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


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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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.


The High Aldwin
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.


Li Shenron

  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.


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.


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.


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).


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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