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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.

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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...
 
Last edited:
Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Guy Icognito

Villager
If you're not interested in a more complex version of 5E why are you posting in a subforum about the playtests for a more complex version of 5E? It's literally the design goal.
show me where I said I didn't want more complexity?
show me the line!

the problem is forced complexity rather than optional complexity. this fighter is TELLING people how to play rather than giving them the choice
simple classes are popular. they need complexity for people who want them but it shouldn't come at the expense of people who don't want them. it should be modular and a decision point in addition to subclasses

again, the fighter is the most popular class in DnD in terms of the number of people actually playing character
but taking away what many of them like about the fighter this is giving them the finger, instead of trying to design something that can appeal to both. which was a design mistake 4th ed made and had to roll back with Essentials
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
show me where I said I didn't want more complexity?
show me the line!

the problem is forced complexity rather than optional complexity. this fighter is TELLING people how to play rather than giving them the choice
simple classes are popular. they need complexity for people who want them but it shouldn't come at the expense of people who don't want them. it should be modular and a decision point in addition to subclasses

again, the fighter is the most popular class in DnD in terms of the number of people actually playing character
but taking away what many of them like about the fighter this is giving them the finger, instead of trying to design something that can appeal to both. which was a design mistake 4th ed made and had to roll back with Essentials
So play the original fighter. Or the new advanced fighter. Whichever you want.

But calm down, please. This is a playtest process; if a playtest process is causing you to feel angry and accuse the writers of “dick moves” and “giving you the finger”, I’d suggest not participating. You won’t get through a playtest process without seeing a whole lot of stuff you don’t want. That’s the entire point of the process.
 

show me where I said I didn't want more complexity?
show me the line!

the problem is forced complexity rather than optional complexity. this fighter is TELLING people how to play rather than giving them the choice
simple classes are popular. they need complexity for people who want them but it shouldn't come at the expense of people who don't want them. it should be modular and a decision point in addition to subclasses

The Champion Fighter is simple. The other archetypes are progressively more complicated. And nearly every archetype "tells" you how to play your fighter.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I think the Archetypes will be THE place to add a precise theme to the fighter. No need for a super generic Champion or Battlemaster than can be described as 10000 other things, the base class can already cover those vague themes with the good selection of Maneuvers and other options.

I wish the choice of Archetypes would be as impactful on the character in-setting description and over-all playstyle than choosing between a fighter and a sorcerer, for example.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I decided to poll my friends re the minor (dis)ads, and the two who've responded don't really like it. One, however, suggested just adding or subtracting a dX from the roll instead. That particular mechanic is used already (bless, dragonmarked houses, etc.) and would be pretty useful. And perhaps then (if you wanted to get grainy) you can have different levels of minor (dis)ad: d4, d6, or d8.

When the survey comes out, I'll recommend that.

I'd also prefer if Dis/Advantage was a scale ranging like this: +/- 1 <-> 1d4 <-> 1d6 <-> 1d8 <-> 1d10 <->1d12 and each instance of Dis/Advantage moved the scale in a direction or the other.
 

Suggestions:

  • Steely Mein be given some magical heft. For example, if Closed Helm also made it so you have advantages on saving throws from detect thoughts and similar magic, that'd be reaaaaally cool and run home how intertwined the social pillar is with the rest of the game.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting should be solved in Level Up, and thus changed from how it was in normal 5E.
  • If stances require a right state of mind, you should exit them whenever you begin a short rest in addition to a long rest.
  • The idea about spending extra attacks for different effects is super cool. I'm not so sure about spending exertion points too. Two pools of resources to keep up with these can be annoying and, worst of all, unneeded in the balance of things.
 

Corrosive

Adventurer
show me where I said I didn't want more complexity?
show me the line!

the problem is forced complexity rather than optional complexity. this fighter is TELLING people how to play rather than giving them the choice
simple classes are popular. they need complexity for people who want them but it shouldn't come at the expense of people who don't want them. it should be modular and a decision point in addition to subclasses

again, the fighter is the most popular class in DnD in terms of the number of people actually playing character
but taking away what many of them like about the fighter this is giving them the finger, instead of trying to design something that can appeal to both. which was a design mistake 4th ed made and had to roll back with Essentials

You want more complexity but if they make the fighter more complex you're gonna get all angry and accuse them of all sorts of wrongdoing? Maybe to save future misunderstanding, you shoud list the things they are and aren't allowed to make more complex, so as to avoid your wrath?
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
Save DC on maneuvers is in the document on column 2 of page 9.

