5.5E Fighter Class rewrite

Quickleaf

Legend
I've spent some time this month rewriting the fighter class. This builds upon, but refines and simplifies, ideas I began putting down to "paper" in The Warrior thread years ago.

What's changed for me since then is that I've run and played more D&D 5e, watched others playing D&D, enjoyed the implementation of "weapon skills" in Baldur's Gate 3, read Brandes Stoddard's 12 part deep-dive series on The Fighter Class, watched the excellent video by Dael Kingsmill on her Champion Fighter Fix, followed the DND Beyond class popularity reports (where the fighter - and champion fighter specifically - has been the most popular), and listened to many different perspectives in discussions about fighters.

I'm still pretty deep in my design work, but this is my first draft of my rewritten fighter class. I'll save subclasses for subsequent posts. This is not a total reworking, but rather a fine tuning of ideas that – I feel – are just working OK enough, but could be better. It is intended to be backwards-compatible with existing martial archetypes (except the Champion, which I'm also rewriting).

I have four goals for this rewrite:

1. First, I want to address specific deficiencies of the fighter class:
  • Fighting Style not distinctive: Fighting Style not being a distinctive feature (as it appears at 1st level when other distinctive features appear, and yet is also included in the paladin's and ranger's repertoire). The intent of Improved Fighting Style is to have the fighter grow into more of its uniqueness.
  • Second Wind action economy issues: Second Wind competing for the bonus action used for two-weapon fighting being an unintended consequence of the original design.
  • Missing features at 2nd, 3rd, and 5th: Conspicuous lack of 2nd level, 3rd level, and 5th level features compared to the barbarian, monk, paladin, and ranger.
  • Indomitable is weak: Weakness of the Indomitable feature (esp. compared to the monk's Diamond Soul).
  • Lackluster capstone: Extra Attack (3) being a lackluster capstone placed at an unusual level.
  • Champion subclass issues: Multiple issues with the Champion subclass. To be addressed in a subsequent post.
2. Second, I want a more cohesive feel of the fighter as being the most adaptable and reactive character in unpredictable action-scene conditions. The Weapon Expertise, Power Strike, Fortitude, and Legendary features emphasize that.

3. Third, I want to accommodate different play styles. Iron Guard, Warrior's Multiattack, and the new subclasses are intended to do that.

4. Fourth, I want to introduce some out-of-combat options and more story through the Parlay feature and the subclasses. Mike Mearls' biggest regret with 5e is the fighter: the subclasses don't have the identity that the subclasses of other classes have. What's a battlemaster or a champion? They were so involved in the mechanics (for simple and complex fighters), that the names don't mean much.

I look forward to your critique and comments. :) Some specific questions I'm currently contemplating...
  • When is the right time to introduce Improved Fighting Style? 9th works, but it might feel like waiting too long.
  • Is Power Strike designed to be an appealing trade-off? If not, how would you improve it (or nix it)?
  • Does Parlay seem like a worthwhile feature?
  • Do the restrictions/recharge conditions on Weapon Expertise powers make sense? Do you have an idea for a restriction/recharge condition for Pin Down?
  • What is a good booster for Unarmed Fighting (Improved)?



QUICKLEAF'S REWRITE: THE FIGHTER
Fighters hail from warrior cultures, whether knightly orders of guardians at borderlands keeps, rugged dirt-caked gladiators, professional dragon slayers, duelists of bravura and passion, forgotten descendants of warrior kings, or seasoned veterans of military campaigns. They are tough and know how to use weapons in ways that defy common training. They have a common touch making it easier for kindly folk to relate to them and a steely mien making it harder for duplicitous enemies to subdue them through treachery.

LevelProf BonusFeaturesDesign Notes at-a-glance
1st+2Fighting Style, Iron Guard• Definitive and iconic features
• Iron Guard = choice of alternatives to Second Wind built around the action economy
2nd+2Parlay, Warrior's Multiattack• Features that step up and synergize
• All classes get 2 features except fighter and rogue... Parlay is that second feature, cementing fighter's role in social encounters
• Warrior's Multiattack = choice of alternatives to Action Surge to emulate 4e defender fighter or AD&D "minion scourge" fighter
3rd+2Martial Archetype, Weapon Expertise• 3rd level barbarians also get bonus Rage, paladins also get Divine Health, rangers also get Primeval Awareness, fighters get... a ribbon feature attached to their subclass if lucky?
• Weapon Expertise = blend of BG 3 "weapon skills" with Basic D&D maneuvers
• Revised Champion subclass
• New story-first subclasses: Borderlands Guard, Bravo, Destined Hero, Gladiator, Slayer, Veteran, and Warlord
4th+2Ability Score Increase
5th+3Extra Attack, Power Strike• 5th level barbarians also get Fast Movement, monks also get Stunning Fist, paladins and rangers also get 2nd level spells, fighters get...
6th+3Ability Score Increase
7th+3Martial Archetype feature• Exploration & interaction / explore existing features
8th+3Ability Score Increase
9th+4Fortitude, Improved Fighting Style• Exploration & interaction / explore existing features
• Fortitude replaces Indomitable (which compares unfavorably with monk's Diamond Soul)
• Make fighter's Fighting Style scale with level, as opposed to other warriors
10th+4Martial Archetype feature
11th+4Extra Attack (2)• Milestone feature
12th+4Ability Score Increase
13th+5Fortitude (2 uses)• Advance & improve / move toward capstone
14th+5Ability Score Increase• Advance & improve / move toward capstone
15th+5Martial Archetype feature• Advance & improve / move toward capstone
16th+5Ability Score Increase
17th+6Extra Attack (3), Fortitude (3 uses), Warrior's Multiattack (improved)• Advance & improve / move toward capstone
• Extra Attack (3) belongs at 17th level, mirror cantrip damage and tier jumps
18th+6Martial Archetype feature• Advance & improve / move toward capstone
19th+6Ability Score Increase• Advance & improve / move toward capstone
20th+6LegendaryCapstone = fighter becomes a little like a legendary monster

Class Features
As a fighter, you gain the following class features.

