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D&D 5E Exploits, Martial Cantrips

cbwjm

Hero
I've started to go over my martial exploits (was going to be manoeuvres, but I have trouble spell manoeuvres) and stances again, originally I was using attacks as a resource (spend more attacks on an exploit, get better effects) which originally seemed to work well but now seems kind of clunky, so instead they are a "cantrip" gaining more power as you level, and they count as an attack action which means you can add things like a bonus action off-hand attack. Below are some of the exploits and stances I've come up with, taking ideas primarily from 4th edition.

Note that I haven't run the numbers on these, I have no idea if they are always better than using a standard attack action, especially with higher level class abilities or feats coming online, but I just thought I'd share in case others are interested in them.

If an exploit increase damage by 1[W] at higher levels, this means that you roll your weapon dice the list number of times. For instance, an exploit that deals 2[W] at 5th level would mean that a warrior with a longsword would roll 2d8 damage on a hit. Unless an exploit says otherwise, you add your strength or dexterity modifier to the damage.

Cleave
You strike in such a way that after striking your first target, you follow through to strike a second enemy nearby.
You must be using a two-handed weapon, or a versatile weapon in both hands to use this exploit. Make a melee weapon attack. On a hit, you deal normal weapon damage, and a second target adjacent to the first and within reach of your weapon takes damage equal to half the damage dealt to the first target.
At Higher Levels. You deal an additional 1[W] damage at 5th level (2[W]), 11th level (3[W]), and 17th level (4[W]).

Crushing Surge
Your strike invigorates you as you strike down your foe.
You must be using a melee weapon with the heavy property to make use of this exploit. Make a melee weapon attack against a creature. On a hit, you deal normal weapon damage, and you gain temporary hit points equal to your Constitution Modifier (minimum 1).
At Higher Levels. At certain levels, this exploit’s damage increases by 1[W] and the temporary hit points increase by 2. These increase at 5th level (2[W] and 2 extra temporary hit points), 11th level (3[W] and 4 extra temporary hit points), and 17th level (4[W] and 6 extra temporary hit points).

Feather the Target
You fire a number of rapid shots at your target, filling them with arrows.
You must be using a ranged weapon without the loading property or thrown weapons. Make two ranged weapon attacks against the same target. On a hit, you deal normal weapon damage but you don’t add your ability modifier to the damage.
At Higher Levels. You make an additional attack against the target at 5th level (3 attacks), 11th level (4 attacks), and 17th level (5 attacks).

Hammer Shot
You test the strength of your bowstring as you pull an arrow back as far as it will go and unleash it upon your unsuspecting foe.
You must be using a ranged weapon without the loading property or thrown weapons. Make a ranged weapon attack. On a hit, you deal normal weapon damage, push the target back 10 feet, and knock them prone.
At Higher Levels. This exploit’s damage increases by 1[W] when you reach 5th level (2[W]), 11th level (3[W]), and 17th level (4[W]).

Resolute Shield
As you slash into your foe, you pull your shield into a defensive position between the two of you, guaranteeing that it absorbs at least some of your enemy’s attack.
You must be using a shield to use this exploit. Make a melee weapon attack against your target. On a hit, you deal normal weapon damage and gain damage resistance 3 against your target’s attacks until the start of your next turn.
At Higher Levels. This exploit’s damage increases by 1[W] when you reach 5th level (2[W]), 11th level (3[W]), and 17th level (4[W]).

Sure Strike
You trade power for precision.
You must be using a melee weapon to use this exploit. Make a melee weapon attack, you have advantage on the attack roll. On a hit, you deal normal weapon but you do not add your ability modifier to the damage.
At Higher Levels. This exploit’s damage increases by 1[W] when you reach 5th level (2[W]), 11th level (3[W]), and 17th level (4[W]).

Tide of Iron
You slam your shield into your opponent, forcing them back.
You must be using a shield to use this exploit. Make an attack roll against a creature. On a hit you deal 1d6 + Strength modifier bludgeoning damage and push the target 5 feet away from you. You may then move into a space they occupied. This movement doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.
At Higher Levels. This exploit’s damage increases by 1d6 when you reach 5th level (+1d6), 11th level (+2d6), 17th (+3d6).

Stances can be taken in place of an exploit, enhancing your combat potential. A stance uses your concentration as if concentrating on a spell. Anything that can break concentration on a spell can break your concentration for a stance.

Dance of the Cobra ♦ Stance
You weave in and out of combat, dodging your foes retaliatory strikes with ease.
As a bonus action,you assume the Dance of the Cobra stance. Until the stance ends, you do not provoke opportunity attacks when you move.