View attachment 126405
Thanks, I read that & it flew right out my ear by the time I started crunching stuff :D
1600474395300.png

That's going to make eyeslash really powerful though, for 1 point a fighter can do weapon+ability Mod+stance+blind twice at 5, 3x at 11 & 4x at 20. even a high con creature is probably almost guaranteed to fail one statistically. with blind being one of the few really dangerous conditions in 5e
1600474788831.png

Maybe add a nearsighted condition that would keep it from nuking distant squishy allies & give minor (dis)advantage on attacks?

Might as well continue with
  • Adamant Mountain
    • Imposing Trip: I actually like this a lot better than the speed reduced to zero 1st degree warning strike since standing from trip uses half movement & being prone from trip is bad bad bad. Both the wording of opportunity attack vrs when leaves your reach as well as the effect feeling more fitting.
    • Shrug it off: Cool ability. Reaction to clear poison stun or fear. Combined with all the other ways fighters can give themselves a second chance at saves this is really starting to feel like fighters will quite the tough nut.
    • Warding Wield: Interesting way of going on the defensive, but should this be a stance?
  • Biting Zephyr
    • Countershot: I like both the teamwork this one enables as well as explicitly limiting it to missiles from ranged weapon attacks with a gm discretion clause mentioning a reason/example why it might not work sometimes
    • Quickdraw: Pending more details on combat overhaul type stuff this feels kind of like a tax on someone who read the rules & built a character to work within them. Stock 5e discards so much in the name of simplicity that drawing weapons & such tends to fall into the kind of thing where everyone just ignores the fact that bob technically can't do things like draw two shortswords as part of his attack or throw a dagger for each of his attacks even if he's got a bunch. Other than surprise attack type situations how often do players really stow their weapons between fights?
    • Trickshot: assuming ranged weapon ranges are beat down to reasonable levels this is a pretty cool way of letting a ranged weapon user do the long range sniper thing at range without making them into what might as well be an orbital bombardment satellite like stock 5e does. What I'm not clear on is if this can be used to actually make an attack.
  • Mirror's Glint
    • Assisted Roll: This might be the first movement related maneuver that clicks for me. 15feet without provoking AoOs is clear & makes sense as a useful desirable thing.
    • Off balancing Strike: I'm not sure if this is underdone without the damage given than 1st tier knockdown assault likely does the same or leaves them prone where they fell if they don't use half move speed to stand... but disadvantage on dex saves can be huge.
    • Redirect Momentum: Interesting way to hit back after getting hit
  • Mist & Shade
    • Forced hesitation: Neat way of maybe stopping that not too bright troll/ogre/etc from pasting your buddy after that last barrage made them squeal or protecting a squishy. Having advantage on the save after the first use makes a lot of sense too
    • Lead On: It feels like this night have been intended as a way of disrupting defensive lines & redirecting attackers away from your squishies... But as written you gather everyone around a bad guy & try to force it to take a bunch of AoOs since it's not clear if this is forced movement that is exempt from AoOs or voluntary
    • Smart Feint: Interesting that feint is getting to be something you can target different weaknesses you hope the opponent has.
  • Rapid Current
    • Parrying Counter: +2 ac vrs 1 creature as opposed to flat +2 like shield wall or back to back from sanguine knot making for an interesting distinction, but it's not clear if they stack.
    • Rapid Drink: use a bonus action to drink or administer a potion opening the door for chugchug double potion consumption in a roundbut drinking a potion in combat is often one of the worst ways to use an action & this fighter isn't lacking in bonus action options either.
    • Rolling Strike: move 20ft without provoking AoOs & make an attack at minor disadvantage is pretty cool & sets itself up as another ?move then x" power that makes sense in addition to opening the door to allowing significant movement at cost even when more than a 5ft step/shift provoking an AoO. It has been used previously but I didn't comment, it's good to see the provoke AoO terminology again.
