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Playtest (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document #2: Fighter

Welcome to the second Level Up playtest document. This playtest contains a candidate for the first 10 levels of game’s fighter class, and our new combat maneuvers system.


This playtest document begins to address three issues which you said were important in the survey we posted last month:
  • Meaningful character choices at each advancement level
  • A fully fleshed out exploration pillar*
  • A range of martial maneuvers to give non-spellcasters more options in combat
*Exploration knacks, as introduced in this playtest document, only form part of the exploration pillar.

Download the playtest document

What this is
This is a playtest document. We’d love you to try out the rules presented here, and then answer the follow-up survey in a few days.

What this is not
This is NOT the final game. It’s OK if you don’t like elements of these rules; that’s the purpose of a playtest document. Be sure to participate in the follow-up survey in a few days. All data, positive or negative is useful.

What we use this for
Your survey responses help form the direction of the game as it goes through the development process.

Don’t forget!
Sign up for the mailing list for notifications of playtests, surveys, and news, and to make sure you get notified on Kickstarter when the project launches in 2021.

Continue reading...
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
Fairly technical question; I know techniques can be used as attack replacements during an Attack option, which makes sense. Do maneuvers that count as "Actions" also count as the Attack action for purposes of abilities that require an Attack option? (I'm thinking specifically of two weapon fighting, or feats like Shield Master.)
A designer commenting with the intent of a rule messes with the playtesting process so I am wont to do so.

Interpret what's there, comment about it (like above! ♥), and include it in your response to the survey.

I want to answer that though. >.<

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Lord Mhoram

From a read through - I love it. All the abilities not directly combat related really help make a well rounded class, Weapon Lore really jumping out at me as something useful, out of combat, and very fitting to a fighter.

Back when Bo9S came out (and 4th edition) - I was one of those that had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of daily or encounter fighter abilities - I play for immersion, and I tended to tie character choice and player choice. If there was a limited resource available to the character, I wanted it to be a character choice not a player choice, and I couldn't with that set up. My idea was to have someone with a stamina pool or something that you used, and when you ran out you were just too tired to use those. PF had a version of that. What you have here is exactly what I had figured for the solution. And unlike others I love the names and flavor of the school, styles and maneuvers. Stances were something I really loved.

The best thing I think I can say is that this class makes me want to play a "vanilla" fighter right now, and I haven't done that in over 20 years.


That's an interesting read.

Well done for giving abilities at the dead levels.

I'd like to bring Indomitable to Tier 1 at 4th level. And rather than a re-roll, just make it an auto-pass, a la Legendary Resistance. KISS applies.

I really don't like the Archery Fighting Style. Make it "You do not suffer the -2 penalty for firing into melee."

No Action Surge? Fighters need this to maintain even a semblance of equity with the other fighting classes.

Steely Mien? Anyone wearing a full helm is going to claim this.

I'm sure I'll come up with more later.

Even in concept, I would expect a Fighter to be an excellent tool user: making or repairing their armor or sword, applying an herbalist kit, or even being good at making beer! (Actually, a practical skill to help boost the morale of comrades.)

There's no "weapon repair" toolkit. There's just smith's tools, which requires an entire forge. Herbalism, beermaking, etc., would come with your background or origin. In retrospect, the Villager human should have a tool proficiency.

(Speaking of tools, if they writers are listening, include a Fletcher's kit and maybe something like a tailor's kit--if I can make shoes with a cobbler's kit, I should be able to sew as well!)


Reading through it...it's quality, top-notch stuff. Was hoping more for alternate choices to what exists in the PHB, not so much a full re-design, but this is still excellent.

I can say I despise the major/minor advantage mechanic. It's just unnecessary. Advantage and disadvantage work well as is. Adding a layer of minutae to it is just...well, as far as I see it, wildly unnecessary. If it was found needed to make the surrounding class features work (or work better), then it's the class features that need retooling, not the advantage/disadvantage mechanic.

Otherwise, this is very good stuff.


Unserious gamer
Just trying to pick some maneuvers for a level 10 fighter, noticed some issues here and there. I'm mostly evaluating these based on how much they grab me, in the sense that I really want to take them. Based on that, I'm starting at level 3 and working my way down, since 3rd level maneuvers should be the most exciting!

