D&D 5E And Lo, the Fighter Did Get a Shtick of his Own... COMBAT SUPERIORITY!


First Post
Subjectivity is a curious thing.

I think you are overstating the psychology aspect here, there is a good reason to treat these rules differently than earlier ideas that allowed maneuvers at a fixed penalty to the attack roll. CS dice are equivalent to a penalty to the damage roll. This is an important difference, as damage penalties are easier to scale and have a much lower effect on the swinginess of the combat.

You are of course correct that these rules are somewhat similar to some feats, but at a sufficiently coarse level, all D&D combat rules are similar. I would argue, the CS dice rules as presented here actually have much more in common with 4ed stances than with any 3ed feat.

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First Post
They just gave it the option to trade its damage bonus for other things, and present it in such a way that people didn't feel like they were taking a penalty. For that little trick of psychology, they deserve a high-five. ;)

Yeah, and another magic trick they deployed is providing 4e powers without saying as much. You can use Brash Strike for +X damage, or you can use Riposte Strike for immediate action attack with a condition, or you can use Aegis of Shielding to reduce the damage an ally takes. Wonder where I saw these before...

In my opinion, one of 4e's biggest pit falls is presentation. The 25th level monk with a dozen pages of powers just makes me want to throw up. You could make a few tweaks to 4e's presentation and character progression, and the psychological effect would be staggering.


Hmmm, this is actually a pretty neat system. Say, for example, I have 4d8 Combat Superiority dice to use to do the following: 1d8-push an enemy back 5 ft., 2d8-grant a +2 to AC to an ally until my next turn, 2d8-gain a +1 to attack, etc. I could choose to gain a 1d8, 2d8, 3d8, or 4d8 bonus tp to push an enemy back 5 ft, 10 ft, 15 ft, or 20ft, grant one ally or two allies +2 to AC, gain a +1 or +2, or any combination of those things that my dice allow. That actually gives me a whole slew of options on each turn.

I would probably write down specific techniques like "Stab, Kick, Guard" which is +1d8 damage, a 5 ft push, and +2 to AC for one ally. I am tempted to call these techniques "Powers".

I definitely like the free-form nature of the system too.

I agree with Kamikaze Midget that it shares some aspects with power attack, expertise and the "narrative" combat maneuver system the devs talked about.

I think one of the advantages to me is that it doesn't work based on attack bonuses, but on damage. The attack bonus modifier variant is very problematic to me in a system with bounded accuracy - making a maneuver in an attack-penalty system means that it is less likely you deal damage in the first place, and if you fail to deal damage, your maneuver also fails. With this, a maneuver is more likely to succeed and not cost you your entire damage, just a portion of it.

The problem that you'll end up "spamming" the best option you have still remains. That makes balancing these abilities very tricky but also very important.

I would probably adjust this system to give the fighter a number of "combat superiority" dice at the start of each battle, and have him spend them over the battle - with options to regain them. If there is also some random element to how much you spend or lose during each round, then it would also make it less likely you end up always spamming the same "combo" of powers.


  • At Level 1, the Fighter has 2 combat superiority dice. The dice start at 1d4
  • Each level, he gains one additional combat superiority die. At Level 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 the die size increases (1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, 1d20)
  • Unless the player declares otherwise, he can spend one or more dice and add them to the damage roll.
  • On a miss the player recovers one die.
  • The player can also declare a special maneuver against an enemy - a successful attack deals no damage, but restores 2 dice.

Of course, once you make it an "encounter" resource like that, it becomes more complex and even the simplest Fighter is not quite as simple as one may like.


First Post
Very interesting. Some observations:

1. 1d4 at level 1 and 2d6 at level 5 would suggest you go up one die per level. Any guesses as to the progression? At level 6, do you get 2d8, or 1d6+1d8? At level 20 do you have like 5d6 to play with, or 4d12, or some weird combination? This is one area where added complexity might be a bit annoying. It's also strange in that the NON-rolling powers you have available become comparatively better and worse as the die changes. (Maybe giving up 1d4 for a free attack sounds worth it, but giving up 1d10 doesn't.)

2. He never gives us the term for these extra dice. I dub them "super dice," because they're part of combat "superiority."

3. I hope that the "super powers" you select every other level include some static bonus ones (giving you more super dice or something), so that the "simple" fighter isn't stuck getting a bunch of extra super dice options he doesn't want.

4. On second thought, "super dice" sounds stupid.

5. I don't know why people are worried about not getting dual-theme fighters now; it seems like this enables that perfectly. You get all your neat combat tricks from combat superiority options, and your dabbling in spellcasting or whatever from your theme.

6. The potential synergies make it even more interesting. Imagine a fighter with the "subtract damage against self" and "subtract damage against adjacent allies" powers, along with the Defender theme. Anybody attacking his adjacent allies would need to attack with disadvantage and still possibly get all their damage canceled out by the fighter.

7. I agree that the dice should be given at the end of your turn so you don't have to hold them in reserve if you want to use reactive powers.