  • Razor's Edge
    • Enhanced Critical: +1 damage when you crit. Not exactly a crit multiplier, but frequently going to be similar or better than the average of another step on that path. Reading this though I'm about a thousand percent sure most every GM will be made to decide "is that +10 before or after it doubles?" even with criticals being double the dice on phb196.
    • Painful Counter: Not going to help you when the bbeg crits you, but getting to smack him back as a reaction might certainly make you feel a lot better about the GM's bad news making for a cool ability :D
    • Practiced Roll: Same as rolling strike but as a bonus action without the attack to make for some interesting possible diversity
  • Sanguine Knot
    • Back to Back: +2 ac to an ally similar to defensive fighting style but both of you get an extra reaction making for a better mechanic players are more likely to care about getting than protection fighting style.
    • Pack hit: I'm really liking all the teamwork & reciprocity stuff scattered through the various maneuvers. Hit a baddie & give an ally advantage on their attack against it rather than adding damage tripping or whatever makes for a more interesting twist on "and I give the rogue an extra attack" commander's strike giving the fighter more reasons for others to choose to work with them.
    • Pile On: Give all your buddies +1d4 damage to something you attack until start of your next turn
  • Tempered Iron
    • Faith within: spend 2pts to get advantage on a save against spells/magical hypothetically giving fighters yet another cool way of stacking the deck in their favor when t comes to those.
    • Gaze of conviction: impose minor disadvantage on an opponent within 30ft if it attacks anyone but you. This should probably include the words "that can see you" or similar though.
    • Stunning assault: Very cool way of maybe granting everyone advantage & triggering autofail on some stuff. But I'm unclear on how it works since it's 2pts 2 attacks. Page 9 says it reduces your atacks by that number, but 2nd degree maneuvers can be obtained at level 4 when you only have 2 attacks and even at 5 it says until the start of your next turn "when you make a melee weapon attack" without the "make a melee weapon attack" bit that seems to be in every other maneuver that eats more than 1 attack. At least as written it seems like to can take this at 4 but can't actually make it work till 11 with the third attack unless dual wielding. "yea you can take it at 4 but can't use it till 5" is fine, but seven levels is a long time so it sounds like the make a melee attack omission is just a mistake
  • Tooth & Claw
    • Leaping strike: There was a confusing charge in rapid current earlier in 1st degree that didn't seem to do anything but this is a great charge someone can focus their character identity/party role around.
    • Reflexive Strike: Bob is bitey, do most anything to him in melee & he's going to poke you back till he hits the wall making for cool twist
    • Tumble: Move your full speed & add your proficiency bonus to your ac till start of next turn making for an interesting GTFO button. but the wording "as long as you..." could maybe change to "once you..." since the current wording opens itself to awkward "I'm going to move my full speed so I get +prof ac against all these AoOs I'm about to provoke". Also "speed" should maybe be adjusted to "base speed" since a webbed/grappled/etc character who has their speed set to zero can technically tumble without moving at all.
  • Unending Wheel
    • Improvised Throw: Throw your melee weapon as if it had thrown property. I can't see it being a popular choice, but it might be fun sometimes.
    • Parry: Reduce a weapon attack against you by number of d6's equal to your proficiency bonus as a reaction. much more wow factor than the base 5e's rather underwhelming parry
    • Preternatural Strikes: Choose a weapon when you get this & ignore resistance to nonmagical weapon damage till start of your next turn whenever you burn a point. I'm at a loss to see why this needs so many strings to cover "I don't have a magic hurt stick yet"