Hit points
Hit Dice: 1d10 per fighter level
Hit Points at 1st level: 10 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per fighter level after 1st

Proficiencies
Armor: All armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Choose two skills from Athletics, Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival

Equipment
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
  • (a) chain mail or (b) leather, longbow, and 20 arrows
  • (a) a martial weapon and a shield, or (b) two martial weapons
  • (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) two handaxes
  • (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack



Fighting Style
You adopt a particular style of fighting as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can’t take a Fighting Style option more than once, even if you later get to choose again.

Archery
You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons.

Blind Fighting
You have blindsight with a range of 10 feet. Within that range, you can effectively see anything that isn't behind total cover, even if you're blinded or in darkness. Moreover, you can see an invisible creature within that range, unless the creature successfully hides from you.

Defense
While you are wearing armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.

Dueling
When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.

Great Weapon Fighting
When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.

Interception
When a creature you can see hits a target, other than you, within 5 feet of you with an attack, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage the target takes by 1d10 + your proficiency bonus (to a minimum of 0 damage). You must be wielding a shield or a simple or martial weapon to use this reaction.

Protection
When a creature you can see attacks a target other than you that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll. You must be wielding a shield.

Superior Technique
You learn one maneuver of your choice from among those available to the Battle Master archetype. If a maneuver you use requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver's effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice).
You gain one superiority die, which is a d6 (this die is added to any superiority dice you have from another source). This die is used to fuel your maneuvers. A superiority die is expended when you use it. You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.

Thrown Weapon Fighting
You can draw a weapon that has the thrown property as part of the attack you make with the weapon. In addition, when you hit with a ranged attack using a thrown weapon, you gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll.

Two-Weapon Fighting
When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

Unarmed Fighting
Your unarmed strikes can deal bludgeoning damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength modifier on a hit. If you aren't wielding any weapons or a shield when you make the attack roll, the d6 becomes a d8.
At the start of each of your turns, you can deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage to one creature grappled by you.

Design Notes: Fighting Style
For completeness, I’ve included the new fighting styles from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. While there are arguably slight balance changes that should be made to some, I’ve opted to leave them as is since they’re a common feature for paladins and rangers. Instead, I implement changes at the 9th level Improved Fighting Style feature.

Iron Guard
You’ve trained in a particular method of maintaining your guard during combat. When your guard is “broken”, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again. Choose one of the following options.

Bulwark
While you are wearing medium or heavy armor, and are at your maximum hit points, when you take the Dodge action, you gain the following benefits:
  • Any attack roll made against you has disadvantage, even if you cannot see the attacker.
  • You gain advantage on your Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution saving throws.
  • You gain a saving throw against any spells or effects which would cause automatic damage (e.g. cloud of daggers).
However, if your hit points are reduced below your maximum, your guard is broken.

Parry
When you are hit by a melee attack made by an attacker you can see, you can attempt to parry the blow using your reaction so long as you are wielding a weapon or shield. To parry, make an attack roll. If your roll equals or exceeds the attacker’s attack roll, reduce the damage of the attack by an amount equal to 1d10 + your fighter level. However, if you take any damage from an attack you failed to parry or only partially parried, your guard is broken.

Second Wind
You have a limited well of stamina that you can draw on to protect yourself from harm. On your turn, you can use a bonus action to regain hit points equal to 1d10 + your fighter level. However, using your second wind breaks your guard.

Design Notes: Iron Guard
There are three issues with Second Wind. First, it competes for the bonus action with certain fighter builds (especially two-weapon fighters). Second, some players balk at the idea of non-magical self healing. Third, in groups that embrace the “bonus action to drink a potion” house rule popularized by Critical Role and used in Baldur’s Gate 3, Second Wind can feel a bit anemic.
I wanted players to have a flavorful choice in how their particular fighter approaches defending themself, and to tie that to the other elements of the action economy: reactions (Parry) and actions (Bulwark). This way, a player running a nimble two-weapon fighter might choose Parry whereas a player running a great weapon fighter with the Sentinel feat might choose Bulwark.

Warrior’s Multiattack
At 2nd level, choose one of the following: Action Surge, Against the Horde, or Stalwart Defender.

Action Surge
You can push yourself beyond your normal limits for a moment. On your turn, you can take on additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.
Starting at 17th level, you can use Action Surge twice before a rest, but only once on the same turn.

Against the Horde
You have learned to fight large numbers of weaker foes. You can sacrifice one of your attacks on your turn to make a number of attacks equal to your proficiency bonus against creatures of CR 1/2 or less. Each of these attacks must be made against a different opponent. You may only sacrifice one attack to use Against the Horde on your turn.
Starting at 17th level, you can use Against the Horde versus creatures of CR 2 or less.

Stalwart Defender
You have trained to threaten enemies attempting to evade you. Your opportunity attacks no longer require a reaction, though you can only make one opportunity attack against a given creature in a round. The maximum number of opportunity attacks you can make in one round is equal to your proficiency bonus. Additionally, while you are not incapacitated, you can make an opportunity attack against a creature that moves more than 5 feet while within your reach.
Starting at 17th level you have advantage on your opportunity attack rolls.

