5E Martial arts for other classes

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Currently there is a thread about unarmed attacks not counting as weapons and It's actually kind of interesting that this has popped up as I've recently been thinking about making subclasses that provide unarmed combat ability for other classes. So far, I have one for wizard (tentatively called the arcane fist) but I am planning on adding in the Brutal Mauler for barbarian as well (currently I only have the name, I have no idea what the brutal mauler will become). I was going to do a divine fist for cleric, but because of the way cleric subclasses works I didn't think it really fit well so I might just make it a monk subclass adding in some divine power to the monk.

I've thought about a few other classes as well but I'm not sure that they really fit the concept.
Druid: I thought maybe the druid could have something where they turn halfway into a beast but I don't know if that would be all that different from the moon druid to warrant it (that is, transforming into a melee creature as your main offensive ability).
Fighter: Master of the Sweet Science. I think this one might work but I need to figure out my Brutal Mauler barbarian subclass first to make sure they are distinct. There is also already a variant monk class out there that is essentially this which I've been meaning to check out, though that doesn't mean I'll stop making this subclass.
Rogue: A ninja/shinobi subclass. I think if I was adding this subclass to rogue that I'd focus more on the supernatural abilities of mythical/pop culture ninja rather than martial arts.

What other subclasses do people think would make for cool martial arts subclasses?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Warlock Pact Boon or Invocation: Eldritch Touch. You gain the ability to deal force damage with unarmed strikes, and an appropriate damage die. Your unarmed strikes can count as weapons in any context where it’s beneficial.

Sorcerer is where is our your Druid idea

Wizard tradition of the hidden hand, you gain benefits to unarmed strikes when you cast different schools of spells.

Barbarian is another option for gaining claws and such.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
On the other side of things, a divine monk that gains the ability to turn enemies hit into healing piñatas
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
There is always the Subclass & Fighting style for Fighter I threw together last night in that thread on Unarmed Strikes!

Fighting Style: Brawling - your unarmed strikes now deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage and can use either strength or dexterity for attack and damage.

Subclass: Brawler
  • 3rd - you gain proficiency in either Acrobatics or Athletics, and your proficiency modifier is doubled for one of these.
  • 3rd - when you make an Attack you with an Unarmed Strike, you can make another attack with an Unarmed Strike as a bonus action.
  • 7th - Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee (stolen from Cavalier Warding Maneuver + some):
    • At 7th level, you learn to fend off strikes directed at you. If you are hit by an attack, you can roll 1d8 as a reaction. Roll the die, and add the number rolled to the your AC against that attack. If the attack still hits, you have resistance against the attack’s damage.

      You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses of it when you finish a long rest.
    • Your Unarmed Strikes ignore Resistance to Bludgeoning damage.
  • 10th - Improved Brawler
    • At 10th level, your Unarmed strike damage increases to 1d6, and when you take the Attack action, you can start a grapple as a bonus action if you hit. Your Unarmed Strike damage increases to 1d8 at 18th level.
  • 15th - Precision Striker
    • At 15th level your Unarmed Strikes score a critical hit on a 19 or 20.
    • Damage Immunity to Bludgeoning is reduced to Resistance for your Unarmed Strikes
  • 18th - Superior Brawler
    • Your Unarmed Strike damage increases to 1d8
    • In combat, you get a special reaction that you can take once on every creature’s turn, except your turn. You can use this special reaction only to make an opportunity attack, and you can’t use it on the same turn that you take your normal reaction. (Stolen from Cavalier again

As for other classes

I think the Sorcerer should probably be where you park the Arcane Fist concept personally rather than Wizard. I don't know, thematically an unarmed striking wizard always seemed odd to me, but ymmv.

Cleric of Kord concept with s Strength Domain?

Druid I'd probably shy away from the lycan-like hybrid form and focus more on the animal style martial arts a la the different Kung-fu styles. Maybe a Barbarian/Totem Warrior type of menu options at each Archetype feature level for different animals styles?

Bard is another one I'm having trouble picturing an unarmed striker concept for...
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I added the bludgeoning equivalent of the shortsword to my equipment list:
Heavy Knuckles: 1d6 bludgeoning, light.

I also think casters need more touch attack spells, and more ''spell attack'' in general. IIRC 3.5 add a prestige class for arcane caster specialized in spells that required attack rolls (Spellsniper Duelist?)

Other ideas:

Barbarian: Savage (no armor, no weapon, crush spellcaster?)
Bard: Battle Dancer
Cleric: Strength Domain?
Druid: Circle of the Claw (spend Wildshape to gain increasing natural weapon attack while remaining in human for)
Fighter: Brawler
Paladin: Sacred Fist
Ranger: ???
 

Greg K

Adventurer
@SkidAce has a martial artist feat which he had posted here and on Alfaysia, his Obsidian Portal page. The feat had received a good reaction from several ENWorld forum posters.

Also, @Khaalis included a Brawler archetype for his Light Armor Fighter variant (which is in the ENWorld download section).
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
There is always the Subclass & Fighting style for Fighter I threw together last night in that thread on Unarmed Strikes!

