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5E Balancing the Rune Knight

Hurin88

Explorer
I have a player who wants to play the Rune Knight subclass of Fighter from the Unearthed Arcana article. I have not had anyone play one yet, but looked through the class and on some websites, and it looks rather overpowered to me. The RK sure gets a lot of goodies up-front (at level 3), with both passive and active rune abilities and Giant Might as an additional cherry on top. I have seen quite a few people (though certainly not all) saying the class is overpowered, and I would like to err on the side of caution by toning down the RK's powers a bit to start. I can always buff them back up to what they are in the RAW if it turns out he is not overpowered.

My question is: if I am concerned about the RK being overpowered, how can I best balance it? I am thinking of changing the refresh rate of the runes' active ability to only on a long rest (rather than on a long or short rest). Would that be reasonable? Is there a better way of toning down the RK without wrecking the class?
 

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Yes, but he also killed my campaign, so I would prefer not to repeat the mistake of using UA material in an ongoing campaign without toning down some of its most overtly troublesome powers.
Wizards would have learned from the mystic.
Do whatever you want.
 

MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
Publisher
Is it not the point of UA to test subclasses. As they are. Then offer critique to balance them. Playtest them in other words.
As with anything in RPGs, not everybody has play things with the same goal in mind. Playtesting things as they are is great. Trying to tailor it to your home game is also great. Let's all just have fun.

To the original point though, I haven't actually played the rune knight, so I'm unsure. You could try doing the active abilities on a long rest only and see how it goes. I think the important thing is to talk with the player and let them know that you're all trying this out and that you might need to make adjustments, or even change subclasses, as the campaign goes on.
 

As with anything in RPGs, not everybody has play things with the same goal in mind. Playtesting things as they are is great. Trying to tailor it to your home game is also great. Let's all just have fun.

To the original point though, I haven't actually played the rune knight, so I'm unsure. You could try doing the active abilities on a long rest only and see how it goes. I think the important thing is to talk with the player and let them know that you're all trying this out and that you might need to make adjustments, or even change subclasses, as the campaign goes on.
To OP. Talk to your player first. This is important. Before toning down the subclass. Your player will feel victimized if you do not talk beforehand.
 

Hurin88

Explorer
Yes, I have talked to the player and let him know that I am ok with him playing a Rune Knight so long as he accepts some tweaks to its powers and abilities, due to the balance concerns I have.
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
I think the passive abilities are not really anything terribly impressive. A lot of advantage on skills they probably still won't be particularly good at. The problem is that the short rest abilities are a little overpowered for level 3 (unbreakable rage-like resilience on a short rest at that point seems unfair to the Barbarian). I would just treat them like Bardic inspiration and have them start out as long rest abilities that then become short rest at level 7 or 10 or whatever.

If you're concerned about high level maybe cap out how many runes they can ever know at 3. It does all start to add up to quite a bit.
 

Hurin88

Explorer
Thanks Benjamin. I agree that the passives are not too worrisome compared to the actives. I think we will just make the actives refresh on a long rest until we get a better sense of the power balance of the class.
 

Is it not the point of UA to test subclasses. As they are. Then offer critique to balance them. Playtest them in other words.
I always suggest playtesting in a one-shot or limited campaign. Existing campaigns are a lot of work, and a badly designed element introduced can really mess up the campaign (if not kill it). I've experienced this with homebrew stuff in the past, and nothing makes a player angry like nerfing their character mid-game.
 

To be honest? My only real concern with the rune knight is that maybe them learning two runes to start at level 3 combined with the other Giants ability, might be slightly too much.

I honestly don't think it is, though if you feel it is, the easy fix is to either cut the Giants ability, or give them only ONE rune at 3rd. It would put them more in line with other fighters.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I've considered it as an alternative build to a level 3 eldritch knight/level 5 hexblade character I had. He also had great weapon mastery. So by sacrificing that feat (but gaining the 2d6 dmg) I didn't lose much. Why did I sacrifice? to retain some of the wizard spells and cantrips, so the flavor of the character wasn't lost. The loss of the spell slots for shield spell was more than made up for by the damage resistance, which would really stack well with Armor of Agathy.
 

Undrave

Hero
At level 3 you have 2 runes. That's only 2 'invoke rune' ability until you take a short rest, plus 2 Giant might a day.

That's a little better than a Warlock's Spell Slot, but without all the cantrips. Sure, you got heavy armor and weapon proficiency, but you're also wading in melee where you're expected to be hit, not slinging Eldritch Blast from the next county. Nor do you get stuff similar to Eldritch Invocations that give you at-will spells.

I think what you could do, to test the water, is only allow 1 'invoke rune' action per short rest. If nothing else, I wouldn't allow someone to stack them, even if they have multiple runes and they probably shouldn't stack with Giant's Might. It's one or the other.

Also, you need to decide is the passive ability can be passed on to another character. That's kinda important. If I put my rune on my buddy's weapon or shield for exemple.

... This makes me realize that, as written, you could technically encribe the same run more than once on your gear and thus get to use its invocation more than once. Huh... neat!

EDIT: Ah, no, nevermind, it specifies 'A different rune in each object'.
 

If you are concered something from UA will disrupt game balance you have to say "no".

WotC are, so far as we know, moving forwards with the Rune Knight, which means a properly balanced version is likely to be released around November. Until then, your player can play something else. It's not as if there is a lack of things to choose from.
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
If you are concerned about something from UA disrupting balance you have to have a player willing to change things later on as necessary. If you have that then allow any crazy UA thing you want. If you have a player who is going to throw a fit if you need to nerf abilities down the road or try to lawyer you about it because "you said I could" then you should not allow such things. It sounds like the player in this case is willing to be flexible.
 


I think the problem with the rune knight is not one of power, it's one of fussiness. The rules in the UA are overcomplicated and could slow play. The finished version is likely to be more streamlined.
 


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