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5E Intelligence Based Dueling Ideas

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, I don't think that allowing a character to use Intelligence for attack and damage is a balance issue, especially in an edition where charisma as an attack stat is one to three levels of warlock away, and only 2 classes use Int as a main stat.

That being said, I don't think I'm going to finish my Swordmage or Marshal class anytime soon, after having lost nearly all information I had on them because homebrewery won't load them up...

In which case, I am instead looking to subclass options! So, firstly, I think that a Swordmage themed subclass for fighter or rogue or monk could work, though the monk one would possible require replacing wisdom with int? Anyway, here are my basic ideas, and what I see as the pros and cons. I'd love some feedback before I start actually trying to hammer out details.

Fighter:
  • Swordmage Fighter - Gains 13+Int mod AC, can use shields, no armor. I'd also add a fighting style that simply allows you to change the damage type of your weapon attacks with a bonded weapon to an elemental damage type, and use a bonus action to add 1d4 of that damage to your next weapon damage roll that turn. Subclass would gain curated spells with a limited /SR cooldown, limited very tightly to spells that either improve your physical abilities or are combined with a weapon attack. You can use your weapon as a spellcasting focus. Subclass built to not need a "cast a spell and make an attack" feature, but instead add magic to the attack action.
  • Smarty-Pants Duelist Rogue - Don't have a good name off the top of my head. Use Int for attack with finesse weapons? Like, I know the Inquisitive is there, but...it's not good. I'd rather my "examine the target for sneak attack" rogue be a duelist, anyway. The idea would be to be the non-magical foil to the swordmage, using anatomy, geometry, and esoteric knowledge, to defeat foes.
  • Monk, Way of The Swordsage/Sword Saint/Sohei - Replace Int for Dex for the entire build. Use Dex for attack, damage, and AC. Maybe even for Dex saves, IDK. Can exceed movement when using Step of The Wind. Can reposte when attacked while benefiting from the Dodge Action. Expanded Monk Weapon list, to include rapier and glaive, or just rapier and also a feature that makes spears gain reach with some wording that prevents PAM if we really feel that is necessary. (i don't)
Any other basic ideas?
 

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Laurefindel

Adventurer
... but I like smarty-pants rogue ...

throwing whatever come to my head now:
Int as a bonus to Initiative
Int as a bonus to attack x/day or duration (pseudo arcane version of the Paladin sacred weapon)
Int as temp hit points
"Outsmarting" manoeuvre of some sort; enemy must resist with Int save!
Int as a replacement of Str/Dex/Wis/Cha on one or two skills.
Int bonus as a number of (feature) per short/long rest (kind of obvious...)
Feature based on the use of Investigation skill (to find a weakness to exploit? to use environment against enemy?)
Replace proficiency bonus with Int modifier for certain things (unprecedented and probably useless)
Int as a bonus to save for you and allies. Aura-type feature?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
... but I like smarty-pants rogue ...

throwing whatever come to my head now:
Int as a bonus to Initiative
Int as a bonus to attack x/day or duration (pseudo arcane version of the Paladin sacred weapon)
Int as temp hit points
"Outsmarting" manoeuvre of some sort; enemy must resist with Int save!
Int as a replacement of Str/Dex/Wis/Cha on one or two skills.
Int bonus as a number of (feature) per short/long rest (kind of obvious...)
Feature based on the use of Investigation skill (to find a weakness to exploit? to use environment against enemy?)
Replace proficiency bonus with Int modifier for certain things (unprecedented and probably useless)
Int as a bonus to save for you and allies. Aura-type feature?
I like a lot of those, but the bolded really stands out. Stances, each of which are named for a School, and each gives an Int based boost to something, with different uses, like ignoring difficult terrain and add Int to defense while in difficult terrain, or gaining advantage when you have the high ground, etc.
 

I have an idea that's perhaps too big of a tweak to the Fighter to be published, but which I'd consider for a homebrew. Basically, the fighter gets some number of prepared 'techniques,' and they can learn more as they adventure.

At the end of a long rest, choose a number of techniques you know up to your proficiency bonus. You have access to those technique until you take another long rest. After you use a technique you cannot use it again until you finish a short or long rest. If a technique calls for a saving throw, the DC is 8 + your Intelligence modifier + your proficiency bonus.

---

Starter Techniques
There are two categories of techniques – aegis and flourish.

An aegis is a technique that can turn the momentum of a fight by not only avoiding an attack, but also putting your opponent in a bad position. Committee Defense is an aegis that rewards anticipating what attacks opponents will use against you.

