D&D 5E [Homebrew] Way of the Fencing Master: a Monk subclass for a Courtly Duelist

Flagbearer Games

5e Publisher
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The shift towards fencing as a sport rather than as military training happened from the mid-18th century, and was led by Domenico Angelo, who established a fencing academy, Angelo's School of Arms, in Carlisle House, Soho, London in 1763. There, he taught the aristocracy the fashionable art of swordsmanship. His school was run by three generations of his family and dominated the art of European fencing for almost a century.

He established the essential rules of posture and footwork that still govern modern sport fencing, although his attacking and parrying methods were still much different from current practice. Although he intended to prepare his students for real combat, he was the first fencing master to emphasize the health and sporting benefits of fencing more than its use as a killing art, particularly in his influential book L'École des armes (The School of Fencing), published in 1763.
Source: Wikipedia

A twist on the standard Monk subclass, Way of the Fencing Master combines swordfighting techniques with the noble demeanor of a historical grandmaster, often found in the courts of kings and emperors in the 17th and 18th centuries. A Fencing Master would be a paragon of refinement and athleticism, often opening schools that taught dance, chess, courtly languages, and even the classics. All of the effects and ability names here were designed working with a fencing instructor.

As a Monk subclass, Fencing Master replaces the ki resource with élan, which represents vitality, panache, and honorable determination. I'm encouraged to see WotC signal that Monk in the OneD&D playtest will move away from an orientalist aesthetic and toward historical martial arts styles, and I think they may take a similar approach in the next playtesting packet.

GMBinder Link: Way of the Fencing Master


Nations & Cannons is a D&D campaign setting for 18th Century adventures! Straight from the pages of history, our ruleset offers new backgrounds, feats, and character options for living and fighting in the Age of Revolutions. This project will always be accessible for educators, so our quickstart rules are free to download. For more free content, follow along on Discord.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeeeesssss.

This is exactly what I’ve been talking about in my hopes for the monk thread, and working toward with my full class rewrite. Duelliste is a pretty good name, even.

Hell yeah. Good job.
 

Flagbearer Games

5e Publisher
Thank you! I think there's lots of room in the Monk chassis for other historical martial arts like Afro-Brazilian Capoeira, or a Seminole Wardancer, or a Māori Hakka practitioner (something we really want to partner with Black and Indigenous designers to work on in the future).

I think Fencing Master probably needs one more dedicated playtest pass, but the courtly social features were a ton of fun to write.
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I've thought of doing this with a kensei monk - a bit of reflavoring, the noble background and voila! But this is a neat way of doing it too
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I will admit I was going to challenge how very French the subclass is, until I realized it was for a product set in the late 18th century. I think the Spanish school was still around by then, but certainly the world at large was fencing in the French school.

Query - Why no flèche?
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Good question. Partially because couldn't find a super organic way to work it in, but I'm also holding the term in reserve in case I want to make a flechette firearm mechanic (which would be more steampunk, less actual history).
Yeah fair. It’s basically a light duelist’s charge attack, and the game sucks at charge attacks for some reason.
 

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