1) Immovable: I think I'd like it better as a reaction, but I can see why it isn't.

2) Paralyzing Blow - Awesome.

3) Punishing Heft - Feels a little low for level 3, I think 1d8 or 1d10 would be better.

4) Blindshot - Probably too limited for a situational ability. Should be all attacks in the next round, or cancel disadvantage entirely on one shot.

5) Ricochet - YES! That's an archer ability!

6) Volley - YES!

7) Mirror's Glint, all 3. Love all of them.

8) Deceptive Strike - Should be a technique. As an action, it's worse than making 2 attacks.

More later.

This confused me for a minute because you didn't include archetypes, so I kept wondering where they were and if those martial traditions were replacing archetypes!

I see fighters aren't getting their extra ASIs anymore, but the new abilities more than make up for that. No Second Wind or Action Surge?

I meant to include this in my last post and then got sidetracked.

I'm not fond of the new minor advantage mechanic. I think it'll be too easy to forget when you get it or when you need to roll it. I'm playing a fighter for the first time with Great Weapon Fighting and I often have to remind myself that I get to reroll 1s and 2s.

My suggestion: Minor Advantage/Disadvantage is a +2 bonus (or +5, whichever you prefer). You can only get one minor advantage or disadvantage at a time, and they cancel each other out, just like regular advantage/disadvantage, and it doesn't stack with itself. This would be the only type of standard bonus in the game, as opposed to 3e or PF or whatever, where there were moral/circumstance/racial/whatever bonuses. However, you could stack a minor and a regular advantage/disadvantage (or even have a minor ad and regular disad, and vice versa).

There's no "weapon repair" toolkit. There's just smith's tools, which requires an entire forge. Herbalism, beermaking, etc., would come with your background or origin. In retrospect, the Villager human should have a tool proficiency.

(Speaking of tools, if they writers are listening, include a Fletcher's kit and maybe something like a tailor's kit--if I can make shoes with a cobbler's kit, I should be able to sew as well!)
Smiths tools should come with knowledge to repair chainmail links, sharpen blades, hammer on a rock to reshape metal, and even improvise a makeshift furnace out of dirt on the ground (which is how it was often done anyway).

Meanwhile, the Fighter class can grant expertise with tools.


Craft homebrewer
I love the concept of Exploration Knacks. I love the concept of Steely Mien/ Martial Lore/ Reputation. I love the Maneuvers system. I love the Exertion Pool. And I love how this really is a crunchier Fighter class and not just a new archetype. On first read, there are a few individual bits that I am less sure about and I am going to need to play minor advantage/disadvantage a while to see if I get used to it. But, all-round, the design here is fantastic: the concepts, the mechanics, the wealth of well-organised thematic abilities, the meaningful choices and the crunch. Like others have said, really inspiring for playing a Fighter again. Looking forward to everything else in Level Up but I'm sold already.

A Fighter might use smith tools to sharpen a blade during a short or long rest, that would grant a damage bonus for the next combat encounter, or perhaps lasting until the wielder rolls a fumble.

Making stone age weapons might be a Survival skill, but Smith tools might help here too, as would leatherworking tools.


A designer commenting with the intent of a rule messes with the playtesting process so I am wont to do so.

@Mike Myler One other question for you. So I wrote up some threads giving some detailed feedback about the heritages and cultures and was planning to do one for the fighter.

Its a lot of work but I enjoy it, however, there's no point if its not useful to you guys. So the question is... are you all interested in long detailed threads that really dig into the playtest packets....or is it really the surveys alone that you really care about feedback wise?

Again its a labor of love, but no reason to do it if you all don't find that kind of feedback useful to you.

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
@Mike Myler
are you all interested in long detailed threads that really dig into the playtest packets....or is it really the surveys alone that you really care about feedback wise?

The design team interacts with feedback at their own discretion (I will certainly read through feedback on maneuvers but it is not a job requirement for designers to do that) and it definitely has value, but ultimately a single person's feedback is not going to be as highly valued as the aggregated responses of thousands of people so the survey responses are the top priority. Whatever you do please respond to the surveys in a serious manner (don't score them at all 1s, not all 10s, etc.).


