “Dazed” condition, which means it can either move or take an action (which can only be Dash…), and can’t take Bonus Actions or Reactions. Destroy Undead is completely gone, replaced with Smite Undead, which causes a number of d8s equal to your proficiency bonus Radiant damage to each Undead which fails its saving throw.
  • In addition, Channel Divinity now also includes Divine Spark as an option, which can either deal healing to a friend or damage to a foes. You roll a pool of d8s equal to your proficiency bonus, and if using it to cause damage, the creature gets a Constitution save for half damage.

There is a new Holy Order feature at level 2 which basically determines what type of cleric you are. A Protector gains Martial Weapon Proficiency and Heavy Armour Training. A Scholar gains two additional Skills out of Arcana, History, Nature, Persuasion and Religion, and you get to add your Wisdom Modifier as well to your Scholar checks. And a Thaumaturge gains an extra prepared cantrip, and regains one Channel Divinity on a short rest rather than a long one. At 9th level you get to choose a second Holy Order option.

The 8th level Divine Strike feature from the Life domain has been moved to the main class, renamed to Blessed Strikes, and appears one level earlier at level 7. As before, this allows you to do an extra 1d8 radiant damage on one cantrip or weapon attack per turn, although the increased damage at level 14 has been removed.

Subclass changes

The Cleric Subclass (new name for the Divine Domain for consistency with the other classes) now kicks in at level 3 instead of level 1 – again matching the other classes, and additional features come in at levels 6, 10 and 14 (instead of 3, 6, 8 and 17) to bring it in line with the other classes.. Divine Intervention comes in at levels 11 and 18 rather than 10 and 20, leaving space for the Epic Boon at level 20 like the other classes.

The subclass provided is the Life Domain, and there are some quite significant changes.

Gone is the bonus proficiency for Heavy Armour (this has moved to the Holy Order instead), and gone are the 1st level Life Domain spells Bless and Cure Wounds. Prayer of Healing replaces the former Spiritual Weapon at 3rd level, and Mass Healing Word replaces Beacon of Hope at 5th level. Aura of Life replaces Guardian of Faith at 7th level, and Greater Restoration replaces Raise Dead at 9th level. The other spells remain the same – Lesser Restoration at level 3, Revivify at level 5, Death Ward at level 7 and Mass Cure Wounds at level 9.

Disciple of Life moves to 3rd level (which is the point the subclass becomes available), Preserve Life moves to 6th level (from 2nd) and Blessed Healer moves to 10th level (from 6th). As mentioned above, Divine Strike has moved to the main Cleric feature list as Blessed Strikes. The only feature available earlier is Supreme Healing, whichcomes in at 14th level instead of the former 17th.

Spell changes

There are six updates to spells.

Aid now has a duration of Instantaneous (rather than 8 hours), meaning the temporary hit points don’t expire.

Banishment now has a range of 30’, down from 60’. The target is always now initially sent to a harmless demiplane, even if they are native to another plane. It is only if they fail every saving throw for a minute that Aberrations, Celestials, Elementals, Fey and Fiends get transported to their home plane, and those are the only creatures to which this applies – any creatures native to a different plane which don’t fall into one of these types don’t get banished permanently.

Guidance has now been updated since playtest 2 to remove the restriction of once per long rest, and to reduce the range to 10’. It is still now cast as a Reaction when a character within range fails an Ability Check, in the same way as Bardic Inspiration, rather than being a buff that a character can take and use when they choose (within 1 minute).

Prayer of Healing now only affects a number of creatures up to your spellcasting ability modifier, so will be fewer than the previous 6 unless you have a Wisdom/Charisma of 22+. The creatures have to remain within range for the whole 10 minutes it takes to cast (which wasn’t a requirement previously) and can only benefit from it once per long rest. On the other hand, they also gain the benefits of a Short Rest as well as the healing (which remains at 2d8hp, plus d8hp per additional spell slot above 2). The restriction on undead and constructs has been removed.

Resistance, like Guidance, has now become a reaction in response to the ally failing a saving throw.

Spiritual Weapon now requires concentration, which is a significant reduction in utility. Apart from that, it is made explicit that it isn’t possible to move the weapon on the turn it is cast (which makes sense), and the descriptive colour of example weapons such as St Cuthbert’s mace and Thor’s hammer has been removed.

