D&D (2024) An alternate Weapon Mastery system I'm noodling...

Of the many ideas floated by the OneD&D playtests, one that particularly uninterests me is Weapon Mastery, despite the positive reception it's received. My disagreements with the system are:
  • It's a largely-passive mechanic, that for most classes that use it simply amounts to "pick the weapon with the Mastery you like". (On that note, the mechanic of "every weapon has one property and only one class can do anything different with a given weapon" is also a sticking point to me.)
  • It is a completely unlimited feature, that applies on every attack, rather than something that provokes engagement and thought by thinking about when best to utilize a feature.
  • The Mastery options are heavily imbalanced. Despite applying on every attack, several do effectively "stack" (such as Topple, Graze, Vex) while others have no additional impact for landing multiple hits (Cleave, Slow, Sap). The effects themselves are starkly imbalanced in terms of power—getting Advantage on every subsequent hit, automatic damage regardless of missing, or a chance to knock prone on every attack are obviously better than slowing an enemy 10 feet.
There are several ways the existing system could be balanced—making most of the effects trigger only once per turn, making Graze actually require almost hitting the target, for example—but those still have several of the things I dislike about the system. So I thought, what sort of system would I make of Weapon Mastery?

A "popular" (in the vocal minority sense, of course) opinion is that all martials should get Battle Master maneuvers, but I don't like that idea myself. Rather, the idea I had was to take inspiration from another version of D&D, with the idea of implementing Weapon Mastery as a per-encounter ability system.

The crux of the system is as follows:
  • Weapon Mastery is granted to the Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, and Rogue.
  • Barbarians, Paladins, Rangers, and Rogue can prepare two Mastery Techniques to start, and gain an extra one every four levels (5, 9, 13, 17). Fighters can prepare four Mastery Techniques, and gain two more every four levels. Monks can prepare a number equal to the non-Fighter classes, but also can prepare an equal number of Martial Techniques (described below).
  • Each Mastery Technique has a set of requirements dictating what type of weapon it can be used with. It may require a melee or ranged weapon, a special property like Heavy or Finesse, or a specific damage type.
  • When you roll initiative, you get a number of uses of Mastery Techniques. This number is equal to the number of attacks the character has; ergo, a Paladin with two attacks has two uses of Mastery Techniques, while a Fighter with four attacks has four uses of Mastery Techniques. (Potential idea: this also applies even if you gain Extra Attack multiple times from multiclassing; a Paladin 5/Ranger 5 would still only get two attacks per turn, but they would get three uses of Mastery Techniques, compensating for what would otherwise be an "empty" feature.) Your number of uses resets each battle; you don't carry over unused uses between fights.
  • Once on your turns, when you use the Attack action, you can use a Mastery Technique in place of a regular attack. The Mastery Technique is declared before the attack roll. The Mastery Technique deals damage as normal, except if a different damage value is given; if the Mastery Technique requires a saving throw, the DC is 8 + your Proficiency Bonus + the ability modifier used for the attack.
  • The Fighter, in addition to having more Mastery Techniques available and gaining more uses with their Extra Attacks, would also gain an upgrade feature to Second Wind that grants another use of a Mastery Technique when it is used, as well as another feature that lets them use a second Mastery Technique in one turn (consuming two uses).
  • The Monk gets access to Martial Techniques, which would mirror most of the Mastery Techniques, with the difference being that their requirement is only an Unarmed Strike attack—giving the Monk a unique level of versatility with Mastery Techniques.
  • Several existing feats, such as Polearm Master and Shield Master, would be rebalanced so that instead of granting an unlimited-use bonus action, they would grant the character a relevant Mastery Technique, without counting against their regular limit, and grant a limited number of extra uses for that specific Mastery Technique that is refilled on a short rest.
Below is a bunch of ideas I had for Mastery Techniques...
Cleaving Swing
Requirement: Melee weapon, heavy property
You deliver an attack with enough force to strike both your main target and an adjacent foe. Make a melee weapon attack roll against the target, then make a second melee attack roll against another target within five feet of the first target. On a hit, the second attack deals damage equal to your weapon's damage dice, but you don't add the ability modifier (unless it is negative).

Close Shot
Requirement: Ranged weapon
You skillfully weave to avoid reprisals and interruption when fighting in close-quarters with a ranged weapon. This attack, and any further attacks you make on this turn, do not have Disadvantage if there is a hostile creature within five feet of you, and you do not provoke Opportunity Attacks or other reactions from hostile creatures within five feet of you when you use this Technique.