Design Notes: Warrior’s Multiattack
Action Surge is excellent at modeling an “action hero,” and is somewhat reminiscent of the Action Point rule introduced in 3e’s Eberron campaign setting. In an effort to open up the fighter’s design space to other play styles, I added Against the Horde to model the old school AD&D fighter who got extra attacks against weaker humanoids. I also added Stalwart Defender to model the 4e fighter who excelled at defense by punishing monsters that didn’t focus on the fighter. While each might fluctuate in usefulness given certain campaign elements or DM styles, these three options – Action Surge, Against the Horde, and Stalwart Defender – end up offering approximately the same number of extra attacks across an adventuring day. You’ll find my maths at the end of this document.

Parlay
Starting at 2nd level, when you begin interacting with a creature that you are not currently in combat with, so long as you and that creature share a language, you can initiate a parlay with it. This may involve coming to terms, interrogation, trading, or any number of other interactions. You may only engage in a parlay with one creature at a time.
If the creature is indifferent or friendly, but is aware of your fighting prowess, you may add your proficiency bonus to any Charisma checks you make with that creature.
If the creature is hostile, should it breach the terms of the parlay and initiate violent action, you may make an attack against the creature as a reaction before it acts.

Design Notes: Parlay
The feudal origins of the fighter class had it gain lordship at 9th level in AD&D and earlier editions. This included a stronghold, men-at-arms, and collecting taxes. Like much fantasy fiction, the fighter was regarded as a pillar of society. However, those feudal assumptions are no longer part of the game. In designing Parlay, I wanted to fill that gap and emphasize that the fighter can be more relatable to other NPCs compared to, for example, the unpredictable paladin or cleric with allegiances in the holy realm, or the shady rogue and warlock. It’s an “everyman” touch that transcends background as a commoner or noble. Furthermore, Parlay plays into a common thing I’ve seen players ask to do – readying an attack out of combat to respond to expected violence from a shady NPC or temporarily subdued monster. Having a feature that says “yes” to a fighter player encourages them to relax into the roleplaying more.

Weapon Expertise
Starting at 3rd level, when you wield a weapon, you can use it to perform expert techniques.

Cleave
When you wield a battleaxe, glaive, great sword, greataxe, halberd, or longsword, you can use an Action to make a Cleave attack. You make a melee attack with the weapon against two creatures both within your reach, using one attack roll and comparing it to both the creature’s ACs. However, after making a Cleave attack you cannot use a reaction until the start of your next turn.
When you reach 5th level as a fighter, you may attack three creatures within your reach when using Cleave. When you reach 11th level as a fighter, you may attack four creatures within your reach when using Cleave. When you reach 17th level as a fighter, you may attack five creatures within your reach when using Cleave.

Pin Down
When you wield a hand crossbow, heavy crossbow, light crossbow, longbow, or short bow, you can use an Action to make a Pin Down attack. A creature you hit takes damage as normal and has its speed reduced by 10 feet until the end of its next turn. #
When you reach 5th level as a fighter, you reduce the creature’s speed by 20 feet. At 11th level as a fighter, you reduce the creature’s speed by 30 feet. At 17th level as a fighter, you reduce the creature’s speed by 40 feet. If this reduces its speed below 0, then it takes the remainder as piercing damage.

Rush
When you wield a javelin, lance, pike, spear, or trident, you can use an Action to make a Rush attack. Move at least 20 feet straight toward a creature and make a melee attack with your weapon against two creatures that you pass within reach of. If you do not have 20 feet of movement left, or cannot move 20 feet (e.g. due to difficult terrain), you cannot use make a Rush attack.
When you reach 5th level as a fighter, you may attack three creatures along your path when using Rush. When you reach 11th level as a fighter, you may attack four creatures along your path when using Rush. When you reach 17th level as a fighter, you may attack five creatures along your path when using Rush.

Slash
When you wield a dagger, handaxe, rapier, scimitar, shortsword, or sickle, you can use an Action to make a Slash attack. A creature hit takes damage as normal, but starts bleeding, taking 1d4 damage of the same type at the start of its next turn. If the creature receives magical healing or a creature uses an action to make a DC 10 Wisdom (Medicine) check to staunch the blood, it is no longer bleeding. However, if you miss on a Slash attack, the target gains advantage on its next attack against you before the end of its next turn.
When you reach 5th level as a fighter, the creature continues bleeding until it succeeds a Constitution saving throw at the end of its turn. The DC of this save is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Dexterity or Strength modifier. At 11th level as a fighter, increase the bleeding damage to 1d6. At 17th level as a fighter, conventional Medicine will no longer staunch the flow of blood.

Smash
When you wield a club, great club, light hammer, mace, maul, morningstar, warhammer, or war pick, you can use an Action to make a Smash attack. Add twice your Strength modifier to the damage of your attack. However, reduce your place in initiative by -5. If this would reduce your initiative below 0, you cannot make a Smash attack.
When you reach 5th level as a fighter, add three times your Strength modifier to the attack’s damage. At 11th level as a fighter, add four times your Strength modifier. At 17th level as a fighter, add five times your Strength modifier.