Fighting Style: Brawling - your unarmed strikes now deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage and can use either strength or dexterity for attack and damage.

Subclass: Brawler
  • 3rd - you gain proficiency in either Acrobatics or Athletics, and your proficiency modifier is doubled for one of these.
  • 3rd - when you make an Attack you with an Unarmed Strike, you can make another attack with an Unarmed Strike as a bonus action.
  • 7th - Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee (stolen from Cavalier Warding Maneuver + some):
    • At 7th level, you learn to fend off strikes directed at you. If you are hit by an attack, you can roll 1d8 as a reaction. Roll the die, and add the number rolled to the your AC against that attack. If the attack still hits, you have resistance against the attack’s damage.

      You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses of it when you finish a long rest.
    • Your Unarmed Strikes ignore Resistance to Bludgeoning damage.
  • 10th - Improved Brawler
    • At 10th level, your Unarmed strike damage increases to 1d6, and when you take the Attack action, you can start a grapple as a bonus action if you hit. Your Unarmed Strike damage increases to 1d8 at 18th level.
  • 15th - Precision Striker
    • At 15th level your Unarmed Strikes score a critical hit on a 19 or 20.
    • Damage Immunity to Bludgeoning is reduced to Resistance for your Unarmed Strikes
  • 18th - Superior Brawler
    • Your Unarmed Strike damage increases to 1d8
    • In combat, you get a special reaction that you can take once on every creature’s turn, except your turn. You can use this special reaction only to make an opportunity attack, and you can’t use it on the same turn that you take your normal reaction. (Stolen from Cavalier again

As for other classes

I think the Sorcerer should probably be where you park the Arcane Fist concept personally rather than Wizard. I don't know, thematically an unarmed striking wizard always seemed odd to me, but ymmv.

Cleric of Kord concept with s Strength Domain?

Druid I'd probably shy away from the lycan-like hybrid form and focus more on the animal style martial arts a la the different Kung-fu styles. Maybe a Barbarian/Totem Warrior type of menu options at each Archetype feature level for different animals styles?

Bard is another one I'm having trouble picturing an unarmed striker concept for...
Oh cool, I had completely missed your subclass, I do remember the fighting style though. The only thing I think I would change about the subclass is that at level 3, their unarmed strikes deal 1d4 damage. This is on the off chance that the player doesn't take the brawling fighting style. That, or grant the brawling fighting style as a bonus fighting style.

I do like the idea for the druid, however, when looking at making a subclass, I like to look at how it connects with other class features. With the druid, I think something with wildshape would be where that would sit (since my wizard subclass deals with harnessing magic for unarmed combat). However, the totem idea I think would be excellent for a monk with the various crane, cobra, dragon styles as options.

Bard really is a difficult one to figure out, so of it would likely end up looking like the sword college allowing them to spend their bardic inspiration to boost their attacks somehow. On a side note, I really do feel that the bard needs another level for subclass abilities, perhaps at level 10.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
@SkidAce has a martial artist feat which he had posted here and on Alfaysia, his Obsidian Portal page. The feat had received a good reaction from several ENWorld forum posters.

Also, @Khaalis included a Brawler archetype for his Light Armor Fighter variant (which is in the ENWorld download section).
The feat is quite cool. I recall another homebrew which had multiple feats allowing your damage die to get all the way to a d10 I think, but the number of feats needed to do so I thought was quite restrictive.

I'll check out the brawler. I had forgotten that the light armour fighter variant existed.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I added the bludgeoning equivalent of the shortsword to my equipment list:
Heavy Knuckles: 1d6 bludgeoning, light.

I also think casters need more touch attack spells, and more ''spell attack'' in general. IIRC 3.5 add a prestige class for arcane caster specialized in spells that required attack rolls (Spellsniper Duelist?)

Other ideas:

Barbarian: Savage (no armor, no weapon, crush spellcaster?)
Bard: Battle Dancer
Cleric: Strength Domain?
Druid: Circle of the Claw (spend Wildshape to gain increasing natural weapon attack while remaining in human for)
Fighter: Brawler
Paladin: Sacred Fist
Ranger: ???
They do, one of my abilities for the arcane fist is to make a bonus action unarmed attack when they cast a melee spell attack. Then I checked on DnDBeyond for all of the melee spell attack options for a wizard and there are a total of 2 that I could find: shocking grasp and vampiric touch. It's led me to create a couple of extra cantrips: winter's touch which is a melee version of frostbite, and acid grasp which, after writing it up, I realised is just a wizardly version of primal strike. Without additional spells, this ability would almost require multiclassing to really work so you can pick up some melee spell attack options from the cleric or druid class.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
The feat is quite cool. I recall another homebrew which had multiple feats allowing your damage die to get all the way to a d10 I think, but the number of feats needed to do so I thought was quite restrictive.

I'll check out the brawler. I had forgotten that the light armour fighter variant existed.
Wow, that feat is pretty powerful.

It is 1 and 1/3 other feats as it gives all the benefits of Martial Adept and 1/3 of Tavern Brawler. PLUS it makes Unarmed Strikes Finesse Weapons so not only can you use Dex for attack and damage, but you can now sneak attack, use Two-weapon fighting, Dueling and Two-Weapon Fighting Styles, etc. etc.

