D&D 5E Battlemaster and Superiority Dice are causing martials to suffer.

SakanaSensei

Adventurer
Buff up martial adept feat so it can be considered to be taken;

Learn 2 maneuvers,
Gain 2 superiority dice(d8).

this feat can be taken 3 times.
That’s an option. There’s lots of different ways to handle it. I agree with OP that these kinds of things shouldn’t be kept behind a resource management system, though. Some people like that, but not for me personally.
 

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Staffan

Legend
The thing is, making these things use a limited resource allows them to be stronger and under the control of the attacker. Anyone can Shove (Athletics vs Athletics or Acrobatics) as long as they have a free hand, but it takes up an attack. The Battlemaster can make an attack that hits, and then determine both that they'll add damage and potentially Trip their foe, and doesn't need a free hand to do it.

3e had a number of combat maneuvers that were, in theory, open to everyone (bull rush, disarm, trip, grapple). However, in most cases there were such severe penalties for trying them without special training (in the form of feats) that you might as well not bother, and if you did spend the feats they became an expected part of your routine and not a Special Cool Thing to do on occasion. The classical example was of course the Spiked Chain fighter with Improved Trip, who would trip you at a distance, use Improved Trip to give you an extra hit, then hit you again while you were down with their second attack and 5'-step away, and then use an attack of opportunity to trip you again when you tried to close, and then repeat the process. That's just boring and exploitative.

But the 3e situation illustrates a problem: it's really hard to balance at-will maneuvers. Either you make them difficult to pull off in which case no-one will do them, or you make them easy in which case they become a routine thing to do. I think the closest thing anyone has managed to do for them is the 13th Age fighter, who gets to trigger various maneuvers based on their attack roll (usually "X or higher" or "even"). This, on the other hand, has the disadvantage of not letting the fighter decide when to do a cool thing.

I liked the explanation for encounter exploits back in 4e: after doing them once, everyone is on to your tricks. Of course, a short rest means something different in 5e than in 4e, but that's another rant.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I've always disliked superiority dice and found tracking them a fiddly resource, so I made this back in 2019. Your maneuvers are all at will (no dice) and use your bonus action or reaction to "fuel" them.

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Li Shenron

Legend
  1. Martials cannot do certain actions because thats what the battlemaster does.

I don't think this is true... they can't use exactly those mechanics, but there are other (less effective, but also free) mechanics for many battlemaster maneuvers. Maybe a couple of them like Goad do not have a non-battlemaster general rule for it, in which case the DM can probably steps in and just use the basic ability check rules to represent that.

If you want specific mechanics to be available to others, well that could be said for pretty much everything any character gets.

At some point the game design has to set a certain level of "general availability" VS "niche protection". If you want a class/archetype-based game like D&D is designed to be, you cannot have absolute general availability of everything. But whatever level the designers set between those extremes, there is always going to be someone claiming "it makes sense" (worst possible argument) that everybody else can do the Fighter's stuff until the point where "it makes no sense" for others to have a Fighter anymore.

2. Martials and what they do are tied to resources...for no real reason.

This has always been a stretch to suspension of disbelief. Fatigue is the idea that has the best chance at helping with limited martial resources, but it's walking a fine line. Why does Rage uses recharge only on a long rest, and battlemaster maneuvers on a short rest? I don't know, but at least the 5e maneuvers rules have the best idea of a pool of points that you can then use for any combination of maneuvers uses, yielding you a more acceptable sense of overall fatigue compared to other systems where martials have separate uses of individual tricks.
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
I think Battlemaster's Maneuver & Superiority Dice are a nice way to give Fighters more options and complement well the more basic Champion archetype. How powerful it is compared to it or to other spellcasters or martial classes in general i don't know but while not perfectly balanced with everything it's still fun and effective to people who like to play one.
 

