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D&D 5E [Homebrew] Tool Techniques: Skill-based features for Martial classes that represent Talent, Cunning, and other utility effects!

Flagbearer Games

5e Publisher
Hey y'all! So a common critique in the D&D community is that Martial classes lack substantive out-of-combat effects that can significantly contribute to the narrative in the way that a Caster’s toolbox of spells can. I’ve been chewing on this one for a while, and these Tool Techniques are my stab at creating meaningful, skill-based utility effects to represent a Martial hero’s talent or cunning.

While the baseline rules for tools in 5e allow characters to mix and match attributes and tools arbitrarily, I’ve grouped tools by attribute for the sake of this mechanic (and added a few new tools from the Nations & Cannons campaign setting). Like a spell, each Technique has a description, an activation time, and certain discrete parameters. You don’t expend a resource like a spell slot to activate a Technique, but instead make a tool check, which can have different degrees of success and failure.

Each attribute category has a mixture of complex and more straightforward techniques. There's at least one simple passive effect for each, because this system is fairly complex! That's so if you introduce this mechanic to your table, the players that want to engage with it in a deep way can do so, and others can pick up a minor flavorful buff and move on.

Right now, the metasystem for selecting and preparing Tool Techniques is simply based on proficiency, with a character able to swap their prepared technique on a rest. I’m not entirely satisfied with this system, but it will need playtesting to slot this mechanic into the existing class framework without unbalancing the game. I could easily see certain classes gaining additional prepared techniques, or explicitly tying this to expertise and/or the Expert class grouping in the One D&D playtest.

Anyway, these have been in the oven for a few months, and I would love feedback! Definitely interested in carrying this design forward, or even building a 3rd party Artificer-like that’s built with Tool Techniques as a major class component.

GMBinder Link: Tool Techniques

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