Iron Mountain ♦ Stance
You are a near impassable bulwark of iron, refusing to relent to your foe’s assault.
As a bonus action,you assume the Iron Mountain stance. Until the stance ends, you reduce bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing damage by 3 and you have advantage on ability checks and saving throws to resist being pushed, pulled, grappled, or knocked prone.

Reactive Fire ♦ Stance
You ready yourself to return fire, matching your foes shot for shot.
As a bonus action, you assume the Reactive Fire stance. Until the stance ends, whenever an enemy makes a ranged attack against you, you may use your reaction to make a single ranged attack against them. You must be wielding a ranged weapon to use this stance.

Rain of Steel ♦ Stance
You constantly swing your weapon about you in a deadly flurry.
As a bonus action,you assume the Rain of Steel stance. Until the stance ends, any enemy that starts its turn adjacent to you takes damage equal to a roll of your weapon’s damage dice, but only if you’re able to make opportunity attacks. You must be wielding a melee weapon to use this stance.

Fighters, paladins, and rangers gain exploits at the same time they gain a fighting style, level 1 for the fighter, and level 2 for the paladin and ranger. Currently I'm granting them 2 or 3 exploits (haven't decided on exactly how many to grant them) at this level and they can swap one out for another when they level up. Other classes may gain access to fighting styles via subclasses or feats, but they do not gain any exploits upon gaining the fighting style.

Fighters are the best at using exploits, they gain the following abilities at the levels listed.

Exploit Expert
When a fighter reaches level 5, they gain the Exploit Expert feature which enables them to learn an additional two exploits. More than the other warrior classes, the fighter is a master of exploits.

Reactive Exploit
When a fighter reaches level 7, they gain the ability to use an exploit when they make an attack of opportunity. The exploit must only be able to target a single enemy.

Exploit Mastery
At 11th level, after you use an exploit, you can make 1 weapon attack as part of the same action. At 20th level, when you use an exploit, you can make 2 weapon attacks as part of the same action.
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I like it a lot, but...I need more of them!

Anyway, I think I'd keep the damage die of the weapon for the damage increases at higher level instead of d6. Or keep d6 but stay closer to the rogue's sneak attack progression, to be sure to make it worthwhile to lose the extra ability mods to extra attacks.

And I think I'd give them instead of the warrior classes' extra attacks, with your new fighter's features as stand-in for the usual extra attacks 3 and 4.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I like it a lot, but...I need more of them!

Anyway, I think I'd keep the damage die of the weapon for the damage increases at higher level instead of d6. Or keep d6 but stay closer to the rogue's sneak attack progression, to be sure to make it worthwhile to lose the extra ability mods to extra attacks.

And I think I'd give them instead of the warrior classes' extra attacks, with your new fighter's features as stand-in for the usual extra attacks 3 and 4.
I did consider removing extra attack and replacing them with these and bringing in the nomenclature of 4e so base damage is 1[W] at level 5 it deals 2[W], 11th level 3[W] etc. It's one of the things of gone back and forth on since I started working on it, including the die size of the additional damage dice, I'm still thinking of changing it to d8s. Using weapon damage wouldn't be a bad thing though, at 5th level, hit with a greatsword would deal 4d6+4, slightly less than hitting with 2 attacks, but coming with an additional effect that might make up for it. I'll keep it in mind while I develop them, it would also make it cleaner for some powers that you can only take at level 5 that I've created which currently say that you deal normal weapon +1d6 damage which is kind of clunky, I'm thinking I might remove the level restriction, I feel like it is somewhat arbitrary as is.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Yeah, I'm not a big fan of level restriction, but its really on because I cant help seeing them as 4e at-wills, chosen at 1st level.

Would it be possible to add some reserved exploit for paladin, monk and ranger? Again, from the 4e's list:

Exploit:
(ranger only) Foebane strike(X); When you choose this exploit, pick a creature type or 1 kind of humanoid. Deal +1d6 against it per tier.
(Monk, ranger) Ambush strike: move and hide after the exploit.
(paladin only) Valiant Smite: +1 radiant damage per enemy within 5ft of you.