People usually see battlemaster and its maneuver system as a cure for the issue of the martial caster gap, and i can understand why, martial have a terrible issue of a lack of options, and battlemaster gives resources and options, which make the class feel far more dynamic and interesting.
the battlemaster maneuver should be the combat system... the way casters have spells non casters should have maneuvers (although I would prefer you pick up atwill AND resource dependent maneuvers) then half casters like ranger and paladin can also be half maneuver...
But here is my issue, one of the reasons why martial are suffering is because

  1. Martials cannot do certain actions because thats what the battlemaster does.
  2. Martials and what they do are tied to resources...for no real reason.
These two ideas i feel limit martials from what i feel they could be, why can martial threaten people into attacking them, why cant they simply disarm and trip people, why can't they rally or parry and such. And why should any of this be on any resource?
anyone can disarm, trip, I will admit I don't think everyone SHOULD be allowed to rally, and I could see the argument either way for parry... the maneuvers make you BETTER at it.
Its silly, what resource am i spending to goad someone into an attack or making a distraction? Magic? No, Stamina? How much effort does it take to goad or shout orders? Evasive Footwork, and grappling sure, but basic stuff like that?
what resources is anyone useing? DO you know the word Mana used to describe the inner fire of a warrior in the pacific islands? (Warrior mana)
The idea martials need resources to do these things is insane, they should just be able to do them, Special Actions, like shove or grapple show a clearer way forward for martials, with actions they can trade out attacks to do to get unique options.
and spell casters should just cast spells... we use resources because resource management is a fun part of the game
The issue with martials is the fact battlemaster exists so other martials cant get these options, and the fact that they are on an arbitrary resource that represents nothing but trying to imitate 4E's power system, which was just as nonsensical and one of the reasons that game failed.
I WISH they imitated 4e (the best E in my mind) systems MORE
I feel we can do better than just turning martials into casters with a different resource, Martials defining trait is always being able to act without being tied to resources on what they can do, so i feel we should design them around that.
yes they can do small things all day... and carry heavy things for the 'real players' ugh I hate that.
Martials should be characters of action, who just do, while casters should be powerful but limited by resources, I feel like limiting martials to resources to do technique is absurd, they should always be able to do a lot with a action, even PF2E which a lot of people praised for solving the issue did so in this way.
no... most soldiers can't stay in the fight all day... most fighters in D&D could not win a gold medal in the Olympics... the idea of trading resources is only odd if you look at it from D&D history... in real life if you look at something as simple as football you will see that players start games better then they end them...
TLDR; Battlemasters hogging all of the special techniques martials should just be able to do, and the idea that doing these things cost some weird limit hurts the martial experience overall. Martials should just be able to do these things with attacks/actions themselves being the resource, and they should not have weird limitations
all non casters should have manuvers... but I can agree some should not use up resources.
 


Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
Making Maneuvers available to everyone to me would make the Battlemaster even less unique. Right now only some of them, such as tripping or disarming, are available as optional rules and not performed with as much ease. I'm okay with that.
 

Horwath

Hero
Making Maneuvers available to everyone to me would make the Battlemaster even less unique. Right now only some of them, such as tripping or disarming, are available as optional rules and not performed with as much ease. I'm okay with that.
Making battlemasters unique with maneuver is same as making sorcerers unique with metamagic. A design flaw.

Battlemaster should be better with them, same as sorcerers with converting spells to sorcery points and vice versa.

I have only one Champion in any groups that I played, and that was for a half-orc barbarian critfish build with Piercer feat.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
An option, and that's a hot take, is to well...go back to 4e at-wills for martials, much like cantrips for casters. BUT only the fighter gets to add their stat mod to the damage roll. Other class already have more damage ridder (sneak attack, rage, smites, etc).

Defender's Mark (Fighter/Barbarian)
Make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, the target suffers the weapon damage die and you make them, foiling their attacks and punishing them for harming others until the start of your next turn. If the target willingly moves 5 feet or more before then, the target takes 1d8 damage of the same type as your weapon, and the mark ends.

This exploit's damage increases when you reach certain levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra damage die to the target on a hit, and the damage the target takes for moving increases to 2d8. Both damage rolls increase by one die and1d8 at 11th level (3 dice and 3d8) and again at 17th level (4 dice and 4d8).