Further rules updates

As well as the spell changes above, playtest three introduces a few more rules updates.

Attack Action (equipping weapons) is very slightly rephrased from playtest 2: “before or after any Attack” becomes “before or after each Attack”, which I can see removes a potential ambiguity.

Grappled (Condition) is updated from playtest 2 to make it explicit that the grappler has to Move in order to drag or carry.

Influence is updated from playtest 2 to make it clear that the target is only being influenced to do one thing, and the main mechanism has changed. Rather than having different responses for the different DCs depending on attitude, the DC is now fixed at the higher of the creature’s Intelligence or 15, and Friendly gives Advantage while Hostile gives Disadvantage. As a result, the application of Advantage or Disadvantage has been removed from the potential results of an action that aligns with or is particularly irksome to the creature, since this is now built into the shift between Friendly/Indifferent or Indifferent/Hostile. On a failure, you now have to wait some time before trying again (default 24 hours, though left to DM discretion).

I’m not sure what I think of this. I can see the benefit to simplifying it to a single rule which gains Advantage or Disadvantage depending on attitude, but collapsing everything to a single DC of at least 15 seems unnecessarily specific and harsh – surely how hard it is to influence a creature depends on what is being asked for and how, which the previous rules allowed for.

It also adds a useful table for the different Skills in the same way it did for Search and Study in playtest 2: Animal Handling for “gently coaxing” a Beast or Monstrosity, Deception for deceiving a creature which can understand you, Intimidation for intimidating a creature and Persuasion for persuading a creature which can understand you – note Deception and Persuasion now explicitly say the creature must understand you.

Light (Weapon Property) is updated from playtest 2 to make it clear you must already have the second light weapon in the other hand when you make the first attack.

The Long Rest is rewritten to bring the requirement to have 1hp to the start of the description, and to make it explicit that you must wait at least 16 hours before starting another long rest, rather than making it one long rest per 24-hour period. I presume this is to remove confusion as to when the 24-hour period starts and finishes – for example if you take a long rest starting at 5am, you can’t then take another starting at 11pm (which would finish at 7am, hence within the next day). Which, thinking about it, actually removes a bit of flexibility, meaning that long rests will gradually get later and later (assuming a 24-hour day) since they take 8 hours and cannot be within 16 hours of the last one. Maybe it would be better to reduce this 16 hours to 12 or something.

Magic (Action) is updated from playtest 2 to apply to features as well, to cover Channel Divinity.

A Priest’s Pack now costs 33gp (instead of the former 19), replaces the candles with a lamp, adds Holy Water, replaces the vestments with a robe, updates to 7 days rations (instead of 2), and removes the alms box, incense and censer. It still contains the backpack, blanket and tinderbox.

Truesight is rewritten to list the different conditions it sees through as a list, which makes it easier to read. I can’t see any functional changes.


Playtest 3 adds three more Epic Boons: Fate, Spell Recall and Truesight:

  • Fate: roll a d10 and apply to a d20 Test by a creature within 60’ (bonus or penalty at your choice). Can’t use again until finishing a rest or rolling Initiative. Available to Mages (Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard) and Priests (Clerics, Druids and Paladins)
  • Spell Recall: cast one prepared spell of level 5 or lower without using a spell slot, once per long rest. Available to Mages (Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard) and Priests (Clerics, Druids and Paladins)
  • Truesight: gain Truesight to 60’. Available to Priests (Clerics, Druids and Paladins) only

Ability Score Improvement is also reformatted to give a Prerequisite of 4th level as a subtitle rather than the former “4th level feat”, and to move the Repeatable into the body of the description. I can see this is more compact and tidier, and means that only feats which are repeatable have that in the description.

Species updates

There has been a lot of discussion over the last couple of years about the implications of the Race and the reminder (intentional or not) of racial discrimination which many people have suffered, and so this playtest replaces “Race” with “Species”. This seems like a good choice of alternative non-weighted term to me (although admittedly I haven’t experienced discrimination, so I’m not highly qualified to comment).