Coup de Grace
Requirement: Melee weapon, target is incapacitated
You take advantage of a creature's helplessness to deliver a devastating attack. Make a melee attack roll against the target. The attack scores a critical hit on a roll that is five or less below the attacker's regular critical range. For example, a character who normally scores a critical hit on a 20 can critically hit on a 15 or higher, while a character who scores critical hits on rolls of 18 to 20 can critically hit on a 13 or higher.

Defensive Thrust
Requirement: Melee weapon, finesse property
After making an attack, you adopt a stance that allows you to deflect attacks with your weapon. Make a melee attack roll as normal. Whether you hit or miss, you can add your proficiency bonus to your AC against a weapon attack made against you. This bonus ends at the start of your next turn, or when you successfully avoid an attack with the bonus granted by this ability.

Disarming Blow
Requirement: Melee weapon, bludgeoning damage
You deliver a strike aimed at a foe's arm or hand, attempting to knock a held item loose. Make a melee weapon attack roll against the target. On a hit, the target must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, one item it is holding of your choice is knocked to the ground within five feet of the creature.

Forceful Blow
Requirement: Melee or thrown weapon, bludgeoning damage
You strike a foe with enough force to stagger them and knock them back. Make a melee attack roll against the target. On a hit, you can move the target up to 10 feet horizontally away from you.

Great Throw
Requirement: Melee weapon, heavy property
You can hurl even the largest weapon effectively. You can make a thrown weapon attack using a weapon with the heavy property, with a short range of 20 feet and long range of 60 feet, using the weapon's regular damage dice and adding your proficiency bonus to the attack roll.

Haft Strike
Requirement: Melee weapon, heavy and reach properties, target is within five feet
You quickly strike a foe within close reach with the haft of your polearm. After making a melee attack against a creature within five feet of you, you can make an additional attack roll against the same enemy. If it hits, this additional attack deals damage equal to 1d4 + the modifier used for the attack, but does not benefit from any magical effects from the weapon.

Hobbling Slash
Requirement: Melee weapon, slashing damage
You hack at an opponent's legs to hinder their movement. Make a melee weapon attack roll against the target. If the attack hits, the creature's speed is halved (to the nearest five feet, rounded down) until the start of your next turn.

Interrupting Blow
Requirement: Melee weapon, bludgeoning damage
You strike an enemy with blunt force in a vulnerable location to interrupt their focus. Make a weapon attack roll against the target. On a hit, the target has Disadvantage on any saving throw to maintain concentration on a spell or other abilities from the attack.

Leg Shot
Requirement: Ranged or thrown weapon
You fire at a target's legs, intent on hobbling their movement. Make a weapon attack roll against the target. On a hit, the target's movement speed is also reduced by 10 feet until the start of your next turn.

Lunging Stab
Requirement: Melee or thrown weapon, piercing damage
You make a sudden and forceful lunge before attack. This melee or thrown weapon attack, and any further attacks you make this turn, have an extra five feet of reach, or an extra ten feet of both short range and long range.

Pommel Strike
Requirement: Melee weapon, not two-handed or finesse
You deal a heavy blow with the pommel of your weapon. Make a melee attack roll against the target. If the attack hits, it deals damage equal to the modifier used for the attack, and the target creature is Dazed until the start of your next turn.

Power Attack
Requirement: Melee or ranged weapon, heavy property
You harness the power of your weapon for one powerful but unwieldy strike. Make a weapon attack roll against the target, but do not add your ability modifier to the attack roll (unless it is negative). If the attacks hits, it deals additional damage of the weapon's damage type to the target equal to twice your ability modifier used for the attack (minimum of 1).

Precise Shot
Requirement: Ranged or thrown weapon
You focus your aim on a distant target. This attack, and any further ranged or thrown weapon attacks you make on the same target this turn, do not have Disadvantage if the target is within the long range of your weapon.

Quick Throw
Requirement: Melee weapon, thrown property
You can quickly throw a weapon after using it to make a melee attack. After you make a melee attack, you can then throw that same weapon at another target without using an extra attack. Make a thrown weapon attack roll against another target. You do not have disadvantage on this attack unless the target of the thrown attack is within five feet of you.

Reprisal Stab
Requirement: Melee weapon, piercing damage
You can turn a failed attack into a swift reprisal. After missing with a weapon attack, you can make a second attack roll against the same target. If you hit, you deal damage equal to the weapon's damage dice, but you don't add your ability modifier (unless it is negative).