Ringing Blow (Fighter, Rogue, Barbarian)
You shatter the senses momentarily of one creature you can see within your weapon range. Make a weapon attack roll and, on a hit, it takes your weapon damage die and moves 5 feet in a random direction if it can move and its speed is at least 5 feet. Roll a d4 for the direction: 1, north; 2, south; 3, east; or 4, west. This movement doesn't provoke opportunity attacks, and if the direction rolled is blocked, the target doesn't move.

The exploit's damage die increases by one when you reach 5th level (2 dice), 11th level (3 dice), and 17th level (4 dice).

etc

I just found that you could mix and match the various small effect of control flames, mold earth, prestidigitation etc to make a few flavorful ''camp making'' exploits.
 
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Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
Making battlemasters unique with maneuver is same as making sorcerers unique with metamagic. A design flaw.

Battlemaster should be better with them, same as sorcerers with converting spells to sorcery points and vice versa.
Battlemaster Fighters are better with Superiority Dice to use Maneuvers than when they don't have any left.

Granting features to subclasses that make them unique is not a design flaw, literally all subclasses are designed this way!
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
If we are to compare Champion vs Battlemaster then they are better at different things. Champion is better at DPR while Battlemaster is better for choices & tactics having a plethora of options to choose from both when leveling up and during game play making it better to many at being less boring ☺
 
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ehren37

Legend
This is exactly how I see it, a champion could spend their Action to attempt to goad someone into focusing on them, the battlemaster does it with a single enhanced attack.
Which is a weak option due to action economy. The dice the battlemaster gets to add to the attempt should be the bonus, not the ability to add a rider to an attack.

We need at will weapon attacks that do stuff, at least on par with weapon cantrips. My preference would be weapon group based to differentiate styles.

"Wide Sweep - action, requires 2 hander - attack a number of adjacent targets equal to your proficiency bonus. Add an extra weapon die at 5/11/15"
 


FallenRX

Explorer
Then make it use an attack instead of an action. I still don't think the battle master is taking these things away from fighters or any other class, rather I feel people look at the battle master moves and get hung up on the idea that this is the only subclass that can do these things when it's not true, the main difference is that the battle master is better, he gets to make an attack with an addition rider, others have to give up something.
That was a solution i said in my OP.
I think the "Special Attack" thing that Grapple and Shove have going on is a design space that can be expanded, in a unique scalable way for martials better than tying them to arbitrary resources
 

I agree with OP.

Manuevers are not fun to track and they really do not do a good job of abstracting the fiction into game mechanics. In reality, a martial should be able to just pin these special features onto their attacks on demand. I disarm with my attack, and I DO DAMAGE WHILE ALSO DISARMING THEM. I try to trip them with my attack, and STILL DO DAMAGE IN ADDITION TO THEM BEING KNOCKED PRONE. This is where PF1E and 3.5 fail; its substitute the damage for an effect. In a game where HP is king, you almost never will take an option that does no damage unless its an edge case or you're doing some nut stuff, like Hypnotic Pattern.

I don't even think this is overpowered or unbalanced. It makes martials more interesting to play, and the Attack action gains nuance; suddenly, you can disarm someone and trip them at level 5, or if you're a fighter, disarm + trip + goad another enemy at 11th level. You get dynamic turns putting out CC and pulling out different fighting techniques.

AiR so far does it the best. You get 1d4 points every turn, and you spend those points on your battle techniques. These points represent your building focus and combat adrenaline, and you can always do something interesting as a martial on your turn.

Battlemaster is a really inadequate way to achieve this same fantasy to me. Let's remove the unnecessary dice pool, and let's start spicing up the attack action so that way instead of "Kill them" or "Do cool combat move" I can do BOTH, which is the POINT of cool combat moves!
 

