D&D 5E My Super Simple Idea for a Better Fighter

ECMO3

Hero
Extra reactions would make things like reach broken, which turn out to be balanced in 5e because of the hard rule of only one reaction per round.

Reactions are cool conceptually, but the interruptions slow down gameplay.

Balancewise, it might be ok to spend the next action on a current extra reaction instead. Or get an extra reaction per short rest, or something like that.
Agree on slowdown.

The real balance problem is not getting mulitple AOOs, but rather using multiple defenses and spells in one turn and not paying a opportunity cost for making an opportunity attack.

For example if I have 3 reactions in a turn, my EK can use a reaction to make an AOO, then use a second reaction to cast shield if an enemy hits him and then still have a final reaction for absorb elements if the dragon breathes fire on us.

The current system really makes for a high opportunity cost in using a reaction in a situation like that (which happen often). If you are facing a dragon and his allies you probably are not taking that AOO at all and you are going to debate using shield to keep that absorb elements in your back pocket.

Add in things like silvery barbs, a warlock multiclass and save or suck feats/abilities/spells and ready actions into the mix to be used following an AOO or other reaction and it is going to be very complicated and OP with varied combinations to exploit this seam.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
For example if I have 3 reactions in a turn, my EK can use a reaction to make an AOO, then use a second reaction to cast shield if an enemy hits him and then still have a final reaction for absorb elements if the dragon breathes fire on us.

So that requires:
1. You paid a price for having two extra reactions (for example, a repeatable feat) which means you don't have some other shiny things (for example, two other feats, or +4 to an ability score).
2. You spend two spell slots.
3. You happen to be in a situation where all three of those events...OA, enemy hit, dragon breath...happen between your turns, on separate turns. How frequently is that going to occur?

I honestly don't see what the problem is here.
 

dave2008

Legend
I threw this out there in another thread and NOBODY RESPONDED. /sob

I started trying to design a Fighter subclass that had special moves that could be used infinitely, without consuming resources (X times/rest) but instead were gated situationally, or with an action/bonus action/reaction cost. But most of my ideas for those abilities overlapped with feats. So I thought, "Well, why not feats?"

Presenting....the world's least verbose subclass!

Warrior
Whenever you gain a subclass feature, choose one feat from Mobility, Alert, Charger, Grappler, Shield Master, Mage Slayer, Defensive Duelist, and Sentinel.

EDIT: Also the new Tasha's feat that lets you choose a fighting style.

Notes:
- I did not include any feats that give an ASI
- I also left off Polearm Master/GWM/SS. The Fighter still has plenty of feats if you want those.
- In general I was going for feats that give you something new to do, give you a new way to use something you have, or change the calculus on when you would use it. And then there's Alert, which I just like.

Thoughts? OP?
You should add the UA weapon feats too. Make them class specific feats (for @Charlaquin niche protection).
 


dave2008

Legend
Love it. Simple. Direct. Off-hand does not seem OP at all.

I wonder if adding things like Magic Initiate, Metamagic, Eldritch Invocation, and others might make a simple GISH-type subclass?
That is a good idea, you could have different subclasses with different lists of feats.
 


RainOnTheSun

Explorer
On the subject of making fighters more broadly talented instead of more focused, here's an idea for a feat-based fighter: what if they could select their feats at the start of an adventure, the same way a caster selects their spells? Now the same fighter can be a sharpshooter, a fencing champion, a dual-wielding blender, or a halberdier - they just can't be all of those things at once. It would also make the feats that appear in new splatbooks as valuable to a fighter as the spells are to a caster, since it wouldn't be too late to incorporate them into an existing character.
 


Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
On the subject of making fighters more broadly talented instead of more focused, here's an idea for a feat-based fighter: what if they could select their feats at the start of an adventure, the same way a caster selects their spells? Now the same fighter can be a sharpshooter, a fencing champion, a dual-wielding blender, or a halberdier - they just can't be all of those things at once. It would also make the feats that appear in new splatbooks as valuable to a fighter as the spells are to a caster, since it wouldn't be too late to incorporate them into an existing character.

I struggle with the fiction if a fighter's strengths/weaknesses change at the start of an adventure. I suppose you could make up something about training, but it feels weird to me.

I'd rather see something involving "stances" (for lack of a better word), that can be chosen as a free action at the beginning of your turn.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Consider appropriating the Mighty Deeds of Arms mechanic from Dungeon Crawl Classics. See the Warrior class description in the free quick start rules.
I just read it. Flavor-wise I love it, but from a game design perspective there’s no cost. Maybe that’s the goal: to have warriors attempt a Deed every turn. But for 5e I would rather there be a cost.

Off the top of my head, something like roll with disadvantage, and if you are successful you can choose from various effects to impose on your target until the start of your next turn.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I just read it. Flavor-wise I love it, but from a game design perspective there’s no cost. Maybe that’s the goal: to have warriors attempt a Deed every turn. But for 5e I would rather there be a cost.