8. I also wonder whether this replaces the fighter's daily surges. (I hope not, because some amount of daily resources is probably helpful for the class.) And on that matter, maybe instead of an extra power you should be able to choose to get an extra daily surge? (You'd get a character with less versatility round-to-round but with great "burst damage" potential.)

9. A lot of people are saying that this doesn't scream "fighter" to them. The obvious counterargument is that a bare-bones description of Vancian casting ("start the day with a number of abilities of set levels, each of which can be expended once") hardly calls to mind Gandalf fighting off a Balrog. It's the individual powers that will determine how well-suited this system is to the fighter. Since they're apparently dead-set on keeping the class very adaptable, it sounds fairly good to me. I think the comparison to 3e feats like Power Attack and Expertise is a sound one, because those feats were about swapping defense for offense or accuracy for damage on a round-by-round basis. Sort of like rapidly moving between "stances" as the combat evolves. (The difference, of course, is that here you're trading in extra damage instead of base accuracy.)


More seriously they only have to divide those maneuvers into Gritty (level 1+: Trip, extra damage), Heroic (level 6+: attack everyone around you, grapple ogres), Bigger than life (level 11+: attack everyone in a room, rip someone's heart out and show it to him, shoot a handful of arrows at once), Mythic (level 16+: punch giants 30 feet away, jump castle walls, use a giant rock as an improvised weapon) and Anime Episode on Acid (level 18+: cleave mountains, use a gargantuan dragon as an improvised weapon) and give the DM authority on what maneuvers can the player choose from.

Heck, just drop the level limits, and put them in different modules (or different groups in one module). Then you've got a Wizard vs Fighter dominance "dial" depending on which modules the DM makes available and at what levels. Old-School, New-School...take your pick.

It'd be really neat if they come up with a similar dial for the magic side of things.


First Post
I'm a little disappointed at the cheekiness of "Well, people didn't like static damage bonuses so how about variable damage bonuses?" as it completely misses the point. I'm also praying these don't fall into the feat problem where you take the "best" ones first and then your choices become progressively less relevant as you level up because you already took the ones you cared about.

And the way he talked about it like "So and so's character might do this because they specialized in shields" makes wonder if they just want fighters to be one-trick ponies, which is only a single trick better than no-trick ponies.


Obviously (and most importantly), we're trading damage for maneuvers instead of hit chance. This is obviously key to making maneuvers fun just because missing feels like losing a turn and many players won't increase the chances of feeling totally ineffective. But there are also two ways in which using dice is different than a static bonus.

* First, the cost of trading damage for a non-damage effect changes as the character levels. If you gave up 3 hit points of damage to (for example) disarm an opponent or knock him prone, then that might be a difficult choice against a hobgoblin, but fighters would start disarming every giant they ever fought. By having the dice size increase as the fighter levels, the cost of performing a maneuver reflects the changing value of doing 1 more point of damage.

* Second, dice become a resource to allocate instead of a penalty for using a maneuver. It is well known (at least among decision theorists) that most people value something they already have over something they have yet to acquire. If the average player does 1d8+6 damage on his attack, it could feel like a loss if they have to give up 3 hit points of damage to complete a disarm. If instead, the player does 1d8+3 damage and has a d6 they can allocate between damage or a maneuver, then the maneuver feels like a better choice. Obviously, this is all psychology, but it makes a difference here.


Crazy Jerome

First Post
Having thought about it some more, the other thing that I like about this mechanic is that it appears to be a properly defined hook for modules. You never really know until you build a few modules, but consider these options:

A. Ultra simple, flat - already discussed, you collapse the options into a flat bonus to damage and/or always just roll extra damage.

B. Maneuver hook - you have a short list of known maneuvers that you can activate with each "token", perhaps flavoring the token return as stamina.

C. 4E powers hook - you have a short list of known powers that you can use at-will or less often, that happens to work out to match your tokens accumulated, but these are fixed each day.

D. Trade for feats hook - there are some special fighter feats that do improved disarms, improved bull rush, etc. that you can purchase at character build time, and then they become fixed for you, but useable each round at will.

E. Ki modules - perhaps a lot like Maneuvers, but flavored as Ki instead of stamina, and thus on a different schedule of gaining and using tokens.

That is what makes this different mechanically than trading damage for some other option--it's in the proper place for a hook. Trading damage is something that you kludge onto an existing system. Like all kludges, it won't always work well. But if you build a system to have some [piece of damage that scales appropriately with level and system] and then abstract that out into a token, you can turn it back into damage or something else.

It's exactly the same kind of design that makes the electrical outlet and the appliance plug the point of swapping--as opposed to say hot-wiring your lamp every time you want to move it to another room or having to go to the breaker box to do the same thing. Swapping out damage for effects is a little too much like hot-wiring the lamp. This does affect player psychology, but then anything in a slightly wrong spot has similar effects on people. However people react to it initially, getting things designed into the right spot has tangible benefits. :D

I'm A Banana

Harlekin said:
CS dice are equivalent to a penalty to the damage roll. This is an important difference, as damage penalties are easier to scale and have a much lower effect on the swinginess of the combat.