I don't think this is true... they can't use exactly those mechanics, but there are other (less effective, but also free) mechanics for many battlemaster maneuvers. Maybe a couple of them like Goad do not have a non-battlemaster general rule for it, in which case the DM can probably steps in and just use the basic ability check rules to represent that.
Yeah, I'm inclined to say that maneuvers are an interesting implementation for a battlemaster class, but that I don't see them as a model to fix the issue of overall battlefield ability as in not-just-attack actions).
The thing is, making these things use a limited resource allows them to be stronger and under the control of the attacker. Anyone can Shove (Athletics vs Athletics or Acrobatics) as long as they have a free hand, but it takes up an attack. The Battlemaster can make an attack that hits, and then determine both that they'll add damage and potentially Trip their foe, and doesn't need a free hand to do it.

3e had a number of combat maneuvers that were, in theory, open to everyone (bull rush, disarm, trip, grapple). However, in most cases there were such severe penalties for trying them without special training (in the form of feats) that you might as well not bother, and if you did spend the feats they became an expected part of your routine and not a Special Cool Thing to do on occasion. The classical example was of course the Spiked Chain fighter with Improved Trip, who would trip you at a distance, use Improved Trip to give you an extra hit, then hit you again while you were down with their second attack and 5'-step away, and then use an attack of opportunity to trip you again when you tried to close, and then repeat the process. That's just boring and exploitative
But the 3e situation illustrates a problem: it's really hard to balance at-will maneuvers. Either you make them difficult to pull off in which case no-one will do them, or you make them easy in which case they become a routine thing to do. I think the closest thing anyone has managed to do for them is the 13th Age fighter, who gets to trigger various maneuvers based on their attack roll (usually "X or higher" or "even"). This, on the other hand, has the disadvantage of not letting the fighter decide when to do a cool thing.

What 3e illustrated to me was that simply affixing these status-effect riders to the existing since-~'74 D&D combat framework is likely to always be a challenge. Things will usually be either too good not to use (3e spiked chain trip) or never worth giving up a normal attack. Battlemaster or 4e fighter (or also many 5e paladin and ranger spells like the smite spells or hail of thorns, which would be maneuvers instead of spells in other systems) does so, but uses the resource management component (which I don't personally have a problem with, but don't get a vote on whether others do, so it's worth discussing alternatives). Fundamentally, there are few things better to use an action to do to an opponent than working towards them being long-term or irrevocably downed -- even true with spells, where most of the best combat spells sacrificing an action to either inconvenience many opponents or take one or two out of the fight (banishment, hypnotic pattern) or unlikely to contribute (blindness, entangle) for several rounds.
I think combat could be rethought, with the idea of special move riders being associated with each attack (so alongside regular attack and damage). Me and the other main GM in my group developed a game with this as a standard -- all attacks had normal to-hit/damage, but then would have one special effect alongside (intimidation, trip, disarm, parry, etc.) that you would also be testing for. It worked... okay (game in general was rushed into play with insufficient playtests, there were clear and obvious 'always best choices' among the rider effects).

I have only one Champion in any groups that I played, and that was for a half-orc barbarian critfish build with Piercer feat.
I have seen many, both with people new to D&D and people coming back from the TSR era (and a few others here and there). Obviously the current implementation is undertuned, but I think there is a market for the general concept. This leads to my other point -- there are (at least) two camps regarding 'the Fighter' -- those that want it to be more complex and have more options, and those that want it to be readily playable as straightforwardly as possible. Both sides are hamstrung by being married to a core class skeleton that accommodates both of them poorly. Either fighter ought be split in half, or Champion get peeled off and made into a thing onto itself, or some similar avenue towards the same end.
 

the Jester

Legend
Most of the battlemaster maneuvers are totally available to other characters, it's just that the battlemaster is better at them. They can do damage and disarm you, for instance, while another character has to choose.
 

If we are to compare Champion vs Battlemaster then they are better at different things. Champion is better at DPR while Battlemaster is better for choices & tactics having a plethora of options to choose from both when leveling up and during game play making it better to many at being less boring ☺
In the majority of games, the Battlemaster deals more damage than the Champion.
 

FallenRX

Explorer
Most of the battlemaster maneuvers are totally available to other characters, it's just that the battlemaster is better at them. They can do damage and disarm you, for instance, while another character has to choose.
But they can't honestly, Grapple and shove sure, but not everything else, like taunts, Parries, frightens, among other things, when within reason they should be able to do these things.
 

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