Off the top of my head, something like roll with disadvantage, and if you are successful you can choose from various effects to impose on your target until the start of your next turn.
A fighter performing a Deed every turn
(a) Makes each turn have more narrative impact
(b) Brings fighter turn spotlight time up to approach spellcasters

The alternative to "you do a deed every turn" is "your baseline turn is 'I attack and roll damage'". If combat is extremely fast and longer turns are rare, you'll do this again in a few seconds, and that is ok.

But in a game where other character types are casting spells which are bundles of complex rules, it doesn't make sense for the narrative impact of the fighter's turn to be that short.

Now, if a fighter's damage is so high that most of the fighter's attacks drop foes, that is its own kind of narrative impact. Or if monsters reacted to damage in narratively interesting ways, but that is also atypical.

Instead, the impact on the narrative of a fighter's turn is often "ok, a counter to end of battle has been decremented after some die rolls".

Especially if you delay this to mainly being effective at later tiers, there is plenty of "balance room" for deeds that impact the narrative in 5e.
 

Andvari

Explorer
I just read it. Flavor-wise I love it, but from a game design perspective there’s no cost. Maybe that’s the goal: to have warriors attempt a Deed every turn. But for 5e I would rather there be a cost.

Off the top of my head, something like roll with disadvantage, and if you are successful you can choose from various effects to impose on your target until the start of your next turn.
I won't claim to know the designer's goal with certainty, but what I like about the Mighty Deeds is that the player gets to do the special (non-damaging) combat maneuver for "free" as long as they succeed the dice rolls, and therefore don't "lose" their normal attack as a penalty for trying to do something creative.

If you feel this makes the fighter too powerful, you could weaken them in some other area or try to find a sweet spot where the penalty for trying a special maneuver is often seen as worth taking. Perhaps the disadvantage roll you suggest is that sweet spot.
 
Last edited:

Celebrim

Legend
Thoughts?

One of my guiding principles are Feats are a fighter's spells. One of the problems with quadratic wizard/linear fighter is spell access is more generous than feat access. In 3e, for example, fighters got 10 bonus feats. I calculated that they need at least 17 (along with other changes, such as getting 4 skill points).
 

Staffan

Legend
The major problem with using feats as a way of buffing the fighter is that feats have historically scaled very poorly, and they definitely do so in 5e.

Look at 3e, as an example. Let's say you want to be able to make a Whirlwind Attack, which is pretty much the heaviest-prerequisite feat in the core rules. It requires Dex 13, Int 13, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack as prerequisites, as well as a base attack bonus of +4. You can start with Combat Expertise and Dodge, take Mobility at 2nd level, Spring Attack at 4th (because it also needs BAB +4), and finally Whirlwind Attack at 6th. So, you're level 6 and you've topped out in this branch of the feat tree already.

Or maybe you're going for the heavy-hitter equivalent, Great Cleave. Start with Power Attack and Cleave at 1st, then Great Cleave at 4th when your BAB hits +4. Done.

5e doesn't do high-level feats either. Great Weapon Mastery is one of the stronger feats in the game, and it basically combines 3e's Power Attack and Cleave.

Compare this to the wizard, who don't just get Bigger Number as their class ability. They get abilities that do qualitatively different things. They get things like Leomund's tiny hut, dimension door, modify memory, and passwall. Fighters need that kind of cool stuff that affects the world in manners other than Numbers Big.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I won't claim to know the designer's goal with certainty, but what I like about the Mighty Deeds is that the player gets to do the special (non-damaging) combat maneuver for "free" as long as they succeed the dice rolls, and therefore don't "lose" their normal attack as a penalty for trying to do something creative.

If you feel this makes the fighter too powerful, you could weaken them in some other area or try to find a sweet spot where the penalty for trying a special maneuver is often seen as worth taking. Perhaps the disadvantage roll you suggest is that sweet spot.
Oh, I both like the flavor and don’t necessarily think it’s too powerful. I just like decisions to actually be decisions. If there’s no cost to do something you may as well try it, and that gets repetitive. There’s a middle ground between invoking a Deed every single turn (because, why not?) and just saying “I attack” every turn.

In spirit it’s what I was going for: a quiver of tricks that don’t consume resources.
 

I think this is a good idea, but also agree that feats don't give the "voltage" at higher levels that would be needed.

I created some fighting orders that tie in with a theme. At higher levels they are explicitly drawing on some otherworldly ability, but it's usually framed as something that they can draw on more often than once per day. Everyone has the Battlemaster maneuvers. The general scheme runs as:

Order of the [Icon / Theme]

Geas: Something relatively minor but symbolic that can become a plot point at some point in time (e.g. must be barefoot, cannot eat the flesh of birds, &c.).

