5E Martial arts for other classes

Cap'n Kobold

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. 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).
Druids, as with any pure casters, are going to be tricky to incorporate unarmed martial arts into, simply because making a melee weapon attack is going to be overshadowed by casting a spell most of the time.
If I had to I would probably go with animal-themed stances activated by spending a wild shape use, and that used spells in different ways.
For example Tiger stance might allow clawlike unarmed strikes that you could spend a spell slot to boost the damage of like a divine smite.
Maybe Snake stance would allow you to spend a spell slot to grant additional reactions that you could use to dodge attacks or take attacks of opportunity.
Dragon style would perhaps allow a bonus action attack after casting a spell.
Crane style - spend spell slot to Improve AC and saving throws maybe? No effect rather than half on successful save and redirect damage when an attack misses you.
Etc.

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.
I mentioned in the other thread how I'd deal with a Fighter archetype that incorporated unarmed martial arts alongside the armed martial arts from the base class. Basically grant an increased unarmed strike damage and ability to make a bonus action unarmed strike, alongside increases in the effectiveness of shoving and grappling (I suggested dealing Strength modifier damage when successfully winning a grapple or shove, and getting to roll both Str(Athletics) and Dex(Acrobatics) when you would normally have to pick one to roll.) Add a couple of minor abilities such as unarmoured (and unshielded) AC of Prof bonus + Dex Modifier.
That gives you a versatile fighter able to incorporate weapon attacks, unarmed strikes, and grappling/shoving into a very versatile combat style.

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.
That might get tricky in terms of avoiding the Shadow monk, which is already the pop culture ninja with the supernatural abilities to match.

Wizard: You could do something like an unarmed version of Bladesinger, but again, that is usually just treated as a defensive buff rather than incorporating fighting into spells.
I think that I'd go a different way and make the "martial arts wizard" the "action at a distance" type of martial artist. They would get benefits to Force-type spells, as well as ones like telekinesis, levitate etc, and additional bonuses (perhaps knocking the opponent back) if delivered as a melee attack.

"Martial Arts", hmmm, let me spoil your party (and be the smartass).
Using weapons is "Martial Arts", and far more effective than unarmed strikes.
I think that for the purposes of this thread, the OP is taking the popular conception of martial arts as talking about unarmed combat. - They specifically mention unarmed strikes in the post for example.
As such you can probably assume that they're mostly limiting concepts to those using unarmed martial arts styles. - The Fighter concept probably cover the armed martial arts fairly well.

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... ;)
A fist is probably the least finesseable (in 5e D&D terms) weapon available. As such, outside of the Monk (where their magic grants them the ability) I would probably not allow Dex modifier to attack and damage with unarmed strikes. There is a reason Bruce Lee did an insane level of strength training.

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.
Hitting in the right place sounds more like skill than grace. I think I'd keep Dex (grace, reflexes, balance) as the defensive stat and Str (athleticism, power generation) as the offensive one in most cases.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
"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... ;)
Our house-rule is finesse only allows you to apply DEX to attack rolls with melee or thrown weapons. Bonus damage is ALWAYS based on STR, even for ranged weapons (which only adds bonus STR damage at normal range, not ever at long range).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Oh jeez...

Folks, come on. Dex clearly includes enough muscle power to perform the actions associated with the game mechanic named Dexterity.

We know this because there is no minimum strength for literally anything associate with Dex, and those activities almost all require more than average strength to be good at.

Bruce Lee is a high Dex, moderate Strength, character in DND, because the actual things he does are defined as Dexterity based in DnD, with the exception of some Athletics, and the flavor of being much stronger than you’d guess by his size.
 

Cap'n Kobold

Adventurer
Oh jeez...

Folks, come on. Dex clearly includes enough muscle power to perform the actions associated with the game mechanic named Dexterity.

We know this because there is no minimum strength for literally anything associate with Dex, and those activities almost all require more than average strength to be good at.
Likewise Str clearly includes the grace to perform the actions associated with the game mechanic named Strength.

Running, climbing, striking an opponent to good effect etc, are all actions that require some level of dexterity. Its just the case that power and athleticism are more important than grace and reflexes and D&D went with basing things off a single stat rather than some combination. Just like avoiding strikes requires some level of athleticism as well as reflexes, but for the sake of simplicity D&D uses Dex as its defensive stat.