A flourish is a technique that you can add to an attack that meets a certain condition. Experimental Strike is a flourish with the requirement that your attack has to miss.

Committee Defense (Aegis)
Every graduate of a martial academy must defend their thesis. They present their findings to a committee, who pose questions to look for gaps in their knowledge. A wise student anticipates these questions and has a good answer at hand. Similarly, in battle it pays to anticipate what manner of attack enemies might use against you.

When a creature attacks you with a weapon (including an unarmed strike or natural weapon), before it hits or misses you can use this technique as a reaction to compose a proper defense and retort. Until the end of your next turn, all attacks against you of that same type (melee or ranged) have disadvantage. Additionally, your sudden insight into that weapon grants you inspiration, which you can only use on attack rolls using that specific type of weapon (e.g., a longsword or a scimitar or a shortsword). If you don't use this inspiration before you take a short or long rest, you lose it.

Experimental Strike (Flourish)
Scientific breakthroughs are born of both careful study and wild experimentation. Whenever you use the Attack action and miss with an attack, you may use this technique to make an improvised attack without spending an action, such as slicing a rope to pin an enemy with a chandelier, or smashing a pipe to spray blinding steam on an enemy.

Circumstances will dictate how many foes are affected, but this ability should not do more than 1d10 + your Intelligence modifier in damage, and any conditions imposed (such as prone or blinded) should seldom last more than one round. Creature affected can make an Intelligence saving throw to anticipate your trick and avoid the effect.

---

Then I would seed more techniques throughout the setting, maybe giving villains some you can learn.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I have an idea that's perhaps too big of a tweak to the Fighter to be published, but which I'd consider for a homebrew. Basically, the fighter gets some number of prepared 'techniques,' and they can learn more as they adventure.

At the end of a long rest, choose a number of techniques you know up to your proficiency bonus. You have access to those technique until you take another long rest. After you use a technique you cannot use it again until you finish a short or long rest. If a technique calls for a saving throw, the DC is 8 + your Intelligence modifier + your proficiency bonus.

---

Starter Techniques
There are two categories of techniques – aegis and flourish.

An aegis is a technique that can turn the momentum of a fight by not only avoiding an attack, but also putting your opponent in a bad position. Committee Defense is an aegis that rewards anticipating what attacks opponents will use against you.

A flourish is a technique that you can add to an attack that meets a certain condition. Experimental Strike is a flourish with the requirement that your attack has to miss.

Committee Defense (Aegis)
Every graduate of a martial academy must defend their thesis. They present their findings to a committee, who pose questions to look for gaps in their knowledge. A wise student anticipates these questions and has a good answer at hand. Similarly, in battle it pays to anticipate what manner of attack enemies might use against you.

When a creature attacks you with a weapon (including an unarmed strike or natural weapon), before it hits or misses you can use this technique as a reaction to compose a proper defense and retort. Until the end of your next turn, all attacks against you of that same type (melee or ranged) have disadvantage. Additionally, your sudden insight into that weapon grants you inspiration, which you can only use on attack rolls using that specific type of weapon (e.g., a longsword or a scimitar or a shortsword). If you don't use this inspiration before you take a short or long rest, you lose it.

Experimental Strike (Flourish)
Scientific breakthroughs are born of both careful study and wild experimentation. Whenever you use the Attack action and miss with an attack, you may use this technique to make an improvised attack without spending an action, such as slicing a rope to pin an enemy with a chandelier, or smashing a pipe to spray blinding steam on an enemy.

Circumstances will dictate how many foes are affected, but this ability should not do more than 1d10 + your Intelligence modifier in damage, and any conditions imposed (such as prone or blinded) should seldom last more than one round. Creature affected can make an Intelligence saving throw to anticipate your trick and avoid the effect.

---

Then I would seed more techniques throughout the setting, maybe giving villains some you can learn.
I had a similar idea with my Swordmage. Techniques worked like wizard spells, complete with a Manual Esoterica, in which one scribes the fighting techniques you know.

In your travels, you can learn new techniques by finding other Manuals Esoterica, training with another Swordmage, or even by making intelligence checks when an enemy uses a technique you don’t know in a battle where you can see it.

Your Subclass would grant certain techniques, representing the specific training you have, as well as specific and unique Aegis options. An Aegis is essentially a Stance, that gives a passive defensive boost, and has active techniques that are only available while that Aegis is active.

it ended up a lot like if the monk’s core ki abilities were one of several sets of ki abilities tied to a stance or kata, and if you change katas, you lose access to Flurry, SoTW, and Patient Defense, and instead gain 3 other abilities.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
What’s something unique that an intelligent duelist could do?

Gain an extra Reaction?