Topple
When you wield a flail, quarterstaff or whip, you can use an Action to make a Topple attack. If you hit the target, as a bonus action you can make a Shove attempt to knock it prone.
When you reach 5th level as a fighter, the target takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage when knocked prone. When you reach 11th level as a fighter, increase the damage the target takes when knocked prone to 2d6 and rising from prone after being toppled requires all of the target’s movement (not half). When you reach 17th level as a fighter, increase the damage the target takes when knocked prone to 3d6 and if the creature rises from prone before the end of its next turn, it provokes opportunity attacks.

Design Notes: Weapon Expertise
I’ve adapted the “weapon skills” from Baldur’s Gate 3, mixed them with maneuvers from the Basic D&D Rules Cyclopedia, and made them exclusive to the fighter class to differentiate a weapon in the hands of any other adventurer, versus in the hands of a trained fighter. This helps establish more of a unique feel for what it means to be the best at armed combat, subtly encourages fighters to use the right tool for the right situation, and gives even low-level fighters an interesting choice to make during combat. Each special attack is balanced in a different way:
  • Cleave requires sacrificing your reaction.
  • Pin Down #
  • Rush requires being able to move 20 feet toward a creature.
  • Slash runs the risk of being counterattacked with advantage if you miss.
  • Smash reduces your place in the initiative count.
  • Topple requires using your bonus action.

Ability Score Increase
When you reach 4th level, and against at 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 19th levels, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score over 20 using this feature.

Extra Attack
Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.
The number of attacks increases to three when you reach 11th level in this class and to four when you reach 17th level in this class.

Design Notes: Extra Attack
My rewrite of the fighter grants Extra Attack (3) at 17th level instead of a 20th level capstone. There are two reasons for this. First, some players have offered feedback that the fighter’s capstone feels underwhelming and fills the same design niche as the “multiple attack spamming” monk. Second, the design of Extra Attack closely mirrors how cantrips are designed to upscale at the “tier jump” levels (i.e. 5th, 11th, and 17th), but oddly deviates at the end to delay it until 20th level.

Power Strike
Starting at 5th level, before or after you roll to attack you can choose to sacrifice one (or more) of your attacks granted by Extra Attack to deliver a power strike, gaining +1 to hit and an additional die of damage corresponding to your weapon (e.g. +1d10 for a longsword wielded with two hands, or +2d6 for a great sword). This bonus is cumulative, so an 11th level fighter could sacrifice two attacks to gain +2 to hit and two additional damage dice on their single attack (e.g. +2d10 for a longsword wielded with two hands, or +4d6 for a great sword), while a 17th level fighter could sacrifice three attacks to gain +3 to hit and three additional damage dice.

Design Notes: Power Strike
If you compare the 5th level fighter to the 5th level barbarian, monk, paladin, and ranger, you’ll notice a striking difference. Each of those classes gains Extra Attack plus an additional feature, but not the fighter. For example, the barbarian also gains Fast Movement, the monk also gains Stunning Strike, while the paladin and ranger also gain 2nd level spells. This illustrates that there’s a design void in the PHB fighter. Power Strike serves to fill this void. It also has a secondary effect of making a fighter using Power Strike especially dangerous when they score a critical hit, thus boosting the effectiveness of the Champion subclass’ Improved Critical feature.

Fortitude
Starting at 9th level, when you fail a saving throw against a spell or effect dealing damage, you may choose to take half damage. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.
You may use this feature twice between long rests starting at 13th level and three times between long rests starting at 17th level.

Design Notes: Fortitude
Indomitable is outshined by the monk’s Diamond Soul in every way. With Indomitable, a fighter can reroll a saving throw 1 to 3 times per day. With Diamond Soul, a monk can reroll a saving throw 14+ times per day (or if you assume they split their ki points between three powers, 3+ times per day), and also gets proficiency in all saving throws. In this regard, monk and fighter are competing for the same design niche, and the monk is outperforming the fighter. With Fortitude, I wanted to sidestep that whole niche and leave it to the monk. Thus, I designed Fortitude based on the rogue’s Uncanny Dodge; instead of focusing on avoiding attacks regularly, I focused on enduring magic, dragon breath, and so forth when absolutely necessary.

Improved Fighting Style
At 9th level, choose one fighting style which you know and modify it according to the improved version below.

Archery (improved)
Your bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons increases to +3. Additionally, if you Ready an action to make an attack with a ranged weapon, you gain advantage on your attack roll.

Blind Fighting (improved)
You blindsight increases to a range of 30 feet. Additionally, you do not need to be able to see a hostile creature in order to make an opportunity attack against them; you only need be aware of its presence.

Defense (improved)
Your AC bonus while you are wearing armor increases to +2. Additionally, you can restore your guard (see Iron Guard) as an Action once per short or long rest.

Dueling (improved)
Your bonus to damage rolls while wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons increases to +3 bonus. Additionally, if there’s no other creature within 5 feet of you and an enemy, ##.

Great Weapon Fighting (improved)
When you roll a 1, 2, or 3 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1, 2, or 3. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.
Additionally, if you roll the maximum damage possible for the weapon you’re wielding, you can push the enemy 5 feet away from you and knock it prone, if it’s no more than one size larger than you.

Interception (improved)
When a creature you can see hits a target that is within 5 feet of you with an attack, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage the target takes by 2d10 + your proficiency bonus. You must be wielding a shield or martial weapon to use this reaction.

Protection (improved)
When a creature you can see attacks a target other than you that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on that attack roll and all subsequent attack rolls the creature makes against that target this turn. You must be wielding a shield.
Additionally, after this turn, the protected target benefits from half cover (+2 AC, +2 Dexterity saves) until the start of its next turn or it moves more than 5 feet from you.