Bruce Lee is a high Dex, moderate Strength, character in DND, because the actual things he does are defined as Dexterity based in DnD, with the exception of some Athletics, and the flavor of being much stronger than you’d guess by his size.
In 5e Strength incorporates athleticism and generation of force: - two attributes that Bruce was famous for. I'd regard him as a good example of a character with quite high scores in both Strength and Dexterity. (Also several others: - you can't really replicate him with point-buy. :) )
(I'd probably put him at around a +2 to +3 Str mod: Not human max, but considerably higher than average.)
 
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.
That is the common misconception.
Just because you're strong means you're just hitting somewhere?
That would mean: Strength + Dex on damage!

+ Dex on attack roll, fine.
But not on damage.
The example you mention is a good example for kind-a special finesse / precision damage, like sneak attack.

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.
That's another reason not to use it for damage.

Sorry, I should never have started that part.
So... still in for tavern brawler!
Everyone who wants unarmed strike die progression should simply go monk.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Sorry, I should never have started that part.
So... still in for tavern brawler!
Everyone who wants unarmed strike die progression should simply go monk.
I'm looking for options for subclasses so saying just go with tavern brawler or go monk has to be one of the least useful comments in the thread. What would be useful to see is ideas on how to fit unarmed combat into another class.

For instance, my current wizard subclass spends gains the martial arts ability from the monk, though limited to unarmed strikes, spends spell slots to add elemental damage to his strikes. Later he gains the ability to make an unarmed strike when he makes a melee spell attack. These are abilities that fit in with the class abilities (to some degree at least). For the Brutal Mauler, their unarmed damage die increases as they gain barbarian levels, though their other abilities still need to be figured out, so I'd like to see more ideas from people who have more to say than "just go monk or use tavern brawler"
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Likewise Str clearly includes the grace to perform the actions associated with the game mechanic named Strength.

Running, climbing, striking an opponent to good effect etc, are all actions that require some level of dexterity. Its just the case that power and athleticism are more important than grace and reflexes and D&D went with basing things off a single stat rather than some combination. Just like avoiding strikes requires some level of athleticism as well as reflexes, but for the sake of simplicity D&D uses Dex as its defensive stat.

In 5e Strength incorporates athleticism and generation of force: - two attributes that Bruce was famous for. I'd regard him as a good example of a character with quite high scores in both Strength and Dexterity. (Also several others: - you can't really replicate him with point-buy. :) )
(I'd probably put him at around a +2 to +3 Str mod: Not human max, but considerably higher than average.)
That fair.

And yes, that is my point for sure. A high Dex character with middling strength represents an agile, coordinated, fit, person who raw muscle power isn’t any greater than what you naturally build by training and practicing martial arts. They aren’t bulky strong, but they also aren’t weak by any stretch.

The game is built in a way where raising your strength to match your Dex because “it’s realistic for an acrobatic archer” is jaut not worthwhile or necessary. The muscle development related to archery and acrobatics are built into the fact that you’re mechanically good at archery and acrobatics.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Here is my initial draft of a Brutal Mauler. A barbarian subclass that is based around unarmed strikes and grappling. I think this looks like it could be fun, more so than my current wizard subclass.

Mauling Arts. At 3rd level, your training in grappling and unarmed combat provides the following bonuses.
  • Unarmed strike damage 1d4+strength modifier. Increases to 1d6 at 7th level, and 1d8 at 13th level.
  • When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or 1-handed melee weapon on your turn, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action.
  • While raging, when you successfully strike an enemy no more than one size larger than you with an unarmed strike on your turn, you can attempt to grapple them. If you do so, the target must make a Strength Saving throw against a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier or be grappled (optionally, you can initiate a grapple check. This would have better synergy with other parts of the barbarian class and this subclass).
Great Athlete. At 6th level, you gain proficiency in the Athletics skill. If you are already proficient in it, you gain proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: Animal Handling, Insight, Intimidation, or Survival.
Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses Athletics. You receive this benefit regardless of the skill proficiency you gain from this feature.

Opportunistic Grappler.
At 10th level, If you hit with an opportunity attack, you can attempt a grapple against the target if they are no more than one size larger than you.

My Foe, My Weapon.
At 14th level, while raging, If you successfully grapple an opponent you can use one of your attacks from the Attack action to fling them at another foe within 30 feet. Make a ranged weapon attack. They are considered to be an improvised weapon with the thrown property with which you are proficient. If you hit, both the target and “weapon” take damage equal to 1d4 + strength modifier + your rage bonus and an additional 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet between you and the target. Even if you miss, the thrown creature still takes this damage.
 

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