Level Up (A5E) Martial Artistry (3pp book in the works) Ideas and Concepts


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Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Learning Combat Synergies
While combat synergies don’t, or shouldn’t, drastically increase the overall power of the party in combat situations, they can still be a fairly daunting system change for most tables. To keep things from being too overwhelming, a given character can only know a number of synergies equal to their proficiency bonus. And those synergies can only be learned alongside at least one other party member choosing at least one of the same synergies during downtime.

In effect, no one can learn a synergy alone, and must share a synergy with at least one ally. This both gives the characters a downtime activity to do together, and provides them with a special trick they can do together on the battlefield to show off their bond and how well they work together in particular.

Treat this as a new ‘training’ downtime activity option. Learning a synergy takes one week of practice with your partner or partners, but removing a known synergy for a new one takes two weeks of practice. In either case, each person training in a new combat synergy must expend 5gp per level per week during the training period.

Boons may also be granted to either provide an extra combat synergy, beyond the limit of proficiency bonus, or allow for instant training or retraining of a combat synergy.

This has the benefits of:
1) Providing more to do with downtime.
2) Slight money sink.
3) Narrative investment into the system.
4) A "Cheat" to allow instant rewards.
5) Slow progression to gain new tricks as you gain levels.

On the downside, at level 20 everyone has to remember which 6 synergies they have, and which party members they can do a given synergy with.
 

Selganor

Adventurer
How about giving the participants an option to "power through" with additional spell slots/points (for casters) or exertion points (for martials)?

This would allow them to "test" potential combos before having to commit to training them in downtime.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
How about giving the participants an option to "power through" with additional spell slots/points (for casters) or exertion points (for martials)?

This would allow them to "test" potential combos before having to commit to training them in downtime.
Maybe a "Risk it for the Biscuit" function which either makes it harder or opens you up for harsher attacks, depending on the specific synergy?

Like... throwing someone up a brick wall imposing disadvantage on their climb check to grab hold if they haven't practiced it with you, but you can still -try-?
 

Pedantic

Legend
Maybe a "Risk it for the Biscuit" function which either makes it harder or opens you up for harsher attacks, depending on the specific synergy?

Like... throwing someone up a brick wall imposing disadvantage on their climb check to grab hold if they haven't practiced it with you, but you can still -try-?
That's thematic, but even more overhead if there's specific repercussions of each technique in an already additional system. I worry you're going to pretty quickly overwhelm players with too many choices.

Though maybe I'm overblowing the concern, given we're already talking about players opting into extra complexity. My instinct is to make these selectable kind of like spells, with the timescale moved from long rests to downtime, and as a party, instead of as an individual caster.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
That's thematic, but even more overhead if there's specific repercussions of each technique in an already additional system. I worry you're going to pretty quickly overwhelm players with too many choices.

Though maybe I'm overblowing the concern, given we're already talking about players opting into extra complexity. My instinct is to make these selectable kind of like spells, with the timescale moved from long rests to downtime, and as a party, instead of as an individual caster.
Oh, yeah. I was thinking of genericing it.

"If it has a skill check, roll with disadvantage. If it's an attack roll, roll with disadvantage. If it moves one character past enemies, they provoke opportunity attacks" as a kinda blanket rule...

But I mostly agree. I think making it a downtime 'party spellbook' is good enough.

Maybe add in a sidebar for Narrators to just use the system as a loose guide for adjudicating some player ideas. 'Cause, really, that's all Combat Synergies are. Adjudicating the goliath flinging the gnome to stab the dragon or whatever.
 

Pedantic

Legend
Maybe add in a sidebar for Narrators to just use the system as a loose guide for adjudicating some player ideas. 'Cause, really, that's all Combat Synergies are. Adjudicating the goliath flinging the gnome to stab the dragon or whatever.

That's actually a super interesting design space. I'm consistently frustrated with generic stunting systems, often because they tend to break down into degenerate optimization cases. I rather like the idea of a GM facing resource that's less "provide a +2 bonus to hit" and more a bunch of subsystems with some flexibility for resolving the most likely to arise "creative PC plans."

You can imagine a chapter about swinging on furniture, throwing other party members, improved explosives and so on, designed for interpretation. Kind of like the "Possible Solutions" sections of exploration challenges.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
So... wanna run a couple more concepts across y'all's desktops this Boxing day, 6 months after the last post in this thread. Here's what I've got for it so far:

2 new classes already written:
Gunslinger:
What it says on the tin. Rather than give it a bunch of strict damage-boosting abilities it's a martial-maneuver reliant gun-wielding adept/fighter, essentially. They start out with a fighting style and some exertion, but they don't get maneuvers and their standard pool 'til 2. At level one you're shooting your damaged gun and spending your "Grit" (Bonus exertion) to reduce damage or duck into cover. Later on you're building a reputation as a troublemaking gambler, a black-hearted outlaw, or a good ol' white hat. Subclasses of Bushwhacker, Desperado, and Maverick

Warmage: Cantrip-Caster to fulfill the role of 'quickly churned out magic artillery' concepts and gishes from the ground up. It's a d8 caster class that gets a few 'leveled spells' as essentially invocations but mostly focuses on maxing out use of cantrips and combining them with combat maneuvers instead of using weapons. You're still slinging 1d8+Int instead of Str on a given attack, though. Subclasses of Crimson Edge, Swordsage, Tactician, and Wrathbearer.