1st: Minor mundane ability (+2 AC in hvy armor, +5 ft. move)
3rd: Minor mundane or uncanny ability (+1 hp/level, cause fear in opponent 1/enc)
6th: Major mundane or moderate uncanny ability (Throw several knives in a cone causing saves to take half damage [Manticore's Tail Throw], 1/enc, One size category larger for forced movement)
6th: Partial immunity (1/2 damage from arrows, paralyze becomes slow)
9th: Preternatural or major uncanny ability (tremorsense "I feel your air", cannot be surprised, &c.)
12th: Preternatural ability (This is where Capt. America or Black Panther tops out as examples for me).
15th: Full immunity (Aragorn tops out for me here- "I am the True King and this palantir is mine, Sauron!")
18th: Thematic attack (Usually the only 1/day ability. Will hold the bridge past death unto dismemberment, hurl a spear to LOS, dismember a supernatural foe. This is Herakles, Beowulf, &c.)

Most abilities are at will or once per encounter / hour. I try to style them so that there is some diagetic sense that they can't just be spammed over and over. For example, the Order of the Manticore teaches the Manticore Tail's attack where the member can throw three knives at one target. The target will take damage, as long as they can be hurt by normal weapons, but they get a save for half. There's only so many knives you can carry at once. When I think of spell-like abilities that I might base maneuvers off of, I think 1/2 spell level or so since the character is going to be doing this, potentially, several times per day compared to the wizard or cleric's single use. So when the wizard is going to toss one fireball per day, I can have the fighter magic missile a target once per fight (Manticore's Tail).

I've adopted qi as the "Martial power source", although I call it vril instead. For the most part, it doesn't really come into thematic play until level 6 with the partial immunity. At lower levels, the orders are mostly a club with some semi-like minded people who know some fancy tricks.
 

ECMO3

Hero
I threw this out there in another thread and NOBODY RESPONDED. /sob

I started trying to design a Fighter subclass that had special moves that could be used infinitely, without consuming resources (X times/rest) but instead were gated situationally, or with an action/bonus action/reaction cost. But most of my ideas for those abilities overlapped with feats. So I thought, "Well, why not feats?"

Presenting....the world's least verbose subclass!

Warrior
Whenever you gain a subclass feature, choose one feat from Mobility, Alert, Charger, Grappler, Shield Master, Mage Slayer, Defensive Duelist, and Sentinel.

EDIT: Also the new Tasha's feat that lets you choose a fighting style.

Notes:
- I did not include any feats that give an ASI
- I also left off Polearm Master/GWM/SS. The Fighter still has plenty of feats if you want those.
- In general I was going for feats that give you something new to do, give you a new way to use something you have, or change the calculus on when you would use it. And then there's Alert, which I just like.

Thoughts? OP?
So you would get this at level 3, 7, 10, 15 and 18?

I think this is underpowered level 3-6, balanced levels 7-14 and overpowered at level 15+

The level 3 ability is weak compared to most other fighters. The level 7 and 10 are better than most other fighters and this makes up for the weak level 3 ability. The level 15 and 18 ability are better than most fighters and this puts them ahead there IMO.
 

Horwath

Hero
That is a good idea, you could have different subclasses with different lists of feats.
Why different subclass.
Just make all feats available to this fighter.
your choice will describe a subclass

skill monkey?
Skilled, skill expert, prodigy, any UA skill feats if allowed, linguist(ugh), observant

some kind of gish?
Magic initiate, Telekinetic, Telepathic, shadow touched, fey touched, metamagic adept, spell sniper, some racial feat that gives spells, strixhaven initiate

skirmisher:
alert, mobile, charger, athlete,
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Why different subclass.
Just make all feats available to this fighter.
your choice will describe a subclass

skill monkey?
Skilled, skill expert, prodigy, any UA skill feats if allowed, linguist(ugh), observant

some kind of gish?
Magic initiate, Telekinetic, Telepathic, shadow touched, fey touched, metamagic adept, spell sniper, some racial feat that gives spells, strixhaven initiate

skirmisher:
alert, mobile, charger, athlete,
Yup. This is how I envision it.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Why different subclass.
Just make all feats available to this fighter.
your choice will describe a subclass

That's my preference as well. The only reason I can think of to make fixed lists is if you are trying to force the character build to be broad. Like I can see some reasons for going, you get X picks from the Combat List, Y picks from the Movement List, and Z picks from the Skillful List - and maybe N picks from the list of your choice. One of the main reasons for having a class based system rather than a point buy chargen is it forces players to go wide and chose things outside their main shtick.

The risk with everything on a single list is that players will just build specialists that do one thing well, and if that is an issue then for balance reasons you generally have to give a small number of choices. If you can guarantee not everything will be perfect synergy and tight focus, you can be more generous with the number of picks the class is allowed to have.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top