Well, that was fun
Staff member
My suggestion: Minor Advantage/Disadvantage is a +2 bonus (or +5, whichever you prefer).
Believe me, going 3.x was our first thought. But we feel 5E shies away from small bonuses like that, and they feel awkward sitting next to advantage. We might try other iterations of minor advantage, but I don't think we'll be
@Mike Myler One other question for you. So I wrote up some threads giving some detailed feedback about the heritages and cultures and was planning to do one for the fighter.

Its a lot of work but I enjoy it, however, there's no point if its not useful to you guys. So the question is... are you all interested in long detailed threads that really dig into the playtest packets....or is it really the surveys alone that you really care about feedback wise?

Again its a labor of love, but no reason to do it if you all don't find that kind of feedback useful to you.
i think those have more value than hot takes. I know the designers read your origins thread.


Between the Maneuvers and Reserves section it was unclear to me exactly how Exertion advances. In Maneuvers it says it is 2xproficiency. Is it always 2x proficiency as proficiency increases? And then the Reserves section adds more level-based bonuses to the pool? You might be better off just having an exertion pool column in the leveling table since it is always level based. That would clear up potential confusion.


The first & most starkly apparent difference in the fluff & initial skim through is that this fighter is yearning to forge their own path & open interesting doors of their own on that path as the campaign unfolds while the phb fighter wants to be something between conan the barbarian to gimli & needs the campaign to unfold as those stories unfolded so it can stumble into the same tired cliche doors it has been stumbling into for decades.
  • SteelyMein: This is a really interesting way of leveraging "big stupid fighter" as a concept that others recognize needs to be handled with the right amount of respect rather than the default of probably being the weakest link.
  • Reserves: Page 4 reserves description & mention of exertion pool leaves me stuck with no idea what this is. It sure sounds cool.
  • Extra Attack: I don't see this as the dashed hope that @TwoSix mentioned, but I'm not jumping for joy either. The extra attack feature in 5e doesn't seem to be a problem in my eyes so much as when it's (not)applied causing odd scaling problems as abilities provide multiplicative effects in one class vrs maybe extra dice in a second class rather than the second getting less extra dice with later extra "attacks". All of that is neither here nor there for the fighter though.
  • Martial Lore: This is a really interesting set of options both for what doors it opens for the fighter along with what it frees up others to unchain themselves from. Arms merchant is an interesting feather in the cap for a fighter who wants to be a bit more party face or lean towards being socially functional but there isn't much more to say. Evaluate technique is an exciting change because bob the fighter can look at that beholder & say something he has heard about it/them while Alice the wizard can confidently say "I'm not that type of wizard" because she invested in some other fork of arcana that seemed more interesting to her character when a straight int check isn't enough. Weapon lore is phenomenal in that it allows martial types to have a role in identifying magic gear other than "Alice what does this do>you don't know?.. huh shove it in the bag & let's find someone to figure it out when we get back to town after the GM forgets what it did"
  • Indomitable: There are so many creatures with similar abilities that it's great to see the class focused around training to fight things having some training that helps them like this too.
  • Reputation: These are all neat flavorful feathers that allow a seasoned fighter to do flavorful things that previously would generally have resulted in a boring for both "bob you have good charisma, you to it" or add some mechanics behind interesting tropes players often want to call upon but rarely ever have any kind of balanced way of ding so in a meaningful fashion.
  • Exploration Knacks: These are all pretty cool little sometimes feathers that give the PC a chance to really shine in their element. By frequently having a secondary sometimes feature that burs exertion the are able to have both a minor feather-ish base ability as well as a powerful wow component without needing to build some boring niche class/PrC/Archetype around a concept not really capable of supporting a class.
  • The (Dis)Advantage changes: I was hoping for something a little more granular like (dis)advantage# where you add/subtract all the different sources together & reroll if above/below the result accordingly after I saw Morrus describe it a while back, but that kind of thing could easily go in a variant sidebar somewhere. Overall I like it but straight canceling (dis)advantage because of a minor (dis)advantage going the other way is too trivializing, something like two minor (dis)advantages cancels a straight(dis)advantage the other way & gives a straight roll with two minor giving a full (dis)advantage & maybe even three minor/full+a minor giving a greater disadvantage rolling above a 5/greater advantage rolling below a 15.
  • Combat Traditions: each one has an italic blurb like adamant mountain's "Hardiness, Might, Power". I feel like this is somehow important but it seems to be just vague fluff.