I think it's a smart move. Bounded accuracy doesn't play nice with a lot of attack roll mods, and even in 3e deciding whether or not to Power Attack was a bit of a non-question much of the time. This way, by applying it to damage, it is something you can't "waste." Psychologically, it takes out the loss-aversion factor. Which is better. You might not kill the thing this round, but you're still gonna hurt it somehow.

Harlekin said:
I would argue, the CS dice rules as presented here actually have much more in common with 4ed stances than with any 3ed feat.

I'm not sure that I agree (stances, for one, were daily powers rather than at-will options), but even if you're right, the question then becomes: how much different is a 4e stance, really, than a 3e feat? In what important ways?

Mengu said:
Yeah, and another magic trick they deployed is providing 4e powers without saying as much. You can use Brash Strike for +X damage, or you can use Riposte Strike for immediate action attack with a condition, or you can use Aegis of Shielding to reduce the damage an ally takes.

Again, not sure I quite agree (it's hardly Come and Get It). It's kind of similar to 4e at-wills, but 4e at-wills were already very similar to any number of fighter options from 3e or even 2e. But again, like above, even if I agreed, the question would be: how different is Brash Strike really, from systems like Weapons of Legacy? What's the key difference?

Sometimes, I think the key difference is mostly just whether the book you got the rule out of was laid out like 3e or laid out like 4e. ;)

Mengu said:
In my opinion, one of 4e's biggest pit falls is presentation. The 25th level monk with a dozen pages of powers just makes me want to throw up. You could make a few tweaks to 4e's presentation and character progression, and the psychological effect would be staggering.

I'll have to agree with you there. It seems from the outside a bit like they assumed the "Your character's abilities are like cards in a deck!" thing would take off like a shot rather than alienate a tremendous chunk of the customer base. And once you release an edition like that, any attempt to revise or update it comes off as ".5-ing" it (*cough*Essentials*cough*), gaining few new adherents and still loosing those folks who thought that abilities = cards in a deck WAS crazy awesome.

That's not to mention some of the OTHER questionable presentation choices (cartoony early art, "1 PHB Per Year!", and others). I think 5e's modularity helps this, too: they may not feel so pressured to use IP-special names or have a specific view of what Elves always are defined as if they approach the game from a standpoint of "everything is flexible."


Possible schticks for other characters?

- Magic-User/Wizards are masters of the secret laws of the universe
- Thief/Rogues are masters of covert actions
- Clerics are masters of collecting creatures together to support and protect
- Druids act as clerics for the wilderness, plants and animals
- Rangers are masters of surviving and scouting in the wilderness with a warrior bent
- Paladins are defenders of a moral code with a warrior bent
- Assassins are as thieves, but seek killing through covert action instead of theft
- Monks are personal devotees to a martial and mystical code
- Warlords are masters of strategy working from behind the lines
- Sorcerers are naturally imbued with magical abilities
- Blade singers (or other M-U/Ftr) imbue their combat abilities with magic
and so on...


I like it.

There is a basic tactical element to it as well...

1.) Foes you think have low hp (goblins), it might be worth it to trade the damage die for a neat effect. For High-HP foes, it might be good to disable/protect for a while, then go for the kill when its wounded.

2.) Trading a variable damage die (1d4) is easier than trading a static bonus. Static numbers want to be crunched, and people begin to try and figure out the best amount to trade (see; power attack spreadsheet).

3.) Plus, it goes hand-in-hand with advantage/disadvantage and "Dice Adjustments BAD!" mentality of 5e.

4.) Did anyone else actually think... ALTERNITY? No?


First Post
I really don't see the point of adding all these new gimmicks into their game unless it's just to justify to themselves a new edition. I think they would be better in an alternative combat book so people could pick and choose. I don't really see what's so wonderful about them and I'm sure the novelty of them will wear out fast in game play.


First Post
I have no issue with action point/dice mechanics but making it Fighter only just seems odd. I'm also not convinced it needs to be a default assumption and not an optional module.


You only need three inches of steel to kill a man.
What about a bear? An elephant? A bulette? A dragon? This is why bigger weapons deserve a bigger damage die, in my mind.
Weapon qualities (bludgeoning, slashing, piercing, reach, versatile, critical, light, etc.) are a far better way of distinguishing weapons than using different damage dice.
Overall, I still agree with this. As always, play what you like :)

Greg K

I know a lot people like it, because it is based on trading damage rather than to hit for a maneuver. However, that is exactly why I do not like it. Not a fan of the version in DCC either. One more strike against Next for me.

Hopefully, there will be a module that resembles the maneuver system in the Book of Iron Might. If not, I still have Savage Worlds, True20, and my house ruled 3e for my fantasy needs.

Epic Threats

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