  • Adamant Mountain
    • Immovable: It might seem minor, but anything that can knock you down or kick you around the batlemat can be a big mess with plans. Again though it doesn't say anything about footing so this will stop you from falling, sinking in water, or even washing down a river & at least some of those are almost certainly not the intent.
    • Paralyzing Blow: very cool, paralysis is powerful & opens some neat teamwork incentives.
    • Punishing Heft: Similar to Lean into it & same cost, but while lean into it id +1d4 all attacks till start of next turn this is +1d6 one attack & burns a bonus action but does not include "Make a melee weapon attack" or similar calling into question id this is a bit underdone in some way.
  • Biting Zephyr
    • Blindshot: Kinda cool option to shift the next attack from disadvantage to minor disadvantage if your attacking an invisible target. This doesn't mention merely yunseen targets obscured by total darkness or similar though... Given the presence of blindsight this might be better named as intuitive shot or something.
    • Ricochet: Nifty way of shooting one attack around cover without simply declaring that it doesn't count for you & machine gunning as normal
    • Volley: This is a nice little AOE for ranged attackers. If ranged weapons wind up having sane ranges it's great... If ranged attackers are still shooting from insane ranges then I worry about it's power
  • Mirror's Glint.
    • Flowing Form: Take the dodge action & make one attack against everything that misses you till star of next turn without burning any actions making for a very good excuse for a fighter to sometimes take dodge action.
    • Heightened Reflexes: spend 1-3 points & get that many reactions till start of next turn. It's unclear if this needs to be spent beforehand or if it can be used one by one as needed but it burns your action too. Burning your action to maybe get more reaction if you get the chances seems a poor cost/benefit with potentially long odds.
    • Redirect: Force someone attacking you to attack their ally if they fail an int save. Given that a lot of nasty melee critters tend to have average to poor intellegence this is a really useful thing
  • Mist & Shade
    • Canny Footing: force everything that attacks you to make their first attack against you with disadvantage. This is the difference between being seriously threatened by a few wolves & getting mildly threatened so there's bound to be lots of situations that make this total win.
    • Deceptive strike: make a weapon attack roll with advatntage as an action but it's not clear if this roll is an attack granted or your next weapon attack roll
    • Pickpocket. Unless sleight of hand is getting in combat uses other than pick pocket to use with a skill called "pick pocket", these types of skills tend to be maddening because it's rare to find tha every single creature has an inventory & forces the gm to make that up mid fight. Perhaps change this to disrupt fit or something & have it change/cut/etc the straps &such on an opponent's armor to give -1 or -2 ac till they spend an action fixing it or something.
  • Rapid Current
    • Rapid Strike: another interesting way of gaining advantage against a target since it applies till the start of your next turn after you hit it.
    • Disarming Counter: Similar to a trip or something earlier where being missed by 5 let you do something, in this case you force a dex save or disarm. making for an interesting way to put disarm back on the map without it being spammed.
    • Whirlwind Strike: Kind of a melee version of volley that does what this kinda thing always did, but with all the maneuvers a fighter will have it allows them to have it as just one of the tools in their toolbox that they pull out when the time is right rather than trying to shoehorn it in. Really like it.
  • Razor's Edge
    • Follow through: Make a melee attack w/advantage & hit or miss trigger a strength save or 10ft knockback for a really useful ability.
    • Deadly reflex: 2pt reaction to make a melee weapon attack as a reaction. I feel like there's been one or more like this already so not much to say but useful & maybe interesting
    • Mind over Body: dr2/- till start of your next turn but longwinded. Dr is a really powerfukl & useful ability for martial types to get so this is certain to be a keeper for a lot of folks :D
  • Sanguine Knot
    • Doubletime: "oh hell run" in a skill, you disengage & up to 3 allies can do the same as a reaction. This is a great skill, but disengage itslf needs a rework since it makes you immune to all AoOs for your entire move rather than just the limited right here baddies & takes a lot of risk out of getting overextended as a result. as disengage stands, this is also effectively "you and up to three allies charge through & ignore the now meaningless defensive line to gank the bbeg as you always will"
    • Gang Up: Pick a creature & next ally attacking it fromwithin 15 feet of it gets advantage. This is an interesting way of looping ranged attackers into the teamwork stuff but is explicitly specifies melee weapon attack to omit casters & ranged attackers while raising the question of what melee weapons have a 15ft reach...
  • Tempered Iron
    • Counterpunch: Make an attack in reaction to someone casting a spell & force a con save with a nasty DC(8+prof+strength or dex) or they lose the spell. This will cripple & maybe trivialize casters but it's tough to say more till we start seeing casters.
    • Defy Magic: Basically limited counterspell if a level 1-6 spell attack is made against you. Really powerful when paired with all the ways to retry & just nope your way out of spell saves.
    • Devoted Assault: Pick one target within 30ft & you get advantage on all attacks against it till start of your next turn but can' attack any other targets making for a really neat ability.
  • Tooth & Claw
    • Ferocity Unleashed: I'm not sure if this is good bad or just odd but definitely niche hit target A then till start of your next turn all of your attacks against any other target deal +1d8
    • Gut Strike: Wow.... Hit with an nattack & deal no save 1 level of exhaustion or 2 on a crit limited to 2 levels max. Lasts 1 minute. This is godly powerful
    • Rake: Hit a creature with 2 or more melee attacks & deal +1d8 for each after the first till start of your next turn making for a pretty cool ability
  • Unending Wheel:
    • Disarming Assault: Interesting disarm a weapon or shield & cause it to land in a random direction 10 feet away. Very cool & interesting in that this disarm isn't just forcing them to grab the weapon at their feet
    • Expert Parry: While an earlier parry rediced damage by a bunch of d6's, this one raises your ac by your proficiency bonus making for an interesting twist.
    • Honed Strike: Another choose a weapon thing but this one gives a melee weapon attack with advantage.
Another possible when missed by 5 ability I didn't see could be to drop the die size of natural weapons one step ie
2d12 ->1d10+1d12->2d10 ->etc & 1d12 ->1d10 ... 1d6>1d4 ->1