Move 10 ft every time they use a reaction, before or after the reaction?

atwill riposte or parry?

Hell, riposte any time you reduce damage with Uncanny Dodge, as your level 9 ability?
 

auburn2

Explorer
So, I don't think that allowing a character to use Intelligence for attack and damage is a balance issue, especially in an edition where charisma as an attack stat is one to three levels of warlock away, and only 2 classes use Int as a main stat.

That being said, I don't think I'm going to finish my Swordmage or Marshal class anytime soon, after having lost nearly all information I had on them because homebrewery won't load them up...

In which case, I am instead looking to subclass options! So, firstly, I think that a Swordmage themed subclass for fighter or rogue or monk could work, though the monk one would possible require replacing wisdom with int? Anyway, here are my basic ideas, and what I see as the pros and cons. I'd love some feedback before I start actually trying to hammer out details.

Fighter:
  • Swordmage Fighter - Gains 13+Int mod AC, can use shields, no armor. I'd also add a fighting style that simply allows you to change the damage type of your weapon attacks with a bonded weapon to an elemental damage type, and use a bonus action to add 1d4 of that damage to your next weapon damage roll that turn. Subclass would gain curated spells with a limited /SR cooldown, limited very tightly to spells that either improve your physical abilities or are combined with a weapon attack. You can use your weapon as a spellcasting focus. Subclass built to not need a "cast a spell and make an attack" feature, but instead add magic to the attack action.
  • Smarty-Pants Duelist Rogue - Don't have a good name off the top of my head. Use Int for attack with finesse weapons? Like, I know the Inquisitive is there, but...it's not good. I'd rather my "examine the target for sneak attack" rogue be a duelist, anyway. The idea would be to be the non-magical foil to the swordmage, using anatomy, geometry, and esoteric knowledge, to defeat foes.
  • Monk, Way of The Swordsage/Sword Saint/Sohei - Replace Int for Dex for the entire build. Use Dex for attack, damage, and AC. Maybe even for Dex saves, IDK. Can exceed movement when using Step of The Wind. Can reposte when attacked while benefiting from the Dodge Action. Expanded Monk Weapon list, to include rapier and glaive, or just rapier and also a feature that makes spears gain reach with some wording that prevents PAM if we really feel that is necessary. (i don't)
Any other basic ideas?
I like the swordmage, not the others though. One questionn on the swordmage though, why is base AC 13+int instead of 10+int. I think 10 makes more sense, he can get mage armor if he wants 13.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I like the swordmage, not the others though. One questionn on the swordmage though, why is base AC 13+int instead of 10+int. I think 10 makes more sense, he can get mage armor if he wants 13.
Well, no. It’d be 10+Dex+Int in that case. 13+Int allows them to be a strength based class.

also, the point is that it is a combination of magical armor and using their intellect to predict the battlefield and avoid danger.
 

Laurefindel

Adventurer
What’s something unique that an intelligent duelist could do?
read their enemy's patterns and learn to anticipate their movement
take advantage of their mistakes
lure them into a trap or set-up
make judicious use of terrain
provoke their enemies to hinder one another

You could make a class that plays with 1s and 20s, and advantage and disadvantage
anticipate movement: fight enemy for 1 round. On round 2+, turn a critical hit into a regular hit.
take advantage of mistake: Make attack as reaction if enemy rolls natural 1 on attack roll
lure into trap: feature deals X damage, enemy can negate with int save.
make judicious use of terrain. gain advantage or impose disadvantage
hinder enemies: designate one enemy. This enemy gives you half cover against other enemies in same melee.

Probably need a resource pool in there somehow. Just brainstroming...
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
read their enemy's patterns and learn to anticipate their movement
take advantage of their mistakes
lure them into a trap or set-up
make judicious use of terrain
provoke their enemies to hinder one another

You could make a class that plays with 1s and 20s, and advantage and disadvantage
anticipate movement: fight enemy for 1 round. On round 2+, turn a critical hit into a regular hit.
take advantage of mistake: Make attack as reaction if enemy rolls natural 1 on attack roll
lure into trap: feature deals X damage, enemy can negate with int save.
make judicious use of terrain. gain advantage or impose disadvantage
hinder enemies: designate one enemy. This enemy gives you half cover against other enemies in same melee.

Probably need a resource pool in there somehow. Just brainstroming...
I love a lot of those, especially the bolder one!
 

The trick though is to also avoid anything that is too bound to physicality to pull off with just your mind. I.e. a high intelligence could help one predict possible trajectories for aiming a bow (and thankfully 5e is rules lite enough that it doesn't require "realism" regarding needing minimum strength to pull the string), but think you'd have a much harder argument that reading a book on how to lift and knowing how physics works means you can suddenly climb a wall or lift a heavy object without the proper tools to take advantage of said knowledge.