Superior Technique (improved)
Increase your superiority die to a d8, and learn an additional maneuver of your choice from among those available to the Battle Master archetype.

Thrown Weapon Fighting (improved) ##
You can draw a weapon that has the thrown property as part of the attack you make with the weapon. In addition, when you hit with a ranged attack using a thrown weapon, you gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll. ##

Two-Weapon Fighting (improved)
When when you make an opportunity attack, you can attack with both your main hand and offhand weapons.
When you forgo attacking with your offhand weapon on your turn, until the start of your next turn you may use your reaction to increase your AC by your proficiency bonus against one melee attack made against you by a creature that you can see.

Unarmed Fighting (improved)
Your unarmed strike damage increases to 1d8 + your Strength modifier, or d10 if you strike with two free hands.
When you successfully start a grapple, you can deal 1d6 bludgeoning damage to the grappled creature. Until the grapple ends, you can also deal this damage to the creature whenever you hit it with a melee attack.

Design Notes: Improved Fighting Style
At 1st level, each class gains its most definitive features. However, Fighting Style fails to be distinctive for the fighter, because at 2nd level paladins and rangers also get it. That leaves the burden of the low-level fighter’s distinctiveness resting on other features. I’ve included an Improved Fighting Style feature at 9th level for the fighter to emphasize how an experienced fighter’s training goes above and beyond what another warrior might be capable of.
Protection was changed to accommodate a fighter acting in more of a bodyguard capacity, increasing the situations in which the benefit would apply, and making it more relevant against higher CR monsters with Multiattack.
Two-Weapon Fighting was changed because it feels like a tax for achieving baseline effectiveness, and it doesn’t scale well at higher levels. To make it more appealing and relevant at higher levels, I’ve made provoking a two-weapon fighter a riskier proposition.

Legendary
At 20th level, you gain 2 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Once you choose your 2 legendary actions, they do not change. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. You regain spent legendary actions at the start of your turn.

Charge. You move 20 feet in a straight line towards a creature that you can see.
Command Ally. You target one ally you can see within 30 feet of you. If the ally can see and hear you (and understands your language), it can make one weapon attack as a reaction.
Maneuver. You make a Disarm, Grapple, or Shove attempt.
Shake It Off. You roll a saving throw against an ongoing effect that usually only allows a saving throw at the start or end of your turn.
Weapon Attack. You make one weapon attack.

Design Notes: Legendary
If the fighter’s design concept is being supremely adaptable and responsive to the fluid dance of combat (or any action scene), then Legendary Actions are the natural culmination of that idea. The warlord from Volo’s Guide to Monsters served as inspiration.
 
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NotAYakk

Legend
Fighter 2 is ridiculously good. So good it makes fighter 3 forgiveable, and it leverages fighter 5 as well.

Your black font makes your text unreadable.

Do you have a model of per round/rest/day damage you are using?

IMHO, what fighters need is a "pact magic-like" set of festures that are not combat centric. Like, Profession/Destiny/Conquest /Legend as 3 features that grant not-damage/soak based utility.

Professional Soldier
Destiny of Leadership
Conquest over Chaos
Legend of the Juggernaught

(T1, T2, T3, and T4 features).

Giving a fighter more numbers is easy.
 

Radaceus

Explorer
So much to digest!
cursory glance, I love Parlay!
I also like the idea of choosing another option instead of Power Surge, it smacks of prestige class, it's brilliantly simplified.


two thumbs up!

a cursory critique/question?
Conspicuous lack of 2nd level, 3rd level, and 5th level features compared to the barbarian, monk, paladin, and ranger.
Isn't the above offset by the fighter getting two more ASI's as than the other classes?
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Sorry, it posted prematurely! I was going to do an editing draft of the post, but hit some key on my keyboard that caused it to post. Woohoo. That's what I get for posting when tired.

Not sure how to remove black text in the new forum setup, because I don't see an option to view BBCode anymore. Honestly, since I do my design in a word processor, then copy+paste, and do final edits in the post, I'm noticing the black text becoming an issue more often (this is third time someone has mentioned it), which has deterred me from sharing my stuff on ENWorld because I don't know what the workaround is.

EDIT: I tried something (changed all text in OP to color hex#00000). Let me know if that improved visibility in dark mode @NotAYakk ?

If not, I'll remove formatting as @Morrus kindly points out (thank you!) and rework everything in the OP.
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Sorry, it posted prematurely! I was going to do an editing draft of the post, but hit some key on my keyboard that caused it to post. Woohoo.

Not sure how to remove black text in the new forum setup, because I don't see an option to view BBCode anymore. Honestly, since I do my design in a word processor, then copy+paste, and do final edits in the post, I'm noticing the black text becoming an issue more often (this is third time someone has mentioned it), which has deterred me from sharing my stuff on ENWorld because I don't know what the workaround is.
This button removes formatting.

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Quickleaf

Legend
So much to digest!
cursory glance, I love Parlay!
I also like the idea of choosing another option instead of Power Surge, it smacks of prestige class, it's brilliantly simplified.


two thumbs up!

a cursory critique/question?
Conspicuous lack of 2nd level, 3rd level, and 5th level features compared to the barbarian, monk, paladin, and ranger.
Isn't the above offset by the fighter getting two more ASI's as than the other classes?
Thanks for your eyes on it!

To answer your question: Fighter gets extra ASIs at 6th and at 14th level. Those four "warrior" type classes at those levels gain the following features instead. To my eyes this looks pretty balanced, and does not warrant depriving the fighter of 2nd, 3rd, and 5th level features (comparatively) to make up some difference.