Stance:
(ranger) Wolf pack: You and all ally deal +2 damage when you are within 5 ft of the target.
(Monk, ranger) Hunting Spider: Gain a climb speed, advantage against being restrained or losing speed.
(paladin, ranger) Regal Lion: +2 damage per target's size category higher than yours.
Soaring Eagle:


If you can get your hands in them, the playtest documents had really cool nearly at-will maneuvers for the monk, fighter and rogue that you could use for inspiration. (using rogue's for the ranger's and fighter's)

Barbarians I would not give stances or exploits, Rage and Reckless attack would be their only stance and exploit. But they would need a power buff at 5th level. The playtest (which had no extra attacks) had 2 cool things for the barbarian: Crit on command when raging, but ends rage and stunned the next round and the rage damage bonus was way higher, like double the current amount. I think you could check that out if you want to.
 


vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I notice your stances require an action, didn't stances require a minor/bonus action in 4e or am I misremembering?
They did, indeed.
Since the cost here is Concentration, I'd go with only a Bonus Action.

Btw, in this system, the second attack for dual-wield should really NOT use a bonus action, since their would be too much pressure on it for classes with spells, stances and dual-wield.

I've played with free second attack with dual wield for a time now, and its still far from OP and makes the game way smoother by removing ''action economy optimization''.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I noticed your stances require an action, didn't stances require a minor/bonus action in 4e or am I misremembering?
This is my initial draft, the action might dropped down to a bonus action as I tinker with them and try them out. I think currently it will be a try out on the DM side of the screen as none of my players belong to these classes. I do have a player running a barbarian though, I'm going to offer them access to my barbarian war cries which I've posted about before many months ago.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Yeah, I'm not a big fan of level restriction, but its really on because I cant help seeing them as 4e at-wills, chosen at 1st level.

Would it be possible to add some reserved exploit for paladin, monk and ranger? Again, from the 4e's list:

Exploit:
(ranger only) Foebane strike(X); When you choose this exploit, pick a creature type or 1 kind of humanoid. Deal +1d6 against it per tier.
(Monk, ranger) Ambush strike: move and hide after the exploit.
(paladin only) Valiant Smite: +1 radiant damage per enemy within 5ft of you.

Stance:
(ranger) Wolf pack: You and all ally deal +2 damage when you are within 5 ft of the target.
(Monk, ranger) Hunting Spider: Gain a climb speed, advantage against being restrained or losing speed.
(paladin, ranger) Regal Lion: +2 damage per target's size category higher than yours.
Soaring Eagle:


If you can get your hands in them, the playtest documents had really cool nearly at-will maneuvers for the monk, fighter and rogue that you could use for inspiration. (using rogue's for the ranger's and fighter's)

Barbarians I would not give stances or exploits, Rage and Reckless attack would be their only stance and exploit. But they would need a power buff at 5th level. The playtest (which had no extra attacks) had 2 cool things for the barbarian: Crit on command when raging, but ends rage and stunned the next round and the rage damage bonus was way higher, like double the current amount. I think you could check that out if you want to.
I used to have all of the playtest documents but have unfortunately lost them over the years. I've tried finding them online but so far I've had no luck.

I think having some reserved for specific classes would be a good idea if they interact with class abilities, the foebane strike you've mentioned would be a great example for a ranger, tying it to their favoured enemies.

I have some war cries for barbarians, essentially two types that interact with rage, things activating when you start your rage, and others that activate while you are raging. I do need to go over them again, but I've posted a couple below to show you the basics.

War Cry
Your rage hardens your allies for the battle ahead. When you enter your rage, until the start of your next turn, all allies within 30 feet have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

Thunderous Wrath
Strength Save (half damage and no push back). When you score a critical hit or reduce a hostile target to 0 hit points, you may use your reaction to unleash a thunderous war cry. You deal thunder damage to creatures within a 5-foot-radius equal to your Constitution modifier + your Rage damage bonus (minimum 1) and each target must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save they are pushed back 5 feet.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I've updated the stances to activate with a bonus action. This allows a warrior to unleash with their regular attacks and still move into a stance during the same turn.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I did some quick and dirty calculations, and I've decided to update the exploits to deal additional weapon damage at higher levels. In many cases, things like additional damage bonuses from a paladin's smites or a rangers mark and other abilities meant that the damage is comparable or at times worse when using an exploit. Paladin's especially benefit from using extra attack as normal when they reach 11th level and start adding in additional radiant damage from improved smite, even before they add in additional smite damage.

The exploits in the opening post should be all updated where necessary.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Do you plan to do something similar for Monks, or perhaps give them access to exploits as part of Martial Arts or something?
 