    • Stances: This is an awesome concept to pull from literally every kind of combat training that sets apart different "styles" even if someone is proficient in both.
    • Techniques: The thing that jumps out most is what I hope will become a standardized phrasing with specific meaning "Part of the attack action." 5e uses whatever phrasing seems to roll off the tongue best & sometimes metions (melee)weapon attack attack or who knows what else. I'm hoping this turns into a specific [in place of/alongside] one attack in your full extra/multi attack chain with a different phrase for the other.
    • Exertion Pool: I like this & feel like I've said as much already, but someone spoke ill of the spend a hit die to recover 1d4 points saying that players never do it in other systems & that it punishes fighters so I want to say I strongly disagree with both of those statements. I used to see it all the time when I ran Fate with players burning their stress tracks or taking consequences in exchange for succeeding at cost. Sure there are a lot of systems with a bad spend a resource for a different resource mechanic, but this one is not yet on either level. The important part is tied to the other statement, specifically that fighters/martials aren't being hurt by this as long as everyone else has awesome stuff they can burn their own previously almost useless hit dice for. With an exertion pool of double proficiency bonus on top of burning hit dice to recover 1d4 of them it makes for plenty of use without feeling too constrained like the battlemaster's SD.
  • .
    [*]Adamant Mountain
    • Heavy Combat stance: This is a interesting twist on the old -5/-10/-15/etc that sets aside design space for splitting reliably hit it like a truck vrs playing the odds take every chance or "spray & pray"
    • Heavy Swing: Cleave at a cost making it reasonable without a feat.
    • Lean Into It: I've seen this on a UA brute & this is much more balanced while having the interesting distinction of applying to every attack you make till the start of next turn so it just gets better as a player gets extra attacks through leveling, magic items, or magical buffs from an ally. Great ability
    • Mountain's Might: Cool twist on second wind that allows the player to decide if they need to use it lots, none at all, or should be using something else lots rather than just mindlessly hitting it again through the whole session.
    [*]Biting Zephyr
    • Covering Fire: This is an interesting way of using ranged weapons intelligently to fit their own niche rather than just saying ranged weapons are just like melee in every way but far enough away to avoid the risks. Also particularly notable because it pushes the ranged types to work with the party moreso than default 5e does.
    • Doubleshot: What I find particularly interesting is that it's not just "make an extra attack roll", but I'm not sure how it should combine with +# weapons, +1d# elemental/aligned weapons, or things like sneak attack damage. Some of those uncertainties are an "almost certainly don't apply" but others are "I don't know how to answer when bob brings it up the first time mid-combat" so some clarification might be nice.
    • Farshot Combat Stance: Nice little buff to ranged weapons that's again not simply "just like melee but far away." I'm hoping that this will eventually be paired with ranged weapons that have more reasonable ranges though as 10/30 feet on top of 150/600 is pretty much the equivalent of adding an extra notch on top of "who cares it's plenty"
    [*]Mirror's Glint
    • Intuitive Combat stance: A bonus to insight? I'm a bit baffled because non of the 1st tier mirror glint things seem to use insight but mist & shade along with unending wheel both seem to have things that use insight. I'm not sure I understand why this is here? Also it's not limited to combat like deceptive combat stance & such.
    • Knockdown Assault: Another till start of next turn like lean into it so the same interesting scaling applies I like the knockdown if you hit harder than x on an attack till next turn & they fail a save, but I'm not sure what the DC should be? dc=damage of attack? dc=8+prof+MOD? I kinda like dc=damage of attack since being able to make a bunch of trip attacks with a higher dc for 1 point might be too strong.
    • Leading Throw: I like this & not sure about "direction of your choice" but not sure a better wording or proper limit.
    • Warning Strike: I'm seeing a couple problems with this one. First is that it's not clear if t sets speed to zero before it leaves your reach or as it successfully leaves. Second & more importantly is that "leaves your reach" makes me sad for the hopes of a return to meaningful opportunity attacks & thinks like 5 foot step/shift while simultaneously making it harder for a GM to add them to their game by not just wording it "when you make an opportunity attack" or something.
    [*]Mist & Shade
    • Deceptive Combat Stance: Not much to say since it makes you better at some of the mist & shade stuff but it's notable that it only applies to "combat"
    • Deft Feint: neat way of implementing feint with the cost making it a nice alternative to "and I feint" as I've seen in some systems
    • Feinting Assault: very cool way of extending the feint concept to add some precision/sneak attack-like function to it