6th = Barbarian (Path feature), Monk (Ki-Empowered Strikes & Monastic Tradition feature & +5 feet speed), Paladin (Aura of Protection), Ranger (Favored Enemy & Natural Explorer improvement)
14th = Barbarian (Path feature), Monk (Diamond Soul & +1 ki point & +5 feet speed), Paladin (Cleansing Touch), Ranger (Vanish & Favored Enemy improvement)
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Fighter 2 is ridiculously good. So good it makes fighter 3 forgiveable, and it leverages fighter 5 as well.

Your black font makes your text unreadable.

Do you have a model of per round/rest/day damage you are using?
Not for damage, no. Is there something out there on the net which you'd recommend?

However, in the old post I did a breakdown of how the bonus attacks granted by Action Surge, Against the Horde, and Stalwart Defender compare to each other: D&D 5E - The Warrior Based on my assumptions/analysis/playtesting they were fairly balanced.
IMHO, what fighters need is a "pact magic-like" set of festures that are not combat centric. Like, Profession/Destiny/Conquest /Legend as 3 features that grant not-damage/soak based utility.

Professional Soldier
Destiny of Leadership
Conquest over Chaos
Legend of the Juggernaught

(T1, T2, T3, and T4 features).

Giving a fighter more numbers is easy.
Absolutely feel you there. The challenge I encountered with that previously was two-fold: (1) Because not every fighter could be imagined to have the same non-combat roles, it was far easier to design disparate Camp Talents (think Eldritch Invocations, but for fighters) that could be chosen from. (2) When I made camp talents the word count shot up and it bloated the class design.

Your framework – four scaling features at "tier jump" levels – is elegant, and I like it, but gets back to that first challenge: Pinning down non-combat features that players can universally get behind as belonging to the fighter. And if you can surmount that significant obstacle, then you're faced with the challenge of finding design space within 5e's "hands-off" approach to non-combat rules (where things like henchmen & followers & strongholds don't really have a place).
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
The one thing that immediately jumped out at me as I read through it (and hit Bulwark) was wondering when would you ever see a Fighter take the Dodge action when they were at Maximum Hit Points? Even if the Fighter was trying to be a "tank", using their action for nothing but defense is so counter-intuitive that I don't think it would ever be used.

This is precisely the reason why Battlemaster maneuvers ended up giving both a special feature and extra damage. Because they saw during the playtest that if it was either/or... almost everyone just kept doing damage rather than trying to disarm or trip or whatever. Killing the monster quicker was just a better use of an action than trying to get cutsy with some other type of action. In D&D the best defense is a good offense, even for tanking characters.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
The one thing that immediately jumped out at me as I read through it (and hit Bulwark) was wondering when would you ever see a Fighter take the Dodge action when they were at Maximum Hit Points? Even if the Fighter was trying to be a "tank", using their action for nothing but defense is so counter-intuitive that I don't think it would ever be used.

This is precisely the reason why Battlemaster maneuvers ended up giving both a special feature and extra damage. Because they saw during the playtest that if it was either/or... almost everyone just kept doing damage rather than trying to disarm or trip or whatever. Killing the monster quicker was just a better use of an action than trying to get cutsy with some other type of action. In D&D the best defense is a good offense, even for tanking characters.
You're absolutely right. In this current rewrite, I've redone Bulwark three times and haven't hit gold yet. It's been one of my design bugaboos. You are spot on to call it out as being problematic.

Originally, I'd conceived of it as a defensive stance activated as an action which gave extra opportunity attacks. A "defend the line" scenario. But then that conflicted with the Cavalier subclass's Hold the Line and with the Stalwart Defender feature in my own fighter rewrite.

Even though my execution there was off, I think the general idea – a unique special action (as opposed to augmenting Dodge) to activate your Bulwark stance is the right approach.
 

Tinker-TDC

Explorer
You're absolutely right. In this current rewrite, I've redone Bulwark three times and haven't hit gold yet. It's been one of my design bugaboos. You are spot on to call it out as being problematic.

Originally, I'd conceived of it as a defensive stance activated as an action which gave extra opportunity attacks. A "defend the line" scenario. But then that conflicted with the Cavalier subclass's Hold the Line and with the Stalwart Defender feature in my own fighter rewrite.

Even though my execution there was off, I think the general idea – a unique special action (as opposed to augmenting Dodge) to activate your Bulwark stance is the right approach.
If you want it to come across as a stance I have a suggestion: "
When you dodge while at maximum HP you may make a weapon attack as a bonus action."

Dodging as a bonus action is a big buff, but if it requires max HP to bulwark that really lowers the times when you can use it. I'd see some folks ignoring it but others limiting their number of attacks in an attempt to maintain the ability to Bulwark and Dodge.
 

DnD Warlord

Adventurer
I would take the champion fighter with improved crit and indomitable. Then add the psi warrior psi die mechanic (but use the old one where it goes up and down) instead of the psychic powers I would use the battle master manuvers.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Not for damage, no. Is there something out there on the net which you'd recommend?
I mean, there is a half decent on done over in LU5E on this forum. They just calculated spike and at-will damage.

Or do something like 1-4 encounters between rests, 0-3 short rests/day, 2-5 rounds per encounter, and work out total damage done over number of rounds given a model of the adventuring day, and then report both average DPR and variance over the "adventure space".