Stormonu

Legend
You mentioned possibly replacing Extra Attack with these exploits - have you considered making Extra Attack an exploit, for those times you might want to split attacks against multiple opponents (lackeys/minions) instead of focusing on one target?
 

cbwjm

Hero
Do you plan to do something similar for Monks, or perhaps give them access to exploits as part of Martial Arts or something?
I'm thinking about creating martial arts styles, just some notes with an idea at the moment but I'm not 100% certain how I'm going to do it. I think it will use similar ideas from what I have here but tie some exploits and stances together. With the monk it also provides an opportunity to tie in spending ki to enhance their style exploits.
 

cbwjm

Hero
You mentioned possibly replacing Extra Attack with these exploits - have you considered making Extra Attack an exploit, for those times you might want to split attacks against multiple opponents (lackeys/minions) instead of focusing on one target?
I'm currently planning on leaving extra attack in the game but you have an option of using one these instead of your regular attacks when using the attack option. I think there are times when attacking twice would be a better use of your action rather than using an exploit.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Will you be expanding the exploits to add more hit + carrier effects? Perhaps additional ones to fill out the various weapon traits?

Example:

Bludgeoning adding "stun"-like effects (perhaps starting with negating reactions and eventually moving up to 1 round of stun?
Slashing adding bleeding effects?
Piercing doing stapling/impaling effects?
Versatile doing switch-off strikes (initial hit two-handed, with a quick follow-up one-handed stroke)
One-handed attacks that allow other actions to be performed with the free hand?
Two-weapon strike + parry effects or "double strike" hits?
Overreach attacks or attacks through friendly spaces for spears and polearms?
Multi-strikes for Light weapons (emulating repeatedly and swiftly stabbing someone with a knife, for example)?
 

I'm thinking about creating martial arts styles, just some notes with an idea at the moment but I'm not 100% certain how I'm going to do it. I think it will use similar ideas from what I have here but tie some exploits and stances together. With the monk it also provides an opportunity to tie in spending ki to enhance their style exploits.
Thematically there is no reason for monks not to be able to use similar martial arts exploits as fighters use, outside of those that take advantage or use armour or shields. Plus as you say, they can get some directly supernatural exploits that wouldn't fit with the more martial martial arts of the fighter.
Definitely as feats, but possibly by swapping out other monk combat abilities. Maybe even a subclass dedicated to using them would work.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Will you be expanding the exploits to add more hit + carrier effects? Perhaps additional ones to fill out the various weapon traits?

Example:

Bludgeoning adding "stun"-like effects (perhaps starting with negating reactions and eventually moving up to 1 round of stun?
Slashing adding bleeding effects?
Piercing doing stapling/impaling effects?
Versatile doing switch-off strikes (initial hit two-handed, with a quick follow-up one-handed stroke)
One-handed attacks that allow other actions to be performed with the free hand?
Two-weapon strike + parry effects or "double strike" hits?
Overreach attacks or attacks through friendly spaces for spears and polearms?
Multi-strikes for Light weapons (emulating repeatedly and swiftly stabbing someone with a knife, for example)?
I am thinking of some additional effects. I need to adapt some more of my original ideas (well, 4e ideas). I have a couple like fading strike (hit the target and they can't make opportunity attacks against you) and parry (+2 AC against the first attack against you). Parry in the old system allowed you to spend additional attacks to defend yourself against more attacks. Brash Strike allowed you to hit with advantage, add your Constitution modifier to the damage if making an attack with an axe, hammer, or mace, but in turn the first attack roll against you has advantage. I need to update and compare these with the exploits I've already created.

I did also have twin Strike which was a multiattack that didn't add your ability bonus to damage but allowed you to make an extra attack. It would be similar to feather the target but with multiple targets which might be why I haven't updated it yet.

Forgot to mention, I have created an exploit called break the charge, not sure why I didn't post it. It's essentially a weapon version of ray of frost used with bows and thrown weapons. I also have some higher level exploits that I'm not sure about which have additional effects. I do like your ideas here, I may incorporate some of them.
 
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cbwjm

Hero
Thematically there is no reason for monks not to be able to use similar martial arts exploits as fighters use, outside of those that take advantage or use armour or shields. Plus as you say, they can get some directly supernatural exploits that wouldn't fit with the more martial martial arts of the fighter.
Definitely as feats, but possibly by swapping out other monk combat abilities. Maybe even a subclass dedicated to using them would work.
I'm actually tempted to create a single exploit for each subclass as a way to further differentiate different monk subclasses who follow the same style. This way, an open hand monk and shadow monk who takes the unbreakable mountain style would end up with an exploit unique to each subclass. I would likely also include some of the exploits I've already created. Early days yet, I'm finishing off the exploits and barbarian war cries before I really move on to the monk. Though I'll make some quick notes for monks if I think of anything.
 

Stormonu

Legend
The only thing that bothers somewhat about these is the [W]. It doesn’t incentive taking anything less than the biggest weapon you can handle. I’d like to see exploits that take the weapon’s damage die as a factor - namely for fighters.
 

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