1 class currently in the process of being written:
Sentinel:
Echo Knights are cool and all, but what about the character concept of a duo of characters? The warrior and the mage, the knight and the squire, the guard and the princess. Even the bounty hunter and the bounty that have to work together to survive? While you can get two players to do this at the table, of course, this class allows you to do it with a companion character built into the class. Subclasses include the Adamant, Buccaneer, Cavalier, and Gaoler. And companions (which can be changed out) are Acolytes, Constructs, Cultists, Fey, Hedge Wizards, Hunters, Mages, Squires, and even the Undead for those 'Death Knights' out there. Also: Combat Synergies just for you and your companion! (This one is taking a long time 'cause I'm essentially writing additional 'small classes' for all the companions)

1 class waiting to be written:
Champion:
Arena fighters, military champions, or even the champion of a noble fighting on their behalf. These characters are focused on creating one on one fights when possible, or locking down swarms of enemies to protect their friends or wards.

Each of these classes are designed to mess with how a character engages with combat in A5e. The Gunslinger is meant to be a ranged fighting character who only dances in and out of melee rather than getting in there like most martials, almost making them more of a caster. Even the Ranger mixes it up in melee a -lot-. The Warmage plays with the borders of magic and martial combat by using spells as weapons, essentially. The Sentinel plays with the action economy, and tactical placement. Shifting some of your power into a second character (making you both do less individually than most other characters) in order to leverage your teamwork to make you stronger. And the Champion is meant to manipulate the battlefield through their positioning and aggression, with lots of forcing enemies to move, or stay still, or attack only who the Champion wants them to.

New Combat Traditions
Deepwood Sniper for more archery and ranged combat options. Inquisitor's Brand for righteous crusaders and exorcists. Serpent's Grip for wrasslin' and grappling. Thundering Bombard for guns and cannons, specifically. And I'm still planning to do the Elemental Bending styles, but haven't got names for them, yet.

Combat Synergies
The core of what this thread was about, essentially. Just even more of them.

Mass Combat as Roles
Mass Combat is best with the players involved, but often gets bogged down by big rules-heavy systems. So instead make units into creatures with stat blocks and specific benefits based on their role in combat, and allow players to chose a mass combat role that keys into the NPC stat blocks.

So you'd pick one of four roles:

Artillery: Archers, Mages, Ranged Damage NPC Units
Flanker: Cavalry, Rogues, Fast Moving NPC Units
Front Line: Fighters, Ogres, Melee Damage NPC Units.
Support: Commanders, Priests, Supportive NPC Units.

Each unit has a weakness against one of the other unit types (Support has disadvantage on attacks against enemy Artillery, for example) but PC commands grant a unit advantage against two other, pre-determined, unit types (Artillery is good against Front Line and Support, for example).

Players pick the units they want to command and go on through the encounter, giving directions for who their unit should attack. This can be done either as a purely-mass combat structure... Or:

Mass Combat as Dungeons
Yup. Mass combat as dungeons involves setting up various battle-set-pieces largely as backdrops on the action between the players and their objectives. Whether that's killing an enemy commander, taking a wall from NPC soldiers, or otherwise performing dungeon-activities on a battlefield. The Mass Combat Roles still apply, but act as a 'timer' for players to succeed at a goal before their forces are "overwhelmed" and forced to retreat, ending the encounter.

The party then has to choose whether to continue fighting for their objective (with increased personal danger) or retreat with their forces to safety.

New Weaponry
Mostly guns. Specifically guns that are more or less balanced against standard A5e weapons like swords and axes. Meant to be used in settings where firearms are more common and less "Oh my gosh look at this super rare item, better make it really good and slap a 300gp price tag boost on it!"... But also things like two-handed finesse weapons, whips that are stronger, and...

Class Weaponry
13th Age may have been right. Here's an alternate system wherein weapons deal more or less damage based on who is wielding them and their proficiency with them. Or other benefits. Like Throwing Knives that scale their damage and range in the hands of Rogues to make them similar in usefulness to a shortbow so you don't feel like you have to sacrifice character concept for combat effectiveness.

So my questions to y'all are twofold:

1) Do you like this content?
2) What else would you like to see in the book?
 

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