That is really good for 1 feat!
 
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cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Wow, that feat is pretty powerful.

It is 1 and 1/3 other feats as it gives all the benefits of Martial Adept and 1/3 of Tavern Brawler. PLUS it makes Unarmed Strikes Finesse Weapons so not only can you use Dex for attack and damage, but you can now sneak attack, use Two-weapon fighting, Dueling and Two-Weapon Fighting Styles, etc. etc.

That is really good for 1 feat!
That's true, I hadn't thought through the implications of making them simple finesse weapons. I wasn't too worried about it stealing from martial adept since it has a curated list of maneuovres, but thinking about it, if what you want is on that list, why would anyone take martial adept.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Currently there is a thread about unarmed attacks not counting as weapons and It's actually kind of interesting that this has popped up as I've recently been thinking about making subclasses that provide unarmed combat ability for other classes.
LOL I'll be watching this thread with extreme interest. I am curious what people come up with.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
you can now use Two-weapon fighting, Dueling and Two-Weapon Fighting Styles, etc. etc.
That's true, I hadn't thought through the implications of making them simple finesse weapons. I wasn't too worried about it stealing from martial adept since it has a curated list of maneuovres, but thinking about it, if what you want is on that list, why would anyone take martial adept.
It has been a while since I have looked at the feat, but one difference, is that your unarmed attack damage is d4 and the maneuvers can only be used with unarmed strikes.
Also from my understanding, unarmed attacks are not actual melee weapons and, therefore, do not apply to the two weapon fighting and the two weapon fighting style as two weapon fighting specifies held weapons in each hand.
Now, granted as I am not playing or running 5e, and have not even looked at the 5e rules in a while, there may be more that I am missing.
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
It has been a while since I have looked at the feat, but one difference, is that your unarmed attack damage is d4 and the maneuvers can only be used with unarmed strikes. Also from my understanding, unarmed attacks are not actual melee weapons and, therefore, do not apply to the two weapon fighting and the two weapon fighting style as two weapon fighting specifies held weapons in each hand.
Now, granted as I am not playing or running 5e, and have not even looked at the 5e rule in a while, there may be more that I am missing.
There may still be flaws with it, but it plays well in our campaign. Probably could tighten up the wording.

There was no intention for it to work with sneak attack. (Edit: or the fighting styles)

Its basically meant to be an unarmed martial adept. And you pick maneuvers based on your "style"
 
"Martial Arts", hmmm, let me spoil your party (and be the smartass).
Using weapons is "Martial Arts", and far more effective than unarmed strikes.
Believe me, I tried it (only in training!).
Gimme a good kitchen knife and I could probably kill a real world karate champion.

Anyway, real-world-smartassery aside, I think the tavern brawler feat does exactly the right thing.

The above mentioned feat is also okay, except for the finesse thing.
Dexterity to damage is a big mistake of 5e IMO.
Again something I learned from my martial arts (weaponless) training:
If I had to go to a (not only fist-) fight and I could take some guys from my gym, I would take the heavyweight guys with me, not the lightweights. Mass hits harder. Period.
Oops, even more smartassery... ;)
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
"Martial Arts", hmmm, let me spoil your party (and be the smartass).
Using weapons is "Martial Arts", and far more effective than unarmed strikes.
Believe me, I tried it (only in training!).
Gimme a good kitchen knife and I could probably kill a real world karate champion.

Anyway, real-world-smartassery aside, I think the tavern brawler feat does exactly the right thing.

The above mentioned feat is also okay, except for the finesse thing.
Dexterity to damage is a big mistake of 5e IMO.
Again something I learned from my martial arts (weaponless) training:
If I had to go to a (not only fist-) fight and I could take some guys from my gym, I would take the heavyweight guys with me, not the lightweights. Mass hits harder. Period.
Oops, even more smartassery... ;)
I think the Dex to damage is supposed to be "hitting vitally more accurately" concept. So, sure mass hits harder, but high dex will punch your throat and cut off your air supply while str will give you a body blow that might knock the wind out of you.

I don't mind it outside of the fact that it just piled onto Dex's god stat status as best for saves + init + AC + att/dmg + some of the best skills, etc.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
Warlock Pact Boon or Invocation: Eldritch Touch. You gain the ability to deal force damage with unarmed strikes, and an appropriate damage die. Your unarmed strikes can count as weapons in any context where it’s beneficial.
Sorry, I'm picturing a warlock (played by Harrison Ford) aggressively touching someone with their index finger, and that person getting knocked out.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Sorry, I'm picturing a warlock (played by Harrison Ford) aggressively touching someone with their index finger, and that person getting knocked out.
Haha!

Now I'm picturing him from Temple of Doom ripping people's beating hearts out. He made a Pact with Kali!
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Sorry, I'm picturing a warlock (played by Harrison Ford) aggressively touching someone with their index finger, and that person getting knocked out.
Why sorry? That’s hilarious!

Besides, it’s not like I’d change a design suggestion of something just because some folks might get silly associations with it.
 

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