Playtest 3 also contains updated versions of the Ardling and Dragonborn from playtest 1 (the two species which received the lowest ratings, according to this interview with Jeremy Crawford), and adds the Goliath.


Ardlings are now Celestial Animals rather than supernal beings, which makes the animal heads make more sense. The Ancestry is now one of Climber, Flyer, Racer or Swimmer, and the benefits are associated with the animal:

  • Climbers gain a climbing speed equal to their speed and additional damage from their unarmed strike equal to their proficiency bonus
  • Flyers can use their reaction to glide on a fall of at least 10’ to avoid taking damage, and can use their wings to gain advantage on Jump actions
  • Racers gain an additional speed increase to their Dash of 10 times their proficiency bonus
  • Swimmers can hold their breath for up to an hour at a time, have a swim speed equal to the speed, and have resistance to cold damage.

All Ardlings now gain just a cantrip, rather than the spells at 1st, 3rd and 5th levels, and they lose the Angelic Flight and Resistance to Radiant Damage from Playtest 1.

I much prefer this Species. It feels like a proper variant that hangs together.


The Dragonborn has the following changes from playtest 1:

  • The Breath Weapon is now explicitly part of the Attack action, and hence for characters with multiple attacks, it only replaces one of those attacks. As before it can be used a number of times equal to their proficiency bonus and recharges on a long rest.
  • The Breath Weapon can also now be a 30’ line 5’ wide as well as a 15’ cone, though it is unclear whether this is chosen at the time of making the attack or is dependent on the damage type like the base dragon type. The latter would make sense, with Acid and Lightning being in a line and Fire, Poison and Cold being in a cone.
  • Dragonborn no longer gain the language Draconic
  • Dragonborn gain Draconic Flight at 5th level, gaining a Fly speed equal to their speed for up to 10 minutes once per Long Rest.


The Goliath was originally introduced in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

In playtest 3, they are rather different. They are now explicitly descended from a specific giant ancestry, and gain a special ability based on their ancestry, which can be used a number of times equal to their proficiency bonus and recharges on a Long Rest.

  • Cloud Giant gives the ability to Teleport up to 30’ as a bonus action
  • Fire Giant gives an additional 1d10 fire damage which can be applied on a successful attack
  • Frost Giant gives an additional 1d6 cold damage which can be applied on a successful attack, as well as reducing the target’s speed by 10’ until the start of the character’s next turn
  • Hill Giant gives the ability to knock a target prone if they inflict damage with an attack
  • Stone Giant gives the ability to reduce damage by d12 + Constitution modifier as a reaction (this was previously the only trait Goliaths received, and was once per long rest)
  • Storm Giant gives the ability to deal 1d8 thunder damage as a reaction to a creature within 60’ which inflicts damage on the character

They also speed up, now having a speed of 35’ instead of 30’, so they are the first Species to have a speed other than 30’ and their Powerful Build gives them advantage when trying to end the Grappled condition.

And from 5th level, they gain the ability to grow to Large for up to 10 minutes as a Bonus Action once per Long Rest, gaining advantage on Strength checks and speeding up by 10’.

As in with all the other updated races, there are no ability score bonuses, no languages and no combat proficiencies. They also lose the acclimatisation to high altitude and cold climates from Volo’s.


I’m a bit torn on the Cleric changes. I like the fact that Channel Divinity appears at level 1 and I like Divine Spark. Moving the subclass to match the other classes makes sense, but reduces the utility at lower levels. The Holy Order just feels like yet another variation to keep track of. And making Spiritual Weapon require concentration is a significant nerfing – but maybe that brings it more in line with other classes. Having the Smite Undead deal Radiant damage which increases is a neat way of reflecting the increasing power, but on the other hand feels less awesome than just automatically destroying undead of a certain power level.

Most of the rules updates seem to be tweaks for clarification. The only major change is the Influence Action – and I’ve given my thoughts there. I like the way it’s been simplified to a single description with Advantage and Disadvantage representing Friendly and Hostile, but don’t like the single DC15+ to the check.

I do like the Species updates. The new term is definitely clearer and less charged, and the Ardling definitely hangs together better. I also like the extensions to the Goliath to give more racial options.

The feedback is now open – give your thoughts directly to the team.

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