Depends how much of a math geek you are I guess. :)

However, in the old post I did a breakdown of how the bonus attacks granted by Action Surge, Against the Horde, and Stalwart Defender compare to each other: D&D 5E - The Warrior Based on my assumptions/analysis/playtesting they were fairly balanced.
Great, that is an example of a model.

What I do when I'm doing that is I stuff that kind of analysis in [ spoiler ] blocks adjacent to the feature. So people who don't care can skip them. (also, I put design notes there). Dunno if it actually helps.
Absolutely feel you there. The challenge I encountered with that previously was two-fold: (1) Because not every fighter could be imagined to have the same non-combat roles, it was far easier to design disparate Camp Talents (think Eldritch Invocations, but for fighters) that could be chosen from. (2) When I made camp talents the word count shot up and it bloated the class design.

Your framework – four scaling features at "tier jump" levels – is elegant, and I like it, but gets back to that first challenge: Pinning down non-combat features that players can universally get behind as belonging to the fighter. And if you can surmount that significant obstacle, then you're faced with the challenge of finding design space within 5e's "hands-off" approach to non-combat rules (where things like henchmen & followers & strongholds don't really have a place).
Ya, the problem with "invocations" is that you require a book.

With subclass-ish cases, you can write 2 or 3 thematic ones, and leave the rest up to the imagination. And because they are in packages each individual feature need not be as tightly balanced.

Profession: You had a life before adventuring. At 1st level, select a profession you had before you became a fighter, and gain the associated benefits.

Soldier: You know how to set up a bivouac. If you spend an hour setting up camp during a rest, anyone spending a HD to regain HP may reroll it once (but must keep the new result), and during a long rest creatures may sacrifice a HD to regain 1 additional level of exhaustion. Setting up camp does not prevent you from taking a rest.

Guard: Your passive perception is increased by 5, and creatures have disadvantage on deception checks opposed by you.

Smith: You are proficiency in smiths tools, and when you make an attribute check where you add proficiecny due to smith tools, instead add twice your proficiency bonus. You can craft masterwork melee weapons, shields and armor that are primarily made of metal. These gain a non-magical bonus to their AC or attack and damage rolls of up to 1/2 of your proficiency bonus (round down); if the material you use is magical, they are also considered magical; some magical components may even permit the weapon to have other properties (such items usually require attunement). This crafting requires 1 month of downtime time per +1 bonus the item has, and requires materials that cost at least 5x the base price of the item per +1 bonus (so x5, x25 and x125) (if you find magical materials, this may replace this cost). If non-magical, such masterwork items require regular maintenence if in use. Every month that at least a week's downtime (by their user, or someone proficient in smiths tools) has not been spent maintaining them and they are in use, they lose a +1 bonus until repaired by someone proficient in smiths tools for a week. In addition, nonmagical masterwork shields lose +1 bonus every time you suffer a critical hit.

Finally, you have advantage on all attribute checks your smithing knowledge could apply to, including checks opposed by metal golems, constructs, or concerning smithed objects.

Simple Farmer: You gain proficiency in animal handling, and you make an attribute check where you add proficiecny due to smith tools, instead add twice your proficiency bonus. Without training, you have left your farm to seek adventure, have seen terrible things, and are not cowed. You have advantage on saving throws against fear and charm effects, and friendly creatures who see you succeed against such a saving throw also gain advantage against the same effect for the next minute.

Useless Dandy: You lived a life of comfort and got bored. You gain proficiency in deception and persuasion. The fact you aren't a quivering wreck when faced with the dangers of adventure makes everyone else feel they need to step up. When you use your fighter's second wind, up to your charisma bonus creatures (min 1) you choose who can see or hear gain temporary HP equal to the HP you heal from second wind. While they have those temporary HP, they have advantage on attacks on creatures adjacent to you.

I guess this also adds to word count.
 
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dave2008

Legend
@Quickleaf , have you looked at the levelUp fighter? I feel like it is trying to do a lot of the things you want to do. Not sure how much has changed since the playtest, but we will know soon!

I like a lot of what you are proposing, but I haven't reviewed it in detail. One of the things I think a fighter needs to do is be the best at fighting. So I think it needs some benefits that are combatants don't get. Some of the simple things we implemented are:
  • OA. A fighter gets all the typical 3e OA.
  • The fighter can trade in extra attacks for more damage on a single attack.
  • Instead of healing you can spend your second wind to add 1d10+lvl damage to one attack.
 


Quickleaf

Legend
@dave2008 Glad to see folks reading this a year later. I've glimpsed a little at LevelUp's public playtest – a lot of it is very interesting, and I think quite well done, but definitely turning up the complexity dial an order of magnitude.

I was aiming for something a bit lighter or tighter in focus. My first try at homebrewing the fighter ended up with big lists of maneuver-like things to choose from, and it was just too much bloat. So this was my slimmer take.

I like a lot of those changes for your home game. The idea of the fighter being the "gets the most out of reactions" class has a lot going for it. I know that wasn't baked into 3e, but apparently Combat Reflexes was one of the more popular feat options from what I've heard.
 

ECMO3

Hero
I think the class here is way more powerful than the current 5E class and will outshine all other martials (including Rogues) by quite a bit. I like a few of the ideas, but I think they need to be reworked in terms of power. Here are my comments FWIW:

Iron Guard
I think Bulwark needs some tweaking. First state the dodge has to be taken as an action and no other actions are allowed on that turn except bonus action. This avoids the abuse you would get by combining it with haste, action surge or a Monk multiclass.