    • Painful Pickpocket: I have some players who do/have done security & pen testing jobs & even from "muggle" type players with no security background I've seen this kind of "I want to do the tv/movie thing where..." so it's phenominal to see a mechanic behind this
    [*]Rapid Current
    • Charge: I like this but it feels like it's written with a pending combat action system overhaul still in the works since it's literally something almost anyone can do even at level 1. Also it doesn't account for anyone who has a bonus/penalty to their speed.
    • Eye Slash: Interesting debuff but no mention of the save DC & blindness is really powerful.
    • Speed over Strength: I can see "Is that weapon heavy" the new "Is he wearing metal" so feel like maybe it should be either "hits" or "misses" rather when a creature "attacks" you.
    • Swift Combat stance: +5 move speed is useful. Not much else to say.
    [*]Razor's Edge
    • Dangerous Strikes: .crit on 18-20 instead of just 20 till your next turn. Nice to see crit range returning, but a hard coded number like this is hard to extend so maybe change the wording to include the words "improves by 2" or something
    • Disciplined Combat Stance: Again I'm not really sure the point since there are so few cases where perception is especially useful "in combat" outside of invisibility & such but figure that it might become more clear as more classes are released.
    • Exploit Footwork: What a neat mechanic for doing something frequently seen in movies & such when there is a big skill gap between combatants. Again those no mention of DC unless I missed them somewhere (which is certainly probable).
    • Iron Will: I wanted to say something about how 5e really took the teeth out of charm & fear effects and the monsters that had them but hope that this suggests spells & such will be interesting
    [*]Sanguine Knot
    • Doubleteam: I feel like this will be odd in play & result in a lot of "and I hold my action to attack $baddie till after $bob attacks". It's also odd that it doesn't require you to actually do anything & there is no save making for a screwy combo. Also notable that it's restricted to weapon attacks so the BSF can't grab the bbeg to make sure some nuke spell with an attack roll lands when it's needed
    • Legion Combat Stance: Nifty twist on pack tactics to a smaller degree.
    • Shield Wall: I love that this tries to bring teamwork to sword & board builds, but it feels like maybe it should be a stance & say something about facing?
    • Shoulder Check: This again is making me wonder what will happen with movement based AoOs since as written it allows the user to move 5 feet without provoking an AoO. It should absolutely include words like "for each size category difference add or subtract..." Also notable that it does not require any footing on the ground so bob could do it while swimming, standing in grease, hovering with levitate, dangling from a rope, stuck in a web spell, etc making it seem off that bob $anyRace could shoulder check a enlarged humpback whale while on his way to drowning in plate while heavily encumbered in a few rounds.
    [*]Tempered Iron
    • Imposing Glare: Using MMO terms it's a neat way to justify shedding aggo that fits d&d reasonably well & 5e already as other abilities with similar goals.
    • Reckless Combat stance: It makes a lot of sense that the class focused around learning to use weapons for combat would be able to eschew common sense & attack recklessly without taking levels inn barbarian. Good additionn.
    • Striding Swings: I'm not sure I understand this & feel like it falls into the same box of confusion I had with charge?
    • Zealous Grab: This falls into the "should be cool", but 5e grapple has almost no effect on anything & that goes double for most spellcasting opponents.
    [*]Tooth & claw
    • Bounding Steps: another movement+x ability I'm bewildered by but in this case figure the skill overhaul causes it to click?
    • Natural Counter: Nifty reaction ability since there are things that make attacks with natural weapons at almost every CR, but the term "natural weapon" needs to be defined somewhere.
    • Raking Strike: not much to say about a neat ability.
    • Springing combat stance: um?... Jump is usually a pretty pointless spell, I'm at a loss to grasp the value of a combat stance to improve your jump ability?
    [*]Unending Wheel
    • Dangerous Signature:. Interesting ability with longstanding results.
    • Focused Combat Stance: Minor advantage on first wisdom save each round. Very cool & here's to hoping most of the "if save once then immune for 24 hours" stuff gets killed off to make this worthwhile as stock 5e has very few meaningful effects that would make this really shine like it deserves.
    • Trained Swings: Seems like a more & less restrictive version of lean into it making it great for characters who want to specialize in something other than heavy weapons... but it feels like oe of them should be 1d6 to set them apart mechanically?
    • Wounding Strike: Great to see the return of what are basically bleeds
Lots of neat stuff. Some uncertainty about DCs & a few other bits but overall lots of cool stuff. This is getting pretty long so I'll leave 2nd/3rd degree to another post or something.. but I notice that there are no stances for 2nd/3rd degree. Also I want to note under biting zephyr countershot it mentions "see a missile attack"..... I don't believe that missile is defined anywhere but "ask your gm"


