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Unearthed Arcana (3.5)


A new guide to variant rules for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, this sourcebook provides players and DMs with a wide choice of alternate rules for roleplaying in a D&D campaign. Designed to expand the options available for customizing gameplay, these variant rules are modular and can be imported into any campaign in any amount desired. Examples of variant rules include playing core classes as prestige classes and alternate damage systems. Brand-new rules also include a new system of metamagic feats and a new spell system.

Product History
Unearthed Arcana (2004) is a collection of fully optional rules variants for D&D. Riffing off of the original Unearthed Arcana (1985) for AD&D, this tome is a collection of alternative gaming styles and house rules from many members of the Wizards of the Coast R&D department. Many of the rules variants presented here are contradictory, and you'd never be able to use every rule in the same campaign. That's okay - and in fact, it's the explicit intent.
Instead, this book is designed to let the player and DM pick and choose the rules they like the best. Some changes are quite small, while some fundamentally alter the nature and feel of a campaign. Adventurous readers who are willing to try new rules and experiment stand to get the most out of this book, but even for the conservative gamer, Unearthed Arcana serves as an object lesson on how to change game rules to best suit an individual campaign.
Options Aplenty. The first few chapters deal with races and classes, with alternate rules for racial variants (such as aquatic elves), monstrous bloodlines, racial paragon classes, gestalt characters, class feature variants, generic classes, and alternative systems of spellcasting. It's a rare campaign that couldn't find a few flavorful and balanced house rules to draw from these sections.
New Systems. Sick of the current skill or combat system? You'll find variants, along with new systems for crafting, feat groups, AC, armor and damage reduction, and combat itself. If you're irked that modern D&D removed facing from combat, there are rules for returning it to tabletop play. Magic also gains a number of new systems, including spontaneous metamagic and spell point systems.
Polishing the Campaign. Chapter 6 takes a look at reputation, honor, sanity rules, and alternative methods to qualify for prestige classes. It's an interesting chapter, in that the rules here flesh out both the characters and the world that they live in, and not just the core game rules.
Does it Succeed? It does. Not every rule presented in this book is a paragon of design brilliance, but I suspect that the rules I personally love the most (and we adopted more than twelve rules from Unearthed Arcana into our home campaign) are ones that other gamers may discount or dislike. The sheer breadth of alternative rules means that this book provides value for just about everyone willing to stretch their campaign a bit. And that's exactly what the design team was shooting for.
About the Creators. The designer list for Unearthed Arcana is sizeable, since the entire team provided favorite house rules from their own games. Design is attributed to Andy Collins, Jesse Decker, David Noonan, and Rich Redman, with additional design by Andrew Finch, Steve Kenson, Charles Ryan, Bill Slavicsek, Ed Stark, Jonathan Tweet, JD Wiker, and James Wyatt.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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Discussions (4)
Customer avatar
Luke A June 04, 2024 2:49 pm UTC
POD for this one please.
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James P March 22, 2022 4:42 am UTC
Need a print option for this one.
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Troy V February 21, 2015 11:52 am UTC
I own the hard copy, but this site will only allow you to review a product if you bought the PDF on this site. Well, screw that. I give it 5 stars.
Customer avatar
Delmer F December 27, 2014 1:08 am UTC
So what if you only need the corrections for this book. I've spent 2 hours trying to just get the errata. Wizards of the coast took away the errata page!
Customer avatar
Tom S September 16, 2023 2:42 pm UTC
Fortunately, in 2023 the Internet Archive Wayback Machine still has some of the old site.
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Matt Cavotta, et al.
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File Last Updated:
February 15, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on January 22, 2013.