Second, eliminate "You gain a saving throw against any spells or effects which would cause automatic damage "

The idea of automatic damage is it is automatic. If I use this I can jump off a cliff and save to avoid falling damage, I can decide to swim through lava and save to avoid fire damage. I can save to avoid damage from booming blade or hex .....

The other two are fine.

Parlay
The reaction attack is good. The rest of it is essentially four free skill proficiencies (Deception, Persuasion, Performance and Intimidation). This infringes quite a bit on the Rogue and Bard, almost to the point of making those classes irrelevant.

I think if you want to add your proficiency bonus to charisma skills, a more balanced approach is to include all of these charisma skills in the fighter pool and let him choose them instead of other skills. Then with the right background you could get all of them if that is the fighter you want to be.

So if you want to be the noble everyman you can be by selecting those skills. If you want to be the cruel mercenary working for slave traders you can be that instead.

I think your reasoning here is going against the grain in terms of the direction the game is going. Certainly this castle-owning lord type was a part of being a fighter in AD&D but I think that represents a medieval trope and the designers are trying to move away from those stereotypes and to more diversity in each class.

Warriors Multiattack
The proficiency bonus number of attacks is ok, but I would limit it to once per short rest.

Not needing reactions to make an OA is a big problem with bounded accuracy, the maximum number of OAs you should ever be able to make is 1.

Weapon Expertise
For balance reasons these should not be a class feature IMO. I think they make more sense as battlemaster maneuvers with a use limit. I would substitute the battlemaster damage dice for the weapon damage dice on attacks that hit multiple targets though and I would require more than one dice to be used on attacks that hit more than one target.

Power Strike
With bounded accuracy, the damage here should be 1d6 not full weapon damage.

Fortitude
This should be scrapped IMO. Diamond soul should be more powerful than indomitable because the fighter deals a lot more damage than a monk of similar level, has more hit points and a better AC. I think you can work this into a homebrew feat that any class can take, but I would limit uses per day

Improved Fighting Style
I think a better option is to allow an additional fighting style. Also Paladins and Rangers do not select from the same styles, unarmed combat and blind fighting are unique to fighters already. Superior technique is also unique to fighters I think and this is the "master of combat" vibe lacking in the other classes. I think TCE really upped the game so that everyone can benefit substantially from an additional fighting style and I think that would be preferable to an improved style.

Legendary
These should require a reaction to use IMO.
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
I think the class here is way more powerful than the current 5E class and will outshine all other martials (including Rogues) by quite a bit. I like a few of the ideas, but I think they need to be reworked in terms of power. Here are my comments FWIW:
Thanks for your feedback ECMO3!

I think it's worth reiterating that this rewrite was born of a blend of things – one of which is specific deficiencies (mentioned in my OP) with the PHB fighter class as compared to "warrior types" like the barbarian, paladin, and ranger. I can reiterate those if it would be helpful, but, yeah, it is intended to be somewhat more powerful than the default fighter – because one of my objectives was filling those deficiencies. There is definitely room for fine-tuning how much more powerful, but the premise here is that it SHOULD be more powerful than the PHB fighter, because that class is lacking features at key levels which its other "warrior type" counterpart have.

Just clarifying that if the discussion is #1 "how much more powerful is appropriate/desirable?" then I am very happy to have that discussion.

Whereas if the discussion is #2 "I disagree with your premise. It shouldn't be any more powerful than the PHB fighter." well, that's actually a discussion about the premises in my OP. So it's a very different conversation.

I'm assuming we're having a #1 discussion, but if I'm assuming incorrectly, please correct me.

ECMO3 said:
I think your reasoning here is going against the grain in terms of the direction the game is going. Certainly this castle-owning lord type was a part of being a fighter in AD&D but I think that represents a medieval trope and the designers are trying to move away from those stereotypes and to more diversity in each class.

I know I'm responding out of order a little, but I wanted to reply to this comment first. The whole point of fan-made classes is to approach design with a different lens than the designers, right?

Otherwise, if I was moving in the exact same grain with the same design philosophy, I'd basically recreate the fighter with minor, if any, differences. And there's no point in that. It's "milk toast."

What I'm saying is that, there is merit in challenging the design ethos which resulted in a particular class or rules implementation.

In this case, my design thinking is – hey, I agree with Mike Mearls' thoughts about the fighter being designed toward mechanics first, not story first, and my tl;dr explanation for that is that removing all that AD&D vassalage stuff left a void in the fighter that hasn't been filled since.

I also am under no illusion that there's a lot of demand for this. I've looked at all the existing data points we have exhaustively, and by and large ~75% of players are totally happy with the 5e fighter. So obviously, I'm not "fixing something that isn't broken for the people who like it already", rather I'm trying to create big effects with minimalistic changes for the minority of us who want something different (and even then my approach won't work for others in that minority - it's hardly unified). In other words, I'm not trying to recreate 4th edition's level of complexity, but I'm trying to keep towards the more streamlined 5th edition. Small changes for maximum effect is where I'm coming from in this re-write.

Back to work, but you have some great ideas for tweaking the power and adjusting. I like a lot of it, and it deserves a well thought-out response, just need to have a block of time to thoughtfully respond.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
@Quickleaf or even @NotAYakk have you congealed your ideas and perhaps put them in a pretty/clear pdf format?
No, it is a lot of work. Needing 1 "profession" per tier is a challenge, even with 3 choices per tier.

"Profession" overlaps with background too much. Maybe ditch it, or give a 2nd background.

"Destiny of the"
Smith, Reborn, Fool

"Conquest over"
Order, Chaos, Fate

"Legend of the"
Ruler, Revolution, Destruction
 

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