Jewel of the North
Its in the good direction. I feel the Fighter as more personality like this than in the PHB, which is a good thing.

I love the design goals.
  • I truly believe the fighter would benefit from 1 more skill and 1 tool proficiency.
  • The Exploration knacks are great, the Reputation and Steely Mien features are good, if a little too vague in some case. Its not clear, for example, what you gain with the Leadership feature. I guess that its a follower using some rules that will be tested later, but it could also be added to the DM's burden to generate a accompanying NPC for the player.
  • I feel their should be more fighting style to cover more fighter variant, like one for a Rider or a Hound Master, for example.

- Martial lores are too conditional:
Evaluate Technique could give information like the Monster Hunter, Battlemaster or Mastermind do.
Weapon Lore could just be ''after X time spent with Y weapon, you can learn information about it as if you cast Identify on it''.

I love the idea of maneuvers, most of them are pretty cool. I'm iffy on the ones that cost Exertion AND more than one attack. I'd prefer if they were stronger but require an Action instead. Having them use ''partial action'' is a little to confusing, I fear.

I think Indomitable is too weak. 1 reroll a day is pretty minor when you have monks with 1-ki reroll AND proficiency in all saves. I'm partial to using the UA Brute feature where it gained 1d6 to all saves, thus making it a worthwhile feature AND frees up later feature space that would otherwise be sacrificed to add more Indomitable uses. Or you could have the fighter reroll saves at-will at the cost of 1 Exertion, much like the monk.

I'd also consider more generic names for the maneuvers, to avoid adding to much world-building element to them, which should be left to the table's discretion.

On the subject of Minor Dis/Advantage, I think its too complicated as presented.
I'd keep Advantage/Disadvantage as is for the ''minor, generic, everyday dis/advantage'' and come up with a better mechanic for exceptional Advantage/Disadvantage. Maybe something like ''you cant roll more/less than 10 of a d20 roll''?
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Will there be an options for classes also to trade-in heavier armor proficiencies?

Some Regions/cultures might not have/use heavy armor or medium even.

I don't see wood elf fighter having many use for heavy armor.

trading armor proficiencies one-on-one basis for extra class skill seems fair, maybe shields for tool only.

How would people feel about replacing 'armor proficiency' with 'defensive training' (still with light/med/heavy)?

If you have medium defensive training, you

a) know how to wear medium armor, and
b) can spend a few minutes stretching and getting yourself into a defensive mindset that makes your limbs a bit heavier so you don't move as fast, but lets you better defend against attacks, granting you an AC of 13 + Dex mod (max +2) if you're unarmored, but imposes disadvantage on your Stealth checks.

Light defensive training would grant light armor proficiency and also a stance that provides AC 11 + Dex mod if you're unarmored.

Heavy defensive training would grant heavy armor proficiency and also a stance that provides AC 16 in you're unarmored, but it reduces your speed by 10 feet if you don't have at least Str 13, and it imposes disadvantage on Stealth checks.

You'd almost always prefer to wear armor if you have access to it, because it provides 1 or 2 more points of AC, but it would let warriors still be good at fighting even without armor.

Halloween Horror For 5E


Halloween Horror For 5E