A lot of the choose a weapon things feel underwhelming in light of the restricion given that there often seems to be other maneuvers for a similar benefit not tied to choose a weapon. Choose a weapon type is good for specialozation but it doesn't feel very specialized this way

@clsawyer0328 as already noted by others, this is advanced 5e not "overly simplified 5e". Yes Advantage was a nice mechanic that 5e added to the toolbox, but then wotc threw out so much of the toolbox that they created new & sometimes worse problems stemming from a bad case of Maslow's Hammer.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
show me where I said I didn't want more complexity?
show me the line!

the problem is forced complexity rather than optional complexity. this fighter is TELLING people how to play rather than giving them the choice
simple classes are popular. they need complexity for people who want them but it shouldn't come at the expense of people who don't want them. it should be modular and a decision point in addition to subclasses

again, the fighter is the most popular class in DnD in terms of the number of people actually playing character
but taking away what many of them like about the fighter this is giving them the finger, instead of trying to design something that can appeal to both. which was a design mistake 4th ed made and had to roll back with Essentials
But this product is backward compatible. You can still choose to play all three PHB versions, and if you want simplicity, choose Champion and have at it.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Not a full review but as a quick thought

Perhaps just make the Combat Traditions be named after simple elements?
Earth, Wind, Light, Mist, Water, Steel, Blood, Iron, Claw, Wood
 



BTW, is there going to be playtest packet for the archetypes before we get the next class packet, or after we do all the classes? And since we started with fighter, are we just going to get the "main" classes (fighter, cleric, wizard, rogue), or are you just doing them in a non-alphabetical order?
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
BTW, is there going to be playtest packet for the archetypes before we get the next class packet, or after we do all the classes? And since we started with fighter, are we just going to get the "main" classes (fighter, cleric, wizard, rogue), or are you just doing them in a non-alphabetical order?
We plan to playtest all the classes. No particular order though.
 

Abstruse

Hero
I tried combining the two Playtest documents to create an Orc Fighter and...I think I'm missing an Ability Score somewhere? I take the Soldier background which gets me +1 Strength and +1 to any other ability score. But I don't get any from my Heritage, Culture, or Class. In core PHB/SRD 5e, the ability score modifiers for race is +2 to one ability score and subrace is +1 to another ability score. So comparatively, I'm short 1 ability score increase. Did I miss it or is that coming in a future playtest document?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I tried combining the two Playtest documents to create an Orc Fighter and...I think I'm missing an Ability Score somewhere? I take the Soldier background which gets me +1 Strength and +1 to any other ability score. But I don't get any from my Heritage, Culture, or Class. In core PHB/SRD 5e, the ability score modifiers for race is +2 to one ability score and subrace is +1 to another ability score. So comparatively, I'm short 1 ability score increase. Did I miss it or is that coming in a future playtest document?
The racial ability increases are replaced with heritage gifts.
 

Abstruse

Hero
The racial ability increases are replaced with heritage gifts.
So I'm meant to have +1 to two attributes then, with the Heritage Gift granting an ability/power that is equal to another +1 ability score boost? Just making sure I understand correctly because it makes sense as a few look a lot like half a feat...
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
So I'm meant to have +1 to two attributes then, with the Heritage Gift granting an ability/power that is equal to another +1 ability score boost? Just making sure I understand correctly because it makes sense as a few look a lot like half a feat...
You’re supposed to have +1 to two ability scores, yep. The overall combination of the three building blocks is balanced against the equivalent core 5E building blocks.

Though you should note in your feedback that you needed clarification, as we wouldn’t be there to clarify at your gaming table!
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
But this product is backward compatible. You can still choose to play all three PHB versions, and if you want simplicity, choose Champion and have at it.

Looking at the features and abilities, this is very mich not backwards compatible with core 5e. It would be like saying the 3e fighter is backwards compatible with a B/X fighter.

As a designer myself, I get it. It’s hard to capture everything you want to do and keep power creep down, especially if you’re required to keep it balanced with an existing system. But look at that thread with sample fighters. Or just look at the playtest doc. The Levelup fighter easily has twice as many abilities as the core one, and is better at those things as well.
Levelup might be exactly what people are wanting, but right now, it’s not backwards compatible without significant balance issues.
 

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