Shield Bash
Requirement: Shield
You forcefully ram an opponent with your shield. Make a improvised melee weapon attack roll against the target, adding your proficiency bonus to the attack roll. On a hit, the attack deals damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier, and you either knock the target back 10 feet or force them to make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, the target is knocked prone.

Sweeping Slash
Requirement: Melee weapon, slashing damage
You deliver a wide slash against enemies in front of you. Choose up to three targets, all within your weapon's reach and all without more than five feet between another target, and make an attack roll against each target. On a hit, you deal damage equal to your weapon's damage dice, but you don't add your ability modifier (unless it is negative).

Weaving Thrust
Requirement: Melee weapon, finesse property
You skillfully make an agile strike, while positioning yourself to withdraw. Make a melee attack roll against a target. Whether you hit or miss, you can then move ten feet without provoking Opportunity Attacks.

Whirlwind Swing
Requirement: Melee weapon, heavy property
You can make a grand spinning attack at all enemies around you. Make a melee attack roll against each target within five feet of you, without adding your ability modifier (unless it is negative). On a hit, the target takes damage equal to your weapon's damage dice, but you don't add the ability modifier (unless it is negative).

Wounding Slash
Requirement: Melee or thrown weapon, slashing damage
You aim your blade to inflict a deep, bleeding wound. Make a weapon attack roll against the target. On a hit, you deal damage as normal and, if the creature possesses blood or a similar substance required for it to survive, the creature is afflicted with a bleeding wound. At the start of each of its turns, it takes 1d4 damage from the wound, until it or another creature uses an action to treat the bleeding or it recovers Hit Points from any source.

The current system is likely here to stay, wrinkles and all, but hey, I had fun noodling this~
 

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mellored

Legend
Of the many ideas floated by the OneD&D playtests, one that particularly uninterests me is Weapon Mastery, despite the positive reception it's received. My disagreements with the system are:
  • It's a largely-passive mechanic, that for most classes that use it simply amounts to "pick the weapon with the Mastery you like".
You get 2 and can swap weapons easily. And it was designed in response to "every weapon is the same" complaint.

A Barbarian with a great axe and maul can Topple the first attack, and Graze the second.

I know some people don't like the imagery of weapon swapping (kinda meh on it myself), but it is an active decision point.
  • The Mastery options are heavily imbalanced. Despite applying on every attack, several do effectively "stack" (such as Topple, Graze, Vex) while others have no additional impact for landing multiple hits (Cleave, Slow, Sap).
They are not randomly assigned.

Graze is only only on the greatsword and glaive for instance. Both martial and 2 handed. Not available to dex based classes.

Cleave is only on the great axe and Halberd.

Vex is on the rapier and short sword. So Dex based characters.

Etc...
  • The effects themselves are starkly imbalanced in terms of power—getting Advantage on every subsequent hit, automatic damage regardless of missing, or a chance to knock prone on every attack are obviously better than slowing an enemy 10 feet.
Push 10' can easily be worth more in the right party.
I.e. wizard with firewall.

Sap and Slow are obviously not for offense. It's for sword and board.

When you roll initiative, you get a number of uses of Mastery Techniques. This number is equal to the number of attacks the character has
Can't say I am a fan of tracking even more things.
Especially if you just want to play a champion and not think about it.

Below is a bunch of ideas I had for Mastery Techniques...
Some fun ideas here.
 

Pauln6

Hero
The issue for me is more that only fighters, monks, and rangers need these as class features. They should be available to a lesser extent with feat investment to other classes but paladins and Barbarians get enough interesting combat utility as it is.
 

ART!

Deluxe Unhuman
I like your system, @strawbellebelle ! The requirements are simple, and they apply to any weapon that meets those broad requirements. It's simpler than the (not yet quite) official system.
 

Horwath

Legend
One complaint what I have with mastery mechanics is that is tied to a weapon not a user.

If you know the Mastery Graze then you should apply it to every weapon that qualifies for it(Melee, Heavy in this case)

If you know Vex, just use it with any finesse or ranged weapon.

Nick is for every light weapon.

If my fighter knows 6 masteries, I really do not want it to look like this guy:
1697810760362.jpeg
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Only a pittance of uses per combat?

That defeats the whole point of masteries giving martials something to do aside from attack constantly. We're back to the primary failing of Battlemaster with this.
 

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