Apologies to those I've just given horrific flashbacks to ropes and pullup bars in gym class.
 


Big spell - counterspell -countercounterspell-countercountercounterspell .....

:p
You joke, but the idea of something a fighter or rogue using intelligence (arcane knowledge) and weaponry to "cut through" and cancel or alter magic somehow could be quite interesting. The struggle is how to translate that to mechanics. Dispelling or counter spelling or hindering concentration are easy such ideas, but one thing I'd ideally suggest if designing such a thing is that you do NOT just copy the mageslayer(or hunter, whatever) feat. Make something that compliments and works with it. Something like they can cut into an aoe effect cast on them and negate a cone area behind them (i.e. cutting a fireball in half), or making tweaking an active spell's magical formula so that they can reduce an enemy's defenses (i.e. reduce mage armor or shield spells bonus by a flat amount), or change an incoming damage type. Think of it like a sort of reverse metamagic sort of thing where they can only effect others' spells or effects and not cast their own spells.

Another idea, sort of similar to the using terrain thing is the ability to somehow set up cause and effect in rube goldberg sort of ways. A great example of this is in the show Alphas, where one character basically kills someone on the other side of a crowded city block by setting off a chain reaction of objects using a quarter. Good luck translating it to game though, admittedly. 😅
 

Coroc

Hero
...

Another idea, sort of similar to the using terrain thing is the ability to somehow set up cause and effect in rube goldberg sort of ways. A great example of this is in the show Alphas, where one character basically kills someone on the other side of a crowded city block by setting off a chain reaction of objects using a quarter. Good luck translating it to game though, admittedly. 😅
World of Tiers by Phillip Jose Farmer: Theres a Rube Goldberg machine I think by using some magic furniture which moves away automatically if I can remember correctly.
Another nice twist in the Book is when they drown a magic portal in an ocean, flooding a fortress where the destination gate is.
 

A further thought occurs after thinking about the alteration of magic idea, the psi-knight's abilities to do stuff like reduce damage could easily be reskinned to be the character doing this sort of thing. It's even int based.

I do like the idea of some sort of rogue using sneak attack dice as a resource to say, reduce spell damage, or some sort of other thing. Or using them to somehow buff their allie's ability checks, attacks, etc. Sort of like an alternative to bardic performance perhaps?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You joke, but the idea of something a fighter or rogue using intelligence (arcane knowledge) and weaponry to "cut through" and cancel or alter magic somehow could be quite interesting.
Yeah it makes me wish that the feat worked differently, because I want this character to interrupt spells with an OA.
 

Eltab

Hero
Study Foe: As a bonus action on your turn you observe your foe's fighting style. Pick one target with whom you are in melee. You may extend this analysis for a number of sequential turns equal to or less than your proficiency bonus. On the final turn you may apply a bonus to your to-hit and damage rolls equal to the number of turns you Studied that Foe.

So at L3 you could get a +3 bonus to your attack on Turn Three.
(Somehow I can hear "Finishing Move!" from an old stand-up video game.)

Be sure to pick out the Boss.
 

Yeah it makes me wish that the feat worked differently, because I want this character to interrupt spells with an OA.
To be fair, it sort of does work this way. If you hit, it does for a concentration saving throw, which I think the feat let's you give them disadvantage on if I recall correctly.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
To be fair, it sort of does work this way. If you hit, it does for a concentration saving throw, which I think the feat let's you give them disadvantage on if I recall correctly.
Sadly no, the feat lets you make an attack as a reaction. Reactions occur after the thing that triggers them, unless the specific ability says otherwise. There is no rules that forces a concentration check if you get hit while casting a spell.

So, the feat doesn’t, RAW, allow you to interrupt a spell.
 

Sadly no, the feat lets you make an attack as a reaction. Reactions occur after the thing that triggers them, unless the specific ability says otherwise. There is no rules that forces a concentration check if you get hit while casting a spell.

So, the feat doesn’t, RAW, allow you to interrupt a spell.
I could've sworn it was the other way around with reactions being resolved first unless it was phrased in a way that makes sense otherwise (like taking damage and casting Hellish Rebuke), as otherwise how could someone attack a person who moves out of reach if they are now some undefined 10-movement speed amount of space away without a reach weapon, but perhaps that might just be the exception then?

We've always house ruled that any reaction attack typically happens first. Chalk it up as one more houserule/remnant of older systems at my table